Top 5 Nonfiction eBooks To Read At Home

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You’re at home, practicing social distancing, and you really need something new to read. Maybe you’ve read all of the books on your shelf, or maybe you just want to read something on a screen. Have no fear: the library has thousands of eBooks for Union students and employees to access while at home. Here are just a few of our nonfiction eBooks for you to start reading!

*book descriptions are from the publishers c/o the library website

 

Online Learning: A User-Friendly Approach For High School And College Students by Leslie Bowman

In every online class, some students are wildly successful, some earn average or slightly below-average grades, some barely pass, some fail, and some drop out. Whatever a student’s age, situation, or lifestyle, everything needed for successfully completing an online class is right here in this book. Each chapter covers a specific element of online learning and provides the new online student with practical strategies and how-to information so that any student can go into an online classroom prepared to succeed. This book has strategies and tips that every online professor wants students to know.

 

The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, And Making Stuff by Rich Gold

Lessons from the creative professions of and for art, science, design, and engineering: how to live in and with the “Plenitude,” that dense, knotted ecology of human-made stuff that creates the need for more of itself.

 

Invisible Women: Data Bias In A World Designed For Men by Caroline Criado-Perez

Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives. Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women- diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more.

 

The Bible On Leadership: From Moses to Matthew: Management Lessons for Contemporary Leaders by Lorin Woolfe

Moses on vision; John the Baptist on communication skills; Queen Esther on political know-how: great leaders from the Bible have powerful lessons to teach today’s business leaders.

 

When Chicken Soup Isn’t Enough: Stories Of Nurses Standing Up For Themselves, Their Patients, And Their Profession edited by Suzanne Gordon

This title brings together personal narratives from a wide range of nurses from across the globe. The assembled profiles in professional courage provide new insight into the daily challenges that RNs face in North America and abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

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The library ladies chose The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for our second book club pick. This popular novel is a favorite among readers who enjoy books with magic, secrets, and romance.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Night Circus gets right: I love the magical realism in this book. Some magicians are faking it, but others have an innate gift for real magic, and it’s fascinating to read about.

The Night Circus introduces the reader to the two main characters and gets the plot going quickly. I flew through the first few chapters, excited to find out what was going to happen next and how Celia and Marco would eventually meet for their challenge.

What The Night Circus gets wrong: To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of either of the main characters. They were both selfish and deceptive. The book only scratches the surface of the problems and baggage that they carry into their relationship.

I didn’t love the book’s ending, either. It was a little too happy and tied things up too neatly, which was a stark contrast to the darkness in the plot throughout the rest of the book.

Who should read The Night Circus: Readers who enjoy fantasy, magic, and character-driven books. People who love movies like The Prestige.

Who shouldn’t read The Night Circus: If you have a hard time reading about child abuse, then maybe skip this one for now. The book doesn’t linger on these scenes, but Celia suffers a broken wrist and damaged fingers from her father’s abuse.

 

The Night Circus is available here at the library.

Content note: abuse, a mildly suggestive scene.

Top 5 Fiction eBooks To Read At Home

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You’re at home, practicing social distancing, and you really need something new to read. Maybe you’ve read all of the books on your shelf, or maybe you just want to read something on a screen. Have no fear: the library has thousands of eBooks for Union students and employees to access while at home. Here are just a few of our fiction eBooks for you to start reading!

 

*book descriptions are from the publishers c/o the library website

 

Chronicles of Avolea by L.M. Montgomery

Twelve tales of some very special people living on Prince Edward Island in the early days of the 20th century.

 

Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

After climbing through a mirror, Alice enters a world similar to a chess board, where she experiences many curious adventures with its fantastic inhabitants.

 

Emma by Jane Austen

Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse seems blessed with every gift that kind fortune can bestow on a proper young Englishwoman. But at one-and-twenty, Emma still has lessons to learn about human nature and the mysteries of the heart. Jane Austen’s masterpiece paints a charming portrait of English village society and of a heroine as delightful as she is infuriating.

 

The Handsome Monk And Other Stories by Tsering Döndrup

Tsering Döndrup is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed authors writing in Tibetan today. The Handsome Monk and Other Stories brings together short stories from across Tsering Döndrup’s career to create a panorama of Tibetan society.

