Thursday, October 19, 2017

History of the Human Body

Hands. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 13 Oct 2017.
You've enjoyed popular works that combine science, history, and culture, such as books by Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers) and Diane Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses). Your interests are many and varied, and don't exclude the cosmetic. You are curious about the workings of the human body and how the body has been regarded over time - physiognomy and phrenology are ideas you've heard about before, for instance - and are not squeamish. You like to know how things work, and you don't mind finding out through observation rather than experimentation. If some or all of these statements apply to you, we have just the booklist for you!


Teeth: The Untold Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle For Oral Health in America by Mary Otto


Hair: A Human History by Kurt S. Stenn

Plucked: A History of Hair Removal by Rebecca M. Herzig

Country Music Hair by Erin Duvall

Hair Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon

Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair by Christopher Oldstone-Moore


Leonardo's Foot: How 10 Toes, 52 Bones, and 66 Muscles Shaped the Human World by Carol Ann Rinzler.


Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell by Alexandra Horowitz


Balance: A Dizzying Journey Through the Science of Our Most Delicate Sense by Carol Svec

Human Sexuality

The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic by Joanna Ebenstein

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Wilson

Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf

The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, From Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From by Edward Dolnick [eBook]

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini [eBook]

Impotence: A Cultural History by Angus McLaren

Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill


Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel Lieberman.

Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums by Samuel J. Redman.

Illness & Death

In the Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America by Laurie Edwards

The End of Memory: A Natural History of Aging and Alzheimer's by Jay Ingram

Death's Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying Can Tell Us About Life and Living by Brandy Schillace

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Make Mine Miniature: Crafting on a Small Scale

We have dabbled in a fair amount of crafts over the years - knitting, check; scrapbooking, check; sewing our own clothes (or at least costumes), check. But apart from a brief foray into knitting felted hearts to use as patches and an even briefer one into the world of mini-zines, we have generally shied away from anything miniature. The eyestrain! The fiddliness! The attention to detail! We've just never had the patience. But we are amazed by the amount of crafts that can be accomplished in miniature, from baking to creating tiny weapons to model-building to gardening to book-making. Do you like to create in miniature? Let us know your craft of choice in the comments! Or, for inspiration, check out our list below.

The Fairy House Handbook by Liza Gardner Walsh

Fairy Gardening: Create Your Own Magical Miniature Garden by Julie Bawden-Davis

Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and friends

Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give by Anna Hrachovec

Amigurumi Toy Box by Ana Paula Rímoli

Carving Japanese Netsuke For Beginners by Robert Jubb

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare by John Austin

Miniature Scrapbooks: Small Treasures to Make in a Day by Taylor Hagerty

New Ideas for Miniature Bobbin Lace by Roz Snowden

Miniature Worlds in 1 1/2 Scale by Susan Penny

Basic Scenery For Model Railroaders by Lou Sassi

Pocket Pies: Mini Empanadas, Pasties, Turnovers and More by Pamela Clark

A Beginner's Guide to the Dolls' House Hobby by Jean Nisbett

Making Miniature Dolls With Polymer Clay by Sue Heaser

Minigami: Mini Origami Projects For Cards, Gifts and Decorations by Gay Merrill Gross

Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello

Terrariums Reimagined: Mini World Made in Creative Containers by Kat Geiger

Exquisite Miniatures in Cross Stitch and Other Counted Thread Techniques by Brenda Keyes

More Making Books By Hand: Exploring Miniature Books, Alternative Structures, and Found Objects by Peter Thomas [eBook]

50 Yards of Fun: Knitting Toys From Scrap Yarn by Rebecca Danger

Mini Skein Knits: 25 Knitting Patterns Using Small Skeins and Leftovers by Lark Crafts

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hayao Miyazaki's Best Loved Children's Books

MIYAZAKI'S SPIRITED AWAY (2001). Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.
We can't help it - we're unashamed fangirls of the films of Hayao Miyazaki, as you can see from our past blog posts. So, when we found a list of Miyazaki's 50 favorite children's books, we were intrigued and wanted to share. There were some obvious ones - several "time-tested Western classics," and he made a movie based on The Borrowers, after all - and you can find a few of his choices namechecked in the documentary The Kingdom of Madness and Dreams. So, without further ado, we present to you the complete list of Miyazaki's favorite children's books, as available in the library catalog! We hope you find something you'd want to check out, or share with the children in your life, that will hopefully create a bit of  Miyazaki magic.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson [eAudiobook]

