Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Reading Theme: The Holocaust

In November, our Reading Theme and the Spotlight DVD display both feature works about the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Code Ezra by Gay Courter
The ``Ezra'' group of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence arm, has been betrayed, and Eli must find the traitor. As he reviews the files on his operatives, their histories and motivations are revealed. Could the defector be Lily, Holocaust survivor grown into an aloof, sophisticated woman; Aviva, tough sabra whose lifelong byword has been sacrifice; or pampered, soft, American Charlotte, who has always been suspected by Mossad leaders? Courter claims to have based her story on events shared by some real Israeli spies… A fictional view of Israeli intelligence from the in side from 1939 to 1979. (Library Journal review)

See Under: Love by David Grossman
Grossman's brilliant and difficult novel addresses the Holocaust in a unique way: as powerful shaper of the mind of an Israeli boy--later a novelist--who lives in the shadow of his survivor-parent's nightmares... Grossman knows that our idea of the past is inseparable from the language that summons it to consciousness, and in the novel's four sections he provides a stylistically diverse but coherent narrative that reveals the imaginative daring of the writer-hero as he struggles to reclaim a usable identity from catastrophe. (CHOICE review)

Disturbance of the Inner Ear by Joyce Hackett
With the death of her cello teacher, Signor Perso, Isabel Masurovsky is overcome with memories of her parents, who perished in a car crash on the night of her Carnegie Hall debut. A child prodigy, Isabel was managed by her father, Yuri, a Holocaust survivor and an acclaimed pianist in his own right. Now living in Italy and teaching cello to a reluctant young student, Isabel meets a surgeon named Giulio, who is also a male prostitute. Though an unlikely couple, they help each other come to terms with their individual problems. Isabel's quest to make peace with her past and to start living in the present culminates in Terezin, formerly in Czechoslovakia, where she finds the remains of the Nazi camp, Theresienstadt. Here, Yuri played piano in the prisoner orchestra which saved his life. (Library Journal review)

A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova by Arnost Lustig
Twenty rich Jews, waiting to be exchanged for important Nazi POW's, try to save a young girl from the gas chamber. (Publisher’s summary)

Liquidation by Imre Kertész
Ten years after the fall of communism, a writer named B. commits suicide, devastating his circle and deeply puzzling his friend Kingsbitter. For among B.'s effects, Kingsbitter finds a play that eerily predicts events after his death. Why did B.-who was born at Auschwitz and miraculously survived-take his life? As Kingsbitter searches for the answer -and for the novel he is convinced lies hidden among his friend's papers-"Liquidation" becomes an inquest into the deeply compromised inner life of a generation. The result is moving, revelatory and haunting. (Publisher’s summary)

Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Jewish refugee who escaped Hitler's Holocaust and is living in New York with his second wife faces a dilemma when he discovers that his first wife is still alive. (Publisher’s summary)

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The time is 1947. Sophie, a Polish Catholic beauty who survived Auschwitz, has settled in America. Stingo, a 22 year-old aspiring writer from Virginia, is drawn to Sophie and Nathan--a madly romantic couple whose instability and flamboyance utterly capture his imagination. The deeper Stingo sinks into these people's lives, the more he learns that each harbors terrible secrets. (Publisher’s summary)

QB VII by Leon Uris
Queen's Bench Courtroom Number Seven becomes a seething battleground when a famous novelist stands trial. Author Abraham Cady first became aware of Jadwiga Concentration Camp when he learned it was the place where his family was exterminated. This terrible revelation gave impetus to his decision to write a book that would shake the consciousness of the human race--and with the publication of "The Holocaust", his goal was accomplished. (Publisher’s summary)

Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
Harvard, the New Deal, the Holocaust, World War II, Watergate, two prison terms, and a giant conglomerate - Walter Starbuck, who tries to live by the Sermon on the Mount, experiences them all. Shall the meek inherit the earth? Perhaps on a short-term basis. (Publisher’s summary)

Friday, November 1, 2019

November DVD Spotlight: The Holocaust on Film

All through the month of November, we'll be spotlighting films about the Holocaust in our DVD display.  Along with our extensive special collection of Holocaust and genocide studies books, our holdings include dozens of films spanning a variety of Holocaust-related topics.  From documentaries like Paper Clips (2004) and A Film Unfinished (2010), to narrative feature films like Schindler's List (1993) and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), these films tell a range of stories about this tragic chapter in human history.

Other featured titles include:

Denial (2016)
This riveting legal drama tells the true story of historian and author Deborah Lipstadt, who was forced to prove in court that the Holocaust actually happened after being sued for libel by Holocaust denier David Irving.

Europa Europa (1990)
The true story of Saloman Perel, a Jewish boy who avoided the concentration camps by hiding in plain sight and eventually joining the Hitler Youth.

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
This Oscar-winning documentary relates the story of 10,000 children saved from the Nazis and placed with foster parents and hostels in Great Britain at the outbreak of World War II.

The Pianist (2002)
A powerful and harrowing story of survival, this Oscar-winning film stars Adrien Brody as Polish Jew Wladyslaw Szpilman, a brilliant pianist who managed to escape the Nazis and hide out in the ruins of Warsaw.

Shoah (1985)
This chilling, 9 1/2-hour long examination of the Holocaust is not only a brilliant, monumental piece of filmmaking, but an important historical work and a revealing oral history as well.

Son of Saul (2015)
Stylistically daring and intimate in scope, this Auschwitz-set drama follows a member of the Sonderkommandos, the group of Jews forced to assist the Nazis by working in the crematoriums, as he tries to secretly bury the body of a young boy he takes to be his son.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Reads:

Adam Pellman, our Cataloging & Acquisitions Librarian, is a big fan of this week's Friday Reads pick, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren:

Adam Pellman with Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I recently finished reading Hope Jahren's superb memoir Lab Girl, and I've already recommended it to half a dozen people since then. Jahren is a geochemist and geobiologist who has spent much of her career studying fossil forests and teaching at universities in the U.S. and abroad, but her book is far more than the dry account of her life and work that one might expect from someone in her field.

Jahren writes beautifully about her her childhood in Minnesota, her college life and early struggles to fund and run laboratories with her longtime colleague Bill, her struggles with manic depression and workplace sexism, and her experiences with love and motherhood. The chapters about her life are interspersed with shorter chapters about tree life and other elements of the natural world, and Jahren's elegant prose truly illuminates the wonder and beauty of nature.

Strong writing skills are one of the essential elements of the liberal arts education that students get here at Seton Hill, and great science writing like Jahren's is a testament to the value of those skills.

