WiFi’s Fiction of the Week

February 27th, 2015 by

IMG_20150227_075307[1]Did youknow that the Help@Ames beta likes to read? Every so often he goes on a new adventure in a book and this week he’s been swimming around Funny Girl, a novel by Nick Hornby.

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015: No, Nick Hornby’s latest is not a retelling of the story made famous by the old Barbara Streisand movie called Funny Girl – but the allusion to pop culture of the 1960s in this delightful novel is not coincidental. On the surface, this Funny Girl is about a working class English girl who comes of age as a TV star in the days of Carnaby Street, the Beatles, and the musical Hair; what it’s also about is the way the world turned over for everybody – but especially actors and writers — in that explosive era. Sophie Straw is the gorgeous girl from Blackpool who, like Lucille Ball (to whom Hornby slyly introduces the starstruck Sophie in a late scene), is originally deemed too pretty to be funny; like Ball, she manages through wit, decency and pratfall to become her nation’s sweetheart. She’s a great character, and readers – like everyone in swinging London – will love her. But if Sophie is the star, the rest of the population here – the hilariously narcissistic lover/co-star, the director who pines for Sophie for years, and, my favorite, the writers who give her her vehicles – are exceptional supporting players. And Hornby, who was a bit of a pop culture wunderkind himself, is wise about the way artists’ (especially writers’) careers morph and change, and what it’s like to define a cultural moment and then watch yourself live past it. – Sara Nelson

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.”

#tbt Who misses spring?

February 26th, 2015 by

spring libraryThis latest snowfall has us all wondering if winter will ever end. We know spring and flowers andwarmer weather have the potential to exist…and have existed before…but we just can’t seem to imagine it now.

Have no fear, here’s a photo from the Ames Library’s Tate Archives, showcasing a gorgeous spring day on campus. Not sure where this photo was taken? Well that’s because there’s a building in it that doesn’t exist anymore. This photo was taken, looking roughly northwest towards where State Farm Hall is now. What’s that building in the photo you ask?

Sheean Library.

The following originally appeared in the IWU Magazine:

The world was a different place 43 years ago, and Illinois Wesleyan’s library was no exception.

“Does your report need typing? Don’t drag a dozen books across campus,” an early brochure for Sheean Library proclaimed. “Bring your own typewriter, or rent an electric in rooms specially set aside. There’s even a calculator room.”

Sheean’s opening was, in fact, a “big deal” to students like then-sophomore Steve Burrichter ’70. “We went from Buck Library, which was older, to a very modern, spacious and well-equipped library for that time,” he recalls. “I was amazed to watch the construction. Extended flatbed trucks brought in the tall, white stone and concrete pre-formed pieces that gave the library its design.”

Nine years after it opened, the library was named for the late Jack Sheean, a local businessman who loved books and gave generously to the University, including funding several students’ college educations.

Burrichter recalls how students helped fill Sheean with books prior to its opening in 1968. “Many of our class members, and many other students who went to IWU at the time, were used to transport the books from Buck Library to their new home in Sheean Library,” he says. “The involvement of so many students gave a sense of ownership of the new library.”

Areas like the Pit — with its casual furniture for relaxed study — are remembered fondly by generations of students who used Sheean. The library’s Micro Center allowed access to 4,000 microfilm items and its card catalog was massive. With the dawn of the digital-information age, most of those once-popular features became anachronistic. This past summer, Sheean was finally torn down to make way for a new classroom building.

sheean library

Sheean Library

“I’m sure at the time that it opened, it worked very effectively, but it was not able to grow as libraries changed and modified,” says Sue Stroyan, Illinois Wesleyan professor and information services librarian. Stroyan became University librarian in 1992 and oversaw the transition to The Ames Library when it opened in 2002.

“In the past decade since Ames opened,” says Stroyan, “there have been constant changes in academia and in library technology. Ames has been able to adapt to those changes. We were not able to do that in Sheean because of its structural issues.”

