All posts by Anna Twiddy

5 Titles: What Is It Like to Be an International Student?

Stephanie FordThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Evening Research Services Librarian Stephanie Fordand they all relate to the experiences of international students in higher education.


What Do International Students Think and Feel?: Adapting to U.S. College  Life and Culture (Michigan Teacher Training (Paperback)): Gebhard, Jerry  G.: 9780472034062: BooksWhat Do International Students Think and Feel? Adapting to U.S. College Life and Culture by Jerry G. Gebhard (2010). This collection gathers personal stories from international students studying at schools throughout the United States. Students write about their cultural adaptation, including their challenges, problems, and accomplishments. Topics include the experience of the U.S. classroom (the comparative informality of it, customs around class participation, and even eating/drinking inside the classroom as accepted practices); student residential life; making friends with students who do not share their culture or language; encountering prejudice; and strategies for adapting to one’s new environment.


Succeeding as an International Student in the United States and Canada,  Lipson, GoodmanSucceeding as an International Student in the United States and Canada by Charles Lipson (2008). This is an American professor’s how-to guide designed to help international students make the most of their study abroad experience. It offers practical advice on how to secure a visa, what to pack and what to leave behind, how to secure housing, the first ten things to do upon arrival in a host country, and useful guidance on how to succeed academically in classrooms in the U.S. and Canada. Some of the advice seems geared toward wealthier international students, as it directs incoming international students to bring $2,000.00 in traveler’s checks, and some of the references (to bringing a Blackberry and an iPod) date the volume’s advice to technology of yesteryear.


Cross-Cultural Narratives: Stories and Experiences of International Students  by Ravichandran Ammigan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®Cross-Cultural Narratives: Stories and Experiences of International Students, edited by Ravichandran Ammigan (2021). This book features international student stories from the University of Delaware, including a graduate student from Ghana who appreciates the mentorship from her professors and the organization and quality of equipment in the lab where she conducts research, but is shocked by how brazenly undergraduates “talk back” to professors who teach them. Other stories describe the difficulty of acclimating to American food, including a German student’s surprise at the taste of American bread purchased from Walmart and the challenge of understanding colloquial English, as a Russian student encounters with her American roommate.


Amazon - Understanding the International Student Experience (Universities  into the 21st Century): Montgomery, Catherine: 9781403986191: BooksUnderstanding the International Student Experience by Catherine Montgomery (2010). This book aims to help those who work in higher education, or those who study higher education, to understand the “social and academic experience” of international students. The author studies the social networks of international students in the UK and the impact of the social network on their learning experience. The author concludes that international students build strong social groups in their host country and (concurrently) demonstrate fierce independence, breaking away from these groups at times to travel solo and even to form different social groups at will. The international students she studies also perceive themselves to be more mature than the students they encounter in their host country; this comparison, along with incidents of prejudice in the host country, sometimes impedes the formation of friendships between international students and students living in the host country.


Improving Library Services in Support of International Students and English  as a Second Language Learners – ACRL InsiderImproving Library Services in Support of International Students and English as a Second Language Learners, edited by Leila June Rod-Welch (2019). This is a collection of individual articles by different authors on subjects pertaining to library services as they relate to international students and ESL students. Each article stresses a different theme. In “Talking about the ‘Culture Bump’: Using Student Voices to Increase Cultural Sensitivity of Library and University Staff,” authors Olga Hart and Carol Olauson describe a panel presentation by international students, educating library staff about the difficulties and prejudices they have encountered. Other essays include “Let’s Travel the World Together via the Library”; “The Diversity and Global Engagement Exposition”; and “Libraries as Cultural Crossroads.”


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: April 2022

Congratulations on making it through another academic year! Now that we’re just about done with final exams, why not catch up on some reading? As always, our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections are waiting for you!

On a somewhat sadder note, this will be my final What to Read post, as I will be leaving Duke next week. I’ve had such a fun time curating this series for the past couple of years, so I’ve decided to leave you with some of my favorite titles I’ve selected for this series. Enjoy, and have a great summer! What to Read will be back soon with a new author.


My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir | IndieBound.orgMy Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland. In this genre-bending memoir (not a biography, though it contains elements of one), Shapland comes to understand facets of her own life as a queer and chronically ill person while studying the life of Carson McCullers, the renowned 20th-century Southern Gothic novelist, and herself a queer and chronically ill person. McCullers, perhaps best known for her novels The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding, empathetically wrote of outsiders in her fairly short lifetime, drawing on a personal experience that Shapland finds to have been largely overlooked by her biographers. Her experience with McCullers begins with an internship at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, an archive in which she discovers a number of McCullers’ love letters to another woman. What follows is a strong investigation into McCullers’ life as a lesbian in the mid-twentieth century, interspersed with Shapland’s personal anecdotes about coming to terms with her own sexuality. Throughout this intense discussion of McCullers’ life, Shapland readily questions her own perception of the author, and her personal identification with her, making for an engaging and self-aware read. You can read reviews here and here.


The State Must Provide: Why America's Colleges Have Always Been  Unequal--and How to Set Them Right: Harris, Adam: 9780062976482:  Amazon.com: BooksThe State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right by Adam Harris. In this book, Atlantic staff writer Harris takes an incisive look at the resource-related disparities that often exist between historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly white institutions, focusing particularly on the policy decisions–historical and current–that underpin them. Harris reveals that so many HBCUs were essentially set up to fail from their inception, with federal and state governments working to maintain segregation in American higher education while also deliberately underfunding predominantly Black institutions. These issues of chronic underfunding persist to this day, leaving many HBCUs egregiously lacking in resources. In chronicling this history, Harris also provides compelling portraits of the many Black scholars across generations who have worked to rectify these imbalances, and also weighs the benefits of many potential solutions to this systemic problem. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Harris here.


The Disaster Tourist: A Novel: Ko-Eun, Yun, Buehler, Lizzie: 9781640094161:  Amazon.com: BooksThe Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (translated by Lizzie Buehler). In this dark satire of late-stage capitalism, originally published in South Korea in 2013 but published in English for the first time in 2020, Yun tells the story of Yona, an employee at a travel company that specializes in disaster tourism, arranging tours to locales devastated by all kinds of momentous crises for the perceived moral betterment of their customers. Yona has worked for the company for 10 years, coordinating tours and assessing what locations would bring in the most clients, but is on the brink of quitting after facing the sexual harassment of her boss and getting demoted for no clear reason. In a last-ditch effort to keep her in the company, she is directed to travel to an island called Mui, the company’s least popular destination. There, Yona discovers a seemingly ludicrous plot being carried out by the company: to bring in more clients, the company will create a disaster on the island, one that will surely kill a significant number of its inhabitants. From here, Yona must make some critical decisions, and Yun portrays her subsequent period on the island in a terrifying and yet darkly humorous way. You can read reviews here and here.


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: 9780525657743 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksCrying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. In this memoir Zauner, founder of the band Japanese Breakfast, depicts her often complicated relationship with her mother Chongmi, as well as her grief following Chongmi’s death from cancer in 2014. Though Zauner describes a childhood and adolescence in which she attempts to distance herself from her and Chongmi’s Korean heritage (Zauner’s father Joel is white American), she finds that her ties to her mother always remain in some form, and often hinge upon their shared love of Korean cuisine. Just when Zauner begins to increasingly reconnect with her mother in her twenties, Chongmi is diagnosed with cancer. Zauner describes the futility of the treatments and her mother’s slow death, and spends the rest of the book depicting the ways in which her intense grief shaped her life and musical work. In describing these emotionally wrought events, the memoir serves as a unique meditation on the relationship between food and identity, as well as grief. You can read reviews here and here.


Chouette: Oshetsky, Claire: 9780063066670: Amazon.com: BooksChouette by Claire Oshetsky. Oshetsky’s debut novel tells the otherworldly story of Tiny, a cellist living with her reliable–if somewhat boring–husband, who inexplicably has an affair with a female owl and even more inexplicably becomes pregnant with a hybrid owl-human baby, the eponymous Chouette. Despite the child’s obvious strangeness, which isolates Tiny from others in her life and evokes dire warnings from nearly every doctor who sees her, her mother immediately loves her unconditionally. She is fully supportive of Chouette and seeks not to change her, even as she is forced to give up her career and even as Chouette’s undeniably owl-like behavior completely upends all normalcy in her life. She faces a tough battle in this determination as her husband seeks exactly the opposite, pursuing “cures” for Chouette at every turn. In tracing Tiny’s pregnancy, Chouette’s early childhood, and her later independence, Oshetsky, who is herself autistic and a mother, offers a unique meditation on the nature of neurodivergence, pregnancy, and motherhood, the fantastic elements of her story providing a unique lens through which to view and understand these massive topics. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: American Foodways

Jodi PsoterThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Librarian for Chemistry and Statistical Science Jodi Psoter.

Food and flavor connect us to a place, telling a story of where we come from. For the south and ultimately the entire United States, the influence of enslaved Africans shaped the region’s food. Food and people continued their impact as different waves of immigration influenced the culinary history and culture of the United States. Learn about this significant impact with these five titles that celebrate American foodways. The titles explore food’s significance and its impact in a historic context on capitalism, in culture, on economics, and within gender studies.


The Routledge History of American Foodways - 1st Edition - Michael D.The Routledge History of American Foodways, edited by Michael D. Wise and Jennifer Jensen Wallach (2016). A collection of essays from leading scholars, The Routledge History of American Foodways celebrates food’s journey to and within the Americas. Spanning the pre-colonial era to the present day, the writers combine history with research in food studies to tell food stories. These “twenty-five essays analyze not only how American foodways have changed over the last five centuries, but also how narratives about food in the past continue to shape our present-day food cultures and controversies.” A common theme unites each section of the work. The first section, “Cooking Times,” explores historic foodways during specific eras such as food’s journey during the precolonial period. Key ingredients such as grains and sugars, their arrival in the US, and their impact on how we eat today, are the theme of section two. Section three, “Recipes,” connects the food we eat to its presentation by discussing culture, holidays, tourism, and restaurants. Finally, “Appetites” looks at food in relation to immigration, race, gender, and regionalism. The textbook-style resource can be read cover to cover or on the individual chapter level.


High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America: Jessica B.  Harris, Maya Angelou: 9781608194506: Amazon.com: BooksHigh on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America by Jessica B. Harris (2011; also available as an ebook). Professor and author of twelve cookbooks, Harris’s work focuses on foods “originating all over the African continent.” Her research and teaching make her an expert in African American foods, foodways, and their influence on how we eat in the United States. In High on the Hog, Harris shifts her writing style, “construct[ing] an elegant narrative history that connects the culinary experiences of the African and American continents to show how African Americans shaped the country around them.” Written chronologically in chapter form, each chapter is themed and written in three parts. The first part of each chapter is Harris telling a personal story. Part two is really the subject of the chapter: “a topical analysis of African American contributions to American society and culture.” Each chapter ends with a look at a specific food related to the chapter’s theme and time. In 2021, Jessica Harris appeared on Time 100 – the list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Ten years after publication, Harris’s work continues to teach, now as a food docuseries available on Netflix. Interested in reading more? Search the TRLN libraries to borrow other books by Jessica B. Harris.


Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original: Franklin, Sara B.:  9781469638553: Amazon.com: BooksEdna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original, edited by Sara B. Franklin (2018). In this collection of stories, the reader meets Edna Lewis (1916-2006), dressmaker, chef, activist, and one of five chefs whose portrait was featured on a stamp in the US Postal Service’s 2014 “Celebrity Chef Series.” Lewis was also a female, an African American, and a cookbook writer who focused on regional cooking. She cooked seasonally and locally, writing stories to capture memories that describe her childhood and document where she came from. This book is a collection of essays about Lewis written by family, friends, and food world celebrities. They talk of meeting Lewis, their impressions of her, as well as her impact and legacy in food, culture, and women’s history. The resurgence of Edna Lewis as a chef began in 2017 when her cookbook was rereleased on what would have been her one-hundredth birthday, and the television show Top Chef featured a challenge to have the contestants cook a dish inspired by Lewis’ cooking. This tribute to Lewis, viewed by millions, introduced her to a new generation. Lewis’s 1976 cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking, was published at the same time that another famous female culinary star, Alice Waters, was promoting the farm-to-table movement on the west coast. As you read Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original, look for Alice Waters’s “menu to celebrate the anniversary of Edna Lewis’s birth.”


The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the  Old South: Twitty, Michael W.: 9780062379290: Amazon.com: BooksThe Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty (2017). Awarded the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year award, The Cooking Gene has been described as “a culinary Roots.” Twitty, a Black, gay, Jewish, culinary historian, seeks to know himself and his own history through the lens of food. This first person narrative focuses on African-American foodways and influence of slavery on southern cooking; an influence described in terms of the mixing of food traditions as cultures and genetics mix. To accomplish this, Twitty “traces [his] ancestry through food and genetic testing.” He writes that his genealogical research “…trace[s] my ancestry to Africa and follow[s] its lineages across the Southern map into the present day. Author of Afroculinaria, a food blog exploring the culinary traditions of Africa, African Americans, and the African diaspora, Twitty not only explores his heritages but also lives it by cooking in costume over a wood fire at historical plantation sites. He writes, “They call this a costume but it is my transformative historical drag; I wear a dusting of pot rust, red clay and the ghost smells of meals past.” Through his heritage, Twitty shines a new light on the traumatic and complicated history of foodways in the South.


Amazon.com: Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in  America: 9781324004516: Sen, Mayukh: BooksTaste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen (2022). Mayukh Sen, self-described as a queer person of color and a child of Bengali immigrants, chooses to write about women to give voices to people our “culture skews away from.” In this well-researched and well-documented text, Sen introduces the reader, through biographical chapters, to seven immigrant women whose cooking and writing have influenced the “food establishment.” Spanning the period of World War II to the present, the taste makers include: Chao Yang Buwei and her 1945 book How To Cook and Eat in Chinese, Elena Zeleyeta, a Mexican chef who continued to work after losing her eyesight, and French chef Madeleine Kamman, a contemporary of Julia Child. The second part of the book shares the stories of Italian immigrant Marcella Hazan, author of The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking (1973), “The Indian Culinary Authority” in the United States, Julie Shani, Iran’s Najmieh Batmanglij, who writes cookbooks “adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West,” and Jamaican chef Norma Shirley. By describing their journey and that of the food of their homeland, Sen shows how the women “used food to construct an identity outside their own country.” As described in the NY Times Book Review, Taste Makers “…embeds these themes within intimate, individual stories as a way to unravel how his subjects’ achievements — and struggles — have contributed to what and how we eat in America today.”


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: March 2022

Hello again from the library! I know what you’re probably thinking: it’s getting close to the weekend, and you’ve got absolutely nothing scheduled,  so now’s the perfect time to pick up a new book (what do you mean, there’s a huge game this weekend???). If that’s you–or even if you do have plans to watch something this weekend–I’ve come to help with some suggestions! I’ve personally been on a memoir kick, as you’ll see with these titles I’ve picked out, but if that’s not your thing, never fear. All of these titles come from either the Libraries’ Overdrive ebook collection, or the New & Noteworthy collection. These collections contain all sorts of popular reading, so do check them out! I can guarantee you’ll find something that grabs your interest.


Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School: James, Kendra:  9781538753484: Amazon.com: BooksAdmissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James. In this memoir, writer James recounts her time at the Taft School, an elite Connecticut boarding school. Despite graduating in 2006, James was the school’s first Black legacy student (her father attended the school and was a trustee during her time there), and much of her account details her experiences as one of the school’s only Black students in the early to mid-2000s. James describes an institution with near-countless opportunities for scholarly enrichment and connections to prestigious colleges and universities, but despite these features, she struggles socially due to the racism of her primarily white peers, despite arriving at the school eager to form lasting ties. Although the experiences she describes are markedly difficult, James frequently punctuates her account with humor, and thoughtfully examines the ways her time at Taft has shaped her present-day life. You can read reviews here and here.


Lost & Found: A Memoir: Schulz, Kathryn: 9780525512462: Amazon.com: BooksLost & Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz. In this memoir, journalist Schulz recounts two major personal events that have impacted the trajectory of her life over the past decade: the death of her father and the formation of her relationship with her current partner. Although Schulz’s account of this former event is often fittingly sober and steeped in grief, it is also quietly hopeful and grateful in its contemplative tone; Schulz notes that her father was largely able to live a happy and intellectually stimulating life, as he so wished. She also meditates on the ways his life influenced her own, and finds solace in the fact that her relationship with him was both healthy and very much mutually beneficial. Shortly before her father’s death, Schulz met the woman who would become her partner, and the beginnings of this relationship form the backbone of the memoir’s second half. Here, Schulz discusses the serendipity of meeting her partner, and marvels at the chance circumstances under which the two were able to build such a meaningful relationship. You can read reviews here and here.


Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia: Catte, Elizabeth:  9781948742733: Amazon.com: BooksPure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia by Elizabeth Catte. In this book, author Catte traces the often obscured history of the eugenics movement in Virginia, contextualizing it within the broader history of eugenics in the United States, and centering a number of historical events and locations throughout the state, from which she hails. Writing that eugenics “is everywhere and nowhere,” Catte focuses both on the 20th-century initiatives undertaken by the state with directly pro-eugenics motives–including the history of Western State Hospital in Staunton, in which many disabled Virginians were forcibly confined, as well as the Virginia-based US Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, which sanctioned involuntary sterilization throughout the United States–and events that had indirectly eugenicist outcomes, including the forced uprooting of Appalachian families during the formation of Shenandoah National Park, and Charlottesville’s destruction of its most prominent historically Black neighborhood. Importantly, Catte also emphasizes the dangerous systematic erasure of these events, and calls on her readers to learn from the fraught history she discusses. You can read a review here and read an interview with Catte here.


The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness: O'Rourke, Meghan:  9781594633799: Amazon.com: BooksThe Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke. In this book, writer O’Rourke makes the case for a radical reframing of chronic illness in both the medical profession and broader American culture, centering her argument in both extensive research and an account of her own experiences with chronic illness. Developing an unnamed autoimmune condition in her adulthood, O’Rourke painstakingly chronicles a near decade-long search for a medical practitioner who can accurately diagnose and address the complicated and troubling array of debilitating symptoms she faces, with many dismissing her outright when the tests she takes are repeatedly inconclusive in their results. O’Rourke likens this period of inadequately addressed suffering to being invisible, and she details how this experience of invisibility is distressingly common, with many chronically ill people taking, on average, several years to receive a correct diagnosis. Although O’Rourke eventually does receive the treatment she needs, she notes that she is still not completely well, and she urges her readers to understand the everyday complications of existing with chronic illness. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful  Recommendations on How to Become American: 9780393867978: Ali, Wajahat:  BooksGo Back to Where You Came From and Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become an American by Wajahat Ali. In this memoir, author Ali recounts both his coming-of-age as a child of Pakistani immigrants, and his complex reckoning with American identity as an adult. Growing up in California’s Bay Area, Ali describes a 1980s-90s childhood in which he bears witness to his family and other members of the area’s Pakistani immigrant community as they chase the American dream, which Ali closely aligns with typical markers of whiteness. Ali more directly confronts his own racial and national identity in college after 9/11 happens, an event which, as illustrated by Ali’s observations, drastically changed white American society’s perception of Middle Eastern and South Asian people, particularly Muslims. Faced with a sudden swell of islamophobia, Ali feels driven to artistically make sense of his complicated feelings, but struggles until his college mentor, renowned playwright Ishmael Reed, encourages him to write a play. In the rest of the memoir, Ali discusses how his eventual work, The Domestic Crusaders, both launched his eventual writing career and assisted in his understanding of identity in the face of bigotry. You can read reviews here and here.

Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants for LIFE Students — DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MARCH 29

  • Do you have a cool project idea that uses extensive library resources, such as archival materials or foreign language books?
  • Are you a first generation and/or low income undergraduate student?
  • Would having up to $4500 assist with your project idea?

If you answered yes to all three, then consider applying for the Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants (DULSRG)! We welcome applications from students with all levels of prior experience using library materials. Our application deadline this year has just been EXTENDED to March 29th, 2022!

DULSRG are awarded to first-generation and/or low-income undergraduate students to support original library research either at Duke or at another library or cultural institution with a library. Awards are granted up to a maximum of $4500 to cover expenses such as campus housing, transportation, meals while conducting research, online trainings, and digitization expenses. Because research expenses can vary depending on the field of research and the duration of the project, students are able to pool grant funding with other awards.

With the pandemic, we know you’re probably wondering what research might even look like this summer. At this time, we expect Duke will allow on-campus housing and in-person research at Duke, but this is subject to change and subject to university policy.

We’d like to stress that your research does not need to be conducted in person! The grant will cover any expenses related to virtual research and access using Duke or another library’s resources! This could include utilizing digitized collections such as Duke’s own University Archives or Government Documents, or accessing the digitized collections of another university or cultural institution! While the pandemic may have slowed the pace of in-person research, virtual resources for research have become more plentiful than ever – this grant could be your ticket to accessing what’s out there!

To help facilitate planning for alternative means of researching, we will be asking in the submission form for a brief description of alternative ways to work on the project.

You can find out more details about the award, including how to apply and examples of past projects, here:  https://library.duke.edu/research/grants

Deadline: March 29th, 2022

Contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, at arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu, if you have questions.

What to Read this Month: February 2022

We hope you all had a good February! While we at the library know full well that this is a busy time in the semester, we also realize that you might want to spend your limited free time in the company of a good book, or maybe pick up a new title just in time for spring break. If that describes you, then look no further! Here are some interesting titles from our New & Noteworthy collection. On the off chance none of these titles grab your attention, however, then don’t worry. We’re always adding new popular titles to both our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive ebook collections, so we encourage you to take a look at both of them. Happy reading!


Amazon.com: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Oprah's Book Club Novel  (Oprahs Book Club 2.0): 9780062942937: Jeffers, Honoree Fanonne: BooksThe Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. This debut novel by poet Jeffers, nominated for last year’s National Book Award for fiction, chronicles the multigenerational and multicultural history of the African American Garfield family, anchored by the late 20th century events surrounding its protagonist, Ailey Garfield. Interspersed with the main narrative thread of Ailey’s educational experiences and family research, in which she divides her time between an unnamed city and her family’s ancestral hometown in rural Georgia, are segments, referred to as songs, that delve into the histories of her individual ancestors of African, Creek, and Scottish origin. As Ailey learns more about these ancestors, so too does she come to understand her present-day family. As the title suggests, too, the works of W.E.B. Du Bois play a prominent role, informing both the content of the novel as well as its very structure. You can read reviews here and here.


Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes: Phillips, Barnaby: 9781786079350:  Amazon.com: BooksLoot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes by Barnaby Phillips. In this book, journalist Phillips offers a comprehensive and compelling history of the Benin Bronzes, metal plaques and ivory artworks dating from the 13th through 18th centuries in the Edo Kingdom, located in what is now southern Nigeria. Prior to 1897, most of the bronzes were kept in the royal palace of Benin City for the kingdom’s rulers, but this changed when British forces invaded, an act that ultimately led to the downfall of the Edo Kingdom and the establishment of the British Southern Nigeria Protectorate. During the invasion, the bronzes were sacked by the British and taken back to England as loot, where many remain today. Although Phillips notes that the Nigerian government has repeatedly called for the repatriation of the bronzes since 1974, this has largely been ignored. Today, most remain in Europe (specifically the UK), with still others scattered across Canada and the United States. In addition to relaying this fraught history, Phillips also makes his own case for repatriation and delves into the mindset of many of the institutions still possessing the bronzes in Europe. You can read more here and here.


Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: A Novel: Galchen, Rivka:  9780374280468: Amazon.com: BooksEveryone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen. This novel, Galchen’s second, tells the story of Katharina, a German woman accused of witchcraft in 1615. Based on historic events–several hundred women were executed for alleged witchcraft throughout the Holy Roman Empire in the seventeenth century–Katharina finds herself the object of suspicion in her small town for a confluence of seemingly ridiculous reasons: she is a widow, perceived to be too independent by those around her, and is not particularly well-liked. Most importantly, she has been accused of poisoning a local woman. Though the accusation itself is baseless, Katharina finds that many people in her community are all too eager to testify against her, seemingly determined to portray her as a malicious witch bent causing harm to anyone and everyone. Though the novel is peppered with dark humor (often in the form of Katharina’s dry mental observations about those around her), the subject matter, and the course of the story, prove to be rather harrowing. You can read reviews here and here.


How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across  America: Smith, Clint: 9780316492935: Amazon.com: BooksHow the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith. In this book, Atlantic staff writer Smith studies the way the history and legacy of slavery in the United States has been dealt with at nine historic sites (eight in the US, and one abroad). As Smith observes, each site reckons with the subject quite differently—he contrasts, for example, the centering of enslaved people’s lives at Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation with the glorification of the Confederacy at Virginia’s Blandford Cemetery—reflecting the contradictory and tumultuous understanding of slavery present in American culture at large. Smith’s depiction of these sites is multi-faceted and richly described, in no small part because he interviews such a wide range of people, including tourists and tour guides, historians and other experts, and formerly incarcerated people. In presenting such a complex picture of historical reception in the contemporary United States, Smith offers a compelling and extremely relevant read. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness: A Novel: 9780593330210:  Watkins, Claire Vaye: BooksI Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins. This novel, Watkins’ second, traces the story of one fictional writer named Claire Vaye Watkins as she travels away from her husband and newborn child in Michigan for a book event in Nevada (despite the character having the same name and a number of characteristics as Watkins, the novel is fictional). In the throes of postpartum depression, Claire finds herself in crisis, and she takes the time away from her orderly life in Michigan as an opportunity to reassess the decisions she has made, to confront a variety of personal issues she has been avoiding, and, more unfortunately, to unravel somewhat. Having grown up in the west, her travels reunite her with several relics from her past, including a group of living college friends as well as a dead ex-partner. As Claire grapples with her own grief and reckons with her own life, she acts a witness towards those around her who are struggling with similar issues. Though the novel is often disorienting, it remains a cogent examination of grief, depression, poverty, drug addiction, and a host of other themes. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: Native American Women Anthropologists

Linda DanielThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Librarian for Sociology and Cultural Anthropology Linda Daniel. Linda is also the head of the Social Sciences Section within the Libraries’ RIS department.

Native American women anthropologists have a rich history of analyzing and writing about ethnographic field work in their own communities. In addition to the challenges of academic scholarship, they face the complexities of how to be an anthropologist and also, as noted Native American anthropologist Beatrice Medicine wrote in 1978, remain “Native” and “a student in [their] own culture.”

These five titles highlight women anthropologists who have masterfully navigated these challenges and write about economic sovereignty, nationalism and nation building, urban communities, and everyday life faced by Native Americans. While differing in format and focus, they each provide a deeper understanding of the histories of these Native American cultures and how they are evolving.


Sovereign Entrepreneurs: Cherokee Small-Business Owners and the Making of Economic Sovereignty (Critical Indigeneities): Lewis, Courtney: 9781469648590: Amazon.com: BooksSovereign Entrepreneurs: Cherokee Small-Business Owners and the Making of Economic Sovereignty by Courtney Lewis (2019). Lewis’s research tells the compelling story of how skilled Native American small business owners thrived through the Great Recession and economic downturn of 2009. Her work follows the personal experiences of contemporary Eastern Band business owners, located on the Qualla Boundary, homeland to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. This ethnographic study provides stories, like that of Charla’s and Zena’s “Cherokee by Design” enterprise, that reveal the importance of their support networks and the difficulties that these American Indian small-business owners encounter as they work to remain financially stable. Lewis’s research reveals situations specific to Native Nations and Native American business owners. She focuses on economic sovereignty and self-determination as a way that these small businesses can reduce their precarious economic situations and support their community’s economic stability. In doing so, this demonstration of indigenous agency shows how these small businesses can provide their nation with cultural, economic, and political strength.

Dr. Lewis will join Duke’s Cultural Anthropology Department in fall 2022.


Colonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty-First-Century Osage Nation ( First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies (University of North Carolina Press Paperback)): Dennison: 9780807872901: Amazon.com: BooksColonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty First-Century Osage Nation by Jean Dennison (2012). Dennison, noted Osage anthropologist, focuses on the 2004-2006 constitutional reform process in the Osage Nation of Oklahoma and writes about the debates that ensued about biology, culture, natural resources, and sovereignty. It’s a fascinating account of the tension between the colonial entanglements of the Osage and their nationhood, and how indigenous sovereignty and self-determination offer a framework to understand how positive action can emerge out of Osage history that doesn’t mirror its colonial oppression. Dennison provides the reader with clear historical context for the entanglements, discusses what should determine citizenship for the Osage, and whether traditional patterns of governance should influence current policies. Dennison’s ethnographic research provides a compelling account of how indigenous sovereignty, history, identity, and politics interacted in this governmental reform of the Osage nation.


Waterlily: Deloria, Ella Cara, Gardner, Susan, DeMallie, Raymond J.: 9780803219045: Amazon.com: BooksWaterlily by Ella Cara Deloria (1988). Deloria, born in 1889 on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, was a specialist in American Indian ethnology and linguistics. Her work resulted in several books: Dakota Texts, Dakota Grammar, and Speaking of Indians. By the 1940s, Deloria was considered a leading authority on Sioux culture and language. Waterlily gives a portrait of 19th-century Sioux life and is unique as it is told from women’s perspectives. The story focuses on Waterlily, her mother, and her grandmother and provides a view of Sioux social life – the kinship system, the structure of society, and its daily responsibilities. The writing is based upon the ethnographic materials Deloria gathered over years of scholarly work. Deloria chose to write this work as narrative fiction as she wanted to share this culture with a wide audience. It provides an important personal record of the complexities and richness of Sioux life.


Choctaw Nation: A Story of American Indian Resurgence (North American Indian Prose Award): Lambert, Valerie: 9780803224902: Amazon.com: BooksChoctaw Nation: A Story of American Indian Resurgence by Valerie Lambert (2007). Lambert documents one of the most important eras in the history of the Choctaw Nation – the building of a new order with the 1983 ratification of the tribe’s constitution. She places this creation of tribal nation building in the context of her tribe’s history, the economic and political implications of the tribe’s location in southeastern Oklahoma, and the unique personalities of the leaders involved in this movement. Each of these elements influenced the rebuilding of Choctaw nationalism. Lambert’s ethnographic analysis examines specific events to reveal the rearrangement of power in the new order and the importance of tribal sovereignty. She describes the tribal election of a Choctaw chief to expose the diverse ideas of citizenship that define the tribe. She explores the building of a small, rural tribal economic development project to understand the links between Choctaws, non-Indians in the community, and the local tribal government. She analyzes the 2001 water-rights claim that the Choctaws own all the water in southeastern Oklahoma to document the conflicts between the tribal government, the US government, and the Oklahoma state government. These events show how the Choctaw have negotiated their sovereign rights and built new political structures that reflect their tribal identity and empowerment.


Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond - Kindle edition by Ramirez, Renya K.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond by Renya K. Ramirez (2007). Ramirez’s ethnographic work focuses on indigenous people who live in urban areas, specifically in the San Francisco Bay area, where thousands of Native Americans were federally relocated since the 1950s. This research has significance as the US census shows that the majority of Native Americans now live in cities. Ramirez focuses on female interviews in her book as a response to writings about Native Americans that have kept women’s voices silent and to demonstrate the importance of their full membership in discussions about tribal sovereignty and nationalism. Ramirez uses the concept of “hubs,” geographic and psychological sites that bring people together, to show how identities of indigenous people can be created and sustained in locations apart from their tribal homelands. These hubs allow Native Americans to maintain a connection between their urban and tribal homes, provide a sense of belonging, and may increase political power. Ramirez’s work reinforces the concept of unity of tribal communities that span across geographic distances as a way to strengthen identity.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: January 2022

Welcome back! As we’re beginning to settle into a new semester, we at the library wanted to recommend yet another set of titles from our Overdrive and New & Noteworthy collections. These collections are excellent places to look if you’re trying to find a new read, and these five books represent only a tiny fraction of all that you’ll find there. So by all means, if any of the below highlights don’t grab your attention, click either of the above links. You’ll be sure to find something!


Intimacies: A Novel: Kitamura, Katie: 9780399576164: Amazon.com: BooksIntimacies by Katie Kitamura. This novel, Kitamura’s fourth, tells the story of an unnamed woman who travels from the US to The Hague shortly after the death of her father. There, she works as an interpreter for the International Criminal Court, developing a strange yet compelling dynamic with an accused war criminal in her professional life and a series of confusing relationships with some of the city’s inhabitants in her personal life. She forms an unsatisfying romantic attachment with Adriaan, a man midway through a divorce, as well as a complicated friendship with art historian Eline and her brother, Anton. The titular intimacies refer to these inscrutable relationships, as well as the intimacy inherent in the protagonist’s work as an interpreter. Ultimately, though often puzzling and mysterious, the novel deftly tackles a bevy of complex themes, ranging from interpersonal relationships to neocolonialism. You can read reviews here and here.


The State Must Provide: Why America's Colleges Have Always Been  Unequal--and How to Set Them Right: Harris, Adam: 9780062976482:  Amazon.com: BooksThe State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right by Adam Harris. In this book, Atlantic staff writer Harris takes an incisive look at the resource-related disparities that often exist between historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly white institutions, focusing particularly on the policy decisions–historical and current–that underpin them. Harris reveals that so many HBCUs were essentially set up to fail from their inception, with federal and state governments working to maintain segregation in American higher education while also deliberately underfunding predominantly Black institutions. These issues of chronic underfunding persist to this day, leaving many HBCUs egregiously lacking in resources. In chronicling this history, Harris also provides compelling portraits of the many Black scholars across generations who have worked to rectify these imbalances, and also weighs the benefits of many potential solutions to this systemic problem. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Harris here.


Velvet Was the Night: Moreno-Garcia, Silvia: 9780593356821: Amazon.com:  BooksVelvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This noir adventure, set in the midst of the Mexican Dirty War, centers on Maite, a young Mexico City secretary who unexpectedly stumbles into intrigue after her neighbor Leonora goes missing. Though an enthusiast of wild and romantic stories, Maite herself is not a natural investigator, and she only embarks on the case because she had been cat-sitting for Leonora and wants to get paid for her efforts. The reader learns very early on that Maite is not the only one looking for Leonora; so is Elvis, a 21-year-old member of a paramilitary group targeting leftist university students and journalists throughout the city. Moreno-Garcia tells the story from both of their perspectives, and things ultimately come to a head when Maite and Elvis finally cross paths. You can read reviews here and here.


Doomed Romance: Broken Hearts, Lost Souls, and Sexual Tumult in  Nineteenth-Century America: Heyrman, Christine Leigh: 9780525655572:  Amazon.com: BooksDoomed Romance: Broken Hearts, Lost Souls, and Sexual Tumult in Nineteenth-Century America by Christine Leigh Heyrman. In this book, Heyrman documents a unique episode in the history of American evangelicalism, telling the story of Martha Parker. A young woman in 1820s New England, Parker ignited a series of tensions between prominent members of the local evangelical community, despite harboring an earnest desire to serve as a Christian missionary abroad. Fatefully Parker, in pursuit of her dream, broke her engagement to her influential second cousin, Thomas Tenney, to accept the proposal of missionary Elnathan Gridley. Heyrman chronicles Tenney’s subsequent efforts to ruin Parker’s name, including enlisting the help of another one of her former suitors and inciting an investigation into her character by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Ultimately, Tenney’s handiwork leads to the dissolution of Parker’s new engagement, and she eventually agrees to set aside her missionary ambitions and marry him. In relaying this sordid tale, Heyrman makes several cogent connections to the history of gender relations in evangelicalism, connecting this seemingly isolated event to much larger, more systemic problems within the movement. You can read reviews here and here.


Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith: 9780812993325 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksBuild Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith. In this debut novel, Kupersmith fashions a mysterious and supernatural tale anchored in the experiences and eventual disappearance of Winnie, a young American woman who travels to Saigon in 2010 in order to teach English and better understand her Vietnamese roots. Winnie’s time in Saigon is exceedingly difficult for her; her general unhappiness is exacerbated by her inability to form meaningful connections with those around her, and her work suffers. Eventually, she forms a relationship, predicated more on mutual survival than romance, with Long, who works at the same school as she does. It is Long who initially discovers that Winnie is missing, and the subsequent events in the novel adopt a grotesque and often fantastical path, one that connects Winnie’s story to the stories of seeming strangers in Saigon, spanning the days and years leading up to and following her disappearance. You can read reviews here and here.

Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants for LIFE Students — Apply now!

  • Do you have a cool project idea that uses extensive library resources, such as archival materials or foreign language books?
  • Are you a first generation and/or low income undergraduate student?
  • Would having up to $4500 assist with your project idea?

If you answered yes to all three, then consider applying for the Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants (DULSRG)! We welcome applications from students with all levels of prior experience using library materials. This year, our application deadline is March 15th, 2022!

DULSRG are awarded to first-generation and/or low-income undergraduate students to support original library research either at Duke or at another library or cultural institution with a library. Awards are granted up to a maximum of $4500 to cover expenses such as campus housing, transportation, meals while conducting research, online trainings, and digitization expenses. Because research expenses can vary depending on the field of research and the duration of the project, students are able to pool grant funding with other awards.

With the pandemic, we know you’re probably wondering what research might even look like this summer. At this time, we expect Duke will allow on-campus housing and in-person research at Duke, but this is subject to change and subject to university policy.

We’d like to stress that your research does not need to be conducted in person! The grant will cover any expenses related to virtual research and access using Duke or another library’s resources! This could include utilizing digitized collections such as Duke’s own University Archives or Government Documents, or accessing the digitized collections of another university or cultural institution! While the pandemic may have slowed the pace of in-person research, virtual resources for research have become more plentiful than ever – this grant could be your ticket to accessing what’s out there!

To help facilitate planning for alternative means of researching, we will be asking in the submission form for a brief description of alternative ways to work on the project.

You can find out more details about the award, including how to apply and examples of past projects, here:  https://library.duke.edu/research/grants

Deadline: March 15th, 2022

Contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, at arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu, if you have questions.

5 Titles: Pioneering Women in STEM

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Mikayla Brooks.

The science, technology, education, mathematics (STEM) field is full of breakthroughs and notorious accomplishments; big names like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking immediately come to mind. The gentlemen have contributed notable achievements in the field and have had a lasting impact on history. But scientific history is about the women who also made incredible advances in STEM. Some of the names you might know and some you might not. But nevertheless, their contributions and advancements aided in understanding our world and making it a better place to live.

The 5 Titles are selected from Duke University Libraries; they reflect the stories of these women, their personal lives, and their struggles. These women had society’s expectations thrust upon them, in addition to overcoming personal, professional, and mental strife to do the work they did. The selected titles recognize five women, Rosalind Franklin, Hedy Lamarr, Kathrine Johnson, Jane Goodall, and Lise Meitner for their pioneering research and lasting contributions.


Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA: Maddox, Brenda: 9780060184070: Amazon.com: BooksRosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox (2002). Rosalind Franklin, called “our dark lady” by her colleagues, was all but airbrushed out of the picture. During her 27 months’ work at King’s College London, she was able to capture photographs of crystallized DNA. These photographs, shared with Watson and Crick without her permission, helped piece together the puzzle of the double-helix. Maddox’s book takes a critical look at the triumphs and tribulations in Rosalind Franklin’s life. “She paints a portrait of a complex, contradictory, fiercely passionate, and passionately fierce woman whose proper place in scientific history is still debated.”


Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World: Rhodes, Richard: 9780307742957: Amazon.com: BooksHedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes (2011). Hedy Lamarr was born in 1913 to a Jewish family in Vienna as Hedwig Kiesler. Her natural beauty became apparent as a teenager and she soon started to appeared in German films. The first of her six husbands, a wealthy arms merchant, “was a man who entertained German and Austrian weapons developers. No one in their social circle was able to appreciate that Lamarr could keep up and contribute in “their conversations about submarine torpedoes and remote-control devices.” When her husband tried to make her give up acting, she divorced him. Kiesler moved to Hollywood, became Hedy Lamarr, and was soon a beautiful starlet in films. “But, Hedy Lamarr was always much more than just a Hollywood starlet.” The Austrian-American actress was also a tech-head, taking inspiration from the self-playing ‘player piano’ to create various inventions, like the frequency-hopping technology that became a precursor to the secure wi-fi, GPS and Bluetooth now used by billions of people around the world. Richard Rhodes’s biography, Hedy’s Folly, gives this side of her story its due, as previous works published have barely any (in some cases almost no) accounts of her work as an inventor.


My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir: Johnson, Katherine, Hylick, Joylette, Moore, Katherine: 9780062897664: Amazon.com: BooksMy Remarkable Journey: A Memoir by Katherine Johnson with Joylette Hylick, Katherine Moore, and Lisa Frazier Page (2021). Katherine Johnson was turned into an international star by the book (and then movie) Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Her story — rising from anonymity and discrimination to become a research mathematician whose precise calculations helped many vital projects, including John Glenn’s 1962 orbit of Earth — has inspired many. My Remarkable Journey was written with her daughters Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore and completed after Johnson’s death. The memoir offers a more personal perspective with Johnson discussing some of the disparities between her life and what we saw on screen. “This book focuses on Johnson’s personal life, including many experiences that reveal insight into the United States’ tumultuous race relations in the 20th century. My Remarkable Journey showcases examples of relentless determination in the face of adversity that linger with the reader, showing what truly makes Johnson’s journey remarkable.”


Amazon.com: Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man eBook : Peterson, Dale: Kindle StoreJane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man by Dale Peterson (2006). “The iconic image is imprinted in our minds – the willowy young British woman with the blonde ponytail. She’s standing in the forest with a wild chimpanzee sitting by her side, a hairy hand tentatively reaching out to touch her khaki shorts.” Jane Goodall is a figure we all know and love; her notoriety and image has been splashed across magazines and articles alike. The draw of Goodall’s status does not lie in her being a movie star, politician, or influencer, but by working hard at issues she believes in. “In Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man, Dale Peterson provides an exhaustive chronology of her life to date.” This biography illustrates the complicated and fascinating woman in equal measures with the pioneering researcher. Dale Peterson created a work that provides a remarkable account of what a person can accomplish through courage and self-sacrifice — a reminder of what can be accomplished with commitment.


Amazon.com: Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (Volume 11): 9780520208605: Sime, Ruth Lewin: BooksLise Meitner: A Life in Physics by Ruth Lewin Sime (1996). Lise Meitner and other scientific trailblazers were able to unlock the science of existence at the very make-up of the physical level; their understanding of the atom and achievements made remain astonishing. All scientific pioneers must deal with obstacles, but for Lise Meitner, there were added personal factors. “As a woman in the early twentieth century, she struggled to be taken seriously as a scientist. In her later years, when categorized as a “non-Aryan,” she would become keenly aware that as humanity drew nearer to an understanding of the building blocks of our world, we were ever more imperiled by our capacity for destruction.” Ruth Sime presents an account of Lise Meitner’s life and scientific career from her formative years to the implications of war and the Third Reich on her personal and professional life. With expertise and finesse, Sime explains the value of Meitner’s research, and writes about the publicized and private aspects of Lise Meitner’s life and the ongoing work she did.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: December 2021

As the semester begins to wind down, we at the library hope you’ll have some time to rest and potentially cross some books off your list! If you’re looking for new books to add to your reading list, look no further. One of these five titles, from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections, just might do the trick! If not, though, don’t worry; new titles are being added to these collections all the time, so you’re guaranteed to find something that catches your eye. Have a happy and restful winter break!


The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story: Hannah-Jones, Nikole, The New York Times Magazine, Roper, Caitlin, Silverman, Ilena, Silverstein, Jake: 9780593230572: Amazon.com: BooksThe 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones. In the two years since Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project first appeared in the pages of the New York Times Magazine, it has become a household name, praised by numerous historians for its compelling and thorough reframing of the United States’ origin story while also igniting a vitriolic backlash among rightwing figures both within the US and beyond. This first book edition of the project includes the content of its original New York Times appearance while also expanding upon its aims with the inclusion of more details, notes, and seven additional essays. Although the Project was always sweeping and comprehensive in its examination of several centuries of American history, this edition builds on that, resulting in the fullest and most vivid iteration of the Project to date. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: Alec: A Novel: 9780374102609: Canzio, William di: BooksAlec by William di Canzio. Di Canzio’s novel is both a reworking and a continuation of E. M. Forster’s Maurice, which was originally written in the 1910s but remained unpublished until 1971 owing largely to the happy ending Forster provides to his gay protagonist, Maurice Hall. In this original novel, Maurice, a member of the English upper-class, ultimately finds himself able to forge a successful romantic relationship with the gamekeeper Alec Scudder, despite the rampant homophobia and classism permeating English society during this period. Di Canzio expands on Forster’s story in two major ways: first, he retells the events of Maurice from Alec’s point-of-view, which differs significantly from Maurice’s, and secondly, he confronts Forster’s original ending with the realities of World War I: in this telling, Maurice and Alec’s relationship is threatened when the two, now soldiers, are stationed apart from each other across Europe. With the addition of Alec’s perspective and these new events, di Canzio’s novel is an excellent complement to Forster’s. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: How Beautiful We Were: A Novel: 9780593132425: Mbue, Imbolo: BooksHow Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue. Mbue’s second novel, which was recently named by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year, focuses on Kosawa, a village in an unnamed West African country that has long been beset with troubles inflicted by Pexton, a massive American oil corporation. The year is 1980, and although Pexton has repeatedly attempted to placate Kosawa’s residents with periodic, unproductive visits by their representatives, it remains obvious that their operations in the area have caused the egregious levels of pollution and illness to which they are subjected. Things come to a head when, over the course of the corporation’s latest visit, the residents decide to take the Pexton delegates hostage, spurred on by Konga, who is known as the local madman. Witnessing these events is a young girl, Thula, on whom the novel eventually focuses. As Thula grows, she becomes determined to seek justice for her community, and her journey eventually takes her to the US, where she gains undergraduate and graduate degrees. Upon her eventual return to Kosawa, she seeks to mobilize her peers into fighting Pexton and the dictatorship leading her country, facing numerous barriers along the way. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath eBook : Clark, Heather L. : Kindle StoreRed Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark. Clark’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated biography of Sylvia Plath recounts her life and legacy with both details and a level of care that have hitherto not been seen in the many previous accounts of the poet’s life. A lot of the work she undertakes in relaying the events of her life involves dismantling the mythologization surrounding Plath and her death, offering a fresh reexamination of her poetry, her mental health, and the numerous figures that influenced her, ranging from her parents to mentors to friends. All of these details contribute to one of the most exhaustive portraits of Plath published to date, one that appears astonishingly unscathed by the longstanding, often prurient public fascination with her personal life and death, making it an exceedingly satisfying and sensitive read. You can read reviews here and here.


Chouette: Oshetsky, Claire: 9780063066670: Amazon.com: BooksChouette by Claire Oshetsky. Oshetsky’s debut novel tells the otherworldly story of Tiny, a cellist living with her reliable–if somewhat boring–husband, who inexplicably has an affair with a female owl and even more inexplicably becomes pregnant with a hybrid owl-human baby, the eponymous Chouette. Despite the child’s obvious strangeness, which isolates Tiny from others in her life and evokes dire warnings from nearly every doctor who sees her, her mother immediately loves her unconditionally. She is fully supportive of Chouette and seeks not to change her, even as she is forced to give up her career and even as Chouette’s undeniably owl-like behavior completely upends all normalcy in her life. She faces a tough battle in this determination as her husband seeks exactly the opposite, pursuing “cures” for Chouette at every turn. In tracing Tiny’s pregnancy, Chouette’s early childhood, and her later independence, Oshetsky, who is herself autistic and a mother, offers a unique meditation on the nature of neurodivergence, pregnancy, and motherhood, the fantastic elements of her story providing a unique lens through which to view and understand these massive topics. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: Military Women

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Emily Arnsberg.

Women have served in the military in various capacities for over 200 years. However, women in the United States were not given the option to serve as full-fledged military personnel until 1948, when President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law, officially allowing women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces. Even though women could serve as military members in all branches, they were still not allowed to serve in combat. It was not until 2013 that then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the ban on women in combat would be lifted entirely, and that female service members would be allowed to serve in ground combat roles. “In 2015, hundreds of thousands of jobs were opened to women, and ensured that as long as female service members completed the necessary training and requirements, they could now serve in almost any role in the U.S. military.” Though the U.S. military has taken strides to move towards a more equitable future, worldwide, women are up against roadblocks, harsh laws and cultural stereotypes that prevent them from playing a more active role in today’s military.

With the recent military withdrawal in Afghanistan, and with Veteran’s Day coming up (November 11th), we wanted to not only highlight the tremendous impact of women in the United States military, but those also fighting for military equality in other nations, specifically in places like Afghanistan and Syria. The following five titles illustrate various women fighting to gain an equal footing among their male soldier counterparts, from becoming a Special Operations warrior during the conflict in Afghanistan to an Afghan pilot searching for her place among the Afghan Air Force.


Amazon.com: Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield eBook : Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach: Kindle StoreAshley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (2015). Lemmon’s work chronicles the story of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command pilot program, called Cultural Support Teams (CSTs), which allowed elite women soldiers the chance to fight alongside Green Berets and Army Rangers in Afghanistan. The program, which began in 2010, was the first program to put women in special operations. It brought together a hand-picked group of women from the Army and National Guard, including 1st Lt. Ashley White, the first CST member killed in action. The job of these elite women was to “be the softer side of the harshest side of war;” to work with one of the largest populations in Afghan culture that was previously out of reach to male military members: Afghan women.

Ashley’s War illustrates a different perspective of combat – women on the battlefield. While women were “technically” banned from serving in combat positions, these CST members accompanied Special Operations forces into the heart of battle, on night raids, and in the middle of gunfire. The author conveys an underlying tension among the CST members as they prepare for nightly missions. Will the male soldiers embrace the CST members as one of their own teammates? Is it possible for men and women to coexist in battle? This book challenges your previous assumptions of war, as you witness it through the fresh eyes of women who have never experienced combat. These courageous soldiers play a critical role in advancing the conversation about women in combat, a discussion that is still under debate and talked about in the current military landscape. Ashley’s War is currently being developed into a major motion picture at Universal Studios with Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea producing.


Open Skies: My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot, Rahmani, Niloofar, Sikes, Adam, eBook - Amazon.comOpen Skies: My Life as Afghanistan’s First Female Pilot by Niloofar Rahmani and Adam Sikes (2021). This timely book illustrates another perspective of women in the military, through the eyes of an Afghan woman struggling to serve her country. Rahmani tells her story as the first female-fixed wing Air Force aviator in Afghanistan’s history and the first female pilot in the Afghan Air Force since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. She weaves her “personal history into a broader review of Afghanistan’s past, detailing the years of war her family experienced. Her father was conscripted by the Soviets; the family fled the Taliban and fled in exile; then, after her return, the American invasion brought both concern and cautious optimism.” Rahmani skillfully describes the perils of life for Afghan women as they are forced to live within an oppressive, hostile, and dismissive culture. Her work shines light on another perspective that is rarely delved into depth, the experience of women in Afghanistan. It also highlights the many roadblocks and stereotypes of women in the military, especially for a woman fighting against harsh rules and limits in modern-day Afghanistan.


Amazon.com: Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War: 9781451668117: Thorpe, Helen: BooksSoldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe (2014). Thorpe’s narrative, spanning 12 years, follows three women from enlistment in the Indiana National Guard, through deployment, and back home again. These three women thought that in joining the National Guard their attendance and work would be minimal, occasionally attending training. In exchange, they would be given the best chances available for them to better themselves: by attending college, having a steady paycheck, and engaging in something bigger than themselves. However, in the aftermath of 9/11, these women found themselves in combat zones in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Similar to Ashley’s War, Thorpe illustrates the impact of war and how it changes women, a subject that is often focused on the male perspective. This book also details an important aspect of American history, discussing the cultural failings, resilience, and progress of the American way of life. In its chapters about the women’s return to civilian life, Thorpe illuminates the realities of being female and poor in this country. As one passage illustrates, being in a Target triggers an emotional moment for one of the women, as looking for toilet paper seems so superfluous and wasteful. Thorpe spent four years interviewing these three women; what she learned offers a moving portrait of both of the toll that wartime military life takes and the realities of civilian life when returning from war.


Amazon.com: Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience: 9781501162541: Bhagwati, Anuradha: BooksUnbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience by Anuradha Bhagwati (2019). Bhagwati’s memoir offers a distinctive lens on her service in the Marines, tackling various issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual violence, misogyny, and racism, among many others. Born an obedient daughter of Indian immigrants, Unbecoming tells the story of Bhagwati enlisting in the Marines after graduating Yale, to her later creation of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN). Unlike the other books in this blog post, Bhagwati takes a deep dive into the politics of supporting women in the military. She takes her fight to Congress, illustrating her triumphs and struggles in dealing with politicians, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and California representative Jackie Speier. Her candid memoir shows her view of misogyny and gender segregation in the military, and her fight to make an impact on the gender equality issues of our time.


The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice: Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach: 9780525560685: Amazon.com: BooksThe Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (2021). Lemmon’s most recent title delves into the conflict in Syria and the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS). An all-female protection unit of Syrian Kurdish Fighters, known as the YPJ, fast became the face of the war against ISIS and gained a reputation as fierce and effective fighters. Through the stories of four female soldiers, Lemmon paints a picture of their combat against ISIS and their fight for women’s equality in the battle for the city of Kobani. Aided by U.S. intelligence and airstrikes, these women and the many other Women’s Protection Units helped to retake the city from ISIS. Lemmon, using the stories of these four women as a backdrop, elucidates the complex history of the region and the fight for equality among women who are performing the same tasks beside their male counterparts. Recently, this title was optioned by HiddenLight Productions as a future film adaption.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: October 2021

As the leaves are finally changing and the temperatures are finally resembling those of autumn, you might find yourself looking for a new book to read with your PSL or otherwise seasonally appropriate hot beverage. Well, look no further! Here’s a quick sampling of some recently added titles in our Overdrive and New & Noteworthy collections. Remember, we are always adding new titles to both of these collections, so be sure to frequently check back with each of them!


The Wrong End of the Telescope: Alameddine, Rabih: 9780802157805: Amazon.com: BooksThe Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine. Alameddine’s sixth novel tells the story of Mina Simpson, a middle-aged Lebanese-American physician who volunteers to treat migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos in the midst of a refugee crisis. The experience is very emotionally taxing for Mina, in no small part because her patients and their lives remind her so much of her painful childhood growing up in Beirut, clashing with the conservative culture in which she was raised—along with her abusive parents—before eventually attending Harvard, becoming a doctor in Chicago, undergoing gender transitioning, and adopting her current name. While dealing with these connections, she serves as a vivid narrator of all the people she encounters, painting detailed portraits of her patients to an unnamed Lebanese writer, and wryly criticizing the Western journalists and others who have come to Lesbos to gawk at the crisis as it unfolds. Indeed, the novel offers a thorough examination of Western attitudes toward the Middle East and the refugee crisis in particular, as Mina and the writer contemplate how her stories might be received in the United States. You can read reviews here and here.


Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence: Hill, Anita: 9780593298299: Amazon.com: BooksBelieving: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill. In this book, Brandeis law professor Anita Hill discusses the current state of gender-based violence in the contemporary United States, describing its general pervasiveness and inextricable connection to other forms of bigotry, including racism and transphobia. Reflecting on her own allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and her subsequent testimony against him during his confirmation hearings thirty years ago, Hill remarks upon how little the myriad difficulties facing people alleging gender-based violence against those in power have changed, comparing her experience with that of Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged sexual assault by, and testified against, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, as well as that of Tara Reade, who alleged that now-President Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. In describing all these events, as well as several others, Hill focuses primarily on the numerous barriers facing those who experience gender-based violence, as well as the way this violence affects everyone all of ages, races, and social classes. With its informative—though often difficult—details, Hill’s book is a compelling read. You can read reviews here and here.


My Monticello: Fiction: Johnson, Jocelyn Nicole: 9781250807151: Amazon.com: BooksMy Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. In this debut collection, Johnson tells numerous stories, most of which feature Black characters in contemporary Virginia (Johnson’s home state) reckoning with experiences of racism and their own racial identities, with the heavy history and culture of the state serving as a kind of omnipresent backdrop. The titular novella of the collection, which takes up the most space in the book and also arrives at the very end of the collection, sets itself in a near-future Charlottesville undergoing organized racial violence perpetrated by white supremacist militias (with Johnson’s imagery heavily alluding to the events of the 2017 Unite the Right rally that took place in the city). In this story, UVA student Da’Naisha leads a group of fleeing Black and brown Charlottesville residents (including her own grandmother) to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation located just outside the city; having previously interned there, Da’Naisha knows it to be a potentially effective hideout. As the characters hide there, they are continuously confronted with the links between the plantation’s history and their current circumstances as refugees from racial violence. For Da’Naisha, this link is particularly acute, as she reveals to her grandmother that they are both descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. You can read reviews here and here.


Americanon by Jess McHugh: 9781524746636 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksAmericanon: An Unexpected U.S. History in Thirteen Bestselling Books by Jess McHugh. In this nonfiction debut, journalist McHugh traces the history of common cultural values and ideas of success in American society by examining thirteen bestselling books, all of which serve as instructional texts of some kind (with many resembling modern-day self-help books, despite preceding the advent of the formal genre). Ranging from The Old Farmer’s Almanac to Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, McHugh offers up a comprehensive overview of each title, explaining the varying cultural contexts and publication histories surrounding them. In so doing, she creates a fascinating work on the ways commonplace American values have changed—and not changed—over the past three centuries, and also offers a thorough examination of whose voices and values have been (and currently are) the most present and privileged in the popular market of didactic books. You can read reviews here and here.


Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery Book 1) - Kindle edition  by Manansala, Mia P.. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @  Amazon.com.Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. Manansala’s debut, the first entry in a new mystery series, tells the story of Lila Macapagal, a young woman who has moved back to her Illinois hometown following the emotionally-wrought breakup of her engagement. While she intends simply to assist her aunt in the running of her Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen, things quickly take a turn when her embittered ex-boyfriend from high school, restaurant reviewer Derek Winter, abruptly dies in the middle of a meal there. While these circumstances are enough to cast suspicion on Lila, making matters worse is the fact that Derek was dining with his stepfather, the restaurant’s landlord with whom Lila’s aunt had been having financial difficulties. Lila is quickly pinned as the primary suspect in Derek’s apparent murder, leaving her no recourse but to try to clear her name, which she does with the assistance of her friend Adeena and Adeena’s brother Amir, an attorney who also serves as Lila’s love interest. Though this mystery deals with a number of dark elements, the tone remains generally light throughout, and the events of the novel are brightened by Manansala’s detailed descriptions of food and the many ways it figures into the lives of the book’s characters. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: Horror Films from African American Directors

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Stephen Conrad, Team Lead for Western Languages in the Monograph Acquisitions Department.

With Halloween upon us, it seems like a fitting time to showcase five horror films from Black directors. The recent attention garnered by Jordan Peele’s films, and even more recently Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, is certainly warranted, but we’re here to take a dive into some older and perhaps overlooked spooky films lurking in the stacks.


Ganja & Hess - WikipediaGanja & Hessdirected by Bill Gunn (1973). A/K/A Blood Couple, a vampiric story of an old dagger’s germs infecting a couple with an insatiable taste for blood. Bill Gunn’s psychedelic, experimental and surreal saga eclipses all bounds of genre and form and has rightfully come to be acknowledged as a masterpiece. Playing the lead role of the anthropologist Hess Green is none other than Duane Jones, who was the iconic and tragi-heroic lead character in George Romero’s classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead. To quote critic James Monaco: “If Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is Native Son, Ganja and Hess is Invisible Man.” Also to note, it was remade by Spike Lee in 2014 with the title Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.


Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde - WikipediaDr. Black, Mr. Hyde, directed by William Crain (1976). In mid-70s Los Angeles. Dr Henry Pride (Bernie Casey) is a successful doctor who develops a formula to cure liver ailments, but with disastrous side effects, especially when he begins experimenting on himself. Once injected, the doctor becomes a murderous white-skinned monster, turning his evil intentions specifically upon pimps and sex workers. The director of 1972’s Blacula crafted his second Blaxploitation horror classic with this take on the Stevenson tale, updated for the streets of Watts. One of the coolest features is extensive inclusion of the Watts Towers towards the end, where Pride/Hyde meets his demise.


Def by Temptation - WikipediaDef by Temptationdirected by James Bond III (1990). A minister-to-be travels from North Carolina to New York City where he encounters a deeply evil succubus prowling on Black men, including his brother, in a swank bar. James Bond III’s only directorial effort, this Troma Films production features a cast that includes Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, Melba Moore, Samuel L Jackson and Freddie Jackson. The neon-strewn sets, inclusion of the comedic and terrific period soundtrack elevate this above the typical Troma schlock fare. But don’t get it twisted, this is still bizarrely gory and gloriously off-kilter. And, it seems like an entire dissertation could be built on the cultural ramifications of Dwayne Wayne, in 1990, being consumed and regurgitated a-la-Cronenberg by a television set that has a cartoonish bust of Ronald Reagan sitting on top of it.


Tales from the Hood - WikipediaTales from the Hooddirected by Rusty Cundieff (1995). Four ultra-violent horror vignettes hosted by a Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III) in his funeral home as he gives a tour and tells tales to three hoods in search of stashed drugs. Director Rusty Cundieff (also at the helm of the riotous 1993 hip hop docu-spoof Fear of a Black Hat) unleashes the stories in classic Tales from the Crypt fashion but with a definite moral bent. Perhaps best of all is the one starring Corbin Bernsen as a flag-clutching racist politician named Duke, who is beset by a foul end at the hands of small dolls in his mansion that was formerly a plantation owner’s house. The segment even manages to tie in media manipulation, reparations, and ancestral folklore. Bonus points for an excellent soundtrack featuring the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Gravediggaz.


Amazon.com: Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror : Jordan Peele, Rusty Cundieff, Ernest Dickerson, Tony Todd, Xavier Burgin: Movies & TVHorror Noire: The History of Black Horrordirected by Xavier Burgin (2019). A documentary survey through the history of Black horror films and the African American role in the genre from Birth of a Nation through the present day. This is a film version of the book by Robin Means Coleman, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present. A terrific introduction that will surely leave the viewer wanting to watch and know much more.


If you’re looking for more horror films this Halloween, be sure to check out Lilly Library’s current collection spotlight on scary movies, also curated by Stephen Conrad!


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: September 2021

Hello again! We at the library hope your semester has gotten off to a good start, and that you’re enjoying the great weather we’ve been having lately. I myself have been so excited about the apparent start of fall (we’ll see if it sticks this time) that I’ve nearly forgotten to recommend some great new reads for the month. Whoops! Fortunately, since our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections are adding new titles all the time, it’s easy to find something new to read, even on short notice. Here are just a few of these new selections!


Amazon.com: Harlem Shuffle: A Novel: 9780385545136: Whitehead, Colson: BooksHarlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. In this latest novel by Whitehead, winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, furniture salesman Ray Carney finds himself at the center of a heist gone wrong in early 1960s Harlem. Specifically covering the years 1959 to 1964, the reader watches as Ray attempts to balance his slightly doubled life as an upstanding entrepreneur who occasionally fences stolen goods for thieves, a balance that is slowly unraveled by a heist at the locally renowned Hotel Theresa perpetuated by his cousin Freddie in the first act. Freddie, who is far more of a career criminal than Ray, arranges for him to fence the products of the heist, and this intrusion into his work has consequences that run the course of the book. Along the way, Ray also plans revenge against an unscrupulous banker, and this act brings with it its own host of various and sundry characters and events. As the story takes shape, too, it meaningfully engages with the contemporary history of Harlem, all the while maintaining its humor and gentle parody of 20th century crime fiction. You can read reviews here and here.


Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America: Washington, Kate:  9780807011508: Amazon.com: BooksAlready Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America by Kate Washington. In this book, Washington chronicles her own experiences of caregiving from 2016 to 2018 while linking them to the extensive, collective struggle of unpaid family caregivers in the contemporary United States. With often devastating detail, she describes the way in which her husband Brad’s sudden lymphoma diagnosis completely upended the lives of herself and her family, his rare illness repeatedly evading treatment and requiring Washington to devote all her time to learning how to care for him at the expense of her career and relationships, including with Brad himself. Washington deftly contextualizes these experiences by discussing how systemic barriers play out in caregiving situations, noting, among other things, how unpaid caregivers—who are disproportionately women—are routinely denied any kind of meaningful support in modern-day American society. Though she ends her account by discussing Brad’s general improvement after a stem-cell transplant (which it is by no means a full recovery), she uses her experience to call for increased structural support for caregivers. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Washington here.


Afterparties: Stories: So, Anthony Veasna: 9780063049901: Amazon.com: BooksAfterparties by Anthony Veasna So. This short story collection, So’s posthumous debut (he died in December 2020 at the age of 28), tells the stories of numerous Cambodian-American characters, young and old alike, in California’s Central Valley. The stories primarily concern themselves with generational and cultural differences between the characters as they each reckon with their Cambodian identity in various ways. At a donut shop, a wedding, a car repair shop, and still many other settings, So’s characters interact and clash over what this identity should mean and how it manifests in their lives. In all, the stories touch on themes of sexuality, the cultural importance of food, generational ties, and the enduring legacy of the Cambodian genocide, among other topics. You can read reviews here and here.


Craft: An American History: Adamson, Glenn: 9781635574586: Amazon.com: BooksCraft: An American History by Glenn Adamson. In this exhaustive survey, stretching some four centuries, curator Adamson covers the importance of craft in American history, emphasizing its universal presence in all the cultures that form the modern-day United States. In defining craft as “whenever a skilled person makes something with their hands,” too, Adamson’s reach is quite broad, studying everything from the effect of the industrial revolution on American craft to the much more recent impact of e-commerce and social media. Throughout this lengthy discussion, Adamson is quick to discuss the long and fraught relationship between craft and capitalism, noting the repeated tendency of American culture to characterize craft as unserious and lacking in value, and to characterize crafters—particularly those of marginalized identity—in exploitative, demeaning, and fetishistic ways. In all, the book is a nuanced and fascinating read. You can read reviews here and here.


The Disaster Tourist: A Novel: Ko-Eun, Yun, Buehler, Lizzie: 9781640094161:  Amazon.com: BooksThe Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (translated by Lizzie Buehler). In this dark satire of late-stage capitalism, originally published in South Korea in 2013 but published in English for the first time last year, Yun tells the story of Yona, an employee at a travel company that specializes in disaster tourism, arranging tours to locales devastated by all kinds of momentous crises for the perceived moral betterment of their customers. Yona has worked for the company for 10 years, coordinating tours and assessing what locations would bring in the most clients, but is on the brink of quitting after facing the sexual harassment of her boss and getting demoted for no clear reason. In a last-ditch effort to keep her in the company, she is directed to travel to an island called Mui, the company’s least popular destination. There, Yona discovers a seemingly ludicrous plot being carried out by the company: to bring in more clients, the company will create a disaster on the island, one that will surely kill a significant number of its inhabitants. From here, Yona must make some critical decisions, and Yun portrays her subsequent period on the island in a terrifying and yet darkly humorous way. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: Environmental Justice

Janil MillerThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Janil Miller, Librarian for Marine Science and Coordinator, Pearse Memorial Library at Duke Marine Laboratory, and Brittany Wofford, Librarian for the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Brittany WoffordBlack Americans and other minority populations have long been disproportionately affected by toxic chemicals in the workplace and communities. Multiple studies have found that race is a major factor in siting hazardous waste facilities. In fact, activists and scholars often identify 1982 as the start of the modern environmental justice movement when the residents of Warren County, North Carolina protested against the siting of the Warren County PCB Landfill in their county. Afterwards, organizers and activists moved so-called mainstream environmental organizations to include environmental justice as a priority and worked within the government to create the EPA’s Office of Environmental Equity, now known as the Office of Environmental Justice. Today, the environmental justice movement encompasses many issues that most strongly burden communities of color, including water access, sanitation, exposure to toxins, air quality, displacement and climate change.

These titles range from foundational texts to works by a new generation of activists, researchers and filmmakers. While different in format and focus, they all highlight the power of community activism in the fight against environmental racism and moving toward a more just future.


Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality, Third Edition:  Bullard, Robert D.: 9780813367927: Amazon.com: BooksDumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality by Robert D. Bullard (1990). Bullard’s work is a foundational text in environmental justice literature, identifying a shift in the environmental movement, which had previously focused on wildlife conservation and pollution abatement. Focusing on the efforts of five Black communities, he details the social and psychological impacts associated with the siting of polluting facilities and the mobilization of those communities, empowered by the civil rights movement, to fight against those injustices. In doing so, he situates environmentalism as a key social justice issue. Bullard is currently a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, having previously served as Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. In 2020, he was honored with the UN Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award.


There's Something In The Water | Columbia University PressThere’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid R. G. Waldron (2018). In this work, Waldron, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University and the Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project, details the efforts of Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians fighting racism and environmental hazards in their communities. Using settler colonialism as an overarching theory, Waldron unpacks how environmental racism “operates as a mechanism of erasure enabled by the intersecting dynamics of white supremacy, power, state-sanctioned racial violence, neoliberalism and racial capitalism in white settler societies.” This work is unique in its exploration of intersectionality and calls attention to the ways race can be excluded or downplayed in environmental justice work and narratives.


Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret: Flowers, Catherine  Coleman, Stevenson, Bryan: 9781620976081: Amazon.com: BooksWaste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman Flowers (2020). Catherine Coleman Flowers is an extraordinary woman with a powerful story to tell. The book details the varied life experiences that shaped her into a tireless champion for the far-too-numerous poor Americans across this country that suffer from inadequate sanitation. Ms. Flowers’ story begins in the Black Belt of Alabama, a region that played a pivotal role in the fight for civil and voting rights in the mid-1960s. This struggle was deeply personalized through the witness of her parents’ commitment to and support of these social justice movements. Her activism and advocacy blossomed early and continued to grow organically out of persistent exposure to a wide spectrum of injustices. In 2008, she met and accepted support in her fight to reduce disparities in the healthcare system from Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative in nearby Montgomery. While her life’s work has exposed her to celebrities and numerous advocates, she keeps her focus on those whose daily struggle is safe and proper sanitation. Inspired by powerful role models like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bryan Stevenson, Ms. Flowers is surely inspiring the next generation in their quest for social justice.


Docuseek | Global Environmental Justice CollectionGEJ: Global Environmental Justice Documentaries. This platform is an academic streaming source for the best in social issue and documentary film, with hundreds of titles in all major disciplines. In browsing the titles, films newest to the platform are clearly highlighted. Films can be discovered through the subject index while advance search allows for limiting results by keyword, film length, language, awards, appropriate audience, etc. Guides associated with many films provide additional details, selected excerpts if time for viewing is limited, discussion questions and supplementary information. Two included works are:

    • People of the Feather (2011), directed by Joel Heath with the community of Sanikiluaq inhabitants of the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. This film looks at the many changes to their way of life as upstream dams/hydro-energy facilities release warm, fresh water in the winter season, changing the sea-ice nature and currents.
    • Tar Creek (2012), directed by Matt Meyers. This film is “the story of the worst environmental disaster you’ve never heard of in northeastern Oklahoma,” the far, far reaching consequences of the transformation of the Quapaw Tribe’s reservation “into one of the largest lead and zinc mines on the planet.”

The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice (Routledge International  Handbooks): Holifield, Ryan, Chakraborty, Jayajit, Walker, Gordon:  9781138932821: Amazon.com: BooksThe Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, edited by Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty and Gordon Walker (2018). This volume “presents an extensive and cutting-edge introduction to the diverse, rapidly growing body of research on pressing issues of environmental justice and injustice. With wide-ranging discussion of current debates, controversies, and questions in the history, theory, and methods of environmental justice research, contributed by over 90 leading social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and scholars from professional disciplines from six continents, it is an essential resource both for newcomers to this research and for experienced scholars and practitioners.” The 51 chapters are divided into four broad sections: (1) “Situating, analyzing, and theorizing environmental justice,” (2) “Methods in environmental justice research;” (3) “Substantive issues” and (4) “Global and regional dimensions.” The online book allows for keyword searching; results can be further refined by selecting subject or geographic filters. The chapters are easily navigated by menu, are well referenced, and available as PDFs.

Chapter 30, Urkidi, Leire and Mariana Walter’s, “Environmental justice and large-scale mining,” looks at environmental justice in the climate of expanding global demand and rapid growth in the resource extraction industry. It is arranged in three broad areas: the biophysical characteristics of large-scale mining; the distribution of burden/benefits; and lastly a granular look at social “struggles, movements, and discourses” surrounding the industry.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: August 2021

Welcome to the fall semester! We at the library know that this is a busy time for everyone at Duke (including ourselves), but if you have time to read, here are some new recommendations from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections! The titles below represent only a tiny fraction of these collections, so be sure to follow those links to explore them in more depth. For the first time in a long time, too, you can visit our New & Noteworthy collection on the first floor of Perkins, inside the lobby by the Perk. Just be sure to wear a mask!


Amazon.com: The Aeneid: 9781984854100: Vergil, Virgil, Bartsch, Shadi: BooksThe Aeneid by Vergil, translated by Shadi Bartsch. Though there are numerous English translations of Vergil’s epic, Bartsch’s, which was published in the US earlier this year, sets itself apart by striving to be as close to the original Latin as possible in its content and presentation. Unlike most English translations, Bartsch largely preserves Vergil’s rhythm, resulting in often clipped English that starkly contrasts with other high-profile translations of the poem. Accompanying the translation is her introduction, in which she discusses the Aeneid’s continuing political resonance today, over 2000 years after it was originally written. In all, this new translation offers an innovative look at the poem, one that keeps close to Vergil while also rendering the poem accessible to modern-day readers. You can read a review here and an excerpt here.


How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across  America: Smith, Clint: 9780316492935: Amazon.com: BooksHow the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith. In this book, Atlantic staff writer Smith studies the way the history and legacy of slavery in the United States has been dealt with at nine historic sites (eight in the US, and one abroad). As Smith observes, each site reckons with the subject quite differently—he contrasts, for example, the centering of enslaved people’s lives at Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation with the glorification of the Confederacy at Virginia’s Blandford Cemetery—reflecting the contradictory and tumultuous understanding of slavery present in American culture at large. Smith’s depiction of these sites is multi-faceted and richly described, in no small part because he interviews such a wide range of people, including tourists and tour guides, historians and other experts, and formerly incarcerated people. In presenting such a complex picture of historical reception in the contemporary United States, Smith offers a compelling and extremely relevant read. You can read reviews here and here.


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: 9780525657743 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksCrying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. In this memoir Zauner, founder of the band Japanese Breakfast, depicts her often complicated relationship with her mother Chongmi, as well as her grief following Chongmi’s death from cancer in 2014. Though Zauner describes a childhood and adolescence in which she attempts to distance herself from her and Chongmi’s Korean heritage (Zauner’s father Joel is white American), she finds that her ties to her mother always remain in some form, and often hinge upon their shared love of Korean cuisine. Just when Zauner begins to increasingly reconnect with her mother in her twenties, Chongmi is diagnosed with cancer. Zauner describes the futility of the treatments and her mother’s slow death, and spends the rest of the book depicting the ways in which her intense grief shaped her life and musical work. In describing these emotionally wrought events, the memoir serves as a unique meditation on the relationship between food and identity, as well as grief. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: Hearing Homer's Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman  Parry: 9780525520948: Kanigel, Robert: BooksHearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry by Robert Kanigel. In this biography, Kanigel tackles the life of classicist Milman Parry, who died young but proved to be monumentally influential on the field of Classical studies. Though some previous Classical scholars had proposed the idea that Homer, legendary author of the Iliad and Odyssey, was not in fact a real person, it was Parry who first fully fleshed out the idea that the epics were the products of generations of storytelling by countless performers. Kanigel discusses at length how Parry came to this conclusion, including his pointed observations about language and meter in Homer’s poems, as well as his travels to Yugoslavia, where he closely studied the oral traditions of the region’s singers and performers. In the midst of this discussion, Kanigel talks about the often difficult circumstances of Parry’s personal life, including his dysfunctional marriage and untimely death: Parry shot himself at the age of 33 in 1935, but whether this was a suicide, an accident, or a murder at the hands of his wife remains unclear. You can read reviews here and here.


Revival Season: A Novel: West, Monica: 9781982133306: Amazon.com: BooksRevival Season by Monica West. In this novel, West tells the story of teenager Miriam Horton as she accompanies her family on a summer-long tour of Baptist revivals in the South. Her father Samuel, once an exceptionally popular preacher and faith healer on the revival circuit, finds his audience evaporating as word gets out about his physically assaulting a pregnant teenager during the previous summer. This disappointment heightens preexisting tensions between the volatile Samuel and his family, but things get even more complicated for Miriam when she discovers that, unlike her father, she has a genuine ability to heal others. What follows is Miriam’s gradual coming-of-age, and the discovery of her individual spirituality, as she navigates her relationships with her father, mother, sister, and various others. In bringing Miriam’s story to life, West offers a thoughtful and enjoyable—though sometimes intense—meditation on African-American evangelicalism, patriarchy, and general spirituality. You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read This Month: May 2021

Welcome back to What to Read This Month! Quick confession: since the semester ended, I’ve been so busy catching up on my reading list that I’ve nearly forgotten to recommend a fresh batch of books for May. Fortunately, I have a number of great titles to choose from, as you’ll see below. Of course, these five books represent only a miniscule fraction of the titles we’re continually adding to our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections, so if you’re in need of some additional summer reading, head over there!


How to Order the Universe: Ferrada, María José, Bryer, Elizabeth:  9781951142308: Amazon.com: BooksHow to Order the Universe by María José Ferrada (translated into English by Elizabeth Bryer). In this novel, Ferrada tells the story of M and D, a father-daughter duo of traveling salespeople peddling hardware in Pinochet-era Chile. M, who is seven years old, begins her foray into entrepreneurship when D realizes that his daughter has a knack for attracting customers. Though M has to skip school and deceive her mother to join D on his sales, doing so is fairly easy owing to her mother’s general emotional distance, which has been exacerbated by recent personal losses related to the Pinochet regime. As M travels with her father, she begins to grow up, and her increased realizations and understanding of the world around her are shaped by her business and familiarity with the products she hawks with D. Though she adores her father and her ability to travel with him, over the course of the novel M is frequently forced to come to grips with staggering loss and political tumult as the Pinochet dictatorship upends her life and the lives of those around her. You can read reviews here and here.


Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain: 9780241445297:  Amazon.com: BooksEmpireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera. In this book, journalist Sanghera discusses the general reluctance of modern-day British society to reckon with its imperialistic history, and the reasons why this reluctance has taken the form that it has. Arguing that empire is still a highly influential force in the United Kingdom today, Sanghera focuses both on the history his country is willfully choosing to forget, and the ways in which this refusal has enabled contemporary racism in Britain and has justified attempts to reject its present-day status as a multicultural nation. In writing his account, Sanghera cites the general erasure of brutality committed by British imperialist forces, such as its 1903 invasion of Tibet, as well as the contributions of imperial citizens to British society at large. He also links the content of the book to his own personal experience, contextualizing the racist violence he witnessed as a child of Indian Punjabi immigrants growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton. In all, while the book is often a heavy and disturbing read, it is also moving in the way it highlights these often overlooked elements of British history. You can read a review here and listen to a discussion with Sanghera, presented by Amandeep Kaur Bhangu and hosted by the UK Punjab Heritage Association, here.


Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness: Grinker,  Roy Richard: 9780393531640: Amazon.com: BooksNobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness by Roy Richard Grinker. In this book, anthropologist Grinker discusses the ways in which cultural ideas of normalcy have given rise to an entrenched and pernicious stigma surrounding mental illness. He traces the history of terms that have been extensively used to stigmatize mentally ill people, such as “mad,” and discusses how these terms have historically been used to stigmatize marginalized populations in particular; those in power, he notes, have largely been able to avoid being branded with such terms. Though the exact nature of the stigma surrounding mental illness has changed, he writes that this inequality is still certainly present in modern-day perceptions of mental illness, discussing how some of the most stigmatized mental illness diagnoses today are disproportionately applied to marginalized people. Ultimately, Grinker argues that this development of stigma is inextricable from capitalism, colonialism, and the influence of Western religious thought. You can read reviews here and here.


The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women  and Women to Medicine: Nimura, Janice P.: 9780393635546: Amazon.com: BooksThe Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women—and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura. In this biography, historian Nimura takes a detailed look at Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as her sister Emily Blackwell, herself a physician whose legacy is often overshadowed by Elizabeth’s. Nimura emphasizes Elizabeth’s unusually tenacious character and her determination to obtain a medical degree, a threatening prospect to a medical establishment that feared women doctors would prove to be too successful with women patients. Emily followed with her medical degree, and together, the two eventually opened the first hospital to be staffed by women. While Nimura includes numerous fascinating stories about Elizabeth’s life, she is also quick to point out her serious flaws of character that are often erased in her status as a cultural icon: for instance, she is unflinching in her discussion of Elizabeth’s lifelong opposition to women’s suffrage. The biography is also unique in its vivid portrait of Emily, whom Nimura describes as a generally more effective doctor compared to Elizabeth, and as a woman who navigated multiple same-gender partnerships in the 19th-century US. You can read reviews here and here.


Meltdown: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis - Kindle edition by  Funabashi, Yoichi. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.Meltdown: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis by Yoichi Funabashi. This year marks ten years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, and in this new book, journalist Funabashi offers an exhaustive account of the disaster itself, its continuing aftermath, and its implications for Japan and the world at large. Funabashi has been chronicling the disaster since it occurred in 2011, and the book is the result of his interviews with hundreds of people, including Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant personnel, members of the Japanese military, and Japanese government officials. Though one leaves the book with a strong impression of the factors leading up to the disaster and its occurrence, much of the book is focused on the present and future, as Funabashi dwells on present cleanup efforts, the complications surrounding the long-term management of the disaster site, and the future of energy policy in Japan. Ultimately, in his depiction of the disaster, Funabashi argues that, although Japan is in need of sustainable energy sources, it has proven to be unprepared for harnessing nuclear energy, citing the mismanagement of evacuation during the disaster as well as the role that insufficient safety regulations played in the disaster itself. You can listen to two interviews with Funabashi here and here.

5 Titles: Unsung Black Women in the Olympics

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Tashiana Scott-Cochran.

When one thinks of Black women in the Olympics, we might immediately reflect on the celebrity, acolytes, achievements, and athletic prowess of tennis prodigies Venus and Serena Williams. However, dating back to 1936, many Black women have competed and won in their respective sports. Tennessee State University, under the tutelage of Coach Ed Temple, has the distinction of being home to the first Black Women’s Track team. It is no coincidence that several Black women in the Olympics, including Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus both featured in this month’s 5 Titles selections, achieved the milestone due to Temple’s legendary coaching.

The 5 Titles selected from the Duke University Libraries reflect the stories of Black women who mitigated their race, class, gender, sexuality, and their expectation of White America, Black America, and the world at large. These women — Alice Coachman, Theodora “Tidye” Pickett, Wilma Rudolph, Wyomia Tyus, and Althea Gibson, among others — have made significant contributions in their respective sports without receiving their just due.


Before Jackie Robinson: The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers:  Gems, Gerald R.: 9780803266797: Amazon.com: BooksBefore Jackie Robinson: The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers, edited and with an introduction by Gerald R. Gems (2017). This volume, edited by Gerald R. Gems, is an important introduction to Black athletes. The title provides pertinent information on athletes, who, in many instances, have not received the treatment of full-length scholarly biographies. Gems’ work highlights the impact of African American athletes on US black-white relations from the 1890s to the 1940s. Robert Pruter, author of one chapter, examines the life of Theodora “Tidye” Pickett, one of the first African American women to participate in the Olympic games and a track and field star in the 1930s. Tidye Pickett is considered the first woman to compete in the Olympic games in 1932 in Los Angeles and one of two Black women (Louise Stokes the other) who competed in the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.


Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story: Tyus, Wyomia, Terzakis, Elizabeth:  9781617756580: Amazon.com: BooksTigerbelle: the Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis, with a foreword by Joy Reid (2018). Worthy of examination of her overlooked monumental accomplishments, Tyus is the first person to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, setting a new world record in both the 1964 and 1968 Olympics for the 100-meter track and field event. Tyus’ life speaks to growing up in Georgia during Jim Crow, to social activism, gender equity, and inclusiveness. A finalist for the Track and Field Writers of America’s 2018 Armory Foundation Book Award and A Women’s National Book Association selection for the National Reading Group Month Great Group Reads for 2018, it is clear why this book has been a contender for many accolades and awards. In the decorated imagery, for example, the readers can “see” Tyus loosening up, “shaking it off”, and dancing in preparation for a competition. The author establishes Tyus as a dominating presence, a graceful sprinter who possessed the focus and accuracy of a mercenary.


A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America:  Lansbury, Jennifer H.: 9781557286581: Amazon.com: BooksA Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America by Jennifer H. Lansbury (2014). Jennifer H. Lansbury studies the experiences of six Black women who participated in competitive sports in the twentieth century through the lens of race and gender. “Lansbury places the biographical narrative of each woman in the social context and describes the increasing role of women in sport.” She aptly notes that these Black women, while breaking racial barriers, were simultaneously facing criticisms about their sexuality and femininity. In the 1940s, Alice Coachman participated in integrated meets while confirming her sexuality in an era when women in track and field faced concerns about being a tomboy or were described as mannish. This is a shared experience for Wilma Rudolph, whose coach Ed Temple implored her and her teammates to be “young track ladies first and track girls second” so that they would be “foxes” not “oxes” (pp. 132-33).


Amazon.com: Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History  (9781501137105): Schiot, Molly: BooksGame Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History by Molly Schiot (2016). Before the term “instafamous” and the immediate, instant gratification society we have become accustomed to, there have been many Black women who have made contributions to their chosen sport that have been unnoticed. This is the impetus for Schiot’s work. Her two-year endeavor is a full-length text consisting of extravagant illustrations and summaries, varying in length and depth. Her work is a conversation piece that does not dismiss the cultural context for these Black female athletes in lieu of twenty-first century revisionist perspectives of race, gender, and athleticism. Ironically, these Black women Olympians, women such as Ora Mae Washington, Wyomia Tyus, Wilma Rudolph, and Althea Gibson, would have continued to remain obscure were it not for the reach of social media.


Passing the Baton: Black Women Track Stars and American Identity (Sport and  Society): Ariail, Cat M.: 9780252043482: Amazon.com: BooksPassing the Baton: Black Women Track Stars and American Identity by Cat M. Ariail (2020). Cat M. Ariail’s work, as described by the University of Illinois Press blog, looks at how “black American women track athletes used the Olympic stage to insert blackness and femaleness into the image of Americanness.” It is in that vein that Ariail situates the pivotal role played by these unsung Black women, who shattered boundaries and created records, yet found themselves rendered invisible, with their contributions and sacrifices rendered null. In her work on Black female athletes, Ariail lifts many Black women Olympians’ names out of obscurity, thereby making their lived experience of race, gender, sexism and their athletic achievements inextricably bound to one another.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read This Month: April 2021

Congrats on making it through another unusual semester here at Duke! We at the library realize that you’re probably busy with end-of-semester projects and finals (and remember, we’re always here to help!), but if by chance you’ve got the time to pick up a new book to read, here are some great selections from our Overdrive and New & Noteworthy collections. As always, these picks represent just a tiny fraction of what’s available, so be sure to follow the above links to see what else we have!


Your House Will Pay: A Novel: Cha, Steph: 9780062868855: Amazon.com: BooksYour House Will Pay by Steph Cha. In this thriller, Cha tells the story of Grace and Shawn, two Angelenos whose lives unexpectedly intersect when Grace’s mother is injured in a drive-by shooting. It is the summer of 2019, and as tensions in the city come to a head following the police shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, Grace is shocked to learn an egregious family secret: in 1991, a member of Grace’s family murdered a teenage girl named Ava, believing her to be stealing from the family’s convenience store, and received no jail time for the crime. The event ignited tensions between Los Angeles’ Black and Korean communities, and in 2019, the investigation surrounding the shooting of Grace’s mother resurrects some of these tensions at the family level. It also exacts a heavy toll on Shawn, Ava’s brother, who has been haunted by sister’s death for 28 years. As he becomes involved in the investigation, he must confront his own grief as well as the very family responsible for Ava’s murder. Cha derives much of the story from the real-life 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins, and in so doing, offers a tense exploration of race, grief, and justice. You can read a review here and an interview with Cha here.


Troubled: The Failed Promise of America's Behavioral Treatment Programs:  Rosen, Kenneth R.: 9781542022118: Amazon.com: BooksTroubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs by Kenneth R. Rosen. In this book, journalist Rosen traces the fraught history of American behavioral treatment programs, most of which have historically taken the form of spartan residential camps and schools. The book is partially a memoir, as Rosen describes at length his own experience with such programs: as a teenager with behavioral issues in the mid-2000s, Rosen was sent against his will to three separate institutions throughout the United States, all of which treated him brutally while also having little positive effect on him; despite (or perhaps because of) his years in these programs, his young adulthood proved to be a dysfunctional and often unstable one. Rosen also interviews a number of other graduates from similar institutions, and their testimonies strongly bolster Rosen’s argument that the American industry of behavioral treatment programs is one built not only on precarious conclusions about mental health and behavioral therapy, but also on abject cruelty to children. The book is undoubtedly a heavy read, but nonetheless an important one. You can read a review here and listen to an interview with Rosen here.


Klara and the Sun: A novel: Ishiguro, Kazuo: 9780593318171: Amazon.com:  BooksKlara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. In this novel, Nobel Prize winner Ishiguro explores issues ranging from the myriad difficulties of adolescence to questions surrounding the nature of emotional artificial intelligence. At an unspecified future date, Klara exists an “Artificial Friend,” essentially a robot designed to serve as an empathizing and socializing companion, in an era where technology has upended many facets of everyday human life. She lives in a department store, spending her days making human—and somewhat superhuman—observations about the world around her, until one day she is purchased for a sickly teenage girl named Josie. Josie is the result of “lifting”—genetic editing, which in this universe has become rather commonplace for wealthy people—and is intelligent beyond her years. This has come at a personal cost; normal schools have proven inadequate for her, and her homeschooling has caused her socialization to lag behind. Worse, the side effects of the editing have rendered her ill and will possibly even kill her. Klara fills a serious void for Josie, and as the two develop their relationship, Ishiguro explores heavy themes of love, intelligence, and loneliness. You can read reviews here and here.


Of Women and Salt: A Novel: Garcia, Gabriela: 9781250776686: Amazon.com:  BooksOf Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. In this novel, Garcia tells the collective and intergenerational tale of two families living in contemporary Miami. There are two pairs of mothers and daughters that anchor the story: Jeannette and her mother Carmen, and Ana and her mother Gloria. Carmen and Jeannette’s relationship is marked by tumult, with their political and cultural disagreements (Jeannette was raised in Miami and comes to question the perspectives of her mother, a wealthy Cuban immigrant) exacerbated by Jeannette’s struggles with addiction. The two live in close proximity to Ana and Gloria, both of whom are undocumented immigrants from El Salvador. After Gloria is detained by ICE, Jeannette briefly takes Ana in, and things come to a head when Carmen fatefully convinces Jeannette to call the police over the situation. In the midst of these current events, Garcia also focuses on Jeannette’s relationship with her family in Cuba, exploring both her interactions with her living family members as well as her understanding of the family’s past generations. In all, Garcia poetically portrays issues of identity and family in a heated political atmosphere. You can read reviews here and here.


The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song: Gates Jr., Henry  Louis: 9781984880338: Amazon.com: BooksThe Black Church: This Is our Story, This Is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates Jr. In this book, which serves as a companion piece to a recently-aired PBS documentary series of the same name, renowned historian Gates offers a near-exhaustive history of the Black church in the United States, as well as its significance and profound influence on American culture at large. Beginning with the subject of praise houses, churches used by enslaved people in the South, Gates explicates the manifold spiritual and theological roots of the modern-day Black church, and relays the evolution of its many denominations. He makes the compelling case that the Black church has proven to be a highly elastic institution, adapting to the varying needs and plights of Black Americans throughout history, while at once serving as a powerful shaper of Black culture and political movements. Ending his account in the modern era, he brings in the voices of a number of scholars, and these contributions only further enrich his telling of this complicated and often controversial history. You can read a review here and learn more about the accompanying PBS documentary here.

5 Titles: Southern African American Outsider Artists

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS intern Megan Koslofsky.

This month’s 5 Titles highlights the visual art of African American outsider artists who lived and worked in the American South. These artists, working with traditional or unconventional materials, documented and commented on the world around them during the Jim Crow era and beyond. Their work visually preserves the stories and experiences of African Americans living in the American South contributing to a deeper and more inclusive understanding of our nation’s shared history.


Souls Grown Deep, Vol. 1: African American Vernacular Art of the South: The  Tree Gave the Dove a Leaf: Paul Arnett, William S. Arnett: 9780965376600:  Amazon.com: BooksSouls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South, edited by Paul Arnett and William Arnett (2001). This title is a comprehensive overview of forty African American artists living and working in the American South. The book includes 800 color photographs and autobiographical accounts of their lives and works. Essays by scholars, civil rights leaders, and individuals working in the art profession examine the importance of these artists and their works. No longer neglected or diminished as primitive, unschooled or folk art, the book places these artists and their work firmly in the pantheon of 20th century American art. You can find out more about the Souls Grown Deep Foundation here.


Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor: Umberger, Leslie, Marshall, Kerry  James, Stebich, Stephanie: 9780691182674: Amazon.com: BooksBetween Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor by Leslie Umberger with an introduction by Kerry James Marshall (2018). Bill Traylor, born into slavery in 1853, spent the majority of his post-emancipated life as a sharecropper near Selma, Alabama. Eventually moving to segregated Montgomery at the age of 85 in 1938, he began painting and drawing scenes of urban life during Jim Crow and remembered scenes of rural life, ultimately creating more than one thousand works. While his work received limited attention during his life, it was not until thirty years after his death, in 1949, that his work was no longer marginalized and received the consideration it deserved. This exhibition catalog of the retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2018 includes 204 color plates. The introduction by artist Kerry James Marshall considers Traylor’s marginalization as an African American self-taught artist and curator Leslie Umberger’s essay explores Traylor’s veiled and coded commentary on issues of race and class.


Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art: Shiver, Art, Whitehead, Tom:  9780807148785: Amazon.com: BooksClementine Hunter: Her Life and Art by Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead (2012). Born in Louisiana in late 1886 or early 1887 at Hidden Hill Plantation, Clementine Hunter, at fifteen, left to work as a sharecropper with her family at Melrose Plantation. It was at Melrose Plantation in the 1930’s, using the leftover paints of a visiting artist, that Hunter began to paint her experiences of plantation life as a field laborer and domestic servant and documenting the culture of the local African American community. After the death of her husband, Hunter began to sell her work. Living to the age of 101, she had achieved significant acclaim with museum shows and honors. This book includes reproductions of her work, photographs of the artist and her process, and extensive biographical information. This book confirms her rightful place in the canon of American art. You can learn more about Clementine Hunter here and here.


Amazon.com: Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial (9783791350585): Cubbs,  Joanne, Metcalf, Eugene W.: BooksHard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial, edited by Joanne Cubbs and Eugene W. Metcalf with essays by Joanne Cubbs, David C. Driskell, and Greg Tate (2011). Thornton Dial, born in 1928 on a former cotton plantation in Alabama, gained prominence in the early 21st century with his monumental works inspired by the rural American South which have been showcased in numerous museum shows and collections. In the 1980’s, Dial committed himself to making large scale paintings, drawings, sculptures and assemblages utilizing found materials after the Pullman factory he worked at closed. Dial’s work explores themes of racism, class, war, poverty, and civil rights. This exhibition catalog, for a show featuring Dial’s work at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2011, features seventy of Dial’s works and includes essays by scholars of African American art. You can learn more about Dial’s works here and here.


Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts: Arnett, William, Wardlaw, Alvia,  Livingston, Jane, Beardsley, John: 9780971910409: Amazon.com: BooksGee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts by John Beardsley (2002). Located in the bend of the Alabama River, the area known as Gee’s Bend was settled in 1816 as a cotton plantation. The artists featured in this title are former sharecroppers and descendants of the enslaved Africans originally brought to the plantation. Working in isolation, the women created quilts reusing fabrics and designing their own patterns. This title, published in conjunction of the exhibition of the quilts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, includes 350 color illustrations. The traveling exhibit brought these artists to national attention, while the quilts, with their vibrant colors and abstract designs, established a uniquely American art form born from the experiences of their African American female creators.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read This Month: March 2021

Hello again! As spring arrives and we start to progress through the latter part of the semester, now might be a good time to find a new book to read. This month’s post can help you get started on that! As always, though, this selection of five books is just a sampling of the new titles we continually add to the library. If you want to check out more, be sure to visit our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections!


Amazon.com: The Committed (9780802157065): Nguyen, Viet Thanh: Books The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen. In this novel, Nguyen continues the winding, action-packed, and often terrifying story of his protagonist, a unnamed undercover Vietnamese communist agent who continually reinvents himself as the world around him remains in constant flux. We last saw him in Nguyen’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, in which, among several other memorable events, he fled Vietnam with a South Vietnamese general to the United States following the fall of Saigon, consulted on a Hollywood film about the war (think Apocalypse Now), and ultimately returned to Vietnam on an ill-advised mission led by the general, only to be captured and interrogated in a reeducation camp. The Committed sees him leave Vietnam a second time, this time settling in 1980s France, where he quickly becomes entrenched in the world of organized crime. As in the first novel, the narrator provides a constant commentary in which he not only richly describes the events unfolding around him, but also meditates on personally complicated issues of identity, empire, and colonialism. You can read reviews here and here.


Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir: Carroll, Rebecca: 9781982116255: Amazon.com: BooksSurviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll. In this memoir, Carroll discusses her coming of age as the only Black person in her rural New Hampshire community during the 1970s and 80s. Though she portrays her white adoptive parents as empathetic and loving, Carroll describes a childhood in which she felt isolated from her Black identity, and emphasizes the events in her life, leading into her adulthood, that ultimately allowed her to understand herself as a Black woman. Among these events are her first relationship with another Black person, her childhood ballet teacher Mrs. Rowland, her fraught dealings with her biological mother, Tess, a white woman who deliberately seeks to undermine Carroll’s identity as a Black person, and her simultaneously affirming yet difficult experiences as a young adult. Ultimately, Carroll focuses on the peace she is able to find in the family she builds for herself, and reflects on her later life as a parent. You can read a review here and listen to a conversation between Carroll and actor Zoe Kazan, hosted by the New York Public Library, here.


Fake Accounts: Oyler, Lauren: 9781948226929: Amazon.com: BooksFake Accounts by Lauren Oyler. In this debut novel, Oyler tells the story of a young woman who, shortly after the 2016 presidential election, discovers that her boyfriend has been living a secret online life as a rightwing conspiracy theorist. Though the relationship has been unsatisfying and she has no qualms about leaving him following this discovery, she finds that the next chapter in her life—leaving New York City to go live in Berlin—is equally rife with various forms of digital deception and manipulation. Over the course of her journey in Berlin, as she dates and works, she is forced to confront the narcissism, vapidity, and performativity that plagues both her own social media use, and the social media use of those around her. Ultimately, the novel serves as an unusually rich depiction of life in the age of social media, and as an effective satire. You can read reviews here and here.


Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia: Healy, Thomas: 9781627798624: Amazon.com: BooksSoul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia by Thomas Healy. In this book, Seton Hall law professor Healy relays the often overlooked story of Soul City, a community planned in 1970s northeastern North Carolina to embody racial integration and the myriad other gains of the Civil Rights Movement. The community was the brainchild of Floyd McKissick, a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) leader and the first Black law student at UNC-Chapel Hill. McKissick, as Healy tells, secured a 5000-acre plot of land in Warren County, a $14 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the support of the Nixon administration, but despite his efforts, the project never truly took off, and today, little remains of the community. Healy dives into all the reasons why the initiative ultimately floundered, including opposition by the media and local white residents, racism in the bureaucratic process, and the virulent campaign against the project by US senator and noted North Carolina racist Jesse Helms. In so doing, he paints a vivid picture of American society in the 1970s, and its complicated racial politics. You can read reviews here and here.


Bonnie | Book by Christina Schwarz | Official Publisher Page | Simon & SchusterBonnie by Christina Schwarz. In this novel, Schwarz offers a fictionalized biography of Bonnie Parker, famed 1930s outlaw and accomplice of Clyde Barrow. Special attention is paid to Parker’s difficult, impoverished upbringing outside of Dallas, where she develops a talent for and love of poetry that is unfortunately discouraged by an uncharitable teacher. Dropping out of high school, Parker marries but soon leaves her husband, meeting Clyde Barrow and eventually joining him on an initially successful but ultimately fateful crime spree. Schwarz of course devotes much of the novel to this final chapter of Parker’s life, detailing the crimes of the pair, their accomplices, and their eventual deaths at the hands of the law. But where Schwarz deviates from other fictionalizations of the duo, and where the novel makes for a unique and especially insightful work of historical fiction, is in its commitment to realism and lack of romanticization. Other works, most famously the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, have relied on the popular imagining of the pair as romantic outlaws, a perception fueled by contemporary media coverage of their crime spree, but Schwarz offers an unflinching portrayal of the numerous hardships Parker faced as a poor woman on the run in the midst of the Great Depression. You can read reviews here and here.

5 Titles: Beyond Lucky Charms

Ciara HealyThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Ciara Healy, Librarian for psychology & neuroscience, mathematics, and physics.

The Irish are a diasporic culture, though colonized by their nearest neighbors, the British, for almost 800 years. The urge to resist British rule lasted all of those years. Ireland became self-governing with the establishment of the Irish Free State on December 6, 1922. Prior to the establishment of the Free State, the Potato Famine led to the deaths of 1 million Irish, 12.5% of the country’s population. In the years after – 1845 to 1855 – 1.5 million Irish emigrated, many of them to the United States, forming one of the largest émigré populations in the US. Difficult times, colonialism, lack of industrialization, violence, and indifference to the health and welfare of the Irish by the British contributed to the diasporic dreams of the Irish. In the titles below, both Irish fiction and nonfiction, emigration, travel, violence, oppression and family are common themes. The 5 titles below include these themes across a diverse variety of fiction, nonfiction/research, and a current podcast.


How the Irish Became White: Ignatiev, Noel: 9780415963091: Amazon.com: BooksHow the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev (2009). “A Frenchman named Gustave de Beaumont traveled the country in the 1830s and wrote about his travels. He compared the conditions of the Irish to those of “the Indian in his forest and the Negro in chains. . . . In all countries, . . . paupers may be discovered, but an entire nation of paupers is what was never seen until it was shown in Ireland.” Initially, upon arriving to the U.S., the Irish were not considered white. Signs offering work read, “Irish need not apply.” Spoiler: How the Irish Became White is not a heroic coming to terms with their class, race or ethnicity.


Milkman: Burns, Anna: 9781644450000: Amazon.com: BooksMilkman by Clare Burns (2018). A novel set in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles” (1968-1998), the narrator is a nameless young woman coming of age in a claustrophobic house in the violent, politicized city of Belfast. She unwittingly captures the attention of a man called the Milkman, putting herself and her family in danger. Her attempts to avoid all contact with the Milkman and the Troubles is thwarted by her frequent walking around town while reading. This mild eccentricity draws attention and puts her and all of her relationships in danger. The book details how deeply The Troubles insinuated itself into every aspect of life, with nothing left untouched by repression, violence and dread. Milkman is saved from being entirely ominous by the narrator’s insight and dark humor. There is some echo of our own current, divisive political situation. Burns’ book won the 2018 Man Booker Prize and the 2018 Nation Book Critics Circle award.


City of Bohane: A Novel: Barry, Kevin: 9781555976453: Amazon.com: BooksCity of Bohane by Kevin Barry (2011). A speculative fiction novel set in 2053 in a Western city in Ireland is beset by violence, horrible fog, rival gangs and excellent descriptions of what everyone is wearing to the fight. This is a particularly delightful book to listen to via audiobook, read by the author. Surreal, stylized violence runs through almost every aspect of the novel. The action is fast paced and complex, with double-crossing, paranoia, rifts, grudges, treachery, murder and revenge.

 


Pints of MaltPints of Malt, a podcast (March 2019 to present). There has been a wave of Nigerian immigration to Ireland beginning in 2002-2006, and this podcast turns the diasporic Irish emigration narrative inward by discussing immigrants in Ireland and their Irish identity, among other topics such as race, popular culture, and growing up Black in Ireland. Per the Apple Podcasts description, “Pints of Malt Podcast is brought to you by four Nigerian/Irish lads. They share their experiences growing up and living in Ireland. The podcast is full of laughs from the get go: from childhood memories to day-to-day shenanigans, there’s never a dull moment on the podcast with Femi, Kenny, Charlie and Jibbz”.


Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics by Nancy Scheper-Hughes - Paperback - University of California PressSaints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland by Nancy Scheper-Hughes (2001). As the Journal Ethnography describes, “When Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland was published some 20 years ago, it was promptly made a classic of psychological and medical anthropology by academics in the United States and simultaneously broadly and heatedly criticized in the Irish press as an egregious violation of community and cultural privacy, a debate that has blown hot and cold over the intervening decades. Following a recent return to `Ballybran’ in the summer of 1999 which ended in her expulsion from the village, Nancy Scheper-Hughes recounts her attempts to reconcile her responsibility to honest ethnography with respect for the people who once shared their homes and their secrets with her, thereby offering candid and vivid reflections on balancing the ethics and the micropolitics of anthropological work.”


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: February 2021

Hello again! I don’t know about you, but for me, February went by in a flash and I can’t believe we’re now inexplicably near the mid-point of the semester! If you’re looking for something new to read in this last little slice of February, look no further. Or actually, do look further: as always, our New & Noteworthy collection and our Overdrive collection are adding new titles all the time. I also recommend checking out our new 5 Titles series, which highlights the works of underrepresented authors and titles related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our collection. This month’s post, featuring memoirs by African-American men, was written by RIS head Kim Duckett, and last month’s inaugural post, featuring nonfiction on neurodiversity, was authored by yours truly. Now, on to the books!


Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her  Roots: Jerkins, Morgan: 9780062873040: Amazon.com: BooksWandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins. In this memoir, essayist Jerkins documents her tracing of her family’s heritage, a journey involving several locales in the United States, the investigation of multiple missing pieces in her family line, and the contributions of various historians and archivists. Along the way, Jerkins grapples with the many complexities of African-American identity, placing her personal family history in the larger context of Black American history. Some particular facets of this history that Jerkins touches upon in her investigation include the Great Migration, the development and preservation of Gullah culture, the fraught history of tribal citizenship for Black indigenous Americans, and the experiences of free people of color in Louisiana. In so doing, Jerkins also thoroughly interrogates the culture of white supremacy underpinning each piece of her family’s history, both past and present. Ultimately, her deeply personal investigation also serves as a compelling illustration of African-American history and culture. You can read reviews here and here.


The New Wilderness: Cook, Diane: 9780062333131: Amazon.com: BooksThe New Wilderness by Diane Cook. In this novel, shortlisted for last year’s Booker Prize, Cook tells the story of Bea and Agnes, a mother and daughter living a harsh life of hunting and gathering in a rough wilderness left frighteningly unbalanced by climate change. Three years prior to the story’s events, Bea and Agnes, along with Bea’s husband Glen, had been living in a deeply polluted metropolis referred to only as “the City,” but Agnes’ respiratory problems drove the family to participate in a study on human-nature interactions that moved them to a place known as the Wilderness State, understood to be the last wild region left in the world. There, they live with the study’s other participants, roaming the land and learning survival skills lest they perish. Though the group is subject to the demands of the study’s “rangers,” tensions begin to flare between them, driving many of the novel’s core events. In the midst of all this, Cook focuses on the mother-daughter relationship between Bea and Agnes, exploring how it changes as Agnes regains her health and develops a strong attachment to the wilderness. You can read reviews here and here.


Trans America: A Counter-History | WileyTrans America: A Counter-History by Barry Reay. In this book, historian Reay seeks to correct the sidelining of transgender history in the US by providing readers with a thorough, compelling, and far-reaching account of the way transgender identity has developed over the centuries. His inclusive approach identifies several periods in this history, beginning with a broader survey of gender flexibility in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following this discussion is an examination of the rise of transgender visibility in the 1960s and 70s, including the degree of persecution that accompanied it, and the more recent history of transgender people in the US leading up to the present. Reay populates his account with rich depictions of several transgender historical figures, many of whom have been hitherto ignored by the mainstream historical record. There is also a great deal of discussion devoted to the particular history of transgender culture within the Black and Latinx communities, as well as an exhaustive account of the history of medicalization (the book resists the medical model in its approach). You can read interviews with Reay here and here.


Self Care: A Novel: Stein, Leigh: 9780143135197: Amazon.com: BooksSelf Care by Leigh Stein. In this novel, novelist Stein offers ripping satire of corporate, Girlboss-style feminism in her portrayal of Richual, the fictional online women’s wellness company created by her fiercely ambitious, yet ultimately nihilistic protagonists Maren and Devin. The two hatch a plan to market a sanitized, monetized combination of social justice and self-care to their audience of primarily white, thin, middle-class women, and all goes well until a string of scandals forces the two to come to grips with exactly what it is that they have created. As Maren faces backlash for a misguided tweet, the duo also finds itself woefully unprepared to deal with a board member accused of sexual misconduct, one who happens to be involved with Devin and is largely responsible for the company’s funding. Amidst all this, Stein also focuses on Khadijah, a pregnant employee of the company who finds herself in the peculiar predicament of being afraid to ask for maternity leave from her nominally feminist bosses. In all, the novel, in its own darkly funny way, serves as a sharp criticism of white, lean-in feminism, one that’s difficult to look away from. You can read a review here and a Q&A with Stein here.


Amazon.com: Just as I Am: A Memoir eBook: Burford, Michelle: Kindle StoreJust as I Am by Cicely Tyson with Michelle Burford. In this memoir, iconic actress Cicely Tyson tells the story of her life and her decades-long career. She first recounts early her life pre-show business, including a difficult account of the domestic abuse she witnessed as a child and her first marriage and divorce as a young woman, before describing her discovery as a model in the early 1950s at the age of thirty. From here, Tyson describes her experiences working in film and television as a Black woman in the mid- to late-twentieth century, offering a personal perspective on some of her most well-known projects, including Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She is unflinching in her descriptions of the difficulties she has faced, both in her professional and personal life, offering a full account of her long and often difficult relationship with Miles Davis. With Burford, she also reflects on the legacy of her career, her influences, and her many accolades. In this way, the memoir serves as a satisfying, full account of Tyson’s life, as well as something of an epilogue—Tyson died just days after its release last month. You can read reviews here and here.

Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants for LIFE Students — Deadline now extended to March 15th!

  • Do you have a cool project idea that uses extensive library resources, such as archival materials or foreign language books?
  • Are you a first generation and/or low income undergraduate student?
  • Would having up to $4500 assist with your project idea?

If you answered yes to all three, then consider applying for the Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants (DULSRG)! We welcome applications from students with all levels of prior experience using library materials. We have also just extended our application deadline to March 15th!

DULSRG are awarded to first-generation and/or low-income undergraduate students to support original library research either at Duke or at another library or cultural institution with a library. Awards are granted up to a maximum of $4500 to cover expenses such as campus housing, transportation, meals while conducting research, online trainings, and digitization expenses. Because research expenses can vary depending on the field of research and the duration of the project, students are able to pool grant funding with other awards.

With the pandemic, we know you’re probably wondering what research might even look like this summer. At this time, we expect Duke will allow on-campus housing and in-person research at Duke, but this is subject to change and subject to university policy.

We’d like to stress that your research does not need to be conducted in person! The grant will cover any expenses related to virtual research and access using Duke or another library’s resources! This could include utilizing digitized collections such as Duke’s own University Archives or Government Documents, or accessing the digitized collections of another university or cultural institution! While the pandemic may have slowed the pace of in-person research, virtual resources for research have become more plentiful than ever – this grant could be your ticket to accessing what’s out there!

To help facilitate planning for alternative means of researching, we will be asking in the submission form for a brief description of alternative ways to work on the project.

You can find out more details about the award, including how to apply, here:  https://library.duke.edu/research/grants

Deadline: March 15th, 2021

Contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, at arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu, if you have questions.

5 Titles: Memoirs by African American Men

headshot of Kim DuckettThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS head Kim Duckett.

This month’s 5 Titles highlights a variety of memoirs by African American men published in the last decade. These authors share their own unique life experiences while providing valuable insights into how racism in the United States has impacted not only their own lives and but also the lives of their families, friends, students, colleagues, and clients.


Image result for heavy an american memoirHeavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (2018; available in print or as an Overdrive ebook). The “Heavy” of Laymon’s powerful memoir refers to many kinds of heaviness: the weight of his body, the challenges of his personal history growing up, and the complexities of being Black and male in the United States. He writes of the heaviness of his mother’s deep and challenging love and the heaviness of physical and sexual abuse and racism around him as a youth in Mississippi. From his single mother, a poverty-stricken professor who is abused by the men in her life, he learns the “gifts of reading, rereading, writing, and revision.” Now, a writing professor himself, Laymon has shared a highly personal account with a focus on the weight of truth, heavy as it is to look at it squarely. Heavy: An American Memoir was named one of the 50 best memoirs of the past 50 years by the New York Times.


Image result for Notes from a Young Black Chef: A MemoirNotes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein (2019). In this memoir Onwuachi shares his story of growing up in the Bronx, steering towards drug-dealing in college, and finding his passion in cooking and exploring his family’s roots through food. His cooking talent leads him from scraping the resources together to open his own catering business, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, competing on Top Chef, and realizing his dream of opening his own fine dining restaurant in Washington, D.C. All by the time he turned 27! Throughout he learns from the knowledge, skill, and tenacity of his mother, also a chef, whose roots are in Louisiana as well as his Nigerian heritage from his father, including time he spent in Nigeria as a boy. Onwuachi’s story provides valuable insight into the ups and downs of becoming a chef while also exploring issues of race in a very white male dominated profession. Each chapter is paired with one of Onwuachi’s recipes, which creatively ties his life story to the plate, a major theme of his approach to cooking.


Image result for What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in EssaysWhat Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young (2019; available in print or as an Overdrive ebook). Young is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Very Smart Brothas, which the Washington Post coined “the blackest thing that ever happened to the internet,” and a columnist for GQ. In this insightful and often funny set of essays he shares stories from his life while exploring a wide range of issues that in one way or another highlight racism in the United States. Young’s self-reflection is notable for how insightfully he weaves together his personal experiences with commentary on systemic racism and reflections on masculinity.


