THE ARGONAUTS -- an intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (2016, Graywolf Press; 160 pages)
From The New York Times Book Review:
To become a mother is to learn, among many other things, that mothers are treated as both central and peripheral to American culture. “The most important job in the world” is such a sentimental truism that even women who don’t want to have children report having to explain themselves to incredulous busybodies. Yet actual mothering is accorded little social or economic value beyond hazy reverence and pious declarations. Mothers are allowed some authority when it comes to their homes, their children and their bodies; their domain is one of domestic necessity, which is supposed to stand in mute contrast to the wider world of work, of ideas, of rationality, of free will.That, at least, is the traditional binary, though the assumptions behind it are pervasive even among those who otherwise stand in opposition to the traditional and the mainstream. In “The Argonauts,” the poet and critic Maggie Nelson recalls an art history seminar she attended with the scholars Jane Gallop and Rosalind Krauss. Gallop talked about being photographed as a mother with her infant son, wanting to suggest that motherhood had some significance beyond the “troublingly personal, anecdotal, self-concerned”; Krauss, who helped found the poststructural journal October, wanted to keep the structural divide pristine. As Nelson remembers it, the undercurrent of Krauss’s argument was that discussion of such photos was “contaminating serious academic space” and “Gallop’s maternity had rotted her mind.”
Read the rest of the review here
Find this title in our catalog: The Argonauts
Recommended by: Brooke
Josephine Baker by Catel Muller (art) & Jose-Luis Bocquet (text) (2017, SelfMadeHero; 496 pages)
This is the latest graphic biography by French creative team Catel and Bocquet, 500 glorious pages of dancing and dissent dedicated to dancer, civil rights activist, supporter of the Resistance, first black star on the world stage and mother to the “Rainbow Tribe”: Josephine Baker.
Josephine was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the 1930s she rose to fame. From London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires, audiences roared. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, she devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliation she had for so long suffered personally. She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s Josephine Baker adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds. They became the "Rainbow Tribe."
By the end of this amazing volume, readers will fall in love with a woman who was a victim of racism throughout her life and who taught a beautiful lesson to all with her decision to sing of love and liberty until the day she died.
The black and white illustrations in Josephine Baker are gorgeous. The book also includes an extraordinary timeline and a fantastic and complete appendix of biographical notes of main and secondary characters in Josephine´s story, accompanied by portraits, in order of appearance in the story.
A jewel. Don´t miss this book.
Find this title in our catalog: Josephine Baker
Recommended by: Maite
EVERYTHING IS TEETH -- a deeply moving graphic memoir from the author of the award-winning author of "All the Birds, Singing"
Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld (2016, Pantheon; 128 pages)
Evie Wyld has created a fantastic book, a book in which words and pictures are in perfect harmony. The illustrations are the work of Joe Sumner. Both Wyld and Sumner live in London, but Evie Wyld used to spend her summers in the heat of coastal Australia when she was a little girl. There she initiated her passion and captivation with sharks, by their innate ruthlessness and immeasurable power. Sharks have lived since then in her imagination, and that fact is the origin of this moving graphic memoir, a memoir, like many others, about family and love and loss, but also a memoir about “the irresistible forces that, like sharks, course through life unseen, ready to emerge at any moment.”
The black and white illustrations and the story haunt the reader. Words one could use to describe the experience of reading Everything is Teeth are poetic, suspenseful, moving, honest, and eerily intimate. An extraordinary evocative beauty weaves the story with the help of pictures that mimic an old black-and-white film.
A different reading for those looking for head-spinners.
Find this title in our catalog: Everything is Teeth
Recommended by: Maite
PIECES OF ME: RESCUING MY KIDNAPPED DAUGHTERS -- one woman's powerful and inspiring triumph in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds
Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters by Lizbeth Meredith (2016, She Writes Press; 312 pages)
On a dark, cold winter afternoon in Anchorage in 1994, Lizbeth Meredith went to retrieve her four- and six-year-old daughters from daycare after their regular two-day visit with her abusive, violent ex-husband, only to find them missing. Her non-custodial ex had kidnapped them and taken them to Greece – his home country.
