Wednesday, July 1, 2020

C-SPL Reader of the Month: Anderson-Bricker

Kristin and John Anderson-Bricker moved to Dubuque in 1997. A professor of history at Loras College, Kristin teaches all United States history courses, specializing in race relations, gender history and American reform movements. John is a painter and sculptor who also works as the preparator at the Dubuque Museum of Art. Along with reading, they love hiking, birding, canoeing, gardening and cooking.

(See the past Reader of the Month posts here)

Q. Can you tell us about your reading interests?

A. We share an interest in historical fiction, especially mysteries. We both read non-fiction but choose different topics. Kristin reads history, science, natural history, archaeology and cookbooks. John enjoys art, architecture, design, electronics, technology, science and gardening. We most enjoy reading at the same time in the same room with a cup of coffee or a beer (depending on the time of day). We have time for reading because we do not watch television or use social media. We find that reading relaxes us because it shifts our minds from the everyday to another world. Additionally, we like expanding our knowledge and belief system through the written word.

Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year (or ever)?

JABAnna Lee Huber, The Anatomist’s Wife

KAB - Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter

Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?

A. We begin every day reading together with our morning coffee before getting ready for work. So, each day we share the hour between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. reading in our living room or in the garden during warmer seasons. When we can find the time we also enjoy reading after work on the sun porch or out in the garden. Because we read many of the same books, the second reader will often initiate conversations over breakfast!

Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?

JAB – I very much enjoy Deanna Raybourn’s series about Veronica Speedwell and her companion Stoker. Looking forward to the next installment of their adventures.

KABAndrea Penrose created a likable detective duo in Charlotte Sloane and Lord Wrexford. I am looking forward to the next book and discovering the direction of their developing friendship. We particularly like historical fiction where the main characters develop relationships with one another across the series. We favor nineteenth century English worlds.

Q. What book do you think more people should read, and why do you think they should read it?

KAB – Americans should read David Blight’s Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory because it explains why the Lost Cause narrative gained prominence and became acceptable in our cultural understanding of the Civil War. Because it is a racist ideology that convinces people that Confederate symbols are about heritage, this book is an important corrective that explains how the Confederacy was and is really about hate. 

JAB – Art lovers also concerned with the environment should read Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions, by Barbara Matilsky. This book forces you to examine your own contributions to environmental degradation and the power of art to convey that message.

Q. When do you decide to stop reading a book? In other words, do you read every book to the last page, or is there a moment when you decide to stop?

Books need to be well written for us to read. So, we give a book about two chapters. If the writing is not exceptional, we will put the book aside. We leave many books unfinished because we want more time for the good ones.

Q. Do you remember when your love for reading began?

KAB - As a child, I became a reader of fiction due to my enthusiasm for The Chronicles of Narnia, so I would say that C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most important fiction book in my life. As a graduate student in 1990 I read In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s by Clayborne Carson and it established the pathway of my career and began my love affair with non-fiction.

JAB – My love of reading began in my twenties after I completed college and I began to read art history for pleasure and professional development. Some of my favorite art history books include Gaudi of Barcelona by Lluis Permanyer, Melba Levick; Earthworks and Beyond by John Beardsley, Time by Andy Goldsworthy, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson by Anne Newlands, and Hopper by Ivo Kranzfelder.

Check out the Anderson-Bricker Favorites book list!

Apply to be the next C-SPL Reader of the Month! 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Antiracism and Social Justice: A Reading List

Carnegie-Stout Public Library has a number of important non-fiction titles that discuss the history and lived experience of racism, social justice and injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement, white supremacy and related topics. Click on the book titles to find out what formats are available or to place a hold.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement's position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement's activists while calling for essential political changes.

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson

With a poet’s gifted ear, a novelist’s sense of narrative, and a journalist’s unsentimental eye, Mitchell S. Jackson candidly explores his tumultuous youth in the other America. Survival Math takes its name from the calculations Mitchell and his family made to keep safe—to stay alive—in their community, a small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect.

