Toulouse Bookstore

A Few of My Favorite Things (Nonfiction), Part II

Public librarians get to do the cool job of readers’ advisory.  Academic librarians rarely do; and definitely not academic acquisitions librarians.  Even though I don’t have the opportunity to recommend books particularly often, I have a few books that are favorites that I would like to recommend.

In the series “A Few of My Favorite Things,” I’ll perform some readers’ advisory and give some reading recommendations.

In this iteration of “A Few of My Favorite Things,” I’ll discuss 3 of my favorite nonfiction books.  (See my first set of nonfiction recommendations in Part I.)  Unlike Part I, these are a little more geeky, a little more academic in scope.  These are for the serious knowledge-seekers out there.

The Book in Japan by Peter KornickiThe Book in Japan: A Cultural History from the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century (Peter Kornicki). I sold my copy of this book back in 2014. I’m still regretting it. For anyone who wants facts about Japanese book culture (like me), this is the book to have.  It is plain old chock full of almost anything you would want to know. Or at least, anything that you could find out without learning grass script. I’ve found that a book with such a narrow scope actually comes in extremely handy when you’re trying to prove a point at being more multicultural in a profession (librarianship) that is much too Eurocentric.

The Harlem Renaissance in the American West: The New Negro's Western Experience by Wintz and GlasrudThe Harlem Renaissance in the American West: The New Negro’s Western Experience (Cary D. Wintz & Bruce Glasrud). I’ve read historians that say – and have been flat out told by an archivist – that blacks did not exist in the Southwest during the first half of the 20th century. I did not believe them – and still don’t. This collection of rather pithy essays collected by Wintz and Glasrud proves that blacks did in fact live in the Southwestern United States in the first half of the 20th century. And these black communities and individuals had thriving cultures. Read about literature and music with The Harlem Renaissance in the American West, and try to lessen the impact of the erasure of People of Color in United States history.

Mysteries of the Jaguar Shamans of the Northwest Amazon (Robin Wright). ThisMysteries of the Jaguar Shamans of the Northwest Amazon by Robin Wright book is for only the staunchest geeks: it’s ultra-academic and ultra-niche. When you’ve gone over European history more than three times, know a little too much for comfort about East Asian (book) history, have read tens of books and articles on North American Natives and First Nations, what else do you have to look at? What can you learn about that no one within a 50-mile radius will know? I recommend learning about the jaguar shamans of the Baniwa people of the northwest Amazon rain forest. Yeah, that’s a very specific and geeky person who would want to read about that…but I definitely came out with a lot more rare knowledge when I finished this book.


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