Second Floor Staff Picks: At Home in Alternate Worlds

| December 1, 2016

-Beckie Beeson

I have worked as a librarian at the Gottesman Libraries for a year now, and have been honored to meet the students, professionals, and educators that make up the community at TC. As I head to the West Coast to complete my Masters degree in Library Science at the University of Washington, I leave a library book collection on the second floor for all to enjoy. The selection maps out the formative works that have made up my literary history and personal library.

The alternate world in literature has always been a comforting place for me, while magical realism and dystopias have naturally made up my favorite narratives. I’ll never forget the way that the world around me transformed when I witnessed a story’s omission of color, to then later infuse a character’s grey world the color red in Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye shifts Pecola Breedlove’s hapless life into a phantasmagoria of metaphor transposed with reality so that readers are able to view the world from her young perspective. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury describes a daunting world where books are burned, and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami depicts two parallel narratives that finally merge into one epic love story.

I hope that you find this selection hopeful, as even the darkest and most surreal of stories can serve to comfort and inspire.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

PZ7.L9673 Gi 1993

They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

PS3503 .R167 F3 1993

There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.

Black and White by David Macaulay

PZ7.M1197 Bl 1990

With his sleeve, he clears some mist from inside the window. Where he expects a platform, he sees only smoke or steam or cloud. He stares and wonders. Is that really cloud out there?

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

PS3563.O8749 B55 2005

Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

PZ7.T16123 Tal 2009

Sadly, a big ball of paper, no matter how large and buoyant, is still a fragile thing. Sooner or later, it will be surprised by a sudden gust of wind. Beaten by driving ran and reduced in a matter of minutes to a billion pieces.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

PZ7.R7375 Di 2011

The houses on my street are all the same size and shape. They are made of grey cement, with few windows, in economical, no-nonsense rectangles… To some the sight might be gloomy, but to me their simplicity is comforting.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

PZ7.F4995 In 2010

The oak tree looked genuine, but it had been genetically aged. The boughs were so huge that climbing them was easy; as she hitched up her skirt and scrambled higher, twigs snapped and green lichen dusted her hands.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

PZ7.C6837 Hun 2008

In our world, I rank music somewhere between hair ribbons and rainbows in terms of usefulness.

Beyond nineteen eighty-four : doublespeak in a post-Orwellian age by William D. Lutz

PE1460 .B48 1989

Be creative. Make up your own rules for combining words. Your audience will assume that you’re educated if what you say doesn’t make any sense. Never tell the truth. Humankind cannot bear much reality.

Edutopias: New Utopian Thinking in Education by Michael A. Peters and John Freeman-Moir

LB14.7 .E38 2006

The greatest irony of the concept of Utopia is that people are still searching for it when, at the dawn of the 21st century, most citizens of the world’s industrial democracies are already living in one.

Rainbows End by Vernon Vinge

PS3572.I534 R35 2006

There was a dark side to Robert’s morning insights. Sometimes he would wake not to a grand solution but to the horrid realization that some problem was real, immediate, and apparently unsolvable.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

PL856.U673 A61213 2011

It’s not me but the world that’s deranged. Yes, that settles it. At some point in time, the world I knew either vanished or withdrew, and another world came to take its place. Like the switching of a track.

Fallout by Todd Strasser

PZ7.S899 Fal 2013

You never knew what might come out of Ronnie’s mouth, but on that June afternoon, our heads filled with baseball and cheesecake, the suggestion that we could all be dead tomorrow was unexpectedly jarring.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

PZ7.G1273 Co 2002

For a moment she felt utterly dislocated. She did not know where she was; she was not entirely sure who she was. It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.

Magic and Other Realism by Howard Munce

Magical realism has often been referred to as romantic reality. The ‘magic’ is simply the artist’s ability to cast out, from the hundreds of impressions that flash through his brain and before his eyes…as to convince the observer of the utter truth of his rendition of his reality.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

PS3553.A655 E5 1994 c.2

Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to fill the roles given you by good people, by people who love you.

Taipei by Tao Lin

PS3612.I517 T35 2013

Paul had resigned to not speaking and was beginning to feel more like he was ‘moving through the universe’ than ‘walking on a sidewalk.’

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

PZ7.F23814 Ho 2002

Most of all, it was the wild music that impressed Matt. It did the same thing that playing the piano had done when he was frightened and lonely. It took him into another world where only beauty existed and where he was safe from hatred and disappointment and death.