Events, Library life

OULG Presents: African-American Read-In

The Oakwood University Literary Guild is holding a special event this Thursday, February 23 — an African-American Read-In. From noon till 4 p.m., bring your children, nieces, nephews, godchildren, or even just yourself to the Eva B. Dykes Library for some classic stories. See you there!


Events, Library life

Blind Date with a Book


In light of Valentine’s Day coming up on Sunday, we’ve brought back Blind Date with a Book. On the table by the front desk, we’ve set up a group of books and DVDs that have been wrapped up and given a few brief descriptors, like “graphic novel” or “set in the 1890s.” Feel free to drop by and see what we have — will you dare to pick out an item and take it home, sight unseen?

Library life

2016 Reading Challenge, Part 3

Welcome back to the third installment of our reading recommendations! You can find part 1 and part 2 here, if you missed them. And just a reminder — the 40 categories come from PopSugar’s 2016 Reading Challenge. You can get a handy-dandy printable here.

[Update: Part 4 is now ready for you too!]


  • A book recommended by a family member
    • Mileage will vary on this category, but here are two books that my family have loved: Andy Weir’s The Martian, the popular survival story of a NASA botanist stranded on Mars; and Brian Doyle’s The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart, which delves into everything the heart does and represents, from anatomical functions to metaphorical roles.


  • A graphic novel
    • Do you ever find yourself listening to the news and realizing, “I don’t know much about the history of that region”? Recently, Iran has frequently been in the news. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, the graphic-novel memoir of Iranian author Marjane Satrapi, is a good introduction to the country’s history. If you enjoy it, you should also try the sequel, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.
    • Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang wowed critics with his graphic novel American Born Chinese, which follows three plotlines centering on a Chinese-American boy who just wants to fit in.


  • A book that will be published in 2016
    • In Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal (due out on February 2), a young man in 1904 discovers a journal that takes him on a quest for a legendary object. Thirty-five years later, a pathologist accepts the same quest. Fifty years after that, a Canadian senator and his chimpanzee companion continue the search — while the senator struggles to adjust to his wife’s death.
    • Do you feel like you’re in a rat race, chronically unable to get ahead no matter how hard you work? If so, you might find a kindred spirit in Tina Fontana, the protagonist of Camille Perri’s The Assistants, who’s smart, broke, frustrated, and sharp-eyed enough to spot a mistake in her boss’s accounts that could pay off her student loans. We’re guessing she takes the money, but we won’t know for sure until the book comes out on May 3.


  • A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
    • Again, mileage will vary here, depending on your major. But for you pre-med students out there, try Dr. Emily R. Transue’s book On Call: A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency. Packed with stories from her internal medicine residency that are heartwarming, chilling, bleak, and funny by turns, this book is sure to prompt questions and discussions that will help you prepare for your own medical careers.
    • For the future teachers among us, try E.R. Braithwaite’s To Sir, With Love. It’s the true story of the author, a black man from South America, who decided to take a job teaching in the predominantly white slums of London’s East End in the 1940s.


  • A book that takes place during summer
    • The four teens at the heart of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars are a tight-knit group, members of an upper-crust New England family that spends its summers on a private island. The summer the Liars were 15, something happened. Nobody is sure exactly what, particularly the narrator, who now spends her days visiting doctors and fighting migraines. Then her memories of that summer begin to come back, and it’s clear that she’s not the only one telling lies.
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is another great summer read. If you didn’t catch the recent movie adaptation (or the book in high school), it’s about a reclusive millionaire whose parties are legendary — but whose motives are mysterious. Along the way, the author weaves in a beautifully haunting commentary on the excesses of the Jazz Age.


  • A book and its prequel
    • In part 2 of this post series, we recommended Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre. If you enjoyed it — or even if you didn’t — why not take a look at the unofficial prequel, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea? It takes one of Jane Eyre‘s most contentious characters and lets her tell her side of the story, touching on themes of (spoiler alert) colonialism and mental illness.
    • True-blue Firefly fans know about Michael Shaara’s Civil War novel Killer Angels, the book that inspired Joss Whedon to create Captain Mal and the other Browncoats. But did you know that there’s also a prequel? Gods and Generals is a close look at the leaders of the Civil War, written by Michael’s son, Jeff Shaara. If you finish it wanting more, there’s also another installment: The Last Full Measure, again by Jeff Shaara.


