On October 3rd, the Black Student Union and the SGA Programs Board held a special event called BLM @ St. Mary’s. Held to support the Black community at SMCM and to serve as a forum for discussion about racial injustice, the event featured speakers include the Department of Political Science’s Dr. Sahar Shafqat, and interim Chief Diversity Officer Kelsey Bush, as well as an open mic segment on the waterfront during which students shared creative works. In response to a request from the Programs Board and the BSU, the Library has put together a book display of materials related to racial justice issues, including systemic racism and police brutality, as well as highlighting works by Black authors. The display, located across from the Circulation Desk on the Library’s first floor, will be up for the rest of the semester, and all books are available to check out. Come visit the library and learn more about race and social justice!
February is Black History Month, and we have many library resources to honor the achievements and experiences of African-Americans.
Learn about the figures that loom large in history like Malcolm X and James Baldwin, as well as the unsung heroes sending astronauts to the moon and fighting for the empowerment of gay black men. The library collection can help you learn about contemporary perspectives on #BlackLivesMatter and reflections on being a black woman in the U.S.
Maybe you prefer a story? Read tales of the spider trickster Anansi, Haitian immigrants encountering culture shock, or a novel by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft.
Keep reading for Black History Month recommendations from the library collection.
The Annotated African American Folktales edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar
Stacks; Call number: GR111.A47 A55 2018
A treasury of dozens of African-American folktales discusses their role in a broader cultural heritage, sharing such classics as the Brer Rabbit stories, the African trickster Anansi, and tales from the late nineteenth-century’s “Southern Workman.”
Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by J. R. Roberts and Johnny Smith
Stacks; Call number: GV1132.A44 R64 2016
In 1962, no one believed that the obnoxious Cassius Clay would ever become the heavyweight champion of the world. But Malcolm X saw the potential in Clay, not just for boxing greatness, but as a means of spreading the Nation of Islam’s radical message. Malcolm secretly molded Clay into Muhammad Ali–a patriotic boxing star in public, and a radical reformer behind the scenes. Soon, however, their friendship would sour, with disastrous and far-reaching consequences.
Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis by Kevin J. Mumford
Ebook; read it here
This compelling book recounts the history of black gay men from the 1950s to the 1990s, tracing how the major movements of the times–from civil rights to black power to gay liberation to AIDS activism–helped shape the cultural stigmas that surrounded race and homosexuality. Drawing on an extensive archive of newspapers, pornography, and film, as well as government documents, organizational records, and personal papers, Mumford sheds new light on four volatile decades in the protracted battle of black gay men for affirmation and empowerment in the face of pervasive racism and homophobia.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
New Books Collection; Call number: PS3610.E693 A6 2018
In her collection of linked essays, Jerkins takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to “be”– to live as, to exist as– a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country’s larger discussion about inequality. Jerkins exposes the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.
All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers
Stacks; Call number: PZ7.M992 Al 2012
The summer after his absentee father is killed in a random shooting, Paul works at a Harlem soup kitchen, where he listens to lessons about “the social contract” from an elderly African American man and mentors a seventeen-year-old unwed mother who wants to make it to college on a basketball scholarship.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
New Books Collection; Call number: PZ7.1.Z64 Am 2017
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
Popular Reading; Call number: F Abdul-Jabbar
Fresh out of university, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name for himself in government. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, and where his fiancee Georgiana Sutton was raised. Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports from home, rumors of spirits enticing children to their deaths. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for the island. Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take.
Oreo by Fran Ross
Popular Reading; Call number: F Ross
Oreo, a biracial black girl from Philadelphia, searches for her Jewish father in New York City, navigating the labyrinth of sound studios, brothels, and subway tunnels of Manhattan in a journey of self-discovery.
I Am Not Your Negro
DVD Collection; Call number: E185.61 .I266 2017
I Am Not Your Negro is an examination of racism in America through the lens of James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House. Intended as an account of the lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., each of whom James Baldwin personally knew, only a 30-page manuscript of the book was ever completed. Combining Baldwin’s manuscript with footage of depictions of African-Americans throughout American history, I Am Not Your Negro uses Baldwin’s words to illuminate the pervasiveness of American racism and the efforts to curtail it, from the civil rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter.
DVD Collection; Call number: HV6483.F47 W467 2017
Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. For this generation, the battle is not for civil rights, but for the right to live.
Dear White People
DVD Collection; Call number: PN1997 .D437 2015
A sharp and funny comedy about a group of African-American students as they navigate campus life and racial boundaries at a predominantly white college. A sly, provocative satire about being a black face in a white place. (Also adapted into a great series on Netflix.)
DVD Collection; Call number: PN1997 .H522 2017
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
Need help finding these or other titles about African-American experiences? We’re here for you at the 1st floor reference desk Monday-Thursday, 10:00am-12:00pm & 1:00-5:00pm.
Featured image (raised fist) in the public domain from Wikimedia
You’re #1 in our book! (For our trendier readers, that’s “number one” rather than “hashtag one.”) At the LAMC, we’re crafting puns to celebrate Valentine’s Day…and National Discount Candy Day on February 15th.
We’d love to see your clever, creative, or cringeworthy puns! Come into the 1st floor of the library and write your pun on a paper cut-out waiting especially for you. We’ll post your work of art in our lobby display, where the world can admire your wit.
If you need inspiration, we have several romantic and Romantic novels available for checkout. Here are 8 of our top picks, along with staggeringly brilliant puns for each:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Stacks; Call number: PR4167 .J3 1996
“I lava you”
After surviving childhood as an unwanted orphan, Jane readily accepts a position as governess for a mysterious and frequently absent employer, Edward Rochester. As she falls for Rochester, Jane must find a way to stay true to herself–especially when a sinister secret causes things to heat up. As in things actually catch fire. (Fun fact: my cat is named after a character in this novel. Literature: changing lives.)
Maurice by E.M. Forster
Stacks; Call number: PR6011.O58 M3 1993
“You’re my cup of tea”
Written in the 1910s, Forster’s tale of a gay man’s unrequited love remained unpublished until the 1970s. The only thing more English than the rigidity of the class system and repression of romantic feelings is tea–all of which feature heavily in this story about opposing the unwritten rules of society.
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez
Stacks; Call number: PQ8180.17.A73 D4513 1995
“I’m hair for you”
On her twelfth birthday, Sierva Maria, whose beautifully flowing hair has never been cut, is bitten by a rabid dog. Following the incident, Sierva is taken to a convent, crossing paths with Father Cayetano Delaura, who has already dreamed about a girl with hair trailing after her like a bridal train.
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Popular Reading; Call number: HABEL
“I love you for your braaaaaaains”
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead – or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?
How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
Popular Reading; Call number: MCMILLAN
“Shell we dance?”
Stella Payne is forty-two, divorced, a high-powered investment analyst, mother of eleven-year-old Quincy- and she does it all. But when Stella takes a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Jamaica, her world gets rocked to the core–not just by the relaxing effects of the sun and sea and an island full of attractive men, but by one man in particular.
Wild Ginger by Anchee Min
Stacks; Call number: PS3563.I4614 W35 2002
“If you were a triangle, you’d be acute one”
As Wild Ginger rises through the ranks of Maoist China, she finds herself increasingly at odds with her best friend, Maple. When both friends are interested in the same young man, will Wild Ginger’s commitment to friendship, romantic love, or Maoist principles win out?
City of Night by John Rechy
Stacks; Call number: PS3568.E28 C5 2013
“I donut know what I’d do without you”
This 1963 novel was groundbreaking in its portrayal of a young gay sex worker along a cross-country journey from New York City to San Francisco. The story includes the events of the Cooper Do-nut Riots, a 1959 uprising in which members of the LGBTQ community protested the attempted arrests of drag queens, sex workers, and a gay man at the donut establishment.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Popular Reading; Call number: ROWELL
“Don’t go bacon my heart”
Georgie McCool loves her husband Neal, but her marriage has been deteriorating for a long time. One night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. Through the titular landline, Georgie attempts to avoid heartbreak by fixing her marriage before it starts.
Think you can out-pun us? Visit the library to create your own pun for display!
You’re almost there–well on your way to the last day of fall semester! Why not treat yourself with a celebratory read or two to enjoy over break? Books in the stacks and our Popular Reading collection can be checked out for 28 days, so no need to stress about due dates. Here are some staff favorites if you need advice on what to read next. Where possible, we’ve even nicely arranged these together on the 1st floor of the library because we know you’ve worked hard this semester and don’t need to deal with another set of stairs or waiting on the elevator.
Cheryl Colson, Collections Technician and resident baker
Tailspin by Sandra Brown (USMAI)
Engaging who done it. If you like mysteries, this is the perfect read to keep you on the edge of your seat over break!
Kent Randell, College Archivist
Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer (Stacks), Call number: CT9971.M35 K73 1996
After graduating college, Christopher McCandless tramped around North America, sometimes in his car, and after his car was destroyed in a desert flash flood, then on foot. His ultimate death in an abandoned school bus in Alaska adds weight to the story.
An interesting character study into the life of a tramp and the people he met along his journey. McClandless’ final months and death in isolation become a reflection on a human being’s place in society. Krakauer’s narration is neither too breezy or too wordy, and treats all of the characters in the story with a high degree of sympathy without becoming too sentimental.
Amanda VerMeulen, Librarian
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (Popular Reading), Call number: F HILL
Need some horror to balance all the Hallmark movies? Take a ride with Charlie Manx to “Christmasland,” the most terrifying amusement park ever imagined. If you’re lucky you just might survive this holiday outing.
William Crowell, Visiting Librarian
Hogfather: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett (USMAI)
On Discworld, children look forward to Hogswatch Night, when the Hogfather comes to bring them presents. This year, a group of beings known as the Auditors want to stop that from happening by any means necessary. They hire Mr. Teatime (it’s pronounced “Teh-ah-tim-eh”), a psychotic assassin, to ensure that it does not.
The only beings standing between the assassin and his target are Death’s granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, the Death of Rodents, a talking Raven named Quoth, and Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers. The stakes are much higher than toys, however. If they can’t stop Teatime’s plot, then the next morning, the sun won’t rise over the Disc.
What better way to celebrate the season than to read a story about winter holidays on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld? And if that story contains magic, assassins, and a meditation on the nature of humanity, belief, and childhood, then more’s the better!
Additionally, if you’ve never read a Discworld novel, this is a fun, self-contained story that can serve as your introduction to the beloved fantasy series. (Speaking of introductions to the series, if you can’t get your hands on Hogfather, the SMCM Library also has Mort and Guards! Guards!, which are also both great, though less seasonally appropriate.)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Popular Reading), Call number: F GYASI or Kindle (check one out from the front desk)
Homegoing is a set of loosely connected short stories chronicling the African Diaspora from the Gold Coast to the west coast and back again. Although the collection is arranged chronologically it skips over enough history that readers may want to spend some time Googling to fill in historical gaps.
Interesting and worth the read. Readers may find themselves reflecting on our current cultural moment and the history of race and the African American diaspora in the U.S.
The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato (Popular Reading), Call number: F DISABATO
Molly Metropolis, is a global outrun electro-infused pop star famous for her “Apocalypse Dance” music video and her fascination with the Situationists. She makes maps and spectacle and disappears before a big show showcasing her new album in Chicago. Her assistant tries to track her down and gets lost in the “L.” There are missing girls, maps and unless you are seriously into philosophy, and avant-garde art, Wikipedia.
Read this to pick a side: Lady Gaga vs. Janelle Monáe. The consensus is that bi-racial Molly Metropolis is based on Lady Gaga rather than the creator of the album Metropolis (2007) and song/video Dance Apocalypse (2013.)
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart (Popular Reading), Call number: F STEWART
The Kopp sisters’ buggy is hit by Henry Kaufman’s motor car in Paterson, NJ. The women and the buggy is damaged. Constance, the eldest sister, requests that Kaufman pay to repair the buggy. The buggy is the sister’s only means of transportation and they are of limited means. The three women live in a farmhouse in Bergen County, New Jersey and cherish their independence. Because Kaufman was drinking when he hit them Constance assumes he will take responsibility for the accident and pay te repair bill. He doesn’t. In fact, rather than pay for the repairs he begins to harass the sisters, going as far as to stalk them and threaten their lives with his Black Hand compatriots.
The novel is a fictionalized account but all of the key elements of the story are true right down to an article in the “Philadelphia Sun” headlined, “Girl Waits with Gun.” (11/23/1914) There is lot’s of action, a juicy backstory, snappy writing and a side mystery that will keep you reading. Although Constance is the lead character all three of the Kopp sisters hold their own and you will root for them and despite the odds they win. You might even say they persisted.
Kate Pitcher, Director of the LAMC
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Popular Reading), Call number: F MURAKAMI
A dystopian novel set in the year 1984, it follows the parallel stories of Aomame, a young Japanese woman with a mysterious past, and Tengo, a young man who seems to live an ordinary life on the surface, until he is pulled into an editorial conspiracy involving the rewrite of a fantastical story by a young adult named Fuka-Eri. The novel is set in an alternative timeline in the year of 1984, and blends mystery, love story, surrealism, and fantasy all in one.
Thought-provoking and captivating, 1Q84 is a meditative reflection on the fantastical and the ordinary. Disturbing at times, it always makes you think.
Jillian Sandy, Visiting Librarian
Watership Down by Richard Adams (Stacks), Call number: PR6051.D345 W3
Though far from perfect, the rabbits of Sandleford warren enjoy rather tranquil lives. That is, until runt of the litter Fiver insists terrible things are coming for the warren. His brother Hazel is one of the few to act on these warnings, leading a small group of rabbits in a quest to find a new home amidst the many dangers that lie in wait for a rabbit with nowhere to hide.
Added bonus: get spoilers ahead of the Netflix series (planned for release later this month)! Or compare to the 1978 animated film adaptation that traumatized many a Millennial (including this one). Not only is the story suspenseful and the writing great, but the characters seem real, and the folk tales of the rabbit trickster figure El-ahrairah absolutely come to life. There’s a reason this is still a beloved fantasy novel over 40 years later.
Whether you pick up one of our recommended reads or not, we will miss you over break! Stay safe and warm on your travels and know we’ll still have plenty of reads once you get back!
Break is coming up! It’s the perfect time to relax with family, real or fictional. Here are a few books in the LAMC popular reading collection about families…just in case you need an escape from reality. Click on the titles below to check their availability in the catalog.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Call number: (Popular Reading) F LEE
Lee traces the story of a family across generations and countries, through occupation, war, imprisonment, and death. Sunja takes the leap from Korea to Japan, expecting to find new opportunities and make a home with her husband. She’s in for a rude awakening when she encounters discrimination against Koreans, the persecution of her religion, and the arrest of her husband. Despite these setbacks, Sunja uses her wits to persevere as the family’s anchor and a character to root for.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesamyn Ward
Call number: (Popular Reading) F WARD
Raised by his grandparents, teenage Jojo resents his addict mother weaving in and out of his life, bringing more trouble than nurturing. Preoccupied with caring for his younger sister and seeing visions of ghosts, Jojo resents his mother’s decision to take her children along to bring their father home from prison. Jojo doesn’t know that his mother also sees ghosts, haunted by the traumas of racism and violence in her life as a black woman in the rural South. The trip could yield a greater understanding or permanently sever the ties between family.
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Kindle edition; ask about Kindles at check out desk
Blending fact and fiction, Chabon recounts the last days of his grandfather’s life. On his deathbed, Chabon’s grandfather relates stories of his miraculous survival of WWII, career as a rocket scientist, the skinless horse in his wife’s hallucinations–stories almost too fantastic to believe. What is true when it comes to family legend? And how much of what we know about our loved ones comes down to the stories we tell and are told?
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Call number: (Stacks) PN 6727 .B3757 Z46 2006
Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir outlines her complex relationship with a strict father, coming out as a lesbian, and a childhood surrounded by literature and death in a funeral home, aka “Fun Home.” Introspective and darkly funny at times, Bechdel almost scientifically examines her father’s behavior to understand her own troubles. Pick this up for the novelty of reading a picture book, stay for the emotional devastation.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Call number: (Popular Reading) F GAIM
Spoil the ending to the TV show for all of your friends or keep the secrets to yourself. In addition to making a great show, the novel stands by itself as a modern classic. Shadow learns he is wrapped up in the affairs of the old and new gods, as well as part of the ultimate dysfunctional family. Gods who settle scores through life-or-death board games, reanimated corpses, leprechauns with magical coins: you’re into it or you’re not. I also recommend the pseudo-sequel, Anansi Boys, available for request through USMAI.
Bonus USMAI read:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Request through USMAI
Ah, sisters–built-in besties, friends for life. Those of you with a sister may recognize these feelings; on the other hand, you may relate all too well to Atwood’s dark tale of the jealousies and betrayals in the relationship between sisters. Our narrator recounts the story of her famous novelist sister, Laura, who died tragically young. But was Laura’s death an accident…or was it intentional?
Remember you can always peruse the popular reading collection on the 2nd floor of the LAMC–with new additions on the 1st floor–and request materials through USMAI. Happy break!
For our last Black History Month post, we’ve got a mini bibliography (what we’re calling a mini-bib) of children’s books in the SMCM Library collection. Grab one (or a stack) and take a break from those scholarly sources!
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, call number: PZ7.K2253 Sn
The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy, call number: PZ7.F667 Pat 1985
Aunt Martha and the Golden Coin by Anita Rodriguez, call number: PZ7.R6188 Au 1993
The Faithful Friend by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, call number: PZ8.1.S227 Fai 1995
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: a West African Tale retold by Verna Aardema, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon, call number: PZ8.1.A213 Wh 1978
The library has a fleet of Kindles loaded with popular fiction, bestsellers, and all the current young adult novel crazes.
Whatever your favorite Kindle device might be, we want to make sure that we’re buying the books YOU want to read. Our only restriction: It has to be fiction or popular non-fiction. No academic titles, please; we’re trying to keep our Kindles, light and focused on reading for pleasure, not work. So take a minute and…
Leave a comment with a book you’d like us to add to our Kindle collection!
Not sure what books we already have on our Kindles? Take a look! Also take a minute to learn more about our Kindles from this awesome video created by SMCM student Eden Anbinder:
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked questions about people’s reading habits and about where they live. Any guesses about what they found out? Do city mice read more than country mice? Do lots of people have library cards and still think libraries are important? Why do people say they read?
Well, 78% of Americans over the age of 16 say they read a book in the last year, and 79% of those asked said they read for pleasure. That’s 80% of the urbanites who responded and 71% of the rural residents. Americans read, on average, 17 books last year. That’s more than one a month. Pretty good numbers. About 58% of everyone surveyed has a library card and 69% say the library is important to them.
At SMCM 100% of the community has a library card (!). How many of you would say the library is important to you? How many of you read a book last year not for class or research, but for fun, to learn something, or to keep up with the news? Do you read a newspaper? Do you read?
Here a few more of those interesting numbers. 19% of those asked own an e-reader, and 93% of those asked read a print book in the past year (22% read an ebook and 14% read in both formats). And the study showed that age, education, and household income may determine your reading habits, not where you live.
So – what does it all mean? Maybe it means that formats matter, that libraries need to be sure we can offer opportunities to read in print, online, and using e-readers (and audio devices). Maybe it also means that we should be thrilled that people are reading, and they get why public libraries are so important. You may not know this but many librarians are feeling pretty insecure these days. Warnings of our impending obsolescence are everywhere and have been around for a long time [“The Obsolete Man,” Twilight Zone, June 2, 1961].
I think books, libraries, and librarians probably don’t have to worry too much about being unloved or obsolete any time soon. We want people to read, not because it keeps us employed. Because reading can help you find out how something works, or why we do the things we do, where we came from, where we might be going, or just let you escape from it all for a while.
How do you read? What do you read? Why do you read?
Reading and writing are doomed.
Literacy as we know it is over.
Welcome to the post-literate future.
No – it’s not April 1st. Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future is the name of a new freely accessible e-book published by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association. The site provides opportunities for readers to comment and contribute to what will undoubtedly be a vigorous and passionate conversation about whether reading and writing as we know them are really disappearing. What will replace them? What is already replacing them?
Do you read? Do you write? Is texting writing (by the way-the WordPress spell checker thinks texting is a spelling error). If we no longer use reading and writing as the most common way we communicate, we do/will we use? Is spoken language a kind of literacy? Lots of questions.
I don’t have many answers. It is hard for me to conjure up the image of a world without reading and writing. I still send letters through the mail. I always read something before I turn out the light before going to sleep. And the author isn’t claiming to have all the answers either. But the questions are provocative and worth thinking about.
What do you think? Will traditional reading and writing eventually disappear? In what ways are reading and writing important to you (or not)? What will a post-literate society look like? Join the dialog.