Category Archives: book of the week
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.
ONLINE RESOURCE. eBook.
JFK, Breaking the News, featuring Hugh Aynesworth, Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer and other journalists.
Popular Film Collection. DVD 2652
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.
The Halloween classic about Icabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is now an ebook!
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
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 VisitSleepyHollow.com
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?
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.
Banned Books Week draws attention to both classic and modern novels censored or removed from schools and libraries in the U.S. We have a tendency to treat book-banning as a thing of the past, something that happened during World War II or the McCarthy Era. But book banning continues even in 2013.
In March 2013, the Chicago Public School district removed Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic novel about her childhood during the Iranian revolution, from all seventh grade classrooms in the city.
There was an outcry by the public, ACLU, and by Chicago teachers unions, but the school district defended its policy, claiming that it hadn’t actually “banned” the book from schools but merely removed it from the curriculum because the book: “contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use in the seventh grade curriculum.” The school district’s letter advised “If your seventh grade teachers have not yet taught this book, please ask them not to do so and to remove any copies of the book from their classrooms.”
It’s a long-standing debate: Should censorship be allowed to protect children or teens from explicit or offensive materials? Who gets to decide what qualifies as offensive or explicit?
The irony in the case of Persepolis is that the graphic novel, based on the author’s life and Iranian history, describes the hardships of living under a fundamentalist regime that routinely bans certain types of books, clothing, music, and activities and uses censorship– and more violent tactics– to intimidate its people. Iran, incidentally, has also banned Persepolis.
Perhaps not so ironically, the school district’s ban of Persepolis lead to increased sales at local bookstores in Chicago.
You can check out Persepolis and other banned books from the Purchase College Library. Check out our display on the library’s main floor.
This week, the Library is celebrating banned, censored, or challenged books as part of national Banned Books Week, Sept. 22nd through Sept. 28th.
Thousands of Libraries across the nation are celebrating. Here’s how you can participate:
- Stop by the Library and check out our banned books display.
- Tell us what your favorite banned book is via Twitter, @SUNYPurchaseLib, #bannedbooksweek.
- Watch like “Read-Outs” and interviews with famous authors on YouTube throughout the week (here’s a taste below…)
- Read a banned book!
Here’s a list of the Top 10 most frequently challenged books in America last year (2012):
The 10 most challenged titles of 2012 were:
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
(Just a disclaimer…. Purchase College Library does not ban or remove books from our shelves. But many books have been banned by schools and libraries elsewhere in the United States)
Seamus Heaney, poet and Nobel Laureate from Northern Ireland and widely recognized as the greatest Irish poet of his generation, died today at age 74. A Harvard professor from 1985-2006, Heaney authored a prize-winning translation of Beowulf and translated Greek plays as well as epic poems, but he was best known for his poetry and was described by many as the most influential Irish poet since W.B. Yeats.
Remember or rediscover Seamus Heaney by checking out his works at the Library, including the following prose and poetry:
New to campus? New to New York? Whether you’re a freshman, transfer student, or new faculty or staff member, you can get to know Westchester County through the Library!
The Library has books on local history, tourist attractions, architecture, retail, local parks, and walking tours. Check out one of these titles and get acquainted with your new home.
Click on the bookcover for more information!
Call number: Main Stacks – F127.W5 W47 2006
2. Picturing our past : National Register sites in Westchester County / by Gray Williams ; introduction by Kenneth T. Jackson.
Call number: Main Stacks F127.W5 W5 2003.
6. Walks & rambles in Westchester and Fairfield counties : a nature lover’s guide to 36 parks & sanctuaries / Katherine S. Anderson
Call Number: Main Stacks GV199.42.N652 W473 1993
Last week, we shared fiction set on college campuses, featuring college-aged protagonists. This week, get ready to go back to school with these non-fiction books culled from history, sociology, and education. These are great reads for transitioning from summer vacation back into the classroom.
1. What the Best College Students Do (2012) by Ken Bain.
Call Number: Main Stacks – Circulating. LA229 .B24 2012
Summary: “The author of the best-selling book “What the Best College Teachers Do” is back with more humane, doable, and inspiring help, this time for students who want to get the most out of college–and every other educational enterprise, too. The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. The creative, successful people profiled in this book–college graduates who went on to change the world we live in–aimed higher than straight A’s. They used their four years to cultivate habits of thought that would enable them to grow and adapt throughout their lives.” –GoodReads
2. College Girls : Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Coeds, Then and Now (2006) by Lynn Peril.
Call Number: Main Stacks – Circulating. LC1756 .P47 2006.
Summary: “From her first appearance in the mid-nineteenth century, when the age-old conflict over educating women was finally laid to rest, the college girl has attracted criticism, advice, and regulation from her elders–not to mention some enduring images in popular culture. Is she a geek in glasses? Or a sex kitten in a teddy? This book brings together women’s history and popular culture in a readable blend of information, insight and humor, peppered with photographs and other femoribilia from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970s.” –From publisher description.
3. My Freshman Year : What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student (2005) by Rebekah Nathan
Call Number: Main Stacks – Circulating. LB3605 .N34 2005
Summary: “After fifteen years of teaching, Rebekah Nathan, a professor of Anthropology at a large state university, realized she no longer understood the behavior and attitudes of her students. Nathan decided to put her experience in ethnographic fieldwork to use [so] she took a sabbatical and enrolled as a freshman for the academic year. She immersed herself in student life, moving into the dorms and taking on a full course load. She ate in the cafeteria, joined clubs, and played regular pick-up games of volleyball and tag football. Based on her interviews and conversations with fellow classmates, her interactions with professors and with other university employees and offices, and her careful day-to-day observations, My Freshman Year provides an account of college life that should be read by students, parents, professors, university administrators, and anyone else concerned about the state of higher education in America today.” –Book jacket.
These four novels about college life make for great summer reads and might even make you wish you were back in class.
It’s been a long summer, and the Purchase College Library misses you! And though you might not admit it, we bet you miss us too. To get you back in the college mindset (and round out your beach reading list), here are three recent novels that take place at colleges and feature collegiate protagonists. These books are almost guaranteed to make you nostalgic for campus, whether you’re about to start your senior year or your freshman year.
1. The Marriage Plot (2011) by Jeffrey Eugenidies
Call Number: Shelved under Eugenides in the POPULAR COLLECTION.
Summary: Taking place at Rutgers in the 1980s, this novel by the acclaimed author of “Middlesex” and “The Virgin Suicides” presents a love triangle between Madeleine the English Lit major, Leonard the Biology major, and Mitchell the Religious Studies major. While most of the action takes place in Cape Cod and Europe, the heightened level of the characters’ conversations as well as spot-on scenes depicting classroom discussions on semiotics and post-modernism make this a great back-to-college book. In the age of the post-modern, Madeleine questions whether it’s possible to fall madly in love like the heroes of the Victorian Literature that she adores– until she meets Leonard, a brilliant but troubled scientist who literally throws her words back at her.
2. The Art of Fielding : a novel (2011) by Chad Harbach
Call Number: Request It Via ILL
Summary: Based on the dust jacket, you might think this first novel by Chad Harbach is all about baseball. Baseball is a major vehicle for the plot, but the book is at heart an ode to small liberal arts colleges, the people they attract, and the hold they have on alums and undergraduates alike. Henry Skrimshander, is a phenom shortstop at Westish College in Wisconsin who lives only for baseball– until an errant throw shakes his confidence and sets off a chain of events in the lives of people connected to him including his best friend Mike Schwartz, his roommate Owen Dunne, the college’s President Guert Affenlight, and the President’s daughter Pella. This book skillfully captures the clubhouse dynamic of playing on a college sports team as well as the psychological tribulations of individuals struggling to find their place in the world.
3. Caleb’s Crossing (2011) by Geraldine Brooks
Call Number: PR9619.3.B7153 C36 2011.
Summary: Brooks, who also authored “People of the Book” and “March: A Novel” is known for writing well-researched historical fiction told through engaging, three-dimensional characters. Set in the 1660s, this novel, inspired by true events, tells the tale of Caleb, a young man from Massachusetts who became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. Through his friendship with Bethia, a young pioneer woman, and her Puritan minister father (who aims to convert the Wampanoag people to Christianity), Caleb finds his way to Harvard where he studies the Classics and navigates life among the colonial elite. Bethia, the narrator, longs for an education denied to her because of her gender but follows Caleb to Cambridge where she works as an indentured servant. This is a perfect book for the last month of summer because it unites the theme of education with travelogue-quality descriptions of Martha’s Vineyard and New England.
4. Old school : a novel (2004) by Wolff, Tobias
Call Number: PS3573.O558 O43 2004
Summary: Although it takes place at an Eastern prep school in the 1960s, this lean novel has a collegiate feel with its many literary allusions, accurate portrayals of in-class and out-of-class social dynamics, and personification of iconic authors like Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest Hemingway. The protagonist is an aspiring writer–and a bit of an outsider– at an elite high school where the written word reigns supreme. The most sought-after prize is winning the school’s literary competition and getting a chance to meet a world-famous author. But the narrator’s desire to live up to his idols–including Frost and Hemingway who appear as guest speakers on campus– leads him down a dangerous, perhaps unethical path.
In honor of Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, why not learn more about the South African President’s inspiring life and work to overcome apartheid and inequality?
Purchase College Library has a number of biographies and autobiographies about Nelson Mandela that you can check out:
1. Conversations with myself / Nelson Mandela.
Publisher Note: “An intimate journey from Mandela’s first stirrings of political consciousness to his galvanizing role on the world stage, this biography illuminates a heroic life forged on the front lines of the struggle for freedom and justice. It allows, for the first time, insight into the human side of the icon.”
2. Long walk to freedom : the autobiography of Nelson Mandela / Nelson Mandela
3. Nelson Mandela speaks : forging a democratic, nonracial South Africa / Nelson Mandela ; edited by Steve Clark.
Mandela’s life has even made it onto the big screen in both documentaries and fictional films based on real events in South Africa:
1. Twelve disciples of Nelson Mandela [2005 documentary by Thomas Allen Harris]
Call Number: Circulation Desk – In-house only. DVD 1205
2. Invictus [directed by Clint Eastwood & starring Morgan Freeman]
Call Number: Circulation Desk. DVD 2756
Summary from case: “In 1994, having been released from his long imprisonment, Nelson Mandela is elected as the first president of post-apartheid South Africa. Racial tension runs high, even in the president’s offices, and especially among the members of his half black, half Afrikaner security team. As hosts of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, South Africa’s low ranked national team, the Springboks, have a berth in the tournament. Mandela begins makeing public appearances supporting the team, and meets privately with captain Francois Pienaar, encouraging him to inspire his teammates to victory. The Springboks’ new slogan is “One team, One nation.” President Mandela is betting that if they win the Cup, it might even be a bit true.”