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America by Darnell L. Moore

The editor-at-large of CASSIUS and original Black Lives Matter organizer describes his own direct experiences with prejudice, violence and repression; his search for intimacy in the gay neighborhoods of his youth and his participation in key civil movements where he found his calling as an advocate on behalf of society's marginalized people.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history, including Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson, and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists.

"They Can't Kill Us All:" Ferguson, Baltimore and A New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

A behind-the-scenes account of the story of the #blacklivesmatter movement shares insights into the young men and women behind it, citing the racially charged controversies that have motivated members and the economic, political and personal histories that inform its purpose.

The Black and The Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement by Matthew Horace

A CNN contributor, and former law-enforcement himself, offers a personal account of the racism, crimes and color lines that challenge America's law enforcement, sharing insights into high-profile cases, the Black Lives Matter movement and what is needed for change.

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #meandwhitesupremacy, she never predicted it would become a cultural movement. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. Updated and expanded from the original edition, Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

A Seattle-based writer, editor and speaker tackles the sensitive, hyper-charged racial landscape in current America, discussing the issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word.

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

From the National Book Award–winning author comes a bracingly original approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves. Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America—but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.

Antiracism: An Introduction by Alex Zamalin

An introduction to the political theory of black American antiracism, through a study of the major figures, texts, and political movements across US history, argues that antiracism is a powerful tradition that is crucial for energizing American democracy.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Told through the author's own evolving understanding of the subject over the course of his life comes a bold and personal investigation into America's racial history and its contemporary echoes.

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore, with Erica L. Green

An account of the 2015 police-brutality killing of Freddie Gray retraces key events from the perspectives of seven insiders, including a conflicted Baltimore Police Department captain, the victim’s sister and the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

A harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America chronicles acts of racial cleansing in early 20th-century Forsyth County, Georgia, where the murder of a young girl led to mob lynchings, acts of terror against black workers and violent protests by night riders who would enforce whites-only citizenship.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Eight More Great Kanopy Films

You've probably heard about Kanopy, Carnegie-Stout's streaming movie collection and all of the independent films, documentaries, international films, and children's movies available. If you're not sure how to get started, visit the library's YouTube page to watch a video on how to use Kanopy.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the great films available on Kanopy and aren't sure what to watch first, I've gathered together another eight great suggestions you can watch this month! If you missed it, be sure to check out the earlier blog post Eight of the Best Films on Kanopy.

  • Loving Vincent: In the first fully painted feature film, 2018 Oscar-nominated LOVING VINCENT tells the story of the mysterious and tragic death of the world's most famous artist, Vincent van Gogh.
  • Melancholia: Acclaimed filmmaker Lars von Trier grapples with his own experiences with depression in this 2011 dark sci-fi drama and Palme d'Or nominee.
  • Mister Rogers: It's You I Like: This 2018 documentary pays tribute to the beloved Fred Rogers and the nearly 900 episodes of his landmark children's television program first seen in 1968 on PBS that continues to resonate with children and adults alike.
  • MoonlightThe 2016 Oscar-winner for Best Picture, this is a moving and transcendent look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young man growing up in Miami.
  • NebraskaThis 2013 comedic drama about a father and his adult son on a journey to claim a million-dollar prize, from the Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne.
  • OldboyDirector Park Chan-wook's 2003 film of revenge features stunning plot twists and arresting action sequences. 
  • RashomonDirector Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.
  • Robot & FrankThis 2012 film starring Frank Langella and Peter Sarsgaard is the story of an ex-jewel thief who receives a gift from his son: a robot butler programmed to look after him. But soon the two companions try their luck as a heist team.
    -Sarah, Adult Services

    Friday, May 15, 2020

    Eight of the Best Films on Kanopy

    Your Dubuque resident library card gives you access to all sorts of incredible online resources and digital collections, so many that it can be overwhelming sometimes. Carnegie-Stout Public Library staff are here to help, whether you have questions about how to get the technology to work or you need a suggestion for a book, movie, or music you might enjoy!

