Book of the Month | April | Spring 2018

April’s Book of the Month is The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao.

invisible life

Book description: “The tale of two sisters who, surrounded by a cast of unforgettable characters, assert their independence and courageously carve a path of their own in 1940s Rio de Janeiro.”

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is available for checkout at the library. If you read it, let us know! Follow the link for a printer-friendly booklist with readalike books and authors. Happy reading!

 

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Book of the Month| February | Spring 2018

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

future

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!

Looking for something to read?

I know. The semester just started. The assignments are starting to pile up, and Thanksgiving looks so far away. What better way to give your brain a break than by reading something for fun?

You may have noticed a new addition at the reference desk.

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Whoever is sitting at the desk will share some of the books they really like, and think you might like, too. Ask us questions about them, ask for similar titles, or just grab them and check them out!

Missed a title? Want to see what we’ve recommended in the past? We have just the page for you!

What’s Your Name, Man?

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

This is the question asked at the very beginning of the current Broadway show, Hamilton. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical tells the story of “the ten dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop, R&B, and jazz.

Click on the above image to see the Hamilton show’s Twitter account!

The show has been selling-out since it opened in August, and audience members include Beyonce, Julie Andrews, and the Obama family. It was just announced today that the original cast recording is up for a Grammy award, and theater insiders are certain that it will sweep the Tony Awards next year.

Before I discovered Hamilton (the musical), which I’ve been listening to on endless repeat since it was released in September, I had no idea this man’s life was so fascinating. Here was someone whose face is printed on our money and I couldn’t even have started to describe some of his accomplishments.

So just what is it about this musical that’s so captivating? The music and the writing are stellar, with catchy hooks and internal rhyme sequences that boggle the mind. But at its heart, it’s the story of one of the most ambitious men in American history. Often considered to be America’s first immigrant, Alexander Hamilton arrived in New York at the age of 17 to attend college, and began making waves almost immediately. During his life, he fought in the Revolutionary War, was an aide to George Washington, wrote countless papers and treatises, and was the first secretary of the treasury. His views were often considered controversial, and political powers played out such that in 1795, he resigned his position. Less than 10 years later, he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Miranda found the inspiration for the musical in Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, and eventually asked Chernow to be the historical advisor for the show.

Have you discovered Hamilton yet? If not, we can get the CD from another library for you! And if you have, here are some more A dot Ham resources for you.

 

     

Staff Favorite: Putting the Marvel Back in Miracleman

Miracleman: A Dream of Flying (Book 1)
Written by: The Original Author (Alan Moore)
Illustrated by: Gary Leach
Located in the Graphic Novel Section (GN MOO)

Summary: KIMOTA! With one magic word, a long forgotten legend lives again! Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more-now, an unexpected series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny as Miracleman! The ground-breaking graphic novel that heralded a literary revolution begins here in A DREAM OF FLYING. After nearly two decades away, Miracleman uncovers his origins and their connection to the British military’s ‘Project Zarathustra’ – while his alter ego, Michael Moran, must reconcile his life as the lesser half of a god.


After 30 years of on-going legal battles, Marvel Comics, finally has the right to release the original Alan Moore run of Miracleman. The series began back in 1982 and was published in a black and white British magazine called WarriorWarrior, at the time, decided to hire a young up-and-coming writer, named Alan Moore to revive a 1950s comic book, called Marvelman, which featured a superhero who received powers by uttering the word Kimota (at the time the most popular superhero in the world was Captain Marvel, so many companies would blatantly rip off his origin). After a brief run, Warrior ran out of money and was forced to cease publication of the book (it was also publishing Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta at the time). After that an American company, Eclipse Comics, began re-issuing the series in color, but had to change the name to Miracleman because of on-going legal disputes with Marvel Comics. Moore would continue writing Miracleman until 1989, when his protege Neil Gaiman took over the series. In 1989, Eclipse went bankrupt and the series was never finished. From that point on, Miracleman, became a sources of legal contention, unresolved until 2011. Because there was no clear indication of who owned the series, re-releases of the Miracleman was not allowed. It was such a rare item that older issues of it would go for up to $1000 on ebay. Eventually, Neil Gaiman created a mini-series called 1602 for Marvel, and used all of the proceeds to wrest legal control of the book away from Image Comics founder, Todd McFarlane. Gaiman even dedicated 1602 to McFarlane by saying “To Todd, for making me do this!”

If you are familiar with an of Alan Moore’s work, then Miracleman should be right up you alley. In it Moore begins his deconstruction of the superhero that he would go on to explore in books like, The Watchmen and V for VendettaIt would also pave the way for the gritty realistic superhero, that would show up in things like Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns or Warren Ellis’, The Authority.

