Book Review: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway

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I was in eighth grade when I fell violently and happily into Ernest Hemingway’s writing. We were reading his famous novella, The Old Man and The Sea, and I remember everyone in my class hating it. I loved it, though. Here we were, reading what I understood as literature, and not only was it about an interesting subject (a washed-up fisherman trying desperately to catch and keep a giant fish alone in the open ocean), but it was accessible. My eyes flew over the pages, and I couldn’t stop myself from getting lost in the words.

Authors have been trying to write like Hemingway for years for a reason: his writing is legible. You can understand what he’s trying to say. It’s that brilliant writing that not only says something worthwhile or meaningful but says it in a way that you can grasp without having to open up a dictionary.

Hemingway was my favorite author until I became a feminist and started reading Haruki Murakami (who is not a feminist, either, but I still like him). Hemingway isn’t known for writing well about women, and he wasn’t always the best in his relationships with women in real life. Still, I come back to his books because they have something to say, even if it isn’t always my favorite way of saying it. Plus, it’s a joy to read stories that are well-written but still easy on my tired eyes and blessedly not that long. That’s why I decided to re-read The Sun Also Rises during quarantine.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Sun Also Rises gets right: I’ve read this book maybe twice, when I was in high school and wanted to read everything Hemingway had ever written. I’ve got to say that reading it as an adult was very different. Suddenly all of the subtext made sense to me, and not really in a good way. For example, one of the main characters, Brett, is impulsive and promiscuous, hurting every man in her path. However, when we learn about her background as a victim of domestic abuse, her current actions seem like coping mechanisms instead of just selfishness. Hers is a sad story- in fact, most of the characters in this book are sad due to their physical and emotional scars from past problems. That’s why they treat one another so badly.

Although it made for a sad read, it was good to learn more about each character and put two-and-two together about the hints that Hemingway left in this book. The main themes are unrequited love, struggling with feelings of uselessness, dealing with alcohol addiction, and the thrills of traveling and experiencing other cultures. You will feel like you, too, are in Spain with this wild group of people- for better or for worse.

 

What The Sun Also Rises gets wrong: This book is infamous for the characters’ anti-Semitic views. Even if it is an accurate representation of the time, it’s still not fun to read about the slurs and racism shown toward the Jewish character, Robert Cohn.

There are a few minor characters who are black, but they are more stereotypical caricatures than real people, and this “casual” racism will make you squirm. A racial slur is used to reference the black characters.

 

Who should read The Sun Also Rises: Fans of crisp writing, weird characters that are loosely based on real people, lots of drama, and the 1920s.

 

Who shouldn’t read The Sun Also Rises: If you didn’t like F. Scott Fizgerald’s The Great Gatsby, don’t read this one. It’s similar to Gatsby in that it’s about a group of people with annoying habits and problems that they don’t communicate well about. It’s an examination of a generation that people now don’t know much about personally- we only really know them and their struggles through books like this.

 

The Sun Also Rises is available at the library.

Content note: violence (in particular, bullfighting), racism, some suggestive scenes (which are mostly inferred or referenced in conversation), language, substance abuse.

Top 5 Faculty Development Books

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Professors use books in the Faculty Development section for research, teaching advice, college statistics, personality theory, leadership, and more. This section is located on the library’s second floor. The following 5 books have been checked out the most from the Faculty Development section in the past 2 years.

*Book descriptions are provided by the publishers c/o the library catalog

 

The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon

From a passionate and talented chef who also happens to be an Episcopalian priest comes this surprising and thought-provoking treatise on everything from prayer to poetry to puff pastry. In The Supper of the Lamb, Capon talks about festal and ferial cooking, emerging as an inspirational voice extolling the benefits and wonders of old-fashioned home cooking in a world of fast food and prepackaged cuisine.

 

The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron

Witty and filled with stories, this book allows you to peek inside each of the nine Enneagram types, keeping you turning the pages long after you have read the chapter about your own number. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you will also start to see the world through other people’s eyes, understanding how and why people think, feel, and act the way they do.

 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life.

 

Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Textbook Authorship and Higher Education Publishing by Mary Ellen Lepionka

Includes chapters on the college textbook industry, writing to reach your true audience, and more!

 

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard, one of today’s most brilliant Christian thinkers and author of The Divine Conspiracy, presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to enjoy the fruit of the Christian life. He reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest. The Spirit of the Disciplines is for everyone who strives to be a disciple of Jesus in thought and action as well as intention.

 

 

Reading List: Famous Plays

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While plays are ultimately meant to be acted out, you do have to read them first! The library has a broad collection of famous plays throughout history. Click on the links to see where each play is located in the library.

*Some of these play descriptions are provided by the publishers via the library website.

 

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The embattled Wingfield family: Amanda, a faded southern belle, abandoned wife, dominating mother, who hopes to match her daughter with an eligible “gentleman caller;” Laura, a lame and painfully shy, she evades her mother’s schemes and reality by retreating to a world of make-believe; Tom’s sole support of the family, he eventually leaves home to become a writer but is forever haunted by the memory of Laura.

 

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A troubled young prince of Denmark comes to terms with his father’s murder and his mother’s new husband.

 

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A three-act play concerned with the tensions in a black middle-class family in Chicago

 

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

In this foundational classic play, Christopher Marlowe beautifully retells the legend of Doctor Faustus in a masterful combination of verse and prose.

 

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a middle-aged man’s emotional turmoil due to being past his prime and failing to reach success.

 

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Toys in the Attic by Lillian Hellman

A study of the moral effects of wealth. The setting of the play is New Orleans.

 

Fences by August Wilson

Follows an African American man’s goals, family, and struggles in the 1950s.

 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

“Hamlet” as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play.

 

Trifles by Susan Glaspell

The dark secrets of a married couple come to light as a murder is investigated.

 

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen’s seminal play, which changed modern drama, is a searing view of a male-dominated and authoritarian society, presented with a realism that elevates theatre to a level above mere entertainment. The reverberations of Nora’s slamming the door as she leaves Torvald continue to the present day.

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On “The Atlantic”

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The Atlantic is a popular online magazine that covers the latest news and cultural phenomenons around the world, with a particular focus on the U.S. Some articles of The Atlantic are not accessible to viewers who don’t have a subscription or who have used up their free articles for the month. However, the library provides Union students and employees with access to The Atlantic through the database Gale Popular Magazines.

To access The Atlantic:

  1. Go to the library website: www.uu.edu/library.
  2. Click on the “Databases, E-Books, & Media” link under Quick Links.
  3. Scroll down the alphabetical list until you find Popular Magazines. Click the link.
  4. Once you are in the Popular Magazines database, click “Publication Search” on the bottom right of the home page.
  5. Choose the option to “List All Publications.”
  6. Scroll down the alphabetical list until you see The Atlantic. Click that link, and then you will be able to see articles from The Atlantic by their publication dates.

Book Review: “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

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Donna Tartt is the bestselling author of The Goldfinch, The Little Friend, and The Secret History. Each of these novels involves suspense and intense character studies.

The Secret History is about an eclectic group of college students who find themselves in a lot of trouble as close-kept secrets are revealed.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Secret History gets right: Terrible people doing terrible things? Check. Secrets, murder, drugs, and pagan rituals? Check. An engrossing setting, to the point that you feel like you are actually in the book? Check.

Donna Tartt is excellent at drawing you in to the world that she’s created. Right away, you are introduced to a bizarre crime, and the rest of the book has you scrambling to figure out how the story ends up there.

Any book with an unreliable narrator is going to have your brain spinning, but few books do this quite so well as The Secret History. A lot of the book’s events and character development is seen through the eyes of someone who slowly begins to realize that he doesn’t really know that much about anything after all. This allows the reader to piece together the puzzle, and guess what? Some of it is entirely up to your imagination! I guessed several twists accurately throughout the book, but there were a few that weren’t fully explained (such as the characters’ true motivations and feelings).

Reading about Richard, the story’s narrator, and his university experiences in Hampden reminded me of both my own time in college and the college students that I manage at work. I loved seeing the dichotomy between Richard and his friends’ great intellect and their terrible decision-making and lifestyle habits. How can they be so intelligent as to speak to each other in Latin one minute and then try to live in a freezing warehouse in the middle of a Vermont winter the next? Honestly, this dichotomy is pretty realistic for what I recall of myself and my friends in that stage of life.

Richard wanting to be a part of the strange but exotic Greek students group is a relatable feeling. It can be hard to find your place in a new environment; however, you don’t want to pick the wrong group of people that everyone else warns you about (as Richard inevitably does). Henry, Francis, Charles, Camilla, and Bunny are in turns fascinating, terrifying, hilarious, and deeply disturbing people; as Richard gets sucked further and further into their sordid lives, so do we.

In spite of the sometimes flowery prose and the pretentious characters who are spouting Greek one moment and stoned out of their minds the next, I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a testament to Donna Tartt’s writing that she made such unlikable characters and their various crimes so intriguing and their college, despite its obvious flaws, so nostalgic.

What The Secret History gets wrong: Most of the characters in this book are unlikable. It’s kind of like a modern The Great Gatsby in that way- still a great story, but you may get annoyed by how pretentious and selfish the characters are. (Side note: the main character’s favorite book is The Great Gatsby because he identifies with Jay Gatsby, which is hilarious because he is totally a Nick Carraway instead.)

Who should read The Secret History: Readers who enjoy academia, mythology, suspense, crime, and literary writing.