    If you're a movie buff or a fan of educational documentaries, you should definitely check out Kanopy, Carnegie-Stout's streaming movie collection. Need help getting started? Visit the library's YouTube page to watch a video on how to use Kanopy. Not sure what Kanopy has to offer? Keep reading for a list with eight great films available now on Kanopy!

    • Bill Cunningham New York is a 2010 documentary of the decades long career of New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham.
    • A Cat in Paris is a 2010 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Animated feature about a Parisian cat, and a Parisian cat burglar.
    • Florence Foster Jenkins is a 2016 film based on a true story of a woman who dreams of stardom, starring Meryl Streep in an award-nominated performance.
    • The Hours is a 2002 film inspired by the works and life of Virginia Woolf, actress Nicole Kidman won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance.

    • Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a 2016 comedy from director Taika Waititi about a child and his uncle on a journey through the New Zealand wilderness.
    • I Am Big Bird is a 2015 film about Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer responsible for creating Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
    • Lady Bird is a 2017 film by director Greta Gerwig starring Saoirse Ronan in a Golden Globe winning performance as a teen struggling with her mother in her last year of high school.
    • Midsommar is a 2019 horror film about an American couple who attend a Swedish festival that hides a sinister secret.
    -Sarah, Adult Services

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    Freegal Favorites

    With the library closed and many of us self-isolating, I hope library patrons are taking advantage of the library’s digital offerings as much as I am. I’m a music fanatic, so use Freegal pretty regularly. I like to collect music, both physical and digital, and have a large amount of music stored on my computer. For those new to Freegal, it’s a service available to City of Dubuque Library card holders, where you can download 5 free songs a week and keep them. My family and I often browse what’s available and download songs on each of our cards weekly.

    Freegal has a wide variety to choose from with a collection of over 3 millions songs. There are a lot of newer material as well as obscure releases. I download both. Here are some of my recent favorite albums I've collected.

    Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple is the new album from Fiona Apple. Apple came to the public eye in the mid 90s with the release of her first album, Tidal, and has continued to release strong albums that blend pop, jazz, and other forms with smart, personal, and often biting lyrics. This new album is getting a ton of positive reviews. It’s no wonder why – so far, after just a couple listens it's blown me away. It's very demanding of my attention. The arrangements are interesting, with Apple's voice and the piano often at the center with jazzy, and often understated, percussion and other effects—dogs barking, and lots of vocal overdubs. If that seems like an odd combo, it all blends together perfectly. I’m excited to continue to listen to this album.

    The New Abnormal by the Strokes is the ambitious new album from the New York band, the Strokes. I was a big fan of this band when they came out in the early 00s. This album follows the trend in popular music of incorporating all things 80s. There’s a lot of synthesizers and electronic effects on the vocals. I’m liking it a lot so far. At times  it's similar to Daft Punk and other times it channels the rock side of the 80s, like Billy Idol. They are self-aware of their influences and embracing them unashamedly. Even with the apparent influences the album still sounds fresh while retaining that classic Strokes sound. Just take a look at one of their new music videos with animation sure to attract the children of the 80s. 

    Someday My Prince Will Come by Miles Davis
    This is an early 60s release from Miles. This might be one of his classic albums to fans, but it was new to me. The songs are very relaxed, romantic, and perfect to wind down to. The titular piece is an excellent instrumental rendition of the 1937 song from the Disney movie Snow White. The way that melody comes through on the trumpet gives me chills.

    The Unexplained by Ataraxia
    Ataraxia is the name of a project from musician/composer Mort Garson. Apparently Mr. Garson was a big producer of easy listening albums in the 50s and 60s. He was also a pioneer of the Moog synthesizer and did some incredible compositions of a wide variety including occult themed ones like this, a series of albums for each sign of the zodiac, a satire of the Wizard of Oz (The Wozard of Iz), and an album to play to your plants (Mother Earth's Plantasia—I know it sounds goofy, but this album is a lot of fun. I recommend checking it out!).

    The Unexplained is a series of songs centered around different meditations (song titles include "Tarot," "I Ching," "Seance," "Cabala"...). This album came out in 1975 and sounds like the soundtrack to a horror or epic fantasy movie from the 70s or 80s. It's fun music to work to, or perhaps to accompany a board game with friends (or perhaps D&D?).

    Halloween III: Season of the Witch Soundtrack by John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

    I was on a kick of early electronic music for awhile. Here's another on the spooky side. I love John Carpenter movies and one of the main reasons is the music he (and frequent collaborator Alan Howarth) compose for them. They set a very distinctive mood and are very much of their time—but also stand outside of time in an odd way. I somehow never watched Carpenter's Halloween movies all the way through until I recently checked them out at the suggestion of a friend. This movie has nothing to do with Michael Myers. It ended up sticking with me though, and I would say it's my favorite of the three (I prefer science fiction horror over slasher films). Whether you've seen the movie or not, the soundtrack is great! I've noticed that Freegal has a lot of music soundtracks for both recent popular movies as well as older ones.

    Old No. 1 and Texas Cookin' by Guy Clark
    I love Guy Clark and these are two of his most popular albums. He’s an influential folk/country musician who helped to define the Americana style. These albums are his first two from the 70s, but he made albums up until his death in 2016. His lyrics are poignant and witty. Lyric-wise I can only think to compare him to Townes Van Zandt and John Prine. I play these albums a lot. They’re perfect for a lazy Sunday Morning.

    There's such a wide variety on Freegal, enough to satisfy any taste. What gems have you downloaded?

    ~Ben, Adult Services

    Wednesday, May 6, 2020

    C-SPL Online Book Club Reads The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

    The C-SPL Online Book Club will start discussing The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie on Monday, May 18, 2020. You can use your Facebook account to join the C-SPL Online Book Club found on Carnegie-Stout Public Library's Facebook page.

    C-SPL Online Book Club

    Until then, here are some spoiler-free background notes about the book and author from and various Wikipedia articles:

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by British mystery writer Agatha Christie. Christie (1890-1976) is thought to be the best selling fiction writer of all time. Her 66 mystery novels and 14 short-story collections have sold over two billion copies, and she is one of the world's most translated authors.

    Known as the "Queen of Mystery," Christie won the first Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award in 1955, and was voted "best crime writer" by the Crime Writers’ Association in 2013.

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Christie's first published novel. Her sister Madge dared Christie to try to write a mystery that readers could not solve even though they had all of the same clues as the detective.

    Christie wrote the novel in 1916, but it was rejected by 6 publishers before it was finally released in the U.S. in 1920 and the U.K. in 1921. It was also serialized in 18 parts in The Times of London in 1920.

    When The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920, The New York Times Book Review said, "Though this may be the first published book of Miss Agatha Christie, she betrays the cunning of an old hand . . . you will be kept guessing at its solution and will most certainly never lay down this most entertaining book."

    Besides being Christie's first published novel, this was also the first appearance of the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who would become one of the most famous characters in mystery fiction.

    Hercule Poirot (pronounced er-cule pwa-roh) appeared in 33 novels, 2 plays, and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975. He was the only fictional character to have an obituary published on the front page of The New York Times.

    The character of Poirot was inspired by the Belgian refugees who settled in Christie's hometown of Torquay in Devon, England during World War I, where Christie worked at a hospital dispensary while writing her novel, a setting which also appears in the story.

    Christie was also influenced by the English novelist Wilkie Collins, and by the popular Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, with Poirot as the eccentric detective, his clueless friend Arthur Hastings as narrator, and a case that even Scotland Yard cannot solve.

    Click to enlarge image
    An image from "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" from
    the Project Gutenberg eBook at

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles is an early example of a closed circle mystery which features a limited number of suspects who could have credibly committed a crime. The British country house was a classic setting of such mysteries in the 1920s and 1930s, an era known as "The Golden Age of Detective Fiction."

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles is always available to check out as an eBook from Overdrive/Libby collection with your City of Dubuque library card. The eBook is also available for free without a library card at Project Gutenberg.

    Carnegie-Stout Public Library’s discussion of The Mysterious Affair at Styles will start on May 18 on Facebook. We hope you will join us for the discussion!

    ~Mike, Adult Services