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August 10, 2015


Short Story Collections by Women


  1. In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar
    Mia Alvar's stunning debut gives us a vivid, insightful picture of the Filipino diaspora: exiles and emigrants and wanderers uprooting their families to begin new lives in the Middle East and America--and, sometimes, turning back. Exploring the universal experience of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined, In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home.


  2. Young Woman in a Garden by Delia Sherman
    Delia Sherman takes seemingly insignificant moments in the lives of artists or sailors--the light out a window, the two strokes it takes to turn a small boat--and finds the ghosts haunting them, the magic surrounding them. Here are the lives that make up larger histories, here are tricksters and gardeners, faeries and musicians, all glittering and sparkling, finding beauty and hope and always unexpected, a touch of wild magic.


  3. Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women
    The characters in these stories are on the brink of something - whether it be religious or social divides, or sexual awakening. The language reflects the great tension, and the great beauty in their transformation. And the collection as a whole reveals the rich diversity of the complex multi-cultural society out of which these stories have emerged.


  4. Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
    A collection of short stories features tales of a young girl who plays caretaker to mysterious guests at the cottage behind her house and a former teen idol who becomes involved in a bizarre reality show.


  5. Refund: Stories by Karen Bender
    We think about it every day, sometimes every hour: Money. Who has it. Who doesn't. How you get it. How you don't. Bender uses this very powerful force to pull together a unified collection of stories that deeply explore the ways in which money and the subsequent estimation of value affect the lives of her characters.


  6. The Wilds by Julia Elliot
    In these genre-bending stories, teetering between the ridiculous and the sublime, Elliott's language-driven fiction uses outlandish tropes to capture poignant moments in her humble characters' lives. Without abandoning the tenets of classic storytelling, Elliott revels in lush lyricism, dark humor, and experimental play.




July 7, 2015


Dueling Magicians, Illusionists and other Tales of Magic



  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.


  2. The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett
    When the show moves to the Brighton Grand, Reggie Rainbow, the magician's behind-the-scenes assistant, begins questioning how much of his own life has been an act and sets out to find somebody who disappeared from his own life years before.


  3. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
    A 19th Century feud between two English stage magicians. Their rivalry centers over instant displacement by electricity from one end of a stage to the other, the contest degenerating into dirty tricks. Told from the perspective of their descendants, a man and a woman.


  4. Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
    Bonded by their shared status as children of Russian e´migre´s in spite of disparate family experiences, Vaclav and Lena team up as aspiring magicians when Lena's abusive domestic situation prompts her rescue by Vaclav's mother.


  5. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace
    Traveling through the Deep South in 1950 with Jeremiah Musgrove's Chinese Circus, magician Henry Walker finds himself in deep trouble with three angry white teenagers, while his friends from the circus describe how Henry received the gift of magic from the devil himself.


  6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell's pupil.




June 2, 2015


The End of Slavery




  1. Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis
    A vivid display of the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration.

  2. Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial that Led to the End of Human Slavery by Steven M. Wise
    Noted legal historian Steven M. Wise recreates each moment of the case that slave owners contended would do nothing less than bring the economy of the British Empire to a crashing halt. Wise sets the stage for the extraordinary decision by the notoriously conservative judge, Lord Mansfield. That decision would set in motion the abolition of slavery in both England and the United States.

  3. Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States by Pat McKissack
    McKissack chronicles the various stages of U.S. emancipation beginning with those slaves who were freed for their service during the Revolutionary War, to those who were freed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

  4. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis
    Davis vividly portrays the dehumanizing impact of slavery, as well as the generally unrecognized importance of freed slaves to abolition. Above all, he captures the ways in which America wrestled with the knotty problem of moving forward into an age of emancipation.

  5. Father Abraham: Lincoln's Relentless Struggle to End Slavery by Richard Striner
    Striner shows first that, if you examine the speeches that Lincoln made in the 1850s, you will have no doubt of his passion to end slavery. But if he felt so passionately about abolition, why did he wait so long to release the Emancipation Proclamation? Father Abraham challenges recent portraits of Lincoln as an essentially passive politician and reluctant abolitionist.

  6. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas
    At the center of William Wilberforce’s heroic life  was a passionate twenty-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, a battle Wilberforce won in 1807, as well as efforts to abolish slavery itself in the British colonies, a victory achieved just three days before his death in 1833. Before Wilberforce, few thought slavery was wrong. After Wilberforce, most societies in the world came to see it as a great moral wrong.




May 18, 2015


History of Power Makers during the Industrial Revolution



  1. The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men who Invented Modern America by Klein, Maury
    The steam engine, the incandescent lamp, the electric motor - inventions such as these replaced muscle power with machine labor, turned darkness to light, and reshaped every aspect of daily life in the span of a few generations. The Power Makers is a saga of inspired invention, undaunted persistence, and business competition at its most naked and cutthroat - a tale of America in its most astonishing decades.

  2. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by Rosen, William
    A lively and passionate study of the engineering and scientific breakthroughs that led to the steam engine, this book argues that the very notion of intellectual property drove not only the invention of the steam engine but also the entire Industrial Revolution: history’s first sustained era of economic improvement.

  3. The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America by Freeberg, Ernest
    The late nineteenth century was a period of explosive technological creativity, but arguably the most important invention of the era was Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb. More than any other invention, electric light marked the arrival of modernity, and Edison became a mythic figure and the avatar of an era. Electric light changed the pace of city life and the nature of work and play, and stimulated countless innovations that changed every aspect of American life - from sleep patterns to surgery, shopping to waging war.

  4. Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by Carlson, W. Bernard
    W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Carlson shows how Tesla was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.

  5. Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jonnes, Jill
    In the final decades of the nineteenth century, three brilliant and visionary titans of America’s Gilded Age—Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse—battled bitterly as each vied to create a vast and powerful electrical empire. In Empires of Light, historian Jill Jonnes portrays this extraordinary trio and their riveting and ruthless world of cutting-edge science, invention, intrigue, money, death, and hard-eyed Wall Street millionaires.

  6. The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Making of the Modern World, 1776-1914 by Weightman, Gavin
    In this vivid, sweeping history of the industrial revolution, Weightman shows how, in less than 150 years, a world made of wood, powered by animals, wind, and water was made into something entirely new, forged of steel and iron, and powered by steam and fossil fuels.



May 13, 2015


Coming to Terms with Faith through Young Adult Fiction


  1. Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Littman
    To be more like her best friend, eleven-year-old Justine decides to give up Judaism to become Catholic, but after her beloved, religious grandmother dies, she realizes that she needs to seek her own way of being Jewish.

  2. I Believe in Water edited by Marilyn Singer
    Sometimes funny, sometimes startling--and featuring a variety of settings, cultures, and beliefs--these twelve original stories evoke dilemmas of faith and identity that are familiar to us all.

  3. Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
    Lebanese-Australian Jamilah, known in school as Jamie, hides her heritage from her classmates and tries to pass by dyeing her hair blonde and wearing blue-tinted contact lenses, until her conflicted feelings become too much for her to bear.

  4. Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee
    Anu's beloved grandfather Bapu moved from India to Anu's home in the Pacific Northwest when Anu was small, and Anu is devastated when Bapu dies. But when he is visited by Bapu's ghost, he knows that there must be a way to bring him back to life -- he's just not sure how. Anu enlists his friends Izzy and Unger to help him. From shaving his head to making up fortunes in the hope of becoming more holy, Anu tries everything. He even journeys to the island of the Mystery Museum. Perhaps there, Karnak the Magician will be able to help?

  5. Not Exactly Normal by Devin Brown
    A sixth-grader at St. Luke's Episcopal School sets out to have a mystical experience and learns valuable lessons about himself and the world along the way.

  6. The God Box by Alex Sanchez
    How could I choose betwen my sexuality and my spirituality, two of the most important parts that made me whole? High school senior Paul has dated Angie since middle school, and they're good together. But when Manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he's also a committed Christian. Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel's interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to reevaluate everything he believed.





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