You can find Miralceman on the New Book Shelf for the next three months or you can learn more about its history and themes in the following articles.

Books by Alan Moore

“Poetry” in Full Bloom

 

If I national-poetry-monthlook 
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you
” – Pablo Neruda

In 1996, the American Academy of Poets began recognizing the month of April as National Poetry Month. This month long initiative was implemented to bring awareness to the “art of poetry”.  The goal of the academy (in part) is to introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry in innovative ways.  This includes making sure that poetry is part of the school curriculum and obtainable to students.  It is also a way for the academy and other writers to recognize the works of famous poets.

As somewhat of a self-proclaimed poet, I am often moved and inspired by beautiful prose and verse.  I grew up reading books by Shel Silverstein and later became inspired to write about the musings of my own soul.  For me, poetry is uncomplicated.  It is a way to visually express ideas using words.  Some of my favorite poets include:  Pablo Neruda, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes.  It is my belief that writing brings beauty to the mind in much the same way that art brings beauty to the eyes.

If poetry is of interest to you, consider celebrating National Poetry Month by checking out a few poetry books at the PSC Library.  The American Academy of Poets compiled a list of 30 things you could do to recognize poetry as an integral part of the American culture.

Little Cabin in the Woods

It’s cold in Chicago Heights, really cold. So… on a cold blustery day, where would you rather be? If you pictured the ideal place to zap yourself to, anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Cabin covered in snow.
This is where I would go.

Photo by Pixabay / CC BY

Yup, not Florida, not Mexico, not somewhere warm… but a little cabin all covered in snow. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed with homesteading and outdoor living… blame the books: Little House on the Prairie, Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain… you name it, I’ve probably read it. More recently I’ve upped the anty, trying to learn skills that I can apply to a homesteading venture: canning, wood crafting, cabin building, raising livestock. My favorite TV shows of late have been Frontier House and Alaska: The Last Frontier. Bring on the gardens, the chickens, and especially these guys:

Sheep in snow
I have a thing for sheep

Photo by Editor5807 / GNU FDL

So, for now I’m scouring the Prairie State College Library for books to help me out with my dreams and endeavors and practicing what I can in my little apartment covered in snow. How about you?

For books on homesteading topics, check these out!

Staff Favorite: Insert Coins and Search for 80’s Geek Nostalgia in Ready Player One

Ready Player One (1)

Ready Player One | Print Copy | eBook | Audiobook
by Ernest Cline
(FIC CLI)

It is the year 2044 and climate change, limited physical resources and The Great Recession has rendered life on earth virtually unbearable. To escape the misery, the majority of humans ignore the fact that they are living in vertically stacked trailer parks and spend their waking hours in the OASIS, a massive multiplayer online simulation where the sky’s the limit (think of OASIS as Facebook meets World of Warcraft meets the Matrix without all the mean AI robots). In the OASIS, people go to school, build and explore virtual worlds, experience space flight, play video games, listen to music, hang out with friends … in fact in the OASIS people can do pretty much anything they want, given that they have enough “credits”.

OASIS was created by an eccentric, socially awkward programmer named James Halliday (whose character is a mashup of Steve Jobs and Howard Hughes with a lesser known eccentric programmer, Richard Garriott thrown in), whom died five years before the story takes place.  After his death a video will is release to those in OASIS along with a book that was dubbed Anorak’s Almanac, which purports to be a journal written by James Halliday’s on his passions and obsessions. The video says that whoever can collect three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) that are hidden throughout the OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive his fortune and controlling stake in Halliday’s company. This becomes known as the Hunt and people immediately begin the search for Halliday’s Easter Egg. Those searching for the Egg are referred to as “gunters,” a truncation of “egg hunters.” Gunters devote an enormous amount of time to studying 1980s pop culture, the decade Halliday grew up in and was perpetually obsessed with, in the hope it will assist them with locating and solving the puzzles involved with the Egg.

When we are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, Wade Watts (an allusion to the Marvel superhero, Deadpool), it is five years after this announcement of the hunt. A lonely Oklahoman teen, Wade goes by the name of Parzival (a reference to a Arthurian Poem from Germany) in the OASIS. Obsessed with cracking Halliday’s puzzle Wade spends the majority of his free time studying Halliday’s passions for all things ‘80s, from Galaga to Rush to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.

