Monday, July 28, 2008

Persepolis and Persepolis 2

Being a big fan of both comic books and graphic novels, I decided to read Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi. Both books are available in the Popular Reading Collection. I knew going in that these books were highly regarded by fans of graphic novels. I also wanted to read them before the Persepolis movie was released on DVD in June.

Persepolis is an autobiography set in Iran during the Iran/Iraq War of the 1980s. Marji is a rebellious child who struggles under the repressive Islamic government before leaving Iran to spend her high school years in Europe. Persepolis 2 continues the story, which includes her return to Iran for college. Personally, I preferred the first one, as I found it easier to view Marji as a young child suffering under a cruel regime, as opposed to a spoiled, self-absorbed teenager living in Vienna. The art is black and white and very straightforward. I appreciated this approach, as the art did not take away from the story itself. I heartily recommend both titles, even for those readers who dislike “comic books.”

Curt Hanson, Department of Special Collections

Kristen's note: Sandi's comment has a link to a news story, "Persepolis Creator won't return to Iran. Click here to jump to that article.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Something New

Janet and I have been furiously buying books and audiobooks so that the Popular Reading shelves will be stocked when school starts next month. The staff at Barnes and Noble are great about providing us bestseller lists, but how do we go beyond the top sellers?

One of the tools librarians use in Books in Print. UND subscribes to it so you have to be on campus or have a Umail account to use it off campus. We’re going to put a "customer friendly" version of this service on the blog so that you can use it for your own reading choices or to make suggestions for us to buy. You can get lists by subject or award winners, you can also put in any year from the past century to read about what happened that year, and to see which books were bestsellers. I won't tell you the year I was born but the #1 bestseller was Airport by Arthur Hailey. His previous novel was Hotel. Hmm I see a pattern here...

Click on Fiction Connection (we don’t subscribe to nonfiction connection) and look for stories with really specific topics like “Kidnapping” or ones set in an archaeological dig. I don’t think free sites such as Amazon get that specific. Books in Print will be upgrading soon and you’ll be able to see even more reviews and ratings on books too.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Jess Lourey

Inscribed in the front of May Day Jess wrote, “To UND students, it’s a crime not to read. Hope this makes you smile.” I just finished May Day and I can't wait to read June Bug and Knee high by the Fourth of July. I'm really enjoying my summer reading but can't believe how quickly the summer is going! Sorry Jess, I'm only 2 months behind!

Jess Lourey’s May Day introduces us to the heroine/detective Mira who works in a library in Battle Lake, MN. Some days are pretty uneventful, some days she goes to work in prom shoes, some days she finds a dead body in Pl-Sca aisle while putting away books...Thankfully I don't have days like that! Right out of college can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Mira's bravery is admirable and she freely admits when she comes up short, for example when she says "ten years in Minneapolis, and I had nothing but an English degree and a budding drinking problem to show for it.”

Mira is a young woman closer in age and experience to UND students; however, Jess the author is probably my age. Wouldn’t only someone who went to college in the 80s get the allusion, “I was Bananarama in the land of Husker Du" when Mira describes moving from Paynesville MN to Minneapolis? It's also fun to read a local author who talks about places with familiar names.

Anyway, as you may know I’m not a big mystery fan because usually the author pulls something out of mid-air when it comes time to close the case. With this book I was able to go along with it and I did have an inkling who the murderer could possibly be. I’m looking forward to June (the book, I know the month flew by) and then catch up on July. Good news, August Moon recently arrived in the library so those who want it let us know and we’ll get it on the shelves and ready to check out!

Last month Janet and I went to Fargo to hear Jess talk about being an author and getting your work published. She was encouraging and had very practical advice. It was also exciting to see how many people came to her talk at the Moorhead Public Library. Maybe we'll be posting about one of their books some day!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Who's Reading?

This is the first of a continuing series in which we'll highlight people from the UND population and get the scoop on what they're reading. We're starting this off with a UND professor of English--well, okay, he's officially retired but we still see his smiling face on campus, much to our delight. We hope he sticks around all summer, since we think Prof. David Marshall is pretty cool!

Here's what he said....

We asked him what his favorite book ever was and he told us it's Essays by Michel Eyquen de Montaigne. He explained, "This is the best of writing possible, for Emerson once wrote: 'Cut these words and they bleed!'"

Then we asked him who his favorite authors are. His response: "Here you have to excuse me, for I pick two--one for style and one for conciseness; for style, Thomas Babington Macaulay; for precision of thought, John Stuart Mill. Chaucer, of course, is supreme in both areas but hindered by the language change."

So far he sounds very, well, professorial, doesn't he? But I happen to know that Dave is a bit of an omnivore when it comes to reading, and sure enough, when I asked him what he liked for leisure reading, de Montaigne and Macaulay and Mill (alliteration, as I live and breathe!) were left for "Historical fiction and fantasy, particularly those 'sword smoke and dragon sweat' forgettables.'"

Dragon sweat? LOL!

What's he reading now? Dragon Mage by Andre Norton and Jean Rabe. I wonder if the Dragon Mage sweats....

Thanks, Dave, for being the first in our "Who's Reading" posts!