For alumni and friends
of the university

Shelf Life

Dick Riley / Jeremy Fleming


A policymaking how-to, a peek into smalltown South Carolina, tainted legacies, and one alumna’s wit and wisdom


book cover for a people's movementA People’s Movement

By Robert Saffold

(The Riley Institute at Furman University)

“A People’s Movement: How a Team of State and Local Leaders Mobilized the Grassroots, Transformed Public Education, and Lived To Tell the Tale – and How You Can, Too” shares lessons from one of the nation’s most ambitious state-level legislative reform initiatives, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of former South Carolina Gov. Dick Riley ’54. The book takes a fresh look at the 1984 South Carolina Education Improvement Act (EIA), a bold education reform effort championed by a broad coalition built by Riley, who also served as U.S. Secretary of Education, to address the state’s low academic achievement and lagging competitiveness. “A People’s Movement” offers lessons and strategies relevant to today’s policymaking and captures the realities of enacting large-scale reform and achieving the art of compromise, as well as how South Carolina arguably made greater gains in public education than any other state in the nation in the years after the EIA was enacted. It also offers 25 key policy “plays” that generated widespread bipartisan support and set an ambitious agenda for reform and are applicable to today’s politics. The book also contains historical photos and perspectives of 27 leaders involved in the EIA.


book cover for the curious lives of nonprofit martyrsThe Curious Lives of Nonprofit Martyrs

By George Singleton ’80

(Dzanc Books)

A restaurant owner runs into trouble when his wife starts a well-intentioned, poorly named rooster rescue. A boy navigates his parents’ split between a stretched phone cord and a flooded septic tank. A drunk sequestered in the middle of nowhere wakes up to find a tractor parked in his driveway. And in a big Cadillac, a grandfather and a grandson and a wayward dog hit the road, searching for a life not downloadable, nor measured in bandwidth. Loosely linked by characters and themes, “The Curious Lives of Nonprofit Martyrs” follows shysters and schemers, film buffs and future ornithologists, unlikely do-gooders and the men who make up Veterans Against Guns in North America, all doing the best they can with what they possess in smarts and cunning. These stories peer through the peepholes of small-town South Carolina into the lives of everyday martyrs – prodigal sons, wayward fathers, and all those who are a little of each. George Singleton was a philosophy major at Furman. He has published several books and more than 200 stories, which have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, the Georgia Review, Zoetrope, Southern Review and elsewhere. He has received a Pushcart Prize and a Guggenheim.


book cover for the ethics of tainted legaciesThe Ethics of Tainted Legacies

By Karen V. Guth ’01

(Cambridge University Press)

What do we do when a beloved comedian known as “America’s Dad” is convicted of sexual assault? Or when we discover that the man who wrote “all men are created equal” also enslaved hundreds of people? Or when priests are exposed as pedophiles? From the popular to the political to the profound, each day brings new revelations that respected people, traditions and institutions are not what we thought they were. Despite the shock that these disclosures produce, this state of affairs is anything but new. Facing the concrete task of living well when our best moral resources are not only contaminated but also potentially corrupting is an enduring feature of human experience. In this book, Karen V. Guth identifies “tainted legacies” as a pressing contemporary moral problem and ethical challenge. Constructing a typology of responses to compromised thinkers, traditions and institutions, she demonstrates the relevance of age-old debates in Christian theology for those who confront legacies tarnished by the traumas of slavery, racism and sexual violence. Guth majored in religion at Furman and is an associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross.


book cover for laughing at furneralsLaughing At Funerals

By Katherine Bryant ’00


In the midst of coordinating carpools, planning English lessons, and attempting, unsuccessfully, to get mud out of white baseball pants, Katherine Bryant lost sight of God in the middle of the chaos. What she learned as she navigated the ups and downs of parenting, friendship, love and loss is that God is always there, we just have to know where to look. In this collection of 31 inspirational stories full of the wit and wisdom she gained as a mother, wife, teacher and friend, Bryant shares what she has learned about God’s everyday closeness and how we can find comfort and laughter even in the toughest of circumstances. Each story is paired with an encouraging and uplifting Scripture to carry through the ups and downs of daily life. Insightful, heartwarming and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, these devotions remind the reader of God’s promises and presence in our lives. Bryant was an English major at Furman, lives in Columbia, South Carolina, and teaches eighth-grade English.