All posts by Rebekah Cowell

5 Titles: Five Black Artists You Should Know

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection, featuring topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and/or highlighting authors’ work from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to briefly sample titles rather than provide a comprehensive topic overview. This month, Librarian for Visual Studies and Dance, Lee Sorensen, has selected five titles focusing on Five Black Artists that we should know. Check out Lilly Library’s Current Exhibition Catalog section to discover additional established Black artists and emerging BIPOC artists.


Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective (1978). Delaney is the finest example of an early, crucial Black artist noticed by great writers of his time. James Baldwin and Henry Miller discuss his work, and Delaney was a friend of Georgia O’Keefe. This edition is a catalog from the Studio Museum in Harlem, one of the earliest venues where Black artists could be shown. Delaney painted in Harlem in the 1930s and 1940s but moved to Greenwich Village, partially to hide from his ethnic community that he was gay. Poor and introverted his whole life, he died a year after this show.


Howardena Pindell: Rope/Fire/Water. Howarden Pindell is one of the principal Black abstract expressionist painters. This book is a catalog of a German exhibition of her work, located in the Current Exhibition Catalogs section of the Lilly. Pindell’s multimedia exhibition includes a film mentioned in the catalog; she says, “I wanted the title to be a clear and obvious reference to what takes place in the film. Rope represents being hung during a lynching. Fire represents lynching where a flammable substance is applied to the body, such as coal, tar, oil, and the victim is burned alive. … Water represents the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas of kidnapped and enslaved African men, women and children. Indigenous people were also kidnapped and sent to Europe to be sold.” The ‘Rope/Fire/Water’ catalog is in English.


Rashid Johnson: Message to our Folks (2012).  Rashid Johnson is a multi-media artist best known for his paintings and conceptual drawings.  His technique is powerful brush strokes (“slashes”) on larger canvases giving a feeling of immediacy to his work.  However, in 2008, Johnson produced a series of clean-line metal sculptures of giant gun sights. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (2008) is at the Whitney (and an even larger one at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond). Gun sights have been a constant theme of Johnson’s work, but this larger-than-life sculpture makes it possible to see anything through the crosshairs of a gun. “Johnson explores the complexities and contradictions of black identity in the United States, incorporating commonplace objects from his childhood in a process he describes as “hijacking the domestic” and transforming materials such as wood, mirrors, tiles, rugs, CB radios, shea butter and plants into conceptually loaded and visually compelling works that shatter assumptions about the homogeneity of black subjecthood.”


McArthur Binion: Re:Mine (2015). Binion lived at the edge of art fame for most of his 74 years before becoming iconic–his name appears in nearly every survey of art by Artists of Color–he worked steadily. Taking his inspiration from machines, i.e., geometric forms, Binion returns them to the humanness of hand painting. Stand back from the paintings; they seem to be color field work, move in closer, and see micro and macro simultaneously. “Influenced equally by music, storytelling, and individual history, McArthur Binion has described his approach to painting from the position of a “rural Modernist” and one through which he “bridges the lyricism of colour with a Black rural sensibility.” Binion’s paintings, predominantly composed of oil paint stick and paper on board, form the nexus of place and history, from Binion’s childhood in the South to his time in New York in the early 1970s and his current home of Chicago.”


Beverly McIver: Full Circle (2021). Duke faculty member Beverly McIver’s work is some of the most powerful paintings of any era. Her themes include the Black clown (based on learning that the circus didn’t hire Black people as clowns) and the painter’s layers of Black identity. Commissioned to paint the portrait of retiring NC Museum of Art Director Larry Wheeler, she painted him in blackface and red high heels. “From early self-portraits in clown makeup to more recent works featuring her father, dolls, Beverly’s experiences during COVID-19, and portraits of others, Full Circle illuminates the arc of Beverly McIver’s artistic career while also touching on her personal journey. McIver’s self-portraits explore expressions of individuality, stereotypes, and ways of masking identity; portraits of family provide glimpses into intimate moments, in good times as well as in illness and death.”


What to Read this Month: January

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature, and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. On a bitter-cold day in December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees Sadie Green amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform. He calls her name. She pretends she hasn’t heard him for a moment, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts. Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Read or listen to NPR’s delightful review of this novel here!