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome 

The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner

Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Eagle of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by  Lewis Carroll

The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling [eBook]

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

The Hobbit by  J. R. R. Tolkien

Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en [eBook]

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by  Jules Verne

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Little Humpbacked Horse by Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge [eAudiobook]


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday, Pema Chodron

Paper lotus flowers. Photo. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 29 Aug 2017.

Pema Chödrön, who was born on July 14, 1936, is an American Tibetan Buddhist. She was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown and is a graduate of Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and the University of California at Berkeley. Pema worked as an elementary school teacher in California and New Mexico and is a mother and grandmother.

When Pema traveled to the French Alps, she met Lama Chime Rinpoche and began her Tibetan Buddhism studies. She began her novitiate as a nun in 1974 and when the Sixteenth Karmapa to England where she was studying, Pema was official ordained.

Pema's most profound and enlightening experiences as a student were with her teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, until his death in 1987. In 1984, Pema moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and became the director of Gampo Abbey and established a monastery for Western monks and nuns. Pema teaches in the United States and Canada and has recently completed an extended silent retreat.

Reading Pema Chödrön's books can help people from any faith perspective - or no faith at all, take responsibility for one's feelings, entrenched complexes, and cultivate a compassionate detachment from fear, self-absorption, and delusions. Her wisdom and clarity makes even the most challenging day possible to get through with some compassion and grace. I turn to Pema Chödrön for guidance and to see how a grown-up would handle any situation. Pema Chödrön isn't a perfect person, which she cheerfully owns up to by sharing her own experiences that anyone could relate to. What she holds out is the hope of trying again to get back onto the path when we are lead astray by our pride and expectations.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chödrön

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind  by Pema Chödrön

Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chödrön

No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chödrön

Practicing Peace In Times of War by Pema Chödrön

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Budget Cinema: Some Incidents in the History of B Movies

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) - ADAMS, JULIE. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 13 Sep 2017.
B movies had their heyday during Hollywood's Golden Age (late 1920s-early 1960s). During the Great Depression, studios and movie theaters tried to entice moviegoers into the theater with a bill that could last more than 3 hours, with two features, cartoons, a newsreel, and previews of forthcoming films. The main attraction would be the A film, with the B feature being a lower budget genre film (often sci-fi, Western, or film noir) that was quickly produced, frequently using talent that was either waning or on the rise. The big studios had separate B-units to produce these films. These early B films were tied to the Big Five studio system - before 1948, major studios had their own theater chains, and there was a complicated booking system for A and B features.

In the 1950s, feature films got longer - 70 minutes or more, rather than an hour - and the double feature fell out of favor. B movie became a blanket term used for genre films with formulaic plots and cheap production values. These films helped create the drive-in cinema business, which skyrocketed between 1945-55, and launched the career of one of the most famous names in the history of B movies, Roger Corman, and another big name in B, William Castle, who specialized in gimmicks. "For The Tingler, which starred Vincent Price, the theater seats were wired with buzzers, which would make the seats vibrate when the tingler supposedly escaped into the theater," the website B-Movie Central reports.

In the 60s and 70s, B movies came to include exploitation films, as the film industry's adherence to the Motion Picture Production Code relaxed and finally ended in 1968. Major studios were no longer making B films, and these exploitation films - which often "graphically depicted the wages of sin in the context of promoting prudent lifestyle choices" - ultimately became the whole market, ranging from "sexploitation" to "blaxploitation" films, except for the rise of  kung fu (sometimes called "Brucesploitation") and "slasher" films in the 1970s. Some famous names came out this era - John Waters, Melvin Van Peebles, Brian de Palma, Russ Meyer, George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Francis Ford Coppola - with some later achieving mainstream fame and others becoming cult classics. Easy Rider, with its themes of hippies, drug use, and communal living, became the first movie under the exploitation umbrella to debut at the Cannes Film Festival. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a spoof of B movie tropes.

