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COMM 260 - ORAL INTERPRETATION OF LITERATURE: Professor Pollock's books on reserve in the library

Reserved Books - Part 1

 Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir - Susan E. Isaacs

Disillusioned, disenfranchised, and disinterested in anything churchy, Susan E. Isaacs knew of only one thing to do when she hit spiritual rock bottom at age 40. . . . She took God to couples counseling.
In this cuttingly poignant memoir, Susan E. Isaacs chronicles her rocky relationship with the Almighty--from early childhood to midlife crisis--and all the churches where she and God tried to make a home: Pentecostals, Slackers for Jesus, and the über-intellectuals who turned everything, including the weekly church announcements, into a three-point sermon. Casting herself as the neglected spouse, Susan faces her inner nag and the ridiculous expectations she put on God--some her own, and some from her "crazy in-laws" at church. Originally staged as a solo show in New York and Los Angeles, ANGRY CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD is a cheeky, heartfelt memoir that, even at its most scandalous, is still an affirmation of faith.

 

   Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon is exceptional. Everyone knows it—her friends at school, teammates on the basketball team, and especially her new adoptive parents. They all love her, even if they don’t quite understand her. They want her to feel like she belongs.

What they don’t know is that Ginny has no intention of belonging. She’s found her birth-mother on Facebook, and is determined to get back to her—even if it means going back to a place that was extremely dangerous. Because Ginny left something behind and she’s desperate to get it back, to make things right.  But no one listens. No one understands. So Ginny takes matters into her own hands…

 Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

 M Train - Patti Smith

an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to the fertile moon terrain of Iceland; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; to the West 4th Street subway station, filled with the sounds of the Velvet Underground after the death of Lou Reed; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.  

 Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace - Jeff Hobbs


When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.

A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. 

 Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

Reserved Books - Part 2

 Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years 

Warm, feisty, and intelligent, the Delany sisters speak their mind in a book that is at once a vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over a hundred years of living side by side.

Their sharp memories show us the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a high school teacher. Their extraordinary story makes an important contribution to our nation's heritage—and an indelible impression on our lives.

 I'm A Stranger Here Myself - Bill Bryson

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliensas he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.

Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.

 A Lesson Before Dying: A Novel - Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying is a deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.

 Little Girl Leaving - Lisa Blume

The 1960s have come to a close—it’s 1972, and America is changing. So is Deidi’s world; she’s seven, and her family is moving. As she packs her room and unearths precious objects from her past, her thoughts begin to stray to the years before—to her first memories in 1968, and all that followed.

From these reveries unfolds a story of terrible abuse and incredible survival. We see Deidi grow from a three-year-old whose understanding of the world is just beginning to form to a child whose courage, compassion, and sense of wonder persist despite every obstacle. Through her vivid recollections, the stark landscape of rural America, the political and social turmoil of the era, and the brutal power dynamics of adults come into sharp focus. Deidi’s story reveals the darkness roiling beneath the surface of American life and the way children are forced to confront it themselves, weaponless and alone. For Deidi, whose family continues to fall into deeper and darker cycles of sexual abuse and violence, survival is a matter of clinging desperately to the light in the world around her—no matter how dim it grows.

 On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood - Irmgard A. Hunt

Growing up in the beautiful mountains of Berchtesgaden - just steps from Adolf Hitler's alpine retreat - Irmgard Hunt had a seemingly happy, simple childhood. In her powerful, illuminating, and sometimes frightening memoir, Hunt recounts a youth lived under an evil but persuasive leader. As she grew older, the harsh reality of war - and a few brave adults who opposed the Nazi regime - aroused in her skepticism of National Socialist ideology and the Nazi propaganda she was taught to believe in.

In May 1945, an eleven-year-old Hunt watched American troops occupy Hitler's mountain retreat, signaling the end of the Nazi dictatorship and World War II. As the Nazi crimes began to be accounted for, many Germans tried to deny the truth of what had occurred; Hunt, in contrast, was determined to know and face the facts of her country's criminal past.

On Hitler's Mountain is more than a memoir - it is a portrait of a nation that lost its moral compass. It is a provocative story of a family and a community in a period and location in history that, though it is fast becoming remote to us, has important resonance for our own time.

 Stories From The Stoop - Steve Bernstein

Stories from the Stoop features seven unforgettable true-life adventure stories mixed with humor, grit, and candor. These stories will fill you with hope and show you we are all in this together. 

Within these pages you will see life from a new perspective. A boy's life experienced straight from the stoop. This small piece of real estate, made of dreams, granite and memories, is his window into the world. 

Through his ponderings Steve asks himself:

  • How can he overcome life’s struggles?
  • Will he ever break the chains of being born into poverty? 
  • How will he fit in?

 Yellow Raft in Blue Water - Michael Dorris

Michael Dorris has crafted a fierce saga of three generations of Indian women, beset by hardships and torn by angry secrets, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of kinship. Starting in the present day and moving backward, the novel is told in the voices of the three women: fifteen-year-old part-black Rayona; her American Indian mother, Christine, consumed by tenderness and resentment toward those she loves; and the fierce and mysterious Ida, mother and grandmother whose haunting secrets, betrayals, and dreams echo through the years, braiding together the strands of the shared past.