The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka. Maali Almeida―war photographer, gambler, and closet queen―has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake, and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster around can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka. Ten years after his prize-winning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a “thrilling satire” (Economist). Read what The Guardian wrote about this novel: “The scenarios are often absurd – dead bodies bicker with each other – but executed with a humour and pathos that ground the reader. Beneath the literary flourishes is a true and terrifying reality: the carnage of Sri Lanka’s civil wars. Karunatilaka has done artistic justice to a terrible period in his country’s history.”


Acne: A Memoir by Laura Chinn. From the creator and star of Florida Girls comes a hilarious and profound memoir about family, happiness, and really aggressive acne. Despite having dirty-blonde hair and fair skin, Laura Chinn is mixed-race: the daughter of a Black father and a white mother, which on its own makes for some funny and insightful looks at identity. Laura’s parents were both Scientologists and nonconformists in myriad ways. They divorced early in Laura’s childhood, and she spent her teen years ping-ponging back and forth between Clearwater, Florida, and Los Angeles (with an extended stint in Tijuana for good measure). This is not a sad story. There is Jell-O wrestling. There is an abnormal amount of dancing. There is information about whether you can drink gallons of sangria while taking unregulated Accutane acquired in Mexico. But mostly there is love, and ultimately there is redemption. Laura explores her trauma through anecdotes riddled with grit and humor, proving that in the face of unspeakable tragedy, it is possible to find success, love, and self-acceptance, zits and all. Read a review from Oprah Daily to learn more.


The Dream Builders, by Oindrila Mukherjee. After living in the US for years, Maneka Roy returns home to India to mourn the loss of her mother and finds herself in a new world. The booming city of Hrishipur, where her father now lives, is nothing like the part of the country where she grew up, and the more she sees of this new, sparkling city, the more she learns that nothing—and no one—here is as it appears. Ultimately, it will take an unexpected tragic event for Maneka and those around her to finally understand how fragile life is in this city built on aspirations. Written from the perspectives of ten different characters, Oindrila Mukherjee’s incisive debut novel explores class divisions, gender roles, and stories of survival within a constantly changing society and becoming increasingly Americanized. It’s a story about India today and people impacted by globalization everywhere: a tale of ambition, longing, and bitter loss that asks what it really costs to try and build a dream.


The Family Izquierdo by Ruben Degollado. The tight-knit Izquierdo family is grappling with misfortunes none of them can explain. Their beloved patriarch has suffered from an emotional collapse and is dying; eldest son Gonzalo’s marriage is falling apart; daughter Dina, beleaguered by the fear that her nightmares are real, is a shut-in. When Gonzalo digs up a strange object in the backyard of the family home, the Izquierdos take it as proof that a jealous neighbor has cursed them-could this be the reason for all their troubles? As the Izquierdos face a distressing present and an uncertain future, they are sustained by the blood that binds them, a divine presence, and an abiding love for one another. Told in a series of soulful voices brimming with warmth and humor, The Family Izquierdo is a tender narrative of a family at a turning point. Read more about this book in The New York Times Book Review here!

What to Read this Month: December

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!


Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender by Kit Heyam. Today’s narratives about trans people tend to feature individuals with stable gender identities that fit neatly into the categories of male or female. Those stories, while important, fail to account for the complex realities of many trans people’s lives.  Before We Were Trans illuminates the stories of people across the globe, from antiquity to the present, whose experiences of gender have defied binary categories. Blending historical analysis with sharp cultural criticism, trans historian and activist Heyam offers a new, radically inclusive trans history, chronicling expressions of trans experience that are often overlooked, like gender-nonconforming fashion and wartime stage performance. Before We Were Trans transports us from Renaissance Venice to seventeenth-century Angola, from Edo Japan to early America, and looks to the past to uncover new horizons for possible trans futures. Read this The New York Times review to learn more.


Becoming Eve: my journey from ultra-Orthodox rabbi to transgender woman by Abby Stein. The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman. Abby was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews. But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, and her way of life. Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be? Learn more in this review by The Humanist.


Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan. Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as others treated her with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni’s Room. Learn more about Talusan’s memoir in a review from The New York Times.


