November is Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I would highlight the Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge to “read a book written by a NAFNIP (Native, Aboriginal, First Nations, Indigenous People) author”.
Native American Heritage Month is a time for all of us to reflect on and celebrate the contributions, histories and cultures of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Island communities in North America. For this article, I would like to celebrate the literary works of a few indigenous authors featured in the Monarch Library System collection.
Joy Harjo is the 2019 Poet Laureate of the United States and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Carole Lindstrom is the author of the New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Award-winning We Are Water Protectors. She is Anishinabe/Métis and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians.
Michaela Goade is the Caldecott Award-winning illustrator of We Are Water Protectors. She is the first Native American to win the award. She is of the Tlingit and Haida tribes.
Darcie Little Badger is an oceanographer and the author of Elatsoe, selected by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 Fantasy books of all time. She is a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas.
Stephen Graham Jones is an award-winning author who has been honored with both the Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction and the Bram Stoker Award for Horror. He is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana.
N. Scott Momaday is author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning HouseMade of Dawn. He is a member of the Kiowa people.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is the author and American Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology, and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
This week’s Mead Bookish Bingo challenge uses a couple of anagrams in order to fit on the game square, so let’s start there. If you are unfamiliar, BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and this week’s challenge is specifically about BIPOC women in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Pictured above is Dr. Mae C. Jemison: physician, engineer, scientist, and NASA astronaut. Jemison was also the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
STEM fields are male-dominated, and like artists, many women in STEM receive recognition posthumously. One famous example is Ada Lovelace. Ada Lovelace is now credited with being the first computer programmer because of the algorithm she created to be carried out by a machine, Charles Babbage’s analytical engine—a predecessor of the electronic computer which was invented over one hundred years before the first modern computer was built.
Lovelace was not a woman of color, but she is a notable woman of STEM and is the namesake of the international holiday Ada Lovelace Day (ALD). ALD is recognized worldwide on the second Tuesday in October to raise the profile of women in STEM and celebrate their achievements. The intention is to inspire more women and girls to pursue their interests and careers in STEM. For more information on ALD and events taking place, check out findingada.com.
Women of color are even less represented and acknowledged than white women for their achievements, so I’d like to spotlight a few more STEM superstars that everyone should know.
Among the many women of note in “Born Curious”, Dr. Patricia Era Bath was both a physician and inventor who created the Laserphaco Probe—the machine that uses lasers to remove cataracts from eyes. Read more about Dr. Bath and her many other accomplishments, including being one of the first black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame!
Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer, astronaut and was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman and Muslim recipient to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the Nobel for architecture. Hadid was also the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal.
While “Women in Science” is chock-full of amazing female scientists, Chien-Shiung Wu should be particularly noted as a Chinese-American physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of nuclear and particle physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.
In my search to discover the best and most current books on women in STEM to share with you, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there are not very many full-length biographies for adults written about women and their successes in STEM fields, particularly BIPOC women. Are you listening writers?
In the meantime, here are a few additional titles that include brief biographies on many influential women in STEM: “Wonder Women” by Sam Maggs, “Women in Space” by Karen Bush Gibson, “Twentieth Century Women Scientists” by Lisa Yount, “Women Who Dared” by Linda Skeers, and “Women of Steel and Stone” by Anna M. Lewis.
And if you haven’t read it or seen the movie, yet, check out “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Just do it! It’s amazing.
One last thing. I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my absolute favorite fall events: Mead Public Library’s Tea & Tech: Girls’ STEM Day coming up on October 23. This virtual program is open to girls ages 8-17 and will feature NASA Langley Research Center’s Dr. Julia Cline, Gearbox Lab’s Isabel Mendiola, Spectrum News 1’s Brooke Brighton, and Laser Tech FTC—as well as, hands-on activities and lightning talks by local women in STEM.
And tea. Of course, we will have tea. And swag. We have some amazing swag bag goodies to share with our T&T participants, courtesy of Starbucks, MilliporeSigma, Gearbox Labs, Spectrum News 1, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and Mead Public Library.
This morning I awoke with Dua Lipa’s “Love Again” playing in my head, and gawdamn, it’s got me singing the song, again. Lately, between that and Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits”… I know I should swear off pop music, but I won’t.
My brain is forever a jukebox that is often playing songs that I may have heard recently or haven’t heard in years—maybe I dreamed about it? There isn’t always a rhyme or reason, but there is one constant, a song is playing. Once in a while, a song even gets stuck on repeat. (After singing “Mack the Knife” in a college jazz concert, I frequently found myself humming and singing, “Oh the shaaark haaas, prrretty teeeth, Deeear, and he shows themmm, PEHHRRRly white…”)
It’s for this reason that I tend to despise earworm songs—even the term creates a disgusting visual for me, and brainworm is enough to induce the heebie-jeebies. One of my most hated earworms is Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, because the only thing worse than an earworm is one that mocks you! (By the way, there is a real term for this condition: Involuntary Musical Imagery or INMI, and Mental Floss offers a cure!)
Earworms aside, I am a music lover. I enjoy most genres, or at least some songs from each, but alas, as I am recognizing a sign of aging, I feel nostalgic listening to music from the 90’s and early oughts, my teenage and college years.
One of our Mead Bookish Bingo challenges this year is to read a book that has a connection to a song released in the year 2000. This can mean that the book or title was inspired by a song from that year or that the song from that year was inspired by a book from any time.
This is one of our most challenging challenges, if you will. I did some deep digging for this one, and here are a few literary options for you. This list is not exclusive, so if you have additional suggestions, please share them on our Goodreads discussion board.
“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (This is technically a poem, but the poem was made into a children’s book, so it counts.) Inspired “The Gladdest Thing” by Deb Talan
This whimsical poem expresses the joys of being out in the natural world as “the gladdest thing under the sun.”
An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.
Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel. Borrowing from The Tempest , Huxley imagines a genetically-engineered future where life is pain-free but meaningless. The book heavily influenced George Orwell’s 1984 and science-fiction in general.
It is the height of Spain’s celebrated golden century – but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years’ War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame – though hardly quiet – life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste’s.” The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren’t ordinary travelers – and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
During my research, I also discovered that Artists for Literacy began a fundraising campaign in the year 2000 to recruit literary-influenced songs by top artists to inspire new readers and support free tutoring programs. 2000 was indeed a great year for the literature-music connection.
*Book descriptions and images are from Goodreads.com, except for the Harry Potter series description, which is from Wikipedia
Do you enjoy reading letters, emails, texts, or other people’s diary entries? Then epistolary novels are for you. Plainly explained, an epistolary novel is a story told through correspondence. Written in a series of epistles, meaning missives or journal entries, the reader gets an intimate view of the characters’ innermost thoughts and experiences as the story unfolds. As a reader, you cannot help but connect with these characters and think of them as acquaintances by the novel’s end.
Are you new to epistolary novels and don’t know what to choose? I recommend three of my all-time favorites: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Sleeping Giants, and Griffin and Sabine. The former is a heart-warming, post-war story of friendship, love, and resilience. The middle is a science fiction-mystery-thriller featuring extraterrestrial robot warriors. The latter is filled with exquisite illustrations, and you get to physically open some of the letters which are contained in envelopes between the pages.
Maybe you crave a good heartbreaking but empowering tale like Code Name Verity, the story of two friends caught in the snares of WWII espionage, or Speak, the recount of a teen’s high school struggles post-rape, or The Power, the speculative discussion between two authors on what might have happened when females became the physically dominant gender.
If humor is what you’d prefer, check out The Screwtape Letters, a satire on human foibles discussed through missives passed between a bureaucrat from Hell and his incompetent apprentice; or consider Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, a Bridget Jones’-style tell-all journal of a year in the life of a British teen.
Fancy something a little more scandalous? Try the French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. You might be familiar with the films it inspired: Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions. Of course, there is also The Diary of Anaïs Nin. Yes, THAT Anaïs Nin.
Whatever satisfies your prying inclinations, there is an epistolary novel calling your name, so don’t fight it. Indulge and enjoy it guilt-free. After all, it was written for you, reader.
“Social Distancing” is an ubiquitous term these days with the spread of COVID-19, coronavirus, because it affects all of us. In simple terms, it means that we should avoid physical contact and close proximity to each other.
Book clubs are gatherings of readers sharing in discussion, and in the case of the Book to Art Club, sharing art supplies. Due to the spread of coronavirus many of us are cancelling in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. This is disappointing to do, but it helps protect you and your club members from getting sick, and that is extremely important. However, cancelling isn’t your only option. Clubs can meet virtually via video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams, just to name a few, or through a conference telephone call.
The Mead Library Romance on the Rocks book club met this week over Skype, and it worked well. It was new for many of us, so we struggled slightly with connecting to the group, versus everyone connecting individually with me because they connected through my Skype invitation, but that was easy to fix.
What you need to make this work is to create a group in Skype for your book club. Next, invite your members by email through the group to join. You can also add members to the group manually after they’ve created a Skype account. Then, all you and your participants need to do is click on the camera or phone icon at your designated meeting time. Skype allows participants to connect by video or phone, and covering your camera is always an option, for those who want to join the discussion but not be on camera.
The Moonlight & Murder book club will meet on Skype in April to discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the Book to Art Club will meet on Skype in April and May. These discussions are open to teens and adults.
The Book to Art Club discusses books while making hands-on projects, so to keep the making element, I have asked participants to work on a project at home during the discussion, and I hope to share pictures of the projects in our group Facebook album. April’s Book to Art Club read will be Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, which will inspire steampunk projects related to a girls’ dirigible finishing and assassin school, and May’s discussion will be Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, a Harry Potter-like fantasy featuring a curse, a talent competition, umbrella traveling, a giant cat and magical rooms. I’ve included links on the book titles to make it easy to join these discussions, and I hope you will. Digital book copies may be available through digital sources such as Overdrive/Libby and RB Digital.