P.S. This book really is amazing, and it's not that long, so I can't recommend it highly enough.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday Reads: Herding Cats

Today Michelle Frye shares about the book that has had her laughing out loud all week-- Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen!

Michelle Frye is reading Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

After a long while since I read anything resembling a comic book, a student recommended
Herding Cats by Sarah Anderson. There are four cats in my household, so even the title and cover held instant appeal.

The first read had me grabbing sticky-notes and marking the pages that made me laugh out loud.
The author’s bold illustrations have basic figures, but display clear (and hilarious) expression.
Anderson shares the experiences of insomnia, procrastination, retail and music therapy, and
her adaptation to general “adulting." Even the portrayal of days sidelined by doubt and anxiety
are conveyed with warmth and humor.

This is a light and quick read – it could be a perfect pick-me-up for college students who might
also battle with the snooze button in the morning, or who consider pumpkin lattes medicinal.
Find it in the graphic novels display near the Library circulation desk!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Homecoming Book Sale

Homecoming is just around the corner, which means so is our annual book sale!


This year's sale will take place Friday, October 11th through Sunday, October 13th during library operating hours. Stack up your purchases and pay just a dollar an inch! (Cash or check only.) This year we have everything from philosophy and history to baby-food cookbooks. Stop by Reeves Room 116 and find a bargain!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October DVD Spotlight: Horror Movies

Another October is upon us, and that means it's scary movie season!  If you're in the mood for chills and thrills, Reeves Memorial Library has got you covered.  We've got horror movies about all manner of things that go bump in the night, from vampires and zombies to mutant animals and murderous aliens.  And let's not forget the scariest monster of all, humankind.

Featured titles include:

Audition (1999)
This cringe-inducing Japanese film, surely one of the most disturbing movies ever made, is both an extremely unsettling piece of revenge horror and a surprisingly affecting examination of loneliness.

The Exorcist (1973)
This horror classic, about a possessed teenage girl, is considered by many to be the scariest movie ever made.

Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele's acclaimed hit, about a young African-American man's nightmarish weekend visit to his white girlfriend's parents' house, is the perfect combination of slowly-escalating unease, disturbing horror, and brilliant social commentary.

Nosferatu (1922)
This silent, expressionistic adaptation of the Dracula story features some of the most haunting imagery in all of cinema.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
With equal parts horror and humor, this wildly entertaining film tells the story of a slacker who tries to win back his ex-girlfriend amid the chaos of a zombie apocalypse.

The Thing (1982)
Tension and paranoia abound in John Carpenter's gory horror classic, about an Antarctic research station that comes under attack by a shapeshifting alien.

Stop by the library and check one out today ... if you dare.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Reads: Range

This week's Friday Reads selection is shared by Kelly Clever, who has been reading Range by David Epstein.

Kelly Clever with Range by Daivd Epstein
Academic librarians are generalists in an environment of highly-specialized specialized experts. When I heard about this book, which claims to prove that "generalists triumph in a specialized world," I knew I had to read it.

Conventional wisdom tells us that we need to pick our specializations early or else we'll be left in the dust by all of our competitors who do. Epstein shows that this can be the secret to success in "kind" environments, like the world of chess players, where learning a lot of information that responds consistently is important. In an information-saturated, ever-changing, uncertain world, however, most decisions and actions need to be made in a "wicked" environment. It is in these "wicked" environments that those with wide-ranging interests and experiences come into their own.

Range reads a bit like Freakonomics or Outliers, even though it turns one of Outliers' much-touted truisms (the 10,000-hour rule) upside down. It's an engaging and fascinating look at how some of the most successful and well-known athletes, artists, musicians, prediction-casters, and scientists dabble in a lot of things instead of hyper-focusing on one area. After all, if the only tool you have is a hammer, things tend to start looking like nails... but if you have a well-stocked toolbox with a variety of tools, you're more likely to find a better solution. While the book hasn't talked about the value of the liberal arts (yet, anyway; I still have 100 pages to go!), that has been on my mind as I consider our university goals of educating students to be "fit for the world in which they will live." Critical thinking, problem-solving, ethical reasoning, and more are skills we seek to cultivate in our students, and they are abilities and mindsets that Epstein finds, again and again, were vital ingredients in major discoveries and accomplishments.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Copyright and... Baby Shark?

screengrab from Baby Shark music video by Pinkfong

While the article claims that "Baby Shark" is in the public domain, it look more like a case of an orphan work to me. I remember singing a more gruesome version of this back in the day at Girl Scout camp.

What do you think? https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2019/08/26/baby-shark-copyright-infringement/

The real case here rests upon whether or not Pinkfong's version really did take significant elements from Johnny Only's recording/interpretation of the song, since the song itself obviously "belongs" to neither of them.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Reads: The Honourable Schoolboy

We're back to Friday Reads for fall! Our Cataloging & Acquisitions Librarian, Adam Pellman, is reading The Honorable Schoolboy by John Le Carré, and says "Sorry for the serious look on my face in the picture, but I'm reading a spy novel, and espionage is no laughing matter."

Adam Pellman with The Honorable Schoolboy

"The Honourable Schoolboy is a spy novel, written by the great British spy novelist John Le Carré, who worked in the British intelligence service before becoming a best-selling writer. His books reveal a real knowledge of the inner workings of the intelligence trade, and focus more on the bureaucracy and day-to-day fieldwork of spycraft, rather than the action-packed, globetrotting adventures of many other spy novels. You can think of Le Carré's works almost as the anti-Mission Impossible, but they are just as thrilling in their own way. His novels have an intelligence and complexity that requires close attention, but they are usually riveting, and they always excel at showing the ways in which matters of global importance can hinge on the very personal vagaries of the human heart.

This is the second novel in a trilogy, and follows members of the British Secret Service who are still reeling from the betrayal of a Soviet double agent in the previous novel in the trilogy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The hero of that novel, George Smiley, is back in charge of the service, and has sent sometime agent and news reporter Jerry Westerby to Hong Kong to ferret out a possible Soviet spy and defector. There, under pressure from Smiley, Westerby becomes embroiled in blackmail, murder, and a complicated attraction that may jeopardize the operation.

I'm looking forward to finishing this novel, and moving on later to read the third novel in the trilogy, Smiley's People."