  • A murder mystery
    • Dorothy Sayers might be best known in certain circles for her radio plays on Christ’s life, aired in England during World War II, but she also writes great murder mysteries. Try Murder Must Advertise, starring the irrepressible Lord Peter Wimsey, for a breathtaking adventure involving an advertising agency, a desperate smuggler, and an ingenious code.
    • Want a book that will keep you up all night? Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None won’t take long to read, but you’re sure to stay awake thinking about the tale of ten people who gather on a deserted island to salve their guilty consciences, only to get picked off one by one.


  • A book written by a comedian
    • Star of The Talk and Archer, comedian Aisha Tyler garnered glowing reviews for her book Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation.
    • If you’re an SNL fan, don’t miss Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s tome, Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, As Told By Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, which was written for the show’s 25th anniversary in 2001.


  • A dystopian novel
    • Hailed as one of the first dystopian novels, Lois Lowry’s The Giver takes place in a society where all social ills have been fixed … at the risk of individuality and free will.
    • If The Giver wasn’t bleak enough for you, try Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which is set at a highly unusual English boarding school.


  • A book with a blue cover
    • If you haven’t read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars yet, move it to the top of your list. It’d be easy to dismiss it just another “cancer story,” but Green transcends the genre to tell a beautifully crafted story about living life to the fullest.
    • Similarly, it’d be easy to classify Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl as a kids’ book, but don’t give up on it just yet. It’s a delightful, surprisingly deep book about an average high school turning upside-down when the new girl shows she’s not afraid to be herself.

Stay tuned for part 4!


Image credits: heart from condesign, Iran map from McLac2000, NYC woman from love_on, stethoscope from DarkoStojanovicdock from Unsplash, Antietam cannon from tpsdave, misty lake from stefankiss, Gracie Allen & George Burns from skeeze, color burst from PeteLinforth, and pool from Aquilatin on Pixabay.

Library life

2016 Reading Challenge, Part 2

Today we’re continuing our in-depth look at PopSugar’s 2016 reading challenge, finding two suggestions for each of their 40 categories.

[Update: Eager for more suggestions? Here are parts 1, 3, and 4 of the reaching challenge.]


  • A book that’s becoming a movie this year
    • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Newt Scamander): Written as a Comic Relief fundraiser, Fantastic Beasts is an encyclopedia of J.K. Rowling’s many strange creatures, from fuzzy Puffskeins to the menacing Lethifold. If you’re bored by the thought of reading an encyclopedia, don’t worry — it’s only 128 pages long, and sure to keep you engaged. The movie adaptation, starring Eddie Redmayne, is slated for release on November 18, 2016.
    • The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins): Every day, Rachel Watson takes the train to her job in London. Every day, she travels past the backyard of a seemingly happy couple. But when she spots the wife kissing another man, and then disappearing entirely, she wonders if she’s accidentally become part of a murder mystery. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to read it before the movie comes out — starring Emily Blunt, it’s due on October 7, 2016.


  • A book recommended by someone you just met
    • Hello there! I’m Ms. Brothers, a librarian at the Eva B. Dykes Library, and I recommend Kelly Brown Williams’ book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. From cleaning to cooking, dating to networking, this book is a great crash course for everything you wish you’d been taught in school.
    • Another Oakwood librarian, Heather Rodriguez-James, recommends Terri L. Fivash’s Dahveed series, a fictionalized version of King David’s life. Written by an Andrews University alumna and filled with rich historical detail, the Dahveed books are a sure way to enrich a Sabbath afternoon. There are five books out right now, with #6 in the works.


  • A self-improvement book
    • These two introduce themselves: Eat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Brian Tracy), and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brené Brown).


  • A book you can finish in a day
    • Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House caused an uproar when it was first staged in 1879 — to the extent that the lead actress refused to perform unless Ibsen changed the ending. (He did.) Read it yourself and see if you agree with his observations about marriage and gender equality.
    • You may have already read Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen in high school. In any case, give it a fresh look — it’s the story of two teenage Hasidic boys in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, coming to terms with the religious and social borders of their friendship.


