Today's Hours

What We’re Reading

Tolkien's Modern Middle Ages – It's What We're Reading


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

11/23/63 Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages
Jane Chance and Alfred K. Siewers, eds.

This December brings the second installment of The Hobbit to theaters. It is timely to look at the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Most scholarship focuses on the internal aspects of Tolkien mythology and his fictional world. Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages, however, directs its focus to Tolkien’s often overlooked scholarly works and interests. Though he laid the foundations for Middle Earth in the trenches during the First World War, he continued this side interest while a professor of Old English, Middle English, and philology, where he brought forth lasting translations and studies of core literary and historical works. The essays in Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages look to Tolkien’s fascination with the medieval world, its languages and peoples, and his inclusion of motifs, language, imagery, and cultural values of this period in his literary works.

These studies cover a wide array of topics and questions. Some look to whether Tolkien really continued the tradition of previous and contemporary authors and artists, including Tennyson and Wagner, in utilizing medieval motifs and themes. Some assess the desire of Tolkien to create his own world that opposed the modern by setting it in opposition to the far distant medieval past; the industrial and mechanical world of Mordor and the Orcs threatens the medieval landscape and culture of the Elves and Hobbits. These scholars expand this inquiry to assess Tolkien’s views of ecology and environmentalism that are potentially displayed in the same medieval versus modern debate; the Ents and Elves protect the forests and natural world while the Orcs tear them down to fuel industry for military expansion.

Did Tolkien simply extend upon Victorian era medieval literary and artistic works? Did he create a new appreciation for medieval cultures through violent comparison with the modern world? Did he seek to wage a larger philosophical battle between the two worlds in an attempt to idealize the medieval, or perhaps simply from nostalgic longing? On the other hand, is Tolkien best read as a spearhead in the development of modern fantasy and science fiction?

This work is interesting reading for anyone interested in Tolkien’s works, medievalists looking to assess the treatment of the past by modern literary works and popular culture, and for those curious about the placement of Middle Earth in the development of the fantasy and science fiction genres.

This book can be found on the Second Floor of the Library. The call number is: PR6039.O32 Z6224 2009.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – It's What We're Reading


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

11/23/63 The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first novel for adults in eight years. It’s short, at 182 pages, and difficult to put down. It reads like a short story and left me wanting to spend more time in Gaiman’s mythological and nightmarish world.

Our narrator is an unnamed and friendless 7 year-old boy who prefers reading to people. He plays with his kitten, ignores an annoying younger sister, and immerses himself in adventures that pull him into the pages of his beloved books. This boy is frightened of almost everything, especially adults, with their changing moods and the masks he believes they peel away to reveal their darkest sides. A series of events upend his safe, quiet world and the boy finds himself with his first friend and protector, eleven year-old Lettie Hempstock,a girl who may be as old as time. The boy’s curiosity and disobedience result in the unleashing of a monster bent on controlling and destroying his family.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a story about the vulnerability and defenselessness of children. Beautifully written, Gaiman draws you into a world of memory, mystery and magic.

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

How to Save a Life – It's What We're Reading


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

11/23/63 How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr

Jill, a high school senior in Denver, is struggling in the wake of her father’s sudden death the previous year. She is not at all pleased when her mother decides to channel her own grief into adopting an infant, and invites Mandy, a pregnant teenager from Iowa, to come live with them until the baby is born. Told in alternating voices by outraged Jill and reticent Mandy, this story is truly riveting.

This book can be found in the Children’s Literature collection on the second floor of the Library in the Curriculum Materials Center (CMC). The call number is PZ7.Z26715 H69 2011.

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.