James Siodla

Assistant Professor of Economics

As an economist, I am persuaded by data and hard facts. But I also know the power of narrative, which is what I often look for in the books I read (one of my favorite books is The Grapes of Wrath and I can hardly teach the Great Depression without thinking about it). I try to read often and widely, everything from classic fiction to religion and spirituality. I recently finished Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, a gut-wrenching story about the 19th-century whaling disaster that inspired Melville’s Moby-Dick. I learned a lot reading two good memoirs this year, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is the most recent novel I’ve read, and is an imaginative (if not painful) blend of science fiction and history. In nonfiction, I’m currently reading Edward E. Baptist’s thought-provoking book on slavery and capitalism, The Half Has Never Been Told, and Leah Platt Boustan’s Competition in the Promised Land, which rigorously studies the impact of the Great Black Migration in northern cities. And for some lighter fare, I’m blazing my way through Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.