  • A book written by a celebrity
    • Whether you know Indian-American actress/writer/comedian Mindy Kaling from The OfficeThe Mindy Project, Inside Out, or her pithy remarks on race and appearance, her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is sure to delight you.
    • It’s hard to say what Grammy-nominated comedian Jim Gaffigan is most famous for: his bacon jokes, his Hot Pocket jokes, or the fact that he and his wife shared a two-bedroom apartment with their five children. His book Dad is Fat relates some of those adventures in parenting.


  • A political memoir
    • Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang relates the stories of a senior Chinese politician who advocated for free-market reforms and sympathized with the Tiananmen Square protesters, counter to official Chinese po
    • Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, chronicles the statesman’s harrowing journey, from 27 years in prison to his role as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.


  • A book at least 100 years older than you
    • Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre might have been published all the way back in 1847, but it’s aged very well (thanks in part to numerous TV and movie adaptations). The elements of the story are probably so familiar you could recite them along with me: a smart, determined, poor heroine arrives at a shadowy mansion to work as a governess, only to discover that the house holds more secrets than she counted on.
    • “Tiger, tiger, burning bright / In the forests of the night …” With this and other classics, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience (published in 1789) takes its place among the longest-lived English poetry. Try to find an edition with Blake’s original illustrations, if you can.


  • A book that’s more than 600 pages
    • It’s the largest democracy in the world, containing one-sixth of the world’s people, who speak 1,652 languages. Its movies and music and art are unmistakable … but what could you tell me about its history, apart from British colonialism and Gandhi? In India: A History, John Keay pulls back the curtain on the world’s second-most populous country, revealing the ins and outs of five thousand years of Indian history.
    • From art to politics to poetry to drama, New York City’s Greenwich Village has long been known as a crucible of creativity. In Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910–1960, Ross Wetzsteon weaves the stories that formed the neighborhood for half a century, with a star-studded cast that includes Marlon Brando, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jackson Pollock, Upton Sinclair, and e.e. cummings.


  • A book from Oprah’s Book Club
    • From author Edwidge Danticat comes Breath, Eyes, Memory, with this summary from Amazon: “At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.”
    • Say You’re One of Them is a collection of five short stories by Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria. Here’s the snapshot from Amazon: “A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.”


  • A science-fiction novel
    • Due to become a movie this year, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One takes readers to 2044, where “reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape” (Amazon summary).
    • As with any genre, in science fiction, it’s always a good idea to start with the classics. Published in 1895, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine — the story of a man who travels hundreds of thousands of years forward and visits an England populated by the gentle, free-living Eloi and the menacing, subterranean Morlocks.

Watch this space for part III of our reading challenge!


Image credits: Train by Unsplash, David statue by ruediger, frog by zdenet, dollhouse by stux, playground by kittyflake, Chinese landscape by McLac2000, tiger by skeeze, henna by Unsplash, Haiti by tpsdave, and gears by wolter_tom on Pixabay.

Library life, Resources

2016 Reading Challenge, Part 1


With its colder weather and added stress, winter often becomes all about comfort: fuzzy socks, cozy sweaters, favorite foods. These things can be great for the soul, but sometimes aren’t so great for health.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at a few ways to get out of the winter rut and prioritize health. Today’s focus is on reading — always a great way to expand your perspective, develop empathy, and wrap your mind around something new.

Fortunately, the lifestyle website PopSugar has come to the rescue with their 2016 reading challenge, which calls people to read 40 books spanning a wide variety of genres and interests. You can download the printable list here.

If you don’t know where to find books that fit into those 40 categories, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Over four blog posts, we’ll look at each category and give you a couple of suggestions to get you started.

[Update: You can now get parts 2, 3, and 4 of the reading challenge.]

  • A book based on a fairy tale
    • Marissa Meyer’s Cinder puts a futuristic spin on the classic Cinderella story, following cyborg mechanic Cinder as she struggles to protect her world. (And if you love this story, don’t worry — it continues with the rest of the Lunar Chronicles series.)
    • The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander, is the first installment in the Chronicles of Prydain series, which revamps old Welsh legends. This thrilling story introduces Taran, a farmhand who goes an escaped pig and is forced to become an adventurer in a world of an evil king, an independent-minded princess, and more terrors than he imagined.


  • A National Book Award winner
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is an in-depth examination of the quality of being black in America. Drawing from history, current events, and his own experiences, Coates has been described as “the James Baldwin of our time,” though one reader remarked, “I think even James Baldwin would be depressed that this book had to be written in 2015.”
    • Inside Out and Back Again (Thanhha Lai) is a fictionalized version of the author’s childhood in Vietnam, experiences of the Vietnam War, and subsequent immigration to the U.S. Though it’s written for middle-grade readers, many adult readers have found it deeply moving as well.
  • A YA bestseller
    • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, spans 46 vignettes and the narrator’s teenage years as she grows up in a poor Hispanic family in Chicago.
    • I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) follows a teenage girl who lives with her eccentric, penniless family in an English castle in the 1930s. When a pair of American brothers buys the castle, the family will never be the same again.


  • A book you haven’t read since high school
    • Every high school English class is different, but there’s a good chance you read 1984, George Orwell’s chilling vision of a world where every word, action, and desire is observed and scrutinized for conformity. Give it another go — it gets better with time.
    • Similarly, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is another time-honored classic, chronicling the life of a young Southern black woman in the turbulent years between the end of slavery and the Civil Rights Era.
  • A book set in your home state
    • Oakwood has been blessed with students from a wealth of states and countries, so your choices will vary with this category. But for you Alabamans, try Paper Moon, by Joe David Brown. It’s a boisterous tale of a con man and his young sidekick Addie who comb the South for their next mark.
    • If I have any fellow Washingtonians in the audience, I recommend Edward Averett’s The Rhyming Seasonwhich follows a high school girls’ basketball team as they struggle against their community’s low expectations, their coach’s unorthodox methods, and their town’s failing economy.


  • A book translated to English
    • Åsne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul is the true story of a Norwegian woman who lived with an Afghan family for three months. Though Afghanistan is an ever-changing landscape, this book provides a valuable snapshot of life in its capital immediately after 9/11.
    • If you’re looking for a real mind-bender, try Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. The easiest way to describe the plot of this novel is “ten beginnings to different novels,” an arc that many readers have described as radically changing their ideas about immersive reading.
  • A romance set in the future
    • In the world of Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog, time travel has been developed as an academic tool, but in an effort to prop up its budget, the lab at Oxford University has accepted a private commission from a woman who is rebuilding Coventry Cathedral to its exact pre-WWII standards. Tasked with getting every detail right, historians Ned Henry and Verity Kindle find themselves making constant trips to the 1940s — and then to the 1880s, the early 2000s, the 1930s, and the 1300s as they try to correct the paradoxes that inevitably result.
    • Here’s the blurb for Armie Kaufman’s and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae: “This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.” Filled with rogue AI, a mutating plague, and ordinary people forced into leadership, Illuminae is sure to intrigue and thrill.


  • A book set in Europe
    • The question of which war had the biggest impact is always up for debate, but World War I usually occupies one of the top spots. In The First World War, acclaimed military historian John Keegan lays out the facts and untangles the events of each battle.
    • For the history of a country not many people think about, try Michael Moran’s A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland. From 13th-century ruins to flying buffalo, you’re sure to stay engaged as the author chronicles his time living and traveling in Poland just after the fall of the USSR.
  • A book that’s under 150 pages
    • Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a classic “man vs. nature” tale that might seem a bit slow at first, but stay with it — it’s only 127 pages, and it brought several honors to Hemingway, including a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a National Book Award nomination, and a Nobel Prize in Literature.
    • What would happen if the Queen of England went chasing after her corgis and stumbled across a bookmobile? In just 128 pages, author Alan Bennett serves up a fast-paced, charming story called The Uncommon Reader, imagining the implications of a royal monarch hooked on reading.


  • A New York Times bestseller
    • Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat tells the story of the 1936 University of Washington men’s rowing team, an unlikely band who stunned the world at the Berlin Olympics.
    • Have you ever dreamed of mastering hollandaise sauce? Or cooking the perfect steak? In The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt reveals the secrets of his kitchen.

Eager to get started on the next 10 categories? Look for Part 2 in a few days’ time.


Image credit: Book by Bonnybbx; Martin Luther King, Jr., statue from DWilliams; cameras from PublicDomainPictures; Afghan family from ArmyAmber; WWI soldiers from WikiImages; and salmon from 916237; all on Pixabay.