Book of the Month | March | Spring 2018

It’s spring break time here at Prairie State, and time to catch up on that most elusive of pastimes for busy college students– reading for pleasure!

Our recommended read for March is Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn.


Book description: “August returns to Brooklyn to bury her father, and a chance encounter with a friend in her old neighborhood prompts a flood of memories from her youth. Her memories explore what it was like to be an African-American girl (and teen) in the 1970s, what possibilities existed — and what challenges. This tale of friendship, love, and loss cuts back and forth through time.” — Description by Shauna Griffin. 

Another Brooklyn is a 2016 New York Times Notable Book, a Booklist Editor’s Choice for adult and teen fiction, a recipient of the Black Caucus of the ALA’s award for fiction, and a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Another Brooklyn may be checked out from the Prairie State College Library.

If you enjoyed Another Brooklyn, let us know! We also have some readalikes for you:

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson  (JUV WOO)

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (FIC WAR)

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (FIC BAL)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (FIC ISH)

(Click here for a printer-friendly version of this page.)

We hope you are enjoying your time off, but you can still pop in to the library from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during Spring Break, just in case you missed us. Rest up, rejuvenate and read something that’s not part of an assignment. 🙂


Book of the Month| February | Spring 2018

This month’s recommended read is Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God.


Ian Stade of LibraryReads provides a summary: “From the author of the National Book award-winning novel The Round House comes an exploration into the possibility of evolution reversing and is told from the perspective of a pregnant woman who is writing a journal to her unborn child. Along the way we meet her adoptive parents, her birth mother, and she reports on society unraveling and detaining pregnant women. Erdrich provides compelling characters and a strong storyline about a near future in this piece of innovative dystopian fiction.”

Or, as the New York Times puts it, ‘What if evolution stopped, and then start running backward?”

Click here to read an interview of Louise Erdrich by Margot Atwood, author of A Handmaid’s Tale. If you like this title, we definitely suggest reading (or re-reading) this modern dystopian classic.

Other readalike authors to try: P.D. James, Sherman Alexie, Isabel Allende, Ian McEwan, Megan Hunter

If you like Future Home of the Living God, you may also like the following three books available for checkout:

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

The Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solmon

Click here to download our flyer with a list of readalike books and authors.

Happy Reading!

Books on Display: Pride Month

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

June was chosen as Pride Month in honor of the Stonewall Riots, which started June 28, 1969. Set off by a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, the riots brought focus to the rampant abuse and discrimination faced by LGBTQ people. On the one year anniversary of the Riots, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago held the first Gay Pride Parades in U.S. history. These prides continue across the world today. On June 28, Chicago is hosting its 48th Pride Parade. Go to for more details.

As the President ceases all Pride Month initiatives and turns a blind eye to the rights of LGBTQ people, the Prairie State Library would like to bring focus to works by and about LGBTQ persons.

Queer students, you are welcome here.

Female, genderqueer, and transgender students, you are welcome here.


by Alex Gino


“When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all”

Fun Home

by Alison Bechdel


Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned ‘fun home,’ as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift, graphic, and redemptive.


by Jeffy Eugenides


In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls’ school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond clasmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them–along with Callie’s failure to develop–leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

Charity & Sylvia

by Rachel Hope Cleves

Call #HQ1034.U5 C54 2014

Explores the lives of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, two ordinary middle-class women who serve as a window on historical constructs of marriage, gender, and sexuality in late 18th-century and early 19th-century America. Both were born in Massachusetts, but in different towns, 11 years apart. Charity’s attachment to women was so blatant that after she turned 20, her father told her to leave the house. She worked as a schoolteacher, but was forced to leave jobs several times because of hurtful gossip about her relationships with other women. In early 1807, Charity moved to Vermont to stay with a friend, and there she met Sylvia. The two fell in love, set up housekeeping, and considered themselves married. Gradually, their family members and the residents of Weybridge did as well. Charity and Sylvia became integral to the community, attending church, running their tailor shop, and contributing to charitable endeavors. Most of all, Charity and Sylvia remained passionately committed to each other and refused to hide their relationship. An important work of history that resonates with one of today’s most public debates.

