book cover for There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange

Summer Reading No.5: Carmen Toussaint

Pitts’ Summer Reading Recommendations continue this week with Candler’s Contextual Education Senior Program Coordinator, Carmen Toussaint! Carmen recounts “my eight years with the Contextual Education at Candler have brought me great joy in helping students during their MDiv journey.” However, after her first five years in the position, Carmen took a six-year sabbatical to fulfill a lifelong dream: to create and direct a Writer’s Residency. Carmen explains “My delight in meeting writers from all genres and backgrounds brought my love of reading to a whole new perspective.”

Carmen’s first recommendation is author Tommy Orange’s first novel, There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018). The story follows twelve characters from native communities, a chorus of voices that tells of the plight of the urban Native American. Characters grapple with a complex and painful history, an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, communion, sacrifice, and heroism. As the book jacket says, Carmen admits that she can’t say it better than the book jacket: “Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force.” Find this novel at Emory in print, as an audiobook, or at your local library!

A memoir that Carmen recommends is Deep Creek: Finding Hope in The High Country by Pam Houston (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019). As summed up in the author’s own words, “How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us.” Carmen reflects that “Pam’s rich story of connecting to a piece of land is written to help us understand the value of this search and how we can live through a world that can bring overwhelming obstacles. If you want to take a journey in the high country this summer, take time to read this book.” Deep Creek is available at Emory Libraries or at your local library.

Shifting gears, Carmen introduces us to a blog by Mary Laura Philpott. Mary Laura Philpott is the author of the new memoir Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (April 2022), deemed “masterwork” by the New York Times and a “beautifully wrought ode to life” by the Washington Post. She is also the author of the national bestseller I Miss You When I Blink, named one of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019 and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her essays examining the overlap of the absurd and the profound in everyday life have been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and many other publications. Additionally, Mary Laura is a former bookseller and was an Emmy-winning co-host of A Word on Words, the literary interview program on Nashville Public Television. Keep up with new publications, event opportunities, and more on this blog!

Carmen’s final recommendation to connect the mind and body as you take a walk along the shoreline or mountain path is the Rubin Museum’s Mindfulness Meditation Podcast. Led by a prominent medication teacher, this podcast includes an opening talk and a 20-minute meditation session for beginners and skilled participants alike. Check it out at!

Join us next week to hear more recommendations from a Pitts Librarian!

book cover of With Head and Heart by Howard Thurman

Summer Reading No. 3: Emily Miles

This week, Pitts left the library to consult Candler Admissions Advisor, Emily Miles for her top summer reading resources! A Candler alum herself, Emily helps recruit students to Emory’s School of Theology, assisting students and families through the application process, explaining potential career paths for each concentration and degree program, and providing information about financial aid options.

One book that Emily discovered in seminary and has since read several times is With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979). She explains that “This autobiography not only gives the powerful history of the life and works of Thurman, but also provides readers with an opportunity to connect to their own minds, spirits, and hearts. The way Thurman recounts his life makes every moment, every encounter, every life event seem crucially important. From his relationships, to books he read, to letters he mailed to his special connection to an old oak tree, Howard Thurman is a man that pays attention to life’s details, appreciating the various circumstances that have led to his success. This book has changed the way I think about the doctrine of hope and how I now practice my faith. It has pushed me to see myself in a new light and to discover that there is a whole world inside of me just waiting to be uncovered.” Grab a copy of Thurman’s autobiography for yourself at Emory Libraries or a library near you!

Another book that comes highly recommended from Emily is Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke (London: Headline, 2022). This New York Times Bestseller is a memoir of Tarana Burkes’ own journey in the “me too” movement. Emily notes that “Tarana’s words are raw and powerful. She shares honestly and openly about her own struggles with sexual assault and shame and guides readers to one of her biggest realizations: we can only love others if we love ourselves. If you want an inspirational book to read this summer, it is this one!” Interested? Check out a copy from Emory Libraries, or your local lending institution


If you are looking for a podcast and are interested in the practice and philosophy of yoga, Emily encourages you to check out the “Let’s Talk Yoga” podcast by Arundhati! Arundhati is an immigrant yoga teacher that talks about topics such as cultural appropriation, teaching skills, and how to merge yoga with business. The conversations you will find on this podcast are intended to educate listeners on the roots and history of yoga and how to practically honor that history today. This podcast has made Emily a more conscious consumer in the yoga world and “certainly a more responsible and informed teacher for [her] students!” 

Emily’s final recommendation comes from the wellness platform, Peloton! While Peloton is probably best known for its stationary bike equipment and classes, it offers much more, including a new podcast called “Fitness Flipped.” This podcast literally “flips the script” on what we think we know about fitness and helps listeners connect their minds to their bodies. Topics of these podcasts include body image, rest, endurance, and so much more! “What is even better,” Emily explains, “is that they incorporate a bit of coaching so you can train while you listen to these wonderful episodes! Most of the episodes are 10-30 minutes and length and great for a short lunch time walk (ps. you can get a Peloton membership free for your first month!).” 

