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Our Best of 2018: Book and Video Game Recommendations from the Past Year!

2 Jan

In celebration of the New Year we decided to look back at a few of the library staff’s favorites you can check out from Hoboken and other BCCLS libraries!  I’ve linked to the print editions, but Hoboken Library Patrons can check out many of the books as ebooks and digital audiobooks from eLibraryNJ, Hoopla, or eBCCLS.

Favorite Fiction: Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava and
Social Creature
by Tara Isabella Burton
social creature
I read a lot of good books in 2018. My favorite was Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava. I wrote about it for the blog earlier this year. I loved this book for the intricate plot, the stunning prose and dialog, and the way it made me laugh out loud.

Another book I greatly enjoyed was Tara Isabella Burton’s Social Creature, about a toxic friendship between Lavinia, a well-off New York party girl,  and Louise, who dreams of living Lavinia’s lifestyle, but barely manages to live hand to mouth as she pursues her dream of becoming a writer in New York. I loved the decadence, the homage to social media, the upscale product placement (Cristal! Agata and Valentina!), not to mention the sex and the drugs. Some of the craziness stretched credibility, but Social Creature is definitely not easily put down.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

Favorite Nonfiction: American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment
by Shane Bauer
American Prison
In 2014, Shane Bauer spent four months working undercover as a $9-an-hour prison guard at Louisiana’s notorious Winn Correctional Center, a private prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Bauer’s experiences at Winn will horrify most readers as he documents his experiences working in a severely understaffed private prison where guards are poorly trained and inmates live in appalling conditions. American Prison is not only an incredible piece of first-person journalism; Bauer also provides a history of private prisons, interspersing his narrative with an expose on the era of “convict leasing” in which prison labor replaced slave labor on plantations and free labor in many industries. Bauer’s history has made me reevaluate my understanding of America’s justice system more than any other book I have read.

Written By:
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

Favorite Mystery: An Act of Villainy
by Ashley Weaver
actofvillainy

My favorite mystery this year was An Act of Villainy by Ashley Weaver.  The book is part of Weaver’s Amory Ames series which I had written about in a blog about her previous novel The Essence of Malice.  I think this is my favorite in the series I’ve read so far.  The book is set in the backstage theatrical world of London in the 1930’s; Amory is asked to investigate when a leading lady (and mistress of a friend) begins receiving menacing letters.  In addition to an intriguing mystery, I thought it was interesting to see Amory react to the relationship troubles of another couple in light of some of her own marital complications.  Honorable mystery mentions go to Diane Andrew’s Toucan Keep a Secret and Rhys Bowen’s Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding.

Other books I have loved this year and previously blogged about include for science fiction: Catherynne M. Valente’s funny fanciful Space Opera which takes Eurovision Song Competition to a galactic level; best fiction would be The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen, with it slow building suspense and well written characters; and for fantasy Kill The Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne & Delilah S. Dawson which gives a refreshing new spin on the classic hero’s quest.

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Favorite Video Game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
SmashBros

I’m an avid gamer and have been since childhood, so I was really looking forward to the newest installation of Super Smash Bros., especially since I’m old enough to have been around and playing since the first Smash Bros. game was released in the 1990s. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which was just released on December 7, absolutely lives up to the hype of its predecessors, and since acquiring it I haven’t been able to put it down and trying to unlock a roster of 74 video game characters so I can play as whoever I want. Smash Ultimate, the fifth installment of the series, is highly recommended.

Written By:
Steph Diorio
Local History Librarian

Curious what other library patrons have been enjoying this past year? Here are the ten most frequently circulated fiction and nonfiction works of 2018 compiled by Head of Circulation Rosary Van Ingen:

Top Circulating Fiction 2018

  1. Little Fires Everywhere
  2. An American Marriage
  3. The Woman in the Window
  4. The Immortalists
  5. The Great Alone
  6. Manhattan Beach
  7. Still Me
  8. The Lying Game
  9. All We Ever Wanted
  10. The Woman in Cabin 10

Top Circulating Nonfiction 2018

1. Fear: Trump in the White House
2. The Last Black Unicorn
3. Educated: A Memoir
4. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
6. Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
8. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership
9. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
10. Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques to Build Intelligent Systems

What were some of your favorite items this year? Let us know in the comment section!

Game On or Game Over?: Video Gaming Documentaries Available from Kanopy

30 May

My video gaming is mostly confined to using Pokémon Go as a way to entertain myself during my walk to and from work;  I like AR (Augmented Reality) games since they can make everyday reality a bit more fun.  My husband is more of a traditional console gamer and recently has gotten into VR (Virtual Reality) gaming on the Oculus (you can check out the VR experience for yourself during our Makerspace Mondays).  My son is part of the new generation who enjoys watching let’s play videos of game run throughs and gaming tournaments as much as playing the games himself.  The many ways we enjoy gaming continues to expand.  Kanopy has a variety of thought provoking documentaries that offer both positive and critical views of games and gaming culture that are available for you to stream.

State of Play: The World of South-Korean Professional Video Gamers
state of play
all images in this post from kanopy.com

Could someday professional video game tournaments replace the Super Bowl or the World Cup?  Thousands of Koreans attend the Proleague in Korea every year. The documentary State of Play follows three Korean gamers specializing in Starcraft, who are at different stages of their video game careers.  The documentary is also available from Hoopla.  If you enjoy this documentary you can also check out A Gamer’s Life: The Lives of Professional Video Game Players.

GTFO: Get the F**k Out – Women in Gaming
gtfo

GTFO was an Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival; it looks at misogyny in the realm of professional gamers, game designers, and players online.  The film captures a variety of experiences of those who have felt discriminated against or harassed.  The documentary was interesting, though I would have liked to have seen more men interviewed to give more insight into why the behavior is so often occurring and why it is seen as OK by those who are the perpetrators.

Gaming in Color: The Queer Side of Gaming
gaming in color

Much like GTFO, Gaming in Color examines the discrimination faced by some gamers, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, but it also looks at some of the positive experiences that queer gamers have had as well.  It briefly shows a few of the games which have begun to incorporate same sex relationships and visits GaymerX, which seeks to be an inclusive video game convention.  Gaming in Color is also available from Hoopla.

Besides these three documentaries you can find ones on topics like violence in video games with Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture and Joystick Warriors: Video Games, Violence & the Culture of Militarism; the impact of gaming on education in Mind Games – The Power of Video Gaming; and even the marketing potential of Virtual Reality in Infinite Reality with Jeremy Bailenson (part of the Stanford Executive Briefings Series).

If you are looking for historical perspectives on gaming than click over to Hoopla where you can learn about the history of gaming with the documentary Gameplay: The Story Of The Videogame Revolution.  Learn if the myth of the buried ET games is true and about the demise of Atari with Atari: Game Over.

Whether you agree or disagree with the perspectives in these documentaries, they open up important conversations about the future of gaming and how it will impact our lives.

And if you want to check out a new game, stop by the Hoboken Public Library where you can borrow everything from Super Mario Maker for the Wii U to Call of Duty WWII and God of War for the Playstation 4.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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