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What We’re Reading (and Watching)

Library Associate Professor Linda Brew is a Reference and Instruction Librarian who serves as a subject liaison to departments of Communication Sciences, Education, Integrated Professional Studies, Psychology, and Social Work. She shares some of her recent favorites books and DVDs from the Bailey/Howe collection.

Destiny Disrupted book cover

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Muslim Eye by Tamim Ansary
If you’ve ever longed to be able to sit down with a thoughtful, articulate, patient Muslim to discuss the state of the world and how we got here – this is the book for you. Ansary takes the reader from the birth of Mohammed and Islam to 2001, and he does it so clearly that even someone with no background in the subject at all can follow the thread. He’s a storyteller with experience as a textbook writer, and his obvious passion for the subject makes this book a page-turner right from the start. Highly recommended.

Hear Tamim Ansary read an excerpt from his memoir West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story.

Unpacking the Bozes

Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry by Donald Hall
Hall is a well known New Hampshire poet with many books and honors, including Poet Laureate of the United States (2006-2007), to his credit. In this volume, he “unpacks,” shares and considers his memories — the combination of an elderly man’s idiosyncratic recollections with a poet’s sense of language is distinctive and moving. And what a life — he took classes at Harvard with John Ciardi and Archibald MacLeish, rejected Allen Ginsberg’s work for the Paris Review, taught during the 1960’s at Ann Arbor. I’ve studied gerontology from the traditional viewpoints of sociology, psychology and biology — Hall’s work is a poetic lens on what he calls “the thin air of antiquity’s planet.”

Watch Hall’s 2007 poetry reading at the University of Virginia.

The Closers book cover

The Closers by Michael Connelly
Connelly, a former crime reporter in Los Angeles, writes fast-paced gritty detective novels featuring an ensemble cast who appear and reappear in each others’ stories. I’m particularly fond of Harry Bosch, his updated version of the classic hard-boiled, heavy-drinking LA investigator with a hidden vein of idealism that keeps him on the job. Harry’s motto is “Everybody counts or nobody counts.” He will investigate the deaths of society’s lost souls with the same attention he gives to the rich and famous — even when his supervisors tell him to lay off. Great summer reading (is this summer?).

Watch Michael Connelly give a video tour of some the locations featured in The Closers:

Chinese Bpx DVD cover

The Chinese Box (DVD) directed by Wayne Wang
This movie traces events in the the lives of several characters in Hong Kong during the transition year, 1997. John (Jeremy Irons) is an expat journalist from Britain, in love with Vivian (Gong Li), a bar manager from mainland China. John documents life on the streets with a video camera and becomes involved with a young Chinese woman named Jean (Maggie Cheung) who tells conflicting tales about her scarred face. Images, stories, truths and lies – all interwoven like the complex history of the great city itself. I visited Hong Kong in 2007 and this portrait feels vividly accurate to me.

Watch the trailer for Chinese Box:

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