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.

What We’re Reading-Starless


An image of multiple stars falling at night over a dark landscape.Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.


Continue Reading →

What We’re Reading: Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery

open mic night at westminster cemetary by mary amato book cover

This book was read by Meredith Lewis, the [mostly] Orange County Campus Librarian, and is available for checkout at the Orange County Campus Library.

Title: Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery: A Novel in Two Acts
Author: Mary Amato

Genre: Fantasy [because ghosts talking and stuff]. Is there a “imagined conversations between ghosts in graveyards” fiction genre? Because this fits that one, too.

#ReadGreatThings2018 Category: A book that contains a supernatural creature, occurrence, or event

Find out more about the Read Great Things Challenge here.

Why did you choose to read this book?

The summary alone did it for me: A teenager wakes up in a graveyard, but instead of the numerous other ways that story could go, she discovers she’s dead… and already in trouble with the appointed rule-keeper of the cemetery due to language (strike 1) and emotional outbursts (strike 2). Lacy is charming and trying to be as self-aware as a new ghost can be while the other inhabitants of the graveyard both rely on their routine and want something more. Oh, and dead Edgar Allan Poe is there. Need I say more? 

What did you like about it?

It was just overall very charming. I also really like books where historical figures show up in some way. Oh, and there’s the whole graveyard fiction thing, which I also like (apparently). But seriously, the characters were engaging and it wasn’t too heavy– sometimes you just need a light read.

Who would you recommend the book to?

Anyone who needs a light read this time of year. Anyone who needs a little whimsy with their spirit of Edgar Allan Poe. Fans of open mic nights. 

What would you pair this book with? 

A little bit of bravery to stand up to “how things have always been done”… and some cinnamon crumb cake. 

How about some book friends (a.k.a. related reading recommendations)?

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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.

Crash Course in Media Literacy

Media literacy is a topic that comes up often these days. But, what does it actually mean? What counts as media? What does it entail? How can we teach students the skills needed to digest media critically?

There is a Crash Course for that!

Click through the embedded video below or find the full playlist here.

Crash Course is a YouTube channel that was started by John Green and his brother Hank Green. (Yes, it’s that John Green.) These educational videos are free to watch, though if you are inspired to donate to their patreon it is appreciated. The videos span topics from history to science to economics. And, now they’ve added media literacy! The host of the media literacy videos is Jay Smooth. He guides viewers through twelve videos on media literacy past, present, and future. If you’re looking for just the skills portion skip to video number eleven, but all of them are worth watching. You can show these videos in class, embed them in your Sakai site, or even just mention them to students who are looking for some clarification when working toward understanding media.

Visit the Durham Tech Library’s Evaluating News Sources libguide for more resources on media and information literacy.

Check us out!: New Books at the OCC

Looking for a fresh fall read? Check out some of the new additions to the OCC library collection.

Interested in one of these, but located on a campus other than the wonderful Orange County Campus? Talk to your friendly neighborhood Durham Tech librarian to ask about transferring a book to your campus for pick-up.

Fall Into New Books

Girl reading a book by candlelight with a hot drink and a pumpkin and cookies.

Gif by Tumblr user @ Pati Cmak.

As we enter the season of reading by the fire with fuzzy socks and pumpkin spice lattes (my favorite season) here are some excellent choices of books to get cozy with while watching the leaves fall.