Sorted Growing up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place: A Transgender Memoir by Jackson Bird. When Jackson was twenty-five, he came out as transgender to his friends, family, and anyone with an internet connection. Assigned female at birth and raised as a girl, he often wondered if he should have been born a boy. Growing up in Texas in the 1990s, he had no transgender role models. In this “soulful and heartfelt coming-of-age story” (Jamia Wilson, director, and publisher of the Feminist Press), Jackson chronicles the ups and downs of growing up gender-confused. With warmth and wit, Jackson recounts how he navigated the many obstacles and quirks of his transition–like figuring out how to have a chest binder delivered to his NYU dorm room and having an emotional breakdown at a Harry Potter fan convention. From his first shot of testosterone to his eventual top surgery, Jackson lets you in on every part of his journey, explaining trans terminology and little-known facts about gender and identity along the way. Sorted demonstrates the power and beauty in being yourself, even when you’re not sure who “yourself” is. Learn more in this LGBTQ Reads guest post by Bird.


The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara. A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and ’90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning. It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning to help create a family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone. Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit. Learn more here.


 

Let’s Create: Zine Making Party


Studies show creating art reduces stress and enhances well-being. So come make a zine with us during finals week to celebrate and reflect on your semester. Zines are mini-magazines that can be anything you can imagine. For this project, we will create a personal storybook to remind us of the challenges and accomplishments we’ve nailed this semester. We will repurpose book jackets by cutting them up and adding collages to our zine pages; no two zines will be alike! All you need to do is drop in between exams and studying. Zine-making materials and snacks will be provided.


Where: The Oasis, Room 418, Perkins Library

When: Monday, Dec. 12th, 2:30 to 4 pm, and Thursday, Dec. 15th, 11 am to 12:30 pm


 

5 Titles: Stories as Medicine

The 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection, featuring topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and/or highlighting authors’ work from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to briefly sample titles rather than provide a comprehensive topic overview. This month, the five titles have been selected by Librarian for Philosophy and Religious Studies, Cheryl Thomas. The “Love Medicine” stories of writer Louise Erdrich are an example of the ways in which fiction can be a catalyst for sharing the stories of marginalized communities and informing readers through the lyricism of prose about unfamiliar worlds and cultures. Erdrich’s stories introduce us to the lived experience of Native American Indians, drawing ley lines between the past and present, telling stories of loss, fragmentation, community, and a searing quest for identity in the face of deliberate erasure. Edrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She opened Birchbark Books in her hometown of Minneapolis in 2001 to birth a space where Native American Voices could be discovered. Her bookstore features a robust collection of current and emerging Native Voices. Begin your introduction to Erdrich’s writings with the “Love Medicine Series.”


Set on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Love Medicine is an epic story about the intertwined fates of two families: the Kashpaws and the Lamartines. With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter of this stunning novel draws on various voices to lighten its tales. Black humor mingles with magic, injustice bleeds into betrayal, and through it all, bonds of love and family marry the elements into a tightly woven whole that pulses with the drama of life. Erdrich has written a multigenerational portrait of strong men and women caught in an unforgettable whirlwind of anger, desire, and the healing power of love medicine.

The Beet Queen covers the years from 1932 to 1972 and takes place primarily in the fictional town of Argus, North Dakota. One of the story threads centers on Russell, a war hero, highlighting the presence of Native Americans in the US Military, their sacrifice, and the grudging acceptance they found there. In November 2020, the National Native American Veterans Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the Native heroes and their distinguished service to the US military.

Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance—yet their pride and humor prohibit surrender. Tracks expose the tension – a thread throughout Erdrich’s novels – of traditional Indigenous culture and beliefs and Catholicism’s role in forcing assimilation and how the “old ways,” for some Native Indians, were abandoned to survive in a white Christian colonial society. Tracks characters also tell the stories of two significant epidemics that decimated the Ojibwe tribe; smallpox and tuberculosis. 

The Bingo Palace was written shortly after the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. At its essence, this story is about postcolonial capitalism, the gains and losses for the Indigenous community, and the complexities of casinos on reservation land. It is also a tale of spiritual death and reawakening; of money, desperate love, wild hope; and the enduring power of cherished dreams.

The final novel in the “Love Medicine Series” The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse, centers on Father Damien Modeste, who has served his beloved Native American tribe, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse, for over fifty years. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. Deftly Erdrich weaves a story through the lens of a gender-fluid priest who questions the very roots of his belief system; sent to the reservation to convert, he finds within Indigenous spirituality acceptance unavailable within Catholicism while also being honored by that very system for his “good” work with the Ojibwe people.

What to Read this Month: November

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!


Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng. Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old. Our Missing Hearts is an old story about how supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact. Learn more here, The New York Times Book Review.


