Archive | Reviews & Recommendations

Remember the Ladies

Remember the Ladies

“…in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors […] If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

-Abigail Adams, March 31, 1776 in a letter to John Adams, her husband


In 1987, Congress passed a resolution to declare March as National Women’s History Month. Since we’re the library at a girl’s school, it seems best to celebrate with books! Here’s a few of our favorite new things about women.

Rejected Princesses cover

Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions & Heretics by Jason Porath

Based on the viral tumblr sensation Rejected Princesses, these are the princesses you won’t find in a Disney movie.

Headstrong cover

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby

How many female scientists can you name off the top of your head? Read this and you’ll know at least 52!

Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? cover

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? A Story of Women and Economics by Katrine Marçal

A book looking at the ignored labor women do, and how much it actually contributes to making society function.

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World cover

Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw and Speak About Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen

Want to know what top minds have to say about the state of feminism today? Read this!


Learn more about Women’s History Month here!

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Black History, Black Words, Black Lives

Black History, Black Words, Black Lives

February is Black History Month, which seems like a good time to highlight some of the new materials we have by and about African-Americans and their lived experiences. Eva S. ’18 writes about some of the stuff we’ve gotten recently.

Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, edited by Philip Cushway and Michael Warr

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, editor Philip Cushway and poet Michael Warr created a collection of poems from African-American writers.  This is not just a collection of poetry; beautiful pictures of the poets, photographed by Victoria Smith, as well as carefully chosen images from the Black Panther Party until today provide a glimpse into the African-American experience in a tangible, multifaceted way over time.  Thomas Sayers Ellis’ poem “The Identity Repairman” highlights the changing language surrounding people of color that symbolizes African-American advancement in society.  His poem begins with “AFRICAN: I am rooted./Ask the land./ I am lyric./ Ask the sea.” and ends hauntingly with “AFRICAN-AMERICAN: “Before I was born,/ I absorbed struggle./ Just looking/ at history hurts.”



images  The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Inspired by James Baldwin’s speech The Fire Next Time, Jesmyn Ward has compiled a powerful collection of essays and poems called The Fire This Time, which takes a contemporary look at the racial tensions that have underscored our country’s history for centuries.  In her introduction, Ward asserts that “We cannot talk about black lives mattering or police brutality without reckoning with the very foundation of this country.”  It is with this simple and honest, yet incredibly complex statement that the stories of current black writers unfold to reveal the reality of people of color in a society still dealing with the aftermath of slavery.  However, Ward’s book also gives hope to the reader and to the authors.  She says, “I believe that there is power in words, power in asserting our existence, our experience, our lives, through words.  That sharing our stories confirms our humanity.”


The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution, edited by Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams

Despite the efforts of the FBI to silence and demonize the Black Panther Party during their height in the 1960’s, this collection allows the stories of everyday, working-class members of the Party to share their stories of bravery.  Bryan Shih, a photojournalist, illuminates the voices of these members with thoughtful portraits, full of grace.  Yohuru Williams, a historian, enriches the experience with the social context of the time.  Flipping through the collection, the weathered faces of the former members stand out with their clear, strong gazes and unfazed expressions.  Their stories are equally strong and sometimes unbelievably horrifying and difficult.  Throughout the book, however, the sense of justice that these men and women carry with them brings a greater purpose to the book than only their stories.  As Melvin Dickson, a crucial member of the Party and co-founder of the Commemoration Committee for the Black Panther Party, said, “That’s what makes the legacy of the Black Panther Party matter- that we loved beyond ourselves.”


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African American Cinema in the Early 20th Century

African American Cinema in the Early 20th Century

In the period after World War I, up till the 1940s, the genre of “race films” emerged. These were films that starred African American actors, and were funded, written, produced, edited, distributed, and watched by African Americans. This separate industry provided positive, complex roles for black actors instead of the heavily stereotyped roles provided by Hollywood. Additionally, as Jacqueline Stewart, a film professor at the Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.33.17 PMUniversity of Chicago, explains, these films addressed key issues within the black community such as “the politics of skin color within the black community, gender differences, class differences, regional differences especially during this period of the Great Migration.” This fascinating genre built a distinct style of narration, and influenced the tradition of black cinema for decades.

Check out “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” from the library, a restored collection of films from this time period. It includes work from important figures such as Oscar Micheaux and Zora Neale Hurston (author of Their Eyes Were Watching God).

From Blackface to Blaxploitation: Representations of African Americans in Film at Duke University
Restored ‘Race Films’ Find New Audiences on Code Switch from NPR
Race Film, Wikipedia Article

by Arushi G. ’18


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Book Trends: Reality TV

Book Trends: Reality TV

Whether or you love it or love to hate it, reality television has become a huge part of our culture. So much so it’s seeped into the publishing world. Here’s four books that take involve reality shows, but take the idea in very different directions.

Life in a Fishbowl

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

When Jackie’s dad is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, he auctions his life on eBay to the highest bidder–a sociopathic reality show producer. Jackie finds her own ways to rebel in this darkly comic novel.


Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Joyeaux Charmand leaves her community of Hunters, who fight the terrifying monsters that have overrun their world, to guard the elite in Apex City. But the elite are more interested in watching the Hunters, and Joy uncovers a disturbing conspiracy.

Spin the Sky

Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

Magnolia and her half-sister Rose want out of their small town with its residents who judge them because of their addict mother. Mags’ best friend convinces her a reality TV dance competition is the best way, but after he betrays her on TV, she must reach out to the other competitors to succeed.

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D.G. Compton

Humanity has conquered death, pain, and disease. Or so they think, until Katherine is diagnosed with a terminal brain disease brought on by sensory input overload. She refuses to play to the fascinated public, but little does she know there are cameras on anyway…


Want more? Check out our Pinterest board!





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Readers Without Borders: International Literature Reading Challenge

Readers Without Borders: International Literature Reading Challenge

Introducing the 2017 Castilleja Library reading challenge!

black and white picture of books

This year, we’re broadening our collection and your reading experience even more by challenging you to read books published outside the United States. Read a book from each continent!

If you read three books from three different continents, you get a prize! If you read books from six different continents, plus one book from a First Nations author, you get another prize!

Books must be new to you, and must be originally published outside the US or written by an international author. They can be read in the original language, or in translation.

Castilleja Library has over 200 internationally published books for you to choose from, so you’ll have no problem finding things to read. A short list of books we think are awesome can be found here, and a Pinterest board is here. A complete list of relevant books in the collection is available here as a sortable spreadsheet.

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Four to Read More: Criminal Families

Four to Read More: Criminal Families

From confidence tricksters to thieves to magicians, the families of these protagonists are not going to win any awards for good citizenship.

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers, people who can change your looks, your feelings, your luck with the touch of a hand. Cassel has no powers–or so he believes. When he starts having nightmares about a white cat, the world he thinks he has starts crumbling apart (3 book series).


Heist Society by Ally Carter

Sick of her family’s life of art theft, Katarina scammed her way into a boarding school and left it all behind. But when her father is blamed for stealing from a mob boss, Kat is dragged back to steal back the stolen treasures before her father is the mob’s next hit (3 book series).


Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

When your family cons people for a living, you have rules to keep from getting caught. #1: Never fall in love with your mark. But for Grace…that may be easier said than done (Has a sequel).

all these things

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, water is scarce, and New York is wracked with crime. Thanks to her father’s illegal chocolate business, Anya doesn’t have to worry about much. Until her ex boyfriend turns up poisoned by her family’s chocolate, and she’s the prime suspect (3 book series).

Want more recommendations? Check out our Pinterest page!
Header picture: Remembering by Rubén Díaz licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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