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Pace Media Shelf: May 2020

News Story

This month, staff from the Mortola and Birnbaum Libraries are here to recommend their favorite books, TV shows, informative YouTube channels, and podcasts, that can both educate and entertain!

What Pace Librarians are Reading:

Fifth Business by Roberston Davies

One of my all-time favorite books is a novel by Robertson Davies called Fifth Business. It's written in the form of a letter to the headmaster of a private Canadian boys school by a retired teacher named Dunstan Ramsay. Ramsay is furious about the trite speech given in his honor at his retirement party, so he sets the record straight in his letter. It begins "Dear Headmaster" and ends 252 pages later with his closing words. Beautifully written and full of wit, wisdom, and humor, themes in the book include love, betrayal, guilt, duty, myth, magic, faith, saints, heroism, ambition, revenge, and scholarship. I have read this book cover to cover twice and probably three or four more times in snippets because I often pick it up and read passages.

—Bob Huerster, Reference Librarian, Mortola Library

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

On The Daily Show and in his stand-up specials, comedian Trevor Noah tells stories about growing up during apartheid in South Africa while doing impersonations of his no-nonsense mom. His book, Born a Crime is a hilarious and authentic extension of those stories, weaving together his life with his commentary on race, poverty, and his rise to fame in comedy.

—Jessica Kiebler, Instructional Services Librarian, Mortola Library

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo's book, So You Want to Talk About Race, is a very accessible book on race in America even as it tackles difficult questions on concepts such as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, and the Black Lives Matter movement. The GoodReads description of her books says it best: "Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystallize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity." 110% recommend!

—Jessica Kiebler, Instructional Services Librarian, Mortola Library

Letters of Note (Archive)

I'm a huge fan of written letters—handwritten, illustrated, typed, it doesn't matter! So I was thrilled when I discovered this website several years ago. Letters have become even more special in this age of text and email. Letters of Note is not the ultimate collection—there aren't many women included, for example—but if you enjoy this site, you can find published collections of letters in the library when it reopens! Also, consider writing a letter to someone during this time of sheltering in place, perhaps an elderly relative or friend who lives alone?

—Susan Thomas, Instructional Services Librarian, Birnbaum Library

There There by Tommy Orange

It's hard to believe that this simmering, sad novel about contemporary urban Native Americans in Oakland, California, is the debut novel by Native author Tommy Orange. To quote Omar El Akkad, author of American War, "Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall.” The prologue which I found astounding, reads like an enraging poetic textbook for Native American history. I recommend making sure you start reading the novel directly after finishing the prologue: there is a visceral wow of the now when you begin reading about a Native teenager after reading a brief history and mythology. I recommend this novel to people who enjoy richly-textured coming of age novels like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Sula by Toni Morrison, or LowBoy by John Wray. Not every character in There There is young, but in the way that young people represent the future, the teenagers are the characters you will remember most. The childhood of adult characters if depicted, as well, particularly in the section about the Native occupation of Alcatraz. Do not read comments in Amazon—there are plot spoilers that you can't not see. I don't recommend reading this book at the same time as other books, or waiting too long to keep reading! Expect to be educated by the story and gripped by the writing.

—Susan Thomas, Instructional Services Librarian, Birnbaum Library

Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers 

This series might be the actual perfect thing to read right now. You will be transported to a vision of the far-distant future, where human beings have joined a galaxy-spanning federation of intelligent beings of all kinds and configurations. Unlike so much science fiction that is deeply pessimistic about the future, Chambers’ writing is grounded in enormous optimism. This is not a world free from pain, violence, and trauma, but Chambers imagines that healing is always possible through love and connection, and that all different kinds of people, even from wildly different species, can come together to form a true family based in love and acceptance.

—Jennifer Rosenstein, Director, Birnbaum Library

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The autobiography of Maya Angelou speaks to us in this crisis. Though we may feel trapped physically and psychologically, yet our inner beauty and strength rise within us to birth possibilities.

—Medaline Philbert, Head of Library Assessment

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks 

This book is about two individuals with different issues in their lives. Sara Andrew is just divorced and is a teacher who relocated to a small town and Jonah Ryan is a local police officer who is a widower. This book is a romance novel that involves faith, life, mystery, and love. I recommend this novel because it is a fun read and takes your mind away from all the issues within our world. This author is notorious for writing about life, faith, love, and mystery. It is an easy read because it is well written. Some of Sparks' were made into movies including A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, The Longest Ride, A Message in a Bottle, and the latest, The Choice.