 

Freeman: A Novel by Leonard Pitts

A compelling, important, page-turning historical novel set at the end of the Civil War, in which an escaped slave first returns to his old plantation and then walks across the ravaged South in search of his lost wife.

 

Book Review: “Black Water” by Joyce Carol Oates

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There’s a Joyce Carol Oates short story called “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” that scared the daylights out of me when I was a teenager. There’s something about the story’s villain, Arnold Friend, that gave me the creeps; he’s meant to be a metaphor for death and loss of innocence, but he’s something more than that. He’s the terrifying sense that your life, your personal likes and dislikes, and everything that makes you you has all been done before, and what’s more, isn’t that special at all.

That sense of dread is present in a different way in Oates’s novella Black Water. The story’s protagonist, Kelly, is a young woman who is trying to sort through conflict with her parents, political ideals and disappointments, and confusing romantic entanglements. Her youth is a big part of who she is, and yet a car crash is threatening to take away everything from her (much like Arnold Friend wants to take Connie away from her family in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”).

I didn’t realize this until after reading the book, but Black Water is based on the real-life Chappaquiddick incident. If you’re familiar with this historical event, then this book will come as no surprise to you; if you’d rather go in without knowing anything about it, then don’t read the review part below.

Mild spoilers ahead.

 

What Black Water gets right:  Black Water focuses on Kelly, a young woman whose life is endangered by the Senator’s reckless, drunken driving. Historically, the focus was put on the Senator (Ted Kennedy), so Black Water‘s point-of-view is a welcome, if not very sad to read, change. This book also introduced me to a tragic event that had historic consequences, so it can be educational to those of us who were born after the Chappaquiddick incident or who don’t know much about the Kennedy family.

What Black Water does wrong: Sometimes the stream-of-consciousness style makes it difficult to read. Oates randomly leaves off commas and punctuation. For the most part it didn’t bother me too much, but it did take me out of the story a few times.

Who should read Black Water: Readers who enjoy hard-hitting, emotionally-wrenching books based on history.

Who shouldn’t read Black Water: Readers who love the Kennedy family. (Black Water makes the Senator, who is based on Ted Kennedy, look very bad; although to be fair, what Ted Kennedy did in real life was absolutely inexcusable, so it’s not hard at all to paint him as a bad guy when it comes to this particular event). Readers who want something light to read; this book is heavy and sad.

 

Black Water is available at the library. For more information about the Chappaquiddick incident, check out this DVD which is also available.

Content note: language, brief sexual scenes.

 

 

 

Top 5 Beach Reads For Spring Break

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With spring break comes much-needed time away from school and (hopefully) some beautiful weather! If you find yourself with some free time this spring break, you may want to pick back up the tried-and-true habit of “reading for fun.” We’ve compiled a list of the best “beach read” books in the library so that you can read by the water this break (or travel to fun places through the world of literacy, even if you’re still in your dorm)!

 

Out Of Africa by Isak Dineson

Author Isak Dinesen, whose real name is Karen Blixen, tells her story of the 17 years she ran a coffee farm in Kenya, Africa. This book is a well-written classic that will take you to new places.

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

From the author of the bestseller The Girl On The Train, Into The Water is a tale of suspense and mystery. When two people turn up dead in the local river, who will discover their stories?

 

The Paris Wife by Paul McLain

What would it be like to be married to a struggling author in a new city? Historical fiction fans may enjoy this novel’s fictionalized look at the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, with a focus on their time in Paris.

 

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig

On a remote island estate, Annaleigh Thaumas, the sixth-born of twelve sisters, enlists the aid of an alluring stranger to unravel the family curse before it claims her life. This retelling of a Grimm Brothers tale is hauntingly interesting.

 

Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dive into the world of magical realism with Marquez’s unique storytelling. These short stories will keep you interested without taking up all of your vacation time.

Book Review: “I Wear The Black Hat” by Chuck Klosterman

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Have you ever thought about why we enjoy watching a good villain onscreen? Or why some people enjoy bands or public figures who go against social norms?

