What do The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, In the Night Kitchen, and The Grapes of Wrath have in common? They were all banned/challenged books at one time or another! That’s right, it’s time for libraries all over the country to celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 21-27)! Gatsby was challenged at a baptist college for language and references to sex. The Hunger Games was claimed to be anti-ethic and anti-family. In the Night Kitchen – a CHILDREN’S story – apparently has offensive language and too much “nudity”. The Grapes of Wrath was banned back in 1939 because of profanity. This book was also banned in Ireland because the government thought it was being used to spread propaganda. I have read three out of these four books, and one of them I even read as a school assignment. Isn’t it interesting how a book can be used as education in one place and labeled as “offensive” in another? We have MANY more banned books on display in the LRC. You’ll see where they are…there’s a lot of caution tape warning you about them! You’d be surprised at the other titles that have made this list. See how many banned books you’ve read with our checklist! If you fill it out, you could win a prize!!
Hi! That new gal you’re seeing in the LRC…the one with the nametag…it’s me! I’m the new librarian, Maria Fesz. I am very excited to be here at Coastal Carolina Community College! A little bit about me: I am originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area and just finished my Masters Degree in Library Science in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am also a professional musician (I play the cello mostly), and I love sports, art, theatre, and of course…reading! At CCCC I will be working with the Fine Arts, Humanities, History, and Business and Technology programs. But regardless of your subject of study, please come say hi to me at the LRC! Garrison, Sally, and the rest of the crew are awesome and we are all here to help you out!
Look for future posts from me featuring a new book in the library that I choose at random. You won’t believe some the crazy stuff we have here!! But all of that craziness leads to more discovery. Books can spark your interest in things you never even thought you’d like!
Ta ta for now,
The new semester is rapidly approaching us, and with it comes the frantic panic of settling your class schedule, getting books, adjusting to a new semester, and wondering what you want to be when you grow up. Whether this is your first semester or your fourth, always remember that the library is here to support you! If you need assistance with research, have never done a citation before, or just need to hop on a computer to print out an assignment, the LRC staff is happy to assist you with whatever you need.
For those of you that are familiar with our dusty old shelves, you may notice some changes when you come to the LRC this semester. We (by which I mostly mean our poor, dedicated student workers) spent countless hours shifting books and moving shelves. The process is still ongoing, but by the time we’re done, the library will hopefully look better than ever!
If you’re a fiction lover, you might notice that our fiction collection is not where it used to be. Not to worry! It’s right across from where it used to be, on the other side of our reading area. We felt that moving it to the larger shelves would make it much easier and more attractive to browse. Audiobooks are on the other side of that shelf, and once again we hope that they are now more accessible. Graphic novels have moved to that same section. There are signs at the end of the shelves marking where these collections are, and don’t hesitate to ask a librarian if you need assistance.
We are also in the process of moving our books upstairs. You may notice large gaps in the shelves. We hope you will work with us as we continue this process into the semester. If you have any trouble whatsoever finding a book you need, do not hesitate to ask one of us and we will gladly put on our Indiana Jones hats and dive right in to retrieve it for you.
And for those of you who have gotten angry at our old, slow computers, worry no more! Now you can get angry at our new, fast computers! The LRC computers have been upgraded and we have brand new ones sporting Windows 8. If you have any trouble with it, just let us know and once again we will be glad to assist you.
We’re excited to begin the new semester here at the LRC, and we hope that you are as well. Don’t ever forget that we are here to support your success, whether you need help finding an article for a paper or just can’t figure out how to open Microsoft Word on Windows 8 (it took me a little while, too). Just come to the front desk and ask!
Summer. It’s a magical time of year in which we get to make ample use of the “Coastal” part of Coastal Carolina. Of course, for me it means, “Oh goodness I need to stay out of the sun because I will burn in about 10 minutes.” But for those whose skin is more resilient, it means there is the opportunity to relax on the beach and grab a good book to enjoy the sun. And for those of us whose skin happens to be as fair as Snow White, we can still read, but we might prefer to do it in the safety of the shade.
If you’re itching for some good books to read, we have some great suggestions for you from library staff and some of our wonderful English faculty. And if you’ve got a book you’ve been enjoying, let us know in the comments!
I personally have just finished reading the book S, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Conceived by director JJ Abrams, this is a unique work — a book within a book. S presents itself as a 1948 novel called Ship of Theseus, written by an acclaimed author named V.M. Straka. But the novel itself is only a piece of the larger story, which is told through notes in the margins. Two college students are passing the book back and forth, looking at clues and codes hidden in the book for clues to the actual identity of the mysterious author, the message being passed to him by his translator, and the secret society he was a part of. All the while, the two students are also coming to terms with themselves and their direction in life. Both a mystery and a romance, S is one of the most unique books I’ve read. The mystery of V.M. Straka is incredibly compelling, and it’s easy to understand and empathize with the college students. Inserts in the book, pieces meant to be exchanged back and forth by the two students such as letters, newspaper clippings, and postcards, make the book feel even more “alive.” It can be difficult at first to grapple with the book because it is unfolding in a nonlinear fashion (one page might have margin notes written at three different times by the students), but I definitely recommend checking this one out.
If you’ve been following the HBO series, summer is also a great time to dive into Game of Thrones. We have the complete series available both in print and audiobook, so jump right in. It’s quite an undertaking to get through them, but the competition for the Iron Throne of Westeros and impending apocalyptic clash will draw you in. Just watch out for that Red Wedding. And if you have read the books already, you might want to check out The Hedge Knight graphic novels. Serving as a prequel to the series, Hedge Knight chronicles a squire 100 years before the events of the main series in his efforts to become a full knight.
If you want all of the fantasy of Game of Thrones without the drama and general overwhelming sadness, one of my favorites is a novel by Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe titled Brave Story. This book tells the story of 10 year old Wataru whose father is leaving Wataru’s mother for another woman. This sends Wataru’s mother into a spiral of depression. At the same time, Wataru comes across a portal to magical world, where he is told that he if he completes a quest he will have a wish granted. Wanting nothing more than to bring his family back together, Wataru embarks on his journey. This is a slow-paced fantasy novel, but it uses its time to build the characters. Wataru in particular is especially well-written as he comes to grasp with his family’s struggles and the reality of wishing away your problems. And as all of this unfolds, he has an epic quest with a great cast of supporting characters. If you like classic fantasy RPGs, Brave Story has a lot to offer.
Sally, the library’s fearless leader (and reader), has a recommendation of her own. Here’s what she has to say about Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being:
I am always looking for a good book that creates an affectionate bond between character and reader. I found it in Ruth Ozeki’s latest novel, A Tale for the Time Being. The protagonist, a sixteen year-old Japanese girl named, Nao (pronounced “now”), has decided there is only one escape from her aching loneliness, unhappy family life, and classmates’ relentless bullying. Before she ends it all, Nao decides to document the life of her great grandmother, a 104 year-old Buddhist nun (Ozeki happens to be a Zen Buddhist priest!). The diary ends up being Nao’s only solace and will touch lives in ways she can barely imagine.
Across the Pacific in British Columbia, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island and struggling with writer’s block. While walking on the beach Ruth discovers a collection of items washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and pulled forward into her own future.
In a modified epistolary format that includes diary entries, letters, e-mails, text messages, and an abstract of a disappearing journal article, Ozeki creates a gentle and flowing mystery of intrigue. Where did the lunchbox come from? How did it wash up in Canada? Are Nao and the other diary subjects still alive or did they die in the 2011 Japanese tsunami? Alternating chapters contrast Nao’s diary entries (my favorite!) with Ruth’s reactions and commentary a decade later. Yet, in a delicious outbreak of magic realism, it seems Ruth may actually have some power to change Nao’s fate.
A Tale for the Time Being is tender, sad, sweet, funny, and full of compassion and hope one would expect from a Buddhist priest. I only wish I could have read this touching novel in one sitting, because each time I put the book down it felt as if I was leaving Nao behind. I’m glad I chose to be “her kind of time being”. I hope you will, too!
Mary Gail Howland, our evening librarian, has her own recommendations from local authors:
Summertime makes me long for the beautiful, cool mountains of North Carolina. To find these two fiction books set in the mountains by native born authors was really a treat!
Nightwoods: Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and 13 Moons, has written a suspenseful, at times terrifying story of Luce, a damaged loner who takes in her murdered sister’s mute, young twins in a small NC mountain community in the early 1960’s. Soon, the murderer comes looking for the children, the only witnesses to the crime. The writing in this mystery/love story is excellent, spare, and beautiful. You will care about these characters. I couldn’t put it down.
A Land More Kind than Home: This first critically acclaimed novel by Wiley Cash captures the isolated atmosphere of the mountains and the headstrong determination of its people. Cash writes about young Jess who spends his time looking out for his disabled older brother. The boys are caught spying on their mothers new evil, manipulative preaching at the church, and tragic events are set in motion that will change the lives of all in the community. This is a great read and I hope to see more from this author.
We also have some great recommendations from one of our excellent English faculty members, Melanie Bruce. Here’s what she has to say about three books: In the Land of Second Chances, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon
George Shaffner’s novel, In the Land of Second Chances, is told in the voice of Wilma Porter, owner of the Come Again Bed and Breakfast. Wilma kept me chuckling at her machinations even while she shows a heart as big as the Nebraska landscape of her hometown, Ebb. Shaffner dives right into the Big Questions of life, and shows no fear or hesitation as elements of the plot revolve around logic, philosophy, and the mathematical odds of life after death. There’s the seemingly hopeless case of a terminally ill eleven-year old girl, a rural town on the brink of oblivion, and a blabby traveling salesman who claims he is selling games of chance. Despite these sad, sometimes silly, and seemingly disconnected threads, Shaffner manages to build a compelling, uplifting story that is brimming with irreverent humor. Turns out the town is not-so-secretly run by a large group of women, the Quilting Circle, who pull the strings in ways the men of the town seldom suspect. If you are looking for a novel that is funny, moving, and out-of-the ordinary, resident ghosts included, then give In the Land of Second Chances a read.
In my ongoing goal of always being 5-10 years behind the times, I recently read the runaway bestselling novel of 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s an epistolary novel, but don’t be frightened. That just means that the story is told through fascinating letters from the various characters. Guernsey, one of Britain’s Channel Islands, is a mere 20 miles from the French coast of Normandy, and not many people know that the residents suffered greatly under German occupation from 1940-1945. In addition to the troops, the Nazis imported hundreds of slave laborers from conquered countries to build fortifications. The letters revolve around writer Juliet Ashton, who when casting about for the subject of her next book, becomes fascinated with the story of the Guernsey Islanders’ inventive fortitude during Nazi persecution. Juliet, a Londoner, moves to quiet Guernsey to pen the biography of one heroic woman, Elizabeth, who dared to try to save one of the Nazis’ slave laborers from starvation. The Guernsey Literary Society was founded as an impromptu scheme to conduct meetings that would elude Nazi scrutiny, but along the way turns unlikely islanders into devoted readers. Books give the islanders camaraderie, diversion, and hope. But what happened to Elizabeth, the young, beautiful, and headstrong artist? Read this remarkable novel to find out! P.S. A movie is “in development!”
In these trying times, who doesn’t need a good cozy to read every now and again? What’s a cozy? A mystery novel genre that keeps the annoying mayhem, murder, and misdeeds off-stage for the most part. No dripping gore or spatter patterns in these escapist gems. But lots of scenery, local charm, tea drinking, yummy full-fat dining, and gossipy characters make a reader feel right at home, firmly settled in a soft easy chair and not on the edge of her seat. Alexander McCall Smith has one of the most successful cozy series going with his Botswana-based No. 1 Ladies’ Detective agency sleuth, Mma Precious Ramotswe. The latest installment in the series, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, from 2013, has the tried and true recipe for a cozy tale. Precious and her associate detective endeavor to solve mildly puzzling cases of a young man who may or may not be the heir to a large farm and a smear campaign directed at the owner of a new skincare salon. While a bit calm even for the cozy genre, in Minor Adjustment McCall Smith manages to keep his ladies awake with a houseguests who are literally poisonous snakes, a meddling aunty you’ll love to hate, and enough healthy, red bush tea to wash all your worries away. Fans of the No. 1 Ladies series, like me, can’t get enough of the (mostly) good people of Botswana.
Of course we have plenty of other excellent books, but those are some Coastal-certified selections that we hope you might enjoy. And if you have a book you’ve been enjoying recently, let us know in the comments!
The LRC staff would like to thank all participants who completed the Library User Survey in May. The overall responses and additional comments are immensely helpful to the LRC staff. Thanks to your feedback, we now know what needs to be improved in the months ahead.
There were many comments about inappropriate noise level and cell phone usage in the LRC. Come fall semester you will see signs identifying areas for “Quiet” (no conversation), “Moderate” (limited noise and quiet study group study) and “Collaborative” (group interactive study) noise levels. The LRC staff will also be making a concerted effort to circulate on both floors to monitor cell phone usage, group socialization, and recreational use of the computers. We hope these efforts will help to create a quieter library and one more conducive to study. By the way, we also recognize that the library staff needs to monitor our own noise levels and we promise to work on that!
We plan to conduct a library user survey each spring so you will have the opportunity to tell us the areas where we are doing a good job and the areas that need improvement. In the meantime, please remember we welcome your suggestions and comments on the LRC webpage or in the suggestion box located by the printers. Thank you again for participating in the 2014 Library User Survey!
We look forward to next month’s blog entry and your comments. Happy summer!
Exams, papers, and presentations…oh my!
Do you need some relief from the stress of exams and final papers? The library will be offering FREE coffee, cold drinks, snacks, and chair massages (thanks to the massage therapy department!) on Thursday, May 8th, Friday, May 9th and Monday, May 12th from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Students can sign up for a massage appointment starting Monday, May 5th at the circulation desk. Sign up early so you don’t miss out and GOOD LUCK on exams!
According to people much more well-versed in physics than I, time travel to the past is impossible. (And if you’d like to know more about why that is, we have a great selection of books on the theory of relativity.)
I know what you’re thinking. He’s going to say that the library can take us back in time with our books on history. And yes, we do have some spectacular books which I encourage you to browse. Just head upstairs and browse in the D section for European and Asian history, and E and F for American history. But I will avoid going into great detail on our history collection (though I will highlight The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects as one of our awesome new books in the subject). Instead, I wanted to talk about a different way we can “travel through time,” and that’s by looking at maps.
You may have noticed that there’s been some changes in the LRC lately. Books are moving. Desks are moving. Dust is certainly moving, and hopefully not getting too deep into your lungs. Recently, as part of our ongoing project to shift items around in the library, we decided to move our back collection of National Geographic magazine upstairs. While doing so, we happened to find several maps in one of the volumes. These maps provide some interesting insight into just how the world has changed over the last 40 years.
We have hung these maps upstairs, so go take a look at them. In particular the ones we’ve pulled out relate to Europe and Asia. The continent has undergone some pretty dramatic changes following World War II and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. The maps show states that no longer exist like East and West Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Romania when it was spelled Rumania. We also have a map of Asia from 1971. This map depicts Vietnam as two separate countries: North and South Vietnam, while there is only one Korea depicted. It also uses the older anglicized versions for some city names in China: Peking instead of Beijing, Nanking instead of Nanjing.
Maps are interesting beasts. You may not realize it, but they can make political statements. Take the 1969 map of Europe from National Geographic for example. It notes that Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania are not recognized as Soviet territories by the United States, despite the USSR’s claim to them. So this map is already making political statements about sovereignty. These are all issues mapmakers must consider. When there are disputed boundaries to a territory, what do you show on a map? Do you use the name Burma or Myanmar? Maps produced in Arab countries will often omit Israel and only list Palestine. Russia may soon be producing maps which extend its own borders into Ukraine’s Crimea region, whereas maps produced in the US may keep it as part of Ukraine. Even many current national boundaries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, are relics of the empires of Europe from the early twentieth century. (One of our instructors at Coastal often likes to share a story about how his grandfather has a French passport because he was born in what, “at that time,” was part of France.)
They can also affect how we view the world. Maps face the challenge of taking a 3D object and trying to project it onto a 2D space. Consider the Mercator projection, which you might be familiar with. It distorts and enlarges the planet’s poles while shrinking the equator area, thus making Greenland appear larger than Africa. The Mollweide projection, in contrast, more accurately represents the sizes of the continents. Even the orientation of maps matter. Think about it: the “top” and “bottom” are in fact pretty arbitrary because there is no real up or down in outer space. Our typical image of the world places a lot of prominence on Europe and North America just by virtue of them being at the top. By contrast, you can find maps that turn the world “upside down” which can give you a whole new perspective of how the world looks.
Interested in learning more? Check out some of the library’s books on maps and mapping. A History of the World in Twelve Maps discusses the evolution of our understanding of the earth over time, from early mappa mundi (early world maps which often include Biblical locations as well as real-world locations) to modern day maps. The Mapmakers is another book focusing on the history of cartography, particularly the individuals who pioneered it. We also have several atlases, including the beautiful Oxford Atlas of the World and several area-specific atlases. These are located in the G sections of the library, both in reference downstairs and the general collection upstairs, so take a look. And also look at our great National Geographic maps that we posted upstairs as well. Looking at maps is a lot like traveling back in time. A lot has changed in the last 40 years. Who knows what might change in the years to come?