It’s the perfect time of year for a scary read! These spine-tingling reads will have you checking under the bed before you go to sleep. Find much more in the library catalog.
Archive for the ‘EBRPL Book’ Category
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
Rachel Chu, an economics professor in New York, agrees to accompany her boyfriend, fellow professor Nick, to his family home in Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding … only to discover Nick comes from one of the wealthiest families in all of Asia. And Nick? He’s one of Singapore’s most eligible bachelors. Poor Rachel – immediately dismissed by the more snobbish members of his family as an “ABC” (American-Born Chinese) – is woefully unprepared for the gossiping, in-fighting, and drama that ensue when she shows up on the arm of sought-after Nick.
Astutely touching on the antics of the idle rich, the novel is a frothy, over-the-top look into a rarefied world where old money clashes with nouveau riche and family alliances reign supreme. Kwan’s knack for clever dialogue shines throughout, perfectly capturing conversations between society matrons, catty debutantes, and other party guests in the feverish days leading up to the wedding of the season. A particularly clever bit is when one mother admonishes her children to finish everything on their plates: “Don’t you know there are children starving in America?”
Reminiscent of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton in his insight into high society – and his biting but witty commentary – Kwan’s remarkable debut is the ultimate guilty pleasure.
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Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans by Emily Epstein Landau. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
By the late 1800s, New Orleans was already known as the “Southern Babylon,” a city arguably as legendary for its rich cultural heritage as for its festive (and libidinous) atmosphere. In an effort to “clean up” and modernize the city, officials passed an ordinance in 1897 establishing the red-light district Storyville, designed to restrict vice to a clearly demarcated area away from the more civilized parts of town.
Spectacular Wickedness explores the history of Storyville that reigned from 1897 to 1917, offering liquor, gambling, jazz music, and, of course, the main attraction: sex. Landau touches on the racial history of New Orleans and then focuses on some of the major players of the era, in particular Lulu White, the so-called “Diamond Queen” of the demi-monde, Storyville’s most infamous madam who specialized in offering “octoroon” prostitutes at Mahogany Hall, her Basin Street bordello.
The seminal Supreme Court “separate but equal” decision Plessy v. Ferguson which legalized segregation in 1896 originated in New Orleans, a city with a long-standing three-tiered racial hierarchy and complicated system of cultural categories within the black community. The fact that the madams of Storyville openly defied the segregation laws just a few short years later by advertising sex with mixed-race women to white customers (all the while barring black customers, interestingly enough) contributed to the district’s notoriety and Landau argues that the brothels of Storyville provided venues for white males to assert their dominance in a time of social unrest.
Well-researched and informative, Spectacular Wickedness is a welcome addition to the ever-growing canon of New Orleans cultural history books.
September 22-28 is Banned Books Week! It’s a celebration of the freedom to read under the protection of the First Amendment. Visit our Banned Books Week InfoGuide.
Find out more about banned books on the American Library Association site (ALA) and the Banned Books Week site. You can participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out by creating videos on the virtues of the freedom to read. They will be featured on a dedicated YouTube channel.
According to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, these were the most challenged books of 2012. How many have you read?
1) Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
3) Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
4) Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
5) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
6) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
7) Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
8) Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
9) The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
10) Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence