Library News Blog

What if everyone in New York City read the same book at the same time?

That’s the concept behind One Book, One New York, a program organized by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. New Yorkers cast their votes in February to choose which book they wanted to read, and the results are in! This spring, New York City will read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award-winner for fiction.

Readings, panels, and other public events related to Americanah are scheduled from March until June. The One Book program also provides a discussion guide for book clubs (and classes), as well as a free audiobook download. See for all events and program information.

One Book programs have been popular in many cities, here and abroad, as a way to connect community members through a common text. One Book, One New York is the first such event organized for New York City—and of course, being held in the Big Apple, it is now the largest community reading program ever organized.

About Americanah: “Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland” (publisher’s description).

Americanah is available in the John Jay Library at Stacks PR9387.9 .A34354 A72 2014 and as an ebook (1 user limit).

Other #OneBookNY contenders:

  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty, available in the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3552 .E19 S45 2015
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, available in the John Jay Library at Stacks E185.615 .C6335 2015
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, available in the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3537 .M2895 T7 2005 or ...1982
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, available in the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3554 .I259 B75 2007


By Robin Davis

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

By Bonnie Nelson

The Library’s third triennial survey of “in-Library use” confirms it: Lloyd Sealy Library users are a serious group.

  • 55.5% come to the Library to study or work individually
  • 46.7% come to use a library computer for academic/course work

They multitask:

  • 398 library users engaged in 1,118 separate tasks

They visit frequently:

  • 70% come to the Library at least twice a week
  • 89% come at least weekly

And they want to be heard:

  • 59% of those responding took the time to write a comment

The results from the survey, answered by 406 individuals who came to the Lloyd Sealy Library from Thursday, November 15, 2016, to Saturday, November 19, 2016, were very similar to the surveys conducted in 2010 and 2013. If anything, fewer students engaged in non-academic activities such as “used a library computer for fun/to shop” (only 7% in 2016 vs. 11% in 2013). Read the full report, or scroll down for a summary.


What did you do in the Library today?

What did you do in the librar today? Most studied or worked individually

They consider almost all library services to be important to them. On a scale of 1–5, 3.99 was the lowest average importance rating, given to “Tools to facilitate group work.” And they give the Library very high scores on all services. “Quality of databases/electronic resources” was the highest rated (4.47 out of 5) while the lowest rating was given to “Noise level” (3.93).

To find out what was really on students’ minds, though, it is necessary to read their comments. Two hundred forty-one people wrote an answer to the question, “What can we do to make this library better for you?” They made 314 suggestions—all of which were read and categorized. A full 30% of the comments had to do with computer issues and, overwhelmingly, they wanted more: more computers, more access to software on computers, more printers.

The second major thread in the comments was the need for more electrical outlets—11.5% of respondents to this question complained about the lack of outlets. This is despite the fact that, as a result of the 2013 survey, we rearranged furniture to make carrels closer to existing outlets, added a commercial charging table, built a 12-seat charging bar, and purchased and deployed over 20 small charging hubs.

But 21% of the comments were equally divided between the desire for more space—especially space to study individually—and a concern about noise. There is no doubt that our students want, need, and deserve a quiet place to study.

Compared to the 2013 survey, complaints about staff in the comments were down (only 3% of comments vs. 9% in 2013) and general compliments (“the library’s great!”) were up (12% vs. 8% in 2013). We had identified overcrowding and understaffing during the recently-introduced Community Hour as a factor in the 2013 complaints and took steps to improve staffing. These seem to be working.

Our final question this year was, “If there were to be a major library renovation, what would you like to see in a changed library?” Two hundred twenty-four of our users ventured an opinion. Not surprisingly, the answers mirrored those from the previous question: more quiet study rooms, more outlets, more computers and software. But there was also a desire for a better-looking, more comfortable library with more amenities: new furniture, better lighting, couches, more rooms for group study, more rooms for individual study, a place to eat, better ventilation, a “more modern feel.” Some commenters reminded us of other needs: “sleeping room,” “more green real plants,” “puppy room for stress, college students need this.”