Hold Me Closer

by David Levithan


“Larger-than-life Tiny Cooper finally gets to tell his story, from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends, in the form of a musical he wrote”

The Biology of Homosexuality

by Jacques Balthazart

Call #HQ76.25 .B35 2012

Jacques Balthazart presents a simple description of the biological mechanisms that are involved in the determination of sexual orientation in animals and also presumably in humans. Using scientific studies published over the last few decades, he argues that sexual orientation, both homosexual and heterosexual, is under the control of embryonic endocrine and genetic phenomena in which there is little room for individual choice. The author begins with animal studies of the hormonal and neural mechanisms that control the so-called instinctive behaviors and analyzes how this animal work may potentially apply to humans. The book does not focus exclusively on homosexuality, however. Instead, the book acts as a broader guide to the biological basis of sexual orientation, and also discusses important gender differences that may influence sexual orientation. While firmly grounded in the scientific literature, this text is developed for a broader audience and will be of interest to psychologists, researchers, students, and anyone interested in the biological factors that determine our sexuality

Shakespeare @PSC

Why should anyone be interested in an author who lived over 400 years ago? Believe it or not, the works of Shakespeare continue to shape literature (such as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead) and film (such as The Lion King), even today.

Stop by the library to borrow titles featured in the library’s Shakespeare display, and be sure to check out the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s live production of Romeo and Juliet at 11:00AM on Thursday, April 27 in the PSC auditorium! Tickets are $5 for students and are available in the Business Office.

And if you’re just looking for some fresh insults inspired by Shakespeare, you can find those online.



March Book Display: Earth and Beyond

The book display for March explores the search for life outside of Earth, as well as the strangeness of life on our planet.

NASA recently discovered seven Earth-like planets, 40 light-years away. While a long distance for us, it is, cosmically, only a hop, skip, and jump away. As our technology improves and our science advances, we continue to discover more and more planets outside our solar system. And with each new discovery, we wonder whether they could be life on those distant worlds and how we can get to those worlds. Closer to home, Curiosity, the Mars rover, is on the search for evidence of alien life on the Red Planet. How would the discovery of life outside Earth change your perspective?

However, we can stay on our blue dot to explore high strangeness and alien worlds. In our oceans is the largest creature to ever exist: the blue whale, a mammal species known for its intelligence, unique language, and development of culture. Cephalopods (squids, octopuses, and cuttlefishes) have unique, identifying personalities.  We cannot forget the oddness of all the creatures: the poisonous, egg-laying mammal, the platypus.

Take some time to read about the odd and wonderful life on our planet. Consider the possibility of alien life and our continued, scientific search for worlds outside our own. And if you desire, read about alien abductions and UFOs.

The Last Unicorn

by William DeBuys

Call QL737.U53 D434 2015

“In 1992, in a remote mountain range, a team of scientists discovered the remains of an unusual animal with beautiful long horns. It turned out to be a living species new to western science — a saola, the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years. Rare then and rarer now, no westerner had glimpsed a live saola before Pulitzer Prize finalist and nature writer William deBuys and conservation biologist William Robichaud set off to search for it in the wilds of central Laos. The team endured a punishing trek, up and down whitewater rivers and through mountainous terrain ribboned with the snare lines of armed poachers. In the tradition of Bruce Chatwin, Colin Thubron, and Peter Matthiessen, THE LAST UNICORN is deBuys’s look deep into one of the world’s most remote places. As in the pursuit of the unicorn, the journey ultimately becomes a quest for the essence of wildness in nature, and an encounter with beauty”

Beyond the Stars: Our Origins and the Search for Life in The Universe

by Paolo Saraceno

Call GQ982 .S2713 2012

“What is the origin of the universe? Are we alone in the Universe? Using clear and plain language, the author explores these two interesting scientific-philosophical themes with a broad range of studies, including astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, biology, geology and planet science.The first part discusses the origins of everything, from the Big Bang to humankind. It follows the long course of evolution — from original matter to the formation of more complex structures, from the furthest galaxies to the nearest stars, from planets to organic molecules, from the first and most elementary forms of life through to the reptiles, the dinosaurs and the advent of man.The second part traces the history of the Earth and evaluates the risks of extinction in the future as predicted by scientists. Is the Earth the only habitable planet in the Universe? This question initiates the discussion on the importance of the Earth’s position in the solar system and the significance of our geologically alive planet.The final part is dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial beings with identifiable life forms. It also describes attempts for searching, from the past to the near future.This remarkable book provides the best answers we have to the epic questions about us and our place in the universe.” Continue reading “March Book Display: Earth and Beyond”