Monday, August 26, 2019

September DVD Spotlight: Film Noir

As a new academic year begins here at Seton Hill, our students have bright, late-summer days and even brighter futures to look forward to, but we're taking a path toward gloom and darkness instead, with our first DVD display of the year: film noir.  One of the most celebrated of American film genres, film noir gained prominence in the 1940s and 1950s, as a certain style of crime films became commonplace in Hollywood during and after World War II.  Often characterized by a stark, shadowy lighting scheme, and a cynical preoccupation with fate, it's a genre that has proven influential up through the modern era.  We've got classic early examples like the proto-noir The Maltese Falcon (1941), Scarlet Street (1945), and The Set-Up (1949), as well as more recent neo-noirs like the Coen brothers' great directorial debut, Blood Simple (1984), and Christopher Nolan's breakout Memento (2001).

Other featured titles include:

The Big Combo (1955)
Director Joseph H. Lewis teamed with the great film noir cinematographer John Alton to make this superb crime drama, about a police lieutenant working to bring down a crime syndicate.

Crossfire (1947)
Three Roberts (Mitchum, Young, and Ryan) headline this pointed film about a police investigation into the brutal murder of a Jewish man by an American soldier during World War II.

Detour (1945)
This ultra-low-budget gem, about a drifter who becomes embroiled in blackmail and murder, is one of the film noir genre's most memorable meditations on fate and chance.  This film is available as part of the library's 5 Film Noir Killer Classics box set.

On Dangerous Ground (1952)
This quintessential film noir stars Robert Ryan as a cop who travels to the country to solve a brutal murder, only to fall in love with the suspect's blind sister.

Out of the Past (1947)
Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca helped establish the archetypal look of film noir with his work on this film, about a former private detective whose past comes back to haunt him. Jane Greer gives an iconic performance in one of the genre's great femme fatale roles.

Touch of Evil (1958)
One of cinema's great opening shots starts off this classic noir, about corruption and murder in a seedy border town.  Orson Welles directs, and also stars as the villainous Police Captain Hank Quinlan.

Take a walk on the dark side, and check one out at the library today!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Closed Monday for Fall Workshop

The library will be CLOSED on Monday, August 19th as the library staff participate in the Seton Hill Fall Workshop. We will reopen on Tuesday morning.

Monday, August 12, 2019

August/September Reading Theme: College Life

For the start of a new academic year, we’re featuring fiction about college students (and professors)!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Zuleika Dobson; or, An Oxford Love Story by Sir Max Beerbohm

A satiric look at undergraduate life at Oxford recounts the humorous impact of a visit by Zuleika, a beautiful young woman, during Eights Week. (Publisher’s summary)

Big Girls Don’t Cry by Connie Briscoe

…[B]estselling author Connie Briscoe (Sisters and Lovers) examines the issues faced by a young black woman determined to be successful both professionally and romantically. Growing up in a loving and supportive middle-class family in Washington, DC, in the '60s, Naomi Jefferson worries about what to wear, her bra size and meeting boys, and she has dreams of one day opening her own clothing store. While she knows racism is a problem (occasional brushes with the uglier side of people don't let her forget it), Naomi is, at heart, just like any other teenage girl.

All of that changes when Joshua, Naomi's older brother, is killed in an accident on his way to a civil rights demonstration in Chicago. Racism becomes a personal issue, and Naomi decides that she needs to help bring about changes in the system. At college in Atlanta, she becomes immersed in politics, organizing protests and butting heads with school administrations as well as with her boyfriend, who isn't too friendly to the cause. Disillusioned by authority figures and betrayed by the man she loves, Naomi returns home, confused about the world and her place in it. (Publisher’s summary) 

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Grady Tripp is a pot-smoking middle-aged novelist and college professor who has stalled on a 2611 page opus. His student James Leer is a troubled young writer obsessed by Hollywood suicides and at work on his own first novel. Grady's pregnant mistress, his bizarre editor Terry Crabtree and another student, Hannah Green, come together in his wildly comic, moving, and finally profound search for an ending to his book and a purpose to his life. (Publisher’s summary)

All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark

Professor Alan Grant is found stabbed to death in his New Jersey home. All the evidence points to an obsessed student, twenty-one-year old Laurie Kenyon, who sent him passionate letters, followed him, even watched him through his study window-and awakens in her dorm room, covered with Grant's blood and clutching the knife that killed him. (Publisher’s summary)

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

Lauren changes boyfriends every time she changes majors and still pines for Victor who split for Europe months ago and she might or might not be writing anonymous love letter to ambivalent, hard-drinking Sean, a hopeless romantic who only has eyes for Lauren, even if he ends up in bed with half the campus, and Paul, Lauren's ex, forthrightly bisexual and whose passion masks a shrewd pragmatism. They waste time getting wasted, race from Thirsty Thursday Happy Hours to Dressed To Get Screwed parties to drinks at The Edge of the World or The Graveyard. The Rules of Attraction is a poignant, hilarious take on the death of romance. (Publisher’s summary)

Due to Lack of Interest, Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled by Irene Kampen

When Irene Kampen returned to the University of Wisconsin as a 45 year old undergraduate, she discovered, among other things:

*Saul Bellow wrote Herzog. Or did Herzog write Bellow?

*A magic marker was absolutely necessary (because when taking lecture notes you had to put a mark through a particularly important note so that when you were studying you would know it was a particularly important note

*Her old sorority house had been converted to the Ayn Rand Co-educational and residential eating co-operative house

*There wasn't quite as much room on the walls of those "Hallowed Halls" for the ivy since the student underground had taken to leaving messages like: Due to lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled. (Goodreads.com summary)

Souls and Bodies by David Lodge

The ups, downs, and exploits of a group of British Catholics--for whom the sexual revolution came a little later than it did for everybody else...

In this bracing satire, a group of university students make their way through the fifties and into the turbulent sixties and seventies. We first meet Dennis, Michael, Ruth, Polly, and the others at the altar rail of Our Lady and St. Jude, but soon enough they get caught up in the alternately hilarious and poignant preoccupations of work, marriage, sex, and babies--not always in that order. (Publisher’s summary)

I’ll Take You There: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates

An astonishingly intimate and unsparing self-portrait of a nameless young student who, though gifted with a penetrating intelligence, is drastically inclined to obsession. Funny, mordant, and compulsive, "Anellia" (as she sometimes calls herself) falls passionately in love with a brilliant yet elusive black philosophy student. But she is tested most severely by a figure out of her past she'd long believed dead. (Publisher’s summary)

Love Story by Erich Segal

Oliver Barrett IV, a wealthy jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law . . . Jenny Cavilleri, a sharp-tongued, working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe...

Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny are kindred spirits from vastly different worlds. Falling deeply and powerfully, their attraction to one another defies everything they have ever believed—as they share a passion far greater than anything they dreamed possible . . . and explore the wonder of a love that must end too soon. (Goodreads.com summary)

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. (Publisher’s summary) (Kelly's note-- I loved this book! It was so atmospheric and creepy and crazy. The rest of my book club, however... not so much.)

Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers by Cynthia Voigt

In 1961 at a college for academically gifted women, three roommates who differ substantially from each other are brought together by a common interest in volleyball. (Publisher’s summary)

I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Dupont University--the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition . . . Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the uppercrust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time...

With his signature eye for detail, Tom Wolfe draws on extensive observation of campuses across the country to immortalize college life in the '00s. I Am Charlotte Simmons is the much-anticipated triumph of America's master chronicler. (Publisher’s summary)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Independence Day weekend hours

girls with sparklers

We hope you have a safe and happy Independence Day with family and/or friends! The library will be CLOSED July 4th-7th. We'll see you on Monday the 8th!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday Reads: Half-Resurrection Blues

Kelly Clever recently read Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older, who will be speaking at the SHU Performing Arts Center tomorrow evening at 7:00 as part of the Writing Popular Fiction MFA residency. (The public is welcome to attend the free talk, reception, and book-signing!)

Kelly Clever with an ebook copy of
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

The last Writing Popular Fiction author talk I attended (in January, with Kevin Hearne) resulted in my current addiction to the Iron Druid Chronicles. I decided to read something by June's visiting author, as well. Like Hearne (who wrote Heir to the Jedi), Older has written a book in the new Star Wars canon. I liked Last Shot, about Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, but I wanted to read some of his other material, too. Contemporary urban fantasy is more my cup of tea than YA or middle-grade books, so I picked Half-Resurrection Blues, the first book in his Bone Street Rumba series. 

It took me a while to get into the fantasy world of the series. Carlos, the protagonist and narrator, is "half-dead." What this means, exactly, is unclear, even to Carlos himself. He's not a zombie or a vampire, but he did die and come back to some form of life and doesn't remember anything about his life before he died. He works for the NYC Council of the Dead and interacts with ghosts, but he's still corporeal. He has one foot in each world, and it's an awkward and lonely place to be. He's basically a hit man for the Council of the Dead, finishing off rogue spirits for good or dispatching living people when necessary. 

When Carlos finds out that he's not the only one of his kind, his complicated life gets even more complicated. His divided life and loyalties are divided and tested even more than they already were, and he has to figure out how to survive and help his friends survive new and unknown threats from the living and the dead.

This one didn't hook me quite as much as Hounded by Kevin Hearne did, but that's probably because it's darker in tone. I'm glad I read it, and if my babysitter plans hold, I'm going to the author talk tomorrow. I'd recommend this book to those who like gritty urban fantasy, and particularly to anyone who's looking for urban fantasy with a protagonist of color. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend hours

Image by Matt Sawyers from Pixabay

Thursday, May 23rd:    8:00 a.m. - Noon
Friday, May 24th-Sunday, May 26th:   CLOSED

Monday, May 13, 2019

Summer library hours


Monday—Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Saturday CLOSED


May 23    Thursday    8:00 a.m. - Noon
May 24    Friday        CLOSED
May 27    Monday     CLOSED
July 4      Thursday    CLOSED
July 5      Friday        CLOSED
Aug. 19   Monday     CLOSED

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Library Commencement Weekend

The library will be CLOSED on May 11 & 12 for Commencement activities. Congratulations, graduates!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Finals Hours


May 6-9  8:00 a.m.-9:50 p.m.
May 10    8:00 a.m. -4:50 p.m.
May 11-12    CLOSED

Friday, May 3, 2019

Friday Reads: Excellent Sheep

Dr. Stanley has been reading up on "elite" higher education in Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz.

David Stanley is reading Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation
of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life
by William Deresiewicz

An interesting overview of the evolution of elite colleges and universities and the effect it has had on their student populations. If you’re interested in finding out what made some universities elite you can read about their metamorphoses here. A well-written narrative of how schools began as places for students to experiment, reflect, and gain a broad view of the world but, ultimately, became businesses to aid students in narrow paths for financial success. The elite student has been molded from a young age to realize that affluence has its advantages and that failure is not an option. The elite schools have realized this and work to ensure that they remain firm in their beliefs. This is evidenced beginning with the admissions process and progressing through to graduation. Should students go through the higher education process with a myopic view of being trained for a specific, high-paying career or should they be given a chance to experience life outside of their comfort-zones and realize that personal fulfillment is sometimes more than a hefty paycheck? Some interesting hypotheses in this book that shed light on the machinations behind the “ivy-covered walls.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Summer Reading Theme: Beach Reads

These “beach reads” may not all be the fluffy fare that is typically associated with shady umbrellas and fruity drinks, but they all have something to do with a beach.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family with the Great Depression underway. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. (Publisher’s summary)

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico The tale of a lonely man, a little girl and a wild goose driven by a storm to the coast of England. The story tells how the man came to the aid of his country in its moment of desperate need and how the bird became a symbol of hope and safety to the lost armies on the beach at Dunkirk. (Publisher’s summary)

“F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton Seventeen years after the murder of Jean Timberlake at Floral Beach, her self-confessed killer suddenly reappears, and the case reopens. For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son's reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn't know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs. (Adapted publisher’s summary)

The Mind Game by Hector MacDonald When Ben Ashurst agrees to participate in a study of the biology of human emotions for his charismatic Oxford tutor, he can't begin to imagine what lies ahead. With a luxury resort on a beach in Kenya as the site of the experiment and his beautiful new girlfriend along for company, it seems the perfect way to spend the Christmas holidays. But paradise starts to lose its luster when, without warning, Ben finds the experiment veering from abstract scientific theory into terrifyingly real danger. (Publisher’s summary)

Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall Avey Johnson--a black, middle-aged, middle-class widow given to hats, gloves, and pearls--has long since put behind her the Harlem of her childhood. Then on a cruise to the Caribbean with two friends, inspired by a troubling dream, she senses her life beginning to unravel--and in a panic packs her bag in the middle of the night and abandons her friends at the next port of call. The unexpected and beautiful adventure that follows provides Avey with the links to the culture and history she has so long disavowed. (Publisher’s summary)

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener This collection of tales is set against the background of the South Pacific, the endless ocean, the coral specks called islands, the coconut palms, the reefs, the jungle and the full moon rising against the jungle. The tales are told by a young naval officer whose duties on an Admiral's staff take him up and down the islands. (Publisher’s summary)

Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates It all began when Kelly Kelleher was introduced to The Senator, a man she had wanted to meet since selecting him as the topic of her senior honors thesis. Charmed and infatuated, Kelly eagerly accepts his invitation to leave the island party where they've met and ride back to Boothbay Harbor together on the late night ferry. Those who remember Chappaquiddick can predict Kelly's ultimate fate, but certainly not the horrors she must have suffered strapped to the seat of a car that would become an aqueous death chamber. Immense courage shines through the tangled streams of her thoughts, memories, and hallucinations. As witnesses to her plight, we can only keep vigil as she drifts in and out of consciousness, waiting for the reprieve that surely must be hers. Oates brilliantly redefines the meanings of guilt and innocence, vengeance and reward in this thought-provoking allegory of our life and times. (Library Journal review)

Beach Road by James Patterson Tom Dunleavy has a one-man law firm in America's wealthiest resort town, legendary East Hampton. But his job barely keeps him afloat. His clients make a living serving the rich, and the billionaires and celebrities swarming the beaches already have lawyers on their payroll. Then a friend of Tom's is arrested for a triple murder near a movie star's mansion. Tom knows in his gut that Dante Halleyville is innocent, and Dante asks Tom to represent him in what could be the trial of the century. Tom recruits Manhattan superlawyer Kate Costello to help. She's a tough hire, because she's his ex-girlfriend, but she agrees. In their search to find who really executed three locals, Tom orchestrates a series of revelations to expose the killer. And what emerges is staggering--and will shock everyone. (Publisher’s summary)

McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders Something is tarnished on the Gold Coast of Florida--behind Palm Beach's highfalutin' facade bubbles a lowdown brew of blackmail, fraud, adultery, and murder. Playboy/sleuth Archy McNally specializes in discreet cases for his father's old-line law firm. When he is called in to retrieve some property stolen from a wealthy matron's mansion, Archy's genius is put on the line. (Publisher’s summary)

Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks Divorced and disillusioned about relationships, Theresa Osborne is jogging when she finds a bottle on the beach. Inside is a letter of love and longing to "Catherine," signed simply "Garrett." Challenged by the mystery and pulled by emotions she doesn't fully understand, Theresa begins a search for this man that will change her life. (Publisher’s summary)

Brazil by John Updike Allusions to Tristan and Isolde dot Updike's fiction, poetry, and even nonfiction, so it is not surprising to find him reimagining their story as a novel. Surprisingly, he places them in the Brazil of the last three decades. His Tristan is a black beach boy, his Isolde the affluent daughter of a career diplomat; their mutual destiny begins when they meet on a Rio beach. Updike's Brazil, described with his customary scrupulous detail, is alien enough to provide a legendary landscape where the lovers must confront tribulations, endure separations and enslavement, survive deadly adventures, and rely on their love literally as their only sustenance. The rich prose is Updike's characteristic own, but he achieves a tone suggesting that of both the medieval troubadours and the modern Latin American fabulists. (Library Journal review)

Orchid Beach by Stuart Woods Forced into early retirement at thirty-seven, smart, attractive, and fiercely independent Major Holly Barker trades in her bars as a military cop for the badge of deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. But below the sunny surface of this sleepy, well-to-do island town lies an evil that escalates into the cold-blooded murder of one of Holly's new colleagues. An outsider, Holly has little to go on for answers and no one to help her--except Daisy, a Doberman of exceptional intelligence and loyalty that becomes her companion and protector. The closer she gets to the truth, the more Holly knows that it'll take one smart dog with guts to sniff out this killer--before he can catch her first. (Publisher’s summary)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Easter Break Hours


April 17                      8:00 a.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
April 18                      8:00 a.m.  -  4:50 p.m.
April 19 - 21              CLOSED

April 22                     8:00 a.m.  -  4:50 p.m.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Fun with Stats

We've had some inquiries recently about some of the library usage statistics, so here are a few selected bits of data for your perusing pleasure! The infographic is current at the moment, though one of our librarians is retiring at the end of this semester. Also note: the collection bar graph is NOT to scale!

Click through this presentation to see more detailed usage information about our database usage statistics!

Are there any other bits of information you'd like to know about the library? Let us know!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Reading Theme: China

Films set in China are on display over in the O’Hara Room, and in The Reading Room, we’re packing our bags for a fictional trip across the Pacific. We have a significant number of Chinese works in our fiction collection; take the time to acquaint yourself with a new-to-you classic.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

My Lucky Face by May-Lee Chai
Possessed of a good-fortune face, according to her imposing Auntie Gao, Lin Jun feels anything but fortunate despite her work, husband, and beloved son. A middle-school teacher in China, she befriends Cynthia, an American woman who has arrived to teach English at her school. Influenced by her formative years in the Cultural Revolution, by her new American friend, and by an awakening sense of self, Lin Jun feels awkward, stupid, and incapable yet dreams of leaving behind her unfulfilling marriage and creating a new life for herself.
(Library Journal review)

The Dragon’s Village by Yuan-tsung Chen
Shanghai, 1949: we look through the eyes of Guan Ling-ling, a headstrong, idealistic seventeen-year-old. As her family departs for Hong Kong, Ling-ling boldly chooses to stay, and joins a revolutionary theater group which soon leaves the city to carry out the new reforms in the Chinese countryside. After a scant few weeks' preparation, this city-bred schoolgirl suddenly finds herself in one of China's most remote and impoverished areas, a world so far from her own experience that she can barely understand the lives she has been sent to change. (Publisher’s summary)

Nobel House: A Novel of Contemporary Hong Kong by James Clavell
The tai-pan, Ian Dunross, struggles to rescue Struan's from the precarious financial position left by his predecessor. To do this, he seeks partnership with an American millionaire, while trying to ward off his arch-rival Quillan Gornt, who seeks to destroy Struan's once and for all. Meanwhile, Chinese communists, Taiwanese nationalists, and Soviet spies illegally vie for influence in Hong Kong while the British government seeks to prevent this. And nobody, it seems, can get anything done without enlisting the aid of Hong Kong's criminal underworld. (Publisher’s summary)

A Floating Life: The Adventures of Li Po by Simon Elegant
History and legend combine brilliantly in Simon Elegant's bawdy "autobiographical" account of China's famed rabble-rousing versemaker Li Po. On a lavishly outfitted river barge in ancient China, a studious young vintner's son takes down the life story of the extraordinary Tang Dynasty poet-in-exile, none other than the "Banished Immortal" himself, the great Li Po.Li Po relives his outlandish adventures, from riding on the back of an enormous eagle to working for a brutal butcher as a Pigboy-in-training, and struggling to make his mark at the court of China's most glorious emperor. (Publisher’s summary)

