Very Short Introduction book series now on BARD

The Very Short Introduction didactic book series covers a varied list of topics and subjects and provides an overview of the theme so the reader can become familiar with the basics before going on to more in-depth material. Published by Oxford University Press, the series began in 1995 and is now comprised of over 500 titles. Each book is traditionally no longer than 200 pages, which translates to an average of 4 or 5 hours of listening time. The series offers titles in the arts and humanities, science and math, social science, law, medicine and health. At the time of this writing, NLS has added 167 titles from the Very Short Introduction series to BARD, and will continue to add more as resources permit. Below we have listed a sample of the titles currently available for download on BARD:
American Slavery: a Very Short Introduction by Heather Andrea Williams DB 85576
Beginning with origins before the birth of Columbus, professor of African studies explores the forced transatlantic migrations from Africa to Europe and eventually to the Americas. Examines the legislation supporting enslavement systems and the conflicts between pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists. 2014.

Agriculture: a Very Short Introduction by Paul Brassley and R. J. Soffe DB 85585
Surveys agricultural production around the world, from multinational agribusinesses to family farmers. Topics include soils and crops, care and breeding of farm animals, modern and traditional farming methods, and the impacts of climate change and genetic modification. 2016.

Aristotle: a Very Short Introduction by Johnathan Barnes DB 85617
Explores life and writings of fourth century BC Greek who “bestrode antiquity like an intellectual colossus.” In his science and philosophy, he tackled fundamental questions of the nature of reality and change. Barnes describes Aristotle’s timeless philosophy, the vast influence of the structure and content of his thought. 2000.

The Blues: a Very Short Introduction by Elijah Wald DB 85838
Musician traces a tradition permeating many forms of music. Blues reflects deep emotion but is not limited to heartache. Examines the broad variety of blues music and performers, the close relationship with jazz and country music, and the influence on rock, pop, and rap. 2010.
Computer Science a Very Short Introduction by Subrata Dasgupta DB 86095
Scholar and writer explains one of the most consequential new sciences of the modern era, involved in problem solving across many disciplines–social, economic, technological, and cultural. Explains differentiation of knowledge, information, and data. Discusses symbol structures, computational artifacts, algorithms, compilers, programming, and heuristics. 2016.

Crime Fiction: a Very Short Introduction by Richard Bradford DB 85624
Examines the genre’s characteristics, origins, and development in Britain, the United States, France, and elsewhere, discussing categories of hard-boiled (noir), espionage, thriller, and legal drama, among others. Investigates women’s roles as authors and characters. Questions crime fiction’s relegation to inferior status compared to the mainstream literary novel. 2015.

Forensic Psychology: a Very Short Introduction by David V. Canter DB 86467
Leader in the field describes the tools forensic psychologists use to try to understand criminals and their behavior. Considers the mix of biological, psychological, and social factors underlying criminality; techniques for working with offenders; and topics such as the insanity defense, false confessions, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 2010.

Microeconomics: a Very Short Introduction by Avinash K. Dixit DB 86143
Princeton University emeritus professor uses common examples to explain the small economic transactions that have big impacts on people’s day-to-day lives. Discusses the roles of consumers, producers, and markets; concepts such as supply and demand and pricing strategies; and what happens when markets and policies fail. 2014.

The Middle Ages: a Very Short Introduction by Miri Rubin DB 86162
Diverse overview of Europe between roughly 500 and 1500. Topics include family and community life in cities and rural settlements, the spread of Christian culture and the often violent relationship between Christians and Jews, the exploitation of natural resources, and the ongoing legacy of the Middle Ages, 2014.

North American Indians: a Very Short Introduction by Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green     DB 86321
Historians describe how indigenous North Americans shaped their cultures so that they could flourish on the land. Perdue and Green stress the diversity and resilience of native societies and describe the ways Native Americans have struggled to maintain their integrity against attacks by European colonists and the United States government. 2010.

Interview with Blind Author and Sculptor Luis Felipe Passalacqua

The Puerto RCubierta del libroican artist and writer Luis Felipe Passalacqua recently granted TBP an interview where he talks to us about his Spanish-language biographical novel ÉL– UNA PEQUEÑA ACLARACIÓN (HIM: A SMALL CLARIFICATION) – DB 81978. Mr. Passalacqua spoke to us on the phone from San Juan. He told us about his creative process when writing his novel, which is based on true events in his life. He told us about his experience going blind, and explained how his personal philosophy has helped him face the challenges he has encountered since. The author, who is also a respected sculptor and accessibility consultant, is currently working on his second novel. To read an English translation of our interview with Luis Felipe Passalacqua, go to Passalacqua Interview–English Translation. Mr. Passalacqua’s book is available in audio format on digital cartridge and available to download from BARD.
ÉL– UNA PEQUEÑA ACLARACIÓN (HIM: A SMALL CLARIFICATION) DB 81978
Through autobiographical reflections and fictional episodes, Passalacqua – a blind sculptor from Puerto Rico – explores diverse existential and aesthetic topics that shed light on the creative process. Spanish Language. 2014.

To read this post in Spanish, click here: Entrevista con el autor y escultor invidente Luis Felipe Passalacqua.

Entrevista con el autor y escultor invidente Luis Felipe Passalacqua

Cubierta del libroEl artista y escritor puertorriqueño Luis Felipe Passalacqua recientemente concedió una entrevista en español a TBP, donde nos habla de su novela biográfica ÉL– UNA PEQUEÑA ACLARACIÓN (DB 81978). El señor Passalacqua platicó con nosotros por vía telefónica desde San Juan. Nos habló del proceso creativo que usó para escribir su novela, la cual está basada en hechos verídicos. Relató algunas de sus experiencias al perder la vista, e indicó cómo su filosofía de la vida le ayudó a superar los retos que ha enfrentado desde entonces. El autor es también un respetado escultor y consultor de tecnologías accesibles. Actualmente se encuentra preparando su segunda novela. El libro del señor Passalacqua está disponible en formato de audio en cartucho digital y para descargar del sitio BARD.

ÉL– UNA PEQUEÑA ACLARACIÓN          DB  81978

A través de reflexiones autobiográficas y viñetas ficticias, Passalacqua- un escultor invidente de Puerto Rico- explora diversos temas existenciales y estéticos que iluminan el proceso de creación. 2014.

To read this post in English, click here: Interview with Blind Author and Sculptor Luis Felipe Passalacqua.

Oliver Sacks, ‘Poet Laureate’ of Modern Medicine Dies at 82

On August 30, celebrated neurologist and beloved author Oliver Sacks died of cancer at the age of 82. He published more than a dozen books, mostly about the intricacies, mysteries, and beauty of the brain and how it shapes human experience in unexpected ways.
His work influenced an entire generation of lay-people to learn about science, and he helped raise awareness about once unknown conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome and prosopagnosia.
Some of his books turned into award-winning films (Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro) and many of them were best-sellers (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat).
Titles by Dr. Sacks in the TBP collection include:

  • MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT AND OTHER CLINICAL TALES BR 06547, DB 23901, LB 03955
  • SEEING VOICES: A JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF THE DEAF BR 08087, DB 30553
  • AWAKENINGS DB 33438 (BARD)
  • ANTHROPOLOGIST ON MARS: SEVEN PARADOXICAL TALES RC 40439, DB 40439 (BARD)
  • UNCLE TUNGSTEN: MEMORIES OF A CHEMICAL BOYHOOD DB 53751 (BARD)
  • OAXACA JOURNAL BR 14231
  • BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING, 2003 DB 57239
  • MUSICOPHILIA: TALES OF MUSIC AND THE BRAIN DB 65202
  • MIND’S EYE DB 71931
  • HALLUCINATIONS BR 19709, DB 75782
  • ON THE MOVE: A LIFE DB 81374

TBP visits Rio Grande City Public Library

One of our TBP Readers Advisory Librarians recently visited the Rio Grande City Public Library to inform patrons of the services made available through our Talking Book Program. In this YouTube video, produced by Rio Grande City TV, we go step by step through the process of signing up for, receiving and returning the FREE materials offered through TBP.

