Book Review: Madame Bovary

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Rating: 5/5

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary tells the story of Emma Bovary, a young doctor’s wife living in the French countryside in the mid-1850s.  Though she is by no means impoverished, Emma is thoroughly unsatisfied with her admittedly banal life as a housewife, and thus makes a series of futile attempts at fabricating a highly sophisticated, quasi-aristocratic atmosphere for herself and her family.  Ultimately, her decisions culminate in horrendous fates for herself, her husband, and her young daughter.

From the onset, Flaubert writes Emma Bovary as a character that you both sympathize with and absolutely despise.  Readers pity her for being forced into a life of mediocrity and being unable to create true happiness for herself because of the social status of women during her time.  She is in every sense of the word trapped in her lifestyle.  However, readers simultaneously are disgusted with her destructive, highly selfish behaviors.  Emma becomes obsessed with living outside of her means in the hopes of creating excitement for herself, and buys enormous amounts of expensive goods on credit to the eventual financial ruin of her family.  Furthermore, she has multiple affairs with two men throughout her marriage, fully taking advantage of her slightly dopey husband’s trust and adoration of her in order to distract herself from her own depressive episodes.  Emma Bovary is in essence the very definition of a conflicting character- readers want so badly to love her because of her plight, but simply cannot because of her behaviors.

Although the love-hate relationship with the main character of Madame Bovary is not what is typical or ideal for readers of novels, Flaubert’s writing of Madame Bovary is absolutely masterful.  Flaubert vividly describes the society within the 1850s French countryside without being redundant or superfluous in his word choice, and writes with a certain sensitivity that perfectly captures the essence of the female soul and brings Emma Bovary to life.  Arguably, Flaubert creates a female character just as excellently as great female writers such as Plath or the Brontë sisters do.

Overall, readers looking for a highly engaging period piece would thoroughly enjoy Madame Bovary.  However, Madame Bovary is by no means lighthearted, and should be approached with the knowledge that it is highly emotional, conflicting, and frankly sometimes depressing to read.  That being said, Madame Bovary is thought-provoking and splendidly written, and I would recommend it to any avid reader of classics, feminist literature, or historical fiction.

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Books24x7 – a source of online technical and computer help books

officeBooks24x7 is a valuable resource that provides on-demand access to various business and information technology titles.  The library has stopped buying print, computer self-help books and totally relies on Books24x7 for patrons needing help with the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Designprogramming languages (Perl, Java, php, and more),  Photoshop, databases programs, business systems and other like sources.

You can discover titles by browsing within individual subject areas or searching across the entire collection by keywords. Once viewing a book you can search for particular topics of interest or browse the table-0f-contents.  Also, you can save titles in a personalized list that you can view later.

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The next time you get stuck trying to figure out how to put your name in a header in MS Word, or use the wand tool in Photoshop, check out Books24x7 for quick answers.

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Book Review: Ask the Passengers

Therapists in the Sky

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

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Rating: 5/5

Summary: Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

One of my favorite things about this book was how real Astrid’s voice was. It was as if I were Astrid and actually experiencing these problems myself. You know a good novel when you delve into the protagonist’s mind. But when you find a novel that not only has you delve into the characters’ minds as well as your own, it can blow you away. That’s what happened to me. I was trying to answer the questions not only for Astrid, but for myself as well. I imagined myself as one of those passengers answering her.

The way Astrid struggled with her sexuality was moving. Everyone assumes it’s one or the other, black or white. But for Astrid, and I think other people as well, it’s a completely gray spectrum of all shades. Astrid doesn’t think she’s gay, but she knows she’s falling for Dee. She doesn’t want it to define her, because as soon as she has that label, a stigma will be attached to her.

I find philosophy interesting and I loved the philosophical lessons woven into the plot. I believe the paradox project helped Astrid figure out a lot about herself through questioning the status quo. When you take an idea and twist it to show it for what it really is, I thought it was mind blowing. Something as simple as “Equality is obvious”. At first I was like, well yeah, but then you start to think about it and tear it apart piece by piece and you see where Astrid is. She takes everything apart and out of its “tidy box”. She herself doesn’t believe she fits in a box. She’s not gay, but she has a girlfriend. Where does this place her and what does it mean?

Astrid is a very dynamic character which stems from her innate ability to question anything and everything. Her story focuses on self-acceptance, peer-acceptance, love and what it means to be in love with someone. The story was written in a beautifully captivating way that kept me from putting the book down. Hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read.

 

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Jamrich Hours During Finals Week

ASNMU will once again sponsor Jamrich Hall as a 24-Hour Study Lounge during finals week.

Open Sunday, December 4 @ noon and ends Thursday, December 8 at 2:00 a.m.

