Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Bible As Literature

Bible.. Photo. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 14 Jun 2017.
We can see this on a global scale when we look at the overall format of the Bible. That format is the literary anthology—a collection of varied literary genres written by multiple authors over the span of many centuries. In its details, too, the Bible is a literary book. Most of it is embodied in the genres of narrative, poetry, letters, and visionary writing. Dozens of smaller genres accumulate under those big rubrics. Why should we read the Bible as literature? Because its literary format requires it. C. S. Lewis sounded the keynote when he wrote in Reflections on the Psalms that “there is a sense in which the Bible, since it is after all literature, cannot properly be read except as literature; and the different parts of it as the different sorts of literature they are.”
~Leyland Ryken, "The Bible as Literature"

"Bible as literature" is actually a subject heading we stumbled across in the library catalog, but it turns out many schools teach it as a class - from MIT and Yale to BYU and University of Colorado, and even our own UNM! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the literary study of the Bible falls under the English course heading rather than Religion.  Literary forms such as parable, poetry, hero narratives, and proverb are studied, along with typical literary concerns such as setting and character; historicity is examined along with biography; sometimes a particular version of the Bible is the focus, such as the King James. The core of the studies seems to remain the influence of the Bible on the Western literary canon - in the Huffington Post's article about teaching high schoolers about the Bible, it is suggested that "It is one thing to teach the Bible as if it were the word of God, and another to teach about the Bible — its stories, characters, events, and lessons — as a human book, and to discuss the many interpretations that have been advanced over the centuries." A book that could be called "the single most influential piece of literature in the world" (it certainly is a bestseller) deserves to be studied for literary merit as well as religious content - you can find references to Biblical writings in other great works by Shakespeare, Milton, Hemingway, and even in the movie The Matrix. The author Marilynne Robinson writes, "Literatures are self-referential by nature, and even when references to Scripture in contemporary fiction and poetry are no more than ornamental or rhetorical — indeed, even when they are unintentional — they are still a natural consequence of the persistence of a powerful literary tradition."

Interested  in studying the Bible's literary influences? If you don't want to take a class in the Bible as literature, there's a reading group on the Librarything website, or you could just check out a book from the library catalog on the topic.

The Book of the People: How to Read the Bible by A.N. Wilson

The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages  edited by Andrew Blauner

Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God by Jack Miles

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fiction in Unusual Settings

SOUTH CAROLINA. RED LOBSTER RESTAURANT. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 9 Jun 2017.
Tired of  reading the same old, same old plots? Have mysteries solved by Scotland Yard, edgy fiction set in big cities, dysfunctional surburban family dramas and the like started to seem like old hat? Are you tired of contemporary backdrops to the stories you read? We've combed our catalog to find a selection of books with somewhat unusual settings, in a variety of genres, which we hope will pique your interest. Do you recommend any fiction with unusual settings? Let us know in the comments!

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
Setting: last day of business at a Connecticut  Red Lobster
Setting: a planet, Oasis, where only one plant grows and one animal lives 

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
Setting: a religious pilgrimage in the era of the Black Death 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
Setting: on the ship of a female pirate in the early 1800s  

The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
Setting: the kitchen of the last tsar   

The Book of Salt by Monique Truong
Setting: the kitchen of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas   

Watergate by Thomas Mallon
Setting: Washington, D.C. in 1972   

White Heat by M.J. McGrath
Setting: Inuit territory at the Arctic Circle   

The Boy from Reactor 4 by Orest Stelmach
Setting: Chernobyl

The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beyon Rees
Setting: a Palestinian refugee camp

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny
Setting: 16th-century Venetian female doctor's travels across Europe in search of her father

Setting: Chechnya 

The Fire Child by S. J. Tremayne [eBook]
Setting: Cornish mine country 

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Setting: coastal Essex estuary

The People's Act of Love by James Meek
Setting: Siberia 1919 

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
Setting: one block of a city street 

The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk
Setting: a fantastical version of medieval Estonia 

Timothy, or, Notes of an Abject Reptile by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Setting: an English garden

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Music Therapy

Association Musique Et Sante. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 1 Jun 2017.
Did you know, there have been proponents of music therapy in the United States since 1950? The American Music Therapy Associaton [AMTA] defines music therapy as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals."  Music therapists must have a bachelor's degree or higher in music therapy and other credentials. Apparently music therapists contributed to helping Congresswoman Giffords to regain her speech after surviving a bullet wound to her brain. The AMTA differentiate music therapy from "therapeutic music," which includes a piano player player in the hospital lobby, nurses playing background music, artists in residence, an Alzheimer's patient listening to his or her favorite songs on an iPod, and the like - probably helpful, but not clinical music therapy.

