Earlier this semester a couple of coworkers and I participated on the planning committee for a campus visit by artist, curator, and educator Deborah Davidson, through the NU Humanities Center’s Artists and Practitioners in Residence Program. This week I was pleased to see those plans come to fruition, as the campus and Snell Library saw a successful series of events with Ms. Davidson, who has an interest in the book as subject and object in her artwork. On Tuesday morning, the lobby of Snell Library played host to a book-making event led by Davidson, in which participants could fold a piece of paper into a book form and then decorate/fill it however they chose, with a wide variety of art supplies she provided. The event was well-attended and participants really seemed to enjoy themselves. I myself channeled my inner 10-year-old and covered a few pages with smiley stickers and paper cutout hearts. For a great account of this event, including photos, see the nice writeup from news@Northeastern. On Wednesday at noon, an audience at Snell Library was treated to a “Meet the Artist” presentation by Davidson, in which she discussed her interest in making and thinking about books, and how books as art can both reveal and conceal themes and ideas. She focused on her book, Voices, which was part of a long-term project in which she used the book form to investigate her family history and its intersection with larger historical and cultural issues. She showed photos from exhibitions of her work and answered questions from attendees about her process and directions she may take with her future artwork. By the way, she has curated an art exhibit that is currently on display at NU’s Gallery 360 — I encourage you to go check it out to see some of Davidson’s work as well as that of other artists. Snell Library was delighted to host multiple events as part of Davidson’s residency on campus, and my colleagues and I certainly enjoyed this opportunity to look at and think about books in a way quite different from what’s required by our day-to-day jobs. We look forward to future collaborations with the NU Humanities Center!
The New York Times Book Review released its list of the 10 Best Books of 2010 early last month and now you can find almost all of the celebrated tomes right here at Snell Library! Most of the books on the list are available at The Hub, our library’s special, rotating selection of international bestsellers, groundbreaking graphic novels, and popular DVDs that you can find immediately across from the Snell Library entrance. Check out the list below to learn more about the 2010 picks and where to find them at Snell. Get ready for a good read while the snow piles up outside! Fiction Freedom By Jonathan Franzen PS3556.R352 F74 2010 Touted by critics as a “masterpiece of American Literature,” and compared in Esquire magazine to Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace, Freedom is a darkly written comedy framed through the envious eyes of an American family’s moralistic neighbors. The book paints an insightful portrait of the cultural forces and individual choices that can bring families together—and tear them apart. Selected for several book lists, Freedom was not without controversy. Boston’s WBUR reported that several best-selling female authors, including Jodi Picoult, believed the critical praise for Franzen’s book was merely misplaced gender bias. Check out Freedom for yourself to discover if the book is worth the wide acclaim. Room By Emma Donoghue PR6054.O547 R66 2010 Jack, like other five-year-old boys, plays with his toys and loves his mom, but he lives a life quite different from other children. He has spent his entire life in a small room with his mother as a prisoner of a man called Old Nick. Despite the disturbing premise, Room is a story of endurance, filled with raw emotional extremes that make readers feel like they too are discovering the world for the first time. Winner of the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Room is a strange but powerful novel. A Visit from the Goon Squad By Jennifer Egan PS3555.G292 V57 2010 Punk rock laced with obscenities? Sign us up, please. Jennifer Egan’s book starts in modern day New York before flashing back to the early Bay Area punk scene to follow the life of Sasha, a child of a broken, violent marriage who runs away and ends up in the radically new music scene of the late 1970s and early ’80s. A Visit from the Goon Squad is more than just sex and rock and roll—it’s rich with satire and clever prose. Pick up the book today to give this Brooklyn-based author a spin on the turntable. Non-fiction Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet By Jennifer Homans GV1787 .H58 2010 Homans, former professional ballet dancer and current dance critic for The New Republic, chronicles the formal and cultural history of ballet in her two-part work Apollo’s Angels. It is partly a celebration of the ballet’s most notable achievements and its cultural importance, but Homans also questions its survival as its relevance gradually fades. Written before Black Swan revived the public’s interest in ballet, it’s a fascinating exposition of a purportedly languishing art form. Cleopatra: A Life By Stacy Schiff DT92.7 .S35 2010 Countless literary and film portrayals present Cleopatra as a bold, manipulative seductress, but they neglect to credit her as a brilliant politician and leader, according to author Stacy Schiff. The author, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her biography of Vera Nabokov, the wife of Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov, dispels the myths surrounding the legendary queen of Egypt while also crafting a “bloody and harrowing” portrait of the royal family. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer By Siddhartha Mukherjee RC275 .M85 2010 In his debut work, oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee writes a “biography” of one of our time’s most pervasive and misunderstood illnesses: cancer. It provides detailed accounts of our society’s battle against the disease and the gripping stories behind the treatments and breakthroughs we know today. Mukherjee shows us how far we have come in understanding this “emperor of all maladies,” but he also recognizes how little we actually know. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes By Stephen Sondheim ML54.6.S69 S66 2010 Finishing the Hat, which is part self-critique and part illumination, analyzes lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s earlier works, including West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Sweeney Todd. The title refers to a line from Sondheim’s 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George, where painter Georges Seurat is moments away from completing his grand work, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Finishing the Hat provides great insight into the creative process of our generation’s most gifted composers. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration By Isabel Wilkerson E185.6 .W685 2010 When George Swanson Sterling, an orange grove worker in Florida, became aware he was a potential lynching victim, he fled the area for Harlem in 1945. Beginning in the 20th century and peaking in the post-WWII years, more than six million African Americans left the South to escape Jim Crow–era brutality for areas with industrial job opportunities. Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, culminates fourteen years of research in her work, The Warmth of Other Suns. She details the journeys of three individuals who made the trek from the American South to Wisconsin, California, and New York, respectively. Sterling’s story and others’ provide fascinating insight into the historical migration that shaped and enriched the culture of our major urban areas in the North and West, and consequently, our country.
On this day in history, the great author George Orwell died in London. Perhaps best known for his dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell was a proponent of social justice in his time. Today we read his books and take from them the lessons of equality, freedom, and justice that were being expressed in the 1940s. The library has a great collection of books, videos, e-books, and more that you can find here, or by searching for George Orwell on NUCat. Take some time out to read or re-read some of the 20th century’s finest literary works!
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On December 2nd, 1970 (40 years ago!) the EPA began daily operations under Richard Nixon (one of few things he got right). This organization is responsible for researching and educating the public on environmental issues, as well as setting and enforcing environment-related legislation. Key programs you may be familiar with are vehicle emission standards, Clean Water Acts, and the Endangered Species Acts. As a part of NU Libraries’ Federal Depository program, we have government-issued reports available in print and online that explore various EPA related topics in detail. You can take out a print article from our government stacks on the oversight of recent EPA decisions, or you can read an online article on the EPA lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions. There is much to choose from, so celebrate 40 years by taking a look at these resources. To view the library’s entire EPA collection, keyword search “EPA” in NUCat.