Jamrich Hall hours the remainder of the week are as follows:

Open Thursday, December 8th, 2016 at 6:00 a.m. and close Friday, December 9th, 2016 at 2:00 a.m.

Open Friday, December 9th, 2016 at 6:00 a.m. and close Friday, December 9th, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

Good luck with finals!

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Dog Nights Return!

The Pet Partners therapy dogs will be here again this semester on Thursday, December 1st and Tuesday, December 6th from 6-9 pm. Join us in the library for some finals week stress relief.  Also available will be a two mini horses!

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should join us:

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Someone knows how to relax.

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Dually is the softest boy in town!

Look at this face!

Look at this face!

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We will have two mini-horses this time!

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JSTOR – another way to find articles

Sometimes you need information on a subject that is very specific, and you don’t want to be overwhelmed with the total number of results you get from OneSearch, the library’s main search engine. We offer very many databases specific to all areas of study. Perhaps you’re a secondary education major with a math focus and you need to learn the history of multiplication tables.

First, begin by going to our home page and finding the subject specific link under the OneSearch tab.

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This will take you to a selection of subjects to pick from. I have chosen Mathematics because I want to know about multiplication tables.

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After you have chosen a subject, you are directed to a page with databases that are appropriate for the subject you are searching. JSTOR is a great resource for a multitude of subjects, including mathematics

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After we have selected the database we’d like to use, in our case JSTOR, it will take us to a page like this. I have entered the title “multiplication tables” into s the search field as shown by the red rectangle. If you want your search to find the term “multiplication tables” together as a phrase it is imperative that you put it in quotation marks.  Otherwise the search will retrieve results that have the two words, but not necessarily together as a phrase.

You may also choose what kind of materials you’d like to search as marked by green X’s. You can also choose a range of dates to get the most recent articles.

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Underneath the search fields, there are subjects. You can check any of the boxes to make your search subject specific. In our case, as showcased by the purple arrow, I have chosen mathmatics.

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Once you enter your search, you can choose if you want relevancy, newest, or oldest, for your order. I have chosen the first article shown by relevancy.

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After choosing my article, I have lots of choices. It’s very convenient to read articles on JSTOR because they are organized well. You can down load the PDF version of an article for easy reading as shown by the blue arrow. The PDF version appears exactly like the print copy of the article. It also makes it easier to access and gives you the ability to print. It’s easy to flip to the previous article or the next one as shown by the lime green rectangle. With JSTOR, citations just become the easiest thing in the world. With the click of a button, you can have a citation made up for you. The article appears below the review as shown by the black arrow. The articles vary on length.

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JSTOR is just one of our many data bases that we offer for research. Depending on the subject, there may be a more specific data base for your research. JSTOR is a good database for subject specific or general information. If you ever need help with research, be sure to chat, email, call, or stop by the library.

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Book Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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Rating: 4/5

This is not a happy story. “The Bell Jar” does not leave you feeling uplifted, or inspired, or really much of anything at all. It honestly was a book that left me feeling numb. Sylvia Plath writes so that the reader can look through her eyes as she goes through the trials of being a woman suffering from mental illness the 1960s. She approaches the story with stark honesty, holding nothing back in a brutal examination of the progression of life events.

This is a book that I would suggest to anyone wanting to gain insight on mental illness or perspective on the time period. If you are looking for a light read however, this is the wrong book for you.

The plot is based on a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s life before, during and after her first suicide attempt. What makes this book so important is the history behind it because when looking at what transpired shortly after the book’s publication, there is an aspect where Plath foreshadowed her own death. Plath published “The Bell Jar” in London in January 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. In February of that year, Plath succeeded in her second attempt at suicide at age 31.

“The Bell Jar” takes us back in time, telling her story about the end of her college year. The first part begins with Esther Greenwood, a high achieving college student from Massachusetts, living in New York to work on a magazine for a month as an intern guest editor. Esther and eleven other college girls live in a women’s hotel. While living in New York, Esther goes through many different experiences and views her fellow student interns with some distance. She explores what her choice drink would be at a bar while trying to forget Buddy Willard, her college boyfriend who is recovering from tuberculosis in a sanitarium. Buddy wants to marry Esther when he regains his health.

But, Buddy does not understand Esther’s desire to write poetry, and when he confesses to something he did, Esther decides that she cannot marry him and sets out to lose her virginity, approaching the issue as if it is simply something to get over with.

There is a distinct change in the story when Esther comes home from New York. This is where her life starts to spiral and every event leading up to her attempted suicide comes into bright focus. From here she goes through treatments that include shock therapy and an assortment of drugs. She is misdiagnosed and never truly recovers.

Again, “The Bell Jar” is not a happy book, but it does give the reader a very real perspective. Plath does a beautiful job of developing characters that mirror Esther, tying her story together with vivid imagery. She keeps you paying close attention to every interaction and event. Though Plath is a great poet, her only novel reflects a more blunt side to her writing. This is both a strength and a weakness to this book.

The bell jar that the book is titled after becomes becomes very apparent by the end. There is no satisfying conclusion, because it is an honest account. By the end, you are simply left repeating “I am, I am, I am.”

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Book Review: Germany: Memories of a Nation

Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor

“Anyone who wants to understand Germany should read this.”

-Antony Beevor

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Art Historian Neil MacGregor’s work, Germany: Memories of a Nation approaches the complexities of German history through the lens of monuments, memorials, artworks, and everyday objects.  In doing so, MacGregor sheds light on modern Germany’s cultural values forged in the wake of its complex past, which includes a time of advancement before and during the Renaissance, a time of darkness during the Nazi era and the Cold War, and modern times in which it holds the position of economic powerhouse and a leader in the EU.

MacGregor approaches the topic of German history in his work through six parts.  These parts explore topics such as the extent of German culture in Europe throughout history, which far surpasses its modern-day borders; the unifying factors in Germany, such as a common language and fairy-tales; the more complicated aspects of Germany’s past that affect German national identity to this day, such as the development of the German national flag and the recognition of Karl der Große (Charlemagne) as a great German; German-borne technological advancements, such as the printing press; Germany’s descent into darkness, including the rise and fall of the Weimar Republic and the Nazi era; and finally, Germany’s attempts at reconciling with its past and forming a new national image.

In general, MacGregor offers an incredibly thorough and fair exploration of German history.  Virtually no aspects of the German past are glossed over.  However, Memories of a Nation is far from a dry read; MacGregor’s choice in quotes and explanations of complex issues within the German national memory are easy to comprehend.  Furthermore, MacGregor utilizes an abundance of large, colored photographs within his text to exemplify the most important themes within his work.  For example, in Chapter 8, “One Nation Under Goethe,” in which MacGregor explores the importance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the German national identity, MacGregor offers the reader photos of multiple illustrations of Goethe’s works created by German artists over time, as well as a photograph of a sculpture of Goethe, which greets visitors to Germany in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.

The combination of the above factors makes for an incredibly attractive read to both scholars of German Studies as well as the everyday person who may have a limited knowledge of German national history and culture.  My only criticism of Memories of a Nation is that MacGregor is sometimes a bit too idealistic in his exploration of cultural themes within Germany.  He tends to focus on artwork because of his profession, and as a result his depiction of the German psyche sometimes becomes too stylized.  Even taking that into account, I still have yet to find a more fair and detailed exploration of German history, and would therefore highly recommend Memories of a Nation to anyone who has any sort of curiosity about German culture and civilization.

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APA, MLA, Chicago Oh My: Style Guides from the Library!

Papers always seem to sneak up on you, mainly because you keep putting them off, saying “oh I’ve got a month.”  Once you finally start writing, the references always seem to be the thing that keeps you up late the night before the paper is due.

Don’t worry, we can help you with that!  We have quick guides to four of the main citation guides–APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian.  Starting on our homepage, look under User Guides (circled in red below), and pick the style you are required to use for your paper.

For most research papers in the social sciences, you’ll be required to use APA style so that’s what we’ll be working with.

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After you’ve selected your style guide, there will be a list. This list is filled with every citation you could possibly need.

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I’ve chosen to look up a book citation. As you can see underlined in purple, online and print books are cited differently.

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When you click the expand button next to the blue arrow, it will take you to a more detailed citation guide that shows you the correct format for that source.  Citations are very precise so make sure you are citing the correct item. Note, when you expand the page, you must scroll (as indicated by the yellow arrow) to reach the print citations.

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Although definite time savers, our quick-reference style guides still require you to manually create your own citations.  A faster way is to use free reference manager like Zotero, which can import sources you find by using OneSearch and then create in-text citations and a reference list in MS Word all in a few clicks of your mouse.  Thousands of citation styles are available through Zotero.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to stop by or contact us!

 

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Check out the library’s touch screen scanner!

We have a easy-to-use new scanner in the library!

This touch screen machine will send scans straight to the printer, email,  and flash drives, or you can download files directly to your smart device! It has two features, one for book scans (as shown by the green star in the image below) and one for paper scans using the automatic document feeder (as shown by the yellow X) . The automatic document feeder also has a special slot for driver licenses or NMU ID cards.

The main scanning computer is circled in red. The bottom screen has the controls for the scanner and the top screen displays your scans. Lastly, the purple arrow shows the smart device dock, which serves a hot spot for you to download the files directly onto your laptop!

Easy as this scanner is to use, if you have questions please ask at the Public Services Desk or contact us through chat/phone.

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