As a result of this most recent survey, we have already added MS Office to more computers in the Library Reference area and have added a new mobile print station downstairs. We have ordered more charging hubs and are searching for places near outlets to deploy them. We are examining ways to increase student seating areas in parts of the Library where older runs of periodicals and law materials have been reliably replaced with online access.

How often do you visit this library in person? 46% say 2-3x per week

The best news, though, is that CUNY has committed resources to the development of a Master Plan for a complete renovation of the library, and this renovation is now a priority in the CUNY capital budget. Library faculty will be working with architects to come up with a plan that will meet the many student needs expressed in the In-Library surveys.

Read the full 2016 In-Library Use Report »


Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

Skepticism is a virtue

Check out the ad campaign created by Mark Graham (CD, Art Director) with Josh Tavlin (CD) and John McNeil (CD) for Brill's Content: Skepticism is a Virtue. [Thanks to Mr. Graham for granting us permission to use this brilliant graphic].

By Kathleen Collins

A LexisNexis search reveals 117 instances of the term “fake news” in headlines from 2012 through 2015. In the first two weeks of March 2017, the number of headline references was 270. This is one small piece of evidence supporting the argument that fake news—recognizing it and contending with it—is currently an urgent and far-reaching issue in the U.S. Until late 2016, the term often referred to parody TV news shows like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, or more generally about the dangers of the Internet, but the 2016 election season, campaign, and aftermath have breathed new and far more impactful life into what “fake news” means and how it can affect politics and daily life.

Librarians have long been concerned with encouraging the careful and critical evaluation of information sources. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that a new surge of fake news has caused us all to sit up and take notice as never before. Libraries all over the U.S. have quickly put together guides to help students, staff, and faculty sort through what fake news is and how to recognize it. At the Lloyd Sealy Library, we adapted a guide created by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (“Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News”), which can be found in the Research Guides link on our home page.

Librarians are not the only members of the faculty capitalizing on this opportunity to emphasize messages that we have long been delivering. Faculty all across the college are addressing the importance of evaluating information sources, especially those who teach journalism and digital media who see how the scourge of fake news can impact the citizenry as well as the education and possible future careers of their students. They take a broad and critical view of the media and its practices as a matter of course.

Professor Alexa Capeloto of the English Department teaches “Self, Media and Society” and a variety of journalism courses. “When the web became more interactive, a lot of us thought that as uncontrollable as this new world was, it would be self-regulating,” she says. “We predicted that facts would win. We didn’t predict that facts would stop mattering. Sure, it’s still worth fighting falsehoods with facts, but I don’t think that’s enough anymore. Messages that reinforce our beliefs are way more powerful and seductive than messages that are true, and they come to us so easily now through the web. I think when it really matters, we should still work to decipher whether information is real or fake, but we should also look at who’s behind the information, how they operate, what motives they might have, and what motives we have in accepting or rejecting it. We have to question ourselves as well as the media.”

Professor Devin Harner, who also teaches journalism courses in the English department, says, “I’m a bit more skeptical than you might expect when it comes to discussions about how ultimately consequential today’s fake news is. I’m far more concerned with sloppy reporting by the real media and with the trend toward opinion and meta-pieces that aren’t grounded in ANY reporting. I can’t help but think that mainstream journalism’s lax standards paved the way for fake news, cost journalists the public’s trust and provided a crack in the foundation waiting to be exploited.” But he offers the possibility that “fake news has been good for real news, because real news can position itself as the cure for fake news, and because it has us talking about news.” Harner believes that fake news is “a symptom rather than a disease. ... And we need to teach media literacy now.”

Professor Capeloto and her colleagues are developing a news literacy module including readings and lesson plans that any faculty member can use and incorporate into their classes.

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

Larry Sullivan’s article, “Why retribution matters: Progression and not regression,” co-written with Kimberly Collica-Cox, was published in Theory in Action 10(2) in April 2017.

