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Staff Book Suggestions Spring 2014

Elizabeth Borah
Thermae Romae [Vol.1] by Mari Yamazaki
(New Books, Library of Congress PZ4.Y192 Th 2012)
 
This wonderful manga (Japanese comic) is a visual treat for both ancient Roman history buffs and comic fans alike. Mari Yamazaki has won a handful of awards for her imaginative historical fiction stories, and they are well deserved: her attention to detail, contextual humor, and intricate illustrations are masterful.
The short series tells the story of Lucius, a Roman bath architect trying to devise more innovative spaces and thermae. One day, he slips in the bath and when he emerges, he finds himself in a modern-day Japanese bath house! Though puzzled, he is fascinated by the strange modern contraptions he discovers in this strange new world. Eventually, the implementation of what he sees on his mysterious trips to the “other side” attracts the attention of Emperor Hadrian.
 
For anyone looking for a glimpse into Roman and Japanese bath cultures, this is a fun series for readers of all ages to enjoy. The volume itself is read right-to-left, in keeping with the original Japanese style, and each page is elaborately printed to make for an immersive reading experience.
 
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime
By Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editors.
(New Books, Library of Congress + PL747.57.S3 R63 2007)
 
For new or old fans of Japanese science fiction and animated works outside the childish vein, Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is a wonderful academic look at modern masterpieces as well the early influences of these genres. With sections discussing literature, film, manga, and anime, this collection of essays offers a much-needed serious critique of works which have been overlooked in academic writing. Even if one is not particularly well-versed on these subjects, the introduction to the book helps to verse the reader in the important terms and language of the genres. Hopefully reading about all the works described in this book will inspire you to watch or read them for a more fully enjoyable experience!
 
Pat Boulos
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
(New Books, Library of Congress PZ4.T188 Gol 2013)
 
An explosion at the Met kills the narrator’s beloved mother, resulting in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called “The Goldfinch.” The plot follows narrator Theo from Park Avenue to Las Vegas back to New York and the underworld of art. Humorous sidekicks, eccentric characters, and gangsters abound.
 
David Dearinger
Photography and the American Civil War by Jeff Rosenheim
(Library of Congress + E468.7 .R674 2013)
 
Photography of the American Civil War is a landmark in art-historical studies of the Civil War. It is of the highest scholarly quality while also managing to be very readable. The text and the copious illustrations are equally informative and poignant and, together, make a worthy record of the magnificent, almost overwhelming exhibition for which the book was published. With its superb form and content, the book earned the College Art Association’s Alfred Barr Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given in the field.
 
Jimmy Feeney
A History of Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon by Anthony Mitchell Sammarco
(New Books, Library of Congress TX945.5.H595 S25 2013)
 
A delicious trip down Memory Lane.  Photos to flavor your appetites, all 28 of them, sprinkled with “jimmies,” of course. Don’t forget the all you can eat Friday Fish Fry—just in time for Lenten dinners.
 
Hugh McCall
The Writing Class: A Novel by Jincy Willet
(New Books, Library of Congress PZ4 .W698 Wr 2008)
 
A murder mystery where everyone in the writing class is a suspect. A very entertaining read. 
 
Carolle Morini
Literary Miniatures by Florence Noiville, transl. Teresa Lavender Fagan
(New Books, Library of Congress PN452 .N65 2013)
 
What I have enjoyed most about this book is learning about authors I was not familiar with and learned something new about a few favorite authors of mine. Originally these literary miniatures were published in Le Monde. Noiville revisits the interviews she conducted from the late 1990s – 2012 and puts together, in alphabetical order, her gallery of authors. It would not be fair if I didn’t warn you about the side effect of reading this book: your “books to read pile” will grow; much taller than you anticipated.
 
Emilia Mountain
“Imbolc Poems” by Jill Hammer
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 2006), pp. 75-82
 
In this series of poems, Jill Hammer bravely takes on the voices of the great goddesses of yore as they contemplate the coming of spring. We have so many wonderful electronic resources available to members. If you’d like help accessing content like Hill’s poems in JSTOR, or any other databases, please feel free to stop by and ask for assistance.
 
Amanda Pirog
My Education: A Novel by Susan Choi
(New Books, Library of Congress, PZ4.C5452 My 2013)
 
My Education is the story of Regina Gottlieb, beginning when she is a twenty-one year old graduate student of English literature, enmeshed in the complicated marriage of two of her school’s professors. Though most of the novel is spent detailing young Regina’s naiveté and passionate ardor, the novel’s narrator is an adult Regina, looking upon her younger self without judgment or scorn, yet with highly focused precision. Each sentence, each emotion, each scene is beautifully constructed with metaphor, appearing vividly in the mind’s eye, down to a character’s wrinkles or the packaging of convenience store food.
 
What at first appears to be a story of scandal is instead a coming-of-age tale, where new-found adulthood reconciles with hard-earned adult life. Susan Choi’s prose is rich, truthful, and hard to put down. 
 
Deborah Vernon
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
(New Books, Library of Congress PZ4.W14934 Lo 2013)
 
This slim novel offers a witty but also poignant critique of today's twenty and thirtysomethings. Insecurities thwart the title character's search for love. Can intimacy survive in a petty world?
 
Mary Warnement
Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children's Tales by Marta McDowell.
(New Books, Library of Congress CT788.P68 M32 2013)
 
What a breath of fresh air. Just what I needed for spring, in the midst of grey skies and chill that go along with my main reading this winter on the history of Berlin. Beatrix and her bunnies bounced through my weekend. I wouldn't have even cared if her Peter had gnawed on my garden. He'd have to gnaw very hard to get through the frozen stems. I'd call this book thin, except that it's hefty. The reproductions of her watercolors are delightful. McDowell paired botanicals with examples of the plants in her published books in an enchanting way. Both archival photographs and modern photos of her gardens adorn the book. It's a quick read, but the high quality paper, excellent for photos, make the book, even with its sweet dimensions, a heavy tome. This is light but not without research. McDowell knows Potter's biography and knows plants. An excellent pairing. I cannot wait to give this as a gift. Shh, don't give it away.
 
Alexandra Winzeler
The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker
(Library of Congress PZ4 .W385 Go 2013)
 
This book is an elegant balance of realistic human troubles and the magical and fantastical. Chava, the golem in the title, is left to make her way in historic New York alone after her master dies. Ahmad, the jinni, finds himself released in the city but still captive in a human form. The two cross paths with each other as well as a multitude of human characters, both kind and sinister. Though this book is shelved with adult fiction, it could easily be appropriate to other young adult readers as well. It is a graceful, multicultural story about identity, need, and personal power, set in a tangible history and wrapped in delicious mythology.