Thursday, November 16, 2017

Medical History

Nurse. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.

Even better: an iron lung. I’ve never seen an iron lung, but the newspapers had pictures of children in iron lungs, back when people still got polio. These pictures – the iron lung a cylinder, a gigantic sausage roll of metal, with a head sticking out one end of it, always a girl’s head, the hair flowing across the pillow, the eyes large, nocturnal – fascinated me, more than stories about children who went out on thin ice and fell through and were drowned, or children who played on the railroad tracks and had their arms and legs cut off by trains. You could get polio without knowing how or where, end up in an iron lung without knowing why. Something you breathed in or ate, or picked up from the dirty money other people had touched. You never knew.
~Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

What do you think about when you think about medical history? For us, it's the Mutter Museum exhibit we saw at the Albuquerque Museum several years back. It's T. Coraghessan Boyle's The Road to Wellville, Andrea Barrett's The Air We Breathe (and New Mexico's own history of "lungers"), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the movie Burke & Hare. We think of what we've heard about medicine during the wars - amputations during the Civil War, aftereffects of the deadly use of mustard gas in WWI, MASH (did you know the movie and TV series were based on a book?). Stories about the influenza pandemic in 1918, like Katherine Anne Porter's poignant "Pale Horse, Pale Rider".  We're just waiting to see how the PBS TV series Victoria deals with Queen Victoria being given chloroform for the birth of her last two children after birthing seven other children without anesthetic. And, of course, the iron lung, as Margaret Atwood has referenced above.

Of course, we know there's a lot more to the history of medicine than what our smattering of education, a lot of it garnered from pop culture and media, has provided us with. We thought you might be interested in exploring this fascinating topic with us, so we present you with the following list of books from our library catalog.

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages by Nathan Belofsky

Hysteria  text by Richard Appignanesi ; drawings by Oscar Zarate

Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made by Richard Rhodes

The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery by Robert Dunn

Pandora's DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree by Lizzie Stark

The Enlightened Mr. Parkinson: The Pioneering Life of a Forgotten Surgeon and the Mysterious Disease That Bears His Name by Cherry Lewis

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation At the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine by Ira M. Rutkow

Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker

Lotions, Potions, and Deadly Elixirs: Frontier Medicine in the American West by Wayne Bethard

Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky

For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich

The Daily Practice of Compassion: A History of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Its People, and Its Mission, 1964-2014 by Dora L. Wang

The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman

The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Meow-velous: Cats at the Library

DOMESTIC CAT. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 28 Oct 2017.
We're gutted to have missed National Cat Day on October 29th, but as Sandra Boynton pointed out on Facebook, "...March 28 is Respect Your Cat Day, May 30 is International Hug Your Cat Day, June 15 is World Catnip Awareness Day, June 25 is Take Your Cat to Work Day, August 8 is World Cat Day, Sept 1 is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day, Oct 16 is Feral Cat Day, and Oct 27 is National Black Cat Day," so we have plenty of other chances to celebrate our purry pals. Cats and libraries are a natural match! The tradition of having a cat in the library is allegedly dates back to the Egyptians, and there are cats in libraries worldwide. (There are also cats in the Hermitage Museum in Russia. Which has a library.) There are famous library cats - Dewey! Baker & Taylor! - and not so famous ones.

They have a job description:
  1. Reducing stress for all humans who pay attention to him.
  2.  Sitting by the front door every morning at 9:00 am to greet the public as they enter the library.
  3. Sampling all boxes that enter the library for security problems and comfort level.
  4. Attending all meetings in the Round Room as official library ambassador.
  5. Providing comic relief for staff and visitors whenever possible.
  6. Climbing in book bags and briefcases while patrons are studying or trying to retrieve needed papers underneath him.
  7. Generating free national and worldwide publicity for Library. (This entails sitting still for photographs, smiling for the camera, and generally being cute.)
  8. Working toward status as world’s most finicky cat by refusing all but the most expensive, delectable foods — and even turning up his nose at those most of the time.
Allergy complaints have made their positions more scarce recently. One cat was nearly banished, but ended up staying on the job after a petition was circulated and the city council voted to retain his services.

There's a stereotype of the cat-loving librarian. We don't know that all librarians love cats, but we sure do! Our library system does not have library cats, but we'd like to point out that even without a resident cat, the library catalog offers plenty of ways to enjoy felines - dander-free! Here's some standout items:

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee

The Dalai Lama's Cat and the Power of Meow by David Michie [eBook]

Shop Cats of New York by Tamar Arslanian

Cat Tales: True Stories of Kindness and Companionship With Kitties by Aline Alexander Newman

The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do-- And How to Get Them To Do What You Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

Men With Cats: Intimate Portraits of Feline Friendship by David Williams

Call of the Cats: What I Learned About Love and Life From a Feral Colony by Andrew Bloomfield

The Old Man and the Cat: A Love Story by Nils Uddenberg

Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes[eBook]


The Story of Cats

The Secret Life of Cats 


A Street Cat Named Bob

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Featured Author: Angela Carter

This year has seen the publication of a new book about British author Angela Carter, who was, according to the book's publisher, "[w]idely acknowledged as one of the most important English writers of the last century...[her] work stands out for its bawdiness and linguistic zest, its hospitality to the fantastical and the absurd, and its extraordinary inventiveness and range. Her life was as vigorously modern and unconventional as anything in her fiction." The new book is called The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon, and it is heavily based on memories of her contemporaries and her own personal journals.

Not familiar with Angela Carter? She did die in 1992 of cancer aged only 51 - a voice silenced too soon - and is not hugely well known outside of England. Raised in South London, in her late teens she rebelled from a sheltered, overprotected childhood to embrace a lifestyle that included being politically active - she considered herself a socialist and a feminist - and building "a reputation as someone who would say anything and take any risk." Carter worked briefly as a reporter, as a co-editor of a literary magazine, and taught at several universities, but mainly worked ferociously on her own "surprising and transgressive" books, including a book-length essay called The Sadeian Woman. She won a literary prize that allowed her to travel to Japan, where she led a bohemian lifestyle and took up with the first in a succession of younger men. She ended up back in England in the 1970s and had a child at the age of forty-three. Her literary protégés included Salman Rushdie, who called Carter a "benevolent white witch." Margaret Atwood called Carter a "fairy godmother." These kind of otherworldly descriptions have stuck to her posthumous reputation, though she was not overfond of that style of classification in life.

Her fiction, though she began writing with a more socially realistic bent, is "punctuated by extravagant flights of imagination," concerned with "“the social fictions that regulate our lives,” and is often associated with adjectives such as "savage,"  "thorny," and "fantastic."  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Carter was a fan of Wuthering Heights, and her "male romantic leads tend to be feral, violent, and encrusted with dirt." Author Joan Acocella says:

The English novelist Angela Carter is best known for her 1979 book “The Bloody Chamber,” which is a kind of updating of the classic European fairy tales. This does not mean that Carter’s Little Red Riding Hood chews gum or rides a motorcycle but that the strange things in those tales—the werewolves and snow maidens, the cobwebbed caves and liquefying mirrors—are made to live again by means of a prose informed by psychoanalysis and cinema and Symbolist poetry.

It's suggested that Carter's influences ranged from Baudelaire and Rimbaud to science fiction. Sex and autonomy were two of the most notable subjects that she returns to again and again in her writings. Her work was a way of questioning the world around her, and she was very clear that she did not have the answers.

The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

Nights at the Circus  

About the author: Angela Carter by Lorna Sage [eBook]

Part of the "Writers and Their Work" series, this book is described on Google Books thusly: "Although Angela Carter's work is considered part of the contemporary canon, its true strangeness is still only partially understood. Lorna Sage argues that one key to a better understanding of Carter's writings is the extraordinary intelligence with which she reads the cultural signs of our times. From camp subversiveness in the 1960s to fairy stories, gender-politics, and the theoretical 'pleasure of the text', which she made so real in her writing, Carter legitimized the life of fantasy, and celebrated the fertility of the female imagination more actively than any other writer of her generation. Lorna Sage's study explores the roots of Carter's originality, covering all her novels as well as some short stories and non-fiction."

For readalikes of Angela Carter, consider Jeanette Winterson, A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Katherine Dunn, Emma Donoghue, Francesca Lia Block, and Salman Rushdie.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Workplace Drama

OFFICE: AN AMERICAN WORKPLACE, THE (2005) - FISCHER, JENNA. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 25 Oct 2017.
If your workplace is a drama-free zone, consider yourself lucky. Many workers deal with unfairness, questionable activities, abusive bosses, unprofessional colleagues, or just a "culture of dysfunction" in the workplace. Life coach Lori Scherwin says "No one should ever have to work in an environment that causes your stomach to go in quivers but the unfortunate reality is it's more normal than we'd prefer. Often professionals 'accept it' as is, which can do more harm for you in the long-run, both professionally and also personally." Everyone has bad days, but there are a whole lots of red flags that indicate your workplace is toxic - backstabbing, micromanaging, bullying, internal competition, with no concern from management about work-life balance and dissent being discouraged. Depending on how toxic your workplace is, you might need more than good advice, but Mashable, The Muse, Lifehacker, Huffington Post, and even Ivanka Trump all have suggestions for coping with workplace drama. Us? We don't pretend to have the answers, but we're always willing to take a look in a book. The Rumpus and The New Yorker had some suggestions of  "books with bad bosses" that you might find useful, and we've added a few of our own.


Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville [eBook]

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Lightning Rods by Helen Dewitt

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Non- Fiction

Cubed: A History of the Office by Nikil Saval

Making Work Work: The Positivity Solution For Any Work Environment by Shola Richards

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton

No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea by James Livingston

First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks edited by Merritt Watt

Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable For Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni

A World of Work: Imagined Manuals For Real Jobs edited by Ilana Gershon

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Well-Read Witch

Witches: five silhouetted figures. [Photograph]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

One thing I know for sure is that I am too lazy, disorganized and anti-social to be a competent witch who belongs to a close-knit coven. I never know what phase of the moon we are in and my black thumb prevents me from cultivating the necessary herb garden for effective rituals and spells. I don't even cook from recipe books, so putting together a whole spell is out of the question. I have never read any of the Harry Potter books.   However, that doesn't mean I'm not intrigued by witches, Wiccans, pagans, and the spiritually adventurous.

Whether you celebrate Halloween, harvest festivals in the church parking lot, or Samhain, witches are a part of our collective imagination and historical record and autumn is the time they are most likely to be on our imaginative radar. Witches, witchcraft, witch hunters, and witch panics make for riveting reading in the categories of fiction and non-fiction. So keep one lamp on for yourself, pretend you're not home to hand out candy, and read about witches.


America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem by Owen Davies
A Brief History of Witchcraft by Lois Martin
Brujas, Bultos, y Brasas: Tales of Witchcraft and the Supernatural in the Pecos Valley collected and edited by Nasario Garcia
The Crafty Witch: 101 Ideas for Every Occasion by Willow Polson
The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-Hunting in the Western World by John Demos
The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe
Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by Aarilynne Roach
Wiccan Celebrations: Inspiration for Living By Nature's Cycle by Silver Elder
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Eberling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder,and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 by D. Brenton Simons


Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
The Book of Spirits by James Reese
Brida by Paulo Coehlo
Bruja Brouhaha by Rochelle Staab
The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis
The Circle by Bentley Little
Dark Birthright by Jeanne Treat
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Lasher by Anne Rice
Taltos: Lives of the Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cosplay: Wearing Your Fandom

Japanese woman in cosplay outfit, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan, Asia. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 14 Oct 2017.
For me personally, cosplay is the strongest and purest way to express your love for a fandom. Creating a costume from scratch by spending days and nights with your sewing machine or heat gun and using most of your hard-earned money to bring this dream to life takes passion and pure dedication. Before cosplay you just consumed the art and worlds of other artists by reading comics, watching movies or playing video games, but now you're becoming the artist yourself!
~Svetlana Quindt AKA Kamui Cosplay

We confess, our first introduction to cosplay was when we happened upon Shoichi Aoki's Fruits in the early oughts. This book of portraits of Japanese street kids in Tokyo's Harajuku district, taken from a popular fanzine of the same name, is probably more about fashion than cosplay, but it is about having fun with fashion. Though there are a lot of "Gothic Lolitas," you also find references to anime such as Sailor Moon popping up. But cosplay existed long before 2000. The first recorded cosplay (a portmanteau of costume play) involving an established character - as opposed to a masquerade or fancy dress party - took place at the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, according to Wikipedia, with fan costuming at conventions taking off slowly and primarily in party settings. The term cosplay was not actually coined until 1984, although fan costuming had been a phenomenon in Japan since the 1970s. Japan later became the home for cosplay cafés and the first World Cosplay Championship, one of many events for cosplayers.

