2015 Fall – New Publications of Note, or, What am I reading?

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2015, Vol. 39, No. 1


The following list presents a selection of items on the reading lists of fellow WESSies. Have something to add? Email Jen Bonnet.

Brendan Fay, Washburn University
Two books that I recently read and found just superb:

  • Nikolaus Wachsmann, KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2015.
  • Joel, Harrington, The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century. New York: Picador, 2013.

I think both really demonstrate that researchers need not sacrifice scholarly rigor to reach a wide audience!

Sigrid Cordell, University of Michigan

Sarah Wenzel, University of Chicago
I only have two wishful thinkings to add to the list:

Richard Hacken, BYU
Here are two books I’m reading, just because I find them fun and they have little to do with librarianship:

  • Patrick Modiano, Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier (Paris: Gallimard, 2014).

I’m curious what a literary Nobel Laureate publishes after he gets The Prize.
Also I find it curious that this title appeared exactly 30 years after the similarly named Quartier perdu.
This novel has been translated into English: So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood, trans. Euan Cameron (Boston: HMH, 2015).

  • Colin Jones, The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth Century Paris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Today we take it for granted that we put our best face forward by smiling during portraiture (selfies, photos, sitting for a caricature, whatever).
We can thank the painter Madame Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun for a self-portrait in 1787 in which she dared to show… her teeth.
It provoked a stink and a scandal that overlapped in “important ways” with the French Revolution two years later.
Impacting sociology and dentistry and politics, maybe this moment marked the first halting grimace towards Modernity?

Agnes Widder, Michigan State University
Here are some books I’ve enjoyed reading in the last year that are about Western European topics:

  • F. Mayes, In Tuscany and Bella Tuscany (I was in Italy in Sept., 2014)
  • A. Norman, Beatrix Potter (I was doing a lot of reading about her in order to do an exhibit and a lecture on her, both of which happened in fall semester, 2014)
  • S. Denyer, Beatrix Potter at Home in the Lake District
  • J.D. Rolls, Bloomsbury Cookbook (we have a cookery collection here and one of my collection areas is British history and studies)
  • A. Bell, Charleston: a Bloomsbury House and Garden (country place of older sister of Virginia Woolf)
  • A. Garnett, Deceived with Kindness (auto bio of niece of Virginia Woolf)
  • A Selby, Victorian Christmas
  • Berest, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are (I’m responsible for French studies (except Africa)
  • Reynolds, Royal Childhood (raising of English royal children back through time. I’m interested in history of childhood also)
  • J. Bate, English Literature: a Very Short Introduction
  • M. Moody, Kate: a Biography (Duchess of Cambridge, wife of the Duke, who is William Wales, an heir to the British throne)
  • I. Origo, Last Attachment, Story of Byron and Teresa G. (Lord Byron the English poet and his mistress and their life in Italy)
  • P. Dampier, What’s in the Queen’s Handbag?
  • R. Goodman, How to be a Victorian (by a woman who has worked as an interpreter and researcher in historic houses. Appalling lack of footnotes, but interesting)
  • Times Atlas of London (a history of London through maps)
  • D. Friedman, Inheritance, a Psychological History of the Royal Family (also footnote deficient, if memory serves)
  • A Crabb, Merchant of Prato’s Wife (He was a merchant in Renaissance Italy, noted bio. Of him by I. Origo; this is about his wife)
  • Wilson, A.N. Victoria: a Life (because I’m getting ready to do an exhibit on her writings)
  • M. Dennison, Last Princess (bio of Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice, who edited her mother’s diaries)
  • W. Appleton, Little Girl’s War (a British girl in WWII)
  • Y. Ward, Censoring Queen Victoria (how her writings were edited, altered after she died)
  • Prince Charles, Highgrove, an English Country Garden
  • S. Smith, Kate
  • S. Johnston, Picnic Papers (about English picnic food and picnicking)
  • D. Souden, Story of Hampton Court Palace

Rebecca Stuhr, University of Pennsylvania

  • Andrew Abbot. Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet Materials. University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Abbott emphasizes research as action. As I think about Digital Paper, I’m drawn to list out all of the verbs associated with the activity of research. Abbott takes research out of the rarified realm of George Elliott’s Casaubon and pulls up the shades to reveal the world of exuberant physical and intellectual activity that research can afford. This realm is one of discovery and choices, “brute force” and “brachiation.” Abbott’s research world brings to mind deep sea fisherman and women rather than creaky scholars who rarely get out of their dim office to see the sunshine. Abbott nets in his readers with an illuminating and entertaining case study that illustrates his own approach to research and then goes on to fully describe each step of his process. For my part, although I might point out this or that incorrect detail, I thoroughly enjoyed the wave tossed adventure of Abbott’s research voyage. I’ve often struggled with the task of sharing with students both the arduousness of the pursuit of research and the excitement of discovery that it offers. With this book, Abbott has provided me with some new verbs and some new ideas to get me closer to achieving that task.

Mara Egherman, Marshalltown Community College
It isn’t really WESS related, but what I’m reading professionally are the following. I’m a solo librarian at a community college, so my duties encompass just about everything!

  • Engard, Nicole. Practical open source software for libraries. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2010.
  • Mitchell, Eleanor and Peggy Seiden. Reviewing the academic library: a guide to self-study and external review. Chicago: ACRL, 2015.
  • Stickell, Lois and Bridgette Sanders. Making the most of your library career. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2014.

And for leisure, a touch of Europe with the third in the Chocolat trilogy:

  • Harris, Joanne. Peaches for Father Francis. New York, Viking: 2012.

Rob Cagna, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center
Well, it’s not a new book, but I’ve been reading Short Stories in Italian: New Penguin Parallel Text (Italian/English), edited by Nick Roberts. I received a free copy at this year’s College English Association Annual Conference. I’ve read two of the stories so far, and the book is an excellent resource for keeping up with advanced Italian reading comprehension, modern slang, and regional usage.