Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Big Brother is Watching You

The resources listed below aid in that cause in that they discuss a range of examples of mediated and restricted information exchange. They also reveal that the surveillance state is functioning internationally, as seen in recent revelations that malware is embedded into PC firmware and cell phone SIMs at the point of production and in the revelation of our country’s surveillance of leaders of even “friendly” nations. Most important, these resources show the overlapping uses of mass information collection for corporations and government.
~Jesse A. Lambertson, "Careful, You're Being Watched: Surveillance and Privacy"

Laura Poitras, director of the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, says "People are starting to understand that the devices we carry with us reveal our location, who we're talking to, and all kinds of other information." We already know that Google shows you ads, and that you can edit your settling to "control the ads that are delivered to you"; your Facebook NewsFeed also has ads targeted for your specific interests or demographic, and on January 26th Facebook announced that their Audience Network (FAN) would be expanding. Every time you download a new app for your phone, you give the app permission to access a lot of information from your device, and do you even know what the app is using the data for? Have you heard about the "Google Security Princess"? Her job is try to hack Google, to find flaws in the system before "blackhat" hackers do. There have been so many hacked sites in the last few years, from the Target fiasco of 2014 to the infamous Ashley Madison debacle last year - when you give sites your information, seems like you are always taking a risk.

What are you doing to protect your privacy and secure your information online? How is your password strength? PC World recommends controlling your digital footprint by checking your settings on social media and being careful about what you post; using different identities on different sites; and browsing privately. Also, the library has many items of interest, whether you want to know what the issues are right now or want to find out more about the history of surveillance.

Current titles

I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy by Lori Andrews

Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin


How do you feel about surveillance, be it done in the interests of national security or by a corporation? Laura Poitras also says, "There are people who are always going to try to engage in activity that is illegal and they're going to try to subvert surveillance. But everyone should not give up their liberties and rights to privacy because some people are going to [do that]. We shouldn't stop or limit our basic liberties because some people are going to engage in criminal activities." The Pew Research Center has done a study that found "that there are a variety of circumstances under which many Americans would share personal information or permit surveillance in return for getting something of perceived value." Let us know your opinions in the comments.

For more books on this topic, try a subject search of "Privacy, Right of" and "Electronic Surveillance".

Recommended by Library Journal

Aside from listing several technological open-sourced projects built with privacy and anonymity at the core, this site is also a reference for research related to Internet freedom.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

New & Novel: Nautical Fiction

A list of nautical fiction would not be complete without Moby-DickThe Old Man and the Sea, C.S. Forester's Hornblower books, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt, or the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. But it by no means begins and ends there. If you are someone who enjoys reading about maritime adventures, we have plenty of titles that should pique your interest from stem to stern!

Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk by Tracy Groot

The North Water by Ian McGuire

Hover by Anne A. Wilson

The Abduction of Smith & Smith by Rashad Harrison

Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams

The French Prize by James L. Nelson 

The Privateersman by Frederick Marryat [eBook]

B.O.Q.: An NCIS Special Agent Fran Setliff Novel by N. P. Simpson 

The Surfacing by Cormac James 

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin 

The Plover by Brian Doyle 

Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain's Tale by Robin Lloyd  

The Whispering Muse by Sjón 

First in series

Kydd by Julian Stockwin 

Gentleman Captain by J.D. Davies 

Under Enemy Colors by S. Thomas Russell 

The King's Coat: The Naval Adventures of Alan Lewrie by Dewey Lambdin [LP]

(young adult, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and graphic novels with a seafaring bent)

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser [eBook]

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

The Terror by Dan Simmons 

The Scar by China Miéville [eBook]

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
There is a fair amount of seafaring lore in the Tintin books, since one of the main characters in Captain Haddock. Volume 3 has three tales involving the sea and sailors, beginning with The Crab with the Golden Claws and ending with The Secret of the Unicorn; volume 4 begins with the sequel to Unicorn, Red Rackham's Treasure. Volume 6's The Red Sea Sharks is also a standout.