As cinema moved into the 1980s, the era of the star-studded blockbuster began. There was still a lot of low-budget horror films being made, and Troma Pictures, which got its start in 1974, was still "disrupting media." But there were more independent films being made in the last years of the 20th century, and it's important to remember that an independent or arthouse film is not the same as a B movie.

It has been suggested that recent  technological advances have made it easy to make low-budget motion pictures again, and digital cameras allow any filmmaker to make films with reasonably good image quality and effects. Is the B-movie ready to make a comeback? Well,  The Guardian suggests:

So here’s a suggestion: a two-tier cinema system. Your blockbusters in one league, and a separate circuit for lower-budget movies, with much cheaper tickets. For a long time, this was how movies operated... Now it’s serious dramas that are the B-movies, pushed to the margins along with what we used to call 'arthouse' movies: challenging, non-mainstream, maybe foreign movies. These are cinema’s endangered species. So why not put them all in a separate type of cinema and charge half the price? It would be a cheaper night out for punters and a proving ground for new talent.

Or, do you agree with Wired that "In 2017, 'genre' is no longer a niche, and nearly *every *movie feels like a midnight movie—albeit the kind you no longer need need to stay up all evening to enjoy." Whatever your take on the subject, why not take a little time to delve deeper into B movies of the past? The library catalog is here to help, with some likely contenders listed below:

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell with Craig Sanborn

Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir by Arthur Lyons

Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American '70s by Charles Taylor

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell [eAudiobook]

Foxy: A Life in Three Acts by Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan


The House on Haunted Hill

The Return of the Living Dead


The Blob

John Dies At the End

Evil Dead

They Live


Creature from the Black Lagoon

Brother From Another Planet


Forbidden Planet

Schlock: Secret History of American Movies

American Grindhouse

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel

The Ed Wood Awards: The Worst Horror Films of All Time


The 100 Best "B Movies" of All Time [Slate]

15 Awesome B-Movies You Need To See [Screen Rant]

Attack of the B Movies! 50 of the Best Schlocky Titles of All Time [Hollywood Reporter]

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Beerstorming, One Draught at a Time

Five glasses of beer. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 9 Sep 2017.
The website for BeerAdvocate magazine lists 20 microbreweries in Albuquerque, and, frankly, we're surprised there's not more. There seems to be new breweries popping up all the time in the past few years! The ABQ Beer Week blog recommends "drinking local" - to support local economies, contribute to neighborhood revitalization, help the environment, and support local musicians - but we know everyone's taste is different, so we've compiled a list of books about the hoppiest drink around which includes guides, brewing information, cooking with beer, the history of brewing (did you know the pharaohs drank beer?), and even a couple of movies on the topic. We hope that whether you are a beer aficionado or not, whether you prefer craft beer, international or vintages brews, you will find something to whet your palate in the following offerings from the library catalog.

Beer Guides 

The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp For Beer Geeks - From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua M. Bernstein

Vintage Beer: A Taster's Guide to Brews That Improve Over Time by Patrick Dawson

Beer For All Seasons: A Through-the-Year Guide of What to Drink and When to Drink It by Randy Mosher [eBook]

The Beer Geek Handbook: Living a Life Ruled by Beer by Patrick Dawson

World Beer: Outstanding Classic and Craft Beers From the Greatest Breweries by Tim Hampson

Great American Craft Beer: A Guide to the Nation's Finest Beers and Breweries by Andy Crouch [eBook]


So You Want to Start a Brewery?: The Lagunitas Story by Tony Magee

Craft Beer for the Homebrewer: Recipes From America's Top Brewmasters by Michael Agnew et al.

