Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (And the Space Race and Time Travel)

When you’re on an airplane, the Amtrak, or even in a giant peach this winter break, the best way to recover from the end of the semester might be a good book. Check out these books from the UGL today! No matter what their mode of travel, all of these books are going somewhere.

Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Were you ever waiting for a delayed flight in an airport and wished you could hop on a different plane to somewhere you have never been? Changing Planes is sort of like that except the different planes are actually fifteen societies not found on Earth. This is a short story collection that features the same main character who passes her long delay in an airport by visiting societies where the sole purpose is holiday shopping and another where adults are silent. Ursula K. Le Guin is known for her futuristic and imaginary worlds, and Changing Planes is no different.

Get it from the library

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

strangers

Two men meet in a twist of fate on a train: one a successful architect, Guy, who wants to divorce his wife and marry someone else, and the other a psychopath, Bruno, who wants his father dead. When the psychopath convinces the architect to “swap murders” with him so that neither has a motive for killing their victim and therefore avoid suspicion from police, Guy doesn’t take Bruno seriously. But when his wife ends up dead, Guy doesn’t know what to do. Bruno wants Guy to hold up his end of the bargain, and he’ll stop at nothing. This classic inspired the Hitchcock movie of the same name, so if you can’t read on trains, try the film, also at the UGL!

Get the book!

Get the film!

Ghostland: an American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

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Okay, so this isn’t quite a roadtrip, but it does take you to some creepy spots around America! This book explores all those places you’ve heard of as “the most haunted mansion in America” or “the most haunted prison” and other, perhaps lesser known places. This book takes the reader through a different kind of history of America. This isn’t a book of ghost stories, but of tales of omitted history lessons and how we can learn from a ghost story.

Get it at the library

Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Fans of science fiction and historical fiction can unite with this time-travel slave narrative by the award-winning science fiction author Octavia Butler. Dana, an African-American writer in 1976, is launched into pre-Civil War Maryland plantation. She travels back and forth from the plantation and meets her ancestors, a spoiled and selfish slave-owner and a free woman forced into slavery. This novel explores power, gender, interracial relationships, race, violence and egalitarianism. If you like your fantasy or science fiction with a social justice bent, check out this title and others by Octavia Butler.

Get it at the library

Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

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We’ve all heard about Neil Armstrong. Where are the women? Margot Lee Shetterly’s book answers that question! This book, soon to be a movie, tells the story of four exceptional black women called from their jobs teaching high school math to join the WWII effort and the space race. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden worked through segregation and discrimination for three decades to help Americans reach space. Read a different space story this time!

Get it at the library

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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After a financial crisis in which he loses everything, a Chinese immigrant businessman and his family embark on a cross-country road trip from Bel-Air to upstate New York where they will stay with their “art world it-girl” eldest daughter. Along the way, his wife is about to leave the family for 1000-threadcount sheets they can no longer afford, his son is losing it for a temptress in New Orleans, and many other laughs are to be had in this comical look at the American family. The UGL has the audiobook and the print version, perfect for your own cross-country trip this break, however you’ll be getting there.

Get the book

Get the audiobook

Have some favorite travel reads of your own? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

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December Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December is a very busy month, which means lots of fun activities around campus and Champaign-Urbana. Take a break from studying and enjoy the holiday season around town as fall semester comes to a close.

Urbana First Fridays

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https://www.facebook.com/UrbanaFirstFridays/?fref=ts

Kick off the month with the Urbana December First Friday. From 4:30 to 11pm on December 2nd, stop by participating businesses in downtown Urbana for a night of delicious food and various cultures with over 30 events.  Mistletoe Market will also be taking place during this time. With 25 local artisans selling handmade items, this is a good chance to shop for holiday gifts (or #treatyoself) and support the local community.

The Nutcracker

nutcracker

https://krannertcenter.com/events/nutcracker

Starting Thursday, December 1st and running through Sunday, December 4th, watch the Champaign-Urbana Ballet perform the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Champaign-Urbana Orchestra. The ballet will be performed at the Tyron Festival Theatre. Tickets range in price from $21 to $45, and they are going quickly!

Annual Krannert Carol Concert

krannert

https://krannertcenter.com/events/annual-carol-concert-2016

Come to the Foellinger Great Hall this Sunday, December 4th, at 3pm to join in with the choruses, instrumentalists, and fellow audience members to “celebrate the winter season!” With tickets starting at $4, this would be a fun and inexpensive way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Season of Light

planetarium

http://www.chambanamoms.com/events/season-of-light-3-2016-12-02/

On December 17th, head to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College to learn about the history of many of the world’s holiday customs which all involve lighting up the winter season. Find out more information about historical religious and cultural rituals that take place during the winter solstice.  Tickets are $6 and can be purchased at the door.

Public Ice Skating

ice

https://campusrec.illinois.edu/programs/ice-skating/public-skating/

Really embrace the winter season by going ice skating! University of Illinois students receive free admission and $2 skate rentals. Check out the website for a complete list of times when the arena is open to the public.

Free Yoga

yoga

http://kam.illinois.edu/events/experiences.html

Did this semester stress you out? Find some relaxation at a free yoga class, offered every Tuesday from noon-1pm, at the Krannert Art Museum.

We hope we’ve covered the major events happening in Champaign-Urbana for the next month…but if we missed anything, let us know! Check out our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

 

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Therapy Dogs Returning to the Library!

Winter has come, and with it, finals week and all the associated tension. Thankfully, the library has your bark — I mean back.

Take a break from studying for finals and stressing about deadlines to hang and take selfies with therapy dogs at the library (#UGLPawParty). This year’s pack is all geared up to play away your anxiety on the following dates:

Thursday 12/8/16 (2-4 PM): Nala, Henri, Star, and Raven will be sitting and waiting for you at Grainger Library.

Monday 12/12/16 (2-4 PM): Atlas, Maisey, and Zeus are already rolling over in excitement at Funk ACES Library.

Tuesday 12/13/16 (2-4 PM): Atlas, Star, and Widgeon are itching for you to scratch behind their ears at the Undergraduate Library.

Now, let’s meet a few of our canine pals:

Atlas

atlas

Atlas is a Rottweiler that was adopted from South Suburban Humane Society when he was a year old. He especially loves hanging out with kids at libraries and schools, helping them read. His favorite toy is his Kong and his favorite spot to be scratched is his “bow tie” on his chest.

Henri

 henri

Henri is a 2 year old Field Spaniel who comes to us all the way from France (yes, he is bilingual)! He enjoys long walks on the beach, cuddles, and ear scratches. Don’t think he’s too serious, though! This guy is a goof with some serious heart melting eyes and a huge heart. When not doing therapy work, Henri enjoys showing, lure coursing, tracking, and living life on a farm.

Maisey

maisey

Maisey is an Australian Shepherd-Retriever Mix that was adopted back in 2011 from a local shelter in Muncie, Indiana. Maisey participates in various therapy dog events, including visits to the Carle Foundation Hospital, kids read to dogs programs at local libraries, and a number of school visits. When not doing therapy dog work, Maisey enjoys taking long walks, chasing squirrels, and squeaking her plush hedgehog toy.

Raven

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Raven is a Standard Poodle. She does most of her therapy work at libraries and loves people of all ages. In her downtime, Raven likes to play fetch with Frisbees and tennis balls.

Widgeon

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Widgeon is a Yellow Labrador born in Ireland more than a decade ago. He spent his younger days traveling, training, and hunting in Oxford, Mississippi before taking on his current position as a therapy dog operating out of Champaign, Illinois. Though he still loves trekking all over America, Widgeon is happy to take on his new, more suburban role.

Have any questions about therapy dogs? Want to express how excited you are to meet these animals? Tweet at us (@askundergrad), check our Instagram (@askundergrad), or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at Illinois), and don’t forget to come see all of these dogs and more furry friends in person!

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UGL Advisory: What to Read/Watch After Catching Up on Your Unplayed Podcasts

Having to wait until next week for the newest episode of podcast can be frustrating, but we here at the UGL can help you pick out something to read or watch that will continue the excitement of your favorite moments listening to your favorite podcasts. Take a look at our list of books, comic books, and DVDs, that we’ve paired up with some of the most popular podcasts right now, and come over to the UGL to check them out!

If you like Serial

You should try…

The Good Nurse: a Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

The Good Nurse: a Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

Book: The Good Nurse: a Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

If you’re looking for more of the true crime mystery and suspense that Serial provides, look no further than The Good Nurse. Charles Graeber chronicles the life and career of Charlie Cullen, also known as “The Angel of Death,” and provides insight into the intelligent, twisted, complicated young man who killed nearly 300 medical patients. Graeber’s ability to use investigative journalism to look past the simple facts and reveal the creepy complexity of Cullen will have you asking, “Who is Sarah Koenig?”

 

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood

Movie: In Cold Blood

Based on Truman Capote’s non-fiction book of the same name, this movie tells the story of two men who break into a family’s home in Holcomb, Kansas, brutally murder the four family members, and attempt to elude the police. The movie examines the senseless killing in a very dramatic way and remains a benchmark for true crime films. If you love the chilling intrigue that Serial provides, you’ll find this movie both thrilling and disturbing.

 

If you like Welcome to Nightvale

You should try…

House of Leaves

House of Leaves

Book: House of