For more nautical fiction, try a subject search of "sea stories".  Want true adventures to swash your buckle? Try Sea Fever: The True Adventures That Inspired Our Greatest Maritime Authors, From Conrad to Masefield, Melville and Hemingway by Sam Jefferson. Also check out Anchors Aweigh, our nautical adventure fiction booklist, from our Booklists for Adults & Teens guide

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Have you checked out Freegal yet? Freegal is our music streaming eResource! Freegal Music gives you access to over 9 million songs from over 28,000 labels including the Sony Music catalogue of your country. To use, you simply have to have a valid library card.

Freegal has playlists such as "Today's Grammy Hits", "Broadway", "One Hit Wonders", and "Classic Rock" to choose from as well as standalone albums. The Home page will show you Top Albums and Top Singles, and also has a list of Featured Artists and Composers - everything from One Direction to Barbra Streisand to Miles Davis. You can also see our library system's Top 10, New Releases, and you can search by genre. Freegal also stores your streaming history for 2 weeks, so you can go back and find titles or listen again.

How Freegal Music Works:
  • Library users have a weekly download limit of 3 songs per week, and have a streaming limit of 3 hours per day. You will be able to keep track of your downloads in the upper right corner of the site. "My wishlist" is a tool for you to use when you have reached your weekly download limit. You can add your email address to receive twice-weekly email reminders of your available downloads.
  • Every song has a sample clip you can listen to before you download. You must be logged in to enjoy the sample clips. The downloads on this site are all in the MP3 format with no DRM, and videos are in the MP4 format with no DRM. This service will work on almost any computer, player, tablet or smartphone. The Freegal Music mobile app is free in the Apple® App Store and in Google® Play.
  • Music videos will cost you 2 of your allotted downloads. If you do not have 2 downloads available you will not be able to download a music video.
  • The search engine is both a simple and advanced search, and will return results primarily by the album that the song is from. You can "Search All" for Albums, Artists, Composers, Songs at the same time. For example: Elvis Blue Suede Shoes.
 Give Freegal a try, and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

History Through Objects

The idea of presenting popular history through objects got a boost from Tom Standage’s popular A History of the World in Six Glasses (Walker. 2005), which discusses human development from the Fertile Crescent, where they drank beer, to today’s Coca Cola–fueled society. The trend has really taken off lately, though, with readers who like a reference browse delighting in books that explore various aspects of our world and its history through…stuff. Collections of 100 items are particularly the rage, and are also fascinating. More than, say, six drinks, a compilation of 100 objects gives the author space to get a little whimsical or unexpected. Like any list that claims to be definitive, the chosen artifacts can spark some knotty discussions. Which items were chosen, and why? What’s missing? Which choices are odd, or expand the definition of the title?

In our experience, reading history books can sometimes be a little dry. That's why we've been enjoying these books which present history using objects (well, not all objects, exactly, some use ideas or people or what have you). For instance, one book has chosen 7 flowers and shown how they have "exerted power or influence of one kind of another, whether religious, spiritual, political, social, economic, aesthetic or pharmacological".*  Another tome has a linguist expert selecting words "that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular".* How about "A book you can read straight through and also use in the kitchen...a perfect gift for any food lover who has ever wondered about the origins of the methods and recipes we now take for granted"?* It's an interesting take that makes history seem tangible - probably too simplistic for a scholar, but helpful for the layman. Consider:

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin 

Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects by Neil MacGregor 

The Civil War in 50 Objects by Harold Holzer and the New-York Historical Society

A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps by Chris West 

American History in 100 Nutshells by Tad Tuleja 

A History of Life in 100 Fossils by Paul D. Taylor & Aaron O'Dea

The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors by John Gribbin

Can you think of any other histories presented in this fashion? Let us know in the comments!