Monthly display: memoirs


Photo credit: daniyal62; shared under the Creative Commons license

Learning about others’ lives can help us to reflect on our own. This Thanksgiving Recess (November 24-27), consider reading a memoir. The library has several on display this month (they’re located behind the cookbooks), but if you’re interested in a title that we don’t have, you can place a request for it using our interlibrary loan service. If one of the other 76 libraries within our consortium owns the title, it will be ready for you to pick up in just a few days. As always, please ask us if you have any questions about finding or borrowing materials.

Here’s a sample of the memoirs available to borrow at the PSC Library:

why-not-me         audacity-of-hope          i-am-malala         bossypants

Cookbooks in the library (and online)

apples    Image modified under the Creative Commons license. Photo credit: arbyreed

Thanksgiving is around the corner! Do you need to bring a dish to a Thanksgiving celebration? Or perhaps you’re just looking to incorporate some variety into your daily diet?

The library holds a great number of recipes for special diets—for example, gluten-free, vegan, paleo, etc.—and that represent a wide range of cuisines. Check out this month’s display in the library, or, go online to access a huge selection of recipes in the form of eBooks and magazine articles. (Current PSC students and faculty members can even access these digital materials from home!)

To find  recipes online using the PSC catalog, first select the Advanced Search option on the library homepage.




Within the Advanced Search, type in “cooking” OR “cookbooks” into the search box. Note: the default Boolean operator is “and.” By switching the operator to “or,” a larger number of results will appear. Also select the “SU Subject Terms” field from the drop-down menu next to the text boxes. Click “Search.” This will retrieve the library items that have been categorized into the “cooking” or “cookbooks” categories.


Now, you can browse through the results, or add another term to the last search box in the top if you’re looking for a specific diet, cuisine, or ingredient. Limiting the Source Types to Magazines and eBooks will exclude scholarly reports and articles related to food (these types of sources don’t typically include recipes).


As always, please contact us if you have any questions about using the Advanced Search (or if you have any other questions about using the library!).

Monthly Display: Elections

In two short weeks, we, citizens of the United States of America, will be able to exercise one of our most important rights as citizens: voting.Women's suffrage

The history of voting rights in the United States reveals the best and worst things about our nation. In the beginning of our nation, the right to vote was exclusive to white, property owning men aged 21 and over. This right slowly opened up to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. A short paragraph does little justice to history of voting rights in this country. The fight for voting equality shows the great bravery of many of our citizens. All people, especially people of color and women, put their lives at risk. Many died or were gravely injured for the vote. Moreover, it also shows the great shames our nation must face. Our long and continuing history of denying people their full and equal rights as citizens.

On November 7th, please exercise your right. Do it for those who came before you and those who will come after you. For information about your local ballot, visit Ballot Ready.


Constitution & Citizenship Day

Constitution & Citizenship Day is a federal observance of the adoption of the United States Constitution. Introduced in 2004 by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the day is set aside for the promotion of civic education on the principal document of our nation. Senator Byrd believed it was imperative that all people in the United States have a fundamental understanding of the document that guarantees our freedoms. Moreover, it is also an opportunity to reflect how our nation has struggled with expanding full and equal rights to all people. On the anniversary of the signing the Constitution, September 17, 1787, all publicly funded schools are mandated to teach about the Constitution.

The Prairie State Library is excited to host a Constitution & Citizenship Day event on Thursday, September 15th from 12:30 to 1:45. The activities will include a lecture by Professor Andrew Schott titled “‘This Process Affords a Moral Certainty’ The Election of the U.S. President” and a “Citizenship Game Show” hosted by Professor Jennifer Eick-Magan.

Need more information? Want to impress your friends or enemies during the Game Show? Bone up on your knowledge of the U.S. Constitution by using PSC Library’s Guide to Constitution & Citizenship Day.



Krache, Donna. “Constitution Day Ushers in Mandate to Teach the Constitution.” CNN. September 16, 2005. Accessed September 02, 2016.

OBAMA, BARACK. “Proclamation 9323–Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, Constitution Week, 2015.” Daily Compilation Of Presidential Documents (September 16, 2015): 1. Points of View Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed September 2, 2016).