His journey spans the length and breadth of the OASIS, taking the you on a magical mystery tour to distant planets that are influenced by everything from Blade Runner to Back to the Future. Along the way he finds friendship, love, and the ultimate enemy in the shape of Innovative Online Industries, a powerful corporation who will stop at nothing to win the contest and turn the OASIS into a purely commercial destination.

Will Wade find the keys before the evil corporation? To find out stop by the library’s fiction shelves and grab a copy of Ready Player One. You can also continue reading after the jump for ways to watch the music, play the video games, and listen to the music referenced (or easter egged in the book).

Continue reading “Staff Favorite: Insert Coins and Search for 80’s Geek Nostalgia in Ready Player One”

Staff Favorite: When the “Old” becomes “New”: Marvel Comics’ “The Twelve”

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Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on earth. – Will Rogers

The Twelve: A Thrilling Novel of Tomorrow
written by J. Michael Stracynski
illustrated by Chris Weston
Find it in the GRAPHIC NOVEL SECTION (GN STR)

The 1940s to early 1950s where considered the Golden Age of Comics.  During this time (fueled by World War II) the comic book industry was at its height in popularity and at the center of this popularity were superheroes. Spurred on by characters such as Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Captain Marvel, companies all across the United States churned out imitations and knockoffs, hoping to capitalize on the market’s success. But eventually all good things come to an end. If you have read the Library’s article Critical Thinking Skills 101: The Danger of Perceived Expertise you have already learned that in the 1950s, the Golden Age of Comics ended and due to the restrictions of the Comic Book Code, many companies went out of business and the lesser known superheroes of the time were sent into the waist bin of obscurity.

Jump forward to 2008, on the heels of Marvel Comics (which was during the 1940s know as Timely Comics) 70th Anniversary, the company, whom has never been known for having much nostalgia of their past (compared to DC Comics which is almost a company of pure nostalgia), decided to dig in their waist bin and revive some of their long-forgotten characters. To do this they enlisted long-time comic book writer J. Michael Stracynski (Babylon 5 creator, Rising Stars, Squadron Supreme) and artist Chris Weston (The Invisibles) and asked them to basically recreate DC’s The Watchmen.

The story follows The Phantom Reporter, Electro, The Black Widow, The Laughing Mask, The Blue Blade, Dynamic Man, Master Mind Excello, Mister E, The Fiery Mask, The Witness, Rockman, Captain Wonder. A group of superheroes, who toward the end of WWII are captured by the last vestiges of the Nazi Party and placed into suspend in the hopes that studying them will lead to further advances in eugenics. Fortunately the group that captured them is killed off by invading forces. Unfortunately they never tell anyone about the frozen group, who are buried and forgotten by time. Flashforward to the present day Marvel (616) Universe: A sinkhole in Germany opens, revealing the secret location of the heroes who are then unthawed and welcomed to present times. The rest of the book deals with how these characters from the 1940s adjust (or not) to modern times on top of a murder mystery and flashbacks to the characters origins.

While the book is certainly not The Watchmen, it is a very interesting take on how someone from a different time would have to adjust. And the characters, while poorly named, are all very compelling in their own right.

Staff Favorite: Vikings, Iceland, and Northlanders

nortlanders

Northlanders: The Icelandic Trilogy
written by Brian Wood
illustrated by Massimo Carnevale
located in the Graphic Novel Shelves (GN WOO)

Brian Wood has always been a favorite writer of mine from the moment I read the first volume of his near future series DMZ, where civil war in the United States has transformed Manhattan into a demilitarized zone (hence the name of the title). So when I learned that he was writing a historical fiction series about Vikings, I couldn’t have been more excited. Over its entire run (collected in seven volumes) Northlanders explored self-contained tales of Vikings from the perspective of conquers or those being conquered by the north men. Last year, the last volume of the series came out and from my stand point it may be one of the best things written, ever. This arc, entitled The Icelandic Trilogy, examines the four generations of the Hauksson family, who came to Iceland before it was inhabited, and in their time established a system of power, through what would now be considered an organized crime. And the payoff could not have been any better. The sweeping epic examines the struggle with Christianity, war with rival families, and the eventuality that all wars, be they for money, power, or prestige, must come to an end regardless of struggle.  I, being a fan of seeing the rise and fall of people in power, really appreciated that aspect of the story, but what is really unique to this story is its setting, Iceland and the rich history of blood feuds, land barons, and king-lessness that propagate its founding which we have come to know through its sagas.

Continue reading after the jump for more on Northlanders: The Icelandic Trilogy and how it ties into Icelandic History

Continue reading “Staff Favorite: Vikings, Iceland, and Northlanders”