» Recommended Reading

Every year President Jim Doti compiles a summer list of books and films he recommends for students and graduates. Below are some of his suggestions throughout the years.

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The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman

  • You've probably been hearing a lot about oil and gas fracking and the revolution that new process is having on our lives and times. While that topic may not sound like grist for enjoyable summer reading, I found The Frackers, by Gregory Zuckerman, a great character study of wildcatting entrepreneurs.

Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding

  • Another wonderful character study is presented in Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz. Thomas Harding's story of Hanns and Rudolf is a powerful argument about the banality of evil or how a seemingly normal person is capable o f the most heinous of crimes.

The Friedkin Connection by William Friedkin

  • You don't have to be a film student to enjoy and learn from The Friedkin Connection. This candid and powerful autobiography by the great film director and former Marion Knott Filmmaker in Residence at Chapman, William Friedkin, is much more than a story about how films are made. It's also an inspiring and, at times, harrowing account of creating art.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

  • I really loved The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The long title of Daniel James Brown's book gives away the plot, but not the captivating character study of college student-athletes. This book might even inspire you to try out for our Chapman crew teams.

The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud

  • In reading a review of a new anthology of the works of one of my favorite authors, Bernard Malamud, I came across a reference to a book of short stories he published in 1957 that I'd never read-The Magic Barrel. If you read it, I'd love to learn which of his stories in this magical book is your favorite. Mine was "The First Seven Years." I loved this little story big time.

As for movie recommendations, my kind of film focuses on characters and how they grow when confronted with challenging situations.

Nicholas Winton- The Power of Good

  • One of those characters who I believe is one of the truly great unsung heroes of the 20th century is profiled in Nicholas Winton- The Power of Good. See this documentary, which won the 2002 International Emmy Award, if you're examining how you might want to pattern your life.


  • A South Korean film that beautifully captures the power of poetry is appropriately titled Poetry. This film delves into the subject of personal courage. I love the poignant way it captures the passion of a life-long learner. Yoon Jeong-hee's performance is resplendent.

Exporting Raymond

  • On a lighter side, I recommend two movies I found to be laugh-out-loud funny. Phil Rosenthal's Exporting Raymond is a documentary that chronicles his misadventures in Moscow, where he is helping to adapt his successful sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond for Russian television.

The Trip

  • The Trip starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, is a mocumentary road trip through Northern England. If you like this odd couple, you'll like their sequel, The Trip to Italy, which should be released soon. I saw it at the Sundance Film Festival and can't recall when I've heard an audience laugh harder.

Looking for more good reads?

Check out President Doti's annual reading picks from 1993 - 2003!