The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance by Greg Koch [eBook]

The Good Beer Book: Brewing and Drinking Quality Ales and Lagers by Timothy Harper

Beer Cookbooks

The American Craft Beer Cookbook: 155 Recipes From Your Favorite Brewpubs and Breweries by John Holl

The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food by Garrett Oliver

Beer History

The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World's Favorite Beverage From 7000 BC to Today's Craft Brewing Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith

The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield

Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World's Craft Brewing Revolution by Joshua M. Bernstein

Local Beer

New Mexico Beer: A History of Brewing in the Land of Enchantment by Jon C. Stott

Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap by Chris Jackson


Crafting a Nation

Brew Masters

Brewmore Baltimore: A Full-Flavored History

Thursday, September 28, 2017

One Block, Nine Maps: Are You Ready For the Map Festival?

Compass Rose from map of sewer system, 1890-1892?
A guest post written by Eileen O’Connell, Branch Manager of Special Collections.

To celebrate our rapidly approaching map festival, we thought it would be fun to trace the history of one city block using nine maps. To orient the contemporary view, take a look at the 2016 aerial map of the 500 block of 12th Street NW. The block is block number 24 of the Perea Addition, bounded by Lomas Boulevard on the north, 11th Street on the east, Fruit Avenue on the south, and 12th Street on the west. The number superimposed over the structures are address numbers.

The earliest map we have at Special Collections that clearly shows this block was published in 1889 and was compiled by the Real Estate Title Insurance Company of New Mexico. It labels the block as block 24 of the Albuquerque Town Site Co. Addition. Of the north-south streets visible in this photo, only Tijeras's name remains unchanged. Block 24 is bounded north and south by Otero and Harrison avenues, respectively.

The W.4 designation refers to the Fourth Ward, a political boundary for the voting and school district.

This map is one of a set of maps produced by H. D. Johnson and Edward A. Pearson that show the layout of Albuquerque's Sewer System. It is also a puzzle for the researcher. We estimate it was produced between 1890 and 1892. An April 18, 1891 article in the Albuquerque Weekly Citizen takes citizens to task for "indulging in adverse criticism" of the contractor tasked with building the system. Johnson is listed in the 1892 Albuquerque city director as an architect. The 1892 city directory also shows that the north-south street names are now New York Avenue and Fruit Avenue.

Real estate records show that Block 24 of the Albuquerque Town Site Co. Addition became block 24 of the Perea addition in 1900. Although block 24 of the Perea Addition is shown on the index sheet for the 1908 Sanborn map, this map from the Sanborn Maps eResource is the first to show the block in detail. Thomas T. Skinner is listed in the 1913 city directory as a resident in the dwelling on lots 9 and 10; his occupation is listed as manager of the family's grocery store.

Digital Sanborn Map of Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 1913, Sheet 7

Although the 1920 map compiled by J.F. Brozo for the Albuquerque Title Guaranty Co. is more colorful, the 1920 sewer map is more interesting. The sewer map lists names of property owners to be assessed for sewer extensions and improvements. Amid the familiar Albuquerque names on block 24 and block 8 (due south) are Huning, Hebenstreit, Luna, Mann, and Simms. Running crossways along the west side of block 24 across lots 3-8 is the name Soo Hoo Pong. The exclusion laws severely limited Albuquerque's Chinese population, but brothers Soo Hoo Pong and Soo Hoo Nong and business partner Ah Kee were well known as proprietors and managers of the Los Angeles Restaurant at 217 West Central. The Records indicate that the brothers were real estate investors as well.

1920 Brozo Map

1920 Sewer Map

The 1924 and 1931 Sanborn Maps show rapid development on the west half of block 24 in the six year interval between map editions. The scale for both maps is 100 feet to 1 inch, "D' over the outline of a structure indicates "dwelling."



Although it doesn't label lots and blocks, the 1952 First National Bank map of Albuquerque still references the Perea Addition. It also shows the new name and new alignment for the former New York Avenue. Lomas Boulevard was the result of a street realignment that affected New York Avenue, Las Lomas, Campus Boulevard, and the Menaul Diagonal. The realignment was part of a larger traffic plan for Albuquerque which was accompanied by several street name changes and the shift to the quadrant system that divides Albuquerque NE, NW, SE, SW along the Central Avenue and Railroad Axes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Life You Save May Be Your Own: Memoirs of Self-Discovery