In the late 1960s, University press releases noted Sheean’s “quadrant concept,” a layout that featured four areas of stacks on each of three floors around a central lounge and stairway area. While the massive structure was formidable, it was also inflexible. Thick concrete walls and floors made it extremely difficult to add new electrical and Internet wiring.

Sheean’s architectural design provided other challenges. The centrally located open staircase meant constant noise throughout the building, while the single-pane glass windows created humidity issues, says Stroyan, who remembers frequently seeing frost on the library’s interior concrete walls.

In addition, the library’s collection simply outgrew the building. The current library collection totals more than 350,000 volumes; Sheean was built to accommodate just 140,000.

Years of research were invested in possible renovation ideas for Sheean, but none were practical or financially viable. The building’s location in the middle of campus didn’t help, either; it left no room for an addition, and space inside the library was increasingly at a premium.

While Sheean’s shortcomings weren’t disputed, its closing in late 2001 was met with mixed emotions. Students wrote farewell messages to the building on a giant scroll of paper, ranging from “Goodbye, old friend” to “I will miss your ugly furniture most of all.”

sheean-wrecking_320

Sheean’s thick walls are smashed by a wrecking ball. Crushed concrete and brick will provide the new classroom building’s foundation. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

When they moved the collection to The Ames Library, library staffers took the time to reuse or recycle whatever they could from inside the building. Extra shelving went to libraries in need, display cases found new homes, and some furniture was brought to the new library and stained to match the updated color scheme. “What we couldn’t use, we were able to find homes for to a great extent,” Stroyan says.

That theme continued when the building was demolished in July and August this year. Construction crews crushed brick and concrete into a new foundation for the future classroom building and sent lamps and other materials to special recycling facilities.

Also salvaged from the former library was a time capsule, which had been stored inside a copper box in the building’s cornerstone. The contents will be revealed during a Homecoming event Oct. 22 on the Robert S. Eckley Quadrangle.

“What people place into these time capsules gives us an idea of what they feel is significant, what they want others to remember about their time here,” says IWU Archivist Meg Miner. What’s inside will remain a secret until the capsule is opened, but the library will hold a contest prior to Homecoming for those who want to wager a guess as to its contents.

The classroom building that will replace Sheean is expected to have a time capsule placed in its cornerstone as well. Meanwhile, across campus, Sheean’s replacement continues to impress. “The Ames Library is exceptional and makes other people view Illinois Wesleyan and its library as well above other universities,” Burrichter notes.

Contents of a time capsule placed in the building’s cornerstone by IWU President Lloyd Bertholf will be revealed at Homecoming.

Contents of a time capsule placed in the building’s cornerstone by IWU President Lloyd Bertholf will be revealed at Homecoming.

One of Sheean’s lasting legacies, Stroyan says, is that it helped planners formulate ideas about what was needed in a new library. For example, the many large windows in Ames are, “to some extent, a reaction to the Sheean’s narrow windows, which provided no direct light,” she says. Other influences can be seen in Ames’ flexible floor plans and improved study spaces. Because of such considerations, Stroyan believes there’s a very good chance that Ames will outlast its predecessor in years of usage.

Most importantly, she adds, The Ames Library has proven to be a popular destination for both students and faculty.

“We had a 300 percent increase in usage when Ames opened,” says Stroyan, “and that has continued. It’s a beautiful, functional building and a place of research and learning where people really like to be. From my perspective as a librarian, you really couldn’t ask for more.”

Illustrator’s Works on Display in Ames

February 25th, 2015 by

lobel-anita

This article originally appeared on the IWU News & Events page: “Award-winning children’s book illustrator and author Anita Lobel will speak Feb. 25 at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Founders Day Convocation. Lobel’s address “Walls, Bridges, Crossings: Getting There!” will begin at 11 a.m. in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall, 1210 N. Park St. The event is free and open to the public.

