Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Books for the New Year

Stretched between the reading room and the AskLITS Board sits the New Books shelf. This shelf, which is on the left-hand-side of the corridor is perhaps one of the most exciting shelves in the library, for it houses LITS's latest spoils. LITS orders NEW BOOKS all the time for the library, ensuring that the library's collection is up-to-date for people of all interests. (A picture of the New Books shelf is below.)

A fun activity (also, a fine method of procrastination) with this shelf is to browse through it without knowing what you're looking for. There's a sign above the shelf which points out which call numbers correspond to which topic. You might be surprised at how many interesting books you will find, even from outside your own field!

To put this this treasure-hunting theory to test I, a LITS student-worker and Humanities and Arts major, looked for three exciting booksbut the catch was that I had to pick two from areas I don't know very much about. A brief session of bibliothetical bonding (feel free to define that word here: with the shelf got me these three wonderful finds:

lost in language & sound : or how I found my way to the arts by Ntzoke Shange

This book of essays was my first pick from the New Books shelf. Of course, it was an easy pick for me since Shange, in this book, writes about her journey through poetry, music and dance, all things that I love. Wild in its form, oscillating between traditional prose and fragments of poetry, this book seems to be a whirlwind sounds, images, and emotion. In a piece on her mother Shange writes,

The Lindy Hop was not the only vernacular activity my mother mastered. There were collard greens and smothered pork chops. There were nights when sleep came dragging its heels and my mother had a rhythmic pat that was so soft yet steady that sleep gave up staying away from me. Let my mother calm my soul so that when my dreams came, I dreamt in color.

Sarah Martin ('15) checking out "lost in language & sound"

Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technology by Brian Hochman

Found in the Social Science part of the New Books shelf, this book was truly a revelation to me. It tracks how modern media technology developed concurrently with Western anthropologists' need to document the world's "primitive races."  In the early-twentieth century anthropologists, concerned that these races were disappearing, tried to document them, and as a result the technology used had to advance to meet the anthropologists' needs. By delving into photographic archives this book accounts not only for historical developments, but also for concerns of race, empire, and representation that lie at the center of this period in Western anthropology. (FYI: I just borrowed this book for myself. Sorry, folks!)

cheMagic: Chemistry Classics and Magical Tricks by Khee et al.

If there's something that really isn't "my thing" it's science. But to stay true to the rules of my book-hunt, of finding books on topics I didn't know much about, I scouted the science section of the New Books shelf, too. cheMagic ended up being the perfect science book for me, because it is about performing science. There are pictures and step-by-step instructions for how perform some pretty nifty chemistry-magic-tricks for an audience. The theatre-kid in me was thrilled to find this book which also has pointers to prevent clumsy people like me setting the room on fire. My favorite trick from cheMagic is called "Marshmallow,"  in which you blow up and deflate a marshmallow using principles of vacuum. I've never liked the taste of marshmallows,  or s'mores,  so I'm glad to finally have things to do around a campfireblowing up marshmallows, oh yes.

My adventures through the New Books shelf were exciting and rewarding, and I have an interesting reading list to begin my year. The next time you're in the library check this shelf out for yourself. You can borrow any new book as soon as you find it, just as you would books from the stacks. I promise there's something on this shelf for you, too!

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