My Reading Life: Professor Jerry Langley

Author: Angela Sienko


As an Executive in Residence at the University Of Notre Dame, Jerry Langley isn’t your typical business school professor. At the Mendoza College of Business, Langley teaches Financing the Corporation, Bond Issue Process, Commercial Banking and Applied Investment Banking (AIM) for the MBA program. He also teaches the AIM course for Mendoza undergraduates as well as Global Finance for the EMBA program and Understanding Globalization in the Certificate in Executive Education program. Additionally, Langley is the faculty advisor for the MBA Finance and Investment Club and he coordinates the annual Financial Executives Alumni Conference.

In his “spare” time, Langley serves as a national board member of the Arthritis Foundation and the Volunteers of America. He also serves on the Supervisory Committee of Notre Dame Federal Credit Union and the boards of the South Bend Civic Theatre and Musical Arts Indiana. So when does he find time to read? When we finally caught him with a free moment, that’s just what we asked.

Question:  When do you find time to read?

J. Langley:  During heavy periods of grading for classes, I don't have that much time to read,
but I sometimes get in 45 minutes or so before or after dinner to do a little reading. During breaks and in the summer, I usually read two or three books a week. And I find time on airplanes a great chance to catch up on my reading—I don't watch movies on planes, I just enjoy the quiet time to read.

Question:  What are you reading now and what have you read recently that has made an impact on you?

J. Langley:  I just finished The Wives of Los Alamos, by TaraShea Nesbit, which I really enjoyed because my wife, Carolyn, and I had visited Los Alamos several years ago and this gave me some great insights into what these families went through when they were there. I recently read Testament of Mary, by Colm Toibin, which made me really think about Mary and Jesus from a totally new perspective. And I read They Marched Into Sunlight, by David Maraniss, this past year, which gave me new insights into both sides of the Vietnam War discussion from a very interesting perspective.

Question:  What types of things do you like to read?

J. Langley:   In books, I read a wide variety of topics—history (especially the Civil  War), historical fiction, courtroom/legal thrillers, true crime and biographies, especially those by David Maraniss (Vince Lombardi, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Roberto Clemente), William Manchester (Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill), David McCullough (Harry Truman and John Adams) and the recent Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts.

In magazines and newspapers, I read mainly to support my business interests and courses— Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Journal of Accountancy, CFO Magazine, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal.  I've recently come to enjoy a fairly new weekly magazine called The Week, which is similar to Time magazine in that it gives a great review of the past week's news for a variety of viewpoints and topics, with excerpts from a wide range of publications.

Question:   What is your favorite book of all time and why?

J. Langley:  This is an almost impossible question for me to answer, but I've narrowed it down to two time periods. When I was in grade school, I absolutely loved The Wonderful World of Mathematics, by Lancelot Hogben. I would check it out of our school library almost weekly and read it over and over. I have since bought two copies via Amazon—one for myself and the other for our twin grandsons, who I hope will find it as fascinating as I did. I highly recommend this book to parents for their children when they get to about the third grade.

As an adult, I think my favorite book has to be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, simply because of what it says about faith and how beautifully it's written.

Question:  What book do you think every Mendoza student should read at some point in his/her life?

J. Langley: Another very difficult question, but I suggest Markings, by Dag Hammarskjold, the Swedish former Secretary-General of the UN.  It's basically a journal he kept over his lifetime and it was published after his death. It's a wonderful collection of short, personal, thoughtful introspections and viewpoints on life.  Many of the passages should be committed to memory and kept in mind by all of us.