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.

5 Tips For Proofreading

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A majority of our time in college is spent writing. We write essays, responses, critiques, and many other forms of writing throughout a given semester. With all of this writing, sometimes an important step can be left out: proofreading. So in the spirit of National Proofreading Day (March 8th), here are some tips for proofreading.

 

  1. Take A Break: After you have finished writing a draft of a paper, take a break. Leave the assignment, and if possible, give yourself around 24 hours to think about the topic you’re writing about. This method is most helpful for longer papers but requires you to get started early. If you have spent hours writing, you will lose some objectivity while looking over the paper. You will be too familiar with it and this will make finding mistakes more difficult. So get started early and allow yourself time to think about the paper before returning to proofread it.

  2. Read It Out Loud: Another great way of finding mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Sometimes when typing, we think something sounds correct in our heads. However, many times when we read our writing out loud we can see where an argument or sentence doesn’t make sense. This is a great way to see if your sentences are run-ons, if you repeat yourself too much, and if the paragraph or page flows well.

  3. Pay Attention To Wordiness: We all have word counts we need to meet with every paper, but many times better writing is concise writing. Sentences with too many words can be difficult to read, and you can lose your audience’s attention. Instead of adding extra words to try to finish the paper, take the time and energy to carefully choose your words. This will make your paper stronger and can lead to a better grade.

  4. Write Actively: Verbs drive language. When proofreading, look for how many times you use a “to be” verb, such as “is,” “are,” and “were.” These passive verbs make sentences weaker and can bring down an entire paper. Try to reorder the sentence so that you can remove the linking passive verbs and insert stronger, more powerful ones. To check, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard and then search for those words. It may shock you to see how many times you use passive voice.

  5. Ask Someone Else To Read Your Paper: One of the best ways to proofread is to allow someone else to do it for you! Finding other students in a specific class and exchanging papers can be a great way to find mistakes in each other’s writing and make new friends! Have you ever lost something, spent minutes looking for it, and then someone else comes in the room and finds it almost immediately? As frustrating as that can be, writing is the same way. Sometimes one glance from someone who is not familiar with the writing can be all you need to improve your paper.

 

Writing is a challenge and after completing a difficult assignment, proofreading may seem like a useless check. However, if you dedicate yourself to editing and rereading your paper, you will see an improvement in your writing, and perhaps also in your grades.

*written by Brennan Kress

 

The Secret History Of Presidential Pets

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When one thinks of pets, the mental image is often that of a dog or cat, or even something like a gerbil. However, what most people don’t know is how many interesting and strange animals have wandered the halls of the White House throughout the years. From exotic animals to bizarre pet names, here are the most showstopping presidential pets.

We know and love George Washington as the first American president, but his affection for animals has largely flown under the radar. He had as many as 17 pets over his terms in office: 8 dogs, 7 horses, a donkey, and a parrot. The most interesting of these are his foxhounds: Sweetlips, Scentwell, and Vulcan; Snipe the parrot, who was owned by Martha Washington; and Royal Gift, the Andalusian donkey who was given as a gift from King Charles III of Spain.

John Adams did not have quite as many pets, but he did have a knack for names. He had three dogs named Satan, Mark, and Juno, as well as two horses named Cleopatra and Caesar.

Unlike many other presidents, John Quincy Adams had no normal pets. He instead kept silkworms, and first lady Louisa Adams spun their silk. There are also stories of an alligator owned by Marquis de Lafayette residing in the White House for two months, but many think that just to be a legend as there are no records to back it up.

While he had other pets, the most notable one of Andrew Jackson’s is his parrot named Polly. This is probably due to the fact that she had an affinity for swearing and had to be removed from his funeral due to this very habit.

Abraham Lincoln also amassed quite a number of pets including a turkey and a pair of goats. His most unfortunate pet, however, was his dog Fido who was “assassinated” by a knife wielding drunk a few months after Lincoln’s own death. This is why Fido is such a quintessential dog name.

The president with the most recorded pets was Theodore Roosevelt. He is known to have had 10 dogs, 2 cats, 5 guinea pigs, 2 ponies, 4 birds, a lizard, a bear, a rat, a badger, a pig, a rabbit, a snake, and a hyena.