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is a story of a boy born to a teenage single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damage to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion and, above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Read more in The Washington Post’s book review.


Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld. As a homeless teenager writing college essays in her rusty Toyota Corolla, Emi Nietfeld was convinced that the Ivy League was the only escape from her dysfunctional childhood. But upward mobility required crafting the perfect resilience narrative. She had to prove that she was an “overcomer,” made stronger by all she had endured. The truth was more complicated. Emi’s mom was a charming hoarder who had her put on antipsychotics but believed in her daughter’s brilliance—unlike the Minnesotan foster family who banned her “pornographic” art history flashcards (of Michelangelo’s David). Emi’s other parent vanished shortly after coming out as trans, a situation few understood in the mid-2000s. Both a chronicle of the American Dream and an indictment of it, this searing debut exposes the price of trading a troubled past for the promise of a bright future. Told with a ribbon of dark humor, Acceptance challenges our ideas of what it means to overcome. Read this NPR review to learn more.


Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land by Toni Jensen. Jensen is a Métis woman, and she is no stranger to the violence enacted on Indigenous women’s bodies on Indigenous land. In Carry, Jensen maps her personal experience onto the historical, exploring how history is lived in the body and redefining the language used to speak about violence in America. In the title chapter, Jensen connects the trauma of school shootings with her experiences of racism and sexual assault on college campuses. “The Worry Line” explores the gun and gang violence in her neighborhood the year her daughter was born. “At the Workshop” focuses on her graduate school years, during which a workshop classmate repeatedly killed off thinly veiled versions of her in his stories. In prose at once forensic and deeply emotional, Toni Jensen shows herself to be a brave new voice and a fearless witness to her own difficult history–as well as to the violent cultural landscape in which she finds her coordinates. Read more about Jensen’s debut book here and an interview with Clemson University here.


Dog Flowers: A Memoir by Danielle Geller. A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to retrace her mother’s life in a memoir that is both a narrative and an archive of one family’s troubled history. When Geller’s mother dies of alcohol withdrawal while attempting to get sober, Geller returns to Florida and finds her mother’s life packed into eight suitcases. Most were filled with clothes, except for the last one, which contained diaries, photos, letters, a few undeveloped disposable cameras, dried sage, jewelry, and the bandana her mother wore on days she skipped a hair wash. Geller, an archivist and a writer uses these pieces of her mother’s life to try and understand her mother’s relationship to home and their shared need to leave it. Geller embarks on a journey that will end at her mother’s home: the Navajo reservation. Dog Flowers is an arresting, photo-lingual memoir that masterfully weaves together images and text to examine mothers and mothering, sisters and caretaking, and colonized bodies. Read more about this story in the Southern Review of Books.


Mobile Apps: Research, Read, and Watch on the Go


Have you wondered if there are mobile apps that could assist you in conducting research from a smartphone or tablet? We did, and here are the ones we’ve tried and verified. These apps are accessible to you as a student, researcher, or faculty member affiliated with Duke. Each application was easy to download, authenticate, sign in, and begin using! Follow the hyperlinks for step-by-step instructions on uploading and using.


The Ebsco Mobile App is designed for library users to access library resources for scholarly research on the move. What can you do? Download and read EBSCO eBooks™., listen to your PDF articles via audio play, save articles for later reference, pull up your previously viewed or searched results, stay organized with access to the items you’ve saved across devices, and share articles or links with your peers easily. Imagine you’re on the C-1 bus thinking about that one research question you need to find peer-reviewed literature to answer. With the Ebsco app, you can type in your question and pull up relevant articles before you reach your stop!


The Ask a Librarian App is a hands-down winner. After you set up Duke University Libraries as your default library (instructions here), you can reach out via email or phone, but most importantly by chat, and a real-live librarian (no bots here!) will support you in answering all of your research questions. Chatting is as easy as texting! We love the convenience of this app and being able to help you find the resources you need in real-time. Hours of operation are here.


The DukeMobile App is an excellent shortcut for getting to the library catalog on the go. When you go to the menu bar, you’ll see an open book icon that says “Library” click on that, and then you’ll be taken straight to Duke University Libraries, where you can access all our digital resources. If you’re like us, sometimes our aha moments come when we’re away from the desk. If you’re walking between classes and think of a book or journal article you’d like to locate, you can instantly do so from your DukeMobile app without missing a step!


