Here are some great titles for your reading and viewing pleasure, selected by the staff of Collection Development Services. Highlights include inspiring fiction and DVDs to celebrate Black History Month, nonfiction books illuminating the strange but true world of science, and recent award-winning books and audiobooks for teens available from OverDrive.
Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science by Michael Brooks
Brooks explores how scientists are as human as the rest of us, and in this entertaining, fast-reading book, he geefully catalogs the dubious methods they use to achieve thier breakthroughs. Whether it be the use of mind-altering drugs, dreams, fudging data, stealing ideas, or ignoring evidence that contradicts their theories, scientists will often do anything in the name of achieving a breakthrough and the fame that goes along with it.
This is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens and Other WTF Research by Marc Abrahams
Thinking seriously about outlandish problems has yielded many advances in science. Sometimes. Then there's the time spent pondering the ridiculous ideas that lead nowhere. Marc Abrahams, the mind behind the internationally renowned Ig Nobel Prizes, here gathers the bizarre, the questionable, the brilliant, the downright funny, and the occasionally profound research found he's found in the annals of scientific inquiry - What are the vomiting habits of monkeys? Could mice be outfitted with tiny parachutes to kill tree snakes? What makes men named Bob look like men named Bob?
The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe by Michael D. Gordin
So what is legitimate scientific inquiry and what is bunk? Gordin uses the controversy surrounding Russian scientist Immanuel Velikovsky's hugely popular and now forgotten 1950 best-seller Worlds in Collision - which posited the idea that a massive comet swept past the Earth around 1500 B.C. before settling into orbit around the Sun as the planet we now call Venus - to show how the line between science and pseudoscience has been drawn by scientists. Touching on theories of creationism, Lysenkoism and other fringe doctrines which have surprising connections to Velikovsky's theories, The Pseudoscience Wars helps put into perspective many of the controversies affecting today's scientific landscape.
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
In alternating chapters, Monstrous Beauty tells of the mermaid Syrenka's love for Ezra in 1872 that leads to a series of horrific murders, and present-day Hester's encounter with a ghost that reveals her connection to the murders and to Syrenka. A 2013 Odyssey Award Honor Book for best audiobook for children and young adults.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
In a world where dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce and dragons can assume human form, Seraphina grapples with her own identity amid magical secrets and royal scandals. This winner of the 2013 William C. Morris Award for a debut book for teens is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook (CD and downloadable).
No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Combining meticulous research with a storyteller's fliir, the author documents the life and times of her great unlce, an extraordinary literacy pioneer of the Civil Rights era. This 2013 Coretta Scott King Award Honor book for an African-American author of books for children and young adults is available in hardcover and ebook.
Wash by Margaret Wrinkle
When a troubled Revolutionary War veteran requires his slave, Washington, to become a breeding sire, an ensuing power struggle and Washington's resolve to stay faithful to his West African spiritual legacy lead to a loving relationship with an enslaved healer woman who imparts her own experiences and inspires Washington to forge a new understanding of his heritage. A heart-rending debut about slavery in early 1800's Tennessee.
The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
Forging a friendship at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, three women meet regularly at the first diner owned by black proprietors in their Indiana city and are watched throughout the years by a big-hearted man who observes their struggles with school, marriage, parenthood and beyond. A first novel that may appeal to book groups.
A Good Man by J. J. Murray
Former pro athlete Sonya Richardson agrees to star on a hit reality dating show to give America a taste of what a real black woman is like, but when she meets widowed former pastor John Bond, who is the show's designated white guy, she is totally thrown off her game. This romantic tale may require a hanky or two.
This little-known chapter in American history recounts the destruction of Rosewood, a thriving all-black town in rural Florida, in 1923 by an angry white mob from nearby communities after a white woman falsely claimed she was assaulted by a black man.
A remarkable celebration of the life and legacy of civil rights advocate and Supreme Court pioneer Thurgood Marshall, featuring Laurence Fishburne and filmed before a live audience at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater.
The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry
The formation and battlefield heroics of the first all-black Union regiment are chonicled in this PBS documentary which includes archival daguerreotypes, tintypes, lithographs, and commentary by Civil War historians.
Slavery by Another Name
A documentary that details the harrowing story of how, after Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a new system of involuntary servitude took the place of slavery in the South