20 Books to Understand “What Happened” to America

“What happened?” is not just the title of a recent memoir by Hillary Clinton. It’s also a question I think many of us grapple with on a daily basis. How did “this” happen? “This” being a euphemism for many things: the election of Trump, sure, but also attacks on healthcare, efforts to dismantle or cut social services, a disturbing rise in political rage and intolerance, and so on. “This” is 2017, or whatever year you are reading this blog post in. “This” is modern America, and “This” looks different to all voters. But to own and change “This,” we have to be well informed. We can’t shy away from the darker corners in our country. We have to step into the shadows with the people trapped there and bring a candle so we can see each other. We will beat the dark down with light. Reading brings you to directly to confrontation, and change. Information is a weapon. And I have designed this list of books about social justice, current events, and political issues to arm you with knowledge and compassion to disarm hatred and inequality. There are many excellent writers conducting some truly groundbreaking research and combining that with a...

10 Pieces of Advice for New Library Science Graduate Students

The sun is setting earlier each night, the weather is getting chillier, and Starbucks is serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It’s autumn, and for the first time in three years, I’m not in school. Having graduated with my master’s of library and information science this past spring, I am suddenly a librarian. Right about now, a new class of library science graduate students have started “iSchool” or “Information School” and are beginning to ask eager, sometimes desperate questions about how to manage work, school, and life. There were a lot of things I wish I knew about grad school before I started, and over the years I’ve found myself trading iSchool “hacks” with other students, the tips and tricks and shortcuts for getting through library school alive. So now that I’ve graduated, I think I’m finally in a position to give some advice for new library science graduate students on how to survive library school, how to make the best of it, and how to prepare for what comes after you complete your degree. After all, my degree must qualify me for something… right? Keep in mind that some of my advice might seem a little… rogue, like a more mellow...

The 10 Best Books I Read as Required Reading

Ever since I was a teen, I’ve been fiercely against mandatory reading. I was opposed about summer reading for high school since I knew the choices were often political rather than based on literary merit. The summer before senior year, I just refused to read the assigned books entirely. I believe in the beautiful freedom to read whatever I want rather than whatever someone else wants. Over the years, though, I’ve been introduced to some amazing books that I wouldn’t have read if they weren’t compulsory to read. And thus, for my first Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book blog meme started by the Broke and the Bookish blog (no relation to Broke by Books!), here is my answer to the September 12, 2017 prompt: Throwback Freebie: Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog, Favorite Books Published 5 or 10 or 15 Years Ago, Ten Older Books I Forgot How Much I Loved, etc. etc. Tweak however you want! I’m also adding a back to school bookish element to it. This list is unranked and in no particular order. Enjoy! PS: Some of the covers I selected do not match up with the links to...

Take Another Piece of My Heart | Book Review of “Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home” by Nicole J. Georges

So many people I know who love graphic novels describe being able to finish them in one sitting as part of their appeal. I like that feature, too, which is why I regularly recommend graphic novels and comics as good choices for readathons, quickly adding some “Read” books to your Goodreads Challenge, and overcoming a reading slump. Certainly it’s true for some graphic novels, but not all. Some should be savored, like Nicole J. Georges’ Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home (2017).You know what is going to happen to Beija, the idiosyncratic and high maintenance but absolutely loyal canine companion of Nicole J. Georges, a cartoonist (Calling Dr. Laura) and professor. You know she will have passed on to pet heaven by the end of the memoir. To read Georges’ graphic memoir is to commit to confronting devastating loss. But it is also a celebration of how pets help us find a purpose to live anyway, to stare down the existential crisis where the one certainty is an ending—because first, you get a beginning, with an animal companion, a furry familiar. This book review of “Fetch” will explore Georges’ relationship with Beija through the lens of my experiences as...

The Enduring American Dream | Book Review of “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui

There is a moment during my family’s Thanksgiving dinner where we go around the table and identify something we are grateful for in our lives. However hokey, however contrived this little tradition might seem, I appreciate that it helps us remember the root of this most American holiday: gratitude for sanctuary. Hundreds of years ago, people sailed across the ocean and risked their lives to come here. It’s not a cliche. They tossed their dead children who didn’t survive the journey overboard in makeshift coffins. They drank dirty water for weeks. They exposed themselves to the elements, to disease, with no guarantee but the land they walked on when they dropped anchor. And they walked on the some of the same ground I walk on, here in Pennsylvania. Some of the trees I see in my town’s arboretum of a college campus might be those that earlier Americans saw, too. I walk through the streets of Philadelphia, my city, and I can almost imagine the pages of my AP US prep book flipping back and back further still to the beginning. The black-and-white footage falls away as past and present blur into one. I see the Liberty Bell, walk past...

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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