Soul Mountain by Xingjian Gao
In 1983, Chinese playwright, critic, fiction writer, and painter Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced imminent death.But six weeks later, a second examination revealed there was no cancer--he had won "a second reprieve from death." Faced with a repressive cultural environment and the threat of a spell in a prison farm, Gao fled Beijing and began a journey of 15,000 kilometers into the remote mountains and ancient forests of Sichuan in southwest China. The result of this epic voyage of discovery is Soul Mountain (Publisher’s summary)

The Chinese Lake Murders by Robert van Gulik
The Chinese Lake Murders describes how Judge Dee solves three difficult cases in A.D. 666, shortly after he has been appointed magistrate of Han-yuan.

"[Robert van Gulik] deftly interweaves three criminal cases involving exotic yet universally recognizable characters, then has his Judge Dee provide a surprising yet most plausible solution."--New York Times Book Review
(Publisher’s summary)

The Binding Chair, or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society by Kathryn Harrison
In poised and elegant prose, Kathryn Harrison weaves a stunning story of women, travel, and flight; of love, revenge, and fear; of the search for home and the need to escape it. Set in alluring Shanghai at the turn of the century, The Binding Chair intertwines the destinies of a Chinese woman determined to forget her past and a Western girl focused on the promises of the future. (Publisher’s summary)

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old Shanghai, when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by doing so will civilization be saved from the approaching catastrophe. (Publisher’s summary)

Waiting by Ha Jin
This is the story of Lin Kong, a man living in two worlds, struggling with the conflicting claims of two utterly different women as he moves through the political minefields of a society designed to regulate his every move and stifle the promptings of his innermost heart. (Publisher’s summary)

Camel Xiangzi by Lao She
Fictionalized account of the author's experiences in his early youth with the poverty of his family and neighbors. The story takes place in China before the Communist take-over and Chairman Mao's rise to power. The author came to see communism and Mao as the solution to the poverty of the masses. (Publisher’s summary)

The Family by Jin Ba
The first half of the 20th century was a period of great turmoil in China, with thousands of years of established civilization being uprooted by a radical socialist revolution. Family, one of the most popular Chinese novels of that time, vividly reflects that turmoil and serves as a basis for understanding what followed… Drawn largely from Ba Jin's own experience, Family is the story of the Kao family compound, consisting of four generations plus servants; it's essentially a picture of the conflict between old China and the new tide rising to destroy it, as manifested in the daily lives of the Kao family. (Publisher’s summary)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu ("women's writing"). Some girls were paired with laotongs, "old sames," in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become "old sames" at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart. (Publisher’s summary)

The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
In 1903, a young Scotswoman named Mary Mackenzie sets sail for China to marry her betrothed, a military attache in Peking. But soon after her arrival, Mary falls into an adulterous affair with a young Japanese nobleman, scandalizing the British community. Casting her out of the European community, her compatriots tear her away from her small daughter. A woman abandoned and alone, Mary learns to survive over forty tumultuous years in Asia, including two world wars and the cataclysmic Tokyo earthquake of 1923. (Publisher’s summary)

Old Well by Yi Zheng
This novel from contemporary China tells the story of life in Old Well, a peasant village struggling against a perennial lack of water. Sun Wangquan is continuing the family tradition of digging new wells, a task that has claimed the lives of several of his ancestors, but he is the first to apply modern scientific methods. Much of the narrative is devoted to the love triangle of Sun Wangquan, his traditional wife Duan Xifeng, and the modern woman Zhao Qiaoying who has captured his heart. (Library Journal review)

April DVD Spotlight: The Cinema of China and Hong Kong

For this month's DVD spotlight, we're heading across the globe to celebrate the cinematic output of China and Hong Kong.  While both mainland China and the former British colony of Hong Kong had distinctive film industries for much of the 20th century, it was only in recent decades that films from these industries gained international prominence.  The energy and style of directors like John Woo, Tsui Hark, and Wong Kar-Wai led to a boom in popularity among Hong Kong films in the 1980s and 1990s, while at the same time China's "Fifth Generation" of directors, such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, drew global acclaim for their work.  We've got a wide variety of films from this period and later, spanning a range of genres.

Featured titles include:

Chungking Express (1994)
A pair of intertwined love stories unfold against the backdrop of a bustling Hong Kong shopping center in this celebrated gem from Wong Kar-Wai.

Farewell My Concubine (1993)
This exquisite historical drama follows two orphans who spend their lives as performers in the Peking Opera.

Hard Boiled (1992)
A die-hard Hong Kong cop teams up with an undercover agent to bring down a mob of smugglers in John Woo's influential shoot-'em-up classic, arguably the best action film ever made.

In the Mood for Love (2000)
This gorgeous, swooningly romantic period drama, directed by the great Wong Kar-Wai, chronicles the relationship between two neighbors who realize their spouses are having an extramarital affair.

Infernal Affairs (2002)
In this stylish thriller that inspired the Oscar-winning gangster film The Departed, a cat-and-mouse game ensues when an undercover cop infiltrates the mob, only to discover that the mob may have a mole within the police.

Shower (1999)
In this winning comedy, a successful businessman returns home and develops a new appreciation for the traditional bath house run by his family.

To Live (1994)
This sweeping historical epic, from acclaimed director Zhang Yimou, depicts a family's struggle to survive across four decades of tumult and social change in 20th-century China.

Stop by the library and check one out today!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday Reads: The Stranger Diaries

This week, Judith Koveleskie tells us about The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffith.

Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

This mystery that reads like a novel has three main characters: Clare (A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland), Georgia (her daughter) and Harbinder (a gay Indian Detective Sergeant). 

When another teacher is murdered, Harbinder is called in to investigate.  Clare soon discovers that someone else is leaving mysterious entries in her diary commenting on what she writes and seemingly tying her to the murder.  Other clues seem to indicate that events in a Holland short story may be coming true.

Descriptions of what is happening are presented in separate sections from the point of view of each of the three  women.  The story also deals with family relationships, especially those between mothers and daughters.

As usual, Elly Griffith weaves a spellbinding tale that is gripping to the very end.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Reads: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Happy Friday!  Adam Pellman shares the nonfiction book he's reading: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, written by James Agee, with photographs by Walker Evans.

Adam Pellman is reading Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
by James Agee and Walker Evans

I first discovered the American writer James Agee when I was in film school as an undergraduate.  Agee wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite films, The Night of the Hunter (which you should absolutely watch if you've never seen it), and he was also a noted film critic.  I have yet to read his celebrated novel A Death in the Family, but I'm currently reading this nonfiction book, in which he chronicles the lives of poor tenant farm families in rural Alabama during the Great Depression (fun!).  The families live in utter destitution, but Agee describes their existence in some of the most elegant prose I've ever read.

In fact, at times Agee's writing is almost too poetic, so much so that I sometimes lose focus a bit as, for example, he spends several pages describing the furniture and personal belongings in a farmhouse bedroom.  Still, I find myself feeling a great appreciation for his mastery of language, and for the ways he reflects upon his own role as an outsider who has come to "spy" on these poor families.  Agee includes little bits of self-reflexive humor (e.g., including a brief quotation before the start of the main text, with a footnote that reads, "These words are quoted here to mislead those who will be misled by them"), and he is such a talented writer that his descriptions sometimes make me go back and re-read them.  One of my favorite passages reveals the backbreaking hardship of these families' daily lives, describing how one of the wives awakens in exhaustion each morning:

"She has not lacked in utter tiredness, like a load in her whole body, a day since she was a young girl, nor will she ever lack it again; and is of that tribe who by glandular arrangement seem to exhaust rather than renew themselves with sleep, and to whom the act of getting up is almost unendurably painful."

I've been pretty blown away by the writing in this book, so I'm looking forward to reading Agee's fiction in the near future.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Reads: The Library Book

Kelly Clever is listening to another audiobook, but this week it's non-fiction: Susan Orlean's The Library Book.

Kelly Clever is listening to The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This was my book club's pick for last month. My library hold came in the day after our meeting, but I decided to listen to it, anyway.

I'm sure that I must have learned about the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire when I was in graduate school, but if so, the knowledge was long ago buried under detritus about gray literature, Princeton files, and how to clear paper jams out of the public printers. The Library Book takes a thorough look at the day of the fire and the herculean salvage efforts that followed. It also delves into the life of the man who may or may not have deliberately started the inferno.

In addition to talking about the fire, Orlean meanders through the history of libraries and also takes a look at their present day. She's surprised to learn that modern libraries are de facto homeless shelters; that they offer lectures and classes; that a director is part social worker, part properties manager, and part scholar; and that a central library's shipping department packs and sends out an entire branch library's worth of books and other materials every single week.

My book club friends liked the book well enough, but none of them were riveted. Personally, I'm loving it. If you're a librarian or an aspiring one, or the particular kind of book lover who daydreams about Belle's library from Beauty and the Beast, you'll probably love it, too. The author reads the audiobook, and she speaks very slowly, so I'm listening to it at 1.5x speed. If you haven't already downloaded the Libby app from OverDrive, do that and enter your public library card number so you can explore the wealth of audiobooks and ebooks that are at your fingertips!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Research Award deadline just around the corner!

Remember to get your Research Award entries in by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 17th!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Reading Theme: California Dreaming

For March, we’re dreaming of sunnier climes… particularly California.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution--a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. First published in 1934 and banned in Boston for its explosive mixture of violence and eroticism, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic of the roman noir . It established James M. Cain as a major novelist with an unsparing vision of America's bleak underside, and was acknowledged by Albert Camus as the model for The Stranger. (Publisher’s summary)

Home Free: A Novel by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

On Christmas Eve, two life-altering events are thrust upon Kate, a traditional middle-class housewife, without warning. Cliff, her husband of 25 years, announces he is leaving her for his old flame. Then, Ford, who is living in a dilapidated station wagon, appears at Kate's doorstep. Having lost their Iowa farm, Ford and his family have moved to California to begin a new life. Desperate for shelter, Ford leaves his wife and children in a seedy hostel for women while he searches for work. When Kate reunites Ford's family under her roof, her life begins anew as she champions the plight of the homeless. (Publisher’s summary)

The Goodbye Look by Ross Macdonald

Lew Archer is hired to investigate a burglary at the mission-style mansion of Irene and Larry Chalmers. The prime suspect, their son Nick, has a talent for disappearing, and the Chalmerses are a family with money and memories to burn. As Archer zeros in on Nick, he discovers a troubled blonde, a stash of wartime letters, a mysterious hobo. (Publisher’s summary)

A Shooting Star by Wallace Stegner

Sabrina Castro, an attractive woman with a strong New England heritage, is married to a wealthy, older California physician who no longer fulfills her dreams. An almost accidental misstep leads her down the slow descent of moral disintegration, until there is no place for her to go but up and out. (Publisher’s summary)

How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto

Meeting at their quilting circle every week, the women of the small town of Grasse share their personal stories, beginning a tradition that encompasses a half century of American history. (Publisher’s summary)

Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel weaves a powerful tale of three couples who face decisions about having children that will test, in unexpected ways, the ties that bind them as lovers, partners, and friends. Their lives, their goals, their feelings about families, are on the line, as the word "infertility" begins to unravel their dreams. (Publisher’s summary)

“A” is for Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery by Sue Grafton

READ THE SENSATIONAL BLOCKBUSTER THAT STARTED IT ALL! Take it from the top in # 1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton's knockout thriller that introduced detective Kinsey Millhone--and a hot new attitude--to crime fiction... A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she's got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes… That's why she draws desperate clients like Nikki Fife. Eight years ago, she was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she's out on parole and needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. But after all this time, clearing Nikki's bad name won't be easy. (Publisher’s summary)

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor

If Huck Finn had gone West during the Gold Rush and lived to tell about it, he might have sounded much like Jaimie McPheeters in describing his incredibly hazardous trek by wagon train to California in 1849. Jaimie shares the storytelling with his father, an intelligent Scottish doctor whose ebullient personality is only slightly undermined by a weakness for gambling and strong drink. (Library Journal review) ***Pulitzer Prize winner, 1959***

Friday Reads: West Newton

Today Judith Koveleskie shares a book about her hometown-- West Newton: Memories of an Old Town by Florilla W. Albig
Judith Koveleskie with West Newton: Memories of an Old Town

This limited edition book about my hometown was published for the Bicentennial Year. Mrs. Albig was the editor of the local paper and this book captures the town at that moment in time. Although most of the businesses and some of the structures are no longer there, the spirit of the town remains strong. Although I have not lived there for over 50 years, it is still home to me and I return as often as I can.

