Books, Law Professors, Law Schools

A Generous Gift From Your Law School

You’ve given a lot to your law school. There was that dumpload of tuition, of course. There was the immediate boost you gave their U.S. News Ranking when they got to count you as employed within nine months of graduation. And there’s the fact that you don’t reach through the phone and strangle them when they call asking for even more money every week.

Isn’t it time the law school gave something back? In addition to that J.D. that’s rapidly diminishing in value, I mean.

It’s the holiday season and one law school decided to get into the Christmas spirit and sent its alums an email with the subject line, “A Gift from the Law School.”

No more waiting, let’s tear off the wrapping paper and see what some law school generously gave its alums…

The University of Chicago Law School offered this “Gift.”

Dear Friends,

As the weather turns colder and the new year approaches, I know many of you will enjoy spending time with family and friends and perhaps getting lost in a great book or two! It has become a tradition at the Law School to collect faculty book recommendations to share as our gift to you each holiday season.

I hope you find some time over the next few weeks to browse the varied selections of our faculty – some may bring you back to Law School classes, while others will have you wrapped up in a great story!

Here is a listing of the books our faculty think you might enjoy this season. We believe in the importance of ideas at Chicago Law, and this is one of my favorite traditions as it honors that importance. As we share our gift to you this season, we would also like to thank you for your support of the many traditions of excellence that define the Law School.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season,

Dean Michael Schill

Well done, Chicago!

As our tipster put it, “Because I wasn’t sure if I could squeeze in “Living Originalism” over the Holidays… but with the distinguished faculty’s impramatur? Well NOW!”

A faculty reading list isn’t a terrible idea — it’s actually kind of cool — but a Goodreads board masquerading as a holiday gift is. In any event, thanks to our tipster, we all get to share in this “gift” and check out what some of these Maroons are reading (all book titles are affiliate links):

Richard Epstein
James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer

Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light. The history of the last year of the war shows what a grind that was, even with an overwhelming advantage in firepower. War is indeed hell.

Epstein’s description amuses me because his line “even with an overwhelming advantage in firepower” feels like he’s bemoaning the inefficiency of the war trudging on when one side had more firepower. Law and Economics foreva!

Eric Posner
Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law

The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans are an impressively concise and vivid account of the Nazi era.

More WWII? Why does the History Channel bother with Ancient Aliens if people are still ready to consume this much WWII history? For a guy who went public with the idea that NSA surveillance is A-OK, he might have wanted to downplay the fact that he’s immersed in reading about the creation of a fascist regime.

Richard H. McAdams
Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law and Aaron Director Research Scholar

James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? Academic experts generally avoid the contentious Shakespeare authorship debate, but Shapiro, a Professor English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, offers a fascinating historiography of the controversy, one that includes the authorship doubts of Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and Helen Keller and concludes with the reasons Shapiro believes in the authenticity of the man from Stratford.

That sounds like a lot of fun actually. At least it’s less dark than rehashing WWII.

Finally, someone is willing to admit to reading a fictional work with no pretentious overtones:

Jonathan Masur
Deputy Dean and Professor of Law

The best pleasure reading I did this year was Gone Girl, a mystery by Gillian Flynn. At the most basic level, the book is a compelling whodunit with real narrative momentum. At the same time, it’s a fascinating portrait of a psychopath and an exploration of storytelling with an unreliable narrator. The characters Flynn has created are engaging and three-dimensional, and the story is propulsive. But Flynn leaves the reader without a reliable foothold. Every deductive step is filled with uncertainty and doubt. The overall effect is disquieting and unsettling, as a really good mystery should be.

Again, I’ve inserted an affiliate link in there.

Where’s Brian Leiter’s recommendation you might ask? Brian Leiter doesn’t partake of this silly reading list. Let’s just assume he’s busy reading The Will to Power for the millionth time.

And Frank Easterbrook? 50 Shades of Grey.

The whole reading list is provided on the next page if you’re looking to set up your next book club to read The New Testament. Yes, that’s one of the books on the list…

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