The Great Gatsby

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father told me something that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” With the release of the movie are you thrilled by all things Gatsby? If so, you might want to check out the Princeton University Digital Library. You can view F. Scott Fitzgerald’s manuscript—in its original longhand form. (Fitzgerald used not a computer, not a typewriter, not even a pen to write. The manuscripts you can see are written in pencil.) The Princeton Digital Library has high-resolution digital images of The Great…continue reading →

Fiction Friday: The Light Between Oceans

Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel live on Janus Rock, an island situated at the southwest corner of Australia. Tom keeps the lighthouse there protecting the sailors who navigate the treacherous waters between oceans—the warm, calm Indian Ocean and the cold, stormy Great Southern Ocean at the bottom of the world. Tom has survived childhood mistreatment and the horrors of World War I. The routine and solitude of lighthouse keeping suit him perfectly. When he is joined by his wife, the beautiful and effervescent Isabel, he is content. Isabel, however, longs for children.…continue reading →

Fiction Friday: The Ashford Affair

Opening in Kenya in 1926 and moving from pre-World War I England to 1999 New York and back again, The Ashford Affair chronicles the life of popular debutante Lady Beatrice (Bea) Gillecote, her cousin, Addie, their loves and their offspring. Bea becomes her six-year-old cousin’s protector and champion when Addie is sent to live with her titled uncle and imperious aunt after the untimely death of her parents.  Just a year older, Bea has the grace and confidence Addie lacks. When the two make their entrance into society, Bea is dubbed Debutante of…continue reading →

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Caution: if you are like me and like to read while you are eating this may not be the book for you. Mary Roach obviously likes science. In her previous books she explores space travel (Packing for Mars), sex and reproduction (Bonk), and death (Stiff). In this latest book, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal she tackles digestion from beginning to end. As in her earlier works her research is fascinating and her delivery is hilarious. If you can get past the yuck factor you will be in for an entertaining and enlightening…continue reading →

Dystopia Week Saturday

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller Unlike the rest of this week’s posts today’s book, The Dog Stars, has a grown-up appeal; it features an adult male protagonist. Plus, unlike the books previously presented this week there is no oppressive government presence. In fact there is no government at all, no societal divisions, no lurking rebellious factions just a few lost souls after a world-wide influenza epidemic. Two things captured me about The Dog Stars: First it is sort of a survival manual for a post-apocalyptic world. Second the main character, Hig, is…continue reading →

Dystopia Week Friday

Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith One of the first rules about book talking is: Do not try to booktalk a book you haven’t read! And here I go violating that very rule. But in my defense one of the reasons I haven’t read Escape From Furnace is from the time the library received the book in October it has been checked out to one of its many fans. That tells you how popular this book and this series is. The library acquired Lockdown and its sequels based on a student suggestion.…continue reading →

Dystopia Week Thursday

Delirium by Lauren Oliver As in yesterday’s book, Matched, the government has determined that love is something to be avoided. In fact, this dystopia considers love a disease—a delirium. Accordingly, when you reach a certain age you must have The Procedure which will make you immune to love. Lena is looking forward to having The Procedure but 95 days before it is scheduled she meets Alex. Lena’s family struggles. She lives with her aunt and cousins and there is a cloud over the household. Lena’s mother, despite having The Procedure multiple times was…continue reading →

Dystopia Week Wednesday

Matched by Ally Condie In the Society all your life choices are made for you: what job you do, the place you live, what belongings you may have and who you marry. If the authorities can control these aspects of your life then the rest of the country can be controlled as well. The story opens with the night of Cassia’s matching ceremony. She, with all other 17-year-old girls, is patiently waiting her turn to see her match displayed on the giant screen in the banquet room. But when her name is called…continue reading →

Dystopia Week Tuesday

Divergent by Veronica Roth Here’s the setting: Chicago sometime in the future. As in The Hunger Games, society has evolved  into a new arrangement of the population. At 16 years old you choose the faction of society you feel best suits your character—the brave, the peaceful, the honest, etc. Each part has a different role to play. Although her family belongs to Abnegation (the selfless) Tris chooses to join Dauntless (the brave), those responsible for protecting their fellow citizens but who Tris’s father calls “hellions.” Tris, like Katniss in The Hunger Games, shows…continue reading →

Dystopia Week

With finals starting this week you may feel like you are living in your own personal dystopia. Keeping that in mind, this week and throughout exam week I will be posting a book blurb on some of the dystopian fiction owned by the John Tyler libraries. I like the definition the Purdue English department gives for dystopia (of course I like it—they are the same people who brings us the incomparable Purdue OWL!): “An imagined universe (usually the future of our own world) in which a worst-case scenario is explored; the opposite of…continue reading →