A Program about The Children Act? Why?

“Just to be clear, Adam. You do realize that it’s for me alone to decide what’s in your best interests. If I were to rule that tchildren-acthe hospital may legally transfuse you against your wishes, what will you think?”

He was sitting up, breathing hard, and seemed to sag a little at the question, but he smiled. ‘I’d think My Lady was an interfering busybody.” (Ian McEwan, The Children Act, 117-118).

Around the World through Books’ upcoming program on Thursday, November 10, will be framed by the events of The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan. Paralegal Studies program head Susan Brewer will lead the discussion, a challenging task because:

  1. Not everyone will have read the book, and that’s okay.(But all three Reynolds Libraries have copies to lend.)
  2. Though this program is sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council, it is not particularly multicultural—at least not in the sense of ethnic diversity. It is set in London, England, and the main characters are white middle-class folk of decent background and intelligence, with nobody particularly harassing them.

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    Susan Brewer (not Fiona Maye)
  3. This is a book without much action or plot, and almost everybody in it wants what’s best for the others. Almost everybody. Yet it has a sense of urgency and is literally about life and death decisions.

This is a book about searching for truth, and it’s a book about judging. Fiona Maye is a high court judge who must decide whether a young man with leukemia, Adam Henry, a Jehovah’s Witness, must have the blood transfusion which he wants to refuse, but without which his treatment will surely fail. Adam is seventeen and three-quarters, still technically a minor, but well over the sixteen years at which a child’s wishes are usually considered in legal matters. His parents support his choice. The hospital has brought it to court—the doctors want to save this charming, intelligent young man. The Henrys believe that Biblical injunctions to abstain from eating blood also preclude accepting blood products into the body. Adam is prepared to die rather than disobey God.

What’s multicultural about all that? What does this book have to do with diversity and inclusion? Here are three answers; perhaps you can supply more. Or perhaps the program will give us a chance to develop other ideas—come to LTC 220 from 7-8:30 on Thursday, Nov. 10 and see.

  1. Religious convictions (or anti-convictions) are part of each person’s cultural identity. They help define our understanding of right and wrong and how things ought to be, which in turn affects how we treat each other.
  2. Even reasoned, critical thinking based on law (The Children Act is the British child protective services law, to oversimplify it), logic, and the best of intentions is affected by the context of cultural conventions, parental and social influences, and, perhaps, life’s momentous distractions. Fiona is childless and her husband is behaving badly.
  3. Fiona’s husband is behaving badly. It is accurate to say he’s being really stupid and selfish, but that sounds so judgmental. Society today has a “Don’t judge!” mantra. “Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1),” is quoted frequently. But what does that really mean? How can we be inclusive, kind, and respectful, and still be true to our own convictions about right and wrong?children-act-poster

Happy Columbus Day!

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Die Schiffe des Columbus by Gustav Adolf Closs

“The great thing about revisionist history is you have the freedom to go back and correct these misconceptions about the past, as long as you’re doing it in a scholarly and authentic and well-researched sort of way.”

– Candace Gibson
Stuff You Missed in History Class – Did the Chinese Reach America Before Columbus?

Happy Columbus Day everyone!

In honor of this (sometimes polarizing) holiday, let’s all take a moment to go back and see if what we learned about Columbus’ ‘discovery’ in elementary school still holds true today.

Lucky for us, the folks at the “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast have done some of the work for us already. Take a listen to this short episode, where they discuss Gavin Menzies book 1421: The Year China Discovered America? and whether or not Menzies theory holds water.

Inspired to do your own investigation after listening to the podcast? You’re in luck! We’ve got the book and its sequel – Who Discovered America? – right here in our collection!

If you’re especially inspired, we’ve also got Lies My Teacher Told Me to tide you over.

Happy hunting/researching/de-bunking!

We’ve Got That! | Volume II

This week on We’ve Got That! I’m highlighting a few of the great books in our collection that have been adapted into films that will be released this year. There are just a few short weeks left of summer, so stop by today to pick up one of these great reads before the fall semester starts.

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a devil’s deal, Dick Lehr & Gerard O’Neill
If you’ve ever seen the movie The Departed, you’re familiar with this type of character. Except unlike Jack Nicholson’s role in that movie, which is only loosely based on Whitey Bulger, this book is all true. One of the most infamous modern American gangsters, the very real, very scary, Whitey Bulger, evaded capture for decades by working as an FBI informant and later going on the run. This book has now been adapted into a film titled simply, Black Mass, with Johnny Depp in the starring role. This non-fiction book, available electronically, tells the story of Bulger, his heinous crimes, and how he managed to hide from authorities for so long.
Scheduled movie release date: September 18th 2015

 

The Martian, Andy Weir
Originally released as a self-published novel in 2011, The Martian was eventually snapped up by publishers and went on to become a bestseller. This realistic sci-fi adventure novel tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney who (spoiler alert!) is left on Mars alone after his crewmates on Ares 3 believe he is killed in a dust storm. Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer (READ: MacGyver on Mars), has to survive on his own with the supplies that were left behind, his training, a data stick loaded with old episodes of Three’s Company, a cache of disco music, and with very little hope of rescue. The film of the same name, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon as the ingenious lead character, will be coming out this fall.
Scheduled movie release date: October 2nd 2015

