Books That Inspire


Books That Inspire 2011


main | books by Title | books by Participants 

In observance of National Library Week, the University of Oklahoma Libraries annually hosts the Books That Inspire exhibit, a tradition beginning in 2001. This year the exhibit is in its eleventh year, and my goal for this popular exhibit remains the same--to recognize the importance of reading and books in our lives. Each year as I contemplate the exhibit and how to introduce it, I turn to the great minds of our times and peruse what has been said about the profound impact of reading on mankind. In these passages, the themes of books as friends, as stimulants for thought and as a mirror of the reader’s soul emerge, and each holds a truth that resonates with me. This year, to inspire your thoughts on reading and books, I include a passage from Anne Lamott, a modern author who has been included in past exhibits:

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life


The Books That Inspire XI selection committee was chaired by Daniel Simon, Assistant Director and Editor in Chief for World Literature Today. Members of the committee were Bob Goins, College of Architecture; Sarah Robbins, University Libraries; Connie Smith, Oklahoma Geological Survey; Kristina Southwell, Western History Collections, University Libraries; and John Lovett, Western History Collections, University Libraries. I would like to extend my appreciation to the committee for their service and for completing the difficult task of choosing among the many inspiring modern classics that were submitted to decide those to be included in the exhibit.

This year’s selections include: Tripp Hall, Vice President for Development – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls; Joe Foote, Dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication – The Other America by Michael Harrington; George Cusack, Director of the Edith Kinney Gaylord Expository Writing Program – Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut; and Amy Davenport, Director of Fitness and Recreation – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I appreciate everyone’s contribution to this year’s exhibit.

I am grateful to the University of Oklahoma’s Athletics Department for co-sponsoring this exhibit and to Joe Castiglione, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletic Programs and Athletics Director, for fostering this partnership for the past eleven years. I would also like to thank the sponsors of this year’s exhibit. Their continued support allows us to host this exhibit each year.


Sul H. Lee
Dean, University Libraries
Peggy V. Helmerich Chair