Ellen Belcher co-presented “Barcın Höyük. Archaeological Investigations of a Neolithic Settlement (2007-2015)” at the Symposium and Workshop at the Netherlands Archaeological Institute, Istanbul, Turkey in November 2016. She also gave a presentation titled “Discoverability of Small Things: Historiographies of Prehistoric Mesopotamian Comparanda” at the British Association of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology (BANEA), Glasgow, Scotland in January 2017. With Karina Croucher, she published “Prehistoric Figurines in Anatolia (Turkey),” chapter 20 (pp. 443–467) in the Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Figurines (ed. T. Insoll, Oxford University Press, 2017).

Ellen Belcher and Tania Colmant-Donabedian prepared and installed a temporary exhibit of materials from the Lloyd George Sealy Papers in conjunction with the “Lloyd George Sealy Panel Discussion,” held on February 28, 2017.  A permanent exhibit from these papers can be viewed in the Niederhoffer lounge on the first floor of the Library.

Robin Davis presented “Drupal + Git” at the CUNY IT Conference in December 2016, as part of the “CUNY Libraries and Open Source” panel. She published two “Internet Connection” columns in Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, "The Future of Web Citation Practices" in 35(3) and "APIs and Libraries" in 35(4).

Jeffrey A. Kroessler presented in a session titled “From Sunnyside to Seaside” at the National Convention of the American Institute of Architects. His review of Politics Across the Hudson: The Tappan Zee Megaproject appeared in Planning Perspectives (vol. 32, issue 1).

Ellen Sexton co-authored “The CUNY-Shanghai library faculty exchange program: Participants remember, reflect and reshape” (with Chao, S.-Y. J., Evans, B.,  Phillips, R., Polger, M.A., Posner, B.) in  International Librarianship:  Developing Professional, Intercultural, and Educational Leadership, edited by Constantinou, C., Miller, M. & Schlesinger, K. and published by SUNY University Press. She also spoke on a panel, “Sponsorships of Queer (Information) Literacy: Recovering Past to Improve Our Futures,” with Mark McBeth (JJ and GC) and Patrick James (GC) at the Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy, Savannah, in September 2016.

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

Did Bertha Barton commit suicide, taking her child with her, in the icy waters off Coney Island, or did the nefarious bigamist, Mr. Martin X. Boyce, murder her? An anonymous author wrote about Bertha’s woeful and sorrowful life in the semi-epistolary, semi-autobiographical dime novel Bertha Barton: Or. The Coney Island Mystery, published in 1876 and recently acquired by the Sealy Library in the only American edition.

Bertha went to the Twelfth Baptist church in Philadelphia to hear its pastor, the Reverend Mr. Bott, with his “sweet face and musical voice” and “persuasive way of explaining the Gospel,” preach a sermon. Mr. Bott was so eloquent that Bertha converted almost immediately.

It was at the church that she met Mr. Boyce, who seduced her, soon married her in secret (performed by a fake minister friend of Boyce) and impregnated her. Only after Bertha gave birth to Boyce’s child did she find out that he was already married. Next thing, she and her baby were found dead on the shores of Coney Island. Was it murder or suicide? Who’s to say?

This extraordinary New York mystery tale recently found its way to the Special Collections Division of the Sealy Library where it resides among our incomparable rare book collection related to crime and punishment.

Bertha is included in one volume with Life and Death in a Barn! … A True Incident of Centennial City Life. Both novels are extraordinarily rare, found in only three U.S. libraries, and sensationally detail the miseries, poverty, and crime in urban settings during the 1876 centennial year. This most germane acquisition to the collections is another indicator of Sealy Library’s comprehensive and historical coverage of crime and punishment.

Larry E. Sullivan

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

Fake news. Alternative facts. Post-truth. We are living in a world where facts are easier than ever to find, yet seem to matter less than ever before. This has critical implications for our students in their academic, professional and personal lives, and is relevant in just about any course they might take in their college careers. If you are interested in learning or teaching about news and information literacy in the Digital Age, consider attending the session "News Literacy Matters" on Thursday, April 27, from 1:40 to 2:40 p.m. in the Teaching and Learning Center, 335T. Prof. Alexa Capeloto (Journalism) and Prof. Kathleen Collins (Library) will share tools, resources and activities designed for easy inclusion in your courses.

