Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSP Library Summer Reading Lists

Here's a list of books recommended by the Concordia librarians which they've read this summer. Happy reading!

Jeanine Gatzke - Cataloging, Acquisitions, & Technical Services Librarian

If I am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation by Janine Latus

if i am missingA memoir that reads more like a novel, I had a hard time putting this book down. It is the story of two sisters, Janine and Amy Latus, who to the outside world both seem to be strong and successful women, but whom each end up in one disastrous, abusive relationship after another, beginning with their father. Moments of humor and insight alternate with descriptions of abuse and victimization that will both break your heart and make you wonder how this can happen.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

water for elephantsI loved the perspective of the story being told by the 90-something year old Jacob, trapped in a nursing home and remembering his induction into the world of the travelling circus instead of the life he had planned in joining his father in veterinary practice upon graduation. I did not see the end coming…

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

the historianA vampire story unlike any I’ve read before (admission: I have never really considered myself a fan of vampire books. That may be changing though…). Spanning a search over three generations, multiple historians are – for different reasons – looking for the “real” Dracula. Makes you wonder if it really could happen…

Tamara Buetow - Reference & Curriculum Librarian

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien

in the lake of the woodsThis book is well written with excerpts and quotes from the My Lai courts-martial from the Vietnam War by William Calley and other famous people as well as others who know main character John Wade. O'Brien weaves together the story of the Vietnam village massacre, and deals with post-traumatic stress and psychological secrets of a hidden past, which cause people to act in mysterious ways. It would be a fascinating read for people intrigued by mysteries of missing persons or unsolved cold cases.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

the blue notebookWritten by a doctor/professor from the Mayo Clinic who had gone to India and was haunted by a child prostitute outside her cubicle writing in a notebook, this novel is based on a true story and was written it in a very short period of time -- 68 hours. All proceeds from the book go to the International Organization Against Child prostitution. It could be a companion book for Slumdogg Millionaire...

Greg Argo - Reference, Cataloging, & Electronic Resources Librarian

It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music by Amanda Petrusich

it still movesTo research this book, Amanda Petrusich got into her car and drove south from Brooklyn, in search of the meaning of the musics that have collectively come to be known as Americana. Driving through Memphis, Clarksdale, Nashville, and other points in between, she traces the roots of blues, folk, rock, and country through the American South, tells the stories of the major innovators and players, and looks at the present to try to see where Americana is headed. Using the road as a metaphor, and mixing travelogue with a history lesson and personal quest, she draws the broad contours of the idea of Americana, finding the similar threads connecting “Old Weird America” heroes like Leadbelly and the Carter Family with popularizers like Elvis and Chet Atkins with more recent acts like Uncle Tupelo, Iron & Wine, and the freak folk musicians now being touted as the “New Weird America”.

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

the crystal worldAfter reading a story by J.G. Ballard called “The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D” in which a few fellows sculpted art into clouds by flying in gliders which emitted chemicals, I found this novel, also by Ballard, titled The Crystal World. It follows Dr. Sanders, a specialist in leprosy, as he chases a professional and personal thread from his recent past into the jungle of Gabon in Africa. The curious thing is that this part of Africa is crystallizing into a landscape of jewels and gems. As the physical landscape transforms, so do the characters’ psyches and their interpretations of survival and salvation. This is an offbeat book loaded with symbolism and breathtaking descriptions of a future world which may be horrifying, transcendent, or both, depending on how you react.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

what we talk about when we talk about loveThis short story collection was originally published in 1981. Carver writes with extreme brevity, and one could read most of these stories in fewer than five minutes. His characters inhabit a barren and desolate American landscape, where the characters seem beat down by bad decisions, broken relationships, and dead-end jobs. Despite leading emotionally shell-shocked existences, the characters continue to care for each other, communicate directly (if laconically), and are still intrigued by the possibilities of interacting with other humans. Amid alcoholism, transience, and betrayal, the persistence of the human spirit to treat others with dignity is the silver lining in these cloudy skies. Though not a typical summer read, these jarring stories provide perspective that is valuable in any season.

Geruth Buetow - Reference & Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan

black juiceThis is a collection of unusual short stories. In one, an African family sings their sister/daughter to death as she sinks into the tar. They are subtly defiant of her death sentence for murder, as they give her love and solace until the end. In another, a noble woman leaves her castle, and its privileges and loveliness, to go dance with the gypsies. Her husband follows and is mad, but joins her in a dance at the end. Great!

Rush Home Road: A Novel by Lori Lansens

rush home roadAddy Shadd tells her life story. She lives in a Canadian town settled by runaway slaves from the Underground Railroad in the 1800’s. Written in the 1st person, events comingle between the present and past. This story tells of a strong, strong woman who remains healthy in her mind and has a gentle and forgiving nature even with losing so many people she loved in her long life. Lovely book and a wonderful character.

The Love of Impermanent Things: A Threshold Ecology by Mary Rose O'Reilly

the love of impermanent thingsMemoir of Mary Rose O’Reilley, a woman with a Quaker and Zen Buddhist religious background. I really liked the way she brought her individual thoughts about religion to the forefront of her consciousness; her life experiences resonated with my own life experiences and I found I wanted to have her words around me all the time. The ideas and experiences in the book were sad, lovely, graceful and a satisfying read.

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

woman at point zeroA haunting story set in Egypt about a woman named Findaus. She tells her story to a reporter just hours before she is hung. Her story is the story of many women who are abused physically and culturally, not only by individual men, but also by the laws and norms of society. A powerful statement about the place of women in many places.

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers by Amy Stewart

flower confidentialThis is a very interesting book about the flower trade. Three areas are discussed: the breeding, growing, and selling of flowers. I was very intrigued by the fascinating facts and history. For instance, at one time in Europe tulips were worth more than gold, and were imported from Persia as exotic items. Other important facts about the flower industry were shown which have implications regarding poorly paid workers in 3rd world countries, pollution, carbon footprint value, and other current issues which are important for making socially informed decisions. I also enjoyed this book because I love gardening.

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