A Christmas Gift Guide For The Readers In Your Life

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If you have an avid reader as a friend or relative, then you know there’s probably at least one book on their Christmas list! But which book should you give them this year? Here’s a few book options for the different types of readers you may know. Some of these items are also available to read here at the library!

For the reader who loves Jane Austen: Why not give the gift of both the book and the movie? This edition of Pride and Prejudice has a beautiful cover, so even if they already have a version of the book, they’ll probably still love getting this new one. You can also pick up Pride and Prejudice, along with several other Jane Austen books, from our library shelves.

And there are two popular Pride and Prejudice movies to choose from! For viewers that love humor and don’t mind sitting through a long movie, get the 1995 TV mini-series (it has the famous Colin Firth portrayal of Mr. Darcy). For viewers that enjoy beautiful cinematography and faster-paced films, get the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. Both of these movies are available for check out here at the library.

 

For the reader who enjoys fast-paced books with plenty of action: Pick up a book in the Jack Ryan series by Tom Clancy. Fans of the TV show will love reading the source material. We also have these books available at the library.

 

For the reader who likes true crime and mysteries: Hello, I am this reader. American Predator by Maureen Callahan is on my reading wish list. This recently released true crime book tells about a meticulous serial killer and how he was caught. Chances are your true crime-loving friend hasn’t read this one yet since it’s still so new, so it makes for a great current gift!

If you want to read some true crime for free, the library has I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara, which I can’t recommend enough. You’ll find this book in our Recreational Reading section.

 

For the reader who wants something light and fun: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is a modern classic in the fantasy YA realm. It’s funny, cute, and a well-told, intelligent story. Pick this one up from our Family Room.

 

For the reader who likes to stay current: You can’t go wrong with the bestseller The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Whitehead has recently made a name for himself in the literary community; he writes about African American history and experiences. You can find this book in our Recreational Reading section.

Another bestselling book that will undoubtedly be read in book clubs is Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This book has been flying off the shelves in book stores and libraries alike, but it’s currently available on our Staff Picks Display.

 

Good luck on your Christmas shopping, and happy reading!

Featured Book: “Getting From College To Career” by Lindsay Pollak

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There are 90 pieces of advice in the book Getting From College To Career by Lindsay Pollak. However, the author herself says to scan through her book for advice that relates the most to your specific situation- you don’t have to read the entire book, although that might help! Essentially, this book is for helping college students to launch their careers. Whether you’re a traditional or nontraditional student, a minority or majority ethnicity, etc., there is advice here for you.

My personal favorite lines of wisdom from Getting From College To Career are about taking action:

The worst mistake you can make is not to take any action at all . . . Once I started making some phone calls, meeting some people for lunch, and sending out my resume, I built momentum and began to find opportunities. The minute I took action- any action- things started happening.

Pollak encourages college students to get out there and try new things, since you never know what might lead to a job opportunity. During your time in college, you should take advantage of your professors’ knowledge and their connections to potential employers. The university staff and faculty want to help you succeed, so it doesn’t hurt to ask questions! For Union specifically, the Vocatio Center is a great place to go for resume help, on-campus jobs, and future career prep. As Pollak says, “Do not pass GO, do not collect $200, until you’ve visited your school’s career services office.”

For more advice on what you can be doing to prepare for your next job, check out Getting From College To Career. It’s available in the library in the LB section (click this link to see the call number).

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “We Were Soldiers”

Director Randall Wallace has written, produced, and adapted many moving stories into outstanding motion pictures, such as Braveheart, The Man in the Iron Mask, and classics like Secretariat. In 2002, he brought to life the harrowing true story of how on November 14th, 1965, the brave men of the U.S. 7th Cavalry found themselves in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.

We Were Soldiers stars Mel Gibson as Lt. Colonel Hal Moor, who has recently been chosen to command the U.S. 7th Cavalry.  Knowing that war is likely imminent in Vietnam, Moor must train his soldiers in the use of helicopters as a way of getting them into to battle. Moor quickly bonds with his enlisted men and earns the respect of his officers. Secretly he fears the ominous legacy that the 7th Cavalry has incurred ever since it was nearly wiped out in the past at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When tensions escalate, the 7th Calvary is called to Vietnam. Unsure of where the enemy is, Moor’s orders are simply to find the enemy and destroy them. The eventual battle would come at the Ia Drang valley.