In I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real or Imagined), journalist Chuck Klosterman examines the concept of villainy and what makes us so interested in villains. According to Klosterman:

The villain is the person who knows the most but cares the least.

Following this definition of a villain, the book continues to look at examples from both real life and pop culture of villains and how the general public reacts to them. It’s written in the format of loosely connected essays.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What I Wear The Black Hat gets right: The quest to understand and analyze human nature is enjoyable to read about. Klosterman obviously did a lot of research (and watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books) to put together these ideas. His tone is often funny, but sometimes he dives into more serious musings that will quickly make you somber.

My favorite essay by far was about Batman and Bernhard Goetz. I would love to see an updated version that includes the movie Joker, as it deals with the same themes of controversial vigilantism.

What I Wear The Black Hat does wrong: There are moments where Klosterman goes off on rabbit trails. He has hilarious examples to prove his points, but sometimes he goes a little too far and forgets what he was originally writing about.

A personal (and completely arbitrary) reason that I disliked parts of the book: Klosterman admits to hating R.E.M. in 1988. As someone who literally still runs an R.E.M. lyrics Twitter account that I started years ago for no particular reason, hating R.E.M. is just unacceptable to me. At least he admits to learning to love R.E.M. and even claiming them as one of his favorite bands now, but still. How could you start off hating them?

Who should read I Wear The Black Hat: People who love a good, complex villain in fiction (and people who don’t understand why anyone would love a villain). Readers who enjoy philosophy, pop culture, history, music, and current events.

Who shouldn’t read I Wear The Black Hat: If you’re not interested in nonfiction essays, don’t pick this one up.

 

I Wear The Black Hat is currently available at the library.

Content note: Acts of villainy are described (including real-life, violent crimes).

Reading List: Science Fiction

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Space, experiments, artificial intelligence, aliens, genetics: science fiction is a fascinating genre where almost anything can happen. We have both science fiction classics (like Jurassic Park) and new science fiction (like The Martian) available at the library. Skim through this list to find your next sci-fi read!

*book descriptions are from the library website and/or the publishers

 

2001, A Space Odyssey by Arthur Clarke

This allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe and the universe’s reaction to humanity was the basis for director Stanley Kubrick’s immortal film, and lives on as a landmark achievement in storytelling.

 

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Through journal entries, sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

 

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

For twelve thousand years, the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years.

 

Contact by Carl Sagan

Astrophysicist Rebecca Blake deciphers long-awaited signals from space, persuades world leaders to construct a machine that many consider a Trojan Horse, and journeys into space for an epochal encounter.

 

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Timeline by Michael Crichton

A Yale history professor travels back in time to 15th century France and gets stuck, unable to return to the present. His colleagues organize a rescue and upon landing in France become involved in the Hundred Years War.

 

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.

 

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

 

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie, realizing his intelligence is not what it should be, ponders over the possibility of an operation, similar to one making a mouse into a genius.

 

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

 

To find more science fiction books and movies, explore the “science fiction” subject through our library catalog.

Top 5 Books To Read On A Rainy Day

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In 2018, Jackson had the wettest year on record with a whopping 77 inches of rainfall. With all of the rain that we so often experience here, it’s nice to curl up inside with a good book and look out at the weather from a dry distance. Here are 5 cozy books that you can get lost in on a rainy day.

*book descriptions provided by the publishers c/o the library catalog

 

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.

 

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

Like the blues- sweet, sad, and full of truth- this masterful work of fiction rocks us with powerful emotions. In it are anger and pain, but above all, love: the affirmative love of a woman for her man, the sustaining love of the black family.

 

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Caught up in the danger at an inn of evil repute, Mary must survive murder, mystery, storms, and smugglers before she can build a life with Jem.

 

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

In the first book of C.S. Lewis’s legendary science fiction trilogy, Dr. Ransom is kidnapped and spirited by spaceship to the mysterious red planet of Malandra. He escapes and goes on the run, jeopardizing both his chances of ever returning to Earth and his very life.

