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A Librarian Takes on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read A Book About Sports, Task 2

29 Mar

I am excited to report that I am still following the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge! Here I will document the second task I have completed. You can read about what I read for the first task here.

The task at the top of the Read Harder Challenge list is “Read a book about sports.” I was excited to take that one on, as I love good sports writing. I’ve written about the World Champion 1986 New York Mets, and my love for the team, on this blog.

(Yes, I prophesied in that post the Mets would win the World Series in 2016, which didn’t happen. There’s always next year! Baseball season starts again Sunday April 2.)

I planned to read a book about soccer for this particular task. Then I came across Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team that Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder. The jacket copy describes this book as “The Boys in the Boat meets A League of Their Own…”, one of my all-time favorite movies, and the soccer book fell out of favor.

Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory, by Lydia Reeder

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Dust Bowl Girls is about the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals girl’s basketball team and their Cinderella 1931-1932 season. The author of the book, Lydia Reeder, is the grandniece of the team’s coach, Sam Babb, and committed the team’s fascinating story to print using interviews with the surviving Cardinals or their descendants and friends, the athletes’ personal scrapbooks where they kept newspaper clippings and other souvenirs, and other sources.

Coach Babb recruited high school girls, many from farms in rural Oklahoma, to play for the OPC Cardinals basketball team with offers of full scholarships. These were amazing opportunities for the girls, as Oklahoma farmers were hit hard by the Great Depression and their families couldn’t afford to send them to college. It was also a tough choice for some of the girls, whose lives were centered around the farm and hadn’t spent much time away from their families.

The stories of the individual Cardinals were interesting to read. Lucille Thurman was 16 when she joined the team and often felt out of her league. Doll Harris was the team captain and a talented basketball player despite her five feet four inch stature. Lera and Vera Dunford were six feet tall, red-haired identical twins and always together. Juanita Park, who went by “Bo-Peep”, served the team as a guard and a driver–her father taught her to drive at age 11.

Dust Bowl Girls is enriched by the history of Oklahoma; depictions of life on a farm; the Great Depression and its impact on the state; and the Native American populations that live in Oklahoma. Durant, where the team was based, is the capital of the Choctaw nation.

I learned a lot about the evolution of basketball, which was a young game in 1931. The matchups were six-on-six, the ball could only be dribbled once and below the knees, and players were fixed to certain sections of the court. It was so different from how I learned to play basketball at the Bayonne PAL, and how basketball is played now.

The book documents the outrage about girls playing basketball, which was seen as a less feminine sport at the time. Some believed that a woman’s uterus would simply fall out of her body as a result of too much jumping. La Homa Lassiter, a member of the Cardinals, asked Coach Babb if playing basketball will make her less of a lady.

The chapters depicting the Cardinals at play are riveting to read, although it can be a little confusing to visualize the game play as the 1930s basketball rules are so different. Reeder captures the tension on the court when the Cardinals are down, and the joy when they win. The Cardinals faced a team that included Babe Didrickson, the most famous female athlete of that time, which were exciting games.

I enjoyed following the Cardinals season, its ups and downs, and learning about these amazing athletes. Seeing how basketball has evolved was fascinating, too. Baseball still has my heart, but I learned so much about basketball in this book.

This completes the second task of my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. My post about he third task will be up soon.

What is your favorite book about sports? Let me know in the comments.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Delicious Digital Memoirs for you to Download

16 Mar

Hoboken Library Patrons have a banquet of eBook choices to sample thanks to eLibraryNJ, Cloud Library, and Hoopla. Here are three foodie memoirs with recipes I devoured recently. Let us know in the comments what some of your favorite books from the eBook services are.

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

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Voracious is based on Cara Nicoletti’s popular blog Yummy Books. Both feature recipes that corresponded with a variety of books that she loved (or occasionally hated). The memoir is broken into three sections: Childhood, Adolescent and College Years, and Adulthood.  Some entries focus more on her connection to the food and others to the books. She goes from breakfast sausage and Little House in the Big Woods to Wine-Braised Leg of Lamb with Wild Mushrooms in honor of The Secret History. She even has a fava bean dish for Silence of the Lambs. I think it would be interesting to see someday if she were to write a follow up about what her books/recipes would be for the period of Middle Age and Senior Years. Nicoletti currently works as a butcher, following in the footsteps of her grandfather who owned a butcher shop. This informs her picks for dishes which often have a head-to-tail sensibility that embraces the use of lard and other bits we often shy away from today. Her background as a former pastry chef is also seen in scrumptious sounding desserts. Two dishes I’d be most interested in baking myself are her Goat Cheese Pumpkin Pie and Blackberry Hazelnut Coffee Cake. Hoboken and other BCCLS patrons can borrow this book from Cloud Library! BCCLS will be incorporating their eBCCLS service into Cloud Library in upcoming months so now is the ideal time to check it out, if you haven’t before.

Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm by Molly Yeh

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Molly on the Range’s title is slightly misleading in that it does not just cover Yeh’s life on sugar beet farm on the North Dakota/Minnesota border, but also her time studying classical music at Julliard and her childhood in a Chicago suburb. This, however, added rather than subtracted from my enjoyment of the book since it was interesting to see her maturing and the contrast of her rural versus city life. Many of the recipes reflect Molly’s Jewish and Chinese heritage as well as including vegan and gluten free recipes reflecting the dietary preferences of her husband and in-laws. Molly on the Range is available to Hoboken and other BCCLS patrons from Hoopla. Although Hoopla does not have as large a selection of bestsellers as the other two services, it has the great feature of never having to wait for holds and it has a substantial selection of digital audiobooks. I recommend reading it on a device with a larger screen if possible since you will want to enjoy the lovely photographs and fun drawings accompanying the recipes. Yeh also authors the award-winning blog My Name is Yeh.

Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee

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Since I practically have an addiction to kimchi and am also a fan of southern cuisine I was excited to check out Edward Lee’s memoir/cookbook. Edward was raised by Korean immigrants in Brooklyn, but found a home in Louisville, Kentucky, where he took over the culinary destination 610 Magnolia. Edward’s a multiple James Beard Award nominee so as you might imagine his recipes are culinary masterpieces. Though one suggestion he has for aging meat in a second fridge may seem daunting to many home chefs, he frequently gives alternatives to some of the trickier techniques. His multicultural dishes include things like Chicken-Fried Pork Steak with Ramen Crust, Collards and Kimchi, Braised Beef Kalbi with Grits, and Miso-Smothered Chicken. Besides the fascinating dishes, I found his keen wit and insight about his life’s journey highly enjoyable. Smoke and Pickles is available on Hoopla and eLibraryNJ. eLibraryNJ is a great choice for Kindle users since unlike the other two services, users can check out books in Kindle format, as well EPUB which is compatible with most tablets.

Need help with checking out these eBooks? Stop by the Reference Desk, or come to our OpenTech Times on Mondays from 1 PM to 3 PM!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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