The North Vietnamese Army had been wanting to lure U.S troops into a trap, and as fate would have it, this proved to be a perfect opportunity. After Moor and the first detachment arrive, they soon learn they are severely outnumbered and are being pinned down by large numbers of NVA troops. The men of the 7th Calvary are cut off and surrounded on all sides, and they risk being annihilated like at Little Bighorn. Over the next four days, Moor and his men fight for survival day and night against frightful odds.

The film also cuts to the home front where Moor’s wife Julia (Madeleine Stowe) decides to help look after the soldier’s wives back on the base once they start receiving news of some of their husband’s deaths. We lastly see the story through the eyes of a young combat reporter, Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), who documents the sacrifices of the young soldiers. Joe Galloway would later go on to author the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” detailing the accounts of the battle Ia Drang Valley. Victory in the battle finally comes for the Americans but at a terrible cost, and it becomes clear that, as a result, the war in Vietnam will only escalate in its scale and ferocity.

So many movies on the Vietnam war attempt to shock and dehumanize both sides of the conflict; this film stands out because it shows the bravery and humanity of both the Vietnamese and Americans who died fighting.

We Were Soldiers is available at the Union University Library. Please note it is Rated R for intense scenes of warfare.  We are also happy to provide you with the book that this film is based on and adapted from.

 

 

 

 

Moments In History: November 10th, 1929

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Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

November 10th, 1929

All Quiet On The Western Front

This Sunday marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of the great novel All Quiet on The Western Front. Written by Erich Maria Remarque, this novel is based in part on his own experience serving in the German army during World War I. The novel details the tragic experiences of common German soldiers, who are mostly reluctant to fight and quickly disillusioned by the horrors of the Great War. The main character acts as if he is merely a shell of his former self as he goes on day after day in the misery of trench warfare. When his comrades and friends are killed or wounded, it is not a glorious or chivalrous affair but horrific and matter of fact, as if it was bad luck.

All Quiet On the Western Front goes on to show that soldiers returning home on leave or after the war become a lost generation who has seen too much suffering and death. They feel as if they can never fully be themselves again and feel alienated to those back home.

This novel was a landmark success upon publication; it received great acclaim worldwide selling nearly 2.5 million copies. It was translated into 22 languages in a little over its first year in print. Unfortunately, due to its success at portraying the truly horrific nature of the war and its portrayal of the German army, it was deemed offensive to the German State and was one of the first books to be publicly burned in mass when the Nazis began to seize power. The novel was hailed by pacifists around the world as an important testament to the senselessness of war. It would go on to be adapted into a film in 1930, winning the first Oscar for Best Picture for a film that didn’t have a musical number accompanying it.

The film would eventually have a 1979 remake that was also highly praised. There are even plans for yet another updated remake in the works. This is an important piece of literature and film that was among the first to attempt to explain the true gruesomeness of war and the now understood post-traumatic-stress disorder that affects so many soldiers who have seen the devastating effects of war.

If this topic interests you, and you would like to learn more, the Union University Library has this novel and film available in the links below:

 

A Reading List For The Newly Engaged

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Engagement is a wonderful and exciting time in a couple’s relationship.  Energy and hope about the future arise as this transition into a new phase of life begins.  Wedding planning gets off the ground running, bringing with it lots of decisions and preparations to be made for the big day.  But what about preparation for the actual marriage?  While there are wedding planning websites, countless wedding dress boutiques, invitation companies, and caterers aplenty, where does one look to get advice about the central reason why this big day is happening in the first place?

As a newly engaged individual myself, these have been my “wonderings” over the past few months.  Though I have picked a venue, bought my wedding dress, booked a photographer, and started looking at invitations, I still feel a little in the dark as far as preparing for the beginning of my marriage.  Because of this, I decided to search for some advice.  My goal was to find books that were based on Biblical truths and that would help me to better understand and apply these truths as I enter into married life.  As I conveniently work in a library, one day I decided to see if we might have some books in the Logos that I could take a look at right away.

