All posts by Kelci Baughman McDowell

Merry Christmas from San Francisco

To wish you a Merry Christmas from USF Library I share some season’s greetings from the Rare Book Room.

Christmas in California
by Edward Rowland Sill
printed for Caroline and Hudson Poole by John Henry Nash, 1928

San Francisco at Christmas
by Sherwood Anderson
printed for Eleanor Anderson by Ted Lilienthal at Quercus Press, 1941
(excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle, 1939)

I am asked to write a little paean to Christmas, for peoples of San Francisco.  Christianity as a system of thought, of feeling. Time to remember what it's all about.  Oscar Wilde said there had been some Christians before Christ, but none since.  A man is half tempted to believe that, realizing all this is going on in a bitter, bitten world.  Killings, brutally adopted by governments as a system of government, men aplenty here, in our own rich fat land going hungry, men unable to get that thing any decent man most wants, a job, a chance to work and be a man, to stand on his own feet, as a man.  Christianity, as we get it, too much and too often just an abstract thought. "I'll give it lip service if you'll give me immortality." A pretty one-sided bargain that.  San Francisco with the broad Pacific below its hills, the sheer beauty of the city, as it strikes a stranger, a visitor, on a sunshiny day as he stands on one of its hills, or when the fog rolls in ...  The majestic mountains back of it ...  The sunshine, the rich fruit, sea wealth, land wealth, good food, good wine.  A man coming here, lingering a few days, as I have loved to do, drinking it all in, noting the tall beauty of so many of its women, friendliness of its men, getting, while he stays, a feeling of being far away from the ugliness and brutality of war -- world tiredness going out of him ...  All he wants to say to San Francisco is, be gay. Dance in your streets, up and down your hills.  Be glad, glad that you are San Franciscans and that San Francisco is a part of America. In a seemingly damned world we Americans may still, someday, if we can stay off wars, get into our daily lives with one another a bit more of what the figure of Christ really stands for.

 

Two poems for Christmas
by Kenneth Patchen
printed by John Hunter Thomas and sent by USPS to Dr. Albert Shumate in San Francisco by Mr. and Mrs. Patchen in Palo Alto, December 16, 1958

I HAVE LIGHTED THE CANDLES, MARY // I have lighted the candles, Mary... / How softly breathes your little Son / My wife has spread the table / With our best cloth. There are apples, / Bright as red clocks, upon the mantel. / The snow is a weary face at the window. / How sweetly does He sleep // "Into this bitter world, O Terrible Huntsman!" / I say, and she takes my hand -- "Hush, / You will wake Him." // The taste of tears is on her mouth / When I kiss her. I take an apple / And hold it tightly in my fist; / The cold, swollen face of war leans in the window. // They are blowing out the candles, Mary... / The world is a thing gone mad tonight. / O hold Him tenderly, dear Mother, / For his is a kingdom in the hearts of men. (1941) NOTHING HAS CHANGED // And nothing is the same... / those who then willed death / To all men, / Now have it to wield. // Those who light candles / In this darkness tonight, / Know that time is running out. / It is clear now / That the danger for mankind / Exists not so much in instruments of destruction / Not so much in monstrous new devices for mass-murder; / As in the possibility / That a Christmas Eve will come / When no man / Anywhere in the world / Will again commit the mad folly / Of lightning candles / For the table of his house... / As an instance of his love, and of his good will, / To all men, and to all creatures, everywhere. // Then, indeed, will their madness be joined... / And darkness, at last, cover all things. (1958)

If you would like to view any of these materials in person, we invite you to visit the Rare Book Room in Gleeson Library. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Please make note of the library’s holiday schedule, and call ahead to the Rare Book Librarian to make sure of his availability.

Banned Books and Intellectual Freedom

One of the pillars of the Library Bill of Rights set forth by the American Library Association is that “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” One way libraries get to do this is by observing and celebrating Banned Books Week, when we shine a light on books and works of literature that have been banned or challenged.