 

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
Unless you’re extremely late to the party, you already know that this is the third and final installment of The Hunger Games series and that it continues the saga of the futuristic nation of Panem and its inhabitants, Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Haymitch Abernathy, and the dastardly President Snow. We’ve already seen part one of this installment in theaters, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you’re like me, you’ve already read the books, seen the movies, and are dying to see Mockingjay, Part 2. But in case you haven’t caught up on your reading, or in case you desperately need to re-read it, we’ve got you covered in both print and in audio.
Scheduled movie release date: November 20th 2015

In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick
I bet most of you didn’t know that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was actually inspired by the true story of a real life whaleship called Essex. Once common knowledge, the story of what happened to the fated New England vessel is now little-known. Luckily, with the discovery of the manuscript of the ship’s cabin boy, lost for nearly a hundred years, historians were given a firsthand account of what happened on that fateful trip. It is this manuscript, in part, on which Nathaniel Philbrick based his 2000 non-fiction book. The film version of Philbrick’s rendering of the tale, In the Heart of the Sea, was directed by Ron Howard and will be coming to theaters this December, starring Chris Hemsworth as the ship’s captain and Tom Holland (and Brendan Gleeson) as the cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson.
Scheduled movie release date: December 11th 2015

Write it down!

How many of you take class notes with a laptop?

If you’re one of the many students who types your notes during a lecture, you may want to check out this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Benefits of No-Tech Note Taking

After an instructor at the University of Kansas banned taking notes with laptops during her lectures, she saw a rise in test scores.

But how?

And why?

If you type your notes in class, the theory is that you can copy down more of what the instructor is saying and then have more thorough study material in the long run. But, as the author points out in the article, research shows that taking notes with a pencil and paper actually increases how much of the original information you retain.

The reasons seem simple enough:

First, taking notes on paper frees us from the usual laptop distractions and multi-tasting.

Second, when writing notes on paper, we have to think more critically about the information our instructor is giving in order to transcribe the message meaningfully. Because handwriting is typically slower than typing, we have to synthesize and really absorb the information the first time in order to decide what’s important enough to write down.

Third, when taking notes by computer, most are not paying attention to the content, so much as focusing on getting every word down. So while our fingers may be keeping up, our brains are snoozing through the message.

What do you think, readers? Which note-taking method do you usually prefer? If it means getting higher grades, would you consider taking notes by hand instead of using a laptop? Do you think if your instructor banned taking notes by computer that you’d benefit from it? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit.

Last two days to win a free book!

Only two days are left to register to win a copy of The Yellow Birds. The deadline is October 3. Find the form at this link.

Kevin Powers color_Marjorie Cotera_HiresThe Yellow Birds is a war novel by Kevin Powers. Powers is a Richmond native who attended James River High School. Enlisting in the army at age seventeen, he later served a year in Iraq as a machine gunner. He was stationed in Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004 and 2005. After his honorable discharge he came home and studied at Virginia Commonwealth University. He then went off to the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener fellow in poetry. He’s won a bunch of awards and now works in New York.

The Yellow Birds

He published his first novel in 2012. The Yellow Birds is a study in contradiction. It tells of the dreariness and horror of an urban war, but the narrative is poetic and beautiful. It is the story of young Private Bartle and his younger buddy Private Murphy. They just want to survive. When they’re on watch, they are desperate to stay awake. They’re soldiers; they talk like solders; they curse like soldiers.

Kevin Powers is coming to Reynolds on Thursday, November 6, to read from The Yellow Birds and his new book of poetry,  Letters Composed During a Lull in the Fighting (A few winners of the drawing will receive the poetry instead of the novel). After the reading, he will answer questions from the audience and stay to sign copies of his books. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in Lipman Auditorium. All are welcome; please come.

This program is an Around the World through Books event, sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council.

All three Reynolds campus libraries have copies of The Yellow Birds to lend for two weeks; Parham Campus Library has it as an audiobook.

From Books to Movies 2014

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Books are almost always better than the movies they are made into. Why not judge for yourself? Want to read the book before the movie comes out? Maybe you already saw a movie this year and want to read the book to see how they compare? Check out a sampling of books in our collection that have been made into movies this year.

Research and Relax at Reynolds Library for Black History Month!

Click here to sample one of literally thousands of streaming videos for research AND relaxation during Black History Month…and beyond!

Baraka’s Tribute to His African Heritage

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In this clip from the library’s subscription database, Films On Demand, African-American writer, Amiri Baraka, uses his poetry to “teach, analyze, point out” . . . in this case, about the value of questioning as the path to wisdom, per his contemporary, James Baldwin.

Also, check out a sampling of our other resources on Black history available in a wide variety of formats including:

  • articles
  • audio broadcasts
  • books (print books as well as eBooks)
  • DVDs
  • images

When searching the library’s catalog or searching the library’s many databases, enter the name of the specific African American person or event in history that you are interested in. For a more general search, try terms such as “african american history” or “black history.”

All of these resources are available through Reynolds Library home page–to explore the words, the faces, the sounds, the art–the rich variety of black history in America.