What follows is one brave young woman’s nightmarish two-year struggle to get her daughters back, no matter the cost. And that cost was steep. Twenty-nine years old and just off food stamps, Lizbeth now faced a daunting task – how to navigate her way through the maze of international laws and lawyers, treaties, confusion, and doublespeak to regain her children. Somehow, through it all, Meredith manages to not only keep it together, but maintain a sense of humor, a remarkable feat given the way she was treated by many of the people whose job it was to assist her. Perhaps worst of all is the Anchorage police officer originally assigned to the case, who, it turns out, deliberately attempted to sabotage the author’s lawful effort to retrieve her daughters. But Lizbeth also encounters boundless generosity and kindness on her odyssey, from friends and strangers in Anchorage and Greece who helped her along the way.
This is an unforgettable, un-put-downable tale told by a courageous and remarkable woman. Pieces of Me reads, at times, like a gripping, suspense-filled thriller, packed with international intrigue, high-powered diplomats and shady, Greek private eyes. You can’t wait to turn the page to see what happens next. But it’s also a haunting memoir of domestic violence, abuse, and ultimately, one mother’s powerful and rousing triumph in the face of incredible adversity.
Well written and fast-paced, Pieces of Me is an important, honest, and heartrending story of how a naïve young girl became an incredibly strong, brave, and persistent woman who refused to give up, no matter how insurmountable the odds.
An inspiring and gripping true story.
Find this title in our catalog: Pieces of Me
Recommended by: Greg
THIS IS WHAT A LIBRARIAN LOOKS LIKE -- photos of 220 librarians and their thoughts on what it means to be a librarian
This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access To Information by Kyle Cassidy (2017, Black Dog & Leventhal; 240 pages)
I’ll admit the title of this book caused a knee-jerk groan and a sense of apprehension before opening it. I feared the book would be full of cliché images – not so much of elderly women in cardigans & glasses – but fear of pink spiky hair and Dewey Decimal tattoos aimed to destroy the traditional stereotype. Thankfully, this book has a little of both but much more, and functions as a good reminder to not judge a book by its cover.
Cassidy’s book features images and quotes from 200 librarians and aspiring librarians from across the country. The featured individuals are diverse, both as people and profession covering all aspects of librarianship and American culture. Sure, some of the clichés are here but it would be censoring an aspect of librarianship if they weren’t and censorship is very unbecoming for librarians.
Although one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the librarian’s choice of how to present themselves for this book is acceptable to judge. Most photos are professional headshots, especially from those in management positions, but plenty of humor is included too, such as the card catalog shirt worn by Jennifer Snoek-Brown of Tacoma Community College that reads, ‘Never Forget.’
Much more interesting than the visual representation of librarianship is the quote with the corresponding photos. The book can be a quick read, but reading 200 single-sentence explanations of what librarianship means is a lot to process. The key takeaways are libraries are more than books and librarians are expected to provide professional service to every member of our society. The other detail that jumps out is the passion and dedication to the work as exemplified by Nicola McDonald of New York Public Library, who says, ‘I like my job because I get to make a positive impact in people’s lives every day!’
Find this title in our catalog: This Is What a Librarian Looks Like
Recommended by: Andrew
ATLAS OBSCURA: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO THE WORLD'S HIDDEN WONDERS -- a volume packed with wonderful, amazing, fascinating places around the world
Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, & Ella Morton (2016, Workman Publishing Company; 480 pages)
According to Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series Girls and author of Not That Kind of Girl, this book may be the only thing that can still inspire her to leave her apartment. The book can be read as a travel guide, as an encyclopedia of curiosities and marvels, or as one of the most wonderful and stranger books published lately. The reader can choose. Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro found haunted hotels and the mouth of hell to travel to. High-wire artist Philippe Petit found that, since life is short and the planet is filled with curiosities, this book is a must-have as a guide. Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman, declared after reading it that this is the kind of book that you want to pack in your workaday life and head out to places you'd never have dreamed of going, to see things you could not even have imagined.
What I found after reading it is that it is impossible to absorb all the information if you read it only once. This is a book to read over and over again, one to keep on your nightstand. I also learned information about my country of origin that I wasn't aware of. I learned about Don Justo's Self-Built Cathedral in Mejorada del Campo, Madrid. Don Justo is a former monk with no experience in architecture, construction, or engineering, who has been building a cathedral out of recycled and donated materials since 1961!
The goal of the book was to create a catalog of all the places, people, and things that inspire our sense of wonder. It is really a cabinet of curiosities that, for the authors, is meant to inspire wonderlust as much as wanderlust. I think they've succeeded. The reader can explore all the continents, and there are special chapters for Canada and the USA. Alaska has a place too. The reader will learn about spirit houses, the mukluk land, the Lady of the Lake, the Aurora Ice Museum, and the Adak National Forest, among other wonders.
I would recommend this book to any curious soul out there, to travelers, and to encyclopedia lovers. A must.
Find this title in our catalog: Atlas Obscura
Recommended by: Maite
I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi (2017, Henry Holt and Co.; 272 pages)
The hugely popular blogger Luvvie-Ajayi, creator of AwesomelyLuvvie.com, brings us a book to inspire us to good behavior, and she does so in a sharp and funny side-eye style. This is the perfect book for those readers who love to laugh aloud. The reader actually may be unable to stop laughing. The author is very clear about her starting point: humans are flawed beings, and I´m Judging You addresses everything "from the quirks that earn my shallower-than-a-Snapple-cap gripes to the really problematic things people do that leave the world worse than we found it."
The book is divided into four parts, and each one focuses on a topic: Life, Culture, Social Media, and Fame. There is also an epilogue with a great title: "Do Something that Matters." From reflections on "Why Must You Suck at Friendship," to "Racism is for Assholes" (my favorite), "The Privilege Principle" (not bad at all), "Nobody Wins at the Feminism Olympics," "Your Facebook is My Favorite Soap Opera," "Dumbed-Down News," "So You´re Kind of a Big Deal on the Internet," to the last one, "The Unreal World," the reader can go from laughter to laughter non-stop.
"We are all annoying and do assholish things every single day. Just think of the people who are sitting at the back of the plane, and the moment the flight lands they jump up. Ma'am, you are in seat 35G. WHERE ARE YOU GOING? There are 173 people in front of you, and they also cannot wait to get off. What are you about to do from your window seat in the back row? Will you magically appear in the front of the plane? No. Please have a seat, because your turn to deplane ain´t coming for like ten good minutes. Oh, people. We´re the worst.¨
Everyone knows somebody who would truly enjoy this book. Check it out.
Find this title in our catalog: I'm Judging You
Recommended by: Maite
WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE: A MOTHER'S PROMISE TO HONOR HER DAUGHTER'S MEMORY -- a poignant and powerful book dealing with the author's daughter's death, and her decision to die with dignity
Wild and Precious Life by Deborah Ziegler (2017, Ebury Press; 352 pages)
“She’s taking me on a bucket list trip. I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska.”
“Bucket list?” The woman looked confused.
“I have a brain tumor and less than six months to live,” Brittany said in a conversational tone of voice.
Brittany Maynard’s interaction with a stranger aboard a sightseeing boat tour at Tracy Arm is a testament to her strength when faced with terminal illness. Deborah Ziegler’s Wild and Precious Life is a celebration of her daughter’s life. It is the story of Brittany’s life but also addresses her death and circumstances surrounding it that brought the Ziegler family national attention. Brittany died on November 1, 2014 after ingesting prescribed medicine protected under Oregon’s right to die laws. The award-winning documentary How to Die in Oregon had just been released when Brittany received her prognosis. The Ziegler/Maynard family resided in California but moved to Oregon to die with dignity and was in the national spotlight in the weeks preceding her death.
Earlier this year when I was working at Austin Public Library, my branch screened How to Die in Oregon as part of a monthly documentary program. I invited the founder of Texas Death With Dignity, Cindy Merrill, to attend the event and learned my first lesson on this topic in her response to my invitation. I used the term "assisted suicide" and received a quick slap on the wrist, learning how important language is regarding this sensitive topic. Advocates of right to die laws do not view ending terminal illness with dignity and reduced suffering as "assisted suicide," for a number of reasons relating to both words. Under existing right to die laws, there is no assistance. Everyone that chooses to end their suffering is doing so without assistance and with sound mind. Loved ones, and state laws, also do not view such deaths as "suicides" – the cause of death is the terminal illness and the medicine ends the suffering. The term "assisted suicide" is at the root of the controversy of the topic. The term is associated with "Dr Death" Kevorkian and has implications that family and friends may be actively involved with the death of a loved one.
Wild and Precious Life is neither dark nor sad. It is the story of Brittany’s full life, which happens to end at a young age and with some control easing the suffering. Death With Dignity is not assisted suicide. After Brittany Maynard passed, her mother moved back to California and advocated for right to die laws, which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in 2015. In states without right to die laws, hospice patients and other terminally ill patients are often prescribed morphine to be administered by untrained loved ones to reduce pain. Right to die laws place the responsibility, and provide instructions, to the patient.
Wild and Precious Life is Brittany’s story and How to Die in Oregon provides more insight to the topic for interested parties. Sitka Public Library has other interesting books in our collection that provide wider perspective on the uncomfortable topic of mortality including All of Us: Americans Talk about the Meaning of Death by Patricia Anderson. All of Us is a collection of interviews and essays from 60 individuals from diverse backgrounds that broadens perspective and inspires the reader to enjoy life.
Find this title in our catalog: Wild and Precious Life
Recommended by: Andrew
THE COURAGEOUS FOLLOWER: STANDING UP TO & FOR OUR LEADERS -- a comprehensive guide for helping the leaders of an organization use their power wisely
The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To & For Our Leaders by Ira Chaleff (1995, Berrett-Koehler Pub; 494 pages)
This is a book about “followership,” a category that, according to Ira Chaleff, you won't find if you scroll through the subject catalog at the Library of Congress. You will find “leadership” and hundreds of books on the subject. But you will only find a handful of articles and books on “followership.” This book is one of the best on that subject and it was born out of a question about the systematic destruction of six million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II. The question was: How could a whole country follow a vicious leader to the logical conclusions of this psychosis? The author of the book explains: “This mass support for a psychotic leader may well have created the contemptuous association my generation has with the term follower.”
According to the author's reflection on this, proximity and courage are the critical variables in the prevention of the abuse of power, and those are the variables he kept in mind while writing a book for and about the followers who serve closely to a leader. He affirms that there is a need for dynamic models of followership that balances and support dynamic leadership and helps us embrace rather than reject the identity of follower because the model speaks to our courage, power, integrity, responsibility, and sense of service.
The book proposes a proactive view of the follower's role, bringing it into parity with the leader's role, a parity that is possible when we recognize that leaders rarely use their power wisely or effectively over long periods unless they are supported by followers who have the stature to help them to do so.
Filled with practical advice and remarkable insight, and keeping in mind that everyone is a follower at least some of the time, this book is highly recommended to both leaders and followers interested in organizational transformation to fosters a climate that encourages courageous followership for the benefit of their organizations. Brilliant reading.
Find this title in our catalog: The Courageous Follower
Recommended by: Maite
THE ENNEAGRAM: UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF AND THE OTHERS IN YOUR LIFE -- a framework for understanding ourselves and those around us
The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life by Helen Palmer (1988, Harper & Row; 392 pages)
This is a book about a tool to self exploration and it is based on the model of the Enneagram. It is both an ancient and modern model based on an ancient Sufi teaching that describes nine different personality types and their interrelationships. The Enneagram helps us to recognize our own type, cope with issues, understand our work associates, lovers, family, and friends. It is also helpful to appreciate the predisposition that each type has for higher human capacities such as empathy, omniscience, and love. The Enneagram is considered part of an oral teaching tradition, and the material is still best transmitted by seeing and hearing groups of people of the same type speak about their lives.
The book is a compendium of the model. It is divided into two parts: the first one is an orientation to the Enneagram and includes a background of the system and an introduction to the types, and chapters that explain attention, intuition structure of the Enneagram diagram, and contributors to the system. The second part focuses on the nine points of the Enneagram, and includes a chapter per personality type. There is also an appendix with empirical research on the Enneagram model.
The book is an invaluable resource for those interested in practical guides to analyze systems of personality types to understand oneself and others in our lives. Fascinating and helpful, a must for those who need to work in a team.
Find this title in our catalog: The Enneagram
Recommended by: Maite