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Giver Of Stars” by Jojo Moyes

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This spring, several members of the library team decided to read and discuss a book together. Our first pick was The Giver Of Stars, a recently released historical fiction book by Jojo Moyes. It’s about a group of women who become “packhorse librarians” in rural 1930s America.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Giver Of Stars gets right: Margery, one of the main characters and the leader of the packhorse librarians, is a delight to read about. She’s strong-willed, stubborn, and perfectly at ease even in dangerous situations. She’s also hard-set against marriage, even marrying the man she loves, which makes for an interesting battle of wills.

The Giver Of Stars doesn’t shy away from social issues such as racism, sexism, and anti-intellectualism. The women have to fight these issues almost daily to do their jobs. However, the story of the women who are willing to make a difference is an inspiring one. While the book acknowledges their struggles, they never succumb to them.

What The Giver Of Stars gets wrong: The pacing is a little slow. I wasn’t always sure where the book was going, since it seemed to be meandering around a lot. There are a few moments where you’ll need to suspend your disbelief as well (most people in the 1930s were not as progressive as these ladies by a long shot), but keep in mind that this a fictional account of history told through a modern lens.

There are a few scenes where I think the old art of “show, don’t tell” would have been helpful, too. Readers don’t need a narration to explain how a man feels if he’s violently chopping wood right after a hard conversation. We get it!

Also, did people really love coffee this much in the 1930s? Was it even readily available for rural communities? There’s enough history to determine that coffee was slowly becoming a commodity in the 30s, but I’m a little iffy on how much coffee is beloved in this book. People in the 30s were in the first wave of coffee timeline (Folgers and Maxwell House were founded in the mid-1800s), so I have to wonder at the quality they were getting. First wave coffee was meant to be a helpful, fueling substance, not an all-encompassing need like second wave coffee (Starbucks, Caribou Coffee) set out to develop and capitalize on.

Who should read The Giver Of Stars: Fans of historical fiction, women’s history, nature, libraries, and books.

Who shouldn’t read The Giver Of Stars: Readers looking for something more fast-paced and action-packed. This book is more about developing its setting and characters.

 

The Giver Of Stars is located in the library’s Recreational Reading section.

Content note: A few slightly suggestive scenes, mild violence. One married couple has some trouble with intimacy, and this issue is addressed several times.

Reading List: Children’s Books About Women In History

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Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? The library has many excellent books on this subject; in particular, we’d like to highlight some of our children’s books about women in history. Adults and kids alike will enjoy these beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written stories about women who changed the world.

 

Reading List:

Girls Think Of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions By Women by Catherine Thimmesh

Expanded and revised, this new edition of the best-selling book celebrates the ingenious inventions of women throughout time. As inspiring as they are fascinating, these stories empower readers to imagine, to question, to experiment, and then to go forth and invent!

 

Who Was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin

Learn all about the life and times of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who helped explorers Lewis and Clark find their way. This book begins with the story of how Sacagawea came to be depicted on the dollar coin and continues with Sacagawea’s life story.

 

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Follow both the physical and spiritual journey of Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and then helps others to find freedom, too. Moses is a great book for learning about antebellum life in the U.S and African American history.

 

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women The Vote by Linda White

In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States. The story of Esther Morris is inspiring and told in a fun way by I Could Do That!

 

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

Sachiko is the story of a young girl who lived through the bombing of Nagasaki in World War II. While this book is geared more toward middle grade and early high school kids, it’s an emotional, moving look at a tragic event in history.

 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This version of the bestselling Hidden Figures is perfect for children to understand. You’ll learn all about NASA, space, science, and the African American women mathematicians who greatly contributed to NASA’s programs in spite of Jim Crow laws.

 

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

This striking picture book depicts Rosa Parks’ famous stand for Civil Rights, as well as the events that followed. Illustrator Bryan Collier’s cut-paper images make the story leap off the page for young readers.

 

Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan

Two famous women in history in one book? Sign us up! This fictionalized account of the night that Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. is charming and fun.

 

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Meran’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Beautifully illustrated, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies tells the story of Maria Meran and how she figured out the process of metamorphosis. Some of Meran’s own artwork is featured in this book!

 

These books are available for check out in the library’s Family Room!