Sunday, February 01, 2015

Susan's Recommended Reads

 About Susan:
Hi everyone! I’m Susan Jennings, the Dean of Library Services at Kolwyck Library & Information Commons. I’ve been at Chatt State for 2 ½ years now and love my job, the people with whom I work, and our beautifully renovated library. I’m not from the Chattanooga area originally but all of my family originated in nearby North Georgia. I still have many aunts, uncles and cousins in and around the tri-state area. One of the biggest highlights (and biggest challenges) of my time here at Chatt State has been in the planning and completion of the library renovation. We tried to design the library in keeping with the changing nature of research and with the needs of students in mind. I’m very pleased with the results and love coming to work here every day!

While much of my job consists of meetings, planning, budgets, etc., I still find time to work some at the library service desk to help students find and use information and teach library instruction classes to assist students in accomplishing their class assignments. I am the library liaison to the Humanities and Philosophy and Religion departments. I was also actively involved in the creation of the RI 100 Library Guide and am the “voice” of our tutorials. Teaching is my dessert! 

Here are some guides I’ve created:

English 1010 - Litton

English 1020 - Kemp

Presentation to the Tennessee Library Association re: Our Renovation

Recommended Books:

While my chosen profession is as a librarian, I once was a historian and actually taught courses in both community college and university. So… I’m drawn to biographies and historical non-fiction. I am an avid user of the Chattanooga Public Library’s eBook collections and read them on my iPad. But I still like print books as well! Here are some of my choices from recent readings:

1. Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 

I have been fascinated with the phenomenon of serial killers in society. Much has been written on such notorious killers like Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy but few know the story of H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer. This killer trolled crowds that visited the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago for young, innocent women to prey upon. Erik Larson is a great writer (so read anything he writes). You will be spellbound.

2. Gordon, Robert. Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print.
Our former President suggested I read Robert Gordon. He writes about the influence of music on Memphis, especially as it relates to the Jim Crow South. Very interesting read about the birth and life of one of the most influential independent recording studios. I have asked him to be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Tennessee Library Association conference in April in Memphis (an organization of which I am the current President). Looking forward to meeting him in person this spring!

3. Cordery, Stacy A. Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker. New York, N.Y: Viking, 2007. Print.
Currently reading this book. After watching PBS’ “The Roosevelts,” I became fascinated with Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She was the “Princess Di” of her day. Everyone watched her and followed all of her antics… from a rebellious child to a rebellious adult. She didn’t let her gender stand in the way of what she wanted. Good read! We do not have this book in our collection but will donate it when I’m done with mine.

4. Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin'. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997. Print.
I was fortunate to meet Rick Bragg as he was the keynote speaker for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Tennessee Library Association. He is a story teller in person as well as in the spoken word. He writes about his life in rural Alabama less than an hour and a half from here. I found myself almost losing my breath at the beauty of some of his sentences. Bragg has a way of zeroing in on the essence of a situation or scene and interpreting it in such a way you can understand it. Looking forward to seeing him once again this Spring during “Writers at Work.” I’m planning to read “Ava’s Man” next.

5. Bragg, Rick. Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story. , 2014. Print.

I just finished reading this fascinating book by Rick Bragg (again) highlighting the infamous life of “the Killer.” He is a southern (and national) treasure… love him or hate him, Jerry Lee Lewis’ life is fascinating. I have just finished this book and have donated it to our library. It should be available for check out very soon!

6. Sedaris, David. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Boston: Little, Brown, 2004. Print.
We only have the audio recording in our collection but it’s just as wonderful as reading the print version. In the audio version, David Sedaris reads the book. His dry sense of humor and hauntingly funny yet tragic imagery is what makes his books the best!

7. Vollers, Maryanne. Ghosts of Mississippi: The Murder of Medgar Evers, the Trials of Byron De La Beckwith, and the Haunting of the New South. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. Print.
As a Southern historian, I am drawn to books detailing the South and its complicated history. Having watched the movie and as an admirer of Merlie Evers, I knew I needed to read this book. It was made even more poignant when I realized that while I knew Byron De La Beckwith lived on Signal Mountain, he is buried within about five miles of our library. This books outlines the civil rights struggle and the continued struggle for equality for all.

8. Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. New York: Amy Einhorn Books, 2009. Print.
Another book about the struggle for equality. Really liked this book. Characters included in this book were highly likeable (and hate-able!). Believe me, I have never looked at chocolate pie the same way.

9. McCullough, David G. The Johnstown Flood. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968. Print.

Read anything by David McCullough! I love everything he does except that they are all pretty long! You will also recognize him as the narrator on many of Ken Burns’ PBS documentaries. Great writer! He weaves a spell! Also read John Adams.

10. Philbrick, Nathaniel. The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. New York: Viking, 2010. Print.
Fascinating take on one of the most flamboyant yet mythical figures in the American West. Like McCullough, read anything by Philbrick. He also wrote “Mayflower.” We don’t have it but I think we should!

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