Category Archives: book of the week

Novelist Zadie Smith Speaks at Purchase Wed. 10/7 4:30pm in the P.A.C.

Don’t miss this opportunity to attend a lecture, reading, and conversation with acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith! Smith will speak on Wednesday, October 7th from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in the Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center. The talk is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book-signing.

portrait of author zadie smith in a red head covering

Zadie Smith is one of the most accomplished writers working today.  She has published four critically acclaimed novels, White Teeth (2000), The Autograph Man (2002), On Beauty (2005), and NW (2012). She is also a prolific and distinguished essayist, publishing non-fiction in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, among other venues. The recipient of numerous prizes and awards, Smith was named in 2003 and again in 2013 as one of Granta ’s 20 “Best Young British Novelists.” She is currently a professor of Creative Writing at New York University. This event is part of the Durst Distinguished Lecture Series, which is made possible by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature Endowment.

Smith’s work explores themes of multiculturalism, identity, class, the nature of art, and the ethics of modern science through richly-drawn, nuanced characters set in contemporary England and the United States.  She’s also witty: look no further than her frequent New Yorker essays, including this interview and meditation on sketch comedy duo Key & Peele.

You can check out these novels and essays by Zadie Smith from the Purchase College Library, including:


June is GLBT Book Month!

June marks GLBT Book Month, a nationwide celebration of authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

Here are some ways you can celebrate with our Library:

  • Check out library resources on the Gender Studies Research Guide
  • Browse the HQ section of the Library Stacks for non-fiction books on gender & sexuality
  • Read literature, poetry, and fiction by LGBTQ authors. (Do an author search in the Library Catalog to find works by these great writers!)
  • Stream documentaries online in Kanopy’s LGBT Collection. Award-winning films include: “Transgender Tuesdays,” “The Times of Harvey Milk,” “A Jihad For Love” and more.
  • Read a Stonewall-Award-Winner! The following books and ebooks in our collection have won Stonewall Awards.

Stonewall Award Winners:

Film of the Week: Oscar Nominees at the Library!

The Academy Awards are Sunday, February 22nd, so this week we bring you an Oscar-themed Film of the Week post!   You can see a great interactive list of this year’s nominees for best picture, best actor/actress, best director and all the other categories on


With films coming out on DVD sooner and sooner,  the Library has already acquired several Oscar nominees including:

Boyhood (best picture, best supporting actress): Popular Film Collection. DVD 4599.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (best picture):  Blu-ray 61.

Gone Girl (best actress): Popular Film Collection. DVD 4621. Due 02/23/15.

Ida (best foreign film, best cinematography): Popular Film Collection. DVD 4597. Available

The Lego Movie (best song…but sadly no nomination for best animated film): Popular Film Collection. DVD 4335. Available

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many Oscar candidates are based on books. You probably know that Gone Girl was based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling thriller and Wild is a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, but did you know that Foxcatcher and American Sniper are also based on memoirs? Meanwhile The Theory of Everything is based on the life of scientist and author Stephen Hawking while The Imitation Game was also a play by Ian McEwan about the life of British code-breaker Alan Turing. Biopics were big this year and included a riveting portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma (nominated for best picture and best song).  Even The Grand Budapest Hotel was inspired by the stories of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig! That makes Birdman and Boyhood unique among the Best Picture nominees this year as two movies NOT based on novels or true-life events!

You can check out these films or the books that inspired them at Purchase College Library or order them via Interlibrary Loan.

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!