Reviewed by Orion Pozo, Librarian Emeritus, NCSU Libraries
Fun Home depicts a father and daughter, each dealing with their homoerotic feelings, and shows the amazing change in American attitudes that has occurred in a single generation. The father, coming of age in the 1950s, hides his feelings, marries, and has three children, while his daughter ”comes out” in college.
Reviewed by Chris Vitiello, Communications Strategist, NCSU Libraries
First, forget everything. That’s what British art critic Ossian Ward suggests to the casual artgoer intimidated by contemporary art. Ward’s profusely illustrated art field guide Ways of Looking cops the idea of the tabula rasa as a basis for having fruitful art experiences with work that otherwise might make you feel stupid or uncomfortable. He offers his TABULA process—an acronym for Time, Association, Background, Understated, Look Again, and Assessment—as an aid to access challenging contemporary work. And he gives general categories that artworks can be put into—art as entertainment, confrontation, joke, etc.—which help a viewer recognize different flavors of the takeaway. But the real value of the book is in seeing that a professional critic goes through the same paces that a casual artgoer does—What am I looking at here? What characteristics does this artwork have? How is the artist intending it to relate to me, and how do I relate to it? Ward offers lots of examples of these encounters, and unpacks his experience in straightforward language with great background knowledge and a wry sense of humor.
Just in time for holiday reading and gift giving, NCSU Libraries has reprised its popular “The Best Book I Read This Year” blog with new entries from 2015. We asked students, alumni, Friends of the Library board members, faculty and staff to share their very-best, couldn’t-resist book picks and are delighted to share them with you. From fun reads to high brow literature, this blog is sure to include something for every reader.
We’d also love to hear from you — if you’ve got a book that knocked your socks off in 2015, take a few moments and follow the link below to submit your own review.
Submit your own review!
Read the 2014 reviews!
Book: The Secret Place
Author: Tana French
Reviewer: Kristen Wilson, Associate Head, Acquisitions and Discovery, NCSU Libraries
Tana French’s The Secret Place is quite possibly the best of her excellent Dublin Murder Squad mystery series. She makes great use of the procedural genre, in particular an extended sequence where one of the main detectives interviews eight girls at an elite private school back to back. Each interview is a masterful character sketch, and all were completely fascinating. I also like how French is able to balance the classic procedural format with plot elements that are deliberately fanciful. She does this in every novel she’s written, and it gives her work a feel that is both emotionally real and somehow beyond reality.
Book: Painting as a Pastime
Author: Winston Churchill
Reviewer: Josephine McRobbie, NCSU Libraries Fellow
I picked up an early edition of Painting as a Pastime in a flea market as a present for my father, who is a Churchill fanatic. I ended up reading it cover-to-cover in one sitting, completely enraptured. This unusual book is Churchill’s essay on the importance of deep engagement with hobbies that are different, in terms of mental and physical demands, from one’s everyday work. In Churchill’s case, it was oil painting that allowed him some mental peace and emotional release from the “Black Dog” of depression and then-recent career setbacks.
Book: The Checklist Manifesto
Author: Atul Gawande
Reviewer: Venkitasubramanian Akshay, student, Industrial and Systems Engineering, NC State
A simple solution to a complicated world. This book is an exciting read for anyone who is looking for an excuse to discover the power of simple Post-its and how it has transformed the world around us. Beautifully written, this is by far the best book I have read this year
Book: Bright Shiny Morning
Author: James Frey
Reviewer: William L. Page, NC State alumni, class of 1983
The story takes place in Los Angeles and has four story lines. A homeless person, a young couple from Ohio, an immigrant Mexican, and a mega famous movie star. They are all chasing something in LA and encounter some tremendous struggles. The book also mixes some very cool facts and history about the city of Angels. What I especially like is the ending, one happy, one tragic, and two kind of in-between. Try it — it’s fast, it’s engaging, and unique!