The book was a gift to Reeves Library from George R. Sweeney who was prominent in Westmoreland County and served as head of the Municipal Authority for nearly 35 years. News clippings about him are inserted in the back of the book.

Although I enjoyed reading this book again, I realize that it conforms to the WASP mindset that was prevalent at the time. We did have Catholics and African Americans who made contributions to the the town, but except for pictures of their churches, they are not mentioned. Perhaps in the future, someone else can write a book that is more inclusive. One of our most gifted residents was a young man in my high school class who achieved much in the world of art https://gregthompsonfineart.com/project/tarrence-corbin/

March DVD Spotlight: Comedies

We're looking to tickle your funny bone with our newest DVD display!  All through the month of March, we're highlighting the comedy films in our collection.  We've got something for every sense of humor, from witty Hollywood classics like His Girl Friday (1940) and Ninotchka (1939), to hilarious modern crowd-pleasers like Groundhog Day (1993) and The Wedding Singer (1998).  If you enjoy British humor, you might check out the hysterically funny crime caper A Fish Called Wanda (1988).  Whether you like romantic comedies, action comedies (we're looking at you, Hot Fuzz (2007)), or dark comedies, we've got you covered.

Featured titles include:

Adaptation (2002)
Nicolas Cage plays identical twin brothers, one of whom is struggling to adapt an acclaimed non-fiction book into a screenplay, in this surreal comic masterpiece.

The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Coen brothers' goofy cult classic, a noir-tinged comic caper about a lazy, Southern California stoner who gets sucked into a kidnapping plot after being mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, has inspired hordes of devotees over the past two decades.

Bull Durham (1988)
Sports, romance, and comedy meld perfectly in this film about an aging minor league catcher who is brought in to "mature" a young pitching prospect, and who falls for a local baseball groupie.

The Firemen's Ball (1967)
This Czech satire chronicles a local firemen's ball where everything goes hilariously wrong, from an ill-fated beauty pageant to a lottery in which all the prizes have been stolen.

Heathers (1988)
This blistering teen satire, about a high school girl who teams up with a sociopathic fellow student to murder the members of a snobby clique, makes Mean Girls look like a Hallmark movie.  But, we also have:

Mean Girls (2004)
A smart, hilarious comedy about a formerly home-schooled teen who struggles to navigate the social landscape of her new high school.

Trouble in Paradise (1932)
A mischievous, sophisticated romantic comedy about a thief and a pickpocket who fall in love, then scheme to rob a beautiful perfume company executive.

Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Nobody does mockumentary comedy better than writer/director Christopher Guest, and this film, about a small-town amateur theatre troupe putting on a musical to celebrate the town's 150th anniversary, may be his funniest film.

Stop by the library and check one out today!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Reads: Stiff

Dr. Stanley has another eclectic pick for us this week-- Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. (Side note: it's never boring having David for a boss!)

David Stanley is reading Stiff by Mary Roach

I enjoy all genres of books. I like humor. I like fiction. I like non-fiction. I like the macabre. I like science. This books, believe it or not, contains bits of all of the above. This book was recommended to me by someone who for one reason or another thought it was a topic I would enjoy—he was right.

When most people think about death they never really consider much other than burial, cremation, donation, or other generalities. What this book does is explore the various specific paths that a person’s remains can take from the moment of death until final disposal. Although at times the narrative can be a bit “descriptive” it is eye opening as to the many ways that people can continue to assist mankind after they shuffle off this mortal coil.

I’ve been aware of how cadavers are used in medicine but it was interesting to learn of some of the specifics of how they help to hone the skills of physicians and other professionals. These bodies also assist in ways that surprised me: think crash dummies, and in ways that I had read about in the past: think methods of decomposition.

All in all it’s nice to see that these people were/are altruistic at a time when many have been laid to rest. It makes me appreciate what they continue to do and the respect that they are still accorded for their final sacrifices.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Reads: Samaritan

We made it to another Friday! Today Adam Pellman shares Samaritan by Richard Price, a crime novel that dives beneath the surface.

Adam Pellman is reading Samaritan by Richard Price

While I enjoy whodunits and traditional detective stories, I often prefer "literary" crime fiction that is more character- and setting-driven, and that is focused less on revealing a criminal's identity than on revealing some deeper truth about the human condition.  Richard Price is a crime writer whose work definitely falls into the latter category.  I've read two of his other novels, Clockers and Lush Life, and both were excellent.  Samaritan is about a former television writer, Ray Mitchell, who returns to urban New Jersey to teach a creative writing seminar at his old high school.  After Ray is beaten nearly to death in his apartment, and refuses to cooperate with the police, a former childhood acquaintance of his, police detective Nerese Ammons, decides to work the case and find out what happened, and why.

As an avid reader, I was pleased to discover a passage early in this novel that perfectly illustrates one of the reasons I love to read:

"What we really get out of the good books we read is self-recognition. We read and discover stuff about life that we already knew, except that we didn't know we knew it until we read it in a particular book. And this self-recognition, this discovering ourselves in the writings of others can be very exciting, can make us feel a little less isolated inside our own thing and a little more connected to the larger world."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Melvil Mondays: 900-909

We've finally reached the 900s, which are for "History, geography, and auxiliary disciplines." Here are the "standard subdivisions" for 900-909:

  • 900 - Standard subdivisions of geography and history
  • 901 - Philosophy and theory of history
  • 902 - Miscellany of history
902 G888
The Timetables of History
by Bernard Grun

  • 903 - History dictionaries, encyclopedias, and concordances
  • 904 - Collected accounts-- "class here adventure"
  • 905 - Serial history publications
  • 906 - History organizations and management of history
  • 907 - History research, education, and related topics
907.2 C77
By Albert Cook

  • 908 - "History with respect to groups of people"
  • 909 - World history-- "Civilization and events not limited by continent, country, locality."

909.07 C17i v. 1-3
The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages
edited by Robert Fossier

Friday, February 8, 2019

Friday Reads (or listens): The Raven King

Happy Friday! Public Services Librarian Kelly Clever has moved on to the final book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater; the last time she was on Friday Reads, she was listening to the previous book.

Kelly Clever is listening to The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I decided to not take years off in between books in the series this time. Blue Lily, Lily Blue ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I was hoping that The Raven King would pick back up where it left off. It hasn't, but I'm enjoying the ride that it is and expect that everything will come together in the end.

I haven't had much time for "real" reading since the semester started up, so expect to see a lot of audiobooks as my Friday Reads features for the foreseeable future!