Top 5 Novels About Animals

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Many children spend time reading about their favorite animals while growing up. Books about animals, particularly fictional stories, can be both inspiring and heart-wrenching. This list compiles several tried-and-true classic novels about different kinds of animals. Both middle-grade children and adults may enjoy these books (although some children may need to grow up more before tackling Watership Down).

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

 

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

A Siamese cat, an old bull terrier, and a young Labrador retriever travel together 250 miles through the Canadian wilderness to find their family.

 

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Paul and his sister Maureen’s determination to own a pony from the herd on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, is greatly increased when the Phantom and her colt are among the ponies rounded up for the yearly auction.

 

Watership Down by Richard Wright

Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.

 

It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville

The story of a fourteen-year-old New York boy and his relationships with a stray tomcat, an eccentric old woman, a troubled older boy, the first girl with whom he has been friends, and his father.

 

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, who passes the time in his rural Florida community by wood carving, is drawn by his spunky but angry friend Sistine into a plan to free a caged tiger.

 

 

Top 5 Comedy Movies At The Library

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

While comedies can have different plots and settings, from a road trip gone wrong to an awkward high school romance, they all have one thing in common: they make us laugh. Want to find funny movies at the library? Here are 5 comedic movies that are all available, and be sure to search our genre “Comedy” in our online Media Collection for even more.

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

 

Mean Girls

When a young girl who has lived in Africa and been homeschooled moves to New York, she must enter a public high school. Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning when she falls for the ex-boyfriend of the most popular girl in school.

 

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Loosely based on Homer’s “Odyssey,” this is the story of three convicts- escapees from a prison farm in Mississippi- and their adventure as they travel home in hopes of recovering buried loot before it’s lost forever in a flood.

 

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The quest for the Holy Grail by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is retold in the inimitable Python fashion.

 

Duck Soup

To rescue the small country of Freedonia from bankruptcy, Mrs. Teasdale agrees to donate 20 million dollars if Rufus T. Firefly is appointed its new president.

 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Toula is a quiet, devoted daughter in a big, crazy Greek family. Working in her father’s restaurant, she hides behind her family and keeps the world at a distance. One day at the restaurant she finds herself pouring coffee for a man who inspires her to change her life, and the way she sees the world . . . forever.

 

Bonus: Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood

This one’s more of a dark comedy/retelling of history, but it’s absolutely hilarious, particularly if you’re read up on 1960s history, westerns, and the Manson family.

Publisher description: From 1958 to 1963, American actor Rick Dalton knew the height of fame and fortune as the lead in the television series Bounty Law. Yet, Rick wasn’t satisfied with the work and used his popularity to try to become a movie star. By 1969, Rick’s career has stalled so much that he takes jobs as a guest star on various shows. He even starts wondering if the only way he can make a comeback is by acting in Italian productions. Cliff Booth, Rick’s long-time friend and stunt double, helps him see that possibilities for success still exist in the Los Angeles film industry if they work together.

 

 

 

Top 5 Books Under 250 Pages

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In our busy and ever-changing world, picking up a book can feel like just one more task on the checklist. If you find yourself in a time crunch, thankfully there are many interesting shorter books that you can read and won’t be stuck on for weeks. The following books are under 250 pages and still pack a literary punch!

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

 

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society.

 

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, the tragic heroine of Toni Morrison’s haunting first novel, grew out of her memory of a girlhood friend who wanted blue eyes. Shunned by the town’s prosperous black families, as well as its white families, Pecola lives with her alcoholic father and embittered, overworked mother in a shabby two-room storefront that reeks of the hopeless destitution that overwhelms their lives.

 

Abracadabra: The Story of Magic Through the Ages by H.P. Newquist

Magic is a word we use to describe something amazing, awe-inspiring, or spectacular. Truly great magic makes us believe in things we know can’t be real. In the hands of the greatest magicians, even a simple card trick can become truly wondrous. Now, in this nonfiction narrative of magic through the ages, HP Newquist explains how the world’s most famous tricks were created.

 

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Kaysen writes of her experiences, augmented by pages from her medical record, in a psychiatric hospital and of the social and emotional assumptions that divide people into “deviant” or “normal.”

 

The Cookcamp by Gary Paulsen

During World War II, a little boy is sent to live with his grandma, a cook in a camp for workers building a road through the wilderness.

 

 

Top 5 Family Movies At The Library

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When you need a movie for the whole family to enjoy, come visit our DVD collection! From popular animated movies to children’s classics, we have many family movies to choose from. Here are 5 great family movies to watch, all of which can be checked out.

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

Frozen (and Frozen II)

When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell.

 

My Neighbor Totoro

Two young sisters spend a summer in the Japanese countryside with their father. The children’s strange new home turns out to be a wonderland filled with creatures and a trio of furry woodland sprites who can only be seen by children.

