8 Books to Read for New and Upcoming TV Shows

Want to be ahead of the curve? Check out these books from the Library before they become TV shows!

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Show

Hulu | April 26, 2017 | Read up on it

The Book

The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood

FIC ATW

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….


American Gods

The Show

Starz | April 2017 | Read up on it

The Book

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

FIC GAI

Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path. Continue reading “8 Books to Read for New and Upcoming TV Shows”

Westworld: 15 Books and Movies for the Western Android Fan

HBO’s new series, Westworld, is a big sprawling story set in a future where humans have begun imbuing robots with sentience in order to make a large, corporately owned theme park, more immersive for its rich clientele. It is based on the 1970s Michael Crichton movie of the same name where Androids in a Western based theme park become murderous and start to terrorize its patrons. Unlike the movie, the show seems to be developing some bigger questions, such as how is consciousness developed and what is a creators ethical responsibility for its creation as well as examining what is entertainment and what will immersive game playing experiences look like in the future. Overall, it is a great viewing experience, that balances a fun story while still letting its audience delve into references such as Shakespeare, Da VinciAlice in Wonderland, Hieronymus Bosch, and Julian Jaynes’ theory of the Bicameral Mind.

If you have been enjoying the show or are just interested in some some of the themes or genres it presents, then try out some of these titles we have at the Prairie State College Library.

Blood meridian: or, The evening redness in the West
by Cormac McCarthy
FIC MCC

Based on incidents that took place in the southwestern United States and Mexico around 1850, this novel chronicles the crimes of a band of desperados, with a particular focus on one, “the kid,” a boy of fourteen. An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the “wild west.” Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.


Do androids dream of electric sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
FIC DIC

It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignment–find them and then…”retire” them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!


What to think about machines that think : today’s leading thinkers on the age of machine intelligence
Q335 .W445 2015

Weighing in from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, today’s most forward-thinking minds explore the rise of “machines that think.”
Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by noting, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Others, conversely, have trumpeted a new age of “superintelligence” in which smart devices will exponentially extend human capacities. No longer just a matter of science-fiction fantasy (2001, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Her, etc.), it is time to seriously consider the reality of intelligent technology, many forms of which are already being integrated into our daily lives. In that spirit, John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org (“the world’s smartest website” – The Guardian), asked the world’s most influential scientists, philosophers, and artists one of today’s most consequential questions: What do you think about machines that think?


The Ox-bow Incident
by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
FIC CLA

Set in 1885, The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West. First published in 1940, it focuses on the lynching of three innocent men and the tragedy that ensues when law and order are abandoned. The result is an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature.


The complete stories of J.G. Ballard
by J.G. Ballard
FIC BAL

Short story, ‘The Largest Theme Park in the World’, describes a Europe of the near future, ‘the first totalitarian system based on leisure’. Former pilot Paul Sinclair drives his young doctor wife Jane to the French Riviera when she takes up a post at the exclusive high-tech community of Eden-Olympia. The multinational corporations behind the business park are conducting a psychological laboratory there, a huge experiment in how to ‘hot-house the future’. They become aware of the violence and paranoia under the project’s glossy surfaces and its increasingly sinister undercurrents: sado-masochistic sex, robberies and racist attacks, unexplained murders. Jane falls into promiscuity and drug addiction, while Paul investigates the death of the former medical director of this ‘Alcatraz-sur-Mer’ in a deranged shooting spree.


Continue reading “Westworld: 15 Books and Movies for the Western Android Fan”

President Obama’s Reading Lists

Getty Images

As we come closer to the end of President Obama’s term, I thought it would interesting to take a look through his reading lists  over the years. So if you want to read the books that the President did check out one or more of them from the Prairie State College Library.

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
E185.615 .C6335 2015
Link to Ebook

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?


The Sixth Extinction
Elizabeth Kolbert
QE721.2.E97 K65 2014

Provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Fic DOE

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


Washington: A Life
Ron Chernow
E312 .C495 2011

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America’s first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.


Continue reading “President Obama’s Reading Lists”

History in and Around Chicago!

Learn more about Chicago and Illinois history over the summer by checking out a book and visiting some of our cultural institutions.For its 2015-2016 season, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s One Book, One Chicago, selected Thomas Dyja’s book, The Third Coast, which offers a detailed account of Chicago history. His narrative of Chicago includes many historical landmarks that we can still visit today. Themes included in the book are politics (of course!), architecture, urban planning, the arts, and race. The Chicago Public Library hosts many events during the One Book season.

The 2015-2016 season is now over, but the 2016-2017 season is forthcoming. No matter, The Third Coast would make a great summer read!

And in between reading, make plans to visit some of these local institutions: The Pullman State Historical Site , DuSable Museum  , National Museum of Mexican Art, and Heritage Museum of Asian Art (reopening late summer of 2016.)

Below is just a small sample of titles in the Prairie State College Library collection. So stop by to check out some of these great Chicagoland stories (fiction and non-fiction included!), and ask about our college archives!

In Memoriam: Umberto Eco

Out of all the deaths of famous and somewhat famous people that have occurred recently, the one that personally hit me the most was that of Umberto Eco.

