Category Archives: Books

Last chapter of Les Misérables appeared today in 1862

front page of French magazine featuring Les MiserablesOn this day (June 30) in 1862, French author Victor Hugo published the last installment of his massive novel Les Misérables. (A story on Vox.com celebrates the event.) Hugo is also the subject of a Google Doodle today to mark the achievement.

In those days, many novels were “serialized” (published in segments) in various newspapers and magazines so that middle-class readers could better afford to read them.

If you want to read the original 1200+ page version, Rentschler Library has one translation  and the Modern Library edition by a different translator. There is also an abridged version (link to Amazon.com) published by Barnes & Noble in 2003. There are also editions available in French and, of course, the movie and musical.

New books for summer

With the end of the fiscal year almost here, our purchasing of new books is complete until after July 1st. Still, there are a lot of great new titles on our display. Links below, either in text or in the book cover image will take you to the library catalog, where you can place a hold on the item.

book cover image Bostons Massacre“In 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd of people, killing five. Hinderaker  deepens readers’ understanding of the event in a three-pronged approach: explaining the massacre’s historical context, examining the 18th-century documents that create dueling narratives of the event, and highlighting the different moments in history—namely the Kent State shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement—that invoke the massacre’s memory after violent crowd-policing incidents.” from Library Journal review

book cover image Good ChartsWe get a lot of questions at the Information Desk about how to turn data into effective charts. This book can help. From the publisher: ‘Good Charts will help you turn plain, uninspiring charts that merely present information into smart, effective visualizations that powerfully convey ideas.”

book cover Hag seedHag-Seed is 0ne of the latest additions to Hogarth’s collection of Shakespeare plays reimagined by novelists. “Atwood (Handmaid’s Tale) positively frolics in this rambunctiously plotted and detailed enactment of how relevant Shakespeare can be for a talented troupe behind bars. Supremely sagacious, funny, compassionate, and caustic, Atwood presents a reverberating play-within-a-play within a novel.”
from Booklist review

 

book cover Christopher marlowe“Because there is virtually no firsthand evidence about the beliefs or actions of Christopher Marlowe (1564–93), Riggs (English/Stanford; Ben Jonson, not reviewed) turns to the culture and time that created him. He does so with authority and vigor, recapturing the climate of religious flux and common disaster, not just in England but across Europe, that surrounded Marlowe’s youth.”
from Kirkus review

Notes on the Assemblage – Juan Felipe Herrera

Book cover of Notes on the AssemblageThis last poetry-related blog post of National Poetry Month is about our current United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.  He is the son of migrant farm workers and was educated at UCLA & Stanford. Herrera is a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is a performance artist, activist, teacher.

The Poet Laureate’s official title is “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.” The position “serves as the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.”

Rentschler Library has Herrera’s “Half the World in Light,” and “187 reasons mexicanos can’t cross the border.” Our featured poem by Herrera is “Almost Livin’ Almost Dyin” which was published in his collection “Notes on the Assemblage (jacket cover at left) and was also published on the Poetry Foundation website.

for all the dead

                                                                                           & hear my streets
with ragged beats & the beats
are too beat to live so the graves push out with
hands that cannot touch the makers of light & the
sun flames down through the roofs & the roots that slide
to one side & the whistlin’ fires of the cops & the cops
in the shops do what they gotta do & your body’s
on the fence & your ID’s in the air & the shots
get fired & the gas in the face & the tanks
on your blood & the innocence all around & the
spillin’ & the grillin’ & the grinnin’ & the game of Race
no one wanted & the same every day so U fire &
eat the smoke thru your long bones & the short mace
& the day? This last sweet Swisher day that turns to love
& no one knows how it came or what it is or what it says
or what it was or what for or from what gate
is it open is it locked can U pull it back to your life
filled with bitter juice & demon angel eyes even though
you pray & pray mama says you gotta sing she says
you got wings but from what skies from where could
they rise what are the things the no-things called love
how can its power be fixed or grasped so the beats
keep on blowin’ keep on flyin’ & the moon tracks your bed
where you are alone or maybe dead & the truth
carves you carves you & calls you back still alive
cry cry the candles by the last four trees still soaked
in Michael Brown red and Officer Liu red and
Officer Ramos red and Eric Garner whose
last words were not words they were just breath
askin’ for breath they were just burnin’ like me like
we are all still burnin’ can you hear me
can you can you feel me swaggin’ tall & driving low &
talkin’ fine & hollerin’ from my corner crime & fryin’
against the wall

almost livin’ almost dyin’
almost livin’ almost dyin’

