November marks the beginning of the holiday season: parties, friends & family, parties, gifts, and (did I mention?) parties! We, at the Mechanics’ Institute Library, understand. You don’t have time to read War and Peace (1412 pages) or Infinite Jest (1079 pages) during the holidays. Though both novels come highly recommended by members of the staff, most of us don’t have time to read them at the moment either.
But just because the days are both shorter and fuller, it doesn’t mean that we can do without reading for a whole season! Mechanics’ Institute staffers are happy to recommend our favorite short works in November: stories! essays! novellas! poetry!
Come check out the staff picks display on the second floor and see if any of our must-read short works strike your fancy. Here’s just a taste of what’s in store:
Jeremy recommends Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh (294.3 N57)
With the holiday rush upon us, this book is a good reminder to slow down and breathe. Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on peace and meditation are a great introduction to mindfulness and applicable ways to live a more peaceful life.
Chris recommends Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee (333.72 M17)
David Brower, the founder of the Sierra Club, is profiled in three separate essays, where he is joined by the author and a trio of his opponents. Brower meets with a miner, a developer, and the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation in their respective sites of conflict. Here, they argue, agree, bond, and frustrate one another. Originally published in the New Yorker, this collection serves as an introduction to the personality and politics of Brower himself, a portrait of some of America's most unique and gorgeous landscapes, and as a detailed study in the conflicts and connections of differing environmental ideologies.
Heather recommends Bartleby the Scrivener (found in Shorter Novels of Herman Melville) by Herman Melville (FIC)
If all you know of Melville is Moby Dick, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street will be a surprise to you. Although Bartleby never wakes up as a bug, his tale is reminiscent of Kafka’s absurdist work. This novella has many of my favorite things in literary characterization: an unreliable narrator, a protagonist whose motivations are wholly unclear, and a cast of supporting characters as strange as the main characters. This is one of those stories you can read in a sitting, but it stays with you for days.
Diane recommends The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (FIC)
A short, charming and humorous novel of only 120 pages, the author poses the question "what would happen if the Queen of England became a voracious reader late in life"? One day, Queen Elizabeth follows one of her Corgis into a mobile library parked adjacent to Buckingham Palace and discovers the wonders of the written word. Soon she is neglecting state business so that she can finish the latest novel! Bennett imagines, in believable detail, the effect that the Queen's newfound passion for books has on her public and private affairs.