I began searching for lists of the most popular books for engaged couples online.  I found several that seemed legitimate and intriguing, and so I began making a personalized list of the ones I was most interested in.  After making my list, I decided to jump right in and see if we had any available in the library.  While I do have almost 7 months until our wedding day, I wanted to get a head start on tackling my reading list! Furthermore, as I am a nursing major, time for extracurricular reading is limited, so creating my reading list was not a light matter, and I am still tweaking it as I go.

My list as it stands now has 8 books on it, but my realistic goal is to have read 5 of these by the time I graduate. Who knows, maybe I will be able to sneak a few more in in the last month before getting married? As of now I have included on my list:

Currently, I am on my second book. I started with The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller because I had not only read great reviews on it, but had also gotten great feedback and recommendations from friends and family.  As my dad is a pastor and often facilitates marriage counseling for engaged couples, I looked to him to help me confirm my list and give me advice on which books to prioritize.  I was excited that there were several books on my list that he highly recommended and has used often when leading discussions between couples.  The Meaning of Marriage was one of the books he most strongly recommended and as it seemed to be the most foundational, I chose it as my first book.

While looking for that book on the Union University Library’s website catalogue, I also searched for several other books that I had put on my list.  I went ahead and checked out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman and A Handbook for Engaged Couples by Alice & Robert Fryling.  The 5 Love Languages especially struck my interest so I began to read this book before completing the first one on my list.  It was a short read so I finished it in a couple of days.  It reminded me of when I first starting learning about the Enneagram – learning more about myself and how I interact with others in light of my personality type, or in that case, number.

In The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman dives into the 5 different love languages: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service.  I personally found this book to be enlightening on how we all desire love in different forms and how it is crucial to discover our significant other’s primary love language and learn how to speak that love language to them more fully and intentionally.  I would highly recommend this book to any engaged couple who wants to better understand their fiancé and learn how to love him/her more specifically to how they emotionally desire to be loved.

The Meaning of Marriage has proved to be a solid foundational read and I am looking forward to finishing it up.  Keller takes time to explain how we see marriage in this day and age and then compares that with what a Biblical marriage looks like. For me, I am glad I chose this book for my list, because I already see how the foundational truths that Keller delves into will be very beneficial in helping shape my view of how marriage should look like at its core, as that indeed was my main hope in embarking on this little engagement reading and research adventure!

After finishing up The Meaning of Marriage, I plan to read Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. As some of these books are more designed to be discussed with one’s significant other, I am saving them for closer to the time that my fiancé and I begin marriage counseling. The two I am referring to include A Handbook for Engaged Couples by Alice Fryling & Robert Fryling and Our Bucket List Adventures: A Journal for Couples by Ashley Kusi and Marcus Kusi.

By no means do I claim to have all the right books for your premarital reading list, but I hope that this personalized account of my search for marital advice as a newly engaged individual will be helpful to someone along the way!

 

New: Staff Picks Display

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Ever wonder what the librarians are reading? Looking for something new and recommended at the library?

Presenting: Staff Picks! This first floor display will show you which books and movies we recommend. The display will be refreshed with new choices regularly. You can read a little about each item (and who picked it) with our handy signs.

Currently, the Staff Picks are as follows:

 

Each item is available for check out. Happy reading!

Book Review: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl was one of the top bestselling books when it debuted in 2012. In 2014, the novel was turned into a movie adaptation of the same name. For those few years it was a hot topic of conversation, but I remained clueless about what it was really about. So a few days ago, I picked up Gone Girl to see why this story hooked thousands of readers and viewers.

Non-spoiler summary: Gone Girl is about Nick, a down-on-his-luck writer, and his wife, Amy, who goes missing at the beginning of the book. Throughout the story, we learn more about their dissolving marriage and the problems that follow.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Gone Girl does right: It’s different, that’s for sure! Thankfully I went into this novel pretty spoiler-free, so it was a wild ride as each piece of the plot fell into place. I guessed a few things correctly, but I was also surprised a few times as I read. Gone Girl is one of those books that you don’t want to put down until you know just what happened. It’s definitely not boring!

