February calls us, as a society, to reflect and honor the contributions of Black Americans who made our country. The late, great Carter G. Woodson is considered the father of Black History Month. Woodson is the second African American to earn a Ph.D., after Edward Alexander Bouchet earned one in physics from Yale in 1876. The fight for equality, justice, and humanity for African Americans has always been a topic of discussion.
In the past century, Blacks have had to overcome Jim Crow laws. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Supreme Court cases to desegregate schools helped to change American culture. Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys fought against the “separate but equal” doctrine in Brown vs Board of Education. Signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, the Voting Rights Act strengthened the right to vote that had been granted to Black men with the 15th Amendment. All women had to wait for the 19th Amendment to grant suffrage.
To celebrate Black History, consider a visit to the Equity Resource Center at HCLS Central Branch, which has a great selection of books, movies, and audio materials that showcase many groups. Some classic titles that celebrate Black culture and contributions include James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talkand The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Consider watching films, such as Selma, that tell the story of Civil Rights leaders and a collective group of individuals, who fought for the right to vote.
Black History Month is a time of reflection, healing, and celebration. In February, take the opportunity to learn about Black culture and history through classes, books, and films.
Art Wars! Black History Month Edition Tue Feb 7 6:30 – 8 pm HCLS Miller Branch Ages 11-18. Registration required, drop-in if space permits. Create artwork in 40 mins! Learn a little about prominent African American artists, then use that inspiration. Enter the Art War contest for a chance to win a prize, or just create and enjoy! Materials provided.
Wiki Edit-a-Thon: A Celebration of Black Authors and Artists Thu Feb 9 5:30 – 8:30 pm Online For adults. Register. Edit Wikipedia pages of Black authors and artists whose works are found in our library collection. The evening is dedicated to collaborating on research, writing, and editing relevant Wikipedia pages. Participants check pages and cite sources as they work.
African Experience Tour Wed Feb 15 4:30 – 5:30 pm & 7 – 8 pm HCLS Miller Branch Ages 8-11. 60 min. Ticket required. Tickets available at the children’s desk 15 minutes before class. Learn about the diversity of African culture through hands-on exploration of artwork, videos, and discussion, facilitated by Doris Ligon, director and co-founder of the African Art Museum of Maryland.
Brandon is a Customer Service Specialist at HCLS Central Branch who loves reading, football, and taking nice long walks around his neighborhood.
We can’t move forward without knowing where we have been. This is the essence of why the Jewish Federation of Howard County took on the creation of the Howard County Jewish History Project. By looking back at how the rapid growth of Columbia impacted the evolution of the organized Jewish community in the area, we are better able to chart a path into the future that builds on the work that has been put in by the leaders of the past.
The Jewish Federation is the major instrument of Jewish philanthropy and engagement in Howard County. We are a community-driven organization committed to taking care of the needs of the Jewish people and building a vibrant Jewish future in Howard County, in Israel, and around the world. We are responsible for looking out for the entire Jewish community in the county, not just one demographic segment or one geographic pocket.
The Howard County History Project, “Made From Scratch: Creating the Howard County Jewish Community,” is the type of venture that only a communally-minded organization like ours could take on. We are so grateful to the wonderful historians who worked on this project with us, Deb Weiner and Karen Falk. Assembling this collection of artifacts and anecdotes took over three years, and their process was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Howard County’s Jewish history dates back to the 19th century, but the exhibit starts in the 1950s, when 12 Jewish families settled in the area. It takes viewers through the most important inflection points in the community’s history over the next 50 years then wraps up with an epilogue that gives an overview of what the local Jewish community looks like today.
We are thrilled that the the exhibit’s tour stops next at HCLS Central Branch in the Equity Resource Center from January 4 – February 10. HCLS is one of our most important community partners, and we are always excited to collaborate with them. And if you are wondering when might be a good time to check out the exhibit, maybe try to schedule your visit on January 19, when the Federation and the library partner on an event with local author Diane Tuckman to complement the exhibit.
Joel Frankel was appointed the executive director of The Jewish Federation of Howard County on July 1, 2021. He and his family moved from St. Louis, Missouri, where he spent almost 10 years working at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. Joel and his wife Leah have two sons. As a family they love exploring everything this area has to offer, especially the tot lots, playgrounds, and all of the amazing trails.
