Brookens Library has started a new blog series “What We’re Reading”, a behind-the-scenes look into what our staff is actually reading on their own. We were inspired by the success of our “What We’re Wearing” Facebook series which documents the instances when staff members at the library dress alike without planning it. While “What We’re Wearing” is designed for entertainment purposes, “What We’re Reading” can serve a way for our staff to highlight a variety of books, audio books, or e-books you might find enjoyable. This series will post every Tuesday on the “What’s New at Brookens” Blog. The Dean of Brookens Library, Jane Treadwell, introduces the series with her pick for “What We’re Reading”. Enjoy!
1.) What are you reading? I’ve just finished re-reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I led a discussion of the book for my book group a couple of weeks ago and on October 3 I’ll be leading a discussion of the book here at UIS as the last of three book discussions in connection with One Book One UIS.
2.) How did you make your selection? Behind the Beautiful Forevers was selected by the committee that planned ONE BOOK, ONE UIS. We wanted a book that UIS students, faculty andm staff would find accessible and relevant—one that faculty would want their students to read, one that fit the criteria for an ECCE lecture, and one that featured excellent writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012 and has since garnered many more prizes, fit our criteria on many levels.
3.) Describe the book in 20 words or less using your own words. Engaging, eye-opening, empathetic yet unsentimental narrative of the real lives of some residents of a Mumbai slum; globalization at the personal level
4.) What did you like? I loved the writing—the book reads like a novel. It caused me to reconsider some of my assumptions and gave me insight into how the effects of globalization reach each level of a society. It also led me to consider the complexities of Indian society that work against change.
What didn’t you like? It is hard to read the book and not be upset about the injustice that the featured people in the book either encounter or are complicit in.
5.) Who would you recommend should read this? I think anyone who wants to understand 21st century India should read this, but beyond that, anyone who cares about the plight of disadvantaged people anywhere in the world, including here in the United States. And, for literary types—anyone who is interested in narrative non-fiction. It is the best book I’ve ever read in that category.