The Zotero App is a great research assistant that helps organize and manage your citations (and annotations), and now you can update references on the go. And if you prefer Endnote for your citation needs, there’s an app for you too! The Endnote Mobile App allows you to collect, collaborate, and create bibliographies anywhere. The benefit of both citation apps is that wherever you are, you can pull up your synced references and bibliographies, and if you are browsing an article on your phone that you want to save, you can quickly add it to your list.


What about library resources for research and pleasure? Forget Netflix; we recommend the Kanopy Mobile App for streaming educational documentaries, great films, and movies! Kanopy provides access to independent and documentary films ─  titles of unique social and cultural value from The Criterion Collection and Media Education Foundation. The beauty of the Kanopy app is that you can watch films on your phone or tablet regardless of where you are. Loung in the comfort of your dorm room while streaming that documentary you’ve been assigned for class!


Have you added the Libby by Overdrive Mobile App to your phone yet? Do it today, and start listening to popular fiction or nonfiction as an audiobook or curl up with a great eBook wherever you are. Libby offers offline access, which means when you download your selection, you can read or stream when you’re offline. The Libby app audiobooks are a great way to mix up your next gym workout and get to that booklist you’re dying to read!


We are always looking for mobile-friendly research resources that make your life easier. Please comment below the post if you have apps you use for research you’d like to share!


 

What to Read this Month: October 2022

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!


Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi. This winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize and national bestseller is “an innovative reimagining of the family saga.” In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool beautifully against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present. Through the sisters, we glimpse a society in all its degrees, from the very poorest of the local slave families to those making money through the advent of new wealth. The first novel originally written in Arabic to ever win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English. Read more about this striking novel in a thoughtful review by The New Yorker.


Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir by Erika L. Sánchez. From the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, an utterly original memoir-in-essays that is as deeply moving as it is hilarious. Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago in the nineties, Erika was a self-described pariah, misfit, and disappointment–a foul-mouthed, melancholic rabble-rouser who painted her nails black but also loved comedy, often laughing so hard with her friends that she had to leave her school classroom. Twenty-five years later, she’s now an award-winning novelist, poet, and essayist, but she’s still got an irrepressible laugh, an acerbic wit, and singular powers of perception about the world around her. Raunchy, insightful, unapologetic, and brutally honest, Crying in the Bathroom is Sánchez at her best–a book that will make you feel that post-confessional high that comes from talking for hours with your best friend. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Erika’s poignant memoir, and listen to her interview with NPR to learn more.


I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life. In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants. Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair. Read more in this review by The Atlantic.


The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison. Here is the Nobel Prize winner in her own words: a rich gathering of her most important essays and speeches, spanning four decades that “speaks to today’s social and political moment as directly as this morning’s headlines” (NPR). These pages give us her searing prayer for the dead of 9/11, her Nobel lecture on the power of language, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., her heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. She looks deeply into the fault lines of culture and freedom: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” human rights, the artist in society, the Afro-American presence in American literature. And she turns her incisive critical eye to her own work and that of others. An essential collection from an essential writer, The Source of Self-Regard shines with the literary elegance, intellectual prowess, spiritual depth, and moral compass that have made Toni Morrison our most cherished and enduring voice. Learn more in Morrison’s candid interview with Bitch Media.


The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings. Reminiscent of the works of Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, and Octavia Butler–a piercing dystopian novel about the unbreakable bond between a young woman and her mysterious mother. Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother’s disappearance. That she was kidnapped. Murdered. That she took on a new identity to start a new family. That she was a witch. This is the most worrying charge because in a world where witches are real, peculiar behavior raises suspicions and a woman–especially a Black woman–can find herself on trial for witchcraft. But fourteen years have passed since her mother’s disappearance, and now Jo is finally ready to let go of the past. Yet her future is in doubt. The State mandates that all women marry by the age of 30–or enroll in a registry that allows them to be monitored, effectively forfeiting their autonomy. At 28, Jo is ambivalent about marriage. When she’s offered the opportunity to honor one last request from her mother’s will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time. Read the LA Times Book Review to learn more.

5 Titles: Disability Justice

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 briefly sample titles rather than provide a comprehensive topic overview. This month, the five titles have been selected by Graduate Humanities Intern Rebekah Cowell.