What Gone Girl gets wrong: I think this book veers into the territory of being edgy for edgy’s sake. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I probably would have liked Gone Girl better when I was a much edgier teenager than the person I am now. The characters aren’t likable- which doesn’t necessitate a bad book- but they also aren’t relatable, and that’s more of a problem. There are multiple unreliable narrators in this book, which is creative but also frustrating at points since they are so narcissistic. It would be like if every Game of Thrones chapter was from Cersei’s point of view: neurotic, self-obsessed, and delusional. (I just finished A Dance With Dragons and the comparison had to be made.)

Spoilers right here, so skip this whole paragraph if you want: Essentially this book is about two antagonists. You don’t feel right rooting for either Nick or Amy, and ultimately Gone Girl left me disappointed because of this. People really need characters- even villains- that they can empathize with. This is what makes shows like Breaking Bad so popular. Even though Walter White isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, he has problems that people can understand: trying to keep his family together and provided for, working jobs he doesn’t enjoy, balancing his sense of morality with the shady business he’s getting in to. He’s at least interesting enough that you’ll stick with him through five seasons: what will Walter do next? How will he get out of this crazy problem he’s created? I didn’t feel this way about either of the main characters in Gone Girl. I wanted them both to fail, whereas when I watched Breaking Bad, I wanted Walter White to succeed in spite of the evil things he’d done. That’s the difference between a compelling antagonist/antihero and one who’s not.

*I know that this is kind of a hot take on Walter White and that some people can’t stand him, so take it with a grain of salt (I still find him fascinating several years and rewatches later).

Who should read Gone Girl: Readers who enjoy thrillers, dramatic twists, and trying to figure out mysteries.

Who shouldn’t read Gone Girl: Readers who want relatable or moral characters. People who only want one narrator to keep up with, or who dislike an excessive amount of language.

Gone Girl is available in the Recreational Reading section of the library.

 

*Content note: language, some suggestive scenes, some violence.

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Darkest Hour”

2017 was a big year for historical, period piece movies as the much anticipated film Darkest Hour was released. It follows the turbulent time at the beginning stages of World War II during Nazi Germany’s swift advance and conquest of much of Europe. Britain was left relatively isolated and with the decision to either make peace or continue to resist alone.

The film focuses on the newly elected prime minister, Winston Churchill (portrayed by Gary Oldman), as he attempts to convince the British Parliament to not sue for peace in spite of their current position in the war. We are shown the personal struggles Churchill goes through with his relationship with his wife and the heavy weight the war takes on his conscience as there was a very real threat of invasion and subjugation. As the film progresses, we are introduced to Elizabeth Layton (Lily Jordan) as Churchill’s new personal secretary who has the task of shadowing the prime minister and typing up the various letters to his allies in Parliament and his replies to various world leaders.

As the war rages on, Churchill continues to attempt to inspire the British public to courageously resist. His opponents in Parliament seek to oust him from power and elect a different Prime Minister to begin peace talks with Hitler. It soon becomes clear that, unless a miracle happens, the entire British expeditionary force in France will be destroyed as they are trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. To the surprise of all the troops trapped at Dunkirk, they are rescued by the British Navy and thousands of volunteer flotillas. As this happens Churchill gives his famous speech “We shall fight on the beaches,” which goes on to rally Parliament in his favor and unite the British public.

Darkest Hour is a perfect companion to Christopher Nolan landmark film Dunkirk. Gary Oldman has always been one of my all-time favorite actors, and in this role he truly shines and transitions flawlessly into the elder British statesmen. Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill carries the film the entire way through.

Gary Oldman won his first Academy Award for Best Actor for this role. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and won an additional award for Best Hair and Makeup for the transition of Gary Oldman into the role of Winston Churchill.

Darkest Hour is available at the Union University Library; it is rated PG-13 for some mild language.

Top 5 Suspenseful Movies For Halloween

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If you enjoy a little Halloween fun but don’t want to watch a movie that’s too scary, then a suspenseful film may be the right choice for you. The library has several suspenseful and older horror movies that, while entertaining, will probably not shock a modern audience. Check out our list below for some great choices!

Note: there are a lot of fantastic thrillers in the world of cinema, so this list is limited to the ones that we have available in the library.

 

Rebecca

A young bride is brought by her new husband to his manor house in England. There she finds that the memory of her husband’s first wife haunts her, and she tries to discover the secret of that mysterious woman’s death. Rebecca the book is also a classic suspense novel.