*all comments borrowed from book blurbs

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Stephen King Universe: A Guide (Part One)

The Stephen King universe is vast, and while I've known about many of the connections among his books for years, I never realized the depth of those connections until I started re-reading The Dark Tower series and doing some research. For this series, I'm starting with a beginner's guide to The Dark Tower universe, and how it's connected to the rest of the Stephen King universe.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories - The short story "UR" mentions the actual Dark Tower that Roland is on a quest to find in The Dark Tower novels. Low men, who appear in Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower, also appear in "UR." Finally, the magical Rose that is part of The Dark Tower series is mentioned in "UR."

Black House - Several characters from The Dark Tower series are mentioned in Black House: Blaine the Mono, Ted Brautigan (who makes appearances in other Stephen King works, as well), Jake Chambers, Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean, Roland Deschain, and Patricia the Mono. Jake Chambers may also be a twinner of Jack Sawyer (a twinner is a doppelganger in a parallel universe). (Note: Black House is the sequel to The Talisman.)

Cell - In The Waste Lands, Jake Chambers purchases a picture book called Charlie the Choo-Choo. Roland, Jake, Susannah, and Eddie see a train that looks just like Charlie the Choo-Choo in Gage Park. Charlie the Choo-Choo shows up in an amusement park in Cell. Charlie the Choo-Choo is also Blaine the Mono's twinner.

Desperation - CAN-TAH AND CAN-TOI, which appear in Song of Susannah (CAN-TAH and CAN-TOI) and Wolves of the Calla and The Dark Tower (CAN-TOI), also appear in Desperation.

Everything's Eventual - Three characters from this short story collection are either mentioned in The Dark Tower novels or play a part in the series: Dinky Earnshaw, Mr. Sharpton, and Skipper Brannigan.

The Eyes of the Dragon - The main connection to The Dark Tower series is in the character Randall Flagg. Flagg is a sorcerer who has the ability to move among worlds. He is a villain in The Eyes of the Dragon as well as in The Dark Tower novels. Additionally, King Roland in The Eyes of the Dragon is Roland Deschain's twinner.

From a Buick 8 - One of the owners of the Buick 8 was probably a low man, and the car may have been a portal to todash spaces from which monsters escape (a todash space is a void that exists between worlds and is filled with monsters).

Hearts in Atlantis - A few characters in Hearts in Atlantis show up in The Dark Tower novels and vice versa: Ted Brautigan, Roland Deschain, The Crimson King, Randall Flagg, and the Low Men.

Insomnia - The Crimson King is a major player in Insomnia. Patrick Danville, a character in Insomnia, shows up in The Dark Tower, traveling with Roland. Roland is also mentioned in Insomnia by Ted Brautigan.

IT - The concept of deadlights is mentioned in IT; it's a concept that is shared by Pennywise and The Crimson King. Bill Denbrough's nickname in IT is Stuttering Bill; in The Dark Tower novels, there's an Asimov robot named Stuttering Bill. There's also a magical Turtle in The Dark Tower novels that shows up in IT.

Lisey's Story - The Territories, which are mentioned in The Waste Lands, are also mentioned in Lisey's Story. A term used commonly in Lisey's Story, "bool," is also used by The Man in Black in The Gunslinger.

The Mist - The monsters in The Mist are likely monsters that came from Todash through a thinny that was opened during a government experiment. Thinnies play large roles in Wizard and Glass.

The Regulators - Regulators is another term for Low Men; it is also another term for Big Coffin Hunters. It is likely that The Regulators may be Low Men and/or Big Coffin Hunters, though neither of those terms is used in the novel.

Rose Madder - LUD, which is the setting of The Waste Lands, is mentioned in Rose Madder, and Rose Madder is mentioned in Song of Susannah

'Salem's Lot - One of the main characters in 'Salem's Lot, Father Callahan, is a major character in Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower (where he is known as Pere Callahan). In Wolves of the Calla, Pere Callahan recounts his experiences after leaving 'Salem's Lot.

