What We’re Reading: The Influencing Machine

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. Written by Brooke Gladstone and illustrated by Josh Neufeld

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

Title: The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
Author: Brooke Gladstone and illustrated by Josh Neufeld

Genre: Social Science, Graphic Novel, Historical Overview

#ReadGreatThings2019 Category: A social science book; A book about technology; A book that will help you with one of your personal goals [if increasing your media literacy is one of your goals]

Check out our blog post on the Read Great Things 2019 Challenge


Why did you choose to read this book?W

Meredith: Well, Courtney recommended it to me. Since this book is about the history of the press/media and how it gets made and influenced in our modern world, I was especially interested from an information literacy standpoint. I mean, knowing how our news gets made matters, right? [Spoiler: The argument made in this book is yes.]

What did you like about it? 

Meredith: In general, I’m interested in learning about the history and contexts of things and this book really goes into (in a pleasant visual format) how media and government have this push-pull (repeat) relationship. I really like how Brooke Gladstone (an NPR journalist) investigates things that go into our modern media marketplace like money, bias, and information overload. She also calls out problematic practices in journalism. 

What feeling did the book leave you with?

Meredith: It left me feeling optimistic, actually! I genuinely believe that the world is full of the capacity for positive change and being informed and aware of the biases and structures around us matters and can help contribute towards making those positive changes.  

Image from page xxii of Brooke Gladstone's The Influencing Machine (illustrated by Josh Neufeld): Back in 1922, Walter Lippman wrote..."Let him cast a stone who never passed on as the real inside trugh what he had heard someone say who knew no more than he did. For the real environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. And although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage with it." But now, with most of the media's resources at our fingertips, we can seek beyond mediated interpretations of events. We can choose how much to simplify our worldview. When coverage is contradictory or confusing, we can read the original documents, or track down a dubious claim to its source... ...or seek sensible views outside out comfort zone. It's risky. John Dewey once said, "Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the world in jeopardy." But, as Spider-Man once said (quoting his Uncle Ben), "With great power comes great responsibility."

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.

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.

What We’re Currently Reading: Summer Reads Edition!

In a repeating series highlighting current and recent reads around Durham Tech, here’s Durham Tech’s awesome faculty and staff’s current or recently finished summer reads:

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.

Are you already reading for the Durham Tech Read Great Things 2018 Challenge? Find out more about the Read Great Things Challenge here.

 

What We’re Reading: Monstress (Vol. 1 & 2)

This series was read by Meredith Lewis, Orange County Campus Librarian.

Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic Book

#ReadGreatThings2018 Category: A book that contains a supernatural creature [loads], occurrence [more than one], or event [very much yes]

Find out more about the Read Great Things Challenge here.

Why did you choose to read this book?

I picked up Monstress Vol. 1 a year or so ago in an effort to check out some new graphic novels. The graphics were beautiful and there was a weird multi-tailed cat in one of the preview images. I’m a simple person–I may have chosen it for both the positive reviews and the cats. It’s also really beautifully illustrated (and terribly bloody and twisted). 

I chose to continue the series because it’s dark and fascinating. The main character, Maika Halfwolf, is scarred emotionally from a war between entities in her world that left a huge number of beings dead and many more brutalized, but her physical scarring comes from a terrifying (and very hungry) monster that she shares her body with. She reluctantly takes on a half-fox and two-tailed necromancing talking cat as sidekicks. Look, it’s really weird (as I say out loud frequently while reading it), but really interesting. And it’s not as whimsical as the animals make it seem.

What did you like about it?

Maika’s exploration of where she ends and the monster begins is really fascinating, especially since they can see into each others’ memories. The second volume starts to clear up some of the mysteries introduced in the first volume, but I still have more questions! (Volume 3 comes out later this year, so I’ll just have to wait unless I want to buy individual issues of the comic.) 

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

The second one reminds me ever so slightly of Pirates of the Carribean… but that’s only because there’s a ship and a terrifying island and ghosts.They do not share a similar tone AT ALL. 

Was there anything noteworthy about the book?

If you’re into awards, this (along with My Favorite Thing is Monsters, also available at the OCC Library) was nominated for a 2018 Eisner Award and Vol. 1 won a Hugo Award last year

Who would you recommend the book to?

If you’re into dark fantasy and beautiful art and weird stories with anthropomorphic animals and half animals and monsters, this is probably going to be your jam. All the trigger warnings, though. 

I found this Hollywood Reporter article interesting, too, for more information: ‘Monstress’: Inside The Fantasy Comic About Race, Feminism And The Monster Within

What We’re Reading: The Secret Game

the secret game: a basketball story in black and white by scott ellsworth book cover

Available at the Main Campus Library (GV 885.72 .N8 E45 2015)

This book was read by Charles Farrow, a Library Technician at the Main Campus Library.

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

#ReadGreatThings2018 Categor(ies): A book about or that features sports AND A book that takes place during or is about a historical event 50 years or more in the past

What is this book about? 

Sunday, March 12, 1944 at 11:00am. The Secret Game.

In this book, Scott Ellsworth writes about a day and time in Durham, North Carolina during the Jim Crow era when two teams from opposite sides of the tracks–Duke and NC Central– ignored Jim Crow laws and decided to play a game that was never supposed to happen. It started out as a challenge, but ended up being more than just a game.

Why did you choose to read this book?

I chose to read this book because of a conversation I had with my son about black athletes in the Hall of Fame from HBCUs and how the historically black colleges and universities that produced them have been overlooked in sports history. We also talked about the history of black athletes at places like the University of Alabama, Duke, and the University of North Carolina and when they were allowed to participate in various sports.

What did you like about it?

I like this book because it brings to light that being an athlete is not just about playing a game. For some, it goes deeper than that. This book reveals a deeper truth that sports are not just about winning and losing. It shows that some of our greatest challenges are not from a physical opponent, but from our own system of beliefs instilled in us from childhood. I like this book because it reveals to the reader that sports transcends race, culture, nationalities and shows us how to overcome barriers and adversity by working together as a team and being a team player.

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

The movie Brian’s Song

What would you pair this book with?

I’d pair this book with an archaeological dig, since that’s how much work the author had to do in order to find out about and report about this game. 

What We’re Reading – Dietland

This book was read by Courtney Bippley and Meredith Lewis.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Title: Dietland

Author: Sarai Walker

Summary: Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.

Why did you choose to read this book?

Courtney: This books is being turned into a TV show this year which checks one of the boxes in the Library’s Read Great Things Challenge 2018. And, the premise was interesting to me.

Meredith: I think I read a review of it? I’m often interested in books that explore themes surrounding how society and women view their own bodies as a part of and as an obstacle in the world.

What did you like about it?

C: I liked a lot of the themes of the book. It has a very feminist bent to it and I enjoyed reading about a character discovering a different way of looking at the world, and herself.

M: As a non-Jennifer in a sea of Jennifers in elementary school especially, I kind of loved that the vigilante lady group was called Jennifer.

What feeling did the book leave you with?

C: When I finished the book I felt like I wanted more from it. There were a lot of supporting characters that I was interesting in and who could have had their own stories told. If a sequel came out (there isn’t one as far as I know) I would definitely pick it up.

M: It made me think about how powerful society’s expectations can be on our own sense of self and what we think we deserve (and tolerate) based on that. Other stuff, too. I thought this was a great book, but (and?) it left me thinking about a lot of things.

Who would you recommend the book to?

C: Anyone who is interested in exploring feminist ideas but is not interested in reading nonfiction essays and wants something a little juicier.

M: Someone who doesn’t mind a book about women behaving “badly” (both by societal and, uh, legal standards) and maybe someone who is identifying with the feelings behind the current #metoo movement.

What would you pair this book with?

C: I would pair this book with a plate of chocolate oatmeal cookies to be eaten while driving an M113 armored personnel vehicle. Like you do.

M: I’d pair it with Roxane Gay’s Hunger. Similar themes, different genres.

What We Read in 2017: The Durham Tech Faculty and Staff Favorites Edition

In a repeating series highlighting current and recent reads around Durham Tech, here’s Durham Tech’s awesome faculty and staff’s favorite reads from all of 2017:

As always, if you’re interested in a title, check out the master list of the books below and their availability to see if you can find it at Durham Tech or if you’ll need to request it through interlibrary loan (find this request under eforms). Need help doing either of these things or don’t yet have a library card? Ask in the library.

Here’s the list of Durham Tech’s favorite reads of 2017 (and their availability) in pdf format: Durham Tech Best Reads of 2017


Is your department, club, campus, committee, or subgroup interested in participating in a What We’re Reading blog post? The goal of the What We’re Reading posts is to highlight books, professional literature, blogs, or any other things you might be currently reading or have recently finished. Contact OCC librarian Meredith Lewis for more information.

What We’re Reading (& New in the OCC Library): From Here to Eternity

from here to eternity by caitlin doughty book cover

Available at the OCC Library on the New Book Shelf

Title: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Genre: Nonfiction — Essay & Travelogue

Why did you choose to read this book?

I saw it as a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards best nonfiction book of 2017 and it seemed interesting– I read both Mary Roach’s Spook and Stiff a few years ago and found the topic of how we as a culture think about death and the afterlife really interesting then, too. This book talks more about cultural practices and beliefs about death and bodies and is a light and engaging read (for real!).

Was there anything noteworthy about the book?

They highlighted a natural burial ground in North Carolina! I thought that was pretty cool.

Who would you recommend the book to?

Anyone interested in learning more about the topic of burial itself, but in a “morbid lite” kind of way. Also anyone interested in diverse cultural practices and beliefs– the book looks at countries from around the world (hence the travelogue part of the genre description).


Additional books mentioned in this post (because yay! books!)–

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach is available at the Main Campus Library in the downstairs stacks (call number BL 535 .R63 2006).

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is available at the Orange County Campus Library on the New Books shelf (call number R 853 .H8 R635 2004).

What We’re Reading: Durham Tech’s Favorite Food-Themed Books

Just a reminder that Durham Tech will be closed Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 23-25.

The Main Campus Library will close at 1:00 on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Regular hours (library and other) resume on all campuses Monday, Nov. 27.


In a repeating series highlighting current and recent reads around Durham Tech and just in time for the season of eating, here’s Durham Tech’s awesome faculty and staff’s favorite culinary or food-related reads:

Need help finding a book in-library or requesting a book through ILL or don’t yet have a library card? Ask in the library.

Have any suggestions of books to add to the list? Email Meredith Lewis, OCC Librarian.


Is your department, club, campus, committee, or subgroup interested in participating in a What We’re Reading blog post? The goal of the What We’re Reading posts is to highlight books, professional literature, blogs, or any other things you might be currently reading or have recently finished. Contact OCC librarian Meredith Lewis for more information.