Archive for September, 2010

WE RECOMMEND: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Boston, MA: Haughton Mifflin, 1986. Call number PR9199.3 .A8 H3 1986

Nothing says “controversial read” like a dystopian novel making social commentary on the United States of America — both of its government and people. The Handmaid’s Tale does just that. Written by Margaret Atwood, this novel takes place in “the near future.” Set in the former United States, this story tells of a new society where many things have changed, primarily the role of women in society. In the fascist Republic of Gilead, society emphasizes procreation due to a recent epidemic of infertility, some say due to a toxic waste spill. As a result, a new caste in society has developed, that of the handmaid.

The story follows protagonist Offred who has experienced the downfall of “freedom” in this new society and been forced into the role of a handmaid. Handmaids, who are chosen for their fertility, are assigned to high-profile couples who are unable to reproduce. The handmaid lives in the home of her assigned couple and is forced to procreate with the husband, providing a child for the couple. Offred’s struggle to change from her previous life to her role as handmaid is unveiled as the novel progresses. Will she be able to escape her place in society as kept woman, and if she does, what happens next?

This is a smart, complicated, and emotional page turner that I would recommend anyone read! The Handmaid’s tale falls at number 88 in the most frequently banned/challenged book list from 2000-2009.

Read a banned book today! Find the Top 100 list here.

Liz Cashman, Outreach and Development Coordinator

WE RECOMMEND: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Bushnell, Candace. The Carrie Diaries. New York, NY: Balzer & Bray, 2010. Call number: PZ7 .B965467 CAR 2010

It’s almost like going back in time – The Carrie Diaries allows you to meet Carrie Bradshaw…before she was THE Carrie Bradshaw. Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw: the shoe-loving, man-toting, sexy single who rules the social scene in New York. The Carrie Diaries focuses on Carrie as she makes her way through high school in a small town outside of New York City. Carrie is crushed when she isn’t accepted into the New School’s Advanced Summer Writing Seminar, and instead begins to resentfully plan her college career at Brown University. But as her senior year rolls along and Carrie joins the newspaper in an “undercover” sort of way, her writing begins to blossom along with her spirit.

For those fifteen and up, The Carrie Diaries will occupy a special place in the heart of Sex and the City fans. Readers are introduced to Samantha Jones in a hilarious, very “New York moment” while Carrie, although not quite yet the fashion guru she becomes in SATC, is endearing and charismatic. Drugs and sex are major topics of the book, so be prepared to see how Carrie…became so Carrie. Recommended for all fans of Candace Bushnell’s works and those who want to slip into that New York slice of life.

Ria Newhouse, Learning Commons Coordinator

Banned Books Week September 25 – October 2, 2010

Poster by Camden Forgia

Everyone knows that librarians are tough, gritty, rogue characters who will fight to the death in defense of the First Amendment. But did you know that the last week of September, librarians and readers everywhere celebrate the freedom to read? That’s right folks, September 25th marks the first day of Banned Book Week, a national event where we commemorate and celebrate books that have been challenged or banned by bookstores, schools, and libraries across the nation. Some famous banned books you may have heard of include J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, and even Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series.

Banned Books Week began in 1982 as a response to a sudden increase in the number of book challenges happening across the country. The ALA defines a challenge as an attempt to remove or restrict materials, and a ban as the removal of those materials. While book challenges may come from a sincere and well-meaning attempt to protect readers from content that may be deemed too sexual, violent, profane, or offensive, the line between protection and censorship is a fine one. The ALA states that only parents have the rights and responsibility to restrict what their own children read, so libraries fight censorship by refusing to ban books.

So what can you do to celebrate Banned Books Week? You can come to the Monroe Library and see our display of banned books, check out the American Library Association’s list of frequently challenged books, or find a Banned Books event either local or online. For more information, visit the American Library Association’s Banned and Challenged Books page and Banned Books Week.

WAC is BACK!

The WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) tutors are back in the library!  You can normally find a WAC tutor in Bobet Hall, Room 100, but you can also find tutors in the Monroe Library!

Here’s their schedule:

Monday:  11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Tuesday:  9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. & 2:00 – 3:30 & 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday:  9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Thursday:  9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Friday:  10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. & 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Baffled by where to put commas? Don’t know if your thesis is focused enough?  WAC tutors can assist you with all your writing needs.

It’s a one-stop-shop for research at the Monroe Library!  Talk to a librarian, gather your research, analyze your resources, write your paper, visit a WAC tutor, use our citation software and voila!  You’re set!

WE RECOMMEND: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich

Reich, Steve. Music for 18 Musicians. LP. ECM, 1978.

Music for 18 Musicians

Music for 18 Musicians

When minimalism (as a style) gets a bad rap, it’s usually for pretentiousness (or perhaps “difficulty” – though it could be argued that the one is a tributary of the other). And while it’s understandable that casual listeners might be flummoxed by the subconscious tone poems of Phill Niblock or – to use the most famous example – Cage’s 4’33, it’s also true that when harnessed properly there is a great deal of beauty available in repetition, silence, and stasis.

Steve Reich went to Africa in the early 70s to study percussion and returned to compose two of his most notable works – 1971′s Drumming and 1976′s Music for 18 Musicians. While Drumming is a clear take on his Ghanan studies, Music for 18 Musicians is a masterwork. Simultaneously propulsive and ethereal, comprised of an ensemble with strings, mallets, pianos, woodwinds, and vocalists performing without a conductor, 18 Musicians is easily one of the most accessible pieces of work to emerge from the 20th Century avant garde.

Though not the first minimalist composition – that honor usually goes to Terry Riley’s In C – and perhaps not as gorgeous as Reich’s own Six Marimbas – a 1986 rearrangement of his earlier work Six PianosMusic for 18 Musicians is nevertheless a seminal piece and one of the best entry points into the often esoteric world of 20th Century composition.

The opening sections of Music for 18 Musicians may be heard at Steve Reich’s website.

Note: This post references the LP version released on ECM in 1978. There are other versions available, including a 1997 recording on Nonesuch, in the library’s collection. The differences are, to me, mostly matters of taste – the ECM recording blurs the players into a murkier ensemble performance while the Nonesuch version has more distinct individual performances.

Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer.