May Reading

Jun. 5th, 2017 06:10 pm
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Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African-Americans to the Great Outdoors
Carolyn Finney
University of North Carolina Press, 2014

This book looks at many of the reasons why black people are thought not to be interested in "nature." Finney provides historic examples of blacks being barred from property ownership, sundown towns, erasure from environmental history, and the whole framing of what "nature" is and how we go about preserving it.

I was disappointed in this book, but I think it's because I wanted it to be something it wasn't. A review said it combined academic format with personal experience, and I expected it to be more like "Reading Classes" or "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" but it wasn't as well written as either of those books. Still, I learned a lot from it, and got many names to follow up with further reading.


Stealing Magic (A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure)
Marianne Malone
Random House, 2011

The second book in a series of four following two children who can shrink to the scale of the Thorne Rooms. I liked the first quite a bit, because the Thorne Rooms are a favorite part of the Art Institute for me. I would spend hours looking not only into the rooms, but through the windows into the painted trees and scenes just outside the rooms. In this series, the children (two friends who have almost the same names as my grand-niece and -nephew) can enter not just the rooms themselves, but the outside world of some of the rooms as well. They have various adventures related to the objects they find and the people they meet (always a child their age on whom they have a positive influence).

I liked the feel of Chicago, especially the weather descriptions. I got an especial kick in that the favorite room of a recurring character was my favorite room too (the California modern room that was contemporary to when the Thorne Rooms were first created).

I enjoyed the first book, finished the second, but I'm not engaged enough in the series to finish the third or start the fourth. Oh well.

Mozart's Starling
Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Little, Brown and Co., 2017

I was introduced to Lyanda Lynn Haupt when her essay about cormorants was used in one of my first classes at Antioch, in 2010. I've since read all of her books, and it's a mark of my esteem for her that I actually purchased this book (at an independent bookstore no less!).

As with all of her works, the ostensible subject (Mozart's pet starling) is only a jumping off point for deft explorations of many different subjects: musicology, raising wild birds, the history of starlings in the USA, research into starling intelligence, psychology, our relationship to the more than human world, a contested piece of Mozart's music ("A Musical Joke") and others. If you like birds, you'll think differently of starlings after reading this work. If you like Mozart, you'll learn a lot about his music.

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell
Dutton, 2017

An amusing autobiography of the stand-up comedian and talk-show host. W. Kamau Bell has hosted "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" and "United Shades of America." This book talks about his childhood, early years in stand up, the work on his solo show and his TV shows, and his efforts to ensure diversity in the writing and production staff of his shows at every level. It was pretty funny at times. Between each chapter autobiographical chapter, he has a personal chapter that explores a subject in greater detail (such as "The Most Awkward Birthday Ever").


Taking Your MLIS Abroad: Getting and Succeeding in an International Library Job
Lara Seven Phillips and Katherine G. Holvoet
Libraries Unlimited, 2017

Although aimed at MLIS holders, and with lots of MLIS-specific information, this book would be of use to any USian seeking a job abroad. It includes suggestions on what to expect in interviews (including questions that would be illegal in the US), how to research a culture in depth, contingencies like spousal employment or issues involving noncustodial parent of a small child, and more. The information is cogently presented with a light-handed humorous touch.



The Color Master (Stories)
Aimee Bender
Doubleday, 2013

A collection of stories that might best be taken in smaller doses to let the distinction between them sink in. I felt the stories were almost, but not quite, magical realism. They range from the present day into a mythic past.
 


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