Sunday, October 20, 2013

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Arts and Humanities

Every 5 years, YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association, aka the teen department of the American Libraries Association) puts out a list of Outstanding Books for the College Bound. The list is divided into 5 sublists, and each sublist can have 25 titles on it. Any book that is "widely available" is eligible.

Here's the thing-- 1) The new list comes out in January and the committee is madly working on it 2) Anyone can nominate books for the lists (and all YALSA awards and booklists) 3) Please nominate some books.

Full disclosure-- I'm on this committee. I want this to be an awesome list. The more suggestions we have of books to look at, the better the list will be.

For the next 5 days, we'll be looking at each of the 5 sublists. Today is Arts and Humanities.


Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal. While many think of Title IX as the law that says schools have to fund sports for girls, it did more, saying schools couldn't discriminate in ANY program based on sex. It didn't just open up the playing fields-- it also opened up the classroom.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. In the book of Genesis, Dinah is only briefly mentioned as Jacob's daughter, but here Diamant gives her a voice and a story about the women that populated her world and stood on the cusp of the old ways and the new faith.

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman. Marian Anderson was one of the finest voices of the first half of the 20th century, but despite her tremendous talent, many doors were closed to her because of the color of her skin. Perhaps most famously, she was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall at the Daughters of the American Revolution. Eleanor Roosevelt instead arranged for her to give her concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Anderson didn't set out to become a civil rights crusader or icon, but she become one.


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. At the start of the depression, Jacob's parents die in a car accident and leave him nothing, so he runs away to join the circus. It's not a nice circus, but it's a job. Jacob is supposed to help with Rosie the elephant-- the circus's hope to make it, but Rosie won't follow instructions or do anything necessary to actually get an act together.

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill. Hemphill imagines Plath's life in a series of poems.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by AJ Jacobs. With a team of experts from different religions that use the Bible, and many different versions and translations, Jacobs attempts to live his life according to a very literal interpretation of the Bible. Everything from growing a beard to throwing rocks at adulterers in Central Park, Jacobs looks at some of the rules set out, and why they may be there, and how different religions have interpreted and followed them over the years and today.


Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin. Martin got his start selling guide books at Disney Land when he was ten. There, and at Knott's Berry Farm, he honed his comedy and magic acts. In the mid-70s he hit the stand-up scene, eventually becoming the biggest stand-up star in history, only to quit in 1981. Here Martin looks at the sacrifice it took to get him to that point, and why and how he decided it was no longer worth it.

This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie by Elizabeth Partridge. Guthrie wrote "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar and wrote thousands of songs about labor issues, migrant workers, and life in America. But his life was hard and he was dead by age 55--his body ravaged by Huntington's disease.

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly. Polly spent two years training in Kung Fu with the legendary Shaolin Monks. In addition to hard training, the monks must fight corruption, deal with fame, and survive under China's repressive authoritarian regime.

The committee needs lots of new nominations for the Arts and Humanities list. Suggest a title here. Please.

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