Colleen McCullough, Author of The Thorn Birds, Dies at Age 77

Colleen McCullough, author of the enormously popular 1977 Australian romance The Thorn Birds, passed away on Thursday in Norfolk Island due to kidney failure. When the novel was first published, McCullough received $1.9 million for the paperback rights to The Thorn Birds–a record at the time. Since then, more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide. This success enabled her to trade her poorly-paid career as a neurophysiologist for a life in writing.

The Thorn Birds, a romance novel about the Cleary dynasty and the forbidden relationship between Maggie and Catholic priest Ralph de Bricassart, later spawned the TV mini-series of the same name starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. According to the New York Times, the mini-series was seen by more than 100 million people.

McCullough went on to write more than 20 books, including a memoir and two series -one of them about the saga of ancient Rome and its rulers. Although the public loved her work and consumed it accordingly, literary critics were not always kind. They decried her style of dialogue and her frequent use of exclamation points. McCullough, however, was unaffected by criticism. In fact, she was well known for her immovable self-confidence and strong opinions.

The New York Times quotes McCullough’s 2007 response to her critics on Australian Television: “I think in their heart of hearts all these people know that I’m more secure than they are, more confident than they are, and smarter than they are.”  Who can argue with that?

Titles by Colleen McCullough in the TBP collection:

  • TIM  (1974)  LB 01728
  • THORN BIRDS (1977)  BR 04284 / DB 51148 / DX 51148 / LB 02198
  • INDECENT OBSESSION (1981) BR 05058 / LB 02873
  • CREED FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM (1985) BR 06186 / RC 21535 / DX 21535
  • LADIES OF MISSALONGHI (1987)  BR 06907 / RC 25980 / DB 25980 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
  • FIRST MAN IN ROME: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 1 (1990) RC 32043 / DB 32043 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
  • GRASS CROWN: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 2 (1991)  RC 33912 / DX 33912
  • FORTUNE’S FAVORITES: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 3 (1993) DX 37495
  • CAESAR’S WOMEN: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 4 (1996)  DX 41781
  • CAESAR: LET THE DICE FLY. MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 5 (1997) DX 45492
  • OCTOBER HORSE: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 6 (2002) RC 56136 / DX 56136
  • ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 7 (2007) RC 66004 / DB 66004
  • MORGAN’S RUN (2000) DB 50934  (digital format for this title currently for download only)
  • TOUCH (2003) DB 57769
  • INDEPENDENCE OF MISS MARY BENNET (2008)  DB 68680

And the Winner is…

Oscar season is here and the nominees are in. As usual, some of the films nominated are based on books. Here is a list of some of those films and their corresponding books. Hurry up and read them so you can impress your friends on Oscar night!

Gabo Is Dead. Long Live Gabo.

On Thursday, April 17th , the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, a Titan of Latin American Literature, passed away after a long battle with lymphatic cancer.

Gabo, as he is affectionately called in Spanish, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. His work was known around the world as the most emblematic example of magical realism, a literary genre that appeals to the masses as well as critics because of its social and political outcry delivered through stories full of wonders and miracles.

His career was not devoid of controversy. He had a long-time friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, for which many considered him a kind of naïve leftist who failed to understand the harsh realities of the Cuban dictatorship.

Also, for a while, magical realism, and thus García Márquez, its most prominent producer, was dismissed in Latin American literary circles as having devolved into cheap folklore, obscuring literary substance and being instead a kind of colorful trinket sold to tourists. In the opinion of this blogger, the blame for watering down the genre is more justly assigned to writers like Laura Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate, DB 36256), and Isabel Allende (House of the Spirits, DB 21524). You be the judge.

In the end I am certain that, whether you re-visit Gabo’s work or read it for the first time, its power and beauty will delight and haunt you. His stories will, without a doubt, enrich your reading life by taking you to times and places you never knew existed.

  • Short Stories

Collected Stories. DB 22862 (9 hours, 44 mins.) Includes the stories “Eyes of a Blue Dog”, “Big Mama’s Funeral”, “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”, and “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother.”

  • Novels and Novellas

Collected Novellas. DB 34384 (8 hours, 31 mins.) Includes “Leaf Storm”, “No One Writes to the Colonel”, and “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.”        