Among Lobel’s nearly 60 books are her illustrated works A New Coat for Anna, This Quiet Lady and On Market Street, which won several awards including a Caldecott Honor for illustration. Her childhood memoir No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

In No Pretty Pictures, Lobel recounts her experiences as a Jewish child in World War II Poland. Lobel’s nanny took Anita and her younger brother into hiding when she was five years old. While hiding in a convent, the children were discovered and sent to a concentration camp. After liberation, she and her brother were reunited with their parents in Sweden.

Library Display  in Honor of Children's Author and Illustrator Anita Lobel

Library Display in Honor of Children’s Author and Illustrator Anita Lobel

In the 1950s her family moved to New York. Lobel graduated from Pratt Institute with a degree in fine arts. While a student Lobel met her future husband Arnold Lobel, who became a children’s book author. She began her own career as a children’s book illustrator upon the suggestion of her husband’s editor.In 1965 Lobel published her first picture book Sven’s Bridge, which went on to receive a Best Illustrated Book selection from the New York Times Book Review.

Lobel’s work has been featured in the annual exhibition of original picture book art at The Society of Illustrators in New York City and in galleries in New York and Los Angeles. Internationally, Lobel’s work has been displayed by several museum collections in Japan that specialize in children’s book illustrations. Lobel’s illustrations will be on display Feb. 9-March 31 at the Illinois Wesleyan Merwin Gallery. She will present a gallery talk Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow.

The Convocation marks the 165th anniversary of IWU’s founding. In 1850 a group of 30 civic and religious leaders joined together to establish “an Institution of learning of Collegiate grade.”

By Kathy Tun ’16″

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Rut-roh, RefWorks is going down…

February 24th, 2015 by

Did you know that as an IWU faculty, staff, or student you have access to a bibliographic management tool? Whoa, big words. Let’s say that differently. Did you know Ames Library supports a tool that helps you organize, store, find, and create citations (even whole bibliographies) for your research?

When presenting arguments in a research projects, you will often draw on previous work by other authors. When you do so, it is essential to cite those sources. Citing sources not only gives those authors proper credit for their ideas, but it also lets your readers know where to go for more information and adds credibility to your arguments.

You can cite almost anything in your paper that meets your instructor’s source requirements, though most often you will probably cite journal articles, books, or websites. The key parts of any citation are the author, title of the work, and publication information. Additional information will vary depending on what you cite. Here is a typical citation for a journal article:

Journal article citation

Once you understand how to read and interpret a citation, you may want to move to more advanced tools to help you cite your work. Many libraries, including this one, offer subscriptions to citation management software such as RefWorks. RefWorks, and other products like it, help you collect, organize, and cite your sources as you work on a research project. While you’re still repsonsible for writing and incorporating citations into your paper, RefWorks handles the mechanics of citing.

On February 28, 2015, ProQuest will be upgrading its systems infrastructure to improve performance, security, and overall reliability of your products. The window is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time and will last for five (5) hours.

During this time RefWorks will not be available and users will be re-directed to a webpage explaining the scheduled maintenance.>We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please contact RefWorks Technical Support (refworks.support@proquest.com) if you have questions or need assistance.

Learn all about how to use RefWorks on their YouTube page. Here’s the first of several videos to help you get started.

What’s up Minor Myers, jr.?

February 23rd, 2015 by

IMG_20150223_074448[1]Have you been wondering what’s going on with the Ames patio? It turns out that the past couple Illinois winters have wreaked havoc on the drainage systems under the patio, causing certain parts of it to blister up. A number of tiles had risen so much as to think a new faultline was forming, but it was only the expanding frozen waters under the patio.

NeverthelessIMG_20150223_074518[1], those tiles were major tripping hazards, so Physical Plant has done what they can in the subzero temperatures, but we’ll have to wait for warmer weather in order to fix the base problem. In the meantime, have caution when approaching the library – knowledge is contagious.

Thursday4 p.m., Welcome Center Auditorium – Faculty Convocation: “Copyright, Plagiarism and International Students” – Kevin Smith, director of the Office of Scholarly Communications at Duke University, will share his expertise on how copyright is practiced internationally, provide some tools to help faculty assist our students – especially those from other countries – to avoid plagiarism, and consider a couple of assignments that help underscore the concepts of copyright. Smith’s visit is supported by the Mellon grant on Writing in the Disciplines and Information Literacy.

Instruction Lab, Room 129, Entry Level

  • Tuesday, 7pm – Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
  • Wednesday, 2pm – Prof. Lessen’s Gateway
  • Wednesday, 3:30pm – OU Training
  • Thursday, 10:50am – Educational Studies 320

Meeting Room, 214, Second Floor

  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee Meeting
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 9:00am – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 12:00pm – Library Advisory Committee
  • Wednesday, 2:00pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1:00pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 9:00am – PRC

Beckman Auditorium, Lower Level

  • Monday, 6pm – Prof. Folse’s Gateway, film screening
  • Tuesday, 1:10pm – International Politics of East Asia
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Ides Performance & Lecture Series
  • Wednesday, 12:00pm – Film Screening
  • Thursday, 3:30pm – MCLP CEO Panel
  • Saturday, 1:00pm – Anime Club

IMG_20150113_130321[1]

 

Tuesday, 4:30pm, Beckman Auditorium – Professor Nancy Sultan will be discussing the similarities between Odysseus and Frank Underwood, a character from the television show “House of Cards.”

From IWU News & Events: “Is “Frank Underwood” a modern-day Odysseus? Illinois Wesleyan University Greek and Roman Studies Professor Nancy Sultan thinks the cunning, deceitful protagonist of the Netflix political drama House of Cards and the hubristic, mercurial Odysseus have much in common.

Sultan will present her research-in-progress on Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at The Ames Library’s Beckman Auditorium. Sultan’s presentation is “Let Us Now Praise Wicked Men: Netflix Series House of Cards and the ‘Fifth Age’ of Television.”

Critically acclaimed House of Cards is the story of U.S. Congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), who, when passed over for an appointment as Secretary of State, devises an elaborate scheme to gain a far greater position of power. The series follows Frank and his wife, Claire (played by Robin Wright), and their manipulation of power and people in doing bad things for the greater good. The series has been nominated for 31 Emmy Awards. Season three begins streaming Feb. 27.

A self-described “huge fan” of both the series and Spacey’s portrayal of Underwood, Sultan said she’d been thinking aboutHouse of Cards, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and a host of other popular, critically celebrated programs that feature protagonists who break the mold of the hero as ‘good guy.’ These characters model the opposite of the ‘best tragic hero’ defined by Aristotle, Sultan said.

She noted these modern protagonists seem to go against the very grain of programs from the so-called “Golden Age” of television, when heroes fell into bad fortune because of mistakes, not because they were evil men.

“These new main characters are evil, they disrespect good people, they succeed through hubris, yet we are fascinated by them and we follow their every move,” said Sultan. “I started thinking about Frank Underwood and why we are drawn to him and the show (House of Cards). Frank models the opposite of the ideal Aristotelian hero, which is a man who falls from good to bad fortune not because he is evil, but because he makes mistakes. Frank is a murderer who succeeds through brazen hubris.”

Sultan will draw on several sources, ranging from the 8th-century Greek poet Hesiod to contemporary British cultural anthropologist Victor Turner. In her reception study, Sultan will argue that Frank Underwood represents an Odyssean trickster figure.

As a hero of the Trojan War, Odysseus is renowned for his cunning and his tactics. “Odysseus succeeds through cunning, but he is not a good guy,” said Sultan. “Everyone privately envies the Odyssean trickster figure because he’s climbed to the top. He’s successful, wealthy and powerful. Yet, publicly, we must condemn him, because he acts with hubris and becomes a threat to democracy.”

The Frank Underwood character invites similar feelings. “As viewers, we know Frank is not a good guy, we know we have to watch out for him because he’s tricky,” Sultan adds. “But in private we wonder, ‘how can we achieve what he has achieved?’ We envy what he has and what he has accomplished.”

Sultan’s presentation will feature clips from the series and will be followed by discussion. The event is free and open to the public.”

What’s New in Ames?

February 18th, 2015 by

Every once in a while we like to feature a new acquisition, whether it be something published recently or historically. Check out this new title and its description from Amazon.com:

Going mobile : how wireless technology is reshaping our lives

“The world is going mobile at an astounding pace. Estimates show 80 percent of global Internet access will take place through mobile devices by 2016. Smartphones, tablets, and handheld devices have reshaped communications, the global economy, and the very way in which we live. The revolution is an electronic nirvana: for the first time in human

history we have sophisticated digital applications to help us learn, access financial and going mobilehealth care records, connect with others, and build businesses. But the one trillion dollar mobile industry is still relatively young. Leaders in both the public and private sectors need to figure out how to apply mobile technologies or mobile devices to optimize education, health care, public safety, disaster preparedness, and economic development. And the ever-expanding mobile frontier presents new challenges to law, policy, and regulations and introduces new tensions; one person’s idea of cautious deliberation can be another’s idea of a barrier to innovation.

In Going Mobile, Darrell M. West breaks down the mobile revolution and shows how to maximize its overall benefits in both developed and emerging markets.”

Ames Library has also has trial access to the Kanopy streaming video database through March 13.

KANOPY logoHere’s your chance to watch entire films or preview many interesting titles!  Kanopy offers a broad selection of over 12,000 films and documentaries, featuring such producers as Media Education Foundation, Criterion Collection, PBS, California Newsreel, HBO, Kino Lorber, and more.  This free trial includes new titles such as THROUGH A LENS DARKLY and TRANSGENDER TUESDAYS.

The library welcomes your feedback on this resource.  Please send comments to Marcia Thomas, mthomas@iwu.edu.

Do You Stream?

February 17th, 2015 by

Ames Library has trial access to the Kanopy streaming video database through March 13.

KANOPY logoHere’s your chance to watch entire films or preview many interesting titles!  Kanopy offers a broad selection of over 12,000 films and documentaries, featuring such producers as Media Education Foundation, Criterion Collection, PBS, California Newsreel, HBO, Kino Lorber, and more.  This free trial includes new titles such as THROUGH A LENS DARKLY and TRANSGENDER TUESDAYS.

The library welcomes your feedback on this resource.  Please send comments to Marcia Thomas, mthomas@iwu.edu.

92 Years Ago & Today…

February 16th, 2015 by

What’s happening in Ames Library this week?

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Monday, 9am – Nursing 450
  • Monday, 11am – Prof. Folse’s Gateway
  • Monday, 1pm – Admissions
  • Tuesday, 9am – Ames All Staff Meeting
  • Tuesday, 10:50am – Business 490
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Business 490
  • Thursday 8am – Mitel Phone Training
  • Friday, 11am – Prof. Folse’s Gateway
  • Friday, 2pm – Hispanic Studies 280

king tutMeeting Room, 214

  • Monday, 9:30am – Network Meeting
  • Monday, 10:30am – Diaster Recovery Meeting
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee Meeting
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 9am – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 11:30am – Theatre Recruitment
  • Wednesday, 2pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 10am – Campus Climate Assessment Committee
  • Friday, 2pm – Portal Meeting

Beckman Auditorium

  • Monday, 12:00pm – Admissions
  • Tuesday, 9:25am – International Politics
  • Tuesday, 10:50am – International Politics
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Literary and Cultural Studies 116
  • Tuesday, 5pm – President’s Office
  • Wednesday, 11am – National Society of Leadership and Success Speaker
  • Wednesday, 2pm – Canvas LMS Demo
  • Wednesday, 8pm – National Society of Leadership and Success Speaker
  • Thursday, 2:30pm – THEA 372 Theatre History II films
  • Thursday, 7pm – International Film Series, “Good Bye Lenin!” (2003, Germany), presented by Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Montgomery.
  • Friday, 7pm – Philosophy Club

What happened this day in 1923?