Last week, September 24 – 30, was Banned Books Week 2017. Gleeson Library partnered with the Department of English to do a readathon of The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks on Thursday, Sept. 28. Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” from The Bean Eaters, was banned in schools in Mississippi and West Virginia in the 1970s. The school districts banned the poem for the supposed sexual connotations of the word “jazz,” according to the Poets.org listing of banned or challenged poetry. We also thought it was a good way to commemorate the centennial of Brooks’s birth.

Even though Banned Books Week 2017 is over, you can get in the spirit by watching our playlist of a selection of the poems we orated at the readathon last week.

Have you or your children read one of the top 10 banned or challenged books from the last couple years? How did you like being a #rebelreader? Leave a comment telling us about it!

Ignatian Literary Magazine Release Party

We still have a bit over a week to celebrate National Poetry Month. One way you can do that is by joining us to celebrate the release of the new issue of the Ignatian Literary Magazine!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

5:30 – 7 pm

Del Santo Reading Room, Lone Mountain 270

ignatian_party

The celebration will feature:

• Readings by contributors to the new issue: Emma Thomason, Eric Mueller, Miiraf Arefeainen, Preeti Vangani, and others

• Keep sake poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day

• Gleeson’s traveling library of books curated by the Ignatian staff and available for check out

• Refreshments

• Good people and good times!

Letter Writing Party @ Gleeson Library

April is National Letter Writing Month, and here at the Library we want to kick it off on March 30 by giving you the chance to slow down, take time to write a letter, and produce a hand-written gift for someone. Letters and correspondence are cornerstones of library collections and archives, so why not participate in this lineage of history?

Thursday, March 30, 2017
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Group Study Area (2nd Fl), Gleeson Library | Geschke Center

Join us to write letters to your elected officials and/or residents of Freedom House, SFor, to someone in your life you care about. Gleeson Library will provide Write_On fine letter press stationery and postage. This is a great way to aim for political change and spread love in the world, all while developing the almost-lost art of letter writing and hanging out with some cool, like-minded peeps.

First 20 students to register online will receive a Party Pack at the event (online registration is not required to attend the event). Gleeson Library will provide stationery and postage for all attendees.

Register Here >>

Are you up for the challenge of writing 30 letters in 30 days? Join us to find out!

letterwritingparty2017(1)

Heading photo by Rachael Ashe from Vancouver, Canada – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Book Reviews from Students

The following book reviews were written by student assistants in the Reference & Research Services Department here in the library. We hope they inspire you to pick up a good book!

nw1NW, reviewed by Brianna Cockett-Mamiya

Zadie Smith’s 2012 novel NW follows the lives of four different characters — Natalie, Leah, Felix, and Nathan — living in the northwest corner of London. NW is fascinating in a number of ways. For one, the novel plays with an experimental structure, being split up into four sections, each one taking on a different narrative form. Smith uses third person narrative, screen-play style dialogue, and one of my favorite section consists of 185 vignettes spanning across the life of one of the main characters, Natalie. The various forms throughout the novel may come off as scattered or a bit challenging, but I really enjoyed the unique structure. NW explores the themes of race, class, gender, and social mobility in a way that is really compelling. Although the characters all grew up in Caldwell, a council estate or housing project, they each stand on different steps of the social ladder. Each character is fleshed out so well that they come off as real people rather than likable characters. Not only does Zadie Smith write beautifully, NW shows that she is masterful at writing real people going through real social issues.

the-brief-wondrous-life-of-oscar-waoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, reviewed by Ariana Varela

In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz weaves multiple stories and cultures into this saga about immigration, identity, gender, and the idea of a “home.” The novel is told from the omnipresent narrator Yunior, a recurring character in Diaz’s works, who recounts the life of Oscar Wao, a nerdy Dominican-American who loves to read and write sci-fi novels. Wao’s family illustrates questions of identity and belonging in the context of inter-generational trauma and gender role modeling. The novel flashes back to his mother’s life in the Dominican Republic before immigrating to New Jersey, in where Diaz includes the history of the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and U.S. involvement in the Dominican Republic, which helps ground the reader. This historical overview sets up the idea of the fukú or a curse placed on individuals in the DR due to the supernatural powers of corrupt dictators. This curse follows Wao’s family and is used to explain the family’s misfortune and continuous struggles. Both Oscar and his sister Lola are confronted with feeling like a stranger in the nation they grew up in, creating a constant search for home and origins. They are forced into navigating a split national identity. The multiple plots and complex characters make it hard to put this book down. This is a must read that will seize your imagination the way novels do, while also exposing the universal truths of the legacy of colonialism and the impact of immigration on family dynamics.

71yyrswjhlColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, reviewed by Brianna Cockett-Mamiya

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami was published in Japan in 2013 and the English translation was published in the U.S. in 2014. Through a third-person narrative, the novel follows thirty-six year old Tazaki who designs train stations in Tokyo. In high school, Tazaki had four best friends, and each had a color as part of their surnames (red, blue, white, and black), which they used as nicknames, leaving Tazaki the only “colorless” one. The group of friends stayed in touch after high school, but in Tazaki’s second year of college they suddenly cut ties with him without any explanation. Tazaki lacked a sense of belonging in the world and was truly colorless up until he starts dating Sara, who pushes him to confront his past. Following Sara’s advice, he seeks an explanation and closure by reuniting with each of his old friends, starting in his hometown of Nagoya and ending the journey in rural Finland, and what he finds is truly startling. Having read a few of Murakami’s works in the past, I can count this novel as one of my personal favorites. Magical realism is usually a style which is heavily used by Murakami, but in this work it is only hinted at. This slight touch of magical realism paired with the darkness which pervades the novel adds excitement and mystery to an already perplexing plot. The perspective of the novel, entirely focused on the protagonist, allowed me to feel deeply what he felt, and to empathize with his quest to find closure and a sense of belonging. Something I’ve noticed about Murakami’s work in the past is that his writing is a bit slow and takes time to get into, but, especially regarding this book, after you have gotten past a few chapters it is captivating and well worth the read.

Student Book Reviews

Looking for some reading recs? The Reference & Research Services student assistants have a few for you!

22738563We Should All Be Feminists, reviewed by Malia Okoh

Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists is a slim volume containing an essay based on her 2013 TED Talk. The essay exposes Adichie’s experiences with racism growing up in Nigeria and how such situations affected her; furthermore, it hopes to convince readers that everyone should be a feminist, and gives reasons why. Considering feminism and gender inequality is such a pressing and prominent issue, it is fair to say that the essay is required reading for all ages, genders, and nationalities. We Should All Be Feminists possesses a theme that not only resides at the heart of feminism but also that all can agree with: absolute equality, which in itself is a reason to read Adichie’s work.

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_coverHarry Potter and the Cursed Child, reviewed by Molly Creagar

Set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child follows Albus, Harry’s middle child, as he begins his first year at the magical academy. Albus encounters immediate predicaments and befriends an unlikely candidate. Written in the style of an onstage play (because it is!), the story lends insight into the difficulties of following in someone’s footsteps. In Albus’s desire to be his own person, he creates troubles and danger—and it’s up to Rowling’s crew of old to save the wizarding world. I personally did not think this installment was up to the high standards set by the original seven books, though it would be hard to parallel those in any sense. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child indulges the wizard or witch in all of us and would be phenomenal to see performed.

all-the-light-we-cannot-see-9781476746586_hrAll the Light We Cannot See, reviewed by Malia Okoh

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr centers around a blind French girl – Marie – who, during World War II, is forced to take refuge with distant relatives in a coastal city. Eventually, Marie’s path crosses with a German boy named Werner in 1944 when he saves her in more ways than one. This novel truly is a poignant and historically accurate depiction of a very personal experience concerning one of the world’s most famous wars.

41txhpda8qlA is for Alibi, reviewed by Molly Creagar

Old fans of Nancy Drew and Cam Jensen will fall in love with this series. Sue Grafton’s adventure through the alphabet with a 32-year-old private detective, Kinsey Millhone, is part mystery, part comedy, and wholly engaging. Kinsey, an ex-cop, is hired by a woman who has served time for murdering her husband but swears she was wrongly convicted. Kinsey’s investigation opens up many more questions that bring danger along with the answer. After reading this series’ debut, you won’t be able to quit until you reach Z.