Chronicle of a Death Foretold. 1983. DB 19217 (2 hours, 52 mins.)

News of a Kidnapping. 1997.  DB 44812 (10 hours, 46 mins.) 

Love in the Time of Cholera. 1988.  DB 26981 (14 hours, 23 mins.) 

Of Love and Other Demons. 1995. DB 40555 (4 hours, 47 mins.)

One Hundred Years of Solitude. 1967.  DB 59490 (14 hours, 33 minutes.)

  • Memoirs

Living to Tell the Tale. 2003. DB 57362 (17 hours, 21 mins.)

Memories of my Melancholy Whores. 2005. DB 61195 (2 hours, 43 mins.)

This Halloween, get your monster on!

Do you adore scary stories? Are you addicted to Horror novels or alien-monster films? Do your friends look at you sideways when they catch you reading yet another paperback that features a serial killer or a case of demonic possession?
Actually, your spooky predilection is mostly normal. Mostly. The magazine Psychology Today once asked Horror film director Clive Barker why people love to get scared. His answer: “It empowers them… One of the ways you take hold of the things that frighten you is to grasp the nettle very tightly, so it doesn’t sting.” That explains a lot.
So; now you have Clive Barker’s blessing to read scary things to your cob-webby heart’s content. And while you’re at it, find out more about why you love dark tales so much. Spend this Halloween reading some of the following titles.

  • ON MONSTERS: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY OF OUR WORST FEARS by Stephen Asma.  DB 72161 / BR 19224.
  • MEDUSA’S GAZE AND VAMPIRE’S BITE: THE SCIENCE OF MONSTERS by Matt Kaplan.  DB 75865.
  • POE’S CHILDREN: THE NEW HORROR, AN ANTHOLOGY.  DB 68446.
  • BIG BOOK OF GHOST STORIES. DB 76004.
  • MONSTER’S CORNER: STORIES THROUGH INHUMAN EYES. DB 75497.

The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day

Image of two read hearts with text, be my friend, on one of them.Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Are you the first in line to buy teddy bears and greeting cards, or do you hold your nose at the scent of flowers and heart-shaped candy? If you are the latter, and you cringe at hyperbolic celebrations of romantic love, you are in luck because the Feast of Saint Valentinus is also a day to celebrate friendship. So, unless you are sworn to absolute misanthropy, you can still allow yourself to share some delicious chocolate with your true pals. Curb your curmudgeonly ways and ponder the value of friendship by reading one of these inspiring titles:

 
PACT: THREE YOUNG MEN MAKE A PROMISE AND FULFILL A DREAM by SAMPSON DAVIS. (2002) DB 54458 DLD DX 54458 RC 54458

Three twenty-nine-year-old African American doctors–two physicians
and a dentist–describe how their friendship helped them to overcome
obstacles and to pursue their career goals. They share how they
motivated each other to leave problem neighborhoods of Newark, enroll
in college, and enter professions. For senior high and older readers.

FIVE SKIES by RON CARLSON (2007)
BR 17520 DB 65452 DLD RC 65452

Three men share their life stories while working on a construction
project in Idaho. Carpenter Arthur Key, who left California after a
betrayal, and Ronnie Panelli, charming but shiftless, are led by ranch
foreman Darwin Gallegos–angry at man, God, and life. Strong language.

JOY LUCK CLUB by AMY TAN (1989)
BR 07747 DB 29021 DLD RC 29021

In 1949 four Chinese women living in San Francisco founded the Joy
Luck Club where they met to play mah-jongg, tell stories, and “feast”
on scraps. Forty years later one of the women dies, her daughter
takes her place at the club, and a secret is revealed that unleashes
in each person the need to reach back and remember. Bestseller.

TRUTH AND BEAUTY: A FRIENDSHIP by ANN PATCHETT (2004)
DB 62610 DLD RC 62610

Author reminisces about her long-term friendship with Lucy Grealy,
whom she met in college at Sarah Lawrence and who wrote Autobiography of a Face (RC 40052) describing her battle with facial cancer. Patchett describes their relationship until Grealy’s 2002 death from a heroin overdose.