In addition to more traditional pets, Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep at the White House. Their job was to trim the lawn “in the most economical way” and their wool was to go to the Red Cross. At its largest, the flock had 48 sheep.

Calvin Coolidge had an affinity for very strange and exotic pets, many of whom had to be sent to zoos at some point. While he had many normal types of pets, he also had ducks, a goose, a bobcat, two raccoons (one was saved from becoming a Thanksgiving dish and the other escaped never to be seen again), 2 lions, a pygmy hippo, a wallaby, an antelope, and a black bear.

Here are the contenders for best/worst pet names, along with the type of animal it belonged to and the president who owned the pet:
  • Sweetlips- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Scentwell- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Vulcan- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Drunkard- coonhound- Washington
  • Royal Gift- donkey- Washington
  • Satan- dog- Adams
  • Grizzle- shepherd dog- Jefferson
  • Billy Button- pony-  Grant
  • Veto- dog- Garfield
  • Mr. Reciprocity- opossum- Harrison
  • Mr. Protection- opossum- Harrison
  • Washington Post- parrot- McKinley
  • Admiral Dewey- guinea pig- T. Roosevelt
  • Fighting Bob Evans- guinea pig- T. Roosevelt
  • Bill the Lizard- lizard- T. Roosevelt
  • Emily Spinach- garter snake- T. Roosevelt
  • Mooly Wooly- cow- Taft
  • Calamity Jane- Shetland sheepdog- Coolidge
  • Boston Beans- Boston bulldog- Coolidge
  • Nip and Tuck- canaries- Coolidge
  • Do-Funny- songbird- Coolidge
  • Tax Reduction- tiger- Coolidge
  • Budget Bureau- tiger- Coolidge
  • Eaglehurst Gillette- setter- Hoover
  • Billy Possum- opossum- Hoover
  • President- Great Dane- F. Roosevelt
  • Him and Her- beagles- Johnson
  • King Timahoe- Irish setter- Nixon
  • Grits- border collie- Carter
  • Misty Malarky Ying Yang- Siamese cat- Carter
  • Little Man- horse- Reagan

Clean Out Your Computer Day (February 10th)

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Computers can be finicky, daunting little machines whose sole purpose is to confuse you with weird errors and problems out of nowhere. However, you don’t have to be some kind of tech wizard to save your computer (and your sanity). As with anything you use, your computer needs to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. While this may seem equal parts boring and scary, it actually isn’t as hard as you might think. That’s why we have put together a list of resources to help you help your computer. And since February 10th is Clean Out Your Computer Day, you can really get into the techie holiday spirit.

  • Our lovely friend Wired Magazine’s all purpose computer physical and digital cleaning guide.

  • Cleaning your computer’s guts (with pictures!)

  • Maintenance tasks for Windows that you should do more often.

  • When computers rebel: basic repairs you don’t have to pay anyone to do.

  • The all purpose resource to just about every common computer problem

College Student Christmas Gift Guide

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When it comes to Christmas gifts, finding a quality, unique gift can be a bit daunting, even if you’re shopping for the people you know best. That’s why we have compiled a list of 5 top-notch gifts to get any college student in your life.

  • Blobfish Plush: for the Stuffed Animal Enthusiast

Despite what some people may say, no one ever truly grows out of enjoying a good stuffed animal. Bonus points if the animal in question is a very quirky deep-sea fish. This stuffed blobfish is the perfect companion in a college student’s dorm whether they be a zoology major or simply a plushy enthusiast. With rave reviews, this less-than-perky pink pal is a fantastic addition to your Christmas repertoire.

 

 

  • Scratch-Off Map: for the Globetrotter

As a fan of travel myself, I can say with utmost certainty that you know someone with a serious case of wanderlust. For those of us with the need to scratch the travel itch, this scratch-off world map is a must-have. Not only is it stylishly designed, but it also serves as a wonderful personalized reminder of the places we’ve been. For those of us with cross-country ambitions in mind, there is a state scratch-off version too. Will Christmas wonders never cease?