We've compiled a list of items from the library catalog that will take you on a journey into the "transformative power of music." We hope this list of items focusing on the therapeutic power of music is balm to your soul, but if you are truly interested in music therapy, we recommend checking out the AMTA website for more information.

Waking the Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul by Andrew Schulman

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

Fallen: A Trauma, A Marriage, and the Transformative Power of Music by Kara Stanley

The Healing Touch of Music: An Exploration by Alana Woods 

Manage Your Stress and Pain Through Music by Suzanne B. Hanser and Susan E. Mandel 

Music and Cancer: A Prescription for Healing by Nimesh P. Nagarsheth

Essential Musical Intelligence: Using Music as Your Path to Healing, Creativity, and Radiant Wholeness by Louise Montello    

Self-Healing with Sound & Music: Revitalize Your Body & Mind with Proven Sound Healing Tools by Andrew Weil, Kimba Arem [eAudio]

Sacred Verses, Healing Sounds: The Bhagavad Gita and Hymns of the Rig Veda by Deepak Chopra [eAudio]  

Alive Inside [DVD]

Harp Music for Healing by Sarajane Williams [CD]
According to Amazon, "Williams' Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy® (VAHT) is now being used by hospitals and health practitioners to help patients relieve tension and physical pain, reduce stress and anxiety." 

For more titles, try a subject search of "Music therapy."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parody vs. Satire

Don Quijote statua and Torre del Oro in background. Sevilla. Spain. Photo. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 2 Jun 2017.
It seems to be a rule of thumb that for every popular book/television show/film, there will exist a parody: The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up begat The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck; Game of Thrones begat Game of Groans; Fifty Shades of Grey begat Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, etc. Some you might have heard of, some not so much - parody is an ephemeral medium. Now that Downton Abbey is off the air, is there really going to be a lot of demand for Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey? Probably not. But it just shows the impact these items had on pop culture that someone got paid to create a parody of them.  

There's also a market for children's books reworked for adult eyes, like Go the F*ck to Sleep and Goodnight iPad (sometimes challenging for our shelvers, as they appear to be actual children's books at first glance). Some publishers, like Quirk Books and Harvard Lampoon, regularly skewer classics and bestsellers - The Meowmorphosis and Android Karenina in the first case, The Hunger Pains and Bored of the Rings in the second. Some filmmakers, like Mel Brooks and Monty Python, have made a career of parody.

Satire is related to parody, with a slight but important difference. Cliffs Notes has this to say about satire: "...[it] is intended to do more than just entertain; it tries to improve humanity and its institutions. A satire is a literary work that tries to arouse the reader's disapproval of an object — a vice, an abuse, a faulty belief — by holding it up to ridicule." Or, to quote Publishers Weekly, "You can aim it at governments, you can aim it at institutions. You can aim it at bureaucracies, businesses, special interests, religions and of course at individuals. Any place where hypocrisy and vice lurk – and where don’t they lurk?" A very famous and biting early satire is Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

Satire or parody - which would you rather read? Have you read any you'd particularly recommend? Let us know in the comments! Or, check out some parodies and satires from the library catalog:


Confessions of a Teen Sleuth: A Parody by Chelsea Cain

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk: The Story of Starfleet's Greatest Captain by James T. Kirk

You & Me by Padgett Powell

Redshirts by John Scalzi 

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (J) [eBook]

An Apology For the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding

Want more? Try a subject search of  "Parodies, imitations."

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Master and the Margarita by  Mikhail Bulgakov

Look Who's Back by Timur Vernes

Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison [eBook; basis for Soylent Green]

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway 

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

The Trial by Franz Kafka 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
 For more, try a subject search of "Satire."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Agnosticism: The Divine "Maybe"

Temple of Doubt and Hope, Gothenburg, Sweden, Kent Karlsson. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Accessed Jun 3, 2017.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 
-Max Ehrman "The Desiderata"

In the beginning, there was the smell of the polished wooden pew and the light streaming through the glorious stained glass windows of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, prayers at bedtime, and my illustrated children's Bible that omitted the more bloodthirsty details. I was five years old when I experienced my first questions about creation while coloring a Tyrannosaurus Rex in my coloring book: Which came first? The dinosaurs or God?