Girl wearing snorkeling apparatus at the beach. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 8 Sep 2017.
“It's daring to be curious about the unknown, to dream big dreams, to live outside prescribed boxes, to take risks, and above all, daring to investigate the way we live until we discover the deepest treasured purpose of why we are here.” ― Luci Swindoll

What does it take your change your life? We always think the answer can be found in a book. Some folks recommend non-fiction to "help you stop worrying, stop being tired, and stop feeling overwhelmed — and start excelling in your field, embracing life's opportunities for adventure, and being happier every day," with the emphasis on teaching you new behaviors. Some suggest that if you read a book wherein the "end message is that life is filled with possibilities, if you let it be,"or a similar message, can be helpful, even if it's fictional.But sometimes, we think, you just need to read a book that shows that someone has succeeded in changing their life before, in ways you might find galvanizing or might want to emulate.

There is certainly no dearth of titles out there for those looking to prod themselves into making a change - speeding things up, slowing things down, doing things differently. Maybe you've already read inspirational books like Gift from the Sea, Love Warrior, and Rising Strong. Or tales of life-changing adventure such as Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy,  Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. But maybe none of these titles resonated with you, or you just want more ideas. Never fear! We've compiled a list of other books that might help you deal with adversity, start you on a quest, or at least boost your spirits.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman [eAudiobook]

A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis

Lit by Mary Karr

Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson

Claiming Ground by Laura Bell

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell


The Exhilarating Delight of Reading About Women in Search of Themselves [Oprah]

All the best, most kick-ass female memoirs you need to read [Hello Giggles]

The Memoir of Discovery (Not Recovery) [Kirkus]

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Are You With the Banned?

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 as a response to a surge in challenges to books in libraries, schools, and stores. It brings together librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers in support of the freedom to read. Each year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom puts together a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of the year, based on stories from the media and challenges which have been reported, and you can also check out lists of the most frequently challenged books and challenged classics on the American Library Association's website; they also have infographics which show challenges by reason, initiator, and and institution over the course of a decade. Readers are encouraged to get involved, via the Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament, Stand For the Banned Read-Out, and more.

There were 323 challenges reported in 2016 to the American Library Association [ALA]. A challenge is "an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group," according to the ALA, rather than an actual removal of the item, which is banning. The top ten for this year included graphic novels, children's fiction, picture books, young adult books, and one book of short stories written for adults. Not all the books were new - there were challenges on books published from 2005-2015 - and the challenges were varied. "May lead a student to 'sexual experimentation'," "challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author," "because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints," "includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity,"and for "being 'disgusting and all around offensive.'"

What you might not realize is that any book might be challenged. Less likely, perhaps, to make the top ten most challenged list are books of poetry and work by poets. The following list is taken from "Poetry's Place in the History of Banned Books," by

Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire: Banned in 1857 for eroticism, and, according to the judges, poems that “necessarily lead to the excitement of the senses.”

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Banned for alleged promotion of drug use and portrayal of anthropomorphized animals.

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Banned for its criticism of the medieval church, as well as its obscene language and sexual content.

Amores (Loves) & Ars amatoria (Art of Love) by Ovid: Banned, challenged, and burned for sexual content.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein: Banned for encouraging bad behavior and addressing topics some deemed inappropriate for children.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: Famously “banned in Boston” in 1882 for sexual content.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare: In 2011, deemed inappropriate for Arizona schools, as the law prohibited courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”


Banned Books Week

Banned and Challenged Books [American Library Association]

Banned Books Week on Facebook

Banned Books Week on YouTube

Banned Books Week 2017 to Celebrate Everybody's Freedom to Read [American Booksellers Association]

Banned Books Week infographic [ACLU]

Simon & Schuster Celebrates Banned Books Week

Banned Comics [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Literary Links: In the Realms of Fiction

Sign For A Star Trek Science Fiction Landmark; Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 24 Aug 2017.
We just finished watching Game of Thrones and were arguing over which of the Seven Kingdoms we'd like to represent. (The correct answer is THE NORTH.) This got us talking about other fictional lands and peoples - is it better to be a hobbit, elf, or dwarf? What's your Hogwarts house? Star Trek or Star Wars? Who's your favorite character in Firefly? If you'd like to geek out with us, check out some of these links which discuss cool fictional realms, imagined travel, and worldbuilding.