 

 

  • 40cean Jellyfish Bracelet: for your Eco-Friendly Friend

With plastic pollution at an all-time high, it can be incredibly disheartening to think of how little we can do to help our planet, but there is a way to spread a little green Christmas cheer. The 40cean Jellyfish bracelet (as well as their other products) are sold to fund efforts to clean up our oceans. For every one of these adjustable, stylish, 100% recycled material composed bracelets purchased, 40cean removes one pound of plastic waste from the oceans and protects our marine life. Save the turtles (and time with your Christmas shopping too) and give this gift to a green guy or gal.

 

 

  • R2-D2 Sweater: for your Cozy Nerd

Sweaters are a timeless classic in the winter gift-giving season, but don’t just settle on your average sale rack staple this year. With the new Star Wars movie just around the corner, give your droid-loving friend this cozy R2-D2 sweater (provided by every nerds’ trusted resource, ThinkGeek) so the Force will be with them even when the warm weather isn’t.

 

 

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera: for your Trendy Shutterbug

As polaroid style cameras become more popular, it’d be a shame not to include this wonderful little camera into the selection. The Fujifilm Instax Mini is a small, portable, and easy-to-use camera that is not only all of those things, but is also quite stylish. Coming in several adorable pastel colors, this camera is easy to use with several exposure settings and a sensor indicating which one is best for the lighting of any particular situation. It comes with an attachable close-up lens and easily fits into any backpack or tote. As someone who owns one of these cameras, I can only offer it glowing recommendations. Some of my favorite photos from my trips came from this camera, and the small film is very scrapbook-friendly and comes in a variety of styles. (I’m quite partial to this Gudetama one.) This camera is the perfect addition to any amateur photographer’s collection.

Top 5 Christmas Movies At The Library

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When you’re ready to get into the Christmas spirit, there’s nothing like getting cozy on the couch and watching a holiday movie. Here at the library, we have a few Christmas favorites in our DVD collection. Feel free to check one out this December!

 

White Christmas

A Christmas classic, White Christmas tells the story of four entertainers, a Vermont inn, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney star in this charming musical.

 

Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Many of us grew up watching the original, animated Grinch. Give this timeless tale of redemption another watch this year.

 

It’s A Wonderful Life

This is my mom’s favorite movie of all time, and for good reason. George Bailey is the Everyman who just can’t get ahead and feels his life is worthless; but soon enough, with the help of a quirky angel, he learns that he has all he truly needs.

 

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Remember the true meaning of Christmas with the Peanuts gang in this cute, funny animated feature. Bonus: you can enjoy the beautiful music of Vince Guaraldi.

 

The Nativity Story

Another movie that reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas, The Nativity Story follows Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem and prepare to welcome the Savior into the world.

 

Click on the links to see where each movie is located, or ask for help finding them at our Circulation Desk. Merry Christmas!

 

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!

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.

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Saving Private Ryan”

This past Thursday marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a monumental military achievement that set the ground work for the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. I can think of no better film that epitomizes the heroic struggle of the D-Day Normandy Invasions than Saving Private Ryan.  In 1998, director Steven Spielberg released this film to wide acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the carnage that was World War II. There have been many films that sought to establish themselves as gritty or iconic in their portrayal of the most famous American battle of the war.  Other famous war epics like The Longest Day had an all-star cast; and while it is a fantastic and ambitions film for its time, its portrayal of the horror of war is very tame.

Spielberg, while obtaining many celebrated actors, also sought to instill a sense of realism with historical accuracy paramount. Spielberg implemented skilled visual and special effects to bring the bloody beaches of Normandy to life.  Saving Private Ryan centers around Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks). As a member of the Army Rangers, Miller and his men successfully fight their way ashore onto Omaha Beach. After the battle is over, the film takes a shift to the war department back home in the United States.  As casualty figures are amassed and letters sent to families to inform them of their loved one’s deaths, it is soon discovered that one particular family, the Ryan family, has lost four brothers within a few hours of each other and the fifth (private James Ryan) is missing.  The General of the War Department realizes what a public relations nightmare this could be and how it could jeopardize national morale. As orders get passed down the chain of command, it falls to Captain Miller and his small squad to locate Private Ryan and bring him home. This is made even more difficult because Ryan is a paratrooper whose unit was dropped as part of the Airborne Offensive the night before D-Day and was wildly blown off their intended objectives.

Along the way, Miller’s squad continues to suffer casualties and lose close friends. They begin to question why locating Ryan is worth risking all their lives. As the film draws to its climax they succeed in finding Ryan, who stubbornly refuses to abandon his friends who were ordered to hold a bridge at all cost. The group decides to aid Ryan and his fellow paratroopers hold off the German attack aimed at the bridge. The climax of the film is extremely tense and humbling as the soldiers fight against impossible odds.

This is an immensely powerful film; it shows the true horrors of war. The cost of young men who are fathers, brothers, and sons is utterly heartbreaking. The humanity and camaraderie shared between soldiers is so clearly brought to life by Spielberg’s film. Saving Private Ryan was nominated for Best Picture and won for Best Director. It would go on to gross 480 million dollars. It is wildly considered one of the greatest World War II films of all time. In 2014 it was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being deemed as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Saving Private Ryan is available at the Union University Library.

*Please note it is rated R for intense violence and language throughout.

 

Tell A Story Day (April 27th)

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“Tell A Story Day” is upon us. The purpose of this fun holiday is to offer a special day to read and tell stories of all kinds. Libraries across the country will have unique readings to children and famous authors will gather to share ideas. It is a day to remember one of the oldest practices humanity still continues to today. So, if you’re interested in ever writing a story, or just making your friends laugh, here are some tips on how to tell an effective story. (These tips apply to both written and spoken stories.)

 

1. Know Where You’re Going

Going on a trip is always fun. Most people plan out a trip by finding hotels, checking airline prices, finding tourist attractions, and planning for transportation. Rarely would you go on a trip without planning any of this, or without packing. When it comes to telling a story, planning is key. Determine the point or destination of your story. If your story does not have a point or end idea, then maybe save it, or reframe it. The worst feeling is to get to the end of your story and your audience not understand why you told it in the first place. Know where you’re going and lead your audience there- which brings me to my second point.

 

2. Lead Your Audience

Stories are about guidance. Think of yourself as a tour guide as you take your audience through the story. You know the twists and the turns. You know the places where suspense will be key, but remember that your audience does not know these things. You must bring them there. Do not give away too much at the beginning or save everything for the end. Remember how long you have to tell the story (page count or time limit) and pull the story along that time. Your words (written or spoken) are like a rope that the audience follows to the destination you have determined. As you tell your story, focus only on the details that matter along the road you are bringing them down. Do not allow them (or yourself) to become too distracted. You will lose them quickly if you don’t lead well.

 

3. Stay Focused

It is very easy (especially when talking) to begin to wander around in your storytelling. Perhaps you think of another story while telling one. Your brain has made the connection so you jump to the next thing, leaving your audience confused on where you’ve taken them. Be careful when following rabbit trails. Your audience may begin to believe that there is no destination and that you are just meandering with your words. Once they become directionless, your audience will stop caring about the story. If a tangent is important to the destination, help the audience to understand why it is important.

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4. Don’t Laugh Before the Punchline

I often find myself, usually when telling jokes I find particularly funny, laughing before I’ve delivered the punchline. The problem is, I’ve not helped my audience appreciate the joke more, I’ve only aggravated them. I’ve done so simply by knowing something they don’t. I’m the one telling the joke, I shouldn’t laugh until everyone else does. In storytelling, this can happen as well. If you show emotions out of place with the current moment in the story, you will confuse your audience. If you know something about a character the audience doesn’t, don’t make comments about it until the time when the audience understands. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t foreshadow, but only that you don’t give everything away before the proper time.

 

5. Have a Moral (but not a moral-of-the-story)

We have all heard the line “the moral of the story is…” Since you have undoubtedly heard this before, you understand it is a cliche. Try to avoid cliches as much as possible, including this one. If you tell your story well, there is no need for this tagline at the end. Your audience will have grasped the moral without realizing it. That is the point of the path you are taking them on. By the end they hardly remember every step, but they can look back and see how far they’ve come along.

 

Storytelling is an amazing practice. So take these tips and write and tell away! Take your audience along for the ride, but pay attention: you never know what a story might teach you.

 

*written by Brennan Kress