Book Review: “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

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The library ladies chose Little Fires Everywhere for our third book club pick. This bestselling novel by Celeste Ng debuted in 2017 and has since been adapted as a popular show on Hulu. We have Little Fires Everywhere as a hardback in our Recreational Reading section.

This novel tells the story of an insulated community, Shaker Heights, and what happens when neighbors disagree over the controversial issues of transracial adoption, single parenthood, socioeconomic differences, and unplanned pregnancies.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Little Fires Everywhere gets right: First off, what a 10/10 book cover. It grabs your attention- especially with that title- but the color scheme is beautiful.

This book tells everyone’s story, from the seemingly random best friend of a main character to the Chinese immigrant who wants her baby back. Author Celeste Ng somehow expertly weaves all of these stories together, connecting the threads between each character and giving a voice to each perspective. You’ll probably find yourself empathizing with each of them at some point in the novel.

What Little Fires Everywhere gets wrong: It gets off to a slow start. I just wasn’t that interested in Shaker Heights or the many characters that were introduced right off the bat.

Once I did get to know the characters, I worried about them. Teenage Pearl was surprisingly sheltered despite her freewheeling upbringing, and I worried that she would get her heart broken. I felt sad for the characters who struggled to become pregnant, and for the ones who did and had to make difficult choices. Little Fires Everywhere was a well-written book, but it was a hard one to read as it seemed like every page introduced a new, emotional, controversial issue where both sides were fairly well-represented.

Who should read Little Fires Everywhere: Readers who want to tackle challenging issues and enjoy reading about different perspectives on the same problem. Readers who enjoy books about families and neighborhoods.

Who shouldn’t read Little Fires Everywhere: Readers looking for a happy, light story or who need a break from controversial issues.

 

Little Fires Everywhere is available in the Recreational Reading section of the library.

Content note: brief sexual scenes, language.

Most book reviews on this blog are written by Olivia Chin and reflect her personal opinions of the books, not the library’s view as a whole.

Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

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Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

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

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On “ProQuest U.S. Dailies”

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Newspapers in print are becoming a hard thing to find in some libraries.  However, some libraries, like the Union Library, have subscriptions to newspaper databases where users can access newspapers online rather than in print. ProQuest US Dailies is a database that contains a collection of national newspapers; it allows for library patrons to access and read newspaper articles published in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among others.

Users can search within ProQuest US Dailies by entering a topic or the title of a newspaper in the search bar.  If you want to browse the issues or find articles related to a topic, you have the option to do either. Users also have several options in narrowing down their search query; you can narrow down your search by document type (i.e. article, company profile, interview) as well as source type (i.e. article or audio-visual material).  Searching by language is also available, but you can only choose between English and Spanish.

With print newspapers becoming more rare, online access to major newspaper publications is a helpful thing for libraries to have. ProQuest U.S. Dailies is a helpful tool that patrons can easily access for either pleasure or research. Users can access this database from the list of Databases, E-books, and Media from the library’s home page.  For more information about finding newspapers in the library or online, click here.

Reading List: Summer

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There’s something special about reading in the summer. Maybe it’s because you finally have more time to read because of summer break, or because the evening weather invites you to read outside. Either way, summer reading lists are popular among schools and libraries across the country.

After looking over reading lists for the Jackson Madison County school system and several local private schools, I’ve compiled a list of classic library books that are often used for summer reading. Whether you need to read for school or not, you can read these books along with students in our area this summer.

*Book descriptions are provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog. Click the link to see where each book is located in the library and to check availability. If you are not a Union student or employee, your Union library access may be limited; please refer to our guest policies or visit your local public library if needed. The Union library does not provide a summer reading program for children or current summer reading lists for local schools; these are merely a compilation of books that have often been used for “summer reading” in general for those interested in reading along or catching up on classics that they missed.