The Shining - Danny Torrance is referred to in The Dark Tower novels, while Jack Torrance is mentioned, but not directly named.

The Stand - In Wizard and Glass, Roland, Susannah, Eddie, and Jake find themselves in the Topeka, Kansas, of The Stand, where they see a newspaper article that discusses the superflu from The Stand. Mother Abigail, a key player in The Stand, is an enemy of Randall Flagg, who is also a key player in The Stand.

The Talisman - A major setting in The Talisman is the Territories; the Territories are mentioned in Wizard and Glass. The White, which is in The Talisman, is the force of good in The Dark Tower novels.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many characters and settings from Stephen King novels are mentioned in The Dark Tower series without playing actual parts in the series. Some of the books listed here are also connected to each other, which I'll explore in the second part of this series. The last part of this series will focus on Stephen King book connections that are unrelated to The Dark Tower series.

Think I've missed a connection, or know of a connection you'd like to see in this series of posts? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

If You Liked The Girl on the Train, Try Other Novels of Psychological Suspense

I’ve long been a horror fan, too, but I’ve always been more partial to the less-graphic end of the genre, those titles that blend into psychological suspense, horror’s less gory but equally disturbing sibling. When I wrote about psychological suspense five years ago, it was a poor stepsister to horror with a strong following among readers but not much publisher support. The publication of Gone Girl in 2012 changed all that, and now psychological suspense is one of our hottest genres...These chilling novels play with our minds and leave us wondering—about characters as well as plot resolutions. Authors create nightmare situations that the protagonists seek to escape, but these are internal, psychological monsters rather than external or supernatural ones. These novels create claustrophobic worlds of unease and potential disaster in which characters explore their options and, especially, their obsessions, while readers observe from the outside. There’s a growing sense of foreboding, but the compelling pace stems not from action but from the intensity of the mood. Creepy, unsettling, and disturbing are the words we often choose to describe these books—and how they affect us.
~Joyce Saricks, "At Leisure with Joyce Saricks: Psychological Suspense, Horror's Disturbing Sibling"
Psychological suspense has been around for a long time. Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw in 1898. Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca is usually called Gothic fiction, but we think it could fit the definition of psychological suspense, sometimes called psychological thrillers - "a suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot". Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers On a Train (on which Hitchcock's classic movie is based) and The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Shirley Jackson are considered masters of the genre, as was the recently departed Ruth Rendell (who also wrote as Barbara Vine).

Now, with the publication of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, psychological suspense is back in the spotlight. (There's even a sub-genre specially created to encompass these two titles - "chick noir".) We like psychological suspense because the novels are tricky, like mysteries, and creepy, but not as scary as horror (we're literary cowards that way). For all those looking for more in the same vein as the "Girl" novels, we've created a list of titles recommended by Booklist, Goodreads, and our own literary database, NoveList, that we hope will keep you up late at night with all the lights on for a long time to come.

Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

The Ghost by Robert Harris

The Keep by Jennifer Egan

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien

The Book of You by Claire Kendall

Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

The Night Following by Morag Joss

Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner

The King of Lies by John Hart

Season to Taste by Natalie Young

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Looking for more titles? Try a subject search of "suspense fiction" or "psychological fiction", or a keyword search of "psychological suspense".

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Brilliant Brontës: Anne Brontë and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Anne Bronte (1820-1849), Emily Bronte (Thornton, 1818 - Haworth, 1848) and Charlotte Bronte (Thornton, 1816 - Haworth, 1855), English writers, Oil on canvas by Patrick Branwell Bronte (1817-1848), ca 1834. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 5 Jan 2016.
2016 will mark the first bicentenary of the Brontë siblings with Charlotte's birthday on April 21st; Branwell's is next, in June 2017, followed by  Emily's in July 2018, and finally Anne's in January 2020. We thought we would get the party started this year with our Brilliant Brontës Challenge! Every month in 2016, we'll have one Brontë-related post. Feel free to join our celebration of all things Brontë with an item from the library catalog, and let us know what you've watched or read or listened to in the comments of our Brilliant Brontës posts! We're kicking it off with an homage to Anne.