—Alicia Joseph-Marino, Circulation Coordinator, Birnbaum Library

What Pace Librarians are Watching:

MIGardener Channel

As winter has turned to spring, so has a lot of attention turned to the spring garden. My go-to resource for all things gardening is the MIGardener channel on YouTube. They create video content every few days on all sorts of gardening topics from planting guides, helpful gardening tips and tricks, and general recommendations. They have many years of content to search as well if you are interested in a specific topic. They are based in Michigan (hence the MIGardener name) which is similar to New York’s growing conditions.

—Steven Feyl, University Librarian

Unorthodox (Netflix, 2020, four part miniseries)

I accidentally picked this movie, and was captured right away. A young Hasidic Jewish woman escaped her life in Brooklyn in search of a new life in Berlin. Why would she run away? How could she survive in a foreign country in pursuit of her love for music? Tension, suspension, and passion are all well blended to tell a compelling story that is breathtaking. I enjoyed it thoroughly. And you will too.

—Xiaohong Hu, Interlibrary Loan Librarian, Mortola Library

Father Brown (BBC)

I enjoy watching Father Brown, a BBC video series that launched in January 2013 featuring Mark Williams in the title role as a British village priest who is also an amateur detective. Some of my favorite episodes feature the character Hercule Flambeau, Father Brown's nemesis. The first four seasons are available on Hoopla, a library media streaming platform available for free to Westchester Library patrons. The series is also available on Amazon Prime for a fee.

—Bob Huerster, Reference Librarian, Mortola Library


Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, this movie is about a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as his reason to seek out and kill specific individuals, and he believed that he was doing biblical justification for destroying lives. This movie had lots of twists and turns, and is quite thought-provoking. The end was not what one would have expected.

—Alicia Joseph-Marino, Circulation Coordinator, Birnbaum Library

WW2 Wendal

A fun, escapist YouTube channel, WW2 Wendal is a weekly series that opens you up to the wonderful world of “magnet fishing.” Based in Leicester, England, a trio of English chaps head out each week with super powerful magnets, some rope, and buckets and see what they can pull out of the rivers and canals around Leicester. You don’t think it would be that interesting, but when you start to get to know the magnet fisherman (James, Uncle Ian, Callum) you quickly go down the rabbit hole and find yourself watching episode after episode and waiting for the next Friday evening upload.  They’ve recently opened themselves up to producing general exploration videos as well.

—Steven Feyl, University Librarian

What Pace Librarians are Listening to:

The Left-Right Game Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts but The Left-Right Game is a supernatural, horror fiction podcast that's not like others you've heard. It's an immersive sound experience which means you "feel" like you in the story from the sound effects and voice acting. The story follows Alice, a journalist who joins a group of "explorers for a seemingly harmless pastime known as the Left/Right Game" on a dark, supernatural journey (Apple Podcasts). Not for the faint of heart but definitely a fun ride!

—Jessica Kiebler, Instructional Services Librarian, Mortola Library

The Hidden Brain

If you enjoy puzzling realities about human behavior and relationships, wrapped up in fascinating storytelling, you'll enjoy the podcast, The Hidden Brain. Host Shankar Vedantam interviews authors, psychologists, neurologists to find out more about the how's and why's of what we do.

—Krisitina Bilello, Reference and Collection Development Librarian, Birnbaum Library

The Beatles: The Early Years 

In a fascinating episode aired on 4/19/2020, host Andrew Ford talks with Mark Lewisohn, author of The Beatles: All These Year–Volume 1–Tune In. The author talked about what John Lennon was like as a very young boy, including his natural leadership qualities. He also pointed out that playing rock and roll was frowned upon in those days, and that this climate resulted in winnowing out aspiring rock and rollers who weren’t dedicated to their craft. The program also features audio clips of very early performances, showing a lack of polish but abundant raw talent.

—Bob Huerster, Reference Librarian, Mortola Library

Bob is a huge fan of podcasts, for more recommendations check out his blog about his favorite episodes

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