On My Bookshelf

Sam Polakoff, Class of 1986

headshot of sam polakoff

Sam Polakoff was the third generation of his family to run Nexterus, a 77-year-old logistics firm. About 10 years ago, he was looking for a creative outlet when a life coach challenged him to write a book. Hiatus was published two years later.

Polakoff calls his genre sci-fi thriller. He has published four novels, including Shaman, in which TU plays a prominent role as the location where the main character learns vital information about the visions and voices that have been plaguing him since childhood.

His next novel will be a departure from his usual—historical fiction set in Harford County in
the 1700s.

“My job as a writer is to make the completely impossible sound entirely probable,” Polakoff says.

In 1986...

What Polakoff learned as an undergraduate at TU has stuck with him. “My marketing and business courses absolutely impacted me,” the marketing major says. “Things I learned 40 years ago I still use today.” Here’s what he was reading back then.

book cover license renewed (007)

License Renewed (007) by John Gardner

I devoured my father’s collection of original James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. When Gardner picked up the mantle in the early ’80s, it was as if an old friend had returned.

book cover of bourne identity

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum 

Ludlum was my favorite author of that era. My father always loved stories from which he could escape the pressures of the world. Of all the Ludlum novels, this was the best.

book cover of noble house

Noble House by James Clavell 

Clavell’s knack for writing historical fiction, mostly in Asian settings, took me to faraway lands with colorful characters. In Noble House, the protagonist was the next generation of a family business, a situation to which I also relate.

book cover of overload

Overload by Arthur Hailey 

I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of Hailey’s novels. This story places the California electric grid in a state of peril at the hands of a terrorist. In the 1980s, Nexterus was beginning to work for public utility clients, and, for me, the picture Hailey painted was frighteningly real.

In 2022...

Starting his new company, Thrill Dog, and the publication of his next novel, An Inch from Oblivion, have kept him busy. The novel tells the story of a man’s unexpected and involuntary participation in a criminal conspiracy to control a programmable public. But Polakoff still makes time to read for pleasure.

book cover og the nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  

The book tells the stories of two sisters in World War II-era France, who struggle to survive and resist the Nazi occupation. It was a wonderful story. The women had to overcome a powerful adversary by making dangerous choices.

book cover of the seawolves

The Seawolves by Clive Cussler

The protagonist, Detective Isaac Bell, is a thinker. I’m a proponent of brain over brawn. He fights to recover a secret technology that could affect the outcome of World War I.

book cover of with a mind to kill

With a Mind to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

When you read the old Fleming stuff, he was a great writer, and he created a phenomenal franchise, but his writing didn’t flow as well as you’d like. Guys like Horowitz who write the
same premise and characters are a little easier to read.

someone knows book cover

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

I thought it was an interesting premise. It’s a thriller set in Philadelphia about a group of friends who share a secret about a tragedy that happened 20 years before the novel takes place.