 

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

The co-author relates how he was held under plantation-style slavery until he fled in the 1960s and suffered homelessness for an additional eighteen years before the wife of the other co-author, an art dealer accustomed to privilege, intervened.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

On Long Island in the early 1920s the mysterious Jay Gatsby tries to rekindle his romance with Daisy, a young woman who has married another man, the wealthy and cruel Tom Buchanan.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a future totalitarian state where books are banned and destroyed by the government, Guy Montag, a fireman in charge of burning books, meets a revolutionary schoolteacher who dares to read and a girl who tells him of a past when people did not live in fear.

 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Darling children begin the adventure of a lifetime when Peter Pan flies into their window one night.

 

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

A bratty prince and his whipping boy have many adventures when they inadvertently trade places after becoming involved with dangerous outlaws.

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent. When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Read our review here.

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent’s death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.

 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing any older.

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The adventures of the well-to-do hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who lived happily in his comfortable home until a wandering wizard granted his wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Books Over 500 Pages Long

long long book

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Things To Do During COVID-19

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It’s currently a wild time in the world, to say the least. With COVID-19 ravaging our planet, staying at home and washing your hands has become first priority in our lives (read CDC guidelines here). Maybe you’re looking for something fun or helpful to do while we navigate uncertain territory? We’ve compiled a list of good things to do and use during this time:

 

Donate blood.

For Jackson residents, you can donate blood at Lifeline Blood Services at 183 Sterling Farm Drive.

 

Workout at home.

Campus Rec has been making creative at-home workout videos. Check them out on Instagram! You can also work on your yoga skills for free with Yoga With Adriene. And then, my personal favorite exercise: you can go for a run! It’s free and as long as you stay away from others, it’s safe to do so.

 

Put a dent in your reading list!

Staying at home = the perfect time to get reading! We have Reading Lists, Book Reviews, and eBook recommendations for you.

 

Take your children or younger siblings on a “bear hunt,” or put out a bear for children to view at your home or dorm.

Bear hunts have become a popular pastime for cooped-up kids, and they meet the requirement for social distancing.

 

Create side walk chalk art.

Chalk art is an easy way to brighten someone’s day without getting close to them!

 

Stream a free video with Films On Demand.

The library subscribes to an eVideo service called Films On Demand. Look it up on our website under the “Databases, E-Books, and Media” tab and watch something new!

 

Attend a virtual prayer group or church service.

Church teams have gotten extra creative during the pandemic with livestreams, apps, and video resources. If you haven’t found a local church yet, check out Union’s list of area churches.

 

Sew a face mask for a healthcare worker.

If you know how to sew, or if you’ve been wanting to learn, now is the time to get sewing! Here is a guide on how to sew a face mask.

 

Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespearean sonnets.

April is National Poetry month! What better time to listen to some classic poetry read by the Shakespearean actor Sir Patrick Stewart?

 

Use Zoom to schedule a Research Coach appointment or to connect with family/friends.

Zoom is a video conferencing tool that is essential for a time like this. Here’s how to schedule a Research Coach appointment with Zoom.

 

Take some time for self-care.

Check in on yourself and your friends. This is a difficult time for many in regards to mental health. Here are some self-care tips from Psychology Today. And here is a guide for diaphragmatic breathing, which can help with stress management.

 

Dive into spring cleaning.

When you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to find house-related projects to do. Maybe it’s time to clean out your closet or kitchen cabinets, or you can finally hang up those picture frames.

 

Watch “Some Good News With John Krasinski.”

Sometimes you just need to hear about the good things that are still happening in the world. Thankfully, beloved actor John Krasinski made a video to share good news on YouTube.

 

Find a new job.

Some places may need extra help during the pandemic. Check local listings to see where you can help out and get some extra cash!

 

Make a bucket list for when this is over.

Every time you think of something you want to do or go see, or a friend you miss, write it down on a piece of paper and put it into a jar. Then, when things are safe again, you can pull suggestions out of the jar and complete your bucket list!

 

Get into coloring.

Here is a website with free adult coloring pages!

 

 

What are your good ideas for spending your time during this pandemic? Let us know in the comments!

 

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.

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.