Category Archives: What We’re Reading

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.

Just My Type: A Book about Fonts – It’s What We’re Reading


November
2012

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

Just My TypeJust My Type: A Book about Fonts
Simon Garfield

We are surrounded by fonts but, until recently, people outside the design community gave them little thought. Personal computers brought the word “font” into everyday use, along with a myriad of font choices available to the layperson within popular software programs. With the advent of desktop publishing came an explosion of do-it-yourself fliers, posters, invitations, zines and books, many of dubious aesthetic quality. Garfield strives to make us more aware of the consequences of font choice (our own and others’) by considering the balance of beauty and readability and what makes “good” and “bad” fonts for different purposes.  He delves into the of rich history of type and font design, acquainting us with fascinating type designers along the way. Who knew that some of those familiar names on our font dropdown menus, such as Gill, Garamond, Baskerville, and Bodoni, were real people? Garfield is a wonderful storyteller, breathing life into arcane details. Consider the struggles of the man who tried to go through an entire day avoiding the ubiquitious Helvetica font. Or try your hand at spotting anachronistic fonts in movies set in the past. The book itself is masterfully designed, of course, with numerous typeface illustrations. Brief “Fontbreaks” between chapters focus on the curious history of particular fonts, including a sample paragraph in the type under discussion. Because of the importance of the illustrative matter to this topic, I would suggest you seek out the print version of this title rather than the audiobook.

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

The World of Downton Abbey – It’s What We’re Reading


October 
2012

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

The World of Downtown Abbey
The World of Downton Abbey
Jessica Fellows

American television audiences have been captivated for the past two seasons by the upstairs and downstairs lives portrayed in the fictional Downton Abbey <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/>on PBS’ Masterpiece <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/index.html>. Unfortunately, the end of each series has left us wanting to know more about our favorite characters, the actors involved and British Society during the early 20th Century. Well, Jessica Fellowes, the niece of the Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes (Screenwriting Oscar for Gosford Park), has come to our rescue with her companion title. It is well researched, written and illustrated with photographs from throughout the series production. Some of the interesting topics that she covers include: family, society, style, life in service and the estate house. There is even a behind the scenes look at the program. Reading this book is an enjoyable way to prepare for the continuation of the drama’s next chapter in 2013.
Highclere Castle <http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/> is used for the filming of the fictional Downton Abbey.

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

Sunset Park - It’s What We’re Reading

September 2012

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

Sunset Part

Sunset Park
Paul Auster
In the first dark months after the 2008 economic collapse, Miles Heller moves to Sunset Park, Brooklyn after his marriage collapses because of his own infidelity and inattention. The cast of characters he finds there are all of the ghosts of contemporary America, young squatters in an apartment building, a young “trash-out” worker photographing abandoned objects left behind by evicted families, an independent book publisher trying to save his business and his marriage, an older actress trying to return to Broadway. Paul Auster always offers characters that pull on your heart, and this one is no exception.