Category Archives: book of the week

Lit Society Book Club Meets Wed. 11/19 7pm Library Lab 1015B

The Literature Society’s first book club gathering will be November 19th at 7 p.m. in the DMZ, Lab 1015B, in the Library. Students and professors of all majors and disciplines are encouraged to attend. Professor Anthony Domestico of the literature board of study will lead a discussion of the book The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald.

About the book:  Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower​ is a masterpiece of compression and intelligence. Fitzgerald takes as her subject Novalis, a German Romantic poet who lived and wrote in the late eighteenth century, weaving together his life and writing into a heady mixture that examines, among other things, the nature of love, poetry, philosophy, religion, politics, history, and death. ​According to The New York​ Times this novel “convey[s] more reality than any amount of impasto description and research.”

You can check out The Blue Flower at the Library, it’s located in the Popular Collection shelved under “F” for Fitzgerald. Affordable copies of the book can be found online or at a local bookstore. Note that a copy of the book is not necessary to attend the event. All are welcome!

For more information email or

poster from Lit Society

Scare Up a Good Movie! Check Out the Library’s Horror Films for Halloween.

The library has many horror films if you’re looking  for spooky Halloween viewing. This list includes some great ones, but to find additional scary movies in our collection, use the Films/Video Search Tab on the library homepage to search for the title of the film you want. For a general list, type in: “horror films.”

To check out a film, use the call number (e.g. Popular Collection DVD 2524) to find the DVD case, shelved in numerical order on either side of the Reference Desk.  Then take the case up to the Circulation Desk and enjoy!

Check Out Rocky Horror Picture Show, Popular Collection DVD 978


Do You Read Banned Books?

It’s Banned Books Week!  From Sept. 21st to Sept.  27th, libraries across the U.S. are speaking out against censorship with displays, events, and other activities supporting books that have been banned.

banner image stating "i read banned books" for banned books week

Have you read any banned books?  The answer might surprise you.  Check out this list of Banned Books that Shaped America. Twentieth century classics that have been banned or challenged in American libraries include among others: Slaughterhouse Five,  The Great Gatsby, Catch-22, The Color Purple,  To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, and 1984.

Think censorship is a thing of the past?  Check out this timeline of books banned in the last 30 years, from 1982 up to 2012!  Not to mention, this list of books banned in schools and libraries in 2013-2014.  Banned or challenged books include popular Sci Fi/Fantasy series like  The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Golden Compass and Harry Potter which were banned in various school libraries across the U.S. for sexually explicit language, “themes unsuited to age group,” themes related to witchcraft and the occult, and for being “anti-Christian.”  Critically acclaimed YA novels by Sherman Alexie, Neil Gaiman, John Green and Judy Blume are also among the most frequently challenged books.

How can you participate in Banned Books Week?

  • Tweet or Instagram a photos of your favorite banned book using the hashtags #SUNYPurchaseLib and #bannedbooksweek!
  • Do a Virtual Read Out:  In honor of the 30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week, the American Library Association is sponsoring a Virtual Read Out in cities across the country.  Listen to students, librarians, and celebrities read excerpts from banned books on this dedicated YouTube Channel for Banned Books Week.  You can add your own Read Out or share your favs with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Check out the Library’s book display featuring “banned” books in the Purchase College Library’s collections. (Just to clarify, Purchase College Library has never banned, censored or removed a book from the collection due to offensive content).


“Bone” comics made the top 10 most-challenged books list in 2013

Top 10 Most Frequently Banned Books of 2013:  Out of 307 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.  Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.  Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya. Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith. Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Remembering Robin Williams

Robin Williams, known for his comedic and dramatic acting talents, passed away on Monday, August 11, 2014. An actor of great range, Williams played a doctor, a professor, a therapist, a drag club owner, a robot, a Shakespearean clown, a nanny, and a cartoon genie. In memory of this beloved actor and comedian, here are links to some of his most acclaimed films available in the Purchase College Library and their call numbers:


robin williams and matt damon in good will hunting

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting

Book of the Week: The Journey and the Destination

The Alchemist book coverThis week’s book-of-the-week is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This review is brought to you by Nicholas Novine, Library Intern, Class of 2014, Double majoring in art history and arts management.

The Alchemist is an allegorical novel that follows the journey of a young shepherd boy named Santiago after having recurring dreams of finding a great treasure in Egypt.

The main theme of the book revolves around this the idea of a Personal Legend, which asks “what you have always wanted to accomplish.” Shortly after embarking on his journey, the Personal Legend concept is introduced to the main character by a mysterious old king who adds, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” This is essentially the core philosophy of the novel.

During Santiago’s pursuit of fulfilling his Personal Legend, he encounters an Englishman with whom he travels through the Sahara Desert. He meets and falls in love with an Arab girl named Fatima. When he asks for her hand in marriage, she tells him she will only marry him until once he has found his treasure; she explains that true love will not stop one’s Personal Legend, or otherwise it is not love in its truest form.

Santiago eventually meets a lone alchemist in the desert who tells him that people want only the treasure of their Personal Legend but not the Legend itself. The alchemist states, “those who don’t understand their Personal Legend will fail to comprehend its teachings.”

The Alchemist, due to the method in which it is written, becomes more of a guide than a work of fiction. Despite it’s setting, the concepts and themes are applicable to any person, because, in a way, we are all in pursuit of some form of meaning or significance within our lives, our own Personal Legend.

The main character becomes a placeholder for the mind and experiences of the reader. It is through Santiago’s journey and experiences that aspects of our own lives become translated, and we begin to consider ourselves, and our place, within the vast interconnectedness of the universe.

When reading this book I was traveling through Italy to various ancient monuments and cities. Walking on stones that countless others have stepped, and breathing the air of antiquity, I could not help but draw parallels between my journey and the events of The Alchemist.

What I learned while reading this novel can be considered nothing less than enlightening; as I traveled through the ruins of Pompeii, Paestum, and the wonders of Rome, I came to a realization, very much like that of Santiago, that what I gain at the end of this journey is ultimately meaningless if I cannot appreciate and understand the wisdom and knowledge cultivated along the way. Thus, appreciating the journey over the destination becomes pivotal in gaining anything from The Alchemist. Otherwise, like many aspects of life, it becomes anti-climactic, disappointing and the wisdom forfeit.

You can check out The Alchemist and the graphic novel version of the novel at the Purchase College Library.


Book of the Week: Super Sad, True Satire

This week’s book-of-the-week is Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart.  This review is brought to you by Riley Dixon, Student Library Assistant, Class of 2017, Majoring in Creative Writing.

Super Sad True Love Story is located in the Main Stacks, along with many other literary novels, call number: PS3619.H79 S87 2010

cover of super sad true love story by gary shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart’s New York City in Super Sad True Love Story is absurd. Telephone poles read credit scores. Paper books are worthless artifacts. Thanks to your handheld äppärät, which functions as a non-stop social networking device, your most private thoughts are on public display. Everyone knows how desirable you are: fiscally and physically. It is in this New York City that Lenny Abramov, 39-year-old self-deprecating second generation Russian immigrant and the younger, beautiful and equally self-loathing Eunice Park begin a strange courtship. Eunice is of Korean descent, troubled by her familial obligations and brought up in a generation where students simply “scanned for data” and did not read. Together, they play an unlikely Juliet and Romeo, fumbling in the belly of a New York City that has begun to dissolve into chaos. Super Sad has a clear trajectory from the very beginning. Lenny is hell-bent on being united with Eunice and despite the collapse of society as he once knew it, his goal does not falter. As the city collapses into seemingly both a state of martial law and a new world order, Lenny is not fazed. Eunice Park is his destiny. He wholly convinces himself as he writes in his diary, “…things were going to get better. Someday. For me to fall in love with Eunice Park just as the world fell apart would be a tragedy beyond the Greeks.” As the microcosm of New York City shifts irrevocably towards dissolution, Eunice and Lenny fight to hold onto themselves and a quickly disappearing sense of normalcy.

Shteyngart’s prose, while dense, suits the purpose of Super Sad perfectly. At no point is the reader bombarded with unnecessary language, though Shteyngart’s clever use of branding and acronyms sometimes read as uncomfortable as a punch to the gut… if only because they are so recognizable. Super Sad True Love Story reads as a shrill satire on the dangers of greed and capitalism, while at the same time expounding on the painful beauty of learning how one fits into one’s own self, fits into a relationship, and fits into society.

You can check out Super Sad True Love Story and other books by Gary Shteyngart at the Purchase College Library.

Book of the Week: What’s New at the Library

Looking for something to read or listen to during Winter Session?  Try a new arrival!  We’ve added a “New Book Shelf” widget to our homepage so you can browse through items recently added to the library’s collections.

New Books bar

You can also check out this list of newly added materials to find new books, CDs, and DVDs.  Note: these titles are new to our collection, but not necessarily newly published.  Either way, check out one of these great reads!

Book of the Week: JFK, Fact and Fiction

November 22, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This tragic event was a watershed moment in the lives of many Americans and has spawned countless investigations, conspiracy theories, and many works of fiction including a novel by Stephen King and a film by Oliver Stone.  What is it about the Kennedy assassination that continues to capture Americans’ fears and imagination for fifty years?  Do some investigation of your own to learn more about John F. Kennedy’s life and death…


11/22/63 : a Novel by King, Stephen.
Popular Reading Collection. POPULAR COLLECTION.

JFK with Costner, Kevin. dir. by Stone, Oliver.
Academic Film Collection. DVD 3072. (3 hr loan)


An Unfinished Life : John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Dallek, Robert.
Main Stacks – Circulating. E842 .D28 2003.

A Thousand Days : John F. Kennedy in the White House (1965) by Schlesinger, Arthur M.
Main Stacks – Circulating. E841 .S3 c. 2

Jacqueline Kennedy : First Lady of the New Frontier by Barbara A. Perry.
Main Stacks – Circulating. E843.K4 P47 2004.

Investigation & Analysis:

Zaprudered : the Kennedy Assassination Film in Visual Culture by Øyvind Vågnes.
Main Stacks – Circulating. E842.9 .V35 2011

Conspiracy in Camelot: the Complete History of the Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (2003) by Kroth, Jerome A.

JFK, Breaking the News, featuring Hugh Aynesworth, Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer and other journalists.
Popular Film Collection. DVD 2652

Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1964)
The Warren Commission. U.S. Government Documents. GOV INTERNET RESOURCE. (ebook)

Spooky Book of the Week: Tales from Washington Irving

Looking for some spooky stories?  Check out these terrifying tales by  Washington Irving, the classic American author from Tarrytown, NY.  It’s Halloween with a Westchester twist.

1. The legend of Sleepy Hollow by Irving, Washington

ONLINE RESOURCE. EBSCOhost ebook. Available. eBook

The Halloween classic about Icabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is now an ebook!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

2.  The complete tales of Washington Irving by Irving, Washington

Call Number: Main Stacks – Circulating. PS2050 .C6 1975.

Classic, creepy tales like Rip Van Winkle or The Spectre Bridegroom or Strange Stories from a Nervous Gentleman.

3. Tales of the old Dutch graveyard : a walking tour of the burying ground of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow

Call Number: Main Stacks – Circulating. GT3203 .J86 1984. Available.

Looking for something to do for Halloween weekend?  Take a walking tour of the historical Old Dutch Church graveyard in Sleepy Hollow.  Just watch out for the Headless Horseman…

photo from

Too Hot to Handle? “Fahrenheit 451″ Challenged in 2007!

Many Americans are familiar from high school and college classes with Ray Bradbury’s  Fahrenheit 451, a sci-fi classic about a dystopian society where fire-fighters are agents of government censorship who burn books.

But did you know that Bradbury himself felt his novel was less about censorship and more an indictment of the decline in reading and literature due to the growing influence of television in the 1950s?

image of firefighter helmet with burning books reflected

Fahrenheit 451 Image from

Fahrenheit 451  by  Ray Bradbury.
 Call Number:  PS3503.R167 F3

I had the privilege of learning this and other fascinating insights about the publication of Fahrenheit 451 at a special panel presentation at the American Library Association, held in July 2013 in Chicago, IL.   The panel included a biographer who met biweekly with Bradbury for almost 12 years before his death in 2012, a literary critic who traced the publication history of Bradbury’s novels, and a librarian who helped prevent Fahrenheit 451 from being banned at a Texas high school in 2007.

Yes, this anti-censorship novel has had its own brushes with censorship over the years.   “I don’t think he saw the irony at all,” Librarian Lois Buckman said of the Texas man who tried to ban the novel from his daughter’s high school.  The father claimed it was a “filthy book” that “insulted our firemen.”  Buckman added: “I don’t believe he read the book at all, and if he did read it, I don’t think he understood it.”  Following protests from educators, parents, and high school students, the school board ultimately voted to keep Fahrenheit 451 in the classroom and the school library.

The panel was full of interesting and enriching tidbits. Here are some highlights:

  • The novel was expanded from a short story called “The Fireman,” published in Galaxy Magazine in 1951.
  • Bradbury wrote the book in 1951-52 in the “typewriter room” at the Powell Library at UCLA.
  • Seeking a flashier title for his novel, he called the UCLA Chemistry and Physics departments asking at what temperature paper burned.  The scientists couldn’t give him an answer. Finally, he called the local Fire Department, and they found the number  in a specialized reference book (This was 1953, folks, so there was no Google).  The fire department gave him both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures….so his iconic book could have been called Centrigrade 233.
  • In the novel, Guy Montag’s wife is a soap opera zombie, spending all day in front of three giant, wall-sized TV screens.  By the 2010s, Bradbury had a big-screen HD TV in his L.A. home.  (Bradbury, who also wrote screenplays for films and television shows like the Twilight Zone, Playhouse 90, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, told his biographer that he wasn’t against all TV, just bad TV.)
  • The 1971 reprint of Fahrenheit 451 by Bal-Hi was accidentally switched with a redacted version that had been “sanitized” for use in public schools. The editors cut out or altered “offensive” phrases, mostly mild swearing  or passing references to sex.  In the 1970s, the only new edition of Fahrenheit 451 you could buy was a censored one. When Bradbury became aware of the censorship, he made sure that a new edition was reprinted with a “coda” at the end by the author.  He also rescinded his initial approval of the redacted/abridged version.
  • Bradbury usually pronounced the title “Fahrenheit four-five-one” but sometimes said “Fahrenheit four-fifty-one” instead.

Sixty years later,  this book is still generating conversations about censorship, literary culture, and free thought.  You can check it out from the Purchase College Library, Call Number PS3503.R167 F3 or borrow a Ray Bradbury biography from Interlibrary Loan.

–This article was reposted from an eariler entry this summer,  in celebration of Banned Books Week.


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