Need more recommendations? Tune in next week for some highlights in the digital scholarship world from Head of Digital Initiatives and Technology, Spencer Roberts!

book cover for The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Summer Reading No. 2: Brinna Michaels

As Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Brinna Michaels has a hand in making both print and digital resources discoverable for users. But what has Brinna discovered to recommend for Pitt’s Summer Reading Blog this year?

Brinna starts with House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2021). Brinna describes Klune’s work as “an absolutely beautiful, funny, and heartwarming book about a man who has been forced to be painfully average in every way by the society he lives in, but who learns to find what makes him happy, vibrant, and unique after meeting a gaggle of magical orphans and their mysterious caretaker.” This “modern fairy tale” is also a New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller. Find this book through your local library!

Ever wanted cool science stuff explained to you by cool science folks, but without all the confusing science words? Brinna insists that “Alie Ward has you covered with her podcast which explores all types of “ologies,” including: volcanology (volcanoes), teuthology (squids), horology (watches), glycobiology (carbs), gelotology (laughter), and many more! Find this podcast online through your preferred streaming service. 

We hope you enjoy this week’s recommendations! Find all summer reading blogposts here, and don’t forget to visit the blog next week for more suggestions from Pitts and Candler staff and faculty.


Ann McShane Elected to Leadership in the Visual Resources Association

Pitts is excited to announce that Ann McShane, Pitts’ Digital Asset Librarian, has been elected as Treasurer of the Visual Resources Association (VRA). VRA is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image management within the educational, cultural heritage, and commercial environments. The VRA Treasurer is responsible for the financial accounts of the Association, including sales, income, and expenditures. The nomination and election of Ann recognizes their emerging leadership in this robust community of experts that span libraries, archives, museums, and commercial enterprises, as well as the respect the membership of VRA has for Ann’s ingenuity and organization, reflected in the fine work they have produced in digitization and project management throughout their career. Ann joined Pitts in a contract position as Project Digital Asset Librarian in 2019 and was promoted in 2021 to the full time position of Digital Asset Librarian. Ann came to Pitts from a previous position as Digital Collections Archivist at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Ann notes, “I’m excited to serve as the 2022-2024 Treasurer of the Visual Resources Association (VRA). VRA is an eclectic mix of cultural heritage workers united by the fascinating work of image and media management. I am proud to be a part of such a thoughtful and hard-working professional community.”

In their tenure at Pitts, Ann has been responsible for reinventing the Pitts digitization program, leading the development of Pitts’ new digital collections platform, and spearheading efforts to secure project funding from grant organizations to grow the impact of Pitts’ rare book and archival collections through digitization, research, exhibitions, and outreach. Ann currently works on several grant-funded projects, including “Sounding Spirit,” an NEH-funded project to digitize historic sacred songbooks, and Pitts’ recent partnership with the Digital Library of Georgia to digitize Pitts’ late 19th and early 20th century records of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Pitts has long held the reputation as a leader in theological librarianship, due in large part to the scholarship and leadership performed by its professional staff. As Pitts has expanded its capacity and diversified the nature of its research projects, this tradition of leadership continues, though now it has expanded into new areas of librarianship and cultural heritage institutions. This recent acknowledgement of Ann’s leadership and skill is yet another example of Pitts librarians leading the way. Congratulations, Ann!

Pitts Summer Recommendations: The Best of Quarantine

To kick off the 2021 Pitts Summer Reading Blog, Pitts took to the hallways of the library and Candler building to find out “the best resource you discovered during quarantine.” This week spoke to Myron McGhee, the one of Pitts’ circulation specialists. If you are a Candler student, Myron is a familiar face, as his work ranges from assisting patrons and coordinating with Pitts’ librarians and student staff members, to managing the circulation and cataloging of library materials.  

Myron’s recommendation is Calypso by David Sedaris, a collection of 21 semi-autobiographical essays. The collection of essays was combined into one volume and published as Calypso in 2018.  After its release, NPR published a review of Calypso, attesting to Sedaris’ writing, describing his “remarkable ability to combine the personal with the political, the mundane with the profane, slime with the sublime, and hilarity with heart.” Calypso unpacks family life during the 60s and 70s, providing complex perspectives on matters of life, death, and family dynamics. This item is available as an ebook and in print at the Woodruff Library.

Calypso was named Amazon’s Best Book of June 2018, where it was described as “reading ruminations on middle age and mortality is not typically a cheery exercise, unless David Sedaris is doing the writing.”  The author, David Sedaris worked as a housecleaner and even a part-time elf at Macy’s, before becoming a best-selling author, having several plays produced, and winning the Thurber Prize for American Humor. As his tenth book, Sedaris proves his excellence in American humorist writing.  He is a regular contributor at Esquire and Public Radio International’s “This American Life,” which can be streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Next week we look forward to hearing from Dr. Jehu Hanciles, the D.W. and Ruth Brooks Professor of World Christianity and Director of the World Christianity Program at Candler. Looking for more recommendations? All summer reading blog posts are archived at