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Librarians Who Read
 
Recent reads from  library faculty and staff,
compiled by 

Rebecca Feind, Reference Librarian

Gordon Miller, Reference Fowler, Brenda.   Iceman: uncovering the life and times of a prehistoric man found in an Alpine glacier (GN778.22.I8 F68 2000). This is an excellent book and one I found hard to put down. I read it because of my interest in history and anthropology. It would also have interest to the scientist, as there is a lot of information on the process to keep the man preserved over time. 

Reba Leiding, Assistant to the Dean Over Christmas break I read Gore Vidal's Burr:  A Novel (PS3543.I26 B8).  It's the first novel in Vidal’s American history series.  Although the book is fiction, Vidal did considerable research and followed historical events very closely.  The novel is set at the end of Aaron Burr's life and told through the voice of a fictionalized character, Charles Schuyler, a young protégé of Burr's who is recording Burr's memoirs in order to get a book contract.  He is also trying to find some political dirt on Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren, who is rumored to be Burr's illegitimate son.  By this time Burr is in declining health but is still an irascible yet charming conversationalist (like Vidal himself!).  It was fascinating to compare Burr's report of the disputed 1800 election to present times (Jefferson won in a close Electoral College vote over Burr) as well as learn about Burr's exploits in the new American West that led to his treason charge and trial in Richmond, VA.  Burr's cynical descriptions of Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton really take the shine off the Founding Fathers.  Vidal makes early U.S. history seem immediate and shows how political decisions have repercussions over many years. 

Becky Deloney, Technical ServicesI read Sex and Real Estate Why We Love Houses (HQ536 .G349 2000) by Marjorie Garber, which analyzes how people relate to real estate in erotic terms.  It provided insight into the "American Dream" and how people have historically believed that their houses should reflect their personalities.  It was also interesting to read about the reasons Americans are building larger houses and accumulating more materials even though they are spending less time at home.  If you are interested in the relationships people have with their homes, you may enjoy reading about the history and current trends in popular culture.

Betsy Bugg, Documents Yo! (PS3551.L845 Y6 1997) By Julia Alvarez. At Rebecca’s suggestion, I read one of Julia Alvarez’ books over the Christmas break, and was pleasantly surprised.  Several things made this a worthwhile read. The view of our culture through the eyes of first generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic was intriguing, and the writing was exceptional, especially in light of the fact that each chapter was written from a different point of view.  All the information that you gather about the main character, Yo, comes from someone else.

Yolanda Garcia (Yo) is a writer, modestly well known, who has four sisters, and whose family came to America from the Dominican Republic.   Each chapter in the book is from a different person’s perspective, i.e. Yo’s sisters, mother, landlady, third husband (sixteen people in all) and cover different time periods in Yo’s life. As might be expected, each person’s view is quite different.  Although the result is surprisingly coherent, the finished product is a incomplete portrait of Yo that leaves the reader feeling there are many more things to learn about Yo that are just beyond their grasp. This is not so much disappointing as it is intriguing.   By the end of the book, we have a picture of a complex and troubled woman who is nevertheless capable of joy and passion for her family and her beliefs.

Julia Alvarez has written other books including How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.  This book served to remind me that there is some fine writing housed in the PR’s and PS’s on the third floor of Carrier Library, that perhaps I should try a little harder to find.             

Kathy Clarke, Reference Taken for a Ride: How Daimler Benz Drove Off with Chrysler, Bill Vlasic HD9710.U54 C64 2000. Tales of corporate shenanigans are my romance novels. This is the story of how the German automaker and its dynamic CEO Werner Schremp orchestrated a deal to take over a uniquely American company.  The cast of characters is fascinating, Kirk Kerkorian, financier and 60% stakeholder in Chrysler, Lee Iaccoca the ultimate marketing guru who managed to lose millions of dollars in pension money from his alliance with Kerkorian, Bill Holden, the Chrysler CEO who seemed distracted during the negotiations, and the flamboyant Schremp who bothered all the American executives with his open affair with his assistant and his excessive partying.  The "merger of equals" that was promised to Chrysler shareholders and employees rapidly unraveled as the stock price for DCX tanked and corporate higher-ups fled for other opportunities.  I always love to read about how these decisions get made and the personalities involved making them. 

Susan Nichols, Circulation
One of the books I read over the break was Wish you Well (McNaughton Browsing Collection) by David
Baldacci.  It was a change from his usual psychological thriller.  Set in the mountains in southern Virginia in the 1940s, it was loosely based on the author's mother's life. It was very descriptive of the area as well as the time and was a very good and light read. 

Rebecca Feind, Reference Over the break, I finished reading the latest novel by Julia Alvarez, In the Name of Salome (PS3551.L845 I45 2000).  This is a well-crafted story, as the two narrators, Salome Urena, and her daughter, Salome Camila, tell their stories in reverse order.  The mother’s story is told chronologically, while the daughter’s story is interjected in pieces from adulthood to childhood, until at the end of the book their stories intersect.  The narrative unfolds almost like a film with many flashbacks.  The book is based on the story of Salome Camila, who was the National Poet of the Dominican Republic in the late 1800’s.  A fascinating story, especially in the way it is related by the always captivating writing style of Julia Alvarez. 

E-mail comments and questions to:
clarkeke@jmu.edu

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