Megan Williams

FSEM: Booking It!

At the University of Mary Washington it is a requirement to take a First-Year Seminar (FSEM). The goal of these seminars is to introduce students to the different academic resources available to them at Mary Washington. FSEMs are meant to help students learn to think critically, find new ways to analyze problems, and pursue independent research.

The class I took was called “Booking It!” and in this course I was able to explore the evolution of books. For my independent research I was able to focus it on the history and future of public libraries. In my opinion, this class was interesting and has definitely helped me be even mores successful at the University of Mary Washington.

Below are copies of my “Shelfie” posts:

Shelfie 1: September 5, 2018

When looking for a book to read this summer I came across Love and Gelato and based on the reviews it was the perfect light hearted summer read that I was looking for. Also, who doesn’t love a good romance-adventure story?

This novel is told from the perspective of a sixteen year old American girl named Lina. In this novel Lina is sent to Tuscany on her dying mother’s wish to meet and spend time with her father. When Lina arrives in Tuscany she has no clue about her mother’s past or why she has spent sixteen years without a father. 

When given one of her mother’s old journals, Lina and her new friend Ren go around Italy following in her mother’s adventures. On their adventure Lina and Ren track down her mother’s old friends and professors, uncovering a secret about Lina’s father.  Through their adventure, Lina begins to feel closer to her mother than ever before.

This novel was incredible! Jenna Evans Welch did an amazing job writing this story. She made me feel like I was with Lina the entire time. I liked how Lina had the opportunity to step into her mother’s past through reading the journal. In addition from reading the journal there was a since of mystery introduced into the plot. I loved that the setting was Italy and that there were historic elements sprinkled throughout.

The only things I disliked about this novel was the fact that it ended and that I couldn’t eat gelato in Italy with Lina.

Shelfie 2: September 12, 2018

This week for my Shelfie assignment I decided to ask Professor Spencer, my professor for Introduction to Historic Preservation, about his favorite books. His two favorite books are The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Crystal Cave.

The Crystal Caveby Mary Stewart was published in 1970. This fantasy story follows the life of Merlin before he became associated with King Arthur. From talking with Professor Spencer and reading about this novel online, this book seems like it would be an interesting read.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams originally was created as a radio series for BBC in 1978 and published a year later as a book. This novel one of five from a series follows the story of  Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Perfect, an alien, as they escape earth before it is destroyed. This novel is considered one of the most beloved science fiction stories ever written

Shelfie 3: September 19, 2018

The book I decided to select from the University’s Special Collections is Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson. This book was printed in 1801 in
New York by M.L. and W.A. Davis for Furman and Loudon publishing company.

The outside binding on the boards has red fabric with leather on the spine and corners. The spine has decorative golden designs with the title, the author’s name, date, and location of publication done in gold lettering. This book does not have a dust jacket most likely because
they were not popular until the 1820s.

The page block has held up well considering that it is 217 years old. When looking through the book I discovered that there were sections with ink transfers and discolored pages. One of the University librarians told me that this is very common with books of this age due to the paper that was used.

There was a nameplate which gives me an idea of who this book belonged to and where it came from. Since this book is old it has most likely had many owners. In fact, one of the owners received it as a birthday gift in 1933.

This book interested me because Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite historical figures and I really like American history.

Shelfie 4: September 24, 2018

Since this week was Banned Books Week, for this Shelfie I looked at the list of Banned and Challenged Books. Some books I was not surprised to see on the list, for example Fifty Shades of Grey. A book that I expected to see listed more was the Holy Bible, but it only made an appearance in 2015. I was not 100% surprised to see Harry Potter on the list, but I was surprised by the reason being Satanism. I think some of the most surprising books on these lists are picture books, for instance And Tango Makes Three.

Shelfie 5: October 3, 2018​

I am currently about six weeks into my first semester of college and have been doing a bunch of different readings for my classes. The most common reading assignments I have are from textbooks. The textbook that I have the most readings in, is Historic Preservation An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practices. I really like this textbook because I find the information both interesting and fascinating, due to the fact that I would like to major in Historic Preservation.

Outside of my classes I have been trying to read two books. The first book is called Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy. The second book I have been trying to read is a novel by Stephen Kiernan called The Baker’s Secret. This novel takes place in a small Normandy Village on the eve of D-day and is described as a story of courage, determination, and optimism. 

Shelfie 6: October 22, 2018

One of my favorite books is The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It’s a historical fiction novel following two women, Charlie St. Clair and Eve Gardiner, on an incredible journey of discovery after World War II. 

The book begins in May of 1947 and is in the perspective of Charlie, a gifted college student dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Charlie’s parents terrified of what this will do to their image send her off to Europe to have the
“little problem” taken care of. While Charlie is trying to come terms with her pregnancy she is also struggling to let go of her beloved cousin Rose who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war. While on her way to a clinic in Europe Charlie breaks free from her mother and heads to London in search of the one person who she thinks can help her, Eve Gardiner.

Shifting to Eve’s perspective in the second chapter readers are taken back to 1915, just a year into World War I. In this part of the book Eve is longing to join the fight against the Germans. When Eve is given the chance to join the Alice Network as a spy she takes the
opportunity and runs with it into enemy occupied France.

Returning to the books present in 1947, readers see an Eve who is haunted by her past and refuses to confront it by spending her days drunk and alone in her London home. It all changes for Eve when Charlie enters her life asking for her help and saying a name she hadn’t heard in decades.

Shelfie 7: November 7, 2018

The next book I would like to read over winter break is Transcription by Kate Atkinson. This book was published in September of 2018 and already has really good reviews. In a description found online, it is “A dramatic story of World War II espionage, betrayal, and loyalty.” This novel appears to be similar to The Alice Network, which I highlighted in my last shelfie.

Transcription follows the main character, Juliet Armstrong, through “two lives.”Similar to The Alice Network, it is of Juliet’s life during the war and then after. A major difference between the two is that Juliet is a spy during the second World War where Eve was a spy during the first.

Flashing forward to 1950, the Cold War is just beginning and Juliet has a job as a producer at BBC where she is mostly producing radio programs for schoolchildren and seniors. While working, Juliet is confronted by her past and finally “begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.”   

Below is a link to an author interview done by Renee Montagne of NPR, which is where I first heard of this book.

https://www.npr.org/2018/09/23/650580261/secrets-of-a-teenage-wwii-spy-in-transcription

Shelfie 8: November 14, 2018

If I was selected to go on the long and uneventful trip to Mars, I would want to have access to these electric books:

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • The Harry Potter Series
  • The 39 Clues Series
  • The Maze Runner Series
  • The Kingdom Keepers Series
  • Divergent Series
  • The Hunger Games Series
  • Boston Girl 
  • The Alice Network
  • Transcendence
  • The Giver 
  • Any book by Nora Roberts
  • Girl in the Blue Coat
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • The Kite Runner
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • Love and Gelato 
  • Love and Luck 
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette 
  • The Giving Tree
  • The Complete Works of Eric Carle, Mo Willems, and Dr. Seuss
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