 

The LEGO Movie

Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

 

The Incredibles (and Incredibles 2)

Bob and his wife Helen used to be among the world’s greatest crime fighters, saving lives and battling evil on a daily basis. Fifteen years later, they have been forced to adopt civilian identities and retreat to the suburbs where they live “normal” lives with their three kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. Itching to get back into action, Bob gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top secret assignment. He soon discovers that it will take a super family effort to rescue the world from total destruction.

 

Up

Carl Fredericksen is a 78- year-old curmudgeon. He used to enjoy his modest life as a balloon seller when his adventure-loving wife Ellie was still alive. When she died, Carl was left with his memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America. When well-meaning officials consign Carl to Shady Oaks Retirement Home, he rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away. He discovers that Russell, a chubby Wilderness Explorer Scout, has stowed away. In the tropical jungle, Carl and Russell find more than they expected. Charles Muntz is a crazed explorer whose newsreels once inspired Carl and Ellie; Kevin is an exotic bird with a weakness for chocolate; and Dug is an endearingly golden retriever fitted with a voice box. More importantly, Carl and Russell discover they need each other.

 

Bonus: Tarzan (one of my personal favorite animated movies)

Raised by gorillas, Tarzan has made the jungle his home and the animals his friends. But with the appearance of humans, the only world Tarzan has ever known and the one in which he belongs are about to become one.

 

Top 5 Musicals On DVD At The Library

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When you’re ready to sing it out, pick up one of our musicals on DVD here at the library. You can find musicals by browsing our DVD section on the 2nd floor, or by looking them up online via the library catalog. The following list is made up of some of our most popular and well-known musicals.

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

 

Les Misérables

10th Anniversary version

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

In early 19th century France, the paroled prisoner Jean Valjean seeks redemption, regains his social standing, and rises to the rank of mayor. He encounters a beautiful but desperately ill woman named Fantine and cares for her daughter, Cosette, after her death. All the while he is obsessively pursued by the policeman Javert, who vows to make him pay for the crimes of his past.

 

The Phantom of the Opera

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

Tells the story of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with Christine, the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.

 

The Sound of Music

As Nazism takes over Austria, a governess and a widowed father fall in love and escape the country with his large family of musically-talented children.

 

West Side Story

This musical sets the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of the rivalry of two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, in New York of the 1950s. A young woman who is sister to the Sharks’ leader has her first taste of love with the former head of the Jets.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

Tevye is a poor Jewish milkman with five unmarried daughters to support in a village in Czarist Russia. With a sharp-tongued wife at home and growing anti-Semitism in the village, Tevye talks to God about his troubles. His people’s traditions keep him strong when his existence is as precariously balanced as a fiddler on the roof.

 

Bonus: We don’t have a DVD recording of Hamilton, but we do have this excellent book that will take you behind-the-scenes of the Broadway hit.

Top 5 Memoirs At The Library

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Memoirs tell us the personal experiences of other people. They allow us to see how someone else has lived, thought, and learned. The library has several memoirs on our shelves; here are 5 of the best-written and most checked out memoirs. Click the links to see where the books are located in the library.

*Book descriptions are from the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir In Books by Azar Nafisi

This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi’s tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Here, for the first time, Michelle Obama describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband’s fast-moving political career. She takes us inside their private debate over whether he should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticized figure during his campaign. Narrating with grace, good humor, and uncommon candor, she provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of her family’s history-making launch into the global limelight as well as their life inside the White House over eight momentous years–as she comes to know her country and her country comes to know her.

 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and to do it alone.

 

Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit by J.R. Martinez

This book tells the story of an inspirational journey from tragedy to triumph. In 2003, at age nineteen, the author was on a routine patrol in Iraq when the Humvee he was driving hit an antitank mine, resulting in severe injuries and burns. Out of that tragedy came an improbable journey of inspiration, motivation, and dreams come true.

 

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

In this powerful and provocative memoir, Kiese Laymon fearlessly explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of living in a country wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

 

Top 5 Novels About College Students

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Long nights spent studying, laughing with friends over lunch in the cafeteria, fighting your roommate for the remote control, writing papers in the library: these are some typical college experiences. For most people, college is a short but profoundly impactful time in their lives. Whether you’re in college now or not, reading about college students and their adventures can be a fun pastime.¬† Take a look at these 5 books that capture different and intriguing college stories.

*Book descriptions are by the publishers c/o the library website.

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Nada by Carmen Laforet

In Barcelona, in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, Andrea, a young university student, moves into a strange, gothic house inhabited by a volatile array of aunts and uncles in order to attend college.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, immersed themselves in the series when they were kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Her sister has grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told her she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone, and can’t stop worrying about her dad. Can she do this? Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers–one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

 

This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side Of Paradise recounts the story of Amory Blaine as he grows from pampered childhood to young adulthood and learns to know himself better. At Princeton he becomes a literary aesthete and makes friends with other aspiring writers. As he moves out into the world and tries to find his true direction, he falls in love with a succession of beautiful young women. Youthful exuberance and immaturity give way to disillusion and disappointment as Amory confronts the realities of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.