Audre Lorde wrote, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Discussing social justice issues without including disability justice and its intersections with race, sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic class is impossible. According to 2015-2016 data from the U.S. Department of Education, over 19 percent of all enrolled undergraduate students and 11.9 percent of post-baccalaureate students self-identified as having a disability. In higher education, disability justice is another access point to achieving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Disability at Duke is a robust student and faculty collaboration bringing disability justice and pedagogy together. These five titles selected for consideration come from Duke University Libraries and feature the lived experiences of activists who have fought and continue to fight for disability justice.


Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life by Alice Wong. In Chinese culture, the tiger is deeply revered for its confidence, passion, ambition, and ferocity. Drawing on a collection of original essays, previously published work, conversations, graphics, photos, commissioned art by disabled and Asian American artists, and more, Alice uses her unique talent to share an impressionistic scrapbook of her life as an Asian American disabled activist, community organizer, media maker, and dreamer. From her love of food and pop culture to her unwavering commitment to dismantling systemic ableism, Alice shares her thoughts on creativity, access, power, care, the pandemic, mortality, and the future. As a self-described disabled oracle, Alice traces her origins, tells her story, and creates a space for disabled people to be in conversation with one another and the world. Alice is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project and the editor of the acclaimed anthology Disability Visibility.


Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. A personal collection about creating spaces by and for sick and disabled queer people of colour and creative “collective access” — access not as a chore but as a collective responsibility and pleasure — in our communities and political movements. They write, “When we do disability justice work, it becomes impossible to look at disability and not examine how colonialism created it. It becomes a priority to look at Indigenous ways of perceiving and understanding disability…” Bringing their survival skills and knowledge from years of cultural and activist work, she explores everything from the economics of queer femme emotional labor to suicide in queer and trans communities to the nitty-gritty of touring as a sick and disabled queer artist of colour. Care Work is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of colour are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a toolkit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation where no one is left behind.


Exile and Pride by Eli Clare. Exile and Pride is essential to the history and future of disability politics. With a poet’s devotion to truth and an activist’s demand for justice, Clare deftly unspools the multiple histories from which our ever-evolving sense of self unfolds. His essays weave together memoir, history, and political thinking to explore meanings and experiences of home: home as place, community, bodies, identity, and activism. Here readers will find an intersectional framework for understanding how we actually live with the daily hydraulics of oppression, power, and resistance. At the root of Clare’s exploration of environmental destruction and capitalism, sexuality and institutional violence, gender and the body politic, is a call for social justice movements that are truly accessible to everyone. With heart and hammer, Exile and Pride pries open a window onto a world where our whole selves, in all their complexity, can be realized, loved, and embraced.

 


Haben: The Deafblind Woman that Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma. Haben is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. She believes disability is an opportunity for innovation and teaches organizations the importance of choosing inclusion. Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn’t see and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents’ harrowing experiences during Eritrea’s thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.


Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann. One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human. A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism–from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington– Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society. Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people. As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What to Read this Month: September 2022

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy, Current Literature and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy! Here is a selection of books you will find in these collections!


The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Until Frida has a very bad day. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good. An “intense” ( Oprah Daily ) page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic. Watch Chan discuss her novel on the Today Show and listen to her on the Lit Hub Radio podcast.


Nuclear Family by Joseph Han. Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades. Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawaiʻi, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember. Learn more in The New York Times Book Review and NPR’s Book of the Day podcast interview with Han.


Tell Me Everything by Erika Krouse is the mesmerizing story of a landmark sexual assault investigation and the female private investigator who helped crack it open. In the fall of 2002, Erika accepts a new contract job investigating lawsuits as a private investigator. Erika knows she should turn the assignment down. Her own history with sexual violence makes it all too personal. But she takes the job anyway. Over the next five years, Erika learns everything she can about P. I. technique, tracking down witnesses and investigating a culture of sexual assault and harassment ingrained in the university’s football program. But as the investigation grows into a national scandal and a historic civil rights case, Erika becomes increasingly consumed. When the case and her life both implode simultaneously, Erika must figure out how to help win the case without losing herself. Read The Washington Post review and listen to her Colorado Public Radio interview to learn more.

 


We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom. This New York Review of Books article asks the hard questions about oil extraction, climate change, and the intersectionalities in Mbue’s visionary novel.


Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after a tragedy. In twelve striking, luminescent stories, a boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family’s unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs. Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction. Listen to Talty, a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation discuss how these stories came to be in his NPR interview.