 

Nosferatu

Take it all the way back to 1922 with this thrilling, silent film about Dracula (called Nosferatu in this version). While the effects may not be as scary to a modern viewer, they are dazzling for the time period. Nosferatu is one of the most influential films of the modern horror genre.

 

Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock was certainly one director who knew how to tell suspenseful stories. Vertigo is the story of San Francisco police detective Scottie Ferguson, who is forced to retire when a freak accident gives him a severe case of acrophobia. Ferguson is hired by a rich shipbuilder to follow his wife, who is behaving suspiciously and might be planning suicide.

 

The Sixth Sense

If you don’t know the twist to The Sixth Sense, watch it before you find out! This is a great movie to watch at least twice- once before you know the twist, and once after. Bruce Willis gives an empathetic performance as a child psychologist who tries to help a boy with visions of dead people.

 

Donnie Darko

This was my favorite movie for many years. Donnie Darko has everything that a good suspense/science fiction movie needs: a giant bunny rabbit, a countdown to the end of the world (starting on October 2nd and ending on Halloween), and a classic 80’s New Wave soundtrack. I love Donnie Darko because it’s a movie that could fit in so many genres- and it will keep you guessing until the very end- but ultimately it’s about a troubled teenage boy trying to figure out how the world works, and what’s more relatable than that?

 

Bonus movie:

Jaws

The first summer blockbuster was also a terrifying experience for moviegoers in 1975. Jaws is notable especially for its soundtrack, which inspires a creeping sense of dread as the giant shark approaches. Jaws will not be as scary to current horror fans due to limited (but still impressive) effects, which makes it a great movie for those who prefer suspense. You can read Matthew’s review of Jaws here.

 

 

Book Review: “Serious Moonlight” by Jenn Bennett

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After I finished reading The Exorcist, I wanted to pick up something lighter- much lighter- to read. So I chose Jen Bennett’s Serious Moonlight, one of the library’s newer Young Adult novels. It has a very cozy cover, so it seemed like it would be a good read for a fall or winter afternoon. Literally, a patron that I helped at the Circulation Desk saw the book and commented: “That cover just looks like Christmas.”

Here’s a spoiler-free description of Serious Moonlight from the publisher: “Eighteen-year-old, mystery-loving Birdie’s new job at a historic Seattle hotel leads her and her co-worker, Daniel, to a real mystery about a reclusive writer who resides there.” I would say this book is more about restarting and repairing the relationship between Birdie and Daniel, though.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Serious Moonlight does right: It’s cute. Birdie’s love interest, Daniel, is a sweetheart who loves David Bowie- which is a big qualification for a good literary romance. And even though Birdie pushes him away due to her fear of relationships, he still sticks around (which is okay rather than intrusive in this book, since they’re both nice and safe people). It’s a classic trope, but it’s one that works in this story.

Birdie and Daniel quote old noir/detective movies to each other. It’s weird and I don’t know of any teenagers who would do this, but again, it’s part of the book’s charm, just like the setting- Serious Moonlight makes Seattle seem smaller and more local than it really is.

Still, not everything is easy between Birdie and Daniel. Birdie worries that Daniel’s not telling her something (he’s not), and there’s a fair amount of natural miscommunications and missed signals between them. I appreciated these moments of realism (even as I wanted them to figure things out and end up together).

One last thing- if you’re into the Enneagram, this is a relationship between a 6 and a 7. It’s pretty entertaining how the two characters interact.

 

What Serious Moonlight gets wrong: Right off the bat I found out this was not going to be the completely innocent book I thought it would be. Let’s just say that Birdie has a surprise encounter in chapter one that I did not see coming based on her description of herself as “shy” and “sometimes cowardly.”  Later she has some more “encounters”-this book does earn the “Young Adult” sticker that we gave it.

There are also a few typos. This will bother some readers. And the plot’s kind of thin- this book is more focused on character growth than action.

 

Who should read Serious Moonlight: Readers who want a cute romance and a little bit of mystery. This would be a great book for an older teen or a young adult reader.

 

Who shouldn’t read Serious Moonlight: Readers who aren’t interested in romance/drama or would prefer a more chaste romance to read about.

 

Serious Moonlight is available in the library’s Family room.

*Content note: several suggestive scenes, language.