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Reading Recommendations for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Bienvenidos a Northeastern, and happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Initially recognized as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, the celebration of Hispanic American history was expanded to a month-long event in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, and is observed from September 15-October 15 each year. Here at the Northeastern University Library, we’ve curated a selection of recreational reading that highlights Hispanic voices, stories, and culture.

Visit the Hub on the first floor of Snell Library to check out the print collection, which includes titles in both English and Spanish. If you’re not on the Boston campus, enjoy any of the e-books or audiobooks linked from our virtual bookshelf! Here are some recommended reads:

The cover of The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (2022)

This Gothic fairytale begins in the years following the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz, left orphaned and homeless by the war, marries a wealthy widower and moves to his secluded country estate. But as she settles into her new home, Beatriz begins to hear voices and see visions, and to wonder what really happened to her husband’s first wife.

The cover of Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta by Isabel Allende (2022)

The newest novel from the award-winning author of The House of the Spirits and Zorro (among many others!) follows the momentous hundred-year life of Violeta Del Valle, from her birth in 1920 until her death a century later.



The cover of Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through America's Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez

Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez (2020)

The son of Mexican immigrants living in Washington, Noé Álvarez left college to participate in the Peace and Dignity Journey: a months-long run organized every four years by Indigenous and First Nations communities, with the intention of fostering and reaffirming cultural connections among First Nations peoples.

Recreational Reads Available Through New OverDrive Subscription

Looking for your next great read? Northeastern University Library is proud to announce our new OverDrive platform, which offers a dynamic collection of e-books and audiobooks to all members of the Northeastern community. Enjoy curated selections of new fiction, popular nonfiction, classic works, and audiobooks.

You can explore the full OverDrive collection at northeasternuni.overdrive.com. We’re adding new materials all the time, so be sure to check back frequently! Northeastern’s OverDrive platform connects seamlessly to the free Libby app for iOS and Android, which allows you to place holds, check out books, and read or listen on your tablet or smartphone. If you’re a member of a public library that supports Libby, you can quickly switch between library accounts to maximize your reading experience.

E-books and audiobooks in the OverDrive collection are also linked directly from Scholar OneSearch, our library catalog, so you can do all your searching in one place!

Users are currently able to check out three titles at a time for up to two weeks, and can place a maximum of three simultaneous holds. When accessing materials on OverDrive, you’ll be prompted to log in with your Northeastern/Mills or NCH London credentials.

Northeastern’s OverDrive instance replaces our previous membership to the SAILS OverDrive platform, and allows Northeastern librarians greater control over the materials in the collection. This means that we’re able to respond to your requests! If there’s something you’d like to see in the library’s collection, just fill out the Recommend a Purchase form to let us know.

Here are some recommended reads to help you get started…

The cover of the book Persuasion by Jane Austen


Persuasion: The recent Netflix adaptation of this Jane Austen novel may have been a bit of a flop, but the original story is a classic for a reason. Austen’s final work is a romantic meditation on love and duty.




The cover of Book Lovers by Emily Henry



Book Lovers: This New York Times bestseller is a love letter to books and reading, and a romance between two very different—but maybe not so different?—readers.




The cover of Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

Between Two Kingdoms: At twenty two, Suleika Jaouad has just graduated from college and has her whole life ahead of her. Then, without warning, she’s diagnosed with leukemia. But this is not a book about surviving cancer. It’s a book about what comes after: learning to live in the world again.

Katz Tapes Provide Valuable Resource on History of Music Industry

This blog post was written by Sean Plaistowe and edited by Molly Brown and Giordana Mecagni for clarity.

Larry Katz is a music journalist who spent a long career working at Boston-area newspapers and magazines. While collecting information for upcoming articles, it became his practice to record the interviews with musicians and artists and put them aside in case they proved useful in the future. Over time, he amassed a collection of over 1,000 of these interviews, with artists as diverse as Eartha Kitt, Carly Simon, D.J. Fontana (the drummer for Elvis), Aerosmith, David Bowie, Ornette Coleman, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, James Brown, Miles Davis, and Elmore Leonard, as well as actors including Ted Danson, Mel Brooks, and Loretta Devine.

In 2020, Larry donated his collection to the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections (NUASC).

A collage of various musicians and artists. At the center is a cassette tape that is labeled "The Katz Tapes"

These interviews create a fascinating resource that provides insight into the music and arts industry across a wide variety of genres and eras. In them, you can catch some novel and intimate moments of music history. On one tape, you’ll hear Weird Al Yankovic discussing the difficulties of obtaining permission to parody Eminem’s music. Other tapes with artists like Nina Simone or Aimee Mann discuss musical influences or even the challenges and biases of navigating the recording industry. These interviews contain countless quiet moments as well, such as Prince discussing his preference for his home in Minneapolis over either coast, as well as his favorite movies of the year. The quiet clicking of teacups connecting with saucers while Eartha Kitt discusses her career provides a welcome feeling of connection and belonging that can feel rare and precious in researching these figures or music journalism more generally.

Black and white image of a man with curly dark hair and a collared shirt.
Larry Katz. Photo courtesy of The Katz Tapes website.

After graduating from the Manhattan School of Music in 1975, Larry Katz worked as a bass player before starting his journalism career at Boston’s Real Paper in 1980. In 1981, Larry worked as a freelance music writer at the Boston Globe and Boston Phoenix before being hired at the Boston Herald as a features writer, where he covered a wide variety of arts and lifestyle beats before settling into a role as a music critic and columnist. In 2006, he became the Herald’s Arts Editor and in 2008, he took over the features department, a role he had until 2011.

In 2013, Larry revisited his tape collection. Re-listening to the interviews sparked memories of the circumstances and contexts that these recordings were made in, information he felt compelled to share. He started a blog, The Katz Tapes, where he began to write reflections on artists and their interviews, often taking into account events that had transpired since the original conversations. Along with these reflections, Larry provided a transcription of the recorded interviews which he often interspersed with links to notable performances or songs related to the artists. Larry also donated the contents of this blog to the NUASC.

Making this collection usable and accessible to the public has involved many hands and collaborations, both internal and external. First, the tapes were digitized by George Blood LP, with funding generously provided by the Library of the Commonwealth program run by the Boston Public Library. Once the digitized tapes were safely back in the hands of the NUASC collections staff, the files were then handed to the Digital Production Services department to do the painstaking work of processing and cataloging the collection. They split audio files that contained multiple interviews, combined interviews that were on multiple tapes edited out white space, and created catalog records.

Making the blog content available was another challenge. Despite already being digital, moving content from Larry’s independent site to Northeastern hosting proved difficult. Initially, I was hopeful that we could use a handy WordPress feature that would allow for the whole cloth export of his blog. No such luck. Instead, I found some scripts which allowed me to scrape the many unique images which Larry had included with each post. The blog also linked to a lot of songs and performances hosted on YouTube, but unfortunately, due to the vagaries of time and copyright law, many of these videos were removed. When possible, I attempted to restore links to sanctioned videos. As an added feature, I created a playlist that includes many of the songs referenced in these posts.

Now that the collection has been cataloged and the blog has been ingested, we welcome anyone to search for their favorite artist, listen to their interview, read some of the reminiscences and insights form Larry about the artist and the interview, and listen to a Spotify playlist of some of the artists Larry interviews at thekatztapes.library.northeastern.edu.

In addition to the Larry Katz collection, researchers and enthusiasts of the arts in Boston may be interested in the Real Paper records and the Boston Phoenix records, both available at the NUASC.

Archival Context: Freedom House at the Norman B. Leventhal Center

A faded flyer with red text reading "Clean Up Paint Up Join your neighbors Don your work clothes Get busy Make your town a better place to live in Safer too Start at home Make it bright Clean your streets Clean your yard Paint inside Paint outside Fix-up and repair Plant-up too

On March 18th, the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center in the Boston Public Library (BPL) debuted their exhibit “More or Less in Common: Environment and Justice in the Human Landscape.” The exhibit examines how social justice and injustice are confronted in the study of the “human landscape” and how we can use questions of social justice to help us build healthier and better environments for the future.

Northeastern’s contributions to the exhibit come from our Freedom House, Inc., records and in particular, their records on urban renewal and neighborhood-led clean-up campaigns. The exhibit features two fliers calling Roxbury neighbors to action in various clean-up and maintenance projects. Neighborhood improvement programs designed to protect Upper Roxbury from urban blight began in 1949 when Freedom House joined with community members to organize neighborhood clean-up projects and playground construction.

A multi-colored guide with the title "Let's get M.A.D. and clean up Washington Park"

Freedom House worked closely with the city to improve the services provided to Roxbury. At the same time, Boston was beginning a formal urban renewal campaign that did not initially include Roxbury. A telegram from Freedom House founders Muriel and Otto Snowden to Mayor John F. Collins resulted in the inclusion of the Washington Park Urban Renewal Project in Boston’s campaign. By 1963, Freedom House had entered into formal contracts with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Action Boston Community Development to serve as a liaison between the planners and technicians and the residents of Washington Park. This relationship lasted until the BRA withdrew from Roxbury in the late 1960s, leaving much of its work undone.

The Leventhal Center’s exhibit takes our Freedom House records, and many other institutions’ records, and composes them into a complicated vision of how human landscapes were confronted and contended with in the past and how they can be reimagined for the future.

Visit the exhibit in person at the BPL’s historic McKim Building during the BPL’s visiting hours, which can be found here.

Or you can view the digital exhibit, along with lesson plans and resources for further study, here.

Find out more about the Freedom House records, the Snowdens, and Roxbury neighborhood history here.

Hub Display Celebrates Arab American Heritage Month

Ramadan Mubarak, and happy Arab American Heritage Month! This month, stop by the Hub on the first floor of Snell Library to explore a curated collection of books focused on Arab and Arab American history, culture, food, and stories. From classical works of poetry and literature to rich fantasy worlds to cookbooks full of mouth-watering recipes, there are plenty of incredible books waiting to be checked out. Here are a few recommendations:

This is How You Lose the Time War
Written jointly by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, this Hugo Award-winning novella is written in letters between two enemies as they battle through space and time. Part romance, part spy novel, part sci-fi mini-epic, This is How You Lose the Time War is unlike anything you’ve read before.

The Other Americans
Laila Lalami’s newest novel tells the story of the accidental death—or possible murder—of a Moroccan immigrant. “At once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story.” —Goodreads

19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
This collection of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry offers an intimate glimpse into life in the West Bank.

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal
Kamala Khan is just living her life in Jersey City when she’s suddenly granted amazing powers. Can Kamala embrace her new identity and live up to the name of Ms. Marvel? Meet the first Muslim American superhero before she makes her screen debut!

Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery and Café
If you haven’t been to Sofra Bakery and Café in Cambridge, you’re missing out. Soframiz, the owners’ cookbook, lets you in on some of the secrets behind their incredible food—but you might decide to save some time and take a trip to Cambridge instead!

The Thirty Names of Night
A closeted trans Syrian immigrant stumbles across the journal of a Syrian American artist and discovers mysterious connections to his own past.

You can check out all of these books, and many more, from the Hub on the first floor of Snell Library. And if you’re not on the Boston campus, you can still explore our collections! Check out our extensive list of Arab American Heritage Month e-books and audiobooks. Happy reading!