What do a biography of Martin Luther King Jr., an award-winning poetry collection on grief and a bestselling mystery about the dark side of love and marriage have in common? They were all written by Northwestern alumni.
The books — King: A Life by Jonathan Eig ’86, a National Book Award nominee; Elegy by Mary Jo Bang ’71, ’75 MA, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ’97 MS, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author — also can be found in the Alumni Authors CATalogue, a new searchable online directory.
The Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) launched the CATalogue in September to help book lovers find their next great read and give alumni authors an opportunity to promote their books. The directory features an expanding literary collection with more than 1,000 titles written by over 500 authors as of November. Bibliophiles can search by more than 30 genres as well as by author name, self-reported identity and graduation decade, from the 1950s to the 2020s. Alumni authors can submit their books via an online form as well.
The NAA also offers virtual and in-person programs to bring alumni together with their favorite authors and help them discover new ones. In September the NAA celebrated the CATalogue launch with a series of virtual author talks featuring Eig, Alisa Parenti ’87, ’88 MS, Cindy Chupack ’87 and Audrey Niffenegger ’91 MFA. The fall season of Northwestern Intersections, the NAA’s career-focused podcast, featured nine alumni authors discussing their books, with more episodes planned for this spring.
In October Mark Graban ’95 led a session at the Northwestern Leadership Symposium based on his book The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. The annual symposium helps NAA volunteers motivate and grow their alumni communities with talks from industry-leading faculty and experienced alumni leaders.
The topic of mistakes has long interested Graban, a McCormick School of Engineering graduate. “As an industrial engineer, for many years I was focused on preventing mistakes in manufacturing, health care and other areas,” he says. “More recently, I became interested in how we react to mistakes when they do happen.”
In 2020 Graban launched the podcast My Favorite Mistake as a pandemic project to ask business leaders how they have grown from their mistakes. Their responses inspired Graban to write a book. “How do we create an environment where people feel safe to admit [mistakes], so we can focus on learning and improvement instead of punishment? There are lessons in the book to help people feel safe when they make mistakes,” he says.
Graban says he was excited to participate in the CATalogue, especially to learn about other alumni authors. “It’s a great opportunity to dig in and see what other books people are writing,” he says.
Whether readers want to find more books like Graban’s or explore other genres, there are plenty of titles to browse in the CATalogue:
For more lessons on management and leadership ... a series of books by New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink ’86 delves into regret, persuasion, motivation and timing. And Kellogg School of Management professor Nicholas Pearce ’10 MS, ’12 PhD helps readers look for meaningful work with The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work.
For a page-turner for your next vacation … the novel Memphis by Tara Stringfellow ’07, ’18 MFA traces three generations of a Southern Black family. Kevin Sites ’89 MS pens a thriller about a former war correspondent who is trapped alive within a shipwreck in The Ocean Above Me. And Maria Murnane ’93 MS writes romantic comedies, including Cassidy Lane and the Waverly Bryson series.
For cultural insights ... Marie Arana ’71 explores Latin American history in Silver, Sword and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story and other nonfiction and fiction books. Robert Samuels ’06 earned a Pulitzer Prize for the biography His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice, which examines the impact of racism on Floyd’s life. And in Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World, Devorah Heitner ’02 MA, ’07 PhD advises parents on how to help kids navigate today’s technologies.
For children’s and young adult stories ... Natasha Tarpley ’98 JD celebrates self- acceptance and the special bond between mother and daughter in her acclaimed picture book I Love My Hair! Annabeth Bondor-Stone ’09 and Connor White ’09 take young readers on a fantasy adventure in Quest for the Crystal Crown. And Joy McCullough ’98 tells a heart-wrenching tale of historical fiction in her debut novel in verse, Blood Water Paint, which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.