Image result for Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and RedemptionStreet Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption by Jerald Walker (2010). In this memoir Walker, a professor of creative writing at Emerson College, traces how he turned away from drug use and crime in his youth towards education and a move into the middle-class. He was raised by two blind parents on the South Side of Chicago and grew up as part of doomsday cult that shaped his early life. He interweaves chapters from his early life and teenage years with stories of attending community college in his late-twenties, graduating from the Iowa Writers Workshop, finding his way as a writer and academic, becoming a husband and father, and traveling to Africa. Throughout he explores issues of race and identity while considering the impacts of choices he and others – friends and family – make. Walker’s most recent book How to Make a Slave and Other Essays was a National Book Award 2020 finalist for nonfiction.


Image result for just mercyJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014). Stevenson, the visionary founder and executive director of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, is undeniably one of the most important voices in U.S. criminal justice reform. Even this statement feels like an understatement. In this powerful memoir, Stevenson recounts his work as a lawyer and tireless advocate for the wrongfully convicted, the unfairly tried, and the guilty deserving mercy. He weaves together details from specific cases to illustrate systematic failures in the criminal justice system with how he and his colleagues worked with their clients. His stories and the important historic context and legal background he provides are invaluable for shining a clear light on how the criminal justice system can be so unmerciful, so unjust, and so racist. Although a movie was made based on Just Mercy, nothing compares to hearing Stevenson speak for himself and give voice to the incarcerated he has worked with through reading his own words.


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants for LIFE Students

  • Do you have a cool project idea that uses extensive library resources, such as archival materials or foreign language books?
  • Are you a first generation and/or low income undergraduate student?
  • Would having up to $4500 assist with your project idea?

If you answered yes to all three, then consider applying for the Duke University Libraries Summer Research Grants (DULSRG)! We welcome applications from students with all levels of prior experience using library materials.

DULSRG are awarded to first-generation and/or low-income undergraduate students to support original library research either at Duke or at another library or cultural institution with a library. Awards are granted up to a maximum of $4500 to cover expenses such as campus housing, transportation, lodging, meals while conducting research, online trainings, and digitization expenses. Because research expenses can vary depending on the field of research and the duration of the project, students are able to pool grant funding with other awards.

With the pandemic, we know you’re probably wondering what research might even look like this summer. At this time, we expect Duke will allow on-campus housing and in-person research, but this is subject to change and subject to university policy. To help facilitate planning for alternative means of researching, we will be asking in the submission form for a brief description of alternative ways to work on the project.

You can find out more details about the award, including how to apply, here:  https://library.duke.edu/research/grants

Deadline: March 1st, 2021

Contact Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, at arianne.hartsell.gundy@duke.edu, if you have questions.

5 Titles: Nonfiction on Neurodiversity

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by RIS humanities intern Anna Twiddy.

In this first installment of our 5 Titles series, we’re taking a look at nonfiction* works on neurodiversity. As a concept, neurodiversity refers not just to the existence of a broad range of neurological disabilities, such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, and others, but also to the contributions people with these disabilities make to society and culture at large. Neurodiversity takes a wide variety of forms, and as an identity, it is inevitably intersectional, existing in conjunction with an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. The titles in this post thus seek to reflect the diversity inherent to the neurodivergent identity, focusing on intersections with some other identities as well as the varying ways neurodiversity interacts with society more broadly.


Amazon.com: Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman eBook: Dale, Laura Kate: Kindle StoreUncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale. In this memoir, Dale, a British woman in her 20s, tells the story of her life as, per the title, a gay autistic trans woman. She describes the expectations placed on her from birth to become a neurotypical, heterosexual man, and all the consequences, positive and negative, of failing to meet those rigid expectations. The witty double entendre of the title, which at once alludes to Dale’s sensory issues regarding clothing labels as well as the labels that define her identity, foretells the humor with which she tells her story – while she is unflinching in her discussion of the myriad difficulties she has faced, she is also quick to note the humor present in her day-to-day life. In discussing the events of her life, including the mundane and the extraordinary, Dale richly describes the way in which her gender, sexual orientation, and autism all intersect and relate to each other. It is this discussion of the interaction between these marginalized identities, along with Dale’s unique voice and storytelling, that make it such a compelling read.


Teaching Strategies for Neurodiversity and Dyslexia in Actor Training:Teaching Strategies for Neurodiversity and Dyslexia in Actor Training: Sensing Shakespeare by Petronilla Whitfield. In this guide, acting professor Whitfield draws on the perspectives and experiences of her dyslexic acting students performing Shakespeare as case studies in constructing practical strategies for neurodivergent actors on the stage. Rather than seeking to minimize or ignore the ways neurodivergent actors differ from their neurotypical peers, Whitfield emphasizes working directly with the modes of processing, sensory and otherwise, that come with neurodivergence in order to bring out the unique, authentic voice of the neurodivergent actor. While the book derives much of its content from the perspectives of dyslexic actors in particular, its strategies are also largely applicable to actors with other neurodivergent conditions, as the title suggests. Though it is rather specific in its focus, being a manual on acting, Whitfield’s writing is noteworthy for its portrayal of neurodivergent people in the arts, actively challenging the assumption that acting is a realm exclusive to the neurotypical, while also avoiding over-dramatizing or fetishizing the experiences of her neurodivergent students. For these reasons, it is a worthwhile read for actors and non-actors alike.


All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism: Brown, Network, Inc., Autism Women's, Ashkenazy, E., Onaiwu, Morénike Giwa: 9780997504507: Amazon.com: BooksAll the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown. This anthology, edited by Brown and sponsored by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, features the work of 61 autistic writers of color from seven countries. Being the first published anthology to focus exclusively on the experiences of autistic people of color, the book explores the intersection of autism and race from a vast number of angles, and through a wide variety of mediums, including essays, short fiction, poetry, painting, and photography. The anthology melds the personal and the political, with many works expounding on the everyday experiences of their authors while also highlighting the compounded, systemic marginalization and disadvantages faced by autistic people of color more broadly. But while the subject matter of the book is often difficult to read about in its discussion of the intersection of racism and ableism, the authors are also eager to celebrate the existence of autistic people of color, focusing on the joy, passion, and resilience that defines their lives and experiences.


Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You: Nerenberg, Jenara: 9780062876799: Amazon.com: BooksDivergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You by Jenara Nerenberg. In this book, journalist Nerenberg provides a useful overview of experiences common to neurodivergent women, at once describing how various neurodivergent conditions tend to manifest specifically in women while also serving as a guide for neurodivergent women navigating a world primarily designed around neurotypical men. Nerenberg breaks down many of the systemic barriers neurodivergent women face when seeking support, writing extensively on the ways women have largely been excluded from studies on neurodivergence; in noting the diagnostic gap that exists between neurodivergent men and women, for example, she draws on her own experience of a late diagnosis in adulthood. As with many of the books on this list, this focus on marginalization makes the book a troubling read at points, but Nerenberg offsets this difficult subject matter by validating the experiences of her neurodivergent audience, and by providing practical pointers on living everyday life as a neurodivergent woman. In providing a clear overview on the history of neurodivergence in women, Nerenberg’s book proves to be a valuable resource.


Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero: Thom, Jessica: 9780285641273: Amazon.com: BooksWelcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero by Jessica Thom. In this book, British comedian and playwright Thom documents a full year of her life as a woman with Tourette syndrome, often with searing wit and humor. The book comprises excerpts from her long-running blog, Touretteshero, which documents her day-to-day experiences. These experiences take a variety of forms, but are uniformly punctuated by her numerous tics, both motor and vocal (her compulsive uttering of the word “biscuit” lends the book its title). Thom describes in detail what living with these tics is like, not shying away from the difficulty it brings her – ranging from incurring the judgment of strangers for her compulsive swearing to her regular use of padded gloves to prevent hurting herself – but at the same time, she does much to break down the stigma that often accompanies the disorder through her warmth and humor. In this way, the book is a vivid portrait of her experience with Tourette’s that proves appealing to those with and without the disorder.


*Mostly nonfiction. It should be noted that All the Weight of Our Dreams is an anthology that includes some fiction as well as nonfiction.

5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

What to Read this Month: January 2021

Welcome back! If you’re looking to ring in the new year and the new semester with some new reading material, we at the library have got you covered. This month, as always, we’re highlighting a selection of titles from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections. The below titles represent only a very small sampling of what these collections hold, however, so we encourage you to explore them in full to discover your next read.


Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu: 9780307948472 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. In this novel, Westworld writer Yu tells the story—in the format of a screenplay—of Willis Yu, an aspiring Hollywood actor who continually finds himself limited to menial, racist roles such as “Background Oriental Male” and “Delivery Guy.” Frustrated with the entertainment industry’s pigeonholing of Asian actors, Willis is determined to land a more glamorous part, striving to eventually be cast as “Kung Fu Guy” even though such a role still easily falls under Hollywood’s stereotypical envisioning of Asian characters. Interspersed with Willis’ work as an actor are scenes in which he interacts with a number of other compelling characters, including his father Sifu and his fellow actors. Through the character of Willis, the characters surrounding him, and the screenplay format, Charles Yu crafts a searing and exceedingly humorous satire of the modern-day entertainment industry and its racism, one which ultimately won last year’s National Book Award for Fiction. You can read reviews here and here.


Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum: Segrest, Mab: 9781620972977: Amazon.com: Books

Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum by Mab Segrest. In this book, activist Segrest describes her investigation of the records of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia, a psychiatric hospital that opened in 1842 and closed in 2010. While the hospital has developed a notorious reputation for its well-known history of patient mistreatment, Segrest focuses on its particularly egregious abuse of Black patients, who were first admitted into segregated quarters of the hospital following the end of the Civil War. In addition to drawing attention to the inferior conditions these patients endured relative to white patients as a result of de jure and later de facto segregation, Segrest also delves into the records of individual Black patients to contextualize their various diagnoses and treatments with the long history of racism in American psychiatric research and practice. She discusses at length the way in which disability and mental illness diagnoses were weaponized against Black patients in particular, as well as the disturbing frequency with which they were subjected to forced sterilization and other treatments influenced by the burgeoning eugenics movement. In all, the book serves as an important study of the intersection of white supremacy and ableism, and proves highly relevant to the way this intersection plays out today. That said, much of the book’s content is decidedly graphic, something potential readers should consider. You can read reviews here and here.


Monogamy: A Novel: Miller, Sue: 9780062969651: Amazon.com: Books

Monogamy by Sue Miller. In this novel, bestselling author Miller focuses on Annie, a middle-aged photographer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has suddenly lost her husband of 30 years, bookstore owner Graham. When Graham was alive, he and Annie often appeared be an odd couple to those around them, with Annie’s small size and reserved character contrasting quite sharply with Graham’s vast physical presence and bon vivant personality. Yet Annie herself was generally happy in the marriage, despite occasional tensions, but her love and mourning for Graham following his passing is quickly marred by the sudden realization that he had been having an affair before his death. In what follows, Annie finds herself reassessing their relationship, and embarks on a journey to find peace with what they had—and did not have—together. While the examination of the marriage makes for a fascinating story on its own, Miller supplements Annie’s perspective with the insightful perspectives of key side characters, such as Annie and Graham’s adult daughter, Sarah, and Graham’s first wife, Frieda. You can read reviews here and here.


Amazon.com: My Baby First Birthday (9781947793811): Zhang, Jenny: Books

My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang. In this poetry collection, poet and essayist Zhang examines issues of identity—and being born into a specific identity—that prove to be long-lasting, and essentially timeless, in a given person’s life. Over the course of the collection’s 97 poems, Zhang touches on several iterations of these identities, such as her mother’s womanhood and her own life as an Asian woman in a world that values whiteness, the suffering that derives from the perennial expectations placed upon these identities, and the desired and sometimes attainable liberation from such suffocating expectations (“be the baby ppl didn’t let u be / for once in yr life / & see what happens”). Zhang’s observations on identity are not entirely interior, however, as she also casts a light on the reader, inviting them to make the same considerations she is making about herself. Though this focus on identity is present throughout the whole of the collection, there are a number of interesting intersections with other subjects, most notably Zhang’s conception of her own sexuality. Through its use of overwhelming emotions, the collection makes for a memorable read. You can read reviews here and here.


The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World, Postrel, Virginia I., eBook - Amazon.com

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Virginia Postrel. In this book, journalist Postrel puts forth the argument that each and every piece of fabric produced in human history reveals key information about the life, experiences, and desires of the person who made it, and that, when assembled together, all of the textiles and fabrics ever produced form an invaluable tapestry that tells the story of human history. In making this assertion, Postrel writes an engrossing account of the history of fabric, one that is occasionally overwhelming in its scope, but always compelling. Beginning in Bronze Age Crete and ending with the modern-day US, the examination of this history—which also accounts for the individual histories of different fabrics like wool and linen—extends to a myriad of cultures and places, including Egypt, China, Mexico, England, and Italy, among others. In the midst of this survey are several close-ups on individual processes and people, and these sections, along with the many helpful diagrams that Postrel employs, help enliven and personalize the broad account that she conveys. Overall, the book provides a vivid history of an often overlooked—yet essential—element of the human experience. You can read reviews here and here.

What to Read this Month: December 2020

Hello again! We at the library hope you’re enjoying the long winter break. If by chance you find yourself in need of new reading material, here are some recommendations of ours for this month. As always, these books come from our New & Noteworthy and Overdrive collections, and we highly recommend checking them out whenever you want something new to read – these collections feature new material all the time.


Burnt Sugar: 9780241441510: Amazon.com: Books

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. In this debut novel, shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, Doshi tells the story of an intensely fraught mother-daughter relationship. Antara, a prosperous woman living in modern-day Pune with her husband and infant daughter, reflects on and grieves the difficult childhood she faced with her mother, Tara. When Tara became swept up in the teachings of a charismatic guru, she abandoned her marriage to live at the ashram where he resided. Though she took the young Antara with her, she was neglectful and sometimes overtly abusive towards her, leaving Antara with psychological wounds that continue to fester in her adulthood. Complicating Antara’s present understanding of Tara is her decision to take her in after she develops dementia. Though Tara’s condition does much to superficially soften the relationship between the two women, it also seriously complicates Antara’s necessary search for closure. Amidst this portrayal of a difficult relationship, Doshi also provides a searing satire of the wealthy and privileged in contemporary India through her portrayal of Antara’s entitled and often vacuous social circle. You can read reviews here and here.


My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir | IndieBound.org

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland. In this genre-bending memoir (not a biography, though it contains elements of one), Shapland comes to understand facets of her own life as a queer and chronically ill person while studying the life of Carson McCullers, the renowned 20th-century Southern Gothic novelist, and herself a queer and chronically ill person. McCullers, perhaps best known for her novels The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding, empathetically wrote of outsiders in her fairly short lifetime, drawing on a personal experience that Shapland finds to have been largely overlooked by her biographers. Her experience with McCullers begins with an internship at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, an archive in which she discovers a number of McCullers’ love letters to another woman. What follows is a strong investigation into McCullers’ life as a lesbian in the mid-twentieth century, interspersed with Shapland’s personal anecdotes about coming to terms with her own sexuality. Throughout this intense discussion of McCullers’ life, Shapland readily questions her own perception of the author, and her personal identification with her, making for an engaging and self-aware read. You can read reviews here and here.


Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Justice, Power, and Politics): Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta: 9781469653662: Amazon.com: Books

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. In this book, a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in history, historian Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor takes a clear look at the long history of housing discrimination and segregation in the modern-day US. While she begins her study in the early twentieth-century, in the age of the Great Migration and legally-sanctioned redlining, she particularly focuses on the late 1960s and later, when the Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress. While this act, along with related legislation passed as a part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative, outlawed de jure housing discrimination and was designed to create paths toward homeownership among the marginalized, Taylor argues that these measures actually preserved housing inequality among Black Americans, and enabled its existence into the present day. Highlighting the public-private nature of these measures (noting how the federal government largely relegated the task of guaranteeing mortgages to the private sector), Taylor writes of how they ultimately created a system of predatory lending, enriching the real estate industry while providing little concrete relief to Black homeowners, an issue only exacerbated by the succeeding Nixon administration. Throughout this vivid telling of history, Taylor emphasizes the accounts of Black families affected by these policies, driving home the personal ramifications of the flaws in the system. You can read an interview with Taylor here and a review here.


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The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. In this novel, Hargrave builds on the historic 1621 witch trials that unfolded in the Norwegian town of Vardø, and, through the characters she creates, crafts a compelling commentary on what lies at the root of witch trials and cultural suspicion more broadly. In 1617, an intense storm overtakes the region of Finnmark, leaving many dead, including 20-year-old Maren’s father, brother, and fiancé. For a few years, the survivors of the storm cope as best as they can—two women rise up as leaders in the village, while Maren’s sister-in-law turns to her traditional Sami beliefs—but their way of life is threatened when the infamous Scottish witch hunter Absalom Cornet arrives at the behest of local authorities. He brings with him a timid young wife, Ursa, whom he met and wed in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Maren ends up taking Ursa under her wing, and the love that develops between the two women centers the novel, even as the witch hunter sows an increasing path of violence. He targets any woman who fails to conform to the religious or social norms of Vardø, and eventually, he sets his sights on Maren, spelling serious trouble for both her and Ursa. You can read reviews here and here.


A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology: Wilkinson, Toby: 9781324006893: Amazon.com: Books

A World Beneath the Sands: The Golden Age of Egyptology by Toby Wilkinson. This fascinating study takes a critical look at the so-called Golden Age of Egyptology, which the historian Toby Wilkinson defines as taking place roughly between the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. The rush on the part of Britain and France to learn about and produce scholarship on Ancient Egyptian civilization—processes which often took the form of plundering antiquities for the British Museum and the Louvre, respectively—is argued by Wilkinson to be the result of a kind of imperialist arms race between the two nations, as they each attempted to prove their might as colonial powers. Wilkinson discusses at length the consequences of this rush, noting that the insights learned about Ancient Egypt came at a severe cost, including the oppression of the Egyptian people and the destruction of many historical sites and artifacts. In particular, Wilkinson asserts that the occupation and widespread theft of the British and French had the unintended consequence of mobilizing the Egyptian people into developing a national identity for themselves, built both on the history of Ancient Egypt and the intense desire for self-government. In relaying this history, Wilkinson is quick to punctuate his account with vivid descriptions of the major figures who brought it into being. You can read reviews here and here.

Access to Major US Newspapers

Hello again! We at the library would like to offer you a quick guide for accessing some major US newspapers via Duke Libraries. Over the past few weeks, we’ve made a series of posts on accessing the New York Times (available here, here, and here), so feel free to take a look at those posts if you’re wondering about that paper specifically. This week, we’re going to offer recommendations on accessing the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. For each paper, we’ll list the easiest ways to access current and historical issues. For all of these links, you’ll need a NetID.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Investigation Exposes Broken Promises In Georgia's Senior Care Industry

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: If you’re looking to browse current issues of the AJC, we recommend using U.S. Newsstream. Using this link, anyone with a NetID has access to every issue of the AJC from November 7th, 2001 to the present. Note that articles are available in plaintext only. If you’re looking for historical issues of the AJC (including the issues of one of its predecessors, the Atlanta Constitution), we recommend using ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Using this link, you’ll see eight groupings of historical AJC material, providing access to issues from 1868 to 1984. If you click on an article in one of these groups, you’ll typically view it as a pdf, displaying the article as it appeared in the original print newspaper.

Chicago Tribune | Classifieds

Chicago Tribune: As with the AJC, we recommend using U.S. Newsstream to browse current issues of the Chicago Tribune. Using this link, anyone with a NetID has access to the Tribune from December 4th, 1996 to the present. For historical issues, we also recommend ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Using this link, you’ll see that this database has seven groupings of historical Tribune issues, providing cumulative access to issues from April 23rd, 1849 to December 31st, 2011. As with the historical issues of the AJC, too, you will typically be able to view these articles as pdfs (U.S. Newsstream access only contains plaintext displays of current articles).

Los Angeles Times | Newspaper Target Marketing Coalition, Inc.

Los Angeles Times: Using U.S. Newsstream to access the LA Times, anyone with a NetID can access issues from December 4th, 1996 to the present with this link, in much the same way as accessing the AJC and the Tribune. Historical issues are also best accessed the same way, using ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Using this link, you’ll see four groupings of historical LA Times issues, providing pdfs of articles in every issue of the paper from December 4th, 1881 to December 31st, 2012.

Washington Post online now available to Stanford | Stanford Libraries

Washington Post: Our recommendations for browsing current and historical issues of the Post are much the same as the previous three newspapers in this post. Using this U.S. Newsstream link, anyone with a NetID can access issues of the Post from December 4th, 1996 to the present. ProQuest Historical Newspapers, meanwhile, contains pdfs of Post issues and their articles from December 6th, 1877 to December 31st, 2004. Using this link, you’ll see these issues split up into five groups, sorted by date.

What to Read this Month: November 2020

Congratulations on finishing this semester! This fall was certainly unusual and challenging for all of us here at Duke, but we now have a long break ahead of us. Why not reward your hard work with a good read? This month’s selections, as always, represent a mix of books in our New & Noteworthy Collection and our Overdrive collection. In addition to taking a look at these particular books, we also encourage you to regularly check on each of these collections – new books are being added all the time.


How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel: Zhang, C Pam: 9780525537205: Amazon.com: Books

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang. In this debut novel, told in the style of a fable, a nameless Chinese family settles in the American West, hoping to reach prosperity in a gold rush. This dream is quickly soured, however, as the gold rush proves illusory and the father, Ba, dies after attempting a hard living as a coal miner. This event follows the death of his wife, Ma, and as a result, their young children, Lucy and Sam, are left on their own. They ultimately embark on a journey to find the silver dollars they believe necessary to lay their father to rest, all the while carrying his body with them. Over the course of their quest, Zhang creates a portrait of the American West that deconstructs its romantic myths and archetypes, while at once drawing attention to the often overlooked role played by immigrants in shaping its history. In so doing, the grim adventure of these children makes for a gripping and oftentimes moving read. You can read reviews here and here.


A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel: Allende, Isabel, Caistor, Nick, Hopkinson, Amanda: 9781984820150: Amazon.com: Books

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. Allende, who has retained a decades-long following owing to her literary treatment of history with magical realism, also reckons with journeys in her latest novel. In this book, Roser and her deceased husband’s brother Victor, two refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, settle in Chile, where they gradually fall in love following a marriage of convenience. What follows is a further examination of history, as the decades in Chile pass and Roser and Victor must cope with another flare-up of political unrest, this time taking the form of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’état. While the novel is quite exhaustive in this relaying of Spanish and Latin American historical events, reviewers have been quick to assure readers that it is all evenly anchored by the love story at the novel’s heart. You can read reviews here and here.


American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19: Witt, John Fabian: 9780300257274: Amazon.com: Books

American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19 by John Fabian Witt. Witt’s book, which began life as a course he taught at Yale Law School in the spring of this year, offers a thorough and engaging history of the way epidemics have shaped American law over the centuries. In identifying two major legal impulses—the more civilly-minded sanitationism and the more authoritarian quanrantinism—Witt describes how legal engagements with the epidemic have simultaneously brought about some the most beneficent and some of the cruelest legislation in American history. Of course, engaging with pandemic-related reading material during this difficult fall and winter may be challenging for some, but for those who gravitate towards the study of disasters as they unfold, Witt’s book offers fresh insight not just into the history of disease in the US, but into its larger history of inequality, as well. You can read reviews here and here.


New Waves: A Novel: Nguyen, Kevin: 9781984855237: Amazon.com: Books

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen. In his debut novel, Nguyen tells the story of Lucas, who works at a tech startup in 2009 Manhattan. His friendship with one of the startup’s most talented programmers, Margo, takes an interesting turn when she is unjustly fired. The two, in retribution, steal sensitive data from the company, but their plan goes awry when Margo is suddenly killed in an accident. Lucas is left to deal with her absence, not only having to make sense of their plot together, but also having to make sense of their relationship as a whole. In his personal grapplings with their time together and the company for which they both worked, Nguyen offers a searing satire of startup culture in the late 2000s and early 2010s, drawing attention to the casual racism endemic to many startups (Lucas, who is Asian, and Margo, who is Black, originally bond over their marginalization by the company) and to the general cluelessness of their leadership. Despite this element of satire, the story is also quite moving, as Lucas reckons with his relationship with Margo and his own personal shortcomings. You can read reviews here and here.


Beheld: Nesbit, TaraShea: 9781635573220: Amazon.com: Books

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit. In this novel, Nesbit brings to life one Alice Southworth, a woman known in the footnotes of history as the second wife of William Bradford, famed governor of the Puritan Plymouth Colony in 17th-century Massachusetts. Alice was Bradford’s second wife, their marriage beginning following the somewhat odd death of his first wife, Dorothy, who fell off the docked Mayflower in Cape Cod Bay and drowned. Nesbit alludes to the mysteriousness of this death while primarily focusing on the events of Alice’s life in Plymouth Colony, events which often highlight the varying hypocrisies of the Puritans, and the contentiousness of their presence in Massachusetts more generally. Much of the plot is marked by Alice’s ongoing tension with her Anglican indentured servants, Eleanor and John Billington, and some of the story is told from Eleanor’s perspective. The deceased Dorothy also voices a section of the novel, and, in speaking through the voices of these women, Nesbit offers a unique perspective on the history of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony. You can read reviews here and here.

Access to the New York Times Part 3

Hello again! Over the past few weeks, we at the Library have been working on a series of posts about New York Times access for Duke users. Our first post offered an overview of what this access looks like, and our last post covered access for Duke users looking to browse recent issues of the Times and some of its other popular assets (The New York Times Magazine and The New York Times Book Review). This week, we’re looking at access from a more research-oriented perspective. If you’re wondering how best to utilize our Times access for research, keep reading!

Historical issues: We recognize that, over the course of your research, it might be useful to access older issues of the Times. The most exhaustive access we have to historical issues of the Times is through ProQuest Historical Newspapers. If you have a NetID, simply follow this link to access issues from September 14th, 1857 to December 31st, 1922, and this link to access issues from January 1st, 1923 to December 31st, 2016. On either of these pages, you can select a particular date, then see a list of articles that appeared in the paper that day. Generally, when you click on an article via either of these links, you’ll see the article appear as a pdf (looking as it did in the print newspaper). There are usually a couple of other options for viewing, as well: if you click “Page view – PDF,” you’ll see the page of the paper in which the article appears, and if you click “Browse this issue,” you have the option to look through a pdf of the day’s entire paper. You can see each of these viewing options highlighted in the below screenshot. If you’re looking for a more recent issue of the Times, see my previous Times post.

Overview of all databases with Times access: In both this post and my last post, we’ve recommended a few select databases for Times access, as we generally feel that these are the most user-friendly and the most exhaustive. However, if you’re looking to use our Times access for research purposes, you’ll want to know the full breadth of our access. Here’s a list of all the databases Duke users have access to that have at least some degree of New York Times access, with links.

June 27th, 1870 to July 20th, 1870:
Early American Newspapers, Series V

September 14th, 1857 to December 31st, 1922:
ProQuest Historical Newspapers

January 1st, 1923 to December 31st, 2016:
ProQuest Historical Newspapers

August 24th, 1970 to the present:
Eureka.cc (note that access is limited to three simultaneous users)

June 1st, 1980 to the present:
U.S. Newsstream
Nexis Uni
Factiva

January 1st, 1985 to the present:
Gale Academic OneFile
Gale OneFile: Contemporary Women’s Issues
Gale in Context: Biography
Gale General OneFile
Gale in Context: Science
Newspaper Source Plus

A note about freelance pieces: As a final point, if you’re looking for particular pieces in the Times, you should be aware that you might run into difficulties finding articles written by freelance writers. This is due to the 2001 US Supreme Court decision New York Times Co. v. Tasini. Wikipedia has a concise summation of this case and its effect here, but essentially, this decision held that the Times could not license articles written by freelance writers or photographs taken by freelance photographers to electronic databases without their creators’ permission. As such, if you’re looking for an article that you know or suspect was written by a freelance writer (in the Times, these are usually opinion pieces) that you are trouble accessing, we recommend you contact the Library via our chat service or asklib@duke.edu.

 

Access to the New York Times Part 2

In response to a number of recent queries about the availability of The New York Times for Duke users, we at the library would like to offer a quick rundown of what this access looks like. The New York Times is of course a ubiquitous resource for both newspaper readers and researchers alike, and so we strive to make it as available as possible. To that end, we subscribe to a myriad of databases that all contain some degree of New York Times access – last week’s post offered an overview of what this looks like. A drawback to this approach, however, is the fact that the levels of access vary from databases to database, and many ensure access to only a certain number of the Times’ numerous subsections. To mitigate this issue, we’re going to map out a clearer path to three of the most popular assets of the Times: The New York Times paper, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review. These links are ideal for Duke users who wish to browse the Times (and this includes all of you nervously refreshing their election map every few minutes); in our next post, we’ll talk more about accessing the Times from a more research-oriented point-of-view.

The New York Times paper: If you’re a Duke undergraduate, the simplest way to browse the Times is to access The New York Times mobile app through the Duke Student Government Readership Program. Create a free account here using your NetID. Graduate students, faculty, and staff can also subscribe to the Times at a discounted rate. Beyond these options, Duke has access to the Times through a number of databases, the most user-friendly and intact being U.S. Newsstream, operated by ProQuest. Using this link, you have access to the full text of the Times from June 1st, 1980 to the present, including today’s paper. That said, the articles are isolated from each other and are only available in plaintext, so this option might be better suited for those with research interests.

The New York Times Magazine: Your safest bet for accessing The New York Times Magazine is to use U.S. Newsstream, which has access to the full text of the magazine from January 5th, 1997 to the present. Using this link, you can look at individual articles in similar way to the general Times, with one significant difference: where U.S. Newsstream only contains plaintext versions of Times articles, their Magazine access includes an option of viewing articles as PDFs, and these PDFs show the articles as they appear in the magazine proper. When you click on an article, it defaults to the plaintext version, but you can access this PDF version by clicking the tab labeled “Full text – PDF” at the top of the article. This setting is better for replicating the experience of browsing a magazine, although the articles, as with the newspaper articles, are isolated from one another – you have to access each of them individually (see below for the difference between the plaintext and PDF options).

The New York Times Book Review: Our recommendation for accessing the Book Review is much the same as the Magazine. Using this link, you can see that U.S. Newsstream has access to the full text of the Book Review from January 24th, 1988 to the present. The reviews, as with the magazine articles, have the option of being viewed as PDFs, and as with the magazine, we recommend taking that option to replicate the experience of browsing the publication itself.

What to Read this Month: October 2020

This month, as we enter into the throes of spooky season (midterms), we at the library would like to offer up another selection of new additions to our collection to check out. These picks represent a mix of books in our New & Noteworthy Collection, as well as our Overdrive collection. Books are being continually added to both of these collections, so as always, we encourage you to explore them to discover new and interesting reading material.


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Alam’s novel, which was released earlier this month, has already been hailed as one of the best novels published this year by the likes of the New York Times and NPR. At once a suspenseful thriller and biting satire, it tells the story of two households who unexpectedly end up sharing a space during what is quite possibly the apocalypse. Amanda and Clay, a middle-class white couple from New York City, decide to take a summer vacation in a remote corner of Long Island, renting a home there. Things take a strange turn when the home’s owners, a wealthy Black couple named George and Ruth, suddenly arrive, taking refuge from what initially seems to be a citywide blackout. What follows is a suspenseful commentary on issues ranging from race to disaster response in contemporary American society, as the two families gradually begin to realize that a much larger and much more dire occurrence is unfolding before their very eyes. You can read/listen to reviews here and here.


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The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland. In this nonfiction study of home DNA test kits, Copeland, a journalist, explores the myriad unintended yet far-reaching consequences that often come with spitting into a vial to discover one’s genetic origins. What is often perceived to be a harmless novelty, Copeland argues, can be anything but, and the harm caused by these kits wreak havoc both on the individual and societal level. Copeland discusses this harm at length, sharing accounts of people making startling familial revelations, including several discoveries about parentage and adoption. But even more gripping is the commentary on the cultural ramifications of commodifying the human genome: our conceptions of race and identity, the use of genetic data to solve crimes, and the troubling relationship between the practice of DNA testing and eugenics. You can read a review here and here.


The Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry

The Mirror of My Heart: a Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women, introduced and translated by Dick Davis. This anthology of Persian-language poems, many of which first appear in English here, abounds with epigrams and elegies. As the title suggests, the chronological period covered by this work is extremely broad, beginning in the Middle Ages and ending in the 21st century. While Persian poetry has been studied at length for centuries, the voices of women poets have often been overlooked, by academics and other readers alike, mainly due to systemic issues in both Persian and non-Persian culture. But Davis, in translating these works, makes clear for his audience that women have played an invaluable role in the history of Persian poetry, with their works often asserting perspectives and concepts hitherto largely unseen by English-speaking audiences. The poems offer unparalleled insight into the lives of Persian women from century to century, and even the oldest poems represented in this anthology are quite accessible to a modern audience, owing to their beautiful and careful coverage of timeless issues, such as love and loss. You can read reviews here and here.


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Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo. In this book, education journalist Jeffrey Selingo seeks to break down the overarching factors in college admissions decisions by offering a behind-the-scenes look at the process at three selective colleges and universities. His ultimate conclusion is that the factors controlling the process are largely outside the individual applicant’s control, but his journey in making that somewhat disheartening point makes for a compelling read, as Selingo offers an effective deconstruction of the concept of meritocracy, while also providing commentary on its seemingly inextricable place in contemporary American culture. The book also serves as an interesting complement to another recent journalistic work on college admissions, Melissa Korn’s and Jennifer Levitz’s Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal, which is currently available as an audiobook in our Overdrive collection. You can read a review of Selingo’s book here and here.


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Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy by Talia Lavin. In this book, Talia Lavin, a freelance writer known for her works in publications such as the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, relays her in-depth investigation of online and offline white supremacist culture. Long the target of online far-right trolls for her Jewish identity and antifascist writings, Lavin describes her effort to infiltrate white supremacist spaces as a journey to find out what draws people—largely young, disaffected white men—into online, far-right culture. Over the course of this journey, Lavin adopts false identities to achieve this end, and the book proves to be a harrowing account of this dangerous movement and what makes it run. And throughout, Lavin provides a compelling story with the many insights she makes. While the book is often darkly humorous thanks to Lavin’s entertaining voice, it nonetheless contains a great deal of disturbing content related to violence and hatred, something readers should keep in mind. You can read a review here and watch an online discussion with Lavin hosted by New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage here.

What to Read this Month: September 2020

As we reach the midpoint of this unusual semester, we’d like to highlight a variety of new reading material in our collection. These books are currently held in our New and Noteworthy collection, or in Duke’s Overdrive e-book collection. As always, we encourage you to check out both of these resources in full if you’re looking for something new to read! This month’s selections feature a mix of recent fiction and nonfiction.


IF I HAD TWO WINGS

If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan. Randall Kenan, a long-time professor of creative writing and food writing at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as the 1994 William Blackburn Visiting Professor in Creative Writing here at Duke, died this past month at the age of 57. Having grown up in Duplin County, North Carolina, he was renowned for his rich portrayals of poor, Black, and gay lives in the rural South, crafting unique characters whose experiences were often tinged with a touch of magic and mysticism. His latest collection of short stories, published a few weeks before his death and currently one of ten nominees for the National Book Award for Fiction, features a return to Tims Creek, North Carolina, a fictional community which originally appeared in Kenan’s 1989 novel, A Visitation of Spirits. The ten stories in this collection relay the exploits and experiences of characters who interact with the community in various ways, ranging from a retired plumber who leaves the town for Manhattan, an elderly woman who becomes a miracle-worker, and even a fictionalized Howard Hughes, who arrives searching for a woman who once made him butter beans. You can read a review here, its National Book Award nomination here, as well as Kenan’s recent New York Times obituary here.


Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen. In this book, which debuted earlier this month, science journalist Angela Chen offers a “big-picture exploration of ace issues,” or a generalized look at asexuality and its place in society. Drawing in part on her own experiences as an asexual person, Chen describes what it means to be asexual in a world where asexuality is underrepresented and often misunderstood. As a “blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir,” she also reports on the experiences of other asexual people of various genders and romantic orientations, all the while acknowledging that there is no singular experience of the sexuality. In this way, the book serves as an elucidating and approachable introduction for readers of any sexual orientation. You can read a review here, and listen to an interview with Chen here.


Axiom's End

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. This book is the debut novel of Hugo Award finalist Lindsay Ellis, video essayist and co-host of PBS web series It’s Lit!. The science fiction novel offers a unique variation of the popular “first contact” narrative. Set in an alternate universe version of 2007, it tells the story of Cora, a young woman who learns that her family, including her estranged whistleblower father, has been involved in a decades-long US government coverup of humankind’s first contact with an alien species. After government agents kidnap her family, Cora finds that she must align herself with a member of the alien species who is searching for some of his compatriots being held on Earth. The two forge a deep bond as they work together, and ultimately, the novel offers compelling commentary on themes of xenophobia and grief. A sequel to the novel is forthcoming, slated to be released next year. You can read a review here and read an interview with Ellis here.


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How to Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe. In this memoir, writer and artist Charlotte Amelia Poe relays the story of their life and experiences as an autistic person. The book, which was published last year, serves as a sort of companion piece to Poe’s 2017 short film of the same name, in which they discussed some of the experiences and incidents that the book covers in more detail. Being a memoir, Poe’s book only focuses on their individual experiences, but the issues they touch on ring very true for many other autistic people. Among other things, Poe discusses their childhood sensory and motor issues, problems cultivating interpersonal relationships, a late diagnosis in their twenties, coming to understand their sexual and gender identity, and generally learning how to navigate a neurotypical world as an autistic person. While the subject matter is often very heavy—and this is something readers should consider—it is frequently punctuated by Poe’s wry and enjoyable humor. You can read a review of the book here, and an interview with Poe here.


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Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. Chang’s debut novel, published this year, centers on Jing Jing, a Chinese-American woman in her mid-twenties working as a tech journalist in Silicon Valley. Jing Jing is deeply unsatisfied in her position, finding it difficult to thrive in the publication’s male-dominated, racist atmosphere while also being one of its only woman writers of color. When her white boyfriend of five years, J, gets accepted into a biochemistry PhD program at Cornell, she sees an opportunity to escape Silicon Valley and live a better life in New York. However, this decision brings its own complications for Jing Jing, as she comes to question her place in her interracial relationship with J, meditating on her longing for his approval and the connection to whiteness that he provides her. In the midst of all these events, Jing Jing also visits her father, now living in China and urging her to live there as well, and the trip brings its own insights for her. Throughout the whole of novel, Jing Jing has a compelling conversation with herself, contemplating her identity in the prejudiced society in which she lives while also making numerous dry, humorous observations about it. You can read a review here and an interview with Chang here.