Moraine Valley Community College || Communications/Foreign Languages/Literature || Faculty Recommended Books and Films

Faculty Recommended Books and Films


In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez
Recommended by Kitty Kuzma
This is a fictional account (based on facts) of the three Mirabal sisters (known as “las mariposas”—the butterflies) who were murdered during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The hardcover book is 344 pages long. For those who prefer watching the action unfold, there is a film version!

Hairstyles of the Damned, by Joe Meno
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
Punk rock never sounded better. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the music of rebellion and the kids (and adults) who enjoy it.

Maison Ikuko, by Rumiko Takahashi (14 volumes)
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
Maison Ikuko is a beloved graphic novel series done by the “mother of manga (graphic novels)”, Rumiko Takahashi. In a volume of 14 books, the reader follows the ups-and-downs of Yusaku in his quest to woo the beautiful Kyoko. By the time I reached book 14, I wanted the story to go on forever. By reading this collection of graphic novels, readers will get a sense of what some adults in Japan enjoy reading. These novels offer a fascinating way of understanding the culture of Japan.

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
Recommended by Sandra Beuchamp
You will never, ever look at another Chicken McNugget the same way. This book caused me to boycott fast food for nearly three years now. Not only does Schlosser uncover the history of fast-food in the United States, he charts its influence on a global scale. The results are frightening and everyone in this nation should read this book.

Killing Bono, by Neil McCormick
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
Anyone interested in becoming a rock star should read this book first. McCormick offers a harsh look at what it takes to make it in the world of popular music and culture—even if you went to high school with the members of U2.

American Chica, by Marie Arana
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
Marie Arana has a great love for the United States, her mother’s country, and a great love for Peru, her father’s country. However, having parents from different cultures means Arana can never be completely Peruvian or completely American. Arana likens her identity to a bridge, “never quite reaching either side” (3). This is one woman’s fascinating memoir about learning to understand and deal with what it means to be a bicultural individual.

Of Love and Shadows, by Isable Allende
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
Many people were kidnapped, tortured and murdered under the dictatorship of Pinochet’s oppressive regime in Chile. At the heart Allende’s novel are Irene and Francisco, two young, extraordinary people also threatened by their brutal government. Allende keeps her readers wanting to know Irene and Francisco’s final fate. Allende indeed allows us to experience the pain of the Chilean people on a very personal level.

Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
For those who are fascinated by Frida Kahlo and her intensely personal paintings, this is an excellent book. Herrera does an outstanding job of thoroughly researching Kahlo’s life and interpreting the artist’s paintings. Readers will gain an understanding not only of the artist and her paintings, but also of the Mexican historical context under which she was working.

Jazz, by Toni Morrison
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
Toni Morrison was once reading about a young woman who was shot in Harlem by her boyfriend. As she was dying, this young woman told the people around her that tomorrow she would tell them who had shot her. Morrison was so fascinated by this selfless display of love that she created Jazz, where she retells the story of this young woman and provides an interesting account of some African American individuals’ experiences during the Jazz Age.

The Good Women of China, by Xinran
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
The Good Women of China outlines the situation that many Chinese women face—lives that are not entirely their own. Xinran tells horrifying stories of real-life women with the clarity of a reorter and the skills of a poet.


Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, directors
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
A film for fans of the metal band and for those who just like to see how artists create art. This "Monster" shows how art is just another form of life.

The Colors of Paradise
Majid Majidi, director
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
The blind child Mohammad is forever being shunned by his father, who is ashamed of his son’s disability. The greatest breaking point for Mohammad comes when he starts to wonder if perhaps God does not like blind people and has forgotten about them as well. What follows is a fascinating response from his teacher, who presents a very illuminating insight about the nature of God, and provides Mohammad with hope. Mohammad is a very lovable character who can never be forgotten.

Real Women Have Curves
Patricia Cardoso, director
Recommended by Sandra Beauchamp
This film follows the story of a young woman growing up between two diverse cultures: one represented by her Mexican mother, the other her American boyfriend. This film provides an interesting context for student-centered discussions about diversity, cultural conflict, traditions/mores, concepts of the beauty “ideal”, and self-realization.

The Motorcycle Diaries
Walter Salles, director
Recommended by Sandra Beauchamp
A great film to introduce students to Che Guevara and regions of South America. It may be interesting to couple this film with a reading of On the Road, by Jack Keroac.

Supersize Me
Morgan Spurlock, director
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
A perfect compliment to Fast Food Nation, this documentary highlights the dangers of poor eating habits with humor and insight. After watching this film, you may never want a McDonald’s fruit and yogurt parfait again—enjoy!

The Color Purple
Steven Spielberg, director
Recommended by Sandra Beauchamp
Based on Alice Walker’s novel of the same title, this film depicts several women, who in their own diverse ways, find freedom and themselves.

Julien Temple, director
Recommended by Carey Millsap-Spears
A fascinating look into the lives of two of England’s greatest poets: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The in dreams, realities, and missed opportunities are shown with candor and wit.

To Live
Zhang Yimon, director
Recommended by Amani Wazwaz
This movie follows the struggles of Fugui, his wife Jiazhen and their children during different stages of Chinese history.

Whale Rider
Niki Caro, director
Recommended by Sandra Beauchamp
Magical, mystical tale of a young girl who tests the traditional societal expectations of her Maori community. Web site: http://www.whaleriderthemovie.com1