What We’re Reading…

Ever wonder what the librarians read for fun?

Doherty Picks: Best Reads of 2013

What’s the best book you read in 2013?  Here are some picks from the Doherty staff:

Ferry coverI’ve been consistently amazed by David Ferry’s book of poetry, Bewilderment (winner of the 2012 National Book Award). Ferry, born in 1924, has been a leading poet and translator for decades. I love his translation of the Gilgamesh epic, for example, and his book of selected poems, Of No Country I Know. He has always made his formal mastery seem more like a practice of grace than a tool for cleverness or invention. But the stakes, of age and heartbreak, are higher in this book. It is late work in the most elevated sense.

-Joe Goetz, Information Literacy Librarian

Outliers coverOutliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is very interesting.  To quote from Amazon: “Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?”

Gladwell is the writer of Tipping Point among others in this vein.  We just acquired his latest for the library’s popular books collection: David & Goliath.

-Jim Piccininni, Dean of Libraries

Oliver coverMy pick is Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings (2012) a recent book of poetry by a very popular and perhaps best-selling American poet. I’ve been reading it over and over again.  There’s a special quietness as she walks in solitude in nature on Cape Cod almost becoming one with the sand, the sea, the animals, the birds, the fish, even the snake, and yet she’s always transcending to some special place. I always feel very serene.  Poetry, she says, is prayer.

-Pat Gerson, Aquisitions

The Goldfinch coverI was blown away by Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. NPR’s Barrie Hardymon sums up everything that is great about it: “The Goldfinch begins with a shocking and tragic event that leaves 13-year-old Theodore Decker without a parent and in possession of a stolen Dutch masterwork. Winding its way through Manhattan, Las Vegas, Amsterdam … Goldfinch is the rare novel that prompts you to read a beautiful sentence out loud even as you gobble it whole for the plot.”  I couldn’t put it down.

-Emily Couvillon, Public Services Librarian

For more 2013 picks, try NPR’s Guide to 2013’s Great Reads, Amazon’s Top 100 Picks of 2013, and the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards.

The Best Books of 2011

It’s the time of year for all the “Best Books of 2011″ lists.  The New York Times has one; the Washington Post has one; Amazon has dozens.  But what could be more informative than the best books of the Doherty Library staff.  So here’s our picks for the best book we’ve read this year.  Most are available at Doherty.

The best book I read this year was The New Collected Poems of George Oppen, edited by Michael Davidson. Oppen is an important but under-read 20th-century American poet (1908-1984) notable for the formal rigor of his lines, the ethical and political consistency in both his life and his work, and his sincere and humble interest in philosophy. He also has a practice of including unattributed quotations in his poems, as well as oblique references to people like Heidegger and Maritain, so the well-researched explanatory notes by Davidson are essential. I see both Oppen’s craftsmanship and his ethical commitment to clarity and truth as inspirational and exemplary in American poetry.     — Joe Goetz


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The black and white photography on the book sleeve of odd children drew me in.  I just couldn’t resist.

Currently I am the type of reader that likes to read before I go to sleep.  I am usually asleep within 5 to 10 minutes, so I never get through a chapter in one reading.  This behavior usually leads me in the direction of getting tired of a novel quickly and not finishing it.                                                         

With this book, I continue to go back to it when I am not too exhausted and I don’t mind reading back a page or two to refresh my memory.  There seems to be enough interesting tidbits to make me keep going.

All the crazy things that goes on in the head of the lead character has either gone on in my own mind in the past or actually still goes on in my head.  This connection with the character allows me in a way to become the character.  Riggs leads the reader to remember their own youth in the sense of when and how we find out about the past lives of our parents and grandparents.  Plus, how this new found knowledge affects us, in that those adults become more like real people rather than on a pedestal and yet they are still our heroes despite their faults.

Although the grandfather’s death did not make me cry which is how I usually gauge books and movies –  my emotions should be totally drawn in — I found that the 3 generations that are affected by WWII is a theme that draws me in for the ride. Plus the mystery of what happened to the children is silently keeping me going.  With this easy to read 300page book, I still have a ways to go but I refuse to give up!     –Sylvia Coy


The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick.

Returning from the edge of the universe no longer quite human, Palmer Eldritch comes bearing a gift for a beleaguered, desperate world: the chance to glimpse the divine. But what price does such a gift carry? And what is Eldritch’s agenda?

Written by Philip K. Dick (arguably the most important science fiction writer of the 20th century), The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is an imaginative exploration of humankind’s attempts and failures to know the unknowable. Dick touches on a variety of concepts in this novel – consumerism, governmental control, the nature of reality – but The Three Stigmata… is ultimately concerned with questions of a theological nature, the most central being how a human being can understand God.

What I love about The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is the way it tackles deep philosophical questions while remaining a fun, gripping story. This is a very readable, mind bending book that will provide a reading experience you will not find anywhere else.     — Nick Kowalski


Green Angel and Green Witch by Alice Hoffman

The most interesting book I have read this year is actually a set of two books that are classified as Young Adult but when I read them I was transported beyond any artificial classification.The books tell a very tragic story and yet the beauty of the telling is enchanting.I pasted excerpts from the books into my journal and my 10 year old grandson read the excerpts and exclaimed, “This is poetry!”

Left on her own when her family dies in a terrible disaster when a nearby city is destroyed by a group known as the Horde, fifteen-year-old Green is haunted by loss and by the past. Struggling to survive physically and emotionally in a place where nothing seems to grow and ashes are everywhere, Green retreats into the ruined realm of her garden.

It is only through a series of mysterious encounters that Green can relearn the lessons of love and begin to heal enough to tell her story. Aided by the wisdom of four neighbors said to be witches, she sets off in an attempt to free prisoners from the Horde’s prison and to test the waters of her own strength and capacity for love. (From the publisher & Amazon)

Here are some excerpts –

I live alone in my cottage, deep in the woods. I rarely go into the village. I’m too busy working in my garden. I wear simple clothes: a green shirt, a faded skirt, green suede boots or bare feet.  I tie up my long black hair with string.  People in the village are polite. But they stare at me because of my tattoos even though I am their neighbor and they all know my name, Green, who can be depended upon. Green, who has walked through to the other side of sorrow.

*  All through winter, people came to me when they were hungry.  There is something else I ‘m known for.  Another reason to come to me.  I tell their stories.

*  One after another they sit at my kitchen table, where my mother once shelled peas, my father drank his coffee, rich with sugar and cream, where my sister painted watercolors of our family, our garden, our life. It’s here that the townspeople tell me stories of their lives.

* I began by writing on myself, ink and pins on my own skin.  I covered myself with tattoos, but when I was done, I still had more stories to tell.  I started to write on clean white pages, the last of the paper that was left.  Before long I had written down so many stories, I ran out of paper. I began to make my own. I used chopped up rags and celery stalks, boiled oak leaves, water, ground chestnut flour. When I ran out of ink, I made my own from the sap of black lilies.

*  Though I could barely see his face, I knew this boy was diamond.  I could tell who he was when I touched his arm.  When Ghost curled up at the boy’s feet, when Onion didn’t growl, when the sparrows ate crumbs from his hands, when the hawk perched on his shoulder, I knew I could let him stay.  I called him Diamond… Something inside him shone through the dark even though he kept his face hidden. .. . I could see something bright everywhere he’d walk.  It was almost like having moonlight again.

*  From the dock we can see the prison.  I am ready.  I take a stone, a feather, a rose petal, a fish hook.  I have to go alone.

I am Green, used to being alone in the garden. Green, who can make anything grow.  I hasten through the reeds and the tall grass as if I were invisible.  Just Green, nothing more.

I try to become the meadow I’m walking through.  I breathe and think like a meadow.

The horde must think I’m a weed, a vine, nothing worth paying attention to.

*How much does love weigh?  As much as a stone, a feather, a rose petal, a leaf.  It’s more than we can ever bear and less than we have the strength to carry.                                                                                                                        

*  The city is not what it once was – buildings have fallen down, parks have burned, trains still don’t run.  All the same, it’s filled with stories, far too many to count.  Too many to ever write down in a single lifetime.

*  They say our gardens are gone, but they’re wrong.  There are already roses growing outside my door.       — Pat Gerson


The best book I read in 2011 was Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden.   At the beginning the novel seems sensational rather than metaphysical even though the title refers to the fifteen decades of the Roman Catholic rosary.  And the culminating crisis in the novel is a little melodramatic but by then as a reader I didn’t care.  Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy is such an engrossing novel that all I knew was that I couldn’t stop reading.  And I left the novel filled with a sense of peace and beauty that doesn’t usual come in a novel of prostitutes, poverty, prison, and murder.    The basic plot entails the story of a French Madame and manager of a whore house who kills her lover and goes to prison for ten years and then becomes a nun in the order of Dominicans, the Sisters of Béthanie.  The main character Elizabeth Fanshawe becomes Madame Ambard, also known by the name of La Balafrée (The Branded One), and eventually Sister Marie Lise of the Rosary.  Falling into a novel and being consumed by it is an experience that I, as an academic librarian who reads for a living, don’t often have anymore. But the worlds of the story are so beautifully created that it’s impossible not to.  Although the entire novel takes place in the years following World War II, the whore house sections feel like the 19th century French nightlife represented by the artist Toulouse-Lautrec while the convent scenes transport the reader to a mysterious medieval world, and the prison scenes could have taken place during pre-revolutionary France.  Not until the very end of the novel does it strike the reader that the story is taking place in the modern 1970’s.  This sense of timelessness and time are because Sr. Maria Lise of the Rosary gives her self up completely – and eventually to God.  God does not live within time – all time is one to Him.  Our lives, like that of Sr. Marie Lise of the Rosary, move seamlessly from joy to sorrow to joy again, and within the joy there is always sorrow and within the sorrow is joy.  — Mary Kelleher

Doherty Adds More Popular Books

Doherty has approximately 100 books in the Popular Books collection.  Stop by and check out one of the new books.  Or one of the old ones which will remain on the shelf until moved into the regular collection.  The new books are:

Non-Fiction

Isay, Jane. Mom Still Likes You Best:  The Unfinished Business Between Siblings.                             

Kelley, Kitty. Oprah:  A Biography.                                   

Kissinger, Henry. On China

Lemmon, Gayle Tzernach. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

McClure, Wendy. The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Meltzer, Brad.  Heroes for my Son.             

Merrill, C.S.  Weekends with O’Keeffe

Prothero, Stephen.  God is Not One: the Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why their Differences Matter.

Roach, Margaret. And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road. 

Fiction

Jen, Gish. World and Town

Harrison, Leslie. Displacement   (poetry) 

Goldstein, Lisa. The Uncertain Places    

Patterson, James – Now You See Her

Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ritter, Josh. Bright’s Passage: a novel

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help

Holiday Reading

Here’s what the staff members of Doherty Library are reading over the Christmas Break.

Sylvia:

Olga’s Story by Stephanie Williams  

Olga grew up in Russia and lived through two world wars and the Russian Revolution.  Her family looks well off, but I’m not sure if they are nobles.  She also lived in China and maybe even America.  She at least has close family in America and Canada.  I am also not sure if she is famous for anything.

The story is neater than [this description].  It is written by her granddaughter who only met her grandmother about 3-4 times within her life.  Olga’s family is from Russia and are part of the white army.  So when the revolution started Olga was in university and her family contacted her and told her to flee.  Olga went to China and never saw her biological family again.  Even as an old woman she didn’t want the granddaughter to try to find any of Olga’s family in fear that she would be tracked down and killed.  Olga lived in England for most of her life, and the granddaughter lived in Canada.  This plus other details was in the prologue which I finally read last night.

The thing that got me was….Olga’s brother was an officer in the Tsar’s army during WWI and was one of the men treated by the Empress who gave him a saint medal as a keepsake – too cool cause that is what I researched about the Empress and her Red Cross work.

Depending on how Olga goes….my back-up is Modern Middle East by David Sorenson.  I am very curious about the Middle East, and this author doesn’t seem boring and he covers the information in an interesting way (I only read p 123).

We shall see…..This could all change tomorrow.

Joe:

Joe will be reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories, a book for young people by Salman Rushdie, and possibly its new companion piece, Luka and the Fire of Life. If he gets time, he will also start in on Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji, which is, in a way, his still-unopened birthday present.”

Dianne:

Recently on my way to and from work, I listened to Ken Follett’s new book Fall of Giants.  Titles I really enjoy on tape I often then read the text, and it is a different kind of experience.  Follett includes a Cast of Characters in the paper version that is most helpful because the book is a large historical novel and sometimes while listening to the reader I would lose track and say to myself,  “who is this character again?”

I always enjoy Follett’s work.  Even if at times I don’t like the setting or the subject matter of some of his books, I do enjoy the stories he tells.  I plan to read much of the book over the holidays.  We have a copy of this book in our library, in the Popular Book Collection, so check it out.

Pat:

 Adonis: selected poems

Adonis spoke at the Rothko Chapel in October and I was fortunate to attend. I plan to read his “Selected Poems” during the holidays, a book of exquisite poetry.

Nominated 3 times for the Nobel Prize in literature, Adonis, now 80, was born in Syria and fled to Lebanon in 1956 after a year’s imprisonment for political activities.  He has lived in Paris since the 1980’s. His poetry is noted for its mystical imagery in an experimental style. 

Considered one of the Arab world’s greatest living poets, his influence on Arabic literature has been likened to that of T. S. Eliot’s on English verse.  I may also read someday his prose work “Sufism and Surrealism” which is, I suppose, the blending of the contradictory. After saying all this I must say that in meeting him I found him absolutely adorable.

Obata’s Yosemite  

Another exquisite book on my holiday list is a beautifully illustrated book of paintings, woodcuts, letters & journal entries of a Japanese artist traveling through Yosemite in the 1920’s. This book came to my attention when it was featured on Ken Burn’s PBS series on Yosemite. Obata recalled his visit to Yosemite as “the greatest harvest for my whole life and future in painting.”

Obata taught art at the University of California, Berkeley, but was interned at a Japanese detention center during WWII where he organized an art school for the camp residents. After his release he returned to the university and continued teaching until his death in 1975 at the age of 90.

The life of an artist is sometimes as fascinating as the art and this is true of both Adonis and Obata.

 

 

An Old Fashion Girl by Louisa May Alcott

I always read a children’s book during the holidays.  This year I have chosen one from our reference librarian Mary Kelleher’s reading list for her MLA class “The American Girl in Literature”.  A country girl visits the big city, 19th century style.  Will she be happy?

I expect to be very cozy reading it.

Jim:

 I plan to read On Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier.  Some of this book appeared in the New Yorker with Frazier writing for the magazine as a “reporter at large”.   I am looking forward to experiencing Siberia without the mess and fuss of actually going there.  The New York Times calls it “an uproarious, sometimes dark yarn filled with dubious meals, broken-down vehicles, abandoned slave-labor camps and ubiquitous statues of Lenin — ‘On the Road’ meets ‘The Gulag Archipelago’.” You can read the complete review here at

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/books/review/Hammer-t.html 

From our Popular fiction/nonfiction display, I plan to take out Four Fish: the future of the last wild food by Paul Greenberg.

Mary:

I have not settled on what exactly I want to read yet.  I am busily stacking mental piles of books in my head.  If I tried to read them all, I wouldn’t come back to work until sometime in 2015. 

First I am eagerly watching the Popular Books Collection to see what is left when the holiday begins.  I have cast my eye particularly on Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop (15 specially commissioned mysteries by such authors as Mary Higgins Clark, Anne Perry and Lawrence Block), The Summer We Read Gatsby (Two very different sisters have to come to an agreement about what to do with their inherited Hamptons cottage), The Perfect Reader  (a daughter is named literary executor to her father’s secret love poems), The Cookbook Collector (combines corporate greed with the aesthetics of rare book collecting – which will triumph?).  I love books about books.  I am also fascinated by the Patrick McManus mystery The Huckleberry Murders, having read McManus’s belly-laugh funny “non-fiction” works such as The Night the Bear Ate the Goombaw and They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?   Then there’s also and The Anthill by E.O. Wilson (a modern day Huck Finn is transformed by the study of ants – and who wouldn’t be?) and Scout, Atticus and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird (by the child star of the movie) and Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou (I can’t resist a dog book or a dog movie) and . . . .  See what I mean?  Please come to the library and check out books from our popular collection and save me the agony of having to choose!

On the other hand, this has been a somewhat stressful semester, so I am inclined to indulge in some intellectual “cheetos” as well.  My favorite “cheetos” are regency novels, so I may gather together some of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels, make some hot chocolate or Earl Grey tea and snuggle under the comforter with the puppy and a couple of kittens and not stick my nose out the door until it’s time to come back to work.

Reading?? In a library??!?

Yes.

Doherty Library loves technology.  We have research computers and a computer lab.  We have over 130 online databases, over 40,000 online journals, and over 30,000 online books.  But . . . .

We still love to read.  Books.  That we can hold.  And we know that our patrons do too.  But, let’s face it, we’re all so busy.  Who has time to go to the public library after spending hours (and hours) of study time at Doherty?  Or if  you teach, who has the energy, after being in class, grading papers, going to meetings, and researching for the next journal article, to stop off at the public library before heading home to homework help, dinner, housework and laundry?  Or staff, you’ve been at work for at least nine hours helping students and faculty, you face a lengthy commute home, you’re tired, you’re hungry.  Do you really want to try to get to the public library — if you can find one open?

Well Doherty Library has the solution!  We have instituted a new, small, popular fiction and non-fiction collection.  As you enter the library, the books are located to your left in the main lobby on display shelves.

Sponsored by the Friends of Doherty Library, these titles are available for circulation to students, faculty, staff, the Friends of Doherty Library and UST alumni.   You can check out these books for four weeks with renewals possible.  Every month, new titles will be added until we have 100 books in this circulating collection.  Doherty librarians and staff  have made a pledge of honor we will not check out the books until the community has had a chance to read them (but we can only contain ourselves for so long so stop by soon).

And there’s more!

There’s a quiet, little corner for reading the new books (or newspapers, magazines, or anything else you want).  We have created a “reading nook” in the silent reading room where you can relax, drink coffee (or tea),  and read to your heart’s content.  We hope you’ll take some time out of your busy schedules to stop in, sit a spell and rejuvenate yourself with a fun book.

Holiday Reading

Here’s our annual list of what members of the Doherty Library staff will be reading over the Christmas break:

Anna Shparberg, Weekend Reference Librarian
I’ll try to finish The Argumentative Indian by the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. It argues that the tradition of discussing and questioning authorities as well as multiculturalism lie at the root of the Indian national identity. They make it possible for India to maintain its status as the world’s largest democracy, in spite of its many challenges and flaws. I am also planning to read The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, one of the classics of Japanese literature. It was written by a court lady in Heyan-era Japan (10th-11th centuries AD.) And I’ve ordered a bunch of out-of-print Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Garner from Amazon.

Pat Gerson, Acquisitions
I’m looking forward to reading Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne. It was published as a spin off from the recent motion picture Bright Star about John Keats and his romance with Fanny Brawne before his tragic death from tuberculosis at the age of 25.
The letters he wrote to Fanny are celebrated as “among the most beautiful love letters ever written in the English language”.

“It seems to me that a few more moments of thought of you would uncrystallize and dissolve me…”

“You have ravish’d me away by a power I cannot resist.”

“I kiss’d your Writing over in the hope you had indulg’d me by leaving a trace of honey.”

“I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your Loveliness and the hour of my death.”

I may also read his Selected Letters. Keats wrote to family and friends frequently about his observations on life, ideas, poetry, and the imagination. His letters were considered by T.S. Eliot as “the most notable and the most important ever written by any English poet”.

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the human heart’s affection and the truth of imagination – What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth – whether it existed before or not…….The imagination may be compared to Adam’s Dream – he awoke and found it true.”

Dianne Dallman, Acquisitions Librarian
For the holidays I picked up, once again, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I enjoy stories with characters that are transformed by the power of love and Quoyle, the main character, is one of those.

Joe Goetz, Information Literacy Librarian
These days I am an avid browser of The Baby Book by Dr. Sears. It’s a big, comprehensive guide to taking care of a child from birth to 2 years, with a terrific index and a reassuring tone that helps my own well-being tremendously. On the same general topic with a very different perspective, I’m reading The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life by Alison Gopnik. It uses recent research on infants to show how the open, curious infant mindset is more advanced than people think, and how the infant perspective is essential to any “adult” worldview. I plan on rereading an amazing, beautiful book of poetry, Displacement, by my friend Leslie Harrison, which won the Bakeless prize from the Breadloaf Writers Conference this year. I am continuing on-again off-again with The Canterbury Tales, for which I’m using a Norton Critical edition of selected tales with easy-to-read marginal notes. I’m currently on “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”. Finally, P.G. Wodehouse is helping me drive long distances with his Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, which I am listening to again after rereading I don’t know how many times. For Wodehouse fans, it’s the one where Bertie grows a moustache and has to escape Stilton Cheesewright’s jealous rage over Florence Craye while helping Aunt Dahlia pass off a fake pearl necklace to Uncle Tom despite the meddling of Roderick Spode, alias Lord Sidcup. It really helps the miles to pass.

Father George Hosko, C.S.B., Inter-Library Loan Librarian
I am reading God, Philosophy, Universities by Alasdair MacIntyre. The author is a renowned philosopher and a convert to Catholicism.

Natalie Aquila, Circulation Supervisor
I will be reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers over the holiday. The title reeled me, it sounded so forlorn and melodramatic. I became familiar with Carson McCullers’ work and style after reading her novel, The Ballad of the Sad Café. McCullers’, like her contemporary Flannery O’Connor, belongs to the Southern Gothic tradition. McCullers’ characters are generally emotionally or physically disfigured and their circumstances are often dire, yet the vivacity with which she brings them to life is worth the melancholy story line. I can’t wait to start reading!

Sylvia Coy, Circulation Supervisor
I do have a couple of books I will be scanning like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. (Funny I never read this book from the 80’s, and I saw it in our collection and grabbed it.) There is another book I checked out from our children’s collection which will be perfect before bed: Brother Can You Spare a Dime: the Great Depression 1929-1933. My true goal is to read Proved Innocent: the Story of Gerry Conlon of the Guilford Four (ILL from Fr. Hosko). This became the movie In the Name of the Father with Daniel Day-Lewis).

Mary Kelleher, Public Services Librarian
I haven’t decided yet what I will be reading over the holidays (except that I will reread Pride and Prejudice which I do about once a year). I am in the mood for some beauty so I think I will read the poetry of Mary Oliver and May Sarton. I’m also in the mood for something light and funny (and easy to read), so I hope to finally get to Dewey: the Small Time Cat Who Touched the World. Another wise animal novel I have been meaning to read is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

James Piccininni, Library Director
I recently read that the Orient Express has been scheduled to take its final trip in mid-December. The fact that this historic train will no longer run has caused me to revisit Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. From the NPR website:

“The historic Orient Express — that’s the one that was established back in the 1880’s — that took you from Paris or London to Istanbul.”

“The train was the scene of many adventures, both real and imagined, in its 126 year history. [Rick] Steves says a murder occurred aboard the Orient Express in 1929 while the train was stuck in a snowstorm about 70 miles outside Istanbul. That crime inspired Christie’s famous mystery novel, Murder on the Orient Express.”

“Steves points out that there are actually two Orient Expresses. The one that people probably think of now is a tour company that renovates 1930’s-era cars and takes people from London to Venice. It’s the other Orient Express that’s taking its final trip.” For more, go to the NPR website.

Doherty Summer Reading Program Returns

honey_beeDoherty Summer Reading Program returns for the second year, and we’re reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  Anyone who’s grown up in the South will relate to the images of moist, humid heat in the novel which takes place in South Carolina in the summer of 1964.  Sweat drips down backs just as condensation drips down glasses of ice water.  There’s a sweetness in the air mixed with damp earthiness in the cloying humidity.  The main character, fourteen year old Lily Owens, spends most of her days working in the honey house or sleeping in the un-airconditioned room connected to it.  She’s come to this place, where three Black women known as “the calendar girls” produce Black Madonna honey, in search of her mother and her self.

The Secret Life of Bees is definitely a woman centered book, and the characters depend upon a woman centered theology, grounded in the person of the Virgin Mother, to hold everything together.  Told from the point of view of a female, the story is still a universal one of growing up and accepting the dark side of life, one’s parents and one’s self.  (Sorry guys if the book seems too girly.  I promise next year we’ll read Truck: a Love Story or something else manly.)

Our first event is Thursday, May 28th at 4:00 in Doherty Library for light refreshments including among other items coca-cola and salted peanuts, peaches, pimento cheese, honey and bananas.  On Thursday June 25th we’ll have our first discussion at the Black Lab, and on Thursday July 30th we’ll have a viewing of the recent film and discussion (place to be announced).  You do not have to attend all the events to participate.

We will have incentive prizes at the May 28th event.  Please contact kellehm@stthom.edu or 713-525-3891 for more information.

Holiday Reading

Here’s what the Doherty Library Staff are reading over the Christmas Break

Ron Drees, Archivist

I plan to read Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea and learn about Sherman’s contribution to the Union victory. Also Among the Dead Cities, a moral review of the Allied bombing campaigns of WW II.

Pat Gerson, Acquisitions

I plan to finish Zoro’s Field: my life in the Appalachian woods by Thomas Rain Crowe, a Thoreau wannabe, who spent 3 or 4 years in a small cabin in the woods in North Carolina. A poet, associated with the San Francisco “baby beats”, he returns home to North Carolina and decides “you can go home again”. He refers to a nature writer Donald C. Peattie and I’d like to read his book Flowering Earth (1939) a poetic and philosophical description of plant life. He was apparently a widely read popular nature writer during his time and noted for his poetic writing. The library has several of his books but this is my first encounter with him. And lastly I want to read Studs Terkels’s memoir Touch and Go. Studs, who died recently at age 96, is the voice of Chicago, my former hometown, and I clearly understand his language. His books like Hard Times and Working are noted for their interviews with ordinary people about their lives. I usually like to read a children’s classic during the holidays, perhaps Anne of Green Gables or another by the same author Emily of New Moon. I’m looking forward to some very enjoyable reading this holiday.

Rev. George Hosko C.S.B., Inter-Library Loan Librarian

I am looking forward to reading Faith, Reason and the War against Jihadism by George Weigel. I need to be informed about the battle of ideas which are involved in this war.

Mary Kelleher, Reference and Instruction

I am in the middle of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd right now (I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time and must do so before I can see the movie). When I finish that I plan to read Mr. Ive’s Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos. I don’t know anything about it really except that any person who’s mentioned that I should read it (and there has been several) has done so with a glowing face and a breathless “it’s the greatest book.” I always like to reread an old favorite during the slow, quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s, and this year I have a hankering for Paradise Lost. I’ve just read Milton’s “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” to prepare for Christmas.

Dale Stewart, Circulation Supervisor

I just started Survivor: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. If that goes fast I might also check out The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I’m sure either of these would make a great addition to anyone’s holiday reading list.

James Piccininni, Director

I am reading Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.   This book covers the psychological effects and physiological aspects regarding the brain and music, and it has succeeded at being both informative and interesting.  Oliver Sacks brought us Awakenings a nonfiction book about the use of L-DOPA on victims of catatonic  syndrome (the movie starred Robin Williams and Robert De Niro).  Not exactly holiday reading, so I’ll steer clear of Awakenings and instead reach for Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron.     

Join Us for Summer Reading at Doherty

On Pilgrimmage by Jennifer Lash is Chosen for 2008 Summer Reading. 

Program kick-off date: May 29, 2008

Looking for a good read this summer?  We invite students, faculty and staff to read with us during Doherty library’s first annual summer reading project.  Our book of choice this time is the travel memoir On Pilgrimage by Jennifer Lash (available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and elsewhere).

What’s it about? On Pilgrimage is the story of a journey that novelist Jennifer Lash takes alone after she was diagnosed and treated for cancer.  Lash is a lapsed Catholic who left the Church when she opted for sterilization after the birth of her seventh child.  Lash speaks with great admiration and respect for the Faith and the faithful.  There is nothing polemic, dogmatic or heretical for either Catholics or non-Catholics, but sensitive readers should be aware that on a pilgrimage through Europe, Lash visits places important to the Catholic faith and that Lash does not always present orthodox theology.  Lash is the mother of the actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.  Since the publication of the book, Lash has passed away.

Summer Reading Events:  The summer reading program will kick off Thursday May 29th with a free luncheon from 12-1pm at Doherty.  Book discussions will follow at the Black Lab beginning at 5:15 on Thursday June 26th and continuing on Thursday July 24th (Black Lab events are “BYOBA” – Buy your own beer and appetizers!). 

Program packets and cool door prizes will be given out at the May 29th luncheon in Doherty library.  So join us for some summer reading fun!
 
To register contact the Reference Department at 713-525-2188 or reference@stthom.edu
     
 

 

Mary & Rachel

 

 

Our Holiday Reading Lists

What are you reading this Christmas?


Jim Piccininni, Library Director:

I am currently reading China Road: a Journey into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford. Gifford, who lived in China for several years as an NPR Correspondent, embarks on a road trip across China traveling a continuous stretch of roadway known as Route 312. The book is a fascinating description of his journey along Route 312 as he makes his way from thriving Shanghai to the western border at Kazakhstan.  As Gifford writes in chapter three: “In the Western mind, a road trip conjures up images of the 1950’s and ‘60s, of Jack Kerouac, of beatniks and hippies hitting the road to find themselves, or lose themselves, whichever they need to do. In China, traveling by highway is a very new phenomenon, and Chinese people have not yet fallen in love with the open road. Rather, it is a marriage of convenience. They are traveling mainly out of necessity, to find work, in order to feed themselves and their families…”
Still, there is a hint of “Kerouac” thrown into China Road and Gifford also gives ample insights into Chinese culture, history and politics.  The author skillfully takes conversations he has had with a variety of Chinese citizens, and together with some interesting anecdotes, successfully entertains and enlightens the reader.  If you want to travel to modern day China, but lack either the time or money to do so, then China Road can serve as your exit visa out of the West and directly into this dynamic Asian society.

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Rev. George Hosko C.S.B., Inter-Library Loan and Archives:

“I like to read the insightful articles found in First Things: A Journal of Religion.”

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Dr. Mary Kelleher, Reference and Periodicals:

“Over the holiday I hope to FINALLY get to Maeve Binchey’s newest book, Whitethorn Woods. In this book Binchey returns to her familiar themes of Catholic traditions and the modernization (and secularization) of Ireland. Thus in a small town in Ireland a battle erupts between believers and non-believers over the destruction of a local shrine in order to make way for a new highway. In another return, this time to format, Binchey, in order to tell the story, combines the personal tales of a variety of characters and as Publisher’s Weekly says “orchestrates it into a masterful whole.”

I would also like to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, as I am now reading Mad Cowboy: The Plain Truth From the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat. The author of the latter, Howard F. Lyman, is the rancher who appeared on the Oprah Show that got her sued by Texas ranchers for defamatory statements about meat.

And I should add, that I usually end up re-reading Pride and Prejudice sometime over the Christmas break. I don’t necessarily intend to, but it happens.”

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Lisa McNamara, Reference and Instruction:

“With the semester finally winding down, I’m looking forward to relaxing at home with my cats and curling up with some good books. Lately I’ve been in the mood for animal stories, so I’m definitely going to read Cleveland Amory’s The Cat Who Came for Christmas and The Cat and the Curmudgeon. Last year, I read Amory’s Ranch of Dreams, which we have at Doherty, and I loved it!

In the fiction category, I’m a bit undecided, but I’ll probably read Richard Russo’s Empire Falls and some low-key British mysteries. For nonfiction, I’d like to read Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti and beyond.”

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Rachel Matre, Reference and Instruction:

I’m currently reading the novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It is the story of two magicians who emerge in England during the time of the Napoleonic wars. Mr. Strange, the younger and less experienced magician, becomes Mr. Norrell’s pupil. But soon Strange feels confined under Norrell’s tutelage. Their differences lead them to part ways and become rivals. I don’t want to give too much of this wonderful adventure away, so I’ll just add one more thing: Don’t mess with faeries – they are not nice!

What’s next? As usual I have a pile to choose from. First on my list is the nonfiction Her Majesty’s Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage by Stephen Budiansky. I recently read Joanna Denny’s biography Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen and think I will find the intrigues of her daughter’s reign interesting. A couple of weeks ago I listened to an interview with Katherine Ashenburg on NPR which made me want to read her book The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History. As the title implies it’s a social history on standards of cleanliness. From Doherty, I have just checked out Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants (Robert Sullivan). Those three are my non-fiction picks for the holiday.

Under the category “guilty pleasures,” I have Sarah Dunant’s novel In the Company of the Courtesan. It’s a historical romance set in 16th century Venice.

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Pat Gerson, Acquisitions:

“I’m looking forward to a relaxing, peaceful holiday and hope to find some cozy, comfortable books to read. First I’ll start with Louisa May Alcott’s Flower Fables, a book about fairies dedicated to one of the Emerson children in Concord during those “American Bloomsbury” days. Speaking of fairies, I’ll probably look at Cicely Mary Barker‘s wonderful illustrations of fairies and flowers from her Flower Fairies series. And speaking of Louisa May Alcott, there’s a mystery series The Louisa May Alcott Mysteries written by Anna Maclean where Louisa solves all kinds of interesting mysteries.

For even more peace and tranquility I might try Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China (translated by David Hinton).

And I’m sure I will want to read Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas In Wales to my grandson again this year. There’s not much here that’s either academic or mentally taxing but I promised myself a lot of pure fantasy this year.”

Catholic Fiction Blog

Doherty Librarian Dr. Mary Kelleher Moderates Catholic Fiction Blog

Looking for some new leisure reading? Or an online meeting place to discuss old favorites? Check out the Catholic Fiction Blog. On the site, Mary makes suggestions to anyone looking for something good to read. “Because little is written about “Catholic fiction” in other venues, I have chosen this as my theme.” Read the blog to see how she defines “Catholic fiction.” Anyone is welcome to comment on the page and make recommendations of their own favorites.

Mary