April is National Poetry Month

For the month of April, the Rentschler Library blog will be featuring some of the great poetry books added in the last year. You should also know that the library is co-sponsoring a poetry reading event, on April 20th 11:30-1:00 at Wilks Conference Center with the Department of Literatures, Languages, and Writing. You can come read your favorite published poem. Refreshments will be provided.

Our first poetry book featured is a collection by Adrienne Rich, “Collected Poems: 1950-2012,” published by W.W. Norton in 2016.
A writer for Dissent called Rich the “most socially sensual and politically radical American poet of the 20th century.”*

One of the poems in this new collection, “What Kind of Times are These,” was also featured on the Poetry Foundation website recently.  A reviewer in Library Journal said the poem “starts with a granular, personal observation” and “unfolds into complex maps of wider awareness and realization.” **

What Kind of Times Are These”  Adrienne Rich

“There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.”

*Haas, Lidija. 2016. “The World of Adrienne Rich.” Dissent (00123846) 63, no. 4: 18-23.
** Muratori, Fred. 2016. “Collected Poems: 1950-2012.” Library Journal 141, no. 9: 82.

Women’s History Month – Grace Hopper

hopperFor Women’s History Month, the blog is highlighting Grace Hopper, a groundbreaking computer scientist, mathematician, and an officer in the U.S. Navy. Our most recent book on Hopper is “Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age,” by Kurt Beyer (MIT Press, 2012.  She is listed in “American Women Scientists: 23 inspiring biographies, 1900-2000,” by Moira Davison Reynolds. Here are some quick facts:

 

  • Earned a Ph.D in Mathematics from Yale University in 1934.
  • While working in private industry, she helped create the first “compiler” for computer languages (a compiler renders worded instructions into code that can be read by computers). This compiler was the basis for the later development of COBOL, a computer language used widely in the business world.
  • First woman to win the National Medal of Technology (1991)
  • When she retired as a rear admiral from U.S. Navy at age 79, she was at that time the oldest serving officer.
  • First woman of any nationality (and the first American) ever named as Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society
  • Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 by Pres. Barack Obama for her accomplishments in the field of computer science.

 

Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker driving automobile

Madame C.J. Walker (in the driver’s seat at  left) was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist who became the first black woman millionaire in the United States. She made her fortune selling hair care products for women. She was born Sarah Breedlove to Louisiana sharecroppers in 1867. She was widowed by age 20 and went to work as a laundress in St. Louis, MO. After starting to lose her hair in 1905, she develped a product that helped with her condition and went on to create a whole system of hair treatment products specifically geared towards black women’s hair. She lived extravagantly, and her Manhattan townhouse would later become a meeting place for artists of the Harlem Renaissance. She also gave extravagantly to charities like the NAACP, black YMCA, and funded scholarships for women to the Tuskeegee Institute. She is ranked #85 of the 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: a Ranking Past and Present.

book cover of On Her Own Ground

One of the biographies of Madame C.J. Walker available is On her own ground : the life and times of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles, New York: Scribner, 2001.

Another more recent biography is “Her Dream of Dreams: the Rise and Triumph of Madame C.J. Walker, by Beverly Lowry, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass

book cover imageIt is difficult to overstate the impact Frederick Douglass had on the abolition movement in the 19th Century. He escaped slavery, fled to New York City and became a major figure in the movement. Rentschler Library has both of his famous books. His first, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, is a “testament to the evils of slavery, detailing its dehumanizing nature and its attempt to crush one’s spirit.” (Notable Black Americans, 1998). His second autobiography, My Bondage and my Freedom, “revises key portions of his original 1845 Narrative and extends the story of his life to include his experiences as a traveling lecturer in the United States as well as England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.” (Documenting the American South)

The book jacket above is a biography of Douglass, edited by L. Diane Barnes,  using selected speeches and writings. One reviewer said it is a “well-collocated set of materials from across Douglass’s life” and provides “an approachable and meaningful introduction to the man and his ideas.”