Fun Reading Over the Break

The librarians thought it might be fun to offer a few suggestions of good reads while Augustana community members are gone on break over the holidays.

From Christine Aden: A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, both by Deborah Harkness

These books are a feast!  The Discovery of Witches trilogy provides elements of paranormal/fantasy and historical fiction.  In A Discovery of Witches, you get to explore the deep divide that separates witches, vampires, daemons and humans.  Shadow of Night takes you deeper into the conflict between the groups and deepens the romance between the witch, Diana Bishop, and the vampire, Matthew Clairmont.  Like me, you’ll be awaiting the third book in the trilogy with bated breath! These books can be found at the Tredway Library: Leisure Collection.

From Amanda Makula: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This “Young Adult” novel, which won the 2007 National Book Award, is a must-read for teens and adults alike. Diary is written from the perspective of Arnold (“Junior”) Spirit, a 14-year-old growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Born with “water on the brain,” Arnold doesn’t quite fit in — especially when he transfers to an all-white school whose only other Indian is their mascot. This book is heart-wrenching and infuriating in one scene, and laugh-out-loud hilarious in the next. Best of all are the vivid, powerful cartoon drawings that accompany Arnold”s astute narration. This book can be found at the Tredway Library: PZ7 .A382 A27 2007.

From Sarah Horowitz: NW by Zadie Smith
NW refers to a neighborhood in London, the place where Smith herself grew up, the setting of her amazing debut novel White Teeth, and where her two protagonists, the best friends Leah Hanwell and Keisha Blake, also grow up. NW explores the complications in their friendship as they grow up and attempt to deal with race, success, and family life.  The novel is in several sections, some of which are straight narrative, some of which are stream-of-consciousness, and some of which are written in little numbered parts with indicative titles. Smith’s prose, as expected, is beautiful no matter what the section, and the unusual construction of the novel adds interest.  This book can be found at the Tredway Library: Leisure Collection.

From Margi Rogal: Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

You may be familiar with the award-winning New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof who with his wife Sheryl WuDunn won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China for the New York Times. This is an amazing book that looks at the condition of women world wide, especially in Asia and Africa, and explains how women are oppressed, how increasing women’s educational attainment and financial security benefits entire societies, and how change can be affected to raise women, and indeed all people, out of poverty. Kristof and WuDunn chronicle through many, many stories of women who have been able to change their lives how “the tide of history is turning women from beasts of burden and sexual playthings into full-fledged human beings.” Although tough to read, the book is ultimately empowering and hopeful.

From Anne Earel: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer who arrived at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for medical treatment in the 1951.  She could not have imagined that while in the hospital, her cells would be harvested without her consent, then replicated, shared, and eventually sold for decades without her or her family’s knowledge. Though Henrietta herself did not survive her bout with cancer, in a way, she still lives on; her cells, now known as “HeLa,” have been used to develop gene mapping, vaccines, and other revolutionary medical breakthroughs. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot explores the issues of ethics, commerce, racial and socioeconomic difference, legislation, etc. connected to the initial retrieval, sharing, and selling of Henrietta’s cells.  She recounts not only Henrietta’s history, but the current situation of her children and other relatives–some of whom, ironically, cannot afford the health care that HeLa cells helped to develop.  Should Henrietta’s  family be compensated?  Can an individual (or her family) claim “ownership” of cells grown in a lab? This book can be found at the Tredway Library: Leisure Collection.

From Owen Rogal, friend of Tredway Library: The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for his Disabled Son by Ian Brown
By nature, I do not give way to hyperbole, but his book is stunning, magnificent, breathtaking. If you want to know about the immense challenges parents face who are raising a child with serious disabilities, read this book. If you want to know about the heroic efforts people are making for those who were not dealt a fair hand in life, read this book. Most importantly, if you’re interested in exploring what it means to be a human being (especially if you want to explore with a writer who is honest and clear-eyed), in exploring why people, all people, matter, read this book. This book is available via I-Share.

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