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December 2023

Winter 2023 Reading List

Read time: 5 minutes
Our selection of winter 2023 reads written by U-M alumni, chosen for U-M alumni.

Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens

by Rajiv Shah, ’95 (Simon Element, 2023)

Rajiv Shah,’95, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, shares his playbook for transformational change in “Big Bets.” 

Told through personal anecdotes of working for the Al Gore presidential campaign, searching for solutions to immunize children around the world with the Gates Foundation, joining the United States Agency for International Development under former President Obama, and more, “Big Bets” encourages readers to ask questions, think optimistically, and get others on board to make monumental changes in the world. 

Cover of "Big Bets" by Rajiv Shah
Cover of "Let Us Descend" by Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend

by Jesmyn Ward, MFA’05 (Scribner, 2023)

Set in the years before the Civil War, “Let Us Descend” follows Annis, a young enslaved woman who is sold south by her enslaver father. 

As Annis marches south, she turns inward for strength in this harrowing story of rebirth and reclamation. 

This is Jesmyn Ward’s, MFA’05, fourth novel and was an instant New York Times bestseller. 

Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion

by Sowmya Krishnamurthy, ’06 (Gallery Books, 2023)

“Fashion Killa” is the first anthology on hip-hop fashion, using exclusive interviews to examine the intersecting histories of hip-hop and fashion over the past 50 years. 

The book focuses on artists, designers, stylists, models, and other innovators who transformed their industries, commemorating hip-hop’s contributions to fashion, music, and culture. 

Cover of "Fashion Killa"
Cover of "Forgiving Imedla Marcos"

Forgiving Imelda Marcos

by Nathan Go, MFA’14 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023)

Lito Macaraeg is nearing the end of his life in the Philippines when he reaches out to his estranged son, a journalist in the U.S., promising the untold story of two powerful figures in Philipino politics with a tumultuous past: Imelda Marcos, wife of the late Philippine dictator, and Corazon Aquino, the wife of an opposing politician. 

Lito, who was Corazon’s driver, unravels the complex history in this story of forgiveness and regret.

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant

by Curtis Chin, ’90 (Little, Brown and Company, 2023)

In this memoir, Curtis Chin, ’90, recalls and reflects on growing up in his family’s Chinese restaurant, Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine in Detroit, in the volatile 1980s.

Filmmaker and activist Chin shares his coming-of-age story as he reckoned with his sexuality, his place in his family, and his place in the world.

Cover of "Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant"
Cover of "The Best Possible Experience"

The Best Possible Experience

by Nishanth Injam, MFA’20 (Pantheon, 2023)

This debut collection of short stories paints a picture of the Indian diaspora, written by a U-M alum who came to the United States from India in his 20s. 

These 11 dynamic and complex stories, set in the United States and India, offer readers a glimpse into individuals all uniquely haunted by a loss of home. 


by Gerardo Sámano Córdova, MFA’19 (Zando, 2023)

“Monstrillo” is Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s, MFA’19, debut literary horror novel about a mother who takes a piece of her deceased 11-year-old son Santiago’s lung and nurtures it until it grows into a monster she keeps hidden in the walls of her family’s home. 

In this story of grief, love, and loyalty, told in four acts, the monster grows into a man resembling the Santiago he once was with impulses that threaten to ruin his second chance at life. 

Cover of "Monstrilio"
Cover of "Be Human, Lead Human"

Be Human, Lead Human: How to Connect People and Performance

by Jennifer Nash, MBA’10 (Lioncrest Publishing, 2023)

In “Be Human, Lead Human,” Jennifer Nash, MBA’10, shares over 50 stories gathered from years of interviews with more than 400 leaders and executives to help readers unlock a greater leadership potential by measuring current leadership skills, identifying new goals, and expanding leadership tools with an actionable roadmap.

Stay Sane In An Insane World: How to Control the Controllables and Thrive

by Greg Harden, ’78, MSW’81 (Blackstone Publishing, 2023)

During his more than 30 years with the U-M athletic department, Greg Harden, ’78, MSW’81, supported student-athletes with personal and professional development. 

In “Stay Sane In An Insane World,” Harden offers practical advice to manage self-doubt, build better habits, control your emotions and reactions, and practice self-acceptance. 

The book includes a foreword by seven-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, ’99.

Cover of "Stay Sane in an Insane World"
Cover of "Bread And Circus"

Bread and Circus

by Airea Dee Matthews, MPA’07, MFA’13 (Scribner, 2023)

Written by Yale Young Poets award winner and Philadelphia’s former Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews, MPA’07, MFA’13, “Bread and Circus” is a collection of autobiographical poems about the economics of class and American inequality. 

A challenge to economist Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, these poems explore how self-interest fails when it reduces people to commodity and spectacle.

I Didn't Know I Needed This: The New Rules for Flirting, Feeling, and Finding Yourself

by Eli Rallo, ’20 (HarperCollins Publishers, 2023)

Dubbed “Gen Z’s big sister” and “the Carrie Bradshaw of Gen Z,” Eli Rallo, ’20, is known for her advice on everything from navigating work situations and friendships, to mental health and relationships. 

In “I Didn’t Know I Needed This,” Rallo helps readers with frank, honest, and funny rules for navigating life, love, and everything in between. 

This title will be released on December 12, 2023. 

Cover of "I Didn't Know I Needed This"

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