Monday, July 20, 2009

Fifty Books That Everyone Should Read

The July 13 edition of Newsweek highlights fifty books we should all read. "Now." Follow the link to see the full article, but read on to see how many of the books are available at the Jessup Library. (Right click on the links to open a new window.)

Of the 50 books on the list, the Jessup Library collection includes [drumroll, please...] 23. That's almost half the books, which is pretty impressive considering what a wide variety of books they chose.

So which ones can you get from the Jessup Library?

The #1 must-read book on the list, for starters: The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope is on the shelves in the library, waiting to go home with someone.
#2, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright is also available in the library.
#5, The Bear, by William Faulkner, is in the library as a part of a collection called Go Down, Moses, and Other Stories.
#10, God: A Biography, by Jack Miles, is also something you can check out of the library by using your student number or your MyPVCC username.
Moving right along to #11, we have The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry, a noted environmentalist and essayist.
And you'll probably recognize #12 if you've taken English 112 here at PVCC: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor.
#16 is an oldie but a goodie: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. You have a few choices if you decide to borrow Whitman's classic work from the library at PVCC--it's included in two collections: Complete Poetry and Collected Prose or Collected Writings; it's also available in an e-book on NetLibrary (you'll need an account to view this--contact us and we'll be happy to set you up with one); and it's available on its own in two editions.
#17 is for the folks who are thinking, "But what about the scientists among us? Didn't they recommend any books for us?" The answer is yes, they did, and we have this one: The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin.
Maybe science isn't your thing, but you like to read nonfiction.
#18 is a good choice for you: City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. Whyte. The Newsweek summary says, "Using years of painstaking research, Whyte proved that the way to make a city work lies in the details--the width of a park bench, the height of a subway step." Makes you want to go to the Downtown Mall and measure the width of the benches, doesn't it?
Mark Twain's books appear as a group in #21--the Mississippi books. We have a long list of Mark Twain titles available through the library, including those set in Mississippi, like Life on the Mississippi.
#24 is set far, far from Mississippi--it's all about one particular doctor and his monster: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (This one is also available in an e-book format--don't forget to ask for a NetLibrary account.)
#28 is a much more recent title: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, written in the early eighties.
#29 takes us out of the world of fiction, back into the world of nonfiction: American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006.
#30 is another book of nonfiction, also historical in nature, but with a very personal connection to the author. In Lost, Daniel Mendelsohn, a U.Va. grad, writes about his search for information on relatives who died in the Holocaust.
#31 brings us back to the world of fiction, but stays with the theme of family: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
#33 is classic from a previous century: Kim by Rudyard Kipling--also available as an e-book.
#35 is a novel set in England in the "ruthless decade" of the 1980s: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
#37 is not just a novel, it's a graphic novel: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
American Pastoral by Philip Roth is #40. It's a novel set in the 60s, during a time of major political upheaval.
#41 is The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, and it's about nature--four plants in particular: potatoes, tulips, marijuana, and apple trees.
#43 is described by Newsweek as "an elegant short-form primer on the machinery of Washington's morality." If that interests you, check out Senator Joe McCarthy by Richard H. Rovere.
#45 isn't officially on the shelves yet, but it's coming soon. Keep your eye on upcoming new-books lists for The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
#47 is something most students read in high school or college, but if you've missed it, or want to refresh your memory, you can get it at the library: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

And last, but certainly not least, is, according to Newsweek, "One of a brilliant series of brutal, hilarious and vivid crime novels featuring Harlem police detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson; no one ever wrote better about race." That's a description of #49 on the list: Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes.

If any of these books interest you, stop by the library. We'll be glad to help you find one, or maybe even two!