Many years after Anne’s death her brother-in-law protested against a supposed portrait of her, as giving a totally wrong impression of the ‘dear, gentle Anne Brontë.’  ‘Dear’ and ‘gentle’ indeed she seems to have been through life, the youngest and prettiest of the sisters, with a delicate complexion, a slender neck, and small, pleasant features.  Notwithstanding, she possessed in full the Brontë seriousness, the Brontë strength of will.  When her father asked her at four years old what a little child like her wanted most, the tiny creature replied—if it were not a Brontë it would be incredible!—‘Age and experience.’  
~from Mary A. (Mrs. Humphry) Ward's preface to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

If Anne Brontë had lived ten years longer she would have taken a place beside Jane Austen, perhaps even a higher place.
~George Moore, Irish novelist

Anne Brontë is the least venerated member of the Brontë family; her life and work lives in the shadow of her famous sisters, and even, to a certain extent, in the shadow of her brother Branwell's addiction. Her persona has not the mystique of Emily; her literary talent less towering than what's exhibited in either Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, and she was also slightly less prolific than her sister Charlotte, who ultimately outlived Anne. Her reputation was not helped by the fact that Charlotte blocked the re-publication of the "more overtly political" Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne's death - it was not re-published until just before Charlotte's death, and then with significant omissions that were kept in many subsequent editions. Still, she was the mysterious and reclusive Emily's partner in their fantasy world, Gondal, about which they wrote stories and poems - a friend said Emily and Anne were "like twins"; and, though overshone by her sisters during her short life, in 2013 a Bronte Society member said of Anne, "In some ways, though, she is now viewed as the most radical of the sisters, writing about tough subjects such as women's need to maintain independence, and how alcoholism can tear a family apart."

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne's second and final novel. The narrative unfolds first in epistolary form, but also includes diary entries. It's the story of the enigmatic Mrs. Graham, who rents Wildfell Hall (long empty and in some disrepair) for herself, her young son Arthur, and a servant. She pays her way by selling her paintings. Her story is told by Gilbert Markham, a local farmer who befriends her.  How and why Mrs. Graham came to Wildfell Hall is shrouded in mystery and the source for much gossip, much of it spiteful, by her neighbors. Little by little the reader learns the story of an abusive marriage and an alcoholic husband that have caused Mrs. Graham to flee her old life. Some of the scenes sound shocking even today, but what else can you expect in a world where a wife was property (the Married Women's Property Act was not passed until 1882) and where this exchange takes place about the differences in educating boys and girls about handling the vicissitudes of growing up:
‘I beg your pardon, Mrs. Graham—but you get on too fast.  I have not yet said that a boy should be taught to rush into the snares of life,—or even wilfully to seek temptation for the sake of exercising his virtue by overcoming it;—I only say that it is better to arm and strengthen your hero, than to disarm and enfeeble the foe;—and if you were to rear an oak sapling in a hothouse, tending it carefully night and day, and shielding it from every breath of wind, you could not expect it to become a hardy tree, like that which has grown up on the mountain-side, exposed to all the action of the elements, and not even sheltered from the shock of the tempest.’
‘Granted;—but would you use the same argument with regard to a girl?’
‘Certainly not.’
‘No; you would have her to be tenderly and delicately nurtured, like a hot-house plant—taught to cling to others for direction and support, and guarded, as much as possible, from the very knowledge of evil.  But will you be so good as to inform me why you make this distinction?  Is it that you think she has no virtue?’
I first read Tenant years ago, and was instantly drawn to it. Perhaps it was inevitable - I had spent my teen years reading the "female bildungsroman" of Louisa May Alcott, including Rose in Bloom, in which a character succumbs to vice with a tragic outcome. Alcott is known for "address[ing] women’s issues in a modern and candid manner" in her fiction, and Anne is a worthy precursor to Alcott, suppressed because her ideas were too modern for her time, and also due to mediation of Charlotte Brontë - it's been suggested that her treatment of her younger sister was colored by "an elder sister's disdain" [McDonagh, from the introduction to Tenant]. Bettina Knapp, in The Brontes: Branwell, Anne, Emily, Charlotte, says of Anne: "...her interests were ideologically oriented. Questions of conscience were uppermost in her mind: domesticity, the rights of working women, and abused wives. Anne sought truth and justice via the medium of the word." Tenant comes out strongly in favor of temperance; Anne's first book, Agnes Grey, used her experiences of oppression and abuse while working as a governess as source material (Anne was the most steadily employed of the siblings).  Knapp goes so far as to assert that "Anne's ambition, as we know, was not to produce 'a perfect work of art.'  Her goal was first and foremost evangelical: to teach what she believed to be the moral and loftly lessons of Christianity". Perhaps that accounts for some of Charlotte's disdain - Anne has chosen to err on the side of content over form, to use her literary talent as a tool. Anne was, in childhood, closest to Aunt Branwell, the children's caretaker after their mother's death; Anne's zealous nature, her commitment to service, were perhaps shaped by the older woman, a staunch Methodist.