14 Incredible Fictional Worlds You'd Most Want to Visit [HuffPost]

12 Best Fantasy Worlds Ever Created [Screen Rant]

5 of the Weirdest Fantasy Worlds Ever Created [B&N Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog]

Top 10 fantasy fiction universes [Guardian]

5 Crazy Creative Science Fiction Worlds in Books [Bustle]

19 Gorgeous Retro Travel Posters to Fantasy Destinations [Buzzfeed]

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding [iO9]

How to Build a Fictional World - Kate Messner [TED Talk]

Editor Picks: Top 10 Must-"Visit" Fictional Lands [Encyclopaedia Britannica]

7 Fictional Lands We'd Love to Visit [Mashable]

The 50 Coolest Fictional Cities [Complex]

7 Fictional Lands That Should Have Google Maps [Buzzfeed]

In the library catalog, check under the subject "Literary landmarks."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Unstable States: Reading Psychological Suspense

SUSPENSE (1946). Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 4 Aug 2017.
A tale that is more interested in the “why” rather than the sheer mechanics of “how”—and that is more attuned to what makes a soul damaged potentially beyond repair—falls under the large umbrella of psychological suspense. Crime can be at the forefront, but the chase for the criminal is often hamstrung by mental intricacies of the case, its perpetrator, and, often most prominently, its would-be solver. A murder is usually the inciting event, the big rock that hits the water, but in psychological suspense, when it’s done right, the focus is on the ripples that rock makes. Psychological suspense is a genre within crime fiction that can, and does, encompass myriad subgenres, making it difficult to classify definitively. Still, one thing is for sure: if the mental states of the characters contribute to the story—the more unstable the better—and the plot revolves around this delicate balance, chances are you’re reading psychological suspense. And you’re reading with the lights on.
~Jordan Foster, "Top Ten Writers of Psychological Suspense"

Why do we love to read genres like psychological suspense? The intricacy of the plot? The complex, often wounded characters? The moral ambiguity that often ends up being punished? The fact that these tales have a domestic aspect, often set in familiar places and locales, while amping up the tension?  Psychology Today suggests it's because of their "power to stir up intense emotion. Our brains release neurotransmitters like dopamine, and oxytocin when we are intensely emotional (intensely happy as well as scared, or horrified) and these can serve to consolidate memories, and even strengthen bonds between us and others sharing the same experience." Maybe it's just the fascination with other people's psyches - Jessica Ferri asserts on the Early Bird Books site, "There's no escaping your own mind," but maybe you can, a little, by digging deep into the minds of others.

Fans of mysteries and thrillers will have likely heard of Daphne du Maurier, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Sophie Hannah, Patricia Highsmith, and Ruth Rendell. But how about some of these less well known twisty tales?

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid

Now You See Me by S. J. Bolton

The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

Long Man by Amy Greene

Her by Harriet Lane

The Fall Guy by James Lasdun

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Alex by Pierre Lemaître

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

The Iron Gates by Margaret Millar

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

The Walls by Hollie Overton

Drowned by Therese Bohman

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Watching Edie by Camilla Way

The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich [eBook]

Refinery29 says "Once you've reached the end and all the secrets have spilled out, it's not always fun to go back and read them again. You need new mysteries to unravel — new plotlines and characters to make the hair on your neck stand on end." Have you ever re-read a suspense thriller, or do you agree with their assessment? Regardless, you can find many more twisty titles in the library catalog - for more books, try a subject search in the catalog using the terms "Psychological fiction" or "Suspense fiction." But be prepared - there are thousands of titles to sort through!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Poetry of Science: Recommended Reads for Young Learners

Children playing in science exhibit. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 4 Aug 2017.
A collection of poems for history, geography, science, and math is the first step to bringing a human element and a personal, often humorous touch to the topics you are studying. This helps students retain information and vocabulary — they now have vivid and/or humorous mental images that forge remembering connections... Second, poems are short and cut to the heart of a topic. You can use a poem to connect students to your content topic in powerful and memorable ways... Third, and perhaps most important, poetry helps students explore important issues in your content area, issues that extend beyond the classroom into their lives, communities, and the world.
~Laura Robb and J. Patrick Lewis,  Poems for Teaching in the Content Areas: 75 Powerful Poems to Enhance Your History, Geography, Science, and Math Lessons

