All posts by Anna Twiddy

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.