Apart from content, I feel Anne's writing style is quite good.  Passages such as
And, upon the whole, our intimacy was rather a mutual predilection than a deep and solid friendship, such as has since arisen between myself and you, Halford, whom, in spite of your occasional crustiness, I can liken to nothing so well as an old coat, unimpeachable in texture, but easy and loose—that has conformed itself to the shape of the wearer, and which he may use as he pleases, without being bothered with the fear of spoiling it;—whereas Mr. Lawrence was like a new garment, all very neat and trim to look at, but so tight in the elbows, that you would fear to split the seams by the unrestricted motion of your arms, and so smooth and fine in surface that you scruple to expose it to a single drop of rain
show a charming turn of phrase that, frankly, I didn't expect to find in a book by a Brontë - I tend to expect discussions of soaring heights and dizzying depths, all taken with the utmost seriousness. Anne's characters seem realistic, from the catty neighbors to the jilted sweetheart, but there are missteps - Gilbert Markham explodes in an unexpected scene of violence that seems worthy of Heathcliff and not quite in character. Nevertheless, Bettina Knapp's biography praises the young author's writing overall:
Anne's unsentimental, skillfully built, and suspenseful scenes, the self-control in her writing, the smooth, ordered, classically constructed sentences, the subdued effects of rhetoric, and the insights into the psyches of her characters, drawn for the most part from observation were remarkable, given her age and experience.
Perhaps creating a work of art was not of the utmost importance to Anne, but she has still done more than create wholly didactic novels.

As with all the Brontës, Anne's was a voice silenced too soon. She died of tuberculosis, which had also claimed the lives on her older brother and sister, aged only 29. Her "audacious and courageous" heroines [Knapp] with their "stern and uncompromising" message [McDonagh] live on to "...rather whisper a few wholesome truths therein than much soft nonsense" [Anne Brontë]. In Anne's own Preface to the Second Edition, Anne was careful to distance herself from Currer and Ellis Bell (the pseudonyms her sisters wrote under), and bold to suggest that "if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be".

The physical copy of the book and the eAudiobook in the library catalog are the Clarendon edition, published in 1992, which is regarded as the canonical edition. If you attempt to read the book online, know that Project Gutenberg is using the 1920 John Murray edition, based upon the mutilated 1854 edition.

You can also find audio versions of Brontë novels, correspondence, and poetry on Spotify: