Ex Libris welcomes back returning readers with recommendations from library and campus readers. Our goal is to showcase Raynor Memorial Libraries’ Browsing Collection and to identify a range of contemporary fiction and nonfiction for the general reader. In addition to staff choices, we highlight a recent poetry collection by a staff member, literary award winners, plus a special report on Browsing Collection hot titles. All readers in the Marquette community are invited to suggest books, or better, to write a brief review for Ex Libris. If you missed an alert, earlier issues of Ex Libris are available online.
Clicking on the title or cover image will take you to the book's MARQCAT record; please note locations carefully as items may be in the Browsing Collection or in the Memorial stacks. Books that are checked out may be reserved by clicking on the MARQCAT record's "Request" button.
Still looking for something to read? Check out the most recent additions to the Browsing Collection.
Abraham Verghese (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)
Narrated by one of the twin boys at the story’s center, this novel has the epic-sized feel of a work by Dickens or Tolstoy. The boys are born in Ethiopia, but the story traces their parents’ childhoods in India, through politically turbulent years (1950s) in Addis Ababa, to one of the sons' eventual medical training at a poor hospital in the Bronx. The rich cast of characters includes a family-like group who staff the Mission Hospital in Addis, where the boys grow up, complete with many operating room scenes that illustrate to the reader how and why the narrator becomes a doctor. The myriad themes growing out of the story include abandonment and betrayal, parenting, love, and the challenge of medical practice in poor conditions. The author, born in Ethiopia in 1955, attained his medical degree in Madras, India, and is now a tenured professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In addition to Cutting for Stone, Verghese is also the author of two non-fiction works, From My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story of a Town and its People in the Age of AIDS (2001) and The Tennis Partner: A Story of Friendship and Loss (1999) Dr. Verghese’s website includes much more information about his fascinating dual careers.
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian
Karl Marlantes (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010)
It took first-time author Marlantes over thirty years to write this extraordinary historical novel detailing what U.S. soldiers endured while fighting in the U.S.’s ill-fated conflict with Vietnam during the late 1960s. Marlantes himself spent 18 months fighting in that war and much of the novel is based on his experience. Marlantes, a highly decorated Marine Corp. officer, as well as a Yale graduate and Rhodes Scholar, is a passionate writer and his powerful epic illuminates the grim realities of war. Matterhorn follows Ivy League-educated Second Lt. Weino Mellas and the men of Bravo Company as they combat not only the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, but insurmountable conditions including dehydration, malnutrition, fatigue, jungle rot, leeches, illnesses, wild animals and lack of supplies and ammunition. Following commanders’ orders (which at times seem questionable to the troops), Bravo Company captures “Matterhorn” —a hill upon which the troops build a firebase. They are ordered to abandon it, only to be ordered to recapture it after the North Vietnamese claimed it. The men of Bravo Company learn they need to depend on each other for survival and though there is strong camaraderie among some of the of troops, there is also much hostility and malevolence, all of which adds to the book’s already heightened sense of drama. Marlantes is a superb writer and his award-winning book has been recognized as providing an authentic view of U.S. soldiers’ experience during this bloody and controversial war.
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
Simon Brett (Detroit, MI: Five Star Publishing, 2009)
Two middle-aged neighbor women are the sleuths in this mystery set in Fethering, a village on the south coast of England. Carole is a retired government official and Jude is a woman of varied and mysterious background which includes New Age crystals and alternative therapy. While eating lunch one day in their local pub, the Crown and Anchor, they and many other diners suffer food poisoning. This is the beginning of a spate of disasters for the pub's owner, Ted Crisp: rowdy bikers and fights follow, his almost ex-wife wants money, and finally during a comedy performance, the stabbing and murder of one of the pub’s staff. Of course Jude and Carole are on the case, and it looks like more than simple murder. This book is not for everyone, as there’s no major action, nor any big drama. What it does have is interesting interplay between the two neighbors, who have dramatically different personalities, and generally good dialogue as they talk with the various witnesses. This is not the author’s best work, but Brett does wry and witty very well. It’s the tenth book in the series about Carole and Jude, and while having read some of the earlier books will enhance your reading, it is definitely not required. At the end there are a few bits of social commentary about the evils of war and corporate expansion, but it’s still light entertainment, a quick and easy read.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Business Reference Librarian
Emma Donoghue (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2010)
The plot is disturbing. A young woman is kidnapped and held captive in an 11 x 11 windowless room converted from a tool shed. She is repeatedly raped and, two years later, gives birth to Jack. The story is told by Jack, a precocious and imaginative five-year old, and we see the world through his eyes. He and Ma live in Room, Jack sleeps in Wardrobe, plays with Snake (old egg cartons strung together) and reads the same five story books over and over. Their days are filled with routines—eating at certain times, walking around the bed (their Track), playing games on Rug, reading story books, and watching programs on their small TV, which Jack refers to as “planets.” Inside of Room is the only world that Jack knows, and his bond with Ma is the only one he has. His mother, increasingly desperate the longer they are held in captivity, develops an escape plan. The suspense builds as the reader wonders if she can trick her captor so Jack can escape and get help. The rest of the story deals with Jack’s adjustment to Outside and the fear and anxiety that develop after being thrown from his tiny, controlled space into the larger world, along with his mother’s breakdown and struggle to return to a normal life. This is an imaginative novel narrated by a small child who is innocent and endearing. The reader gains insight into how Jack perceives his world in comparison to his mother, leading readers to reconsider their own.
Recommended by Kristina Starkus, Ordering-Receiving Librarian, Technical Services
Jodi Picoult (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011)
Jodi Picoult is an author known for the controversial and complex content of her novels. In Sing You Home, Picoult’s 18th published novel, the story she weaves for the reader addresses the topics of civil rights for homosexuals, the use of embryos, and ultra-conservative religious beliefs, sailing yet again into not-yet-charted legal territories. Max and Zoe are a typical American couple expecting their first child after a long period of infertility issues and disappointments. But a sudden tragedy and its consequences lead them to divorce, Max begins drinking again, and Zoe sinks under the weight of her grief and loss. In the aftermath Max turns to a conservative Christian church, while Zoe finds comfort in a new friendship. Before long, Max is one of the church’s loyal fold, and a new romance blossoms between Zoe and her friend, Vanessa. Desiring to be mothers, the new couple seeks to use the last three embryos remaining from Max and Zoe’s attempts at parenthood, but Max, under the advice and counsel of his pastor, objects. The fate of the embryos will have to be determined in court. Sing You Home is a quick read, despite the heavy subject matter, but one that sticks with you. The questions Picoult presents may turn about in the back of your mind long after you’ve read the final page. It does not pack quite the emotional punch as some of her previous books, and it concerns more divisive topics than others, but at its core, Sing You Home does what every other Jodi Picoult novel does: in a one-in-a-million situation, it asks you to consider “What would I do?” The answer, of course, is up to you.
Recommended by Liz Wawrzyniak, Office Associate, Dean's Office
Téa Obreht (New York: Random House, 2011)
Lions and tigers and bears, and Téa the story-teller, oh, my! Téa Obreht is a story-teller of the first rank and in The Tiger’s Wife treats the reader to a remarkable tale. Obreht draws on her Balkan heritage to weave together facts, tales, and tall tales to craft a believable, yet magical, story of Natalia. Obreht’s debut novel is set in the present in an unnamed Balkan country that bears the scars of the wars of the early 1990s and beyond. The novel begins with Natalia, a young doctor, on a mission of mercy to an orphanage. While she is away from home she is informed of the death of her beloved grandfather, also far from home. We follow her on her quest to discover and understand the circumstances of his death. During this time Natalia remembers stories about her grandfather and recalls stories that he had told her about his early life as a doctor and as a small boy growing up in the village of Galina. Through Natalia’s rational eyes, the eyes of one trained in Western medicine, we see a world where things are understood through stories, traditions and myths. Obreht explores the interface between public story and private story—that which is shared and known by many and that which is kept private and shared with few or none. An example of this occurs late in the novel when Natalia, during her investigation of her grandfather’s early life, tells us “Marko Parvić was not there...but he tells the story of the apothecary’s arrival [in Galina] as though he himself witnessed it.” It is the “public” story that Marko tells. The apothecary never shared his “private” story with anyone. Téa Obreht wasn’t there either when all these things happened but she tells the story of the apothecary, Natalia, Natalia’s grandfather, the bear hunter, the deathless man, the tiger’s wife and all the others as though she herself witnessed it. Obreht spins a tale where reality and magic realism merge seamlessly to provide an explanation of the observed world.
Recommended by Nick Schroeder, Senior Graphic Designer, Office of Marketing and
Daniel H. Pink (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009)
Scientific studies dating back to the 1950s have shown that the secret to high performance isn't our biological drive or our reward-and punishment drive, but our third drive—our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose. Daniel Pink uses these studies to postulate that if rewards are ineffective to motivating people in many situations, they can also crush the high-level, creative conceptual abilities that are central to current and future economic and social progress. Observe a toddler for any length of time and you'll learn that out of the box we are designed to be active and engaged. Pink claims that the richest experiences in our lives aren't when we're clamoring for validation from others, but when we're listening to our own voices—doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves. Pink uses scientific data to support his point but also provides real-world examples of how companies are fostering the third drive in their employees, and he provides numerous resources and tips on how you can begin an effort to foster the third drive of the employees in your workplace. This book should be mandatory reading for any manager, especially those who manage employees under 30 and those in creative fields.
Recommended by Eric Kowalik, Instructional Designer
Keith Richards with James Fox. (New York: Little Briown and Co., 2010)
Unless you happen to be a member of a rock band with international acclaim, Life will deliver pure escapism—exactly what students look for after finals. Richards details events one would expect from the life of a Rolling Stone: heavy drug use, promiscuity, and raucous behavior. However, it’s the unexpected details that make for a compelling and endearing portrait of Richards. He recalls how he adopted a stray cat (named Voodoo) in Jamaica and took her back to Connecticut with him; how he worshiped Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry as a young kid; how he met and fell in love with his wife, and how he values his family and life-long friendships above all else. Of course, there are the occasional rock star outbursts typical of gargantuan fame, but ultimately it’s the music—not the spotlight—that motivates Richards. A must read for Rolling Stones fans and memoir lovers.
Recommended by Megan Robbins, Library Intern
Susan Cheever (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010)
During her research on mid-19th century Transcendental writers in Concord, Massachusetts, Cheever re-read her childhood favorite, Little Women, and was struck by how contemporary Alcott seemed as she struggled with decisions that women today face—career and work outside the home versus childrearing, and marriage versus independence. Raised in a family of four girls, daughters of the educator Bronson Alcott did not have an easy life as Mr. Alcott’s nontraditional educational theories did not pay the bills or put food on the table. The young Louisa observed that her mother was little more than a “beast of burden” and grew to decide that marriage would stifle her budding career as an author. Cheever paints a portrait of someone torn between helping her parents as they aged and helping the Civil War effort by becoming a nurse in Washington, DC, an act that resulted in lifetime illness and debilitation. The work is extensively documented and Cheever clearly did her research in letters and archives; however, her portrait aims to uncover the personal side of Louisa and show her as a 21st century feminist. Cheever, daughter of the eminent novelist John Cheever, reveals tidbits about her own and her father’s approaches to writing as she develops Louisa first as an author of “blood and thunder” stories that paid well, then as an editor and author of stories for children. I didn’t approach this work for its scholarship, but I learned a lot about the 1850s and 60s, about the Alcotts’ neighbors, particularly Emerson and Thoreau, about her abolitionary activism, and how Louisa is much more than Little Women.
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian
Pablo J. Boczkowski (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010)
Boczkowski provides a fascinating look inside the collision of print journalism and electronic media in Buenos Aires. The author followed three news outlets and explains how the advent of the digital age and consumption of news by consumers at the workplace instead of at home has impacted journalism and not necessarily for the better. With more people getting their news at work via the Internet, the three profiled media outlets increased their story output during the workday. However in the rush to keep stories updated, information for stories was usually pulled from wire services and in some cases straight from competitors' stories. While the Internet allowed journalists to easily check their competitors' stories, it led to increased imitation amongst the news outlets creating a paradox of more information but less news. The author provides detailed research data but not in a way that would turn off a non-academic reader, and he includes in-depth appendices for those looking for more. Those interested in this topic, but not ready to dive into the book, should read Boczkowski’s article in the November 2010 issue of Communications of the ACM which provides a condensed version of his work and the topic of the divergent online news preferences of journalists and readers.
Recommended by Eric Kowalik, Instructional Designer
Marc Eliot (Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons, 2010)
Paul Simon continues to be one of the most celebrated singers, songwriters and musicians of our time. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Simon has received several lifetime achievement awards as well as becoming the first recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Award from the Library of Congress. Simon’s songs are known worldwide beginning with the ground-breaking 1965 megahit “The Sound of Silence” which catapulted Simon and his then-singing partner, Art Garfunkel, into stardom. But as the book points out, before there was Simon & Garfunkel, there were two elementary school boys who grew up blocks from each other in Queens, NY. They went to the same school and both loved to sing. In high school they were known as “Tom and Jerry” (“Tom” being Garfunkel and “Jerry” being Simon). In 1957 they made a recording “Hey Schoolgirl” which became a minor hit; they even appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. But it wasn’t until the 1960s folk scene explosion that they had their breakthrough record. More Simon compositions sung by Simon & Garfunkel became huge hits: “I am a Rock,” “Homeward Bound,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “The Boxer” among others. Although Simon and Garfunkel sang beautiful harmonies, they quarreled often and with their bickering came breakups and solo careers. Simon continued as a successful performer having hit records such as “Loves Me Like a Rock,” “Kodachrome,” and “Mother and Child Reunion,” In the late 80s, Simon again topped the charts with the ground-breaking African-based “Graceland” album and he continues to record and tour today (including some reunion tours with Garfunkel). This book covers not only Simon’s recording and songwriting career, but also aspects of Simon’s personal life including family and friendships. Any music fans who wish to learn more about this important folk/rock/world music figure will find this book of great interest.
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research and Instructional Services Librarian
Hal Herzog (New York: HarperCollins, 2010)
Which had a better life: the chicken in your McNuggets, or the rooster that died in a cockfight? What are the unintended and sometimes cruel consequences of dogs as fashion statements? These questions and more are explored in this popular science book about human–animal relations (anthrozoology), and the ethical dilemmas in our relationships with animals. His book is thought-provoking and interesting: he looks at cultural and gender differences in our relations with animals, vegetarianism, meat dietary taboos, the complicated ethics of using animals in the laboratory, animal activism as a "religion," and more. He combines description and discussion of research studies with anecdotes from his own experience (for instance how he came to learn about cockfighting culture) and with excerpts from interviews with friends and colleagues. His only firm conclusion is that we’re consistently inconsistent about the moral questions in human-animal relations! Herzog is an academic who also writes for the general public and he writes well. This is a truly interesting read that spans history, biology, sociology, psychology, and ethics and all with lots of story-telling.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
Stacia Fleegal (Cincinnati, OH: Word Press, 2010)
Meet Stacia Fleegal, Digital Projects Technician, who joined the Libraries’ staff in July 2010. She is a graduate of Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program. Stacia’s primary responsibilities in her library position include supporting the deposit of Marquette scholarship into e-Publications@Marquette, the university’s institutional digital repository, and gathering permissions from publishers for inclusion of MU scholarship. Anatomy of a Shape-Shifter, her first full-length collection of poems, has been called “fearless” by author Molly Peacock and “beautifully rendered and unforgettably accurate” by author Aaron Smith. Stacia’s second collection, Versus, was recently published and she is also the author of two poetry chapbooks and the co-founder and editor of both a small poetry press and an online literary journal.
The Browsing Collection, located on Raynor’s 2nd floor, holds popular reading choices, both fiction and non-fiction. We periodically take the pulse of our hottest books, by running circulation statistics for the Browsing Collection. The following list shows total cumulative circulation (in parentheses) for the book since it was added to the collection. In other words, popular books published earlier will naturally reflect more checkouts than brand-new books. While more non-fiction titles do appear further down the list, only one, an account of Ian Fleming's role in WWII, has more than a dozen checkouts. Our Stieg Larsson fans mirror readers everywhere with ...Dragon Tattoo now on the New York Times bestsellers list for 90+ weeks! To manage the size of the collection, older books that no longer circulate frequently are pulled and relocated to the generalcollection in Memorial.Faith Steele, librarian in Research & Instructional Services, is responsible for selecting books for Browsing and is happy to receive suggestions by e-mail.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,
Stieg Larsson, 2008 (31)
The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson, 2009 (25)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson, 2010 (23)
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris, 2008 (16)
Ian Fleming’s Secret War, Craig Cabell, 2008 (15)
Figures in Silk, Vanora Bennett, 2009 (13)
Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris, 2009 (13)
The National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced in March. The NBCC annual awards honor the best literature published in English in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The fiction award went to Jennifer Egan for A Visit from the Goon Squad, called by the award committee a mash-up of "experimental technique with rock-solid realism" and a combination novel and linked short stories. Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer won the biography category. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson won in general nonfiction. The poetry award was given to C. D. Wright for her One With Others: [a little book of her days], called "equal parts poetry and journalism" about a "charged moment in the Civil Rights Movement."
The Newbery Medal is given annually by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished contribution to literature for children. The 2011 award winner, Moon Over Manifest, is a debut novel by Clare Vanderpool, set in Depression-era Manifest, Kansas.
Deborah Eisenberg won the PEN/Faulkner Award for
Fiction, which honors the best works of Americans during a calendar year. Eisenberg's Collected Stories of Deborah
Eisenberg is a four-volume compilation of her work and was selected from among more than
300 novels and short story collections.
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