Marcus Sankofa Nicks is an educator, researcher, and historian of African American History. He regularly facilitates conversations surrounding the African American historical experience, the topic of race, and its present-day implications. He has served in the Howard County Public School System for more than 12 years, primarily supporting Black/African American students through a culturally relevant, trauma-informed approach. Since then, he has established History Heals Consulting, LLC, which uses African American history as a vehicle to aid schools, institutions, and businesses in fostering healthy and inclusive environments.
Nicks offers a multi-session course that takes a comprehensive and expansive look at the history of African Americans in Howard County. It covers the influences and contributions of African Americans from the earliest beginnings of Howard County up to the contemporary era. He provides historical accounts and a wide range of perspectives on the diverse experiences of African Americans.
The Establishment of Columbia, The Rouse Dream, and Its Impact on African Americans
What was your first job? After graduating from Bowie State, an Historically Black University, I became a substitute teacher. I taught in Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties, and the educational landscape of these school systems helped give me a broad sense of how to engage students of various ages, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. After a year, I decided to return home to the Howard County Public School System as a full time educator.
What is a book you’ve read that changed how you think about a topic or your life? A book that significantly shaped how I think about life and see the world was The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley. I remember there being so many mixed depictions about Malcolm X, so I decided to read the book for myself. I read it as a college student and remember it being more intriguing to me than any textbook. I found a lot of resonance to my life as a young adult. The book had many themes that provoked me into thinking more broadly on topics such as coming of age, trauma, racism, colorism, mental health, family dynamics, the incarceration system, Black Nationalism, peer relationships, Black history, and leadership. I found Malcolm’s X’s evolution inspiring and believe that we share similar qualities, such as the intent to educate and be studious, a work ethic, being a researcher, and using words and speech to analyze society critically.
What inspires/motivates you? My family inspires and motivates me every day, since I know that what I do builds off a generational legacy. My parents always encouraged me to pursue education. My wife and life partner has always fully supported me along my journey. I am deeply inspired by my daughter, who pushes me to be the best version of myself possible as a father. She continues to give me a reason to leave behind a legacy for her to be proud of.
I am further inspired each day through the lessons of history and the stories of those who rose above adversity amidst seemingly insurmountable odds. Lastly, I am inspired and motivated by anyone who is passionate about their craft.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I’m generally content with a quiet space to read and study (haha), but I would love to visit the continent of Africa. Africa has given so much to the world. I would love to visit the place where scientists have said human life first began. I would also love to experience the culture of various countries throughout the continent. Africa has been such an integral aspect of my studies, and I believe traveling there directly would have such a profound impact on me and my family that it couldn’t be put into words.
Celebrate Native American culture and resilience at this free event. Filled with performances, arts and crafts, and food vendors (including Navajo tacos), you can have lunch, do a little shopping, and enjoy amazing traditional dance.
2 pm: Meet the Author Brian Lee Young An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Young grew up on the Navajo Reservation and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Healer of the Water Monster, shares the story of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and who comes to realize that he’s a hero at heart.
Performances by: Angela Gladue Chris EagleHawk Shawn Iron Maker Max Yamne Rose Powhatan Lance Fisher & Giovanna Walking Eagle
Sponsored by Capital Native Nations and Nava Be Diné
Understanding Land Acknowledgements and How to Move Beyond Them
Thursday, Nov 10 7 – 8:30 pm Miller Branch Register here.
“Land acknowledgments” are statements that recognize Indigenous peoples dispossessed of their land and/or relationships with land by settler colonists. These statements are seen as an effective and ethical way to begin acknowledging Indigenous sovereignty, begin correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture, and begin inviting and honoring the truth.
Join Maryland State Arts Council Folklife Specialist Ryan Koons for a presentation about land acknowledgements using materials from MSAC’s Land Acknowledgement Project. In this project, MSAC staff engaged in compensated consultations with tribal elders from American Indian tribes whose lands are claimed by Maryland. Most importantly, this presentation will discuss ways to move beyond land acknowledgements towards positive change led by tribal peoples.
Reading Human Rights
Thursday, Nov 17 6:30 – 7:30 pm Savage Branch Register here.
Reading Human Rights is a monthly book discussion hosted by the Howard County Office of Human Rights & Equity and Howard County Library System. We read books that promote cultural awareness, diversity, and equity.
In November, we read and discuss national bestseller There There by Tommy Orange (also available in large print, e-Book, e-Audiobook, and book on CD formats). This wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary, and truly unforgettable.
This talk explores westward expansion and its impact upon Native communities.
Even though the phrase ‘manifest destiny’ was not used in print until 1845, the spirit of American expansionism that it referred to was very apparent long before the 1840s. Americans had been talking about pushing westward as if it was their manifest destiny ever since folks in Jamestown in the 1600s had started eyeing the land on which Natives were settled.
University of Maryland historian Richard Bell begins by tracking the story of Native expulsion and colonial expansion from the Revolution era through the 1850s, paying particular attention to the ways in which the West and westward expansion came to be romanticized in the American imagination.
Living Nations, Living Words
Wednesday, Nov 30 7 – 8 pm Miller Branch Register here.
Explore Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s edited poetry collection and accompanying project for the Library of Congress: “Living Nations, Living Words.” Listen to poems and author commentary, explore an interactive story-map, reflect on common themes, and discuss Native American representation in literature and society.
Internationally known, in life and afterlife, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as an orator, abolitionist, editor, suffragist and American reformist, the history and placement of Frederick Douglass in Howard County has not been fully recognized and discussed.
Following the Civil War, Frederick Douglass was invited to speak in Howard County on several occasions. Learn about the relationships and associations Douglass had with several notable Howard County citizens within local and national reform circles of politics, higher education, suffrage, and the church. The presentation includes maps, prints, letters, newspapers, photographs, and other ephemera from local, regional, and national collections and archives. Learn more about Douglass and his connections to local railroads, Wayman Grove, Irving Park, Annapolis Junction, local educators, local preachers, local politicians, local suffragists and students attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. from Howard County, including Ellicott City and Simpsonville.
Middle and high school students participating in the 2023 National History Day competition can count on HCLS to be their partner as they explore the theme, Frontiers in History. It’s easy to cross the frontier into your neighborhood library for support and materials. In fact, many HCLS resources are available to you without leaving home! Go to our History Day web page where you can find details on the local, state, and national contest rules and timelines, and a gateway to curated support for your journey:
Inspiration and guidance. You’ll find classes and workshops at many HCLS branches where you can meet History Day judges and learn important tips and tools, from choosing a topic, to thinking about a research strategy, to completing an annotated bibliography. Search National History Day on our calendar of events for dates, locations, and details.
Personalized support. Once you have an idea for your project, sign up for a one-on-one meeting with an HCLS teen instructor to develop your thesis, learn how to use library research tools, access appropriate primary and secondary source materials, or have your work reviewed. Request an appointment at hclibrary.org/new-a-main/students/history-day-research.
Authoritative primary source materials. Did you know that you can read The Ellicott City Times from the 1920s to the 1950s on microfilm at the Central Branch? That’s one classic way to cross history’s frontiers! But with your A+ Student account and a computer, tablet, or phone, you can access the vast range of historical documents found in HCLS’ online databases, like these:
American Periodicals: Includes more than 1,500 magazines and journals published from 1740 – 1940.
Archives Unbound: Includes Maryland’s city and business directories from 1752 – 1929, letters and reports from the War of 1812, and Confederate newspapers.
Baltimore Afro-American Archives: Search issues of the most widely circulated African American weekly newspaper on the East Coast (1893-1988).
Indigenous Peoples of North America: Find short films, photos, newspaper articles, manuscripts, and much more about Native Americans.
Hitch your wagon to HCLS for History Day success and start your journey today.
Jean B. is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch and loves reading books for all ages when she isn’t enjoying the outdoors.
Sheryll Cashin discusses her new book, White Space, Black Hood, which traces the history of anti-Black residential caste — boundary maintenance, opportunity hoarding, and stereotype-driven surveillance. It unpacks the current legacy so we can begin the work to dismantle the structures and policies that undermine Black lives. The iconic Black hood, like slavery and Jim Crow, is a peculiar American institution animated by the ideology of white supremacy. Politicians and people of all colors propagated “ghetto” myths to justify racist policies that concentrated poverty in the hood and created high-opportunity white spaces.
Drawing on nearly two decades of research in cities around the U.S., Cashin traces the processes of residential caste and contends that geography is now central to American caste. Poverty-free havens and poverty-dense hoods would not exist if the state had not designed, constructed, and maintained this physical racial order.
Cashin calls for abolition of these state-sanctioned processes. The ultimate goal is to change the lens through which society sees residents of poor Black neighborhoods from presumed thug to presumed citizen, and to transform the relationship of the state with these neighborhoods from punitive to caring.
Deeply researched and sharply written, White Space, Black Hood is a call to action for repairing what white supremacy still breaks.
Cashin is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice at Georgetown University and an active member of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. Follow her at sheryllcashin.com and on Twitter @sheryllcashin.
It’s hard to find a good place to start with this book, so I’ll start at the end, in the year 3012. Society is different, and so are the people as the result of hundreds of years of war and compromise and cultural evolution. As a species, we are a genderless and raceless band of nomads, with a blatant disdain for those who settle down in nuclear family units.
So yeah, there’s a lot going on. The above phrasing makes it seems starkly unnatural, but somehow, Monica Byrne’s weaving together of three different stories across time makes the future version of us feel tangible. Despite all of the modifications and the general foreignness of the shape of this future society, the basics of humanity remain the same. We are emotional and community oriented, no matter when we are in history. We follow patterns that remain, no matter how far we try to stray outside the bounds of history.
The ripple effects from past to present to future were incredible. Seeing names and places that were mentioned briefly in the past become more important in the future was almost an exciting reward for paying close attention through the timelines. And this book does reward close attention. It is obvious that Byrne put immense time and research into all aspects of the novel, going from the Maya, to modern Belize, to what made sense for the future based on the results of the events she described in the first two timelines. Most importantly, the story of the Hero Twins, some of the most important figures in the Maya mythos, is described and adapted in such a faithful light that Byrne has room to play with the elements of the mythology.
The story of the Hero Twins is one that Byrne explains in the novel, but, like the rest of Maya mythology, it is complex and bears repeating. The Hero Twins were the central characters of one of the oldest preserved Maya works, the Maya equivalent of the Epic of Gilgamesh, with just as much adventure. They were often portrayed as complementary forces, the sky and the earth, the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, life and death. All in all, the Hero Twins were born to represent the two sides of a single entity. The shortest way to explain their greatest triumph is that they defeated the lords of Xibalba, the Maya equivalent of the realm of the dead, in a ball game, essentially representing that together, they had conquered death and diminished the power of all Xibalba.
In the first of the three timelines in the novel, the year 1012, we are introduced to Ixul and Ajul through the point of view of their little sister, Ket. They are royalty and are said to be the reincarnation of the Hero Twins, with all the strength, power, and greatness that entails. The second timeline in 2012 follows Leah, a nineteen-year-old half Maya girl from Minnesota who goes to Belize to reconnect with her heritage. While she is there, she explores sacred caves and meets Javier and Xander, another set of twins, who work as tour guides. Business is booming, because in 2012, at the end of one Maya calendar, the Western world had decided the world was going to end. And then, in 3012, we follow Niloux, someone who is speaking out about the way society has evolved. She is embroiled in debate about the very nature and purpose of humanity, a thousand years after the change in the Maya cycle.
Each of these timelines finds the characters on the precipice of a great and life altering change. The story is a blend of mythology, history, and sci-fi, and speaks, ultimately, to the way we use history to justify the present, and the way that our understanding of the past informs our future, no matter what we do.
The Tor.com review called the novel, “one of the most effective examples of worldbuilding you’re likely to see on a page this year,” and I have to agree. Despite being longer than 600 pages, it’s somehow still a fast read. It’s a hefty book that tries to cover a lot, and sometimes just doesn’t have the space to explore all of the various threads it brings up, but when Byrne is allowed to go into detail on a subject, she does not miss.
In Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s When Women Invented Television, she talks about the early days of television and the rise of popular TV programs that defined what America was watching for decades to come. But four women in particular were TV powerhouses who foretold the coming of modern-day television personalities we have come to love, such as Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah, and sitcoms such as The Golden Girls. They were among the first of television’s pioneers during the transition from radio to television as America’s most popular medium of entertainment.
There once was a woman by the name of Gertrude Berg, and what a woman she was! She was the creator behind the much-lauded radio show The Rise of the Goldbergs, an NBC radio show showcasing the lives of a Jewish family living in the Bronx and cared for by their matriarch Molly Goldberg, as played by Gertrude Berg. After years of high ratings on radio, she worked tirelessly to bring her show to a fledgling new medium called television, and when she succeeded there was no stopping her. At its peak, The Goldbergs was dominating the airwaves, and much if not all the credit goes to the woman behind it all, Molly Goldberg…I mean, Gertrude Berg. She was creator, writer, and star behind her hit show and nothing could stop her. What she accomplished in a time when patriarchal views and traditional family values were taking hold is nothing short of astounding.
It’s Time to Say Hello Again…
Ah, Betty White. What can I say about Betty White that hasn’t already been said countless times? Sadly, at the time of this post, she will have gone to that great TV studio in the sky to join her husband, Allen Ludden. Betty White was made for television. From her early days on KLAC hosting with Al Jarvis for 5.5 hours a day, to being the main lead on the sitcom Life with Elizabeth, to hosting her own talk show, The Betty White Show, she was unstoppable. Her infectious smile, dimples, and radiant personality won over countless millions, and at one time she was having to turn jobs away because she was working too much! She loved to work and one could say that show business was the love of her life. She fought against prejudice against her during the early days of television as a single woman not trying to settle down and have a family. Through it all, she would continue to be invited into the living rooms of her legion of fans for years to come.
The Guiding Light
Irna Phillips was the guiding (pun intended) force behind The Guiding Light, the longest running soap opera on television. Its earliest incarnation was as a popular radio show, which is why Irna Phillips knew that it would be just what television needed. Working tirelessly for years along with raising two adopted children and doing the best that she could possibly do, she finally was able to bring her show to TV. She was not only a single mother of two children when it was believed families should have a mother and a father, but with the success of The Guiding Light, she became the figurative mother of the soap opera genre in a time when that genre was still very much maligned. Her works have reverberated through daytime television through her own shows as well as mentoring Agnes Dixon, creator of many other long-running soap operas. This was a woman who tried not to let anything stand in the way of bringing her creation to life.
The Hazel Scott Show
In a time when racial segregation was still running rampant, Hazel Scott managed to become one of the first African American people to headline their own show on network television. Already an accomplished musician and used to playing to large crowds, she brought her talent to The Hazel Scott Show to great reception and ratings. Her television career was cut short when she was targeted by the infamous publication Red Channels, which listed suspected communists in various areas of entertainment. She bravely defended herself, but she could not recover her TV career. However, she persevered and returned to her roots as a musician and touring. Her TV stint was brief but powerful all the same.
These four women were astonishing and it was a pleasure to read about their accomplishments, their legacy, and the effects they’ve had on popular culture. One can only imagine what they could have done had they not been impeded by the politics of their era.
Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and is continually grateful to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz not only for pioneering methods of television production that enabled generations to experience the brilliance of early television, but also for taking the chance on a small sci-fi show that still endures 50 years later.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller Read by the author Available through: Overdrive/Libby
In 2018, a victim impact statement, written by “Emily Doe”, was posted on Buzzfeed where it instantly went viral. Chanel Miller wrote the statement during the sexual assault case against Brock Turner. Turner, found guilty of sexually assaulting Miller on Stanford’s campus, was sentenced to only six-months in county prison. In her book, Know My Name, Miller claims authorship of the impact statement and expands on the experience of sexual assault and navigating our justice system.
Why choose the audiobook?
In a review of the book in The Atlantic, Megan Garber wrote a statement that resonates with my experience reading this book; “Know My Name is difficult to read in part because it is beautiful to read.” Miller uses her talent as a writer to show the reader her feelings, her reactions, and her experiences during the aftermath of the assault. From the title the reader is introduced to a major theme of this book, authorship and identity. For me, listening to Miller read this book added to the meaning of that theme.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah Read by the author Available through: Audiobook on CD
Daily Show host Trevor Noah recounts his childhood growing up in South Africa during apartheid, then post-apartheid. Born in 1984 to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father, Noah’s conception was in violation of a number of laws at the time, giving name to his memoir’s title Born a Crime. While this book is wholly focused on Noah’s experience growing up in South Africa, it is also largely about the close relationship between him and his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo.
Why choose the audiobook?
If you’re like me and have fully embraced the internet age, you may have seen “CD only” and already moved onto the next item on the list. But I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Simply put, Noah made a name for himself as a comedian. He not only brought this background into the writing of this book, but the narration. If you could even call it narration. I would say it’s more of an all-out performance. So, see if you can find that CD player in your car and check this one out, it’s a must-listen.
In her memoir, Tara Westover recounts her journey from childhood, the youngest of seven children raised by survivalist parents, to a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University. Growing up in southeastern Idaho, Tara’s world was built around extreme political views, religious ideology, and physical violence. Lacking any formal education, Westover was seventeen the first time she stepped into a classroom. While attending college, Westover studied history where she learned, for the first time, of events such as the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement. Throughout her book, Westover examines the relationships between her upbringing and family, and her growing perspective achieved through education.
Why choose the audiobook?
I am sure there are a good chunk of you who have already read Educated. But if you are one of the lucky few who haven’t, you should absolutely pick up the audiobook. Simply put, Westover is not only a remarkable writer, but a talented speaker. While the story she tells is full of extremist ideology and paranoia-fueled thought patterns, Westover reads her memoir with a calmness and clarity that highlights the themes of learning and perspective found throughout her book.
Eat a Peach by David Chang Read by the author Available through: OverDrive/Libby
David Chang, professional/celebrity chef and owner of the popular restaurant Momufuku (among many more), set out to write a book about the business of cooking, and maybe throw in a recipe or two. Well, this is not that book. Though he may have fought it, this is a memoir; covering Chang’s rise to fame, his Asian-American identity, and his experience with bi-polar disorder. Chang shares his triumphs as a chef in a way that entangles all three of these areas, telling the good, the not-so-good, and the regrettable. But don’t worry, you still get to hear all about some delicious food.
Why choose the audiobook?
Okay, you’ve probably caught on to my formula by now: memoir + read by the author = going on the list. What can I say. When you have an author that can read their own work (and that is not always the case) it just works so well! Chang’s reading of this book is so conversational, full of honesty, humor, and not-so-occasional swearing.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace Read by: Peter Altschuler Available through: Overdrive/Libby, Audiobook on CD
If you’re thinking the only reason this book made the list is because I am a huge fan of Pixar… well you’re not totally wrong. But the main reason I recommend this book is how well author Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, communicates his core message of how to balance creativity and business. In the book, Catmull chronicles his journey from a computer science student to creating the first computer-animated feature film, and the success that followed. In each stage of Pixar’s journey Catmull explains how he was able to manage a team effectively, and sometimes not effectively, while fueling their creativity. Now I know what you’re thinking, how hard can it be to spark creativity in an animation studio? But when you really look at the process of animation, there is a lot of repetitive, monotonous work… seeing any similarities to other jobs out there? I really enjoyed hearing how Catmull identifies creative drain and the steps he takes to work through it.
Why choose the audiobook?
With this story being largely a Pixar story, I was expecting a tone fitting to the brand. Altschuler delivered. The narration of this book hit the same notes of inspiration and excitement that are characteristic of Pixar’s animations, making Altschuler’s narration one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.
Can you fit the entirety of human history into 15 hours? Well, no. But Yuval Noah Harari does a pretty good job at summarizing it in his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Breaking his book into three main revolutions (cognitive, agricultural, and scientific), Harari spans the entirety of homo sapiens’ existence, looking at it through a historical, biological, and, at times, philosophical lens. Harari begins his book about 70,000 years ago and ends in modern day – predicting what will become of the last human species. While I really enjoyed Harari’s take on this subject, I will preface this suggestion with the fact that the author does make some large generalizations in this book. If a particular subject in this book sparks your interest, I highly suggest looking deeper into it. Again, the entirety of human history in one book is a tall order, but Sapiens is a fantastic jumping-off point.
Why choose the audiobook?
If you haven’t already noticed, the majority of this list is made up of biographical works. I tend to lean this way when choosing nonfiction books to listen to because their storytelling structure usually translates to great audio. However, I really wanted to get my hands on this book and the hold list for the audiobook was shorter (who else has been there?). Though it wasn’t my first choice, I really enjoyed the audio version. When I first started it, I found myself missing the ability to re-read that traditional book format allows. However, once I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be turning back any pages, I found the book really enjoyable. The writing does an excellent job at allowing the reader to absorb a lot of information, while still maintaining an easy-to-follow structure. So, if you are looking for an audiobook, but are more interested in the give-the-facts-and-figures type of book, Sapiens would be a great one to try.
Becky is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS East Columbia Branch who enjoys art and everything science.