Using poetry to help teach science might not be the first way you think to approach your child's education, but it has been shown to be a useful approach! Children's book publishers Scholastic and Reading Rockets, a national multimedia literacy initiative, both have suggestions for using poetry in the classroom for other subjects besides English - both organizations talk about classes reading poetry together, discussing the topics raised, and then writing their own poetic responses. Reading Rockets even mentions taking a "poetry walk," to get sensory impressions to use in writing haiku about nature. Additionally, the American Library Association [ALA] mentions that both science and poetry require "keen observation" and notes that, of  National Science Education Standard's "seven major areas of science that are critical to the K–12 curriculum...poems can serve to initiate a topic or enrich and extend it," and they have a booklist to prove it.

Want to encourage your child's power of observation and interest in science? Why not start with the following recommended picture books and see if they pique your youngster's interest?

The Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems About Our Parts by Allan Wolff

Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs

Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion [eBook]

Ubiquitous: Poetry and Science About Nature's Survivors by Joyce Sidman

Animal Poems of the Iguazú by Francisco X. Alarcon

Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails by Betsy Franco

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka

Scien-trickery by J. Patrick Lewis

Spectacular Science by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars by Douglas Florian

Our Food by Grace Lin

Monarch's Progress by Avis Harley

For more science books for kids and teens, check out Picture-Perfect Science Lessons, Expanded 2nd Edition: Using Children’s Books to Guide Inquiry, 3–6 by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (which explains the 5E instructional model - Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate - explaining why kids can read picture books in the classroom), the library's Science Project Help LibGuide, and the National Science Teachers Association's [NSTA] Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12 list.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Voices of Diversity

CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES. MURAL OF FACES, SHOWING ETHNIC DIVERSITY. UNION STATION SUBWAY.. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 4 Aug 2017.
Our culture and stories continue to evolve and expand, and our cultural production, from publishing to Hollywood, is beginning to catch up. A variety of artists develop diverse work in film, music, multimedia, and podcasting. Writers from many different backgrounds are creating romance novels, mystery, noir, speculative fiction, fantasy, comic books, literature, poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir, researched nonfiction, academic nonfiction, biography, graphic novels, and so much more. There are a great many chroniclers of the American experience. Look for them in unusual places and across every genre.
~Candice Kail, "#Ownvoices - Collection Development: Race, Diversity, and Society"

The mission and vision statement for the We Need Diverse Books campaign is "Putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children. A world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book." But we think it's also not too late for adults to find themselves in the pages of a book, too! Sharing our experiences is an important way to learn about, and to learn to accept, each other, despite our differences. A Google search for the word racism in the news comes back with 7 million results in .37 seconds - race, and affirming diversity, are definitely topics that continue to be debated at length, worldwide. We invite you to partake of some titles from our catalog showcasing diversity which you might have missed:


This Muslim American Life by Mustafa Bayoumi

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming by Winona LaDuke

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means To Be Black Now by Touré

The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret E. Savoy

Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer

Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis


The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

We the Animals by Justin Torres

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita [eAudiobook]

Sons and Other Flammable Objects by Porochista Khakpour

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Grace by Natashia Deón

The Road Back to Sweetgrass by  Linda ­LeGarde Grover

As Candice Kail says in the article quoted above, "it's assumed that the classics will already be part of nearly all [library] collections because, whether acknowledged or not, cultural pluralism has always defined our society." Looking for an older book dealing with issues of diversity? Try our list of classics, all available in the library catalog.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Roxane Gay: An Insightful Feminist

Roxane Gay is a Haitian-American writer, bisexual feminist, arts and culture critic, and a professor of English at Purdue University. I haven't been this moved by a writer since I discovered Alice Walker in the 1980's. Roxane Gay first appeared on my radar with her book Bad Feminist: Essays. Since then, I have enjoyed Difficult Women, An Untamed State, and her latest book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.

