Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Library Showcase: Genetics, Medical Ethics, and more!



HeLa cells (Pixabay.com)

This semester we are launching PVCC’s second annual One Book Project! On Club Day (next Tuesday) free copies of this year’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, will be available at the One Book table while supplies last! The book tells the true story of an African American woman from Virginia who lost her life to cancer in 1951 but gained immortality through a perpetuating cell line that revolutionized medical research. 

Henrietta’s story explores many topics, including medical ethics, the study of genetics, cancer, the discrimination of the Jim Crow era, and the persistence of socio-economic inequalities. You can learn about these issues and more in the latest library showcase (now in its new location in the Library Teaching Room!) Here are a few highlights from the display:

The disease that took Henrietta’s life has plagued humanity for thousands of years. The history of cancer from ancient days to modern times is traced in this fantastic, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

If reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has stirred your interest in science, try The Cell: A Very Short Introduction by Terence Allen & Graham Cowling or Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by Tony Hope for a quick information fix on these topics!

Many of Henrietta’s struggles reflect the injustices of the Jim Crow Era that impacted millions of African Americans. Read more of their stories in Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South edited by William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Korstad.

Cells are the building blocks of life, but, for most of us, our cells aren’t a topic to which we give much thought. In The Language of Cells: Life as Seen Under the Microscope, Spencer Nadler describes the enormous impact that these microscopic parts can have on our human lives. 

Joycelyn Elders is very familiar with the discrimination that has plagued medical care in the United States. The great-granddaughter of slaves, she attended medical school in Arkansas and went on to become the Surgeon General of the United States. Her inspirational story is recorded in Joycelyn Elders, M.D. by Jocelyn Elders and David Chanoff.

The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon, and Kevin Cannon is a graphic novel that offers a fun and unique way to learn about genetics!

Curious about other revolutionary medical discoveries? The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicine by Clifford A. Pickover covers the invention of eyeglasses, the first organ transplants, and other fascinating moments in scientific history—including the discovery of Henrietta's HeLa cells (see page 386).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Books Are In

The summer semester is over, and our two week grace period until the fall has begun. What are your plans? We hope they include dropping by the library to visit. We've got quite a few new books, and a whole list of recommendations.

Take a trip around the globe with our latest fiction. The City of Devi by Manil Suri explores the tumultuous streets of Mumbai through Sarita and Jaz, strangers searching a city in turmoil for the lovers they have lost. The Seventh Day by Yu Hua traverses contemporary China through the eyes of Yang Fei, a man who spends his first seven days in the afterworld revisiting his old life and the people he loved.

NoViolet Bulawayo examines the "sacrifices and mixed rewards of assimilating" in We Need New Names, a story that begins with ten-year-old Darling, an adventurous girl who leaves Zimbabwe for suburban America, only to discover that the American Dream is no closer, or easier, to grasp. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores similar themes, following the lovers Ifemelu and Obinze through Nigeria, London, and the United States as they seek to build lives outside of their homeland.

Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee chronicles a woman's transformation from widow in a small Indian village to the wife of a middle-aged Iowa banker. And in The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri, seventeen-year-old Meera's rebellion against her confined life takes her across the landscape of newly independent India. How I Became A Nun by C├ęsar Aira paints a darkly humorous portrait of modern Argentina, where a six-year-old child's adventures "[begin] with cyanide poisoning and ends in strawberry ice cream."

We also have a few nonfiction recommendations for you. Check out Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution by Laurie Penny, a discussion of modern feminism that doesn't pull its punches. The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley explores the history of why we are fascinated by murder. Sarah Ruhl gives us a unique collection of essays in 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. And in What If?, Randall Munroe, the creator of popular webcomic, xkcd, looks at the science behind everything from global windstorms to the Facebook of the dead.

You can find all these and more in our catalog. Happy reading!