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What We’re Reading

Life of Pi - It's What We're Reading


September
2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

11/23/63 Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

By now, you’ve seen enough images from the award-winning movie to know that Life of Pi has something to do with an Indian boy who is in a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. What you may or may not know is that this movie is based on a book by Yann Martel — a very unusual book. But then, the boy’s name is Pi, like the irrational number, so already the stage is set for something unusual. The book reveals itself as a story told in the present about events that transpired in the past. The boy was shipwrecked; he lost his family, and somehow survived many adventures over a long period of time with a Bengal Tiger as his shipmate. Once the ordeal is over, another story is told. Which story will you believe?

Check it out. We own it in the Drexel Library.

This book can be found in the English Literature collection on the first floor of the Library. The call number is PR9199.3.M3855 L54 2001.

We have it in audiobook format as well in the Audiobook collection on the first floor of the Library. The call number is PR9199.3 .M3855 2002

11/22/63 - It's What We're Reading


August
2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

11/23/63 11/22/63: a novel
by Stephen King

We know how our world has changed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. But, what if Kennedy didn’t die? That’s the final section of 11/22/63: a novel, however, King doesn’t go right to 1963. Before we get to 1963, we have to go back and forth in history a few times with Jake Epping, a teacher, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, getting to know him. While we’re getting to know Jake, we are also getting to know how this version of time travel works, while he tries to change history in smaller ways as test runs before the big event.

The mode of time travel that King chooses isn’t your standard issue science fiction time travel machine. It’s a portal in the storage room of a diner, a portal that always opens to the same date and location, September 9, 1958 in Lisbon Falls. And the portal resets any changes made if, after leaving the past, one goes back again. In Jake’s first forays through the portal he stays in Maine, doesn’t stay long, and returns to the his own time to check on what changes he wrought on the past.

The meat of the story is really Jake’s ultimate trip, when he goes to 1958 in Maine, and stays until 1963, moving eventually to Texas with stops on the way. Jake leads a kind of dual life in the past. He has his regular daily life with work and friends, and also his hidden life where he looks into Lee Harvey Oswald’s life, visits the Texas School Book Depository, and does other research, getting prepared to try to stop Oswald from assassinating JFK. No spoilers here, though, so if you want to know what happens you’ll have to read 11/22/63: a novel.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.

Wedding Night - It's What We're Reading

 
July  
2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Wedding Night  Wedding Night
by Sophie Kinsella

Save some brain cells and sit back with a great read that will have you giggling, and on the edge of your seat (or beach towel) waiting to find out what happens next in Lottie’s love life. Enjoy Lottie’s adventure of love and all the “easy” things that go along with a relationship as she anticipates a proposal of marriage and instead gets a proposal for a vacation abroad.

Accepting an offer by her ex-boyfriend Ben to run off with him for a little fun in the sun on a Greek island, Lottie thinks his suggestion is an offer of marriage and unwittingly gets involved in a tangled web of adventure and misadventure as their friends and family, believing the marriage is a mistake, plot to derail their plans and save her and Ben from destroying their lives and their future.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.

The Things They Cannot Say: stories soldiers won't tell you about what they've seen, done or failed to do in war – It's What We're Reading

 
June  
2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

The Things They Cannot Say: stories soldiers won’t tell you about what they’ve seen, done or failed to do in war The Things They Cannot Say: stories soldiers won’t tell you about what they’ve seen, done or failed to do in war
by Kevin Sites

During war, soldiers have to fight, witness death and destruction, and survive in a combat zone. The average person will never know or fully understand the toll these experiences have on the men and women who have.

War correspondent, Kevin sites, discusses what it is like for the soldiers who have experienced combat. In his book, The Things They Cannot Say: stories soldiers won’t tell you about what they’ve seen, done or failed to do in war, through a series of interviews, Sites explores the psychological impact war has on the combat soldier, as well as its social and moral impact on both the men who fight and the society and families they leave behind and eventually rejoin. Things are never the same for any of them.

Placed in life-or-death situations where split-second decisions, or the failure to act or react, could mean the difference between living or dying, and sometimes result in catastrophic mistakes, ordinary men and women find themselves in situations no one should find themselves in. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is just the beginning of the aftermath of their experiences.

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood – It's What We're Reading

 
May  
2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood
by James Gleick

In his latest work, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, James Gleick discusses the recognition and role of information, as well as its communication and storage, culminating with its seemingly endless and inescapable modern appearance. Gleick guides us through the long-developing chain of understanding and technological progress from the earliest writing, to the supercomputer, to the current devices we carry in our pockets. Gleick continues until arriving at our stage on the continuum of developments in the communication and accessibility of information, and what’s more, of the very idea and understanding of what “information” entails.

The Information tells of the human endeavor to transmit, compile, and store data on all matters deemed necessary and those which only later find importance and usefulness. Communication systems, beginning with written language, foster the means through which we transmit information across distances and ever-widening audiences. Each communication type in turn spawns peripheral developments to standardize, regulate, “fool-proof” (and sometimes encode), and increase efficiency.

The Information is highly recommended for anyone interested in seeing how dictionaries, logarithms, telegraphs, supercomputers, and smart phones share a common bond, compounding centuries of work and desires for progress in the field of information transmission, storage, accessibility, and the unending desire to do all things faster.

This book can be found in the First Floor Book Shelves in the South Wing on the first floor of the Library.

Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion – It's What We're Reading

 
April  
2013

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

A Buddha in the Attic Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion
by Janet Reitman

Whether you view Scientology as a con, a cult, or a religion, its history is endlessly fascinating, as evidenced by the number of recent newspaper and magazine articles, books, and websites on the subject. Rumors of brainwashing, spying, kidnapping, stalking, and even torture have followed Scientology for years, but only in the last decade have details on the church’s core beliefs and recruitment tactics come to light in the mainstream media. Rollingstone contributing editor Janet Reitman has written Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion, one of the latest in a series of recent books on L. Ron Hubbard’s mysterious movement.

Equally entertaining and frightening, Inside Scientology grew out of Reitman’s five years researching the subject, leading to a lengthy 2006 Rollingstone article and eventually this book. Reitman’s talent for interviewing current and former members and skill in accessing classified church documents gives an authenticity to information that would otherwise be considered so outlandish that it borders on comical. Although not quite as detailed as Lawrence Wright’s more recent Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Inside Scientology is an extensive accounting of the controversial religion’s first 60 years. It’s hard to put down.

A Gift of Hope – It's What We're Reading


March 2013

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

A Gift of Hope A Gift of Hope
by Danielle Steel

New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel tells her own story in this brief, but heart wrenching book. After the suicide of her beloved son Nick who was diagnosed with bipolar disease, and the break-up of her marriage, she prayed for guidance. God hears her prayer and gives an answer, not the one she hoped for, but one she cannot deny.
Danielle worked anonymously for 11 years with a small group of friends to help the homeless. Her group eventually became known as Yo! Angel! They chose to go out after dark once a month. What started with two vans filled with socks, gloves, coats and sleeping bags for 100, would later become three vans filled with black gym bags (with the addition of food, toiletries and teddy bears) for 300.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.

The Buddha in the Attic – It’s What We’re Reading

 
February  
2013

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

A Buddha in the Attic The Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka gives us a gift in this small, but very special novel.  Her short lines of prose are more like poetry, and when all of these short lines are taken together, they produce clear, vital, and beautiful images.  The novel presents the story of ‘Japanese picture brides’, who leave Japan and the harsh circumstances under which they live, to come to America in search of a better life.  It is the American story — but decades later it turns into a nightmare after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

These women, most of whom have tried so hard to assimilate into the American culture, suddenly live in fear as they hear of stories of deportation to Japanese internment camps. Julie Otsuka based some of her writing on historical narratives, and she divides the book into eight sections to show the struggle and triumph of these remarkable women, challenged in every conceivable way.  The book and their story is heartbreaking, uplifting, and unforgettable.

The Buddha in the Attic was the 2013 One Book One Philadelphia selection.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.

Death Comes to Pemberley – It’s What We’re Reading


January
2013

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Remainder
Death Comes to Pemberley
By P.D. James

P.D. James is well known for her crime fiction (“Original Sin”, “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”) so it should come as no surprise that she should bring murder to the idyllic home of Pemberley. For Austen fans, Pemberley is familiar as the estate of Fitzwilliam Darcy, one of the main characters of Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice”. “Death at Pemberley” picks up the story a few years after Darcy and heroine Elizabeth Bennet marry. The couple is happily living with their children on the Pemberley estate, hosting an annual ball and remaining respectable members of the community.

“Pride and Prejudice” did have its morally questionable characters and they become the focus of the murder investigation in “Death at Pemberley.” The incorrigible George Wickham and his wife Lydia Bennet are en route to Pemberley with their friend, Captain Denny. Wickham and Denny have a disagreement, causing Denny to jump from the carriage into the woods. Wickham is found later sobbing over the deceased Captain Denny, with Darcy, Elizabeth and the community wondering exactly what happened. Despite Darcy’s previous experiences with Wickham, he cannot believe Wickham is guilty of such a crime.

Throughout the book, P.D. James keeps the writing in a sort of Austean prose, highlighting the social etiquette of the time. James also finds a way to weave in other Austen books, noting the current state of characters from “Persuasion” and “Emma.” “Death Comes to Pemberley” reflects an author’s love of Jane Austen’s writing, integrated with James’ own expertise in crime fiction.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.

 

Remainder – It's What We're Reading


December
2012

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Remainder
Remainder
Tom McCarthy

To my mind, Remainder is a mystery.  From the start, the narrator /main character is recovering from a mysterious accident involving trauma to the head.  He receives a huge monetary settlement because of the accident, and how he proceeds to spend his fortune is the crux of the story.  Day by day, we follow him through a series of events that leaves us with the overriding question, WHY?  His obsessive quest to seek order in an unorderly world is both fascinating and disturbing.  If you are looking for something a bit away from the formulaic novel, this book is for you.

This book can be found in the Audio Book collection on the first floor of the Library.