Feminism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1.: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2.:  organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests

Feminism is more complex than this definition and continues to evolve with every generation through diversity, ideology, and sociological issues. Roxane Gay's life experiences infuse her writing with a fiercely brilliant prose and elegant clarity. Gay is someone I would want to spend time watching reality television with to benefit from her analysis of what these shows say about our surreal society in between catch phrases such as "I didn't come here to make friends".  

Bad Feminist: Essays covers Gay's experiences in academia, women's friendships, gender, sexuality, politics, and racism in America. Her essays about misogyny in popular culture, music, and 50 Shades of Grey had me alternately laughing and wincing inside. Bad Feminist covers racism, rape culture, and envisions an underground reproductive railroad that women may need to resort to in these times that seem to want to force us into a pre-Margaret Sanger time warp. Her humor isn't laugh out loud, but sharp and insightful, making it possible to absorb her points without dissolving into tears of rage and frustration otherwise. This book is the perfect blend of essays that showcase Gay's skills as a cultural critic and intellectual. You can also get a daily dose of her thoughts on her Twitter feed.

I had the pleasure of reading Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body before reading Difficult Women or An Untamed State. Once I moved on to her fiction after reading Hunger, I was even more impressed with how Roxane Gay has woven her life experiences through fictional characters. An Untamed State was Roxane Gay's first novel about an affluent, privileged Haitian-American woman who is kidnapped for ransom by a band of rapacious criminals. The novel covers the thirteen days of Mireille Duval Jameson's captivity and her father's refusal to pay her ransom. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander and his accomplices, Mirelle is raped and tortured in retaliation until she is finally released. Chapters of the book follow her husband's impotent anguish and her father's rationalizations for not saving his daughter. Mirelle's ensuing post-traumatic disorder and recovery speak to a victim's sense of betrayal, devastation, and feeling contaminated by the evil of her perpetrators.

Roxane Gay's fiction, essays, and memoirs area a gift to women who are struggling with compulsive overeating, self-loathing, and our undeniable human needs in a dysfunctional society that expects women to be passive, quiet, decorative, and non-threatening to every insecure, cat-calling misogynist or Internet troll we encounter in daily life. Gay, who survived a gang-rape at age twelve, turned to food in order to emotionally survive her ordeal. She has described this memoir as her most personal and difficult book to write and it is difficult to read, but impossible to put down. Hunger pinpoints the inextricable link between trauma, addiction, and compulsions designed to block out what can't be survived otherwise. While seeking invisibility through excess food and weight, Gay strove for a protection and invisibility from men, but created what she describes as a prison of being physically immobilized and treated as less than human by our vain, superficial culture that coats its cruelty in hypocritical concern, dietary fads, and dangerous weight loss surgery.

Hunger is not a book about triumphant weight loss after a diet or being fifty or even 100 pounds overweight, but what physicians refer to as the range of extreme morbid obesity. Gay discusses the daily indignities she has to confront with airlines, at the gym, and in the grocery store. Her chapter about considering weight loss surgery highlights the dangers of this procedure which makes life in the aftermath sound like an even worse torture than the health hazards of obesity. As a cultural critic, Gay takes on the media's complicity in exploiting people through reality television shows such as The Biggest Loser and analysis of Oprah's public trials and tribulation with weight. Roxane Gay affirms that she "is stronger than I am broken", which gives readers hope that it is possible to live with our bodies in whatever state they may presently weigh, post-traumatic stress disorder, and to transcend cruelty and prejudice through awareness and courageous expression.

For more books on feminism, The Public Library offers the following books: 

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of An Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

Colonize This!: Young Women of Color On Today's Feminism edited by Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics
 by bell hooks

Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements
by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry 

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines In Living Color by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring
Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World  by Laura Barcella 

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism
Matters by Jessica Valenti 

The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic  

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

My Life On the Road by Gloria Steinem

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti

The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines
 by Mike Madrid 

Why I March: Images From the Women's March Around the World with photographs by Getty Images; editors: Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs 

Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo