Out Loud in the Library – Read Great Things with Meredith Lewis

Are you participating in the Read Great Things Challenge? Have you heard of it before? Are you interested in participating next year? Wondering why we started a reading challenge at Durham Tech? 

Learn all these things and more on our last podcast episode of the year! I interview Meredith Lewis, OCC Librarian, and we talk about the reading challenge, why reading can be good for you, and what she is reading right now. 

Click here to listen

Don’t Miss Our 2020 Reading Challenges!

Despite the fact that sometimes it still feels like April and that yesterday was August 1, the big ol’ year that has been 2020 is almost over.

Owl watching hourglass flipping up and down

What does that mean? Well, it’s time to make your “what I read” list and check it twice to make sure you finished your Read Great Things 2020 Challenge categories and see how many books you read to see if you finished the Above Average Reading Challenge.

Prizes will be available for winners in December, and we’ll have a virtual celebration in January both to reveal the 2021 categories and share what our beginning-of-year reads are.

Need info about the reading challenges or how to claim your victory? Keep reading!

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What You *Could* Be Reading: Series for Fall Weather (& RGT2020)

We had our first few days of fall, which means in addition to warm beverages, I’m also thinking about settling into a series of books to cozy up with (and also to complete one of the categories of the 2020 Read Great Things Challenge: A book that is part of a series). 

photograph of a series... of old Encyclopedia Britannicas (9th edition). They are black with lovely gold writing on the spine. Very fancy.
You don’t have to read the encyclopedia, but if that’s your thing, you do you. 

There are lots of series out there, but sometimes it’s nice to start on something without having to wait for the next or final installment to be published (which may or may never come–I’m looking at you in particular, George R. R. Martin). 

The Durham Tech Library has some of these complete series, but we also have a lot of series starters– let us know if you want the next book or books and we can borrow them from other libraries. Want to know how to get books from the library during the fall semester? Check out our Library To-Go info


What We’re Reading: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games novel, #0 in the series [a prequel]) by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: prequel; science fiction; dystopia
Read Great Things 2020 Categories: A book that is part of a series; A bildungsroman; A controversial book; and A book suggested by a Durham Tech Librarian

This book was read by Meredith Lewis, the [mostly] Orange County Campus Librarian. 

If you liked the original Hunger Games trilogy, you’ll probably enjoy or appreciate this. If you’re like me, you may need to re-read the other books, but I read this book and then re-read the series afterwards, pausing in the third book because everyone knows if you don’t keep reading, then the bad thing you know is going to happen totally won’t happen, right? (Spoiler: It still happened. Double spoiler: The series is about a society that pits its children against each other TO THE DEATH to control rebellion. Bad things happen in all. three. books.)


What We’re Reading: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

 This book was read by Julie Humphrey, Library Director.

Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Author: Bryan Stevenson
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Read Great Things 2020 Categories: A book about civic engagement; A book that has won an award, and A book suggested by a Durham Tech Librarian

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Make 2020 Your Year of Civic Engagement

2020 is both a US Census and election year.

Many of us are thinking about how we can make a meaningful impact in our community. Participating in both the Census and local and national elections can help us make those impacts. 

Click through to learn a little more about the Census, voting (especially in NC), and a few books to check off your civic engagement category on the Read Great Things 2020 Challenge. 


What We’re Reading: Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Title: Moonglow
Author: Michael Chabon
Genre: biography, fiction (both, believe it or not!)
Read Great Things 2020 Categories: book with a one-word title, bildungsroman (maybe)

Why did you choose to read this book?

I have read four of Chabon’s other novels; I liked three of those very much and hated the other one (Gentlemen of the Road). I think The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is my favorite of his novels.

My sister-in-law gave me her copy of Moonglow last year, so I read it.

What did you like about it?

I like Michael Chabon’s enormous vocabulary and he chooses his words carefully. Even though I regularly consult a dictionary while reading his books, I find him to be an engaging storyteller; also, I learn a lot of new words!

Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon

Chabon set out both to write a novel and tell the story of his grandfather’s life in Moonglow. He is deliberately ambiguous about what is fact and what is fiction in the book. Periodic footnotes lend a feeling of historical accuracy, while vivid details of his (unnamed) grandfather’s life make it clear that this is a work of fiction.
The premise is that Chabon’s reserved, quiet grandfather opened up to Chabon on his deathbed, tongue loosened by the drug Dilaudid, which he took to ease his pain. The grandfather told stories of his life as a boy in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood; espionage work during World War II; meeting his wife, a war refugee from France, in Baltimore; his arrest and time in prison; and his life-long obsession with space travel.

Chabon interweaves these stories with his mother’s recollections, his memories of his grandparents, and his own research. He creates a gripping story of his father’s difficult, tragic life and the beauty and love that nonetheless go along with the travails.

Does this book remind you of another book?

A man researching his family’s past echoes The Nix, which was the best novel I read last year. The requirement of a dictionary at hand reminds me of reading Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. Chabon’s storytelling reminds me of Jonathan Franzen’s novels.

Is there anything noteworthy about the book?

Moonglow was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards.

With what feeling did the book leave you?

I was satisfied when I finished the book. It is kind of a long book and I laughed out loud multiple times; I may have cried once or twice as well. The graphic depictions of life in Germany toward the end of World War II were heart-wrenching. I am heartened to read about people who have overcome much greater tragedy and suffering than I have these days.

Who else might like this book?

I think this book would appeal to a range of readers: people interested in memoir, biography, literature, or the history of space travel; fans of Michael Chabon; engineers or future engineers; and people in the military would benefit from reading this book.
By the way, I have left out a lot of major details about this book.

With what would you pair this book?

Model rockets, like the ones I built, painted, and launched with my father!

Want to review something you’ve read or watched for the library blog? Let us know by filling out the Durham Tech Book or Media Review form

What We’re Reading: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

From the author who taught us that writing and life was best accomplished “bird by bird”, or one slow mindful step at a time, comes her message of finding hope in the midst of chaos. Published in 2018, readers today in pandemic spring will recognize themselves in the first sentence: “I am stockpiling antibiotics for the apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen.”

Title: Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Author: Anne Lamott

Genre:  Self-help book, Memoir, Essays

Read Great Things 2020 Categories: A book of short stories or essays; A book suggested by a Durham Tech Librarian

This book was read by Susan Baker, Reference Librarian. 

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