Cosplay is not just a costume worn for a party or holiday. Cosplay costumes are drawn from any movie, TV series, book, comic book, video game, or anime and manga characters. Steampunk became a very popular look recently. Cosplayers often stay in character whenever in costume, although this kind of performance is more often seen in live-action role-playing (LARP). Some cosplayers just model their costumes without staying in character.You can buy costumes, or create your own from scratch - costumes are judged for accuracy, craftmanship, presentation, and audience impact in competition. There are those who cosplay "to create, learn, socialize, and be someone or something you've always dreamed of."

Other than cosplay-centered conventions, another place to find cosplay is, of course, any comic convention worth its salt - New Mexico has several options, including Bubonicon, Las Cruces Comic Con, and the Indigenous Comic Con (coming up in November!)  - or at the Renaissance Fair (locally, there's one in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe).

If you're interested in exploring cosplay, the library catalog has some titles that might help you along. As Kamui Cosplay says, "Being an artist means being free to express yourself and not be bound by skin color, sex or body shape. Dress up as whoever you want to be and enjoy all the different character interpretations you'll find on the convention floor."

How To Cosplay. Vol. 1.

The Hero's Closet: Sewing For Cosplay and Costuming by Gillian Conahan

The Costume Making Guide: Creating Armor & Props for Cosplay by Svetlana Quindt, aka Kamui Cosplay

Make: Props and Costume Armor - Create Realistic Science Fiction and Fantasy Weapons, Armor, and Accessories by Shawn Thorsson

Knits For Nerds: 30 Projects - Science Fiction, Comic Books, Fantasy by Joan of Dark, a.k.a. Toni Carr

Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen by Abby Denson [eBook]

The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan by Patrick W. Galbraith

Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games by Lizzie Stark

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cult Film

Pythons In Armour. Photographer. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 21 Oct 2017.
Though many drive-ins have been shut down, and the practice of screening midnight movies in theaters has waned considerably from its heyday in the early 1970s, the thrill of sharing boundary-testing films in the dark can now be enjoyed just as well while curled up on the couch—no accompanying cult required... These films stubbornly refuse to be marginalized, lower budgets and lack of Hollywood gloss be damned.
~Themes: Cult Movies, from the Criterion Collection website 

The term “cult classic” gets thrown around a lot these days, usually to describe anything that wasn’t widely seen but has some vocal fans. There should be another word for that, because “cult” implies a whole other level of devotion. This list is about movies that inspire very unusual outpourings of support. Let’s put the “cult” back into “cult following.”
~Andy Hunsaker, "15 Movies With Crazy Cult Followings"

How do you define cult film? The two quotes above, the latter taken from the IFC website, seem to have a subtly different take on that question. Is a cult film just a B-movie or a midnight movie? Or is it something that has grabbed hold of at least certain moviegoers' imagination and become part of the culture of moviegoing, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Criterion defines cult films from their own collection as Crumb, Eating Raoul, F for Fake, Fantastic Planet, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Eyes Without a Face, Harold & Maude, House, Koyaanisqatsi, Kiss Me Deadly, Man Bites Dog, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Monty Python's Life of Brian, Repo Man, and Slacker. The IFC article, which, granted, is just the opinion of a single author, is more inclined towards Star Wars, The Big Lebowski, Evil Dead, Repo: The Genetic Opera, Clerks, Fight Club, Labyrinth, Star Trek, Serenity, and Showgirls. (Both lists do include David Lynch.)

Rolling Stone is more closely aligned with Criterion's definiton, but allows a little lee-way - "There's no single way to recognize a cult movie other than the simple fact that it's developed a fiercely devoted audience that watches it over and over, preferably at midnight in a theater packed with other die-hards." The website i09 also recognizes that you can debate cult status,  but we like their definition best: "A great cult movie is like a weird underground discovery, that feels so strange and wonderful, you suspect that you're the first person ever to appreciate it properly. But certain cult films have acquired fame and influence to rival any blockbuster, and have become part of our shared vocabulary."

How do you define cult film? Do you lean more towards a blockbuster big enough to warrant its own convention, or something more arty and obscure, perhaps involving audience participation at a late-night showing? Regardless of definition, many films, both popular and niche, have made their mark on our cinematic landscape. Our list of cult films, below, leans a bit more towards the midnight movie definition of cult, but we've thrown some more popular titles into the mix. Hope you find something that strikes your fancy!