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Season’s Readings

15 Terp Titles for the Book Lovers on Your List

By Annie Krakower

Collage of book covers, including With the Fire on High, Hurry Up and Relax, Felon, An Anonymous Girl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball, The Capital of Basketball and more

Books by UMD alumni published this year include young adult novels, a book of poems, collections of darkly comic short stories and more.

Books by UMD alumni published this year include young adult novels, a book of poems, collections of darkly comic short stories and more.

Don’t know what to get for holiday gifts this year? Can’t bear to buy another basic tie or scarf?

For the readers in your life, we’ve got some ideas. We rounded up 15 books by UMD alumni published this year, covering topics from basketball history to suspense thrillers to “wimpy kids”:

With the Fire on High book coverWith the Fire on High,” by Elizabeth Acevedo MFA ‘15
After winning the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her debut novel, “The Poet X,” Acevedo follows it up with the story of a high school senior who’s balancing being a teen mother, caring for her grandmother and pursuing her passion for cooking.





Felon book coverFelon,” by Reginald Dwayne Betts ‘09
Betts, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for carjacking as a teen, went on to become an award-winning writer who graduated from Yale Law School. In his latest poetry compilation, he uses traditional sonnets, redacted court documents and other techniques to touch on the ways in which prison plays a role in marriage, fatherhood and other relationships for formerly incarcerated people.




Emerald City book coverEmerald City,” by Brian Birnbaum ‘10
Birnbaum pulls from his experience as a child of deaf adults as he writes the story of a hearing son of deaf royalty, whose father is caught up in bribes and fraud, in this modern crime thriller set in Seattle.





Does It Fart? A Kid's Guide to the Gas Animals Pass book coverDoes It Fart? A Kid’s Guide to the Gas Animals Pass,” by Nick Caruso M.S. ’11 and Dani Rabaiotti
What might seem like an immature question led to The New York Times bestseller “Does It Fart: A Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence,” followed by this new kid-friendly version to introduce children to animal science.



The Transition Playbook for Athletes: How Elite Athletes Win After Sports book coverThe Transition Playbook for Athletes: How Elite Athletes Win After Sports,” by Phil Costa ’09 and Rob Curley
Even superstar athletes have to hang up their cleats, gloves, goggles or leotards eventually. Costa and Curley, former pro football players themselves, collect advice from more than 100 elite athletes about what to do after the final whistle.





Two 'Til Midnight book coverTwo ‘Til Midnight,” by Bernard L. Dillard M.S. ’05
This soap-operatic dramedy set in tense political times follows a history professor and the whirlwind that surrounds her family, associates and friends, delving into topics like race and sexual identity.



Rainbow: A First Book of Pride book coverRainbow: A First Book of Pride,” by Michael Genhart M.A. ’87, Ph.D. ’89
Bright illustrations help kids celebrate LGBTQ+ pride from a young age as Genhart writes about the meaning behind each colored stripe in the rainbow flag.




Wrecking Ball book coverWrecking Ball,” by Jeff Kinney ’93
Mishaps ensue again in book 14 of Kinney’s wildly popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, as Greg Heffley and his family take on a home improvement project and encounter a plethora of problems.





The New York Yankees in Popular Culture book coverThe New York Yankees in Popular Culture,” by David Krell ‘89
Research for this collection of essays included gathering historical photos, visiting museums and watching “Seinfeld” as Krell and contributors explore the impact of one of the most dominant sports franchises—including everything from Joe DiMaggio to the iconic stadium to that cap that seems to be everywhere.





Hurry Up and Relax book coverHurry Up and Relax,” by Nathan Leslie MFA ‘00
Leslie tells the tales of gym rats, hug phobes and more in this collection of 23 darkly comic short stories, which won the 2019 Fiction Award from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House.





Women Heroes of the U.S. Army book coverWomen Heroes of the U.S. Army,” by Ann McCallum Staats M.Ed. ’96
Women have long played a critical role in the U.S. Army, even when laws prohibited them from becoming soldiers. Staats chronicles the achievements of such trailblazers—like Margaret Cochran Corbin, who disguised herself as a man so she could serve—through contemporary times.





The Capital of Basketball: A History of D.C. Area High School Hoops book coverThe Capital of Basketball: A History of D.C. Area High School Hoops,” by John McNamara ‘83
This comprehensive work celebrates the D.C. metro area’s best high school basketball players, coaches and teams, with many of the game’s greats having roots in the region. McNamara, one of five employees killed last year in the Capital Gazette newsroom shooting, worked on the book for more than a decade, then his widow, Andrea Chamblee ’83, completed it.




An Anonymous Girl book coverAn Anonymous Girl,” by Sarah Pekkanen ’90 and Greer Hendricks
In this pair’s second suspense thriller, which was picked up by Entertainment One to turn into a TV series, a young woman agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study, but the line begins to blur between experiment and reality.





Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks book coverLook Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks,” by Jason Reynolds ‘05
What can happen on a walk home from school? Reynolds’ novel, a National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature, splits into 10 tales (one per block) to show the possibilities, converging into a view of the detours we face in life. 





Labor Pains: New Deal Fictions of Race, Work, and Sex in the South book coverLabor Pains: New Deal Fictions of Race, Work, and Sex in the South,” by Christin Marie Taylor Ph.D. ’13
Taylor examines the impact of black radicalism on Southern literature in the New Deal era, exploring tropes of black workers, interrelationships and questions of feeling and desire across writers and genres.







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