George Saunders is not an author with whom I was familiar prior to reading Lincoln in the Bardo. What drew me is the title, being both a Lincoln/American Civil War enthusiast (I’ve never really liked the term “Civil War buff” though I certainly meet the criteria) and dabbler in eastern religions and spirituality. The term “bardo” refers to a state of consciousness between death and rebirth. The story focuses on the death of President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son Willie in February, 1862 during the first term of Lincoln’s presidency and America’s escalation into its nearly year-old Civil War.
I have read, in various forums, that readers’ preferred format for this novel is the audio-book. I can easily understand this as the story features a cacophony of character voices—graveyard residents—whose souls retain a variety of personalities so diverse that it seems a shame to deny one’s ears the pleasure. Saunders creates a dialog between characters that is, in many ways, more reminiscent of a play than a novel. Truncated, rapid-fire responses mixed with monologue. The character dialog is interspersed with citations from the many, many books (of which I have read a number) written about Lincoln himself, his administration, the Todd family (Mary Lincoln’s kin) and the Civil War era. Generally speaking, my first impression of this book was not positive. The quirky writing-style was so alien to me that I felt it a bit too bizarre for my taste. In fact, I reluctantly abandoned it early on but it was my love of all things Lincoln, along with the understanding that beneath the literary quirk was a truly talented writer, that brought me back to its pages for another try and, ultimately, I am pleased that it did.
Saunders’ portrayal of Lincoln’s grief and heart-wrenching loss; his visits to the cemetery—allegedly, to exhume and caress his son’s entombed body—in the days after Willie’s death was, at times, emotionally overwhelming. It felt almost intrusive to be reading something so personal and emotionally weighted. In scenes both reviling and beautiful, the author takes you to places you ordinarily believe you would surely decline to go. Until you go. And it becomes the tragic sight from which you can’t avert your eyes. It is by no means a light, fun read. There is wonderfully creative and talented prose as well as a good dose of humor in some of his many characters but for anyone who has suffered a loss of such magnitude, an emotional ride awaits you in this book.
Did you know the library has a subject guide with LGBTQ* resources? This guide includes suggested resources such as archival material, videos, databases, and books on LGBTQ* topics, so if you’re looking to learn more about the movement this month, check it out!
You can find the guide here, or in the “Articles and Databases by Subject” drop down menu on the Articles and Databases page.
Great news for every parent this summer! We are pleased to announce that we have – or can probably have for you in a timely manner – the books on your child’s ‘summer reading list’ which has become mandatory for most schools (Grades 6 – 12). Rather than wait on an endless list for an available copy at your public library, or buy the book out-of-pocket, just order the book here by requesting it from our collection – or ordering it through ILL. Don’t forget, we have access to titles from libraries around the country – so try us this summer, and pick up all the books your child needs.
Happy almost summer!
The library wants to make your life a little bit easier, so we’ve got a few things going on this week. We’ll opening earlier and staying open later for finals, and you can check here for a complete list of our hours. The snack cart will be making some afternoon appearances this week, so keep an eye out for it! We also have coloring pages out if you need to take a break from studying and just color for awhile.
Let us know if you need any research help (or moral support). Have a great vacation, Bryant!
Final exams are coming up – please do not wait to book your study rooms for the Library or the AIC ! Some days and time-slots are filling fast, so the longer you wait the less chance you have of reserving the day /time you need.
Reserving is easy for either building – click on the link on the right column of the Library homepage. Just remember – you need a minimum of 3 people, and you can reserve up to 3 hours per week / per student. We have supplies to lend out if you need them, and food & beverages are permitted…we just ask that you clean up after yourselves before the next study group arrives. Questions? Call us at 232-6125.
We’re looking for your feedback! Fill out the library survey here and you can enter to win a $25 Amazon giftcard.
It’s finally spring! The warm weather may make us want to push aside homework and go hang out outside, but it’s important to finish the semester off strong. Here are some tips for dealing with spring fever:
- Make a timeline of when your big tests, papers, and projects are due and plan when to start working on or studying for each. This will help you stay focused on the work you have coming up, keep you from getting overwhelmed, and make sure your work is done on time.
- Talk to a librarian or make an appointment at ACE to get help starting your final projects early.
- If it’s nice out and you’re craving some sun, bring your work outside!
- Team up with a friend and keep each other accountable. Work together, or send each other texts to make sure you’re both on task.
- Schedule time to work when you’re most productive (after a shower, first thing in the morning, or right after class) and where you’re most productive (alone in your room, in the Silent Zone, with your group members in a study room, etc).
As always, feel free to ask the library if you have any questions about resources or research!