My scrupulosity was wired with an obsessive-compulsive anxiety. On a hike with my father as a preteen girl, I wanted to know if we would at least make it to the 5:00 p.m. Mass. He pointed out that we were in nature, which was more than sufficiently worshipful. I seethed all the way uphill, hoping that I was covered by last week's attendance if a mountain lion suddenly appeared to eat me and dispatch me to the hereafter.

In adulthood, I strayed from Catholicism and became a church-hopping Goldilocks sampling all the Protestant denominations. This church was too big, too small, too hot, too cold, too hard, and too soft. It was never just right, but if I could find a church to meet my precise needs, I would be comfortable and my doubts could be assuaged.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines an agnostic as :a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.

Here are some books for seekers of all or no denominations:

Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto by Lesley Hazleton

Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor 

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch

Divinity of Doubt: The God Question by Vincent Bugliosi

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by A.C. Grayling 

In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic by Peter L. Berger and Anton C. Zijderveld

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getaway Reads: Young Adult, Movies Based on a Book, & Non-Fiction

Block Island, Rhode Island, USA. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 25 May 2017.
Maybe you're not going to the beach, but it is summer, and we bet you'd like some fun reads for your vacation getaway - even if it's just a hammock in the backyard! We have combed the internet for some likely contenders for your beachbag, suitcase, or lap, whatever the case may be, and tried to include some new titles (ones without an enormous hold list) and some older ones you might have missed.

Young Adult

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Mosquitoland by David Arnold [eBook] 

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Since You Asked... by Maurene Goo

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch [eBook & eAudio]

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Book is Always Better Than the (Upcoming) Movie

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle [graphic novel & Playaway]

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

The Gunslinger by Stephen King [eBook & eAudio]

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø 

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 


VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Nina Blackwood et al.

Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford

Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan

Life, On the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen

The Third Plate: Field Notes on a New Cuisine by Dan Barber

Searching For John Hughes: Or Everything I Thought I Needed to Know About Life I Learned From Watching '80s Movies by Jason Diamond 

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed the Ocean by Les Standiford [eBook]

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley text and photographs by Roger Steffens

Little Labors by Rivka Galchen

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Getaway Reads: Classics and Fiction

Block Island, Rhode Island, USA. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 25 May 2017.
Maybe you're not going to the beach, but it is summer, and we bet you'd like some fun reads for your vacation getaway - even if it's just a hammock in the backyard! We have combed the internet for some likely contenders for your beachbag, suitcase, or lap, whatever the case may be, and tried to include some new titles (ones without an enormous hold list) and some older ones you might have missed.


Kindred by Octavia Butler [eBook & eAudio]

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene [eAudio]

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

The Natural by Bernard Malamud

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Dune by Frank Herbert 

Jaws by Peter Benchley

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure - The "Good Parts" Version abridged by William Goldman

The Professor and the Siren by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler 

A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul 

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway


Swing Time by Zadie Smith

White Nights In Split Town City by Annie Dewitt

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer

My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich

Relativity by Antonia Hayes

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Animators by Katla Rae Whitaker

The Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Perennials by Mandy Berman

Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

The Nix by Nathan Hill

She Poured Out Her Heart by Jean Thompson

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Getaway Reads: Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Block Island, Rhode Island, USA. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 25 May 2017.
Maybe you're not going to the beach, but it is summer, and we bet you'd like some fun reads for your vacation getaway - even if it's just a hammock in the backyard! We have combed the internet for some likely contenders for your beachbag, suitcase, or lap, whatever the case may be, and tried to include some new titles (ones without an enormous hold list) and some older ones you might have missed.

Romance/Domestic Fiction

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Falling by Jane Green

Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery

Swell by Jill Eisenstadt

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein

Always by Sarah Jio

Forever Is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez


The Dry by Jane Harper

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy [eBook & eAudio]

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

The Ruins by Scott Smith

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke [1st in series]

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

The Sister by Poppy Adams

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen

Science Fiction/ Fantasy

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett [book on CD & eBook]

Wool by Hugh Howey 

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor 

Feed by Mira Grant

Ancestor by Scott Sigler [eAudio]

The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood

Infomocracy by Malka Older

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer [eAudio]

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Updraft by Fran Wilde

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt