Here at the library, our Special Collections contains many things: old city records and Provo High year books, old maps and historical artifacts, and biographies and compiled records detailing Provo and Utah’s history. Now if we take a look back into history, back when Utah was only a territory or had barely become a state, it was a very different kind of place. Utah was a dangerous place, and the men who tried to profit on that danger would go on to make the roads and train rails, places of relatively safety, some of the most dangerous places in the West. Here is a list of four books that outline some of the Special Collections more adventurous books.
This book follows the life of Matt Warner, an Old West bandit that often ran in the crew of Butch Cassidy, and Tom & Bill McCarty. After being caught in 1900, he turned away from the bandit life and became a law-abiding citizen. But his bandit days would give him the experience to become the lawman for Carbon County, serving as sheriff, justice of the peace, detective, and night policeman during his life time.
To illustrate the type of man Matt Warner was, here’s a story. When he was 91 and working as a night policeman, he shot a gun right out of the hand of a criminal he was arresting. The criminal would later say that Warner’s gun had apparently appeared out of thin air. Warner, at 91, was just that fast.
This book is a collection of short stories, things you’d hear around the dinner table or around a campfire, that catalogs and records a number of experiences from people like Butch Cassidy. In the introduction to the book, the author wrote that “history is what really happened, not just what got recorded in the history books.” So this small collection was Marsh’s way of supplementing and calling out the bias of traditional textbooks.
Charles Kelly collected stories from “old timers who personally knew the outlaws” and other sources in an attempt to put together the most accurate history of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. Kelly covers all of the Wild Bunch’s early years of bank robberies, the gang’s use of a hole in the side of canyon, and some of Cassidy’s copycats like Gunplay Max who was arrested after robbing a bank in Provo, failing miserably to copy Cassidy and the Wild Bunch’s success.
These are just three, among others, of the books in our Special Collections that detail the Wild West roots of Utah. Come into the library and ask the reference desk about our Special Collections to find more historical records, artifacts, and books about the history of the Provo area.
Like a lot of you lit-fans out there, our librarians have been starry-eyed over the recent film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel LITTLE WOMEN. Like any good adaptation, this movie has given us lots to talk about. Weighing our favorite moments from the book versus the film, judging the adaptation as a whole, deciding whether the new movie did our faves dirty. All this talk about the March girls had me thinking about what books I might recommend to the sisters. Here are my picks for Jo.
From the first chapter of LITTLE WOMEN, we know that Jo is driven by her sense of adventure. This pocket-size version of THE DARING BOOK FOR GIRLS is filled with ideas to create, craft, explore, and discover. This is exactly the kind of guide that I can imagine a young Jo March devouring.
What Jo needs more than anything else, is a good writing guide. This writing manual from the beloved children’s author of ELLA ENCHANTED is a great place to start. This writing guide is a children’s staff favorite – it offers a little more than a beginner’s guide might, and is a perfect home for Jo’s literary ambitions.
One of the most memorable scenes from LITTLE WOMEN is when calm, patient Marmee tells Jo that she also gets angry all the time – but she’s learned to control her temper. Though Jo tries to follow Marmee’s guidance, she never becomes as calm or patient as Marmee. I spent a lot of time thinking about which anger management guide to recommend to Jo before I had my epiphany – it’s 2020 and we don’t need to tell Jo March to pretend she’s not angry. There are a lot of things that women can be angry about, and in 1868 there were even more. Rather than telling Jo to control her anger, this book will teach her to harness her anger and promote change.
When Jo relocates from Orchard House to New York City she suddenly becomes a little fish in the Big Apple (as Pam from The Office might say). What Jo needs for this phase of her life is the definitive local’s guide to NYC featuring subway and bus maps, restaurant recommendations, and must-see experiences. Of course, most of these places weren’t open when Jo lived in New York, but who’s counting?
To be honest, I’m not really sure how Jo would feel about graphic novels, but if she’s going to read one it might as well be one written by Raina Telgemeier. And really, who is more in need of a heartwarming story about sisters with a difficult relationship than Jo March? Raina and Amara’s combative relationship filled with jealousy, battles, and realistic sisterly love should ring familiar to Jo for its similarities to her relationship with her own sister Amy.
Summer is beginning to wind down and soon a new school year will be upon us. If you are like me, you might be thinking it’s time seize the last few days of summer and get some reading done! But what should you read? May I suggest a few fresh new YA novels? If you are looking for diverse, spunky characters, lush description, and maybe a good cry, the following books could be a great fit for you.
This book is set after the invasion of the Ilori. More than 1/3 of earth’s population has been wiped out. Humans are being kept in lock down. They are not allowed to read or listen to music. Janelle is running a clandestine library, until one of her books goes missing. This could lead to a death sentence. But the Ilori who found it doesn’t turn Janelle in. Instead, he talks to her. Janelle and M0RR1S find they share a passion for music. This passion sends them on a road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums in a race to save humanity.
Camino Rios can’t wait for dad’s yearly visit to the Dominican Republic. When she arrives at the tiny airport, she finds her dad’s plane crashed. Camino has to come to terms with her grief, but then she discovers something more about her father. She has a sister named Yahaira in New York City. Does her father’s life hold more secrets? This story is told in verse from dual perspectives. It’s a fast read, but it sure packs a punch.
Kayyam is seventeen and on a dream trip to Paris. She should be in heaven, but she’s not. She just wants to go home. That is until she runs into a descendant of Alexandre Dumas and begins research on Leila, a 19th century Muslim woman with ties to Dumas and Lord Byron. Kayyam is a strong female protagonist who is full of passion and sparkle. The rush to find Leila throughout history is really fun to read.
Ever Wong thinks she is going to Taiwan for an educational immersion program. But when she gets there, she discovers she’s on the infamous “Loveboat”. Every passenger is a prodigy, or a rich kid, or both. But no one seems to be interested in studying. They just want to party. While Ever is navigating Taipei’s nightlife, she also is figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. But will her parents approve of a life they haven’t already chosen for her?
Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehrman couldn’t be more different. But when the two are thrown together to canvas for their local state senate candidate, things suddenly start to change. Jamie begins to have a serious crush on Maya and Maya starts to see Jamie as more than just “that awkward guy.” This book has it all. Political activism. Check! Cute love story. Check! Multicultural bonding. Check! I liked it a lot.
In the reading world, I don’t know if there are many things worse than being disappointed by a book you are or have just finished reading. Sometimes, it can’t really be helped. If the rest of the book, or even series, is great but the ending falls short, there is no way of knowing before the end. What frustrates me more is finding unexpected content and twists (or lack thereof) in the middle of a book when I’m just starting to really enjoy it.
Genre fiction comes with a promise that certain elements will be present in certain genres. Romance is no different. As the saying goes, some like it hot, some like it cold. Part of enjoying a great romance book is being able to read the level of spice you enjoy. Sometimes a cover is enough to tell you what kind of spice you’ll find inside, but sometimes it isn’t.
So what do you do when the cover doesn't really show whether the book's content is a good fit for you?
Novelist (a library database) and Goodreads are great places to get reviews and recommendations for books to read as well as great resources for doing a quick content check. In Novelist you can search for different spice levels. Here’s how: in the advanced search, you can type in chaste, mildly sensuous, steamy, or explicit and then select AP Appeal Factors in the drop menu. The picture below outlines it a little more.
Although I love Novelist, there have been a couple times where new romance books I’ve been interested in have not had a spicy list term. In that case, there is another great option. One of our other librarians found a site years ago, allaboutromance.com. This site is purely for romance books and, similarly to Novelist, has a rating system for the sensuality level in each book. Often, authors will have an overall sensuality rating as well based on the average spice level of their books. All About Romance’s rating system is shown below.
This one is a little simpler to use. Simply type in the title of the book (or name of the author) and the results will come up with a synopsis of the book as well as its spice level and rating. May you now more easily find the level of spice you’re looking for!