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What We’re Reading

The Outsiders – It’s What We’re Reading

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering reviews from the Drexel Library staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton

One of my favorite books is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It elaborates on the saying “stay gold” meaning to always stay true to yourself. That saying has stuck with me for years now. It’s an easy read but has a lot of lessons inside.

The Outsiders is available in the CMC Children’s Literature section on the second floor of the Drexel Library.

Student employee reviewed

–  Julia Donahue

Fledgling – It’s What We’re Reading

 

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering reviews from the Drexel Library staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Fledgling

Fledgling
By Octavia Butler

Shori wakes up in a cave not remembering anything about herself or her life. She realizes that she is recovering from extremely grave injuries, including severe burns and gunshot wounds, and that she is hungry. Upon recovering enough to leave the cave, Shori finds the nearby site of a small community, destroyed by fire and a gun battle, from which she must have escaped. Through subsequent experiences finding nourishment and interacting with humans, Shori learns that she is a vampire. She must use her skills, her fragmented memory, and human help to find vampire role models, and figure out how to live as a vampire, and with vampires and human symbionts. While learning about herself, her history, and her family, Shori has to keep herself and her human and vampire family members from being killed. She is determined to find out who is trying to kill her and her family and why, and bring the killers to justice.

Fledgling is available on the Second Floor of the Drexel Library.

The Library also owns three other books by Octavia Butler: Kindred, Bloodchild and other stories, and Parable of the Sower.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – It’s What We’re Reading

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering reviews from the Drexel Library staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics is not an area of interest the average person would devote any time to learning about, but many people, at one time or another, have looked up at the stars and wondered about what goes on deep in the cosmos and have contemplated humanity’s place in the universe. If you think you need to have an extensive scientific background to read and understand this book, guess what? You don’t.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is written for the average person. This book is nothing like the typical snooze-worthy scientific tomes that fail to capture the interest of the average person. Much of the subject matter can be grasped by anyone.

The book is an intriguing and thought-provoking read interlaced with a generous helping of humor, information, and simplified examples. The book does not go off on tangents but stays on track with each topic. Neil deGrasse Tyson has written a clear, concise, and entertaining book that Geeks and non-Geeks will both enjoy.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is available in the Popular Reading section on the first floor of the Post Learning Commons.

–  Michael D. Brooks

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind – It’s What We’re Reading

bookworm
August 2017

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Astrophysics for people in a hurry

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind

Zack Whedon.

For fans of the television show Firefly, and the subsequent movie Serenity, this book is a nice follow-up. And if you’ve never watched the TV show or seen the movie, you don’t need to in order to follow the events depicted in the book.

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is a graphic novel depicting the adventures of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a former soldier who fought a war for his planet’s independence in a losing effort against the Alliance. Reynolds is now captain of the Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship he calls home. Reynolds leads a mostly loyal crew of misfits, outlaws, and a few with dubious pasts who defiantly operate outside of the laws of the Alliance earning a living transporting contraband and eking out an existence on their own terms.

Following the events of the movie, Malcolm and his surviving friends and crew are in hiding after revealing a sinister secret the Alliance has been desperately trying to keep hidden, all the while chasing his ship in an attempt to retrieve one of his crew who was the subject of another clandestine experiment. The crew of the Serenity is eventually forced out of hiding to find help for one of their own who is eventually taken into custody and stranded in a prison on a desert planet to die.

Chased by bounty hunters, the Alliance military forces, and a band of freedom fighters inspired by his crew’s exploits, Malcolm is forced to make a tenuous alliance with a former enemy in order to save his friend and elude capture by the Alliance. But in doing so, they clash with old enemies, make new ones, and stumble upon yet another black-ops project being conducted by the Alliance.

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is available in the Popular Reading section on the first floor of the Post Learning Commons.

Reviewed by Michael D. Brooks

Commonwealth: a novel – It’s What We’re Reading


June 2017

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Commonwealth: a novel

Commonwealth

by Ann Patchett

“The Christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin” – from this opening line that sparks the curiosity of the reader, leaving them hungry for details, Commonwealth, the latest novel from seasoned writer Ann Patchett, does not disappoint. A story of two families the Keatings and Cousins, simultaneously torn apart and pieced together by divorce and remarriage. The characters, made almost real by Patchett, survive various alliances and betrayals, and through the years develop various coping skills. In the end, it all seems to be about acceptance, and for each family member, there’s a unique spin, a way that this quality makes the most sense for their journey and where they are at this point in their life. In sum, a heartwarming story of families and the flawed characters who are part of them.

This book is part of the Library collection and can be found on the second floor book stacks.

A Gentleman in Moscow — It’s What We’re Reading


March 2017

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

A member of the Russian aristocracy, spared only by the act of having lent his well-connected name to a friend’s counter-revolutionary poem, Count Rostov is sentenced to life imprisonment in a Moscow hotel. Through the lens of the Metropol Hotel and the lives of the people who work there, he witnesses the shocking political and social upheaval taking place in Russia from 1922 through the 1950’s – the rise of communism, the death of Lenin, then Stalin, and the power struggle that followed. This is a book about finding grace in reconciling to one’s fate without becoming resigned to it, and surviving long enough to find one’s purpose.

A Gentleman in Moscow can be found in the Popular Reading Section on the first floor of the Post Learning Commons.

Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right – It’s What We’re Reading


January 2017

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right

Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right

Arlie Russell Hochschild.

This month we are highlighting the selection for the SJU Book Club. The club welcomes all members of the SJU community—students, faculty and staff—to participate. The Book Club is a faculty-staff collaborative effort to engage the community in reading and discussing books which explore our social consciousness and personal identity.

The first meeting will take place during free period (11am-12:15 pm) on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, in the Presidents’ Lounge in Campion.

In “Strangers in Their Own Land” Sociologist and UC–Berkeley professor emerita Arlie Russel Hochschild explores parts of the United States that are considered centers of the conservative right. The author interviews a variety of residents of Louisiana such as mayors, salesmen, pastors, truck drivers, plant operators, and many others. She is looking to solve what she describes as the Great Paradox: How can a state that has lower life-expectancy, more divorce, lower school enrollment, environmental pollution, (namely those that could benefit from federal aid) dislike government assistance and regulation?

Hochschild delves into this question by crossing what she calls the “empathy wall.” The author is interested in finding out not only why people have certain beliefs but also listening to the anger and frustration of those who believe they have been forgotten. Hochschild’s results of this five-year study are illuminating in the effort to understand America’s political divide.

Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right is available at the Front Desk in the Drexel Library as well as electronically.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible : a marvelous memoir – It’s What We’re Reading


December 2016

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Amazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir

Amazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir

Stan Lee and Peter David and Colleen Doran.

Amazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir is a fun read for fans of Stan Lee, superheroes, comic books, or graphic novels. This autobiographical work is told and illustrated in the manner befitting an icon like Stan Lee. Born of humble beginnings, Stan Lee begins by describing his early life and progresses through to current day.

The illustrations are done in the style associated with superhero comics with occasional panels that pay homage to their anime cousin.

Not only does Stan Lee describe his life, but he discusses the ups and downs of the early days of the comic book publishing industry. Stan Lee began his career at a time when comics were still viewed as reading material for children. He talks about how the industry was nearly eradicated in the early days of the Senator Joseph McCarthy era to the industry developing its own standards of self-regulation to finally discovering a niche that did not cater exclusively to children but to adult readers who gravitated to the more mature storylines of their favorite superheroes.

Stan Lee created some of the most iconic heroes like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, and Captain America. And like those heroes, has become an icon in his own right. In addition to talking about his life and the evolution of the comic book industry, Stan Lee also gives writers and potential writers useful advice on how to become a writer.

Stan Lee nearly single-handedly transformed an entire industry from something that was once believed to be a genre for children into one where adult readers could enjoy and relate to.

Amazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir is available in the Popular Reading section of the Library’s collection on the first floor of the Post Learning Commons.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – It’s What We’re Reading


October 2016

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth.

Angela Duckworth, PhD, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has a biography that is, at least to me, intimidating. However, I would posit that Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is anything but. I found the book to be easily readable, as Duckworth employed a multiplicity of creative techniques to make her points.

From a study on the national spelling bee selection process that looks at whether grit may or may not be playing a role in who makes it to the list of finalists and then on to the eventual winners, to rating a group of historical individuals noted for their intelligence in order to drive home a point about the grit factor, the reports and interviews are interesting, varied and sometimes very personal to the point of being touching.

There are stories of modern individuals, some of whom have achieved name recognition throughout the world for their achievements. Will Smith, actor and musician, is quoted from this interview and he nails it. And while it’s unclear whether Smith is speaking literally of working out from this clip, the fact that we all know who he is, leaves no doubt that he applies this attitude to much more than the treadmill.

Learning to be flexible with mid-level goals, willing to discard them even, is necessary if we really want to achieve the larger goal or goals we have set for ourselves. At that point, applying the grit factor gives you a good recipe for success in something that is important to you.

While reading this book, I found myself thinking about my current pursuits as well as unmet goals I am passionate about and what steps I might need to achieve success in them. If you find yourself thinking the same for yourself or how some of these concepts could be applied to your repertoire of parenting skills, you may want to take a look at Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, and see what you think. Don’t just take my word for it. You can find this book in the Popular Reading section, 1st Floor Lounge of the PLC.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – It’s What We’re Reading


June 2016

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari.

Sapiens provides a truly thought-provoking “big picture” look at history all the way back to the dawn of our species.

Harari describes three revolutions which brought about dramatic changes to human societies. First is the Cognitive revolution, about 70,000 years ago, which enabled humans to develop speech, which in turn lead to cooperation and the spread of the species around the world. About 11,000 years ago, the Agricultural revolution caused most human groups to settle down and build houses, organizing themselves into ever larger communities and developing governments. The Scientific revolution, beginning a mere 500 years ago, unleashed the powerful forces of imperialism and capitalism and lead to our modern, technology-driven lifestyle.

Together these revolutions have made Sapiens the most successful species ever, but also the most dangerous. Harari argues, in fact, that the average individual today probably has a lower general happiness level than his hunter-gatherer ancestor. Towards the end of the book Harari strays into future prediction, perhaps less successfully. Up to that point, however, the book is so fascinating it is well worth the time to read it.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is available in the Popular Reading section of the Post Learning Commons.