By Ellen Sexton

incarcerating US cover

We have acquired licenses to stream 15 documentaries to the John Jay Community, for viewing on or off-campus thanks to our proxy server. URLs can be shared, e.g. via email, or embedded into course software. 

Incarcerating US “is a feature-length documentary that asks fundamental questions about the prison system in America: What is the purpose of prison? Why did our prison population explode in the 1970s? What can make our justice system more just? … Through both empirical evidence and the eyes of those tragically affected by the system for committing minor crimes, we see the failures of two major initiatives: the War on Drugs and mandatory minimum sentences.”

Cocaine unwrapped. (2013). Bullfrog Films.   Tells the story of "coca farmers in Colombia, drug mules in Ecuadorian prisons, cocaine factories in the Bolivian jungle, dealers on the streets of Mexico, law enforcement officials on the streets of Baltimore -- and the everyday consumers around the dinner tables of the West.  It's a story of politics, death, economic and environmental devastation and human suffering, and explores realistic alternatives to the war on drugs.  The film features front line reportage, exclusive access to the political leaders of Latin America, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as well as revealing interviews with drug czars."

Crips and Bloods: Made in America. (2009). Bullfrog Films.  "Chronicles the decades-long cycle of destruction and despair that defines modern gang culture. From the genesis of LA's gang culture to the shocking, war-zone reality of daily life in the South L.A., it traces the origins of their bloody four-decades long feud. Contemporary and former gang members provide street-level testimony that provides the film with a stark portrait of modern-day gang life: the turf wars and territorialism, the inter-gang hierarchy and family structure, the rules of behavior, the culture of guns, death and dishonor."

Destruction of memory. (2017). Icarus Films. "Explores the loss of priceless artwork, artifacts and historical sites through war and terrorism".

Do not resist (2016). Vanish Films. Directed by Craig Atkinson. On Film Platform. A “chilling,” “urgent and powerful exploration into the militari- zation of American police forces.” It has won numerous awards, including best documentary at Tribeca’s Film festival in 2016.

Ghosts of Attica. (2001). First Run/Icarus Films . "The definitive account of America's most violent prison rebellion, its deadly suppression, the days of torture that ensued, and the almost 30 year legal case that followed."

Intended consequences (2008). Media Storm  "In Rwanda, in 1994, Hutu militia committed a bloody genocide, murdering one million Tutsis, and repeatedly raping thousands of women. Many of these women became pregnant, and have had to try for years to reconcile their contradictory feelings of both love and hate towards the children they bore as the result of their brutal rapes. These are some of their touching stories." (15 minutes).

The Life and Times of Sara Baartman.(1999). Icarus FIlms. "The strange and sad case of Sara Baartman, kidnapped from South Africa in 1810, 'exhibited' around Great Britain, and then treated as a scientific curiosity."

Profits of punishment. (2001). Icarus Films.  "A critical look at America's booming private prison industry."

Red Hook Justice. (2004). Icarus Films.  "Profiles an innovative court in a Brooklyn neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime that is at the center of a legal revolution - the community justice movement." (55 minutes).

Refuge. (2014). Bullfrog Films. "Refugees, asylees and caregivers share their stories to help professionals and volunteers understand the needs of the more than a million survivors of torture rebuilding lives in the US."

El Sicario, Room 164. (2011). Icarus Films.  "In an anonymous motel room on the U.S./Mexico border, a Ciudad Juarez hitman speaks. He has killed hundreds of people and is an expert in torture and kidnapping. He was simultaneously on the payroll of the Mexican drug cartels and a commander of the Chihuahua State Police. …Aided only by a magic marker and notepad, which he uses to illustrate and diagram his words, the sicario describes, in astounding detail, his life of crime, murder, abduction and torture."

Tadmor. (2017). Icarus Films.  "Victims recount torture in a Syrian prison."

The Visitors. (2009). Scorpion TV.  "Every Friday night about 800 people, mostly women and children, almost all of them African American and Latino, gather in Manhattan for the long journey to rural New York to visit their loved ones in prison."

Welcome to Refugeestan. (2017). Icarus Films.  "The UNHCR manages camps that shelter more than sixteen million refugees all around the world, creating a virtual country as large as the Netherlands."

You've been Trumped. (2012). Bullfrog Films. Fans of Local Hero can re-visit the Scottish landscape where local people lose a fight to preserve a fragile coastal environment against a golf resort developer. 


Please see our Media guide for more about the Library's collections of documentaries, feature films, training films, and more, in streaming and DVD formats.  Please contact the librarian responsible for media, Ellen Sexton, with questions, comments, acquisition suggestions.  DVDs may be reserved for classroom use.  

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Office of the President, in partnership with the Lloyd Sealy Library, present:

The Lloyd George Sealy Panel Discussion

To be held Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 at 6pm in the Moot Court Room (6.68NB) at John Jay College.

Street address: 524 W. 59th Street, New York, NY 10019

Panel speakers:

  • Darcel D. Clark, Bronx District Attorney
  • Ama Dwimoh, Special Counsel to the Brooklyn Borough President
  • Patricia L. Gatling, Attorney, Windels Marx
  • Stephen P. Duncanson, President, True Destiny Communications (moderator)
  • SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: ERIC ADAMS, Brooklyn Borough President

JJ event announcement. For more information, please contact Rulisa Galloway-Perry, Office of the President, at 212-237-8601.

Portrait of Lloyd Sealy

Lloyd Sealy at Desk (1964), from the John Jay College Archives (Digital Collections)


Related: Who was Lloyd George Sealy?

If all of New York City could read one book together, which book should be chosen? You decide!

The One Book, One New York initiative was just announced, and voting is open until February 28. The five books below are the #OneBookNY contenders. Check them out and cast your vote!

Visit the One Book, One New York page to see book summaries and video testimonials from celebrities like Danielle Brooks and Larry Wilmore.


book cover

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In the John Jay Library at Stacks PR9387.9 .A34354 A72 2014 and available as an ebook (1 user limit)

Publisher's description: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland.


book cover

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In the John Jay Library at Stacks E185.615 .C6335 2015

Publisher's description: In 150 years since end of the Civil War and the ratification of13th Amendment, the story of race and America has remained brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is story of the black body, exploited to create the country's foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite the nation after civil war and today still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. How can America reckon with its fraught racial history? Between The World And Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates' attempt to answer that question.


book cover

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

In the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3554 .I259 B75 2007

Description: Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim. Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss.

book cover

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

In the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3552 .E19 S45 2015

Publisher's description: Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot-out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs. Fueled by this injustice and the general disrepair of his down-trodden hometown, he sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident--the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins, our narrator initiates a course of action--one that includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school--destined to bring national attention. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America.


book cover

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

In the John Jay Library at Stacks PS3537 .M2895 T7 2005 or ...1982

Description: The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more. -- Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Prairie was lovely and Shenandoah had a beautiful sound, but you couldn't fit those words into Brooklyn. Serene was the only word for it; especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.


The New York Times recently featured a list of 25 great books by refugees. The Lloyd Sealy Library has many of these books in its holdings, so we've highlighted some here for you. Enjoy reading these!

Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (1982).
Stacks PQ 8098.1 .L54 C313 1985.
A best seller and critical success all over the world, The House of the Spirits is the magnificent epic of the Trueba family -- their loves, their ambitions, their spiritual quests, their relations with one another, and their participation in the history of their times, a history that becomes destiny and overtakes them all. (From publisher's description)

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951).
Stacks JC480 .A74 2004 and Reserve JC480 .A74 1994.
Suspicious of the inevitability so often imposed by hindsight, Hannah Arendt was not interested in detailing the causes that produced totalitarianism. Nothing in the nineteenth century--indeed, nothing in human history--could have prepared us for the idea of political domination achieved by organizing the infinite plurality and differentiation of human beings as if all humanity were just one individual. ... The Origins of Totalitarianism remains as essential a book for understanding our times as it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. (From publisher's description)

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955).
Stacks PS3527 .A15 L6 1997.
The most controversial classic novel of the 20th century ... Awe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. (From publisher's description)

Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (1953).
Stacks K415 .S77 1953
This work examines the problem of natural right and argues that there is a firm foundation in reality for the distinction between right and wrong in ethics and politics. (WorldCat)

Joseph Brodsky, Less Than One (1986).
Stacks PN 1271 .B76 1986
This collection of essays thrusts Brodsky--heretofore known more for his poetry and translations--into the forefront of the "Third Wave" of Russian emigre writers. His insights into the works of Dostoyevsky, Mandelstam, Platonov, as well as non-Russian poets Auden, Cavafy and Montale are brilliant. While the Western popularity of many other Third Wavers has been stunted by their inability to write in English, Brodsky consumed the language to attain a "closer proximity" to poets such as Auden.The book, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, opens and closes with revealing autobiographical essay. (Publisher's description)

Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls (1992).
Stacks PQ 7390 .A72 Z46313 1994.
Arenas recounts a stunning odyssey from his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba and his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, through his suppression as a writer, imprisonment as a homosexual, his flight from Cuba via the Mariel boat lift, and his subsequent life and the events leading to his death in New York. In what The Miami Herald calls his "deathbed ode to eroticism," Arenas breaks through the code of secrecy and silence that protects the privileged in a state where homosexuality is a political crime. Recorded in simple, straightforward prose, this is the true story of the Kafkaesque life and world re-created in the author's acclaimed novels. (Publisher's description)

Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban (1992).
Stacks PS 3557 .A66 D73 1993.
A vivid and funny first novel about three generations of a Cuban family divided by conflicting loyalties over the Cuban revolution, set in the world of Havana in the 1970s and '80s and in an emigre neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is a story of immense charm about women and politics, women and witchcraft, women and their men. (Publisher's description)

Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father (2001).
Stacks DS 554.8 .U54 2000.
From a childhood survivor of Cambodia's brutal Pol Pot regime comes an unforgettable narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit. (Publisher's description)

Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone (2007).
Stacks DT516.828 .B43 A3 2007 and browsing collection.
In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story ... This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty. (From publisher's description)

Masha Gessen, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012).
Stacks DK510.766 .P87 G47 2012
The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world. ... Her account of how a "faceless" man maneuvered his way into absolute-and absolutely corrupt-power has the makings of a classic of narrative nonfiction.

Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure (2014).
Stacks PS3619 .H79 Z46 2014.
The award-winning author of Super Sad True Story traces his uproarious experiences as a young bullied Jewish-Russian immigrant in Queens, his haphazard college pursuits and his initial forays into a literary career. (Publisher's description)

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (1944).
Stacks HC53 .P6 1957.
After settling down to teach at Bennington College, Polanyi published his major work, which looked at how the Industrial Revolution was so disruptive that it created the conditions for both Communism and fascism. But capitalism, he argued, did not happen spontaneously. It required an enormous amount of government planning in order to function. “Laissez-faire was planned,” was his counterintuitive summation. (NYT description)

Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus (1947).
Stacks PT2625.A44 D63.
A new translation of a 1948 novel by a German writer based on the Faust legend. The protagonist is Adrian Leverkuhn, a musical genius who trades his body and soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of triumph as the world's greatest composer. (Publisher description)

Theodor Adorno, The Authoritarian Personality (1950).
Stacks (BF 323 .D6 A95 1982.
Adorno wanted to understand what kind of personality type was susceptible to fascism. He found his answer, via Freud, in a harsh parenting style that led to the kind of person who would crave the approval and guidance of an authoritarian. (NYT description)

Not sure how to find a book by its call number? See our guide.

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January 31, 2017