When I was around 13 or 14, I read his novel Foucault’s Pendulum, which I had found serendipitously in a bookstore. At the time, I was fascinated by all the historical references, and to the conspiracies and secret societies which it described and satirized. To this day I still think it’s a great satire of what happens when you really jump down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theorizing. And from a literary perspective, the writing in this, and other books of his that I would later read, strike me as just the right mix of erudition and accessibility. You enjoy reading Eco, not only for the story, but for the use of language, which comes across even in translation from Italian. You also inevitably learn something.

Many years later when I heard about Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, which tread upon some of the same ground as Foucault’s Pendulum, I was annoyed that such an inferior work could enjoy so much more success.

Eco had an amazing ability to make the past seem like a living, breathing reality, something that really comes across best in the other three novels pictures above:  The Name of the Rose, The Island of the Day Before, and Baudolino. The first is a murder-mystery set in a medieval monastery, with a Sherlock Holmes-type monk sent in to investigate. The Island of the Day Before is concerned, among other things, with the 17th and 18th century race to discover an accurate way to measure longitude, with all its immense implications for transoceanic navigation. Baudolino is about a peasant boy sold off to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who eventually goes off in search of the legendary Kingdom of Prester John, and after wandering through a variety of fantastical lands, ends up in Constantinople while it is being sacked by the Fourth Crusade.

Of course, as well known as he was for his literary works, Eco was also a scholar, working most often in literary theory and “semiotics,” the study of signs and signification–a field in which he was a central figure. This scholarship certainly informed his approach to literature, and to some extent it’s no surprise that his earliest novel, The Name of the Rose, would deal with questions of medieval philosophy, the subject of his earliest scholarly work. At the same time, his scholarly concerns never seemed to displace the artistry or fun in his fiction works, something that isn’t true of many figures.

Thanks for the stories, Mr. Eco.

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Mountain Man Hugh Glass: The History of the Revenant

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
Book / Ebook

revenant
noun rev·e·nant \ˈre-və-ˌnän, -nənt\

: one that returns after death or a long absence
-Miriam Webster

The Revenant, staring Leo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, tells the story of a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s who must fight for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. It is based on the book The Revenant by Michael Punke, which itself is based on the story of an actual man named Hugh Glass.

There is very little about Hugh Glass that actually known outside of the fact that he was one of the “mountain men” who, during the turn of the 19th century were drawn out west in pursuit of the lucrative business of fur-trapping. Now, when Europeans came over from the new world, they found themselves awash in animals which they could use for fur trade (mainly beavers). From the boom in resources was developed a new trade of people named “mountain men”. The mountain man was a rare bred (there was usually only about 200-300 total) of person who braved the wild, hostile Native Americans, and the elements for months at a time before they returned to civilization. They even had their own system of medicine, called “frontier medicine, to deal with any injuries that may occur. Sure enough, though, by the 1800s they had hunted the beaver population in the Eastern portion of the country to near extinction. But luckily the United States had just invested in the Louisiana Purchase, which opened up St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains to these trappers. Hugh Glass was one of the men who ventured west to seek his fortune.

The Story of the Revenant (do not continue reading if you want to avoid spoilers …. of American History)

Continue reading “Mountain Man Hugh Glass: The History of the Revenant”

Harper Lee, 1926-2016

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and its sequel Go Set a Watchman, died today at the age of 89.

A native of Monroeville, Alabama, Lee was 34 when To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. The success of the novel, and its immediate connection to the current political and cultural climates, led quickly to the production of a film adaptation starring Gregory Peck. The movie was released in 1962, and received 3 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck and Best Screenplay Adaptation. The book was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

In 1964, Lee declined to give any more interviews, citing her exhaustion with answering the same questions again and again. She also wrote no more novels. When it was announced that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird would be published in 2015, questions were raised about its authenticity, and Lee’s actual intentions.

Harper Lee was one of the 20th century’s most renowned and celebrated authors. To read her novels, watch the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, or learn more about her, check out one of the items below.

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Check These Books Out!

Need something to read between classes?  The Prairie State College Library is always acquiring new books for our patrons.  The selections below, and many others, can be found on the shelves located outside our Quiet Reading Room.

       
       
       

2015 Award Winners and Finalists

medalsStop by the Library this month to check out our display filled with current and previous winners of book awards or continue reading to see this years winners and finalists.

Pulitzer Prize:

Honoring excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917.

National Book Award:

Celebrating the best of American literature and enhancing the cultural value of great writing in America.

Nobel Prize for Literature:

Awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Alfred Nobel, produced “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.”

Man Booker Prize:

The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.

National Book Critics Circle Award:

The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature.

Caldecott and Newbery Medal:

The Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the preceding year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children” and the Newbery Medal is awarded to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”.

One Book: The Signal and the Noise.

       

This year’s One Book selection is The Signal and the Noise.  Go to the One Book One Community website to find out more information.  For other books about real world mathematics and statistics, check out the book display outside the Library Classroom.  Take a look at some of the titles we have…