Category Archives: 2011

Fall 2011 Leisure Reading

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates.  In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PS3555.G292 V57 2010
Location: Tisch Book Stacks

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire.  In charting the mistakes and joys of Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PS3556.R352 F74 2010
Location: Tisch Book Stacks

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

“Through the lives of the eleven main characters (each with their own chapter), Rachman chronicles the rise and fall of a Rome-based international newspaper, which bears a striking resemblance to his former employer, the International Herald Tribune.  This imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper’s rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder’s intentions during an era when print news is giving way to the Internet age.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PR9199.4.R323 I57 2011
Location: Tisch Book Stacks and Tisch Tower Cafe

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.  Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs.  Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more.  But will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?”

Tisch Library Call Number: PS3619.I56294 M35 2011
Location: Tisch Tower Cafe

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

“Henrietta Lacks, a poor married, African American mother of five, died at 31 in Baltimore from a vicious form of cervical cancer.  During her treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital and after her death there in 1951, researchers harvested some of her tumor cells.  This wasn’t unusual.  Though Lacks consented to treatment, no one asked permission to take her cells; the era’s scientists considered it fair to conduct research on patients in public wards since they were being treated for free.  What was unusual was what happened next.”

Tisch Library Call Number: RC265.6.L24 S55 2009
Location: Tisch Book Stacks

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

What happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple–journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday–who should have stayed behind their resort’s walls.  The tide of that event carries Little Bee back to their world, which she claims she couldn’t explain to the girls from her village because they’d have no context for its abundance and calm.  But she shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world, where any distance can be crossed in a day–with the right papers–and “no one likes each other, but everyone likes U2.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PR6103.L43 L58 2010
Location: Tisch Tower Cafe

Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.  Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion.  The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years”

Tisch Library Call Number: RC275 .M85 2010
Location: Tisch Book Stacks

Room by Sarah Donoghue

In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma.  But Jack is different in a big way–he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick.  For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son.  When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary.  Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue’s Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances.  A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PR6054.O547 R66 2010
Location: Tisch Library Book Stacks and Tisch Tower Cafe

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

“An unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future.  Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved.  In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.  Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.”

Tisch Library Call Number: PR9199.3.A8 O7 2003
Location: Tisch Book Stacks

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Reviewed by Julie-Ann Bryson, Library Assistant at the Lilly Music Library

The Hunger Games is set in the not-too-distant future, in a country called Panem that exists where the United States once did.  The Capitol is the center of government and high society, and the other twelve Districts make up the labor forces of the country. Each year, as punishment to the Districts for having once attempted to revolt against the Capitol, two young Tributes from each District are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death where only one child goes home as the living Victor.  When Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, the adventure begins. What happens to Katniss and the other tributes in the arena make this a compelling, entertaining, and disturbing novel that you won’t be able to put down!

Action, humor, friendship, rebellion, bloodshed, a strong female heroine, reality television at its worst, and even a little bit of romance… The Hunger Games has it all!

Read it now before the movie adaptation hits theaters in March 2012!  Check out the other two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, also in the Tisch collection.

Tisch Library Call Number: PZ7.C6837 Hun 2008
Location: Tisch Tower Cafe

The Moral Lives of Animals

The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson, Lecturer in English, Tufts University

Bloomsbury Press, New York 2011

Reviewed by Regina Raboin, Science and Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning Research & Instruction Librarian, Tisch Library

My father was in the military and our small family of three traveled extensively up and down the East Coast of the United States. At the time I was an only child and lonely, so I asked my parents for a dog. And not just any dog – but an “Asta” – a Wire Haired Fox Terrier just like the dog in “The Thin Man” films and television show. We named him MacDuff (my parents were great readers) and we were inseparable. He understood me; he laughed, played and pouted with me. If insulted, which often happened when not offered a plate of spaghetti, he would turn his back to you and then turn his head over his shoulder to look at you with hurt eyes. My parents said he was just a dog, but I knew better. MacDuff was more than a dog — he was a reincarnated person.