From History.com – On this day in 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen.

Because the ancient Egyptians saw their pharaohs as gods, they carefully preserved their bodies after death, burying them in elaborate tombs containing rich treasures to accompany the rulers into the afterlife. In the 19th century, archeologists from all over the world flocked to Egypt, where they uncovered a number of these tombs. Many had long ago been broken into by robbers and stripped of their riches.

When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb–that of the little known Tutankhamen, or King Tut, who lived around 1400 B.C. and died when he was still a teenager. Backed by a rich Brit, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for five years without success. In early 1922, Lord Carnarvon wanted to call off the search, but Carter convinced him to hold on one more year.

In November 1922, the wait paid off, when Carter’s team found steps hidden in the debris near the entrance of another tomb. The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb’s interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.

Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumors that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully catalogued, removed and included in a famous traveling exhibition called the “Treasures of Tutankhamen.” The exhibition’s permanent home is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

#tbt St. Valentine Beheaded?!

February 12th, 2015 by

From History.com – “On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem,saint-st-valentine_fb Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.” One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.

Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers.”

What’s New Wednesday!

February 11th, 2015 by

Did you know Ames Library has a Popular Reading Collection? It’s located right next to the Circulation Desk and has dozens of titles from which to choose. Grab one of these for some light weekend reading or just to take a break from all that scholarly work you’ve been doing.

Some of our recent additions to the collection include:

New Popular Reading Titles

Map Thief – Michael Blanding

From Amazon – Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers—both as beautiful works of art and as practical tools to navigate the world. But to those who collect them, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.

Once considered a respectable antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief —until he was finally arrestemap thiefd slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library. The Map Thief delves into the untold history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal and the inside story of the industry that consumed him.

Acclaimed reporter Michael Blanding has interviewed all the key players in this stranger-than-fiction story, and shares the fascinating histories of maps that charted the New World, and how they went from being practical instruments to quirky heirlooms to highly coveted objects. Though pieces of the map theft story have been written before, Blanding is the first reporter to explore the story in full—and had the rare privilege of having access to Smiley himself after he’d gone silent in the wake of his crimes. Moreover, although Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, libraries claim he stole hundreds more—and offer intriguing clues to prove it. Now, through a series of exclusive interviews with Smiley and other key individuals, Blanding teases out an astonishing tale of destruction and redemption.

The Map Thief interweaves Smiley’s escapades with the stories of the explorers and mapmakers he knew better than anyone. Tracking a series of thefts as brazen as the art heists in Provenance and a subculture as obsessive as the oenophiles in The Billionaire’s Vinegar, Blanding has pieced together an unforgettable story of high-stakes crime.

If I Fall, I Die – Michael Christie

Boston Girl – Anita Diamant

Cold Cold Heart – Tami Hoag

Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

Before I Go – Colleen Oakley

Sacrifice – Joyce Carol Oates

Private Vegas – James Patterson

Train to Crystal City – Jan Jarboe Russell

Skylight – Jose Saramago

From Amazonskylight – Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to the surface. Carmen left Galicia to marry humble Emilio, but hates Lisbon and longs for her first love, Manolo. Lidia used to work the streets, but now she’s kept by Paulo, a wealthy man with a wandering eye.

These are just some of the characters in this early work, completed by Saramago in 1953 but never published until now. With his characteristic compassion, depth, and wit, Saramago shows us the quiet contentment of a happy family and the infectious poison of an unhappy one. We see his characters’ most intimate moments as well as the casual encounters particular to neighbors living in close proximity. Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people, painted by a master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardships of the modern world.

New Kindle Titles

Maze Runner Series – James Dashner

Not that Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity  – Ken Follett, completing the Century Trilogy

Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

silkwormFrom Amazon – When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days-as he has done before-and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives-meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before… A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.

Gray Mountain – John Grisham

Flyover Lives – Diane Johnson

Mercedes – Stephen King

American Sniper – Chris Kyle

american sniperFrom Amazon – From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

Flash Boys – Michael Lewis

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