In Memoriam: Toni Morrison, 1931-2019

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

On Monday, August 5, 2019, author, editor, and teacher Toni Morrison passed away. 

Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison. Author, editor, teacher. 

Morrison was nearly 40 when her first book, The Bluest Eye, was published. She went on to become the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for her “novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, giv[ing] life to an essential aspect of American reality.” She earned the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award for her novel Beloved and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon. In 2012,  she was presented with Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Morrison’s writing brought consciousness of the Black experience in America with novels that were both popular and critically acclaimed– in addition to her literary accolades, she was an Oprah Book Club pick four times. As an editor, she helped develop and edit works by Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali, Toni Cade Bambara, Huey Newton, Henry Dumas, and Gayl Jones. 

If you’re interested in reading more of Toni Morrison or experiencing her for the first time, the library has many of her works in our Main and Orange County Campus collections

Read Great Things: Memoir Admiration

(In which one of your librarians highlights the different categories of the Read Great Things Challenge 2019. Want to know more about the Read Great Things 2019 Challenge? Check out our library blog post about it. All are welcome to participate!)

I like memoirs. A lot. I know this isn’t everyone’s favorite genre, but on the other hand, some people really only like to read memoirs. (You do you, reader.)

If you also like memoirs or just need to fill that “book by or about someone that you admire” box on the #RGT2019 Challenge and want to go the memoir-route, here are a few suggestions for you that are also available through the Durham Tech Libraries. 

What We’re Reading: The Nix

Title: The Nix

Author: Nathan Hill

Genre: literary fiction

Read Great Things (2019) categories: A book about or that features college or higher education

Why did you choose to read this book?

book cover: The Nix

I believe it is important to support independent bookstores. Last summer, when I was traveling to western Kentucky, my family and I stayed in Crossville, Tennessee, and found The Book Cellar. After browsing their shelves for the better part of an hour, I selected The Nix. They had a hardcover edition in great condition for around $3. The review excerpts on the dust jacket include one by an author I like (John Irving) and another citing two other authors I like: “as good as the best of Michael Chabon or Jonathan Frantzen.”

Continue Reading →

Coming to A Screen Near You: 2019 Book-to-Film Adaptations

There are a plethora of book adaptations coming out this year. Here are 5 books you can take home today and their upcoming screen counterparts.

Be that “the book was better” person!

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche. –Goodreads.com

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son—and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.

But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth—more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful. –Goodreads.com

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. –Goodreads.com

The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson

C. P. Ellis grew up in the poor white section of Durham, North Carolina, and as a young man joined the Ku Klux Klan. Ann Atwater, a single mother from the poor black part of town, quit her job as a household domestic to join the civil rights fight. During the 1960s, as the country struggled with the explosive issue of race, Atwater and Ellis met on opposite sides of the public school integration issue. Their encounters were charged with hatred and suspicion. In an amazing set of transformations, however, each of them came to see how the other had been exploited by the South’s rigid power structure, and they forged a friendship that flourished against a backdrop of unrelenting bigotry. –Goodreads.com

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett andNeil Gaiman

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes NutterWitch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . . –Goodreads.com

What We’re Reading: Leaving the Sea: Stories

book cover: Leaving the Sea

Title: Leaving the Sea: Stories

Author: Ben Marcus

Genre: short stories / experimental fiction

Read Great Things Challenge 2018 category: a book you chose for the cover; a book with a supernatural creature, occurrence, or event (maybe)

Why did you choose to read this book?

I was drawn in by the cover art at first. The reviews on the back of the dust jacket also made the stories sound interesting to me. One of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, has a blurb on the back of the book praising Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet (which I haven’t read).

This “themed” collection is of short stories that feature young-to-middle-aged men in crisis. Otherwise, the stories are not related. A divorcé struggles to keep his job and resolve joint custody issues with his ex-wife; a struggling professor teaches a creative writing class aboard a cruise ship; a young man with a mysterious illness seeks treatment in Germany and examines his relationships with his girlfriend, father and a stranger he meets in a hostel; a man worries about his family during a routine evacuation drill in his community; et cetera.

Many of the stories take place in alternate realities: a world in which one can choose to be a baby for one’s whole life, for example.

What did you like about it?

I did not like reading this book. I was motivated to finish it solely to write a thoughtful review.

I found a lot of the book to be interesting, but in many of the stories I felt like Marcus was playing with language for the sole purpose of doing so. Ranging into pure experimental fiction, this book was often either beyond my understanding or it felt like I was being manipulated into feeling stupid for not understanding what is going on, only because the author omitted details I felt would have improved my access to the book.

Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?

Another collection of experimental fiction is David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion. The freedom with which Marcus uses language and imagery reminds me a little bit of e.e. cummings’s poetry as well.

What feeling did the book leave you with?

In spite of my frustrations with the most experimental stories, this book is memorable and left me wishing I could write fiction with such imagination and confidence in bending language to my will.

Who would you recommend the book to?

Fans and writers of experimental fiction will appreciate this book. Someone who needs a creative spark and doesn’t mind reading some dystopian fiction might find use in this book.

What would you pair this book with?

Even though I don’t keep one myself, a reading or writing journal would be a valuable companion.

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Did you know that, since 1995, September 19 has been International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Wikipedia gives a brief history of this weird occasion, which originated between two friends playing a game of Racquetball.
So, I know you’re asking, “How do I learn to talk like a Pirate?” Good news! You’ve come to the right place. Your Durham Tech library has just the tool for you: Mango Languages. Continue Reading →

What We’re Recommending: The #ReadGreatThings2018 Edition

In a repeating series highlighting current and recent reads around Durham Tech, here are some of Durham Tech’s great faculty and staff’s recommendations to help you complete your Read Great Things Challenge:

Need more information about how to participate in (and “win”) the Durham Tech Library’s Read Great Things 2018 Challenge? Click the following link for more information: #ReadGreatThings2018 Information

Need help finding a book in-library or requesting a book through ILL? You can look it up in our catalog or ask a librarian. Don’t yet have a library card? Ask in the library and be sure to bring your Durham Tech ID.

Dr. Wynn’s Legacy in the Library

A young Phail Wynn Jr. smiling.

All of us in the library are saddened by the passing of Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr. He was a champion of students and a supporter of the library both during his tenure as President of the college, and after. For more than ten years, Dr. Wynn donated funds to establish a special collection based around eight topics he selected.

A sign detailing the themes of the Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr. collection.

Established in July 2007 with a generous donation from Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr. this collection consists of materials that, as per Dr. Wynn’s request, “pertain (…) to socially responsible topics…”

Continue Reading →

What We’re Reading: She’s Come Undone

Title: She’s Come Undone

Author: Wally Lamb

Genre: fiction

Why did you choose to read this book?

She’s Come Undone has been on my to-read list and I saw it on the library’s display of books for Mental Health Awareness Month (May).

What did you like about it?

I thought it was well-written and a compelling portrait of a fictional character, Dolores Price. The novel is told from her perspective and follows her through her 30s. Continue Reading →

#ReadGreatThings2018: Fictionalized Accounts of Real People’s Lives

Need some more suggestions to work your way through the Durham Tech Library’s Read Great Things Challenge? This month, in addition to our previous post about memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies, we’re highlighting fictionalized stories about real people.

Any of these books will count for this category in the challenge, but you are more than welcome to find your own book as well. Many of the books below can be found in our libraries, along with so many more!