Dale Peterson’s latest book, The Moral Lives of Animals, asks the reader to look beyond the most commonly held belief that only humans are moral or have the intelligence to reason and analyze behavior and emotions. Using Moby-Dick and the characters of Ahab and Starbuck as representatives of two standard theories of animal behavior and intelligence, Peterson suggests that there is another way to comprehend animal morality. This third way promotes the existence of many animal minds (not an animal mind), which are alien to human minds, yet similar; we have all undergone the process of evolutionary adaptation according to social and ecological needs.

Peterson reviews Judeo-Christian (e.g., the Ten Commandments) and philosophical tenets; he defines “morality” and challenges the reader to accept morality as being as much an animal attribute as human. The concept “Darwinian narcissism” — the “ordinary condition of a species” — is used to show that evolutionary continuity allows for habituation, the every-day routine of an animal’s life, including in humans. While animals and humans readily orient themselves to their own kind’s behavior, we share many behaviors that allow for meaningful understanding and awareness among species.

Morality isn’t an easy subject to define or discuss, but Peterson methodically — yet beautifully — presents the topic through personal and animal stories, literary examples and scientific studies. His use of rules, attachments and assessments makes it easy to follow his argument to its conclusion: that all animals (including humans) share similar thoughts, that is, “subjective mental experiences,” allowing for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence.

There is much in Dale Peterson’s new book The Moral Lives of Animals to absorb, contemplate, understand, and fear. Yes, I fear that human beings might not have the courage to do what Peterson asks of us in his final chapter – to come to peace with the knowledge that we aren’t the only moral beings on this Earth, and to choose “not to destroy what we [do] not entirely understand.”

The Moral Lives of Animals and Dale Peterson’s other works can be found in Tisch Library by doing an author search in the Tufts Catalog.

Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World

Reviewed by Regina Raboin, Science and Environmental Studies Reference Librarian

by Jonathan M. Tisch with Karl Weber
Crown Publishers, New York 2010
Tisch Library Call Number HN18.3 .T57 2010

The Light on the Hill burns bright and is spreading across America.

Jonathan M. Tisch’s (with Karl Weber) new book, Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World, invites private citizens, public servants, non-profit organizations and corporations to transform old models of civic action into new. In asking the question, will 20th century thinking hold back 21st century progress? Mr. Tisch is hopeful that new ways of perceiving and implementing civic activism will answer 21st century challenges. Throughout the book, Mr. Tisch and Mr. Weber weave examples of citizen activism, social and professional entrepreneurship, and corporate philanthropy, bringing to the forefront transformative thinking and new partnerships between people, organizations and corporations.

The authors profile Tufts University’s Tisch College of Active Citizenship and Public Service, illustrating how private organizations foster social activism through integration of active citizenship across all facets of the school (including curriculum), connecting academic rigor with learning outcomes focused on root causes of societal problems and modeling how social activism is open to everyone. Quite simply, Tisch College outlines ways in which America’s education system can develop active citizens.

Corporate leaders such as Pierre and Pam Omidyar, Bill Gates, Alan Solomont and Alan Khazei are presented as examples of how great wealth and corporate social leadership can address social problems using unique and sustainable partnerships.

Public servant leadership is also explored using Michael Bloomberg’s (and others) New York City (NYC) Service program as an example of “a city of citizens”. Mayor Bloomberg believes that active citizenship combined with non-profit, business and city government assistance can help in creating sustainable urban neighborhoods, “…citizen service can make the difference, bridging the gap between what government can do and what needs to be done.” (p. 108)

From a practical point of view each chapter provides sections entitled “Food for Thought, Seeds for Action”, ideas and information on how to pursue and realize civic engagement. The concluding chapter, “To Learn More”, lists fifty-two ways (along with contact information) to become an active citizen.

It’s not surprising the majority of Citizen You’s featured social activists or organizations are Tufts alumni, students, faculty or affiliated organizations. Tufts University is recognized nationally and internationally for promoting social activism through its Tisch College, student organizations, centers and institutes and curriculum. Tufts is known for graduating students who seek positions in fields that are dedicated to civic engagement and activism – and I think that’s something to write about – don’t you?