Who shouldn’t read The Secret History: Readers who are looking for a shorter, faster-paced story. It’s easy to get lost in the world of The Secret History, but the plot does take a while to develop. This is a dark story that explores the evil in human nature, so if you’re looking for a light read, don’t pick this one up yet.

 

The Secret History is available in our Recreational Reading section at the library.

Content note: violence; sexual content (most of which happens off-screen); moments of racism, homophobia, and sexism from a few characters; lots of substance abuse; pagan rituals. Reader discretion is advised.

Featured Book: “Complete Guide To Gardening And Landscaping”

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Time Life’s Complete Guide to Gardening and Landscaping is a tome. It’s a how-to guide, an encyclopedia, an almanac, and an advice column all rolled into one. Pretty much anything you can think of regarding plants- zoning, irrigation, houseplant care, troubleshooting- is not only written about in detail but illustrated for the reader.

Check out the Complete Guide to Gardening and Landscaping if you want to learn how to:

  • make a garden for the first time
  • properly care for your houseplants
  • start growing vegetables
  • landscape your property
  • fight bugs and other pests that are bothering your plants
  • identify various kinds of flowers, trees, succulents, and more

 

This thorough, comprehensive book is available at the library. Look around the “SB” section for more books on plants, gardening, landscaping, and nature.

Book Review: “Normal People” by Sally Rooney

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Normal People by Sally Rooney is the bestselling story of the ups and downs of an Irish millennial couple’s relationship. Since its publication in 2018, Normal People has been adapted into a popular TV show on Hulu.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Normal People gets right: The writing in Normal People is simple, direct, and poignant; I flew through this book because it was easy to read and understand without oversimplifying its subject matter. Likewise, the characters are believable- they have flaws and virtues that constantly pop up alongside each other. Connell worries about what others think and wants to be a “nice” person; yet he is at his best when he allows himself to be vulnerable and to stand up for others. In contrast, Marianne feels different from everyone else and is not afraid to express her opinions, but she is burdened with her abusive family and fear of close relationships.

As someone the same age as the main characters, I found most of their interactions and cultural references relatable (albeit some of their political conversations were specific to  Ireland and I needed to look them up).

What Normal People gets wrong: There’s definitely some moments that will make you cringe. I was genuinely worried about both Connell and Marianne at times. It’s impressive that the book can get such a strong emotional reaction out of its readers, but at the same time, it’s not a fun book to read.

I also wasn’t a fan of the open-ended conclusion. I am usually fine with open endings, but I really thought this book was moving in a clear direction and the plot just didn’t end up there. I expected more personal growth out of the characters than how they were acting on the last few pages.

Who should read Normal People: Readers who enjoy books about relationships, recent history, and mental health awareness.

Who shouldn’t read Normal People: This is a sad one, guys. If you, like me, occasionally like to read something that will make you cringe and maybe even cry, then pick this one up. But if you’d rather read to escape, or if you don’t want to read about abusive situations, just skip this one. Readers who like linear plots and strong conclusions will not like Normal People, either.

 

Normal People is available in the Recreational Reading section at the library.

Content note: suggestive scenes, language, substance abuse, sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

Book Review: “The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix

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Have you ever read the title of a book and thought: “This was made for me?” That’s what happened when I saw The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires on a list of new books coming out in 2020. I was pretty sure that author Grady Hendrix had been watching me as I binged Buffy The Vampire Slayer, read any of Anne Rices’ vampire chronicles I could get through Interlibrary Loan, and attended my library team’s book club in a Southern state. In other words, I felt attacked.

Because apparently clever titles make me open my wallet, I bought The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires as soon as it came back in stock (it was sold out instantly on indie bookstore websites). I waited two days with the book sitting on my desk at home because you’re supposed to quarantine books in case of COVID-19 traces. Finally, I curled up on the couch by my husband, cracked open the spine, and settled in. A few hours later, I slammed the book shut dramatically and told my husband everything about it. I don’t usually read books in one sitting unless I absolutely can’t put them down, and this was one of those special stories that actually lived up to its title and cover.

Spoiler-free summary before you read further: this novel is about exactly what the title says it’s about.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires gets right: This is one of those rare books where a man author actually wrote from the perspective of amazing women characters with understanding, wit, and great empathy. The main character, Patricia, was so relatable and heartbreaking as she shouldered all of the emotional labor (and literal physical security) for her household that I was pleasantly shocked to find out that the author was a man. Her sense of guilt that she’s not doing enough for everyone in her life was palpable. Yet as Patricia slowly makes strong friendships with the women in her book club and in her own home, she begins to emerge as a fiercely driven, free-thinking character that still has plenty of flaws. For a fictional character in a horror novel, she’s pretty real.

Patricia’s characterization shines against the foil of her husband, Carter, who acts as if Patricia is crazy, cheats on her repeatedly, and snuggles up to the main villain of the story just because he makes a lot of money. It’s frustrating to read about, but don’t worry- there is some justice. I’ll give Carter this- he made me hate him more than the actual vampire in this book; Carter is like the Umbridge of this novel.

This is not just a book about Southern true crime-loving women, although that part is definitely awesome and I 100% want to talk with them about Helter Skelter. This book tackles gentrification, racial injustice, sexism, gaslighting, and vampires all in one story, and it does this flawlessly. You will be thrilled, shocked, and horrified all at once. I certainly was.

What The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires gets wrong: There are a few moments that seem a little tone-deaf. Racism thrives in the town’s community, and while it is addressed and called out as wrong, it is disappointing how the main black character, Mrs. Greene, has to save herself and the white women again and again without any help while her neighborhood suffers. There’s a big message here about acting like you can’t see the problems of others as long as you and your family are safe.

Who should read The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires: If you’re a Southern lady in a book club with a bent for true crime, obviously pick this one up. However, men and non-Southern women will also enjoy this novel if they are fans of horror, suspense, vampires, and humor.

Who shouldn’t read The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires: This novel is best for mature audiences.

 

The library doesn’t currently have this book, but you can request it through Interlibrary Loan once it is safe to do so, or you can check for it at your local library.

Content note: language, brief sexual scenes, emotional abuse, violence, racism, sexual assault, attempted suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

Top 5 Books Over 500 Pages Long

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Ah, the indoors: a perfect place to crack open a good book. What with the extra time spent indoors these days, a really long book could be a productive way to stay busy. If a long book for long weeks at home sounds ideal to you, take a look at our list of lengthy tomes below and get reading!

 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

*Available as an eBook

Pages: 850+

Basic plot: A restless woman starts an affair that leads to high-society drama; Tolstoy’s views on Russian politics and philosophy coincides with an examination of a landowner’s life.

For readers who like: drama, politics, Russian history, and characters with multiple names.

 

East Of Eden by John Steinbeck

Pages: 601

Basic plot: Two brothers struggle with their rivalry and family secrets in a reflection of Cain and Abel.

For readers who like: sociopathic villains, intense dialogue, and major catharsis.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

*Available as an eBook.

Pages: Depending on the publisher, around 400 or 500

Basic plot: A diligent woman with a hard and lonely upbringing goes to work for a mysterious, wealthy man who has a lot of secrets.

For readers who like: suspense, romance, a hint of the supernatural, and lots of plot twists.

 

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Pages: 1000+

Basic plot: A math teacher and an assassin attempt to cross time and space to find each other.

For readers who like: magical realism, science fiction, espionage, and romance.

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Pages: 784

Basic plot: A boy steals a famous painting for personal reasons and becomes involved in the art underground.

For readers who like: coming-of-age stories, suspense, and vivid descriptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logos Links: April 2020

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Library team members Amber Wessies and Olivia Chin have searched the Internet for the best book, movie, and library-related links. Learn more about library news around the world below.

 

Virtual Activities With The Library Of Congress

Watch authors read their books and live drawing sessions with the Library Of Congress.

 

Bird Library Livestream

This library has a mini-library for birds!

 

How To Stop Saying “Um,” “Ah, and “You Know”

Filler words aren’t inherently bad, but using them can distract your audience. Learn how to “embrace the pause” and stop using filler words with this Harvard Business Review article.

 

We Are YA Podcast

This podcast checks in with different Young Adult (YA) authors each day to find out how they’re coping with the pandemic and to see what they are working on.

 

Where To Find Free Poetry Resources For Kids Online

A list of poetry resources for children, but adults may enjoy them, too!

 

Now and Next: What A Post-COVID World May Mean For Libraries

What will the world be like when COVID-19 pandemic has ended? What trends that occur now will continue in the future specifically for libraries? Libraries are in a unique place to support and encourage positive changes to our lives after we get back to “normal.” This article discusses 10 trends in the world today and the possible impact or changes for the future.

 

Help Out Libraries And Archives 

Many libraries and archives have online transcription projects that you can be a part of from home. You can transcribe everything from Rosa Parks’ writings to Abraham Lincoln’s letters and help out archivists across the world. This article describes how to get involved!

 

Digital Escape Rooms

Some examples of what libraries are doing digitally- one fun program is a digital Harry Potter-themed escape room!

 

Library-Themed Backgrounds For Your Next Video Call

Backgrounds from the New York Public Library to use with Zoom!

 

Virtual Book Clubs

This article gives directions and a link for checking which books can be read aloud without copyright infringement.

 

All Of A Sudden, I’m Working From Home- Now What Do I Do?

More tips for working from home!

 

Virtually Visit 8 World-Class Libraries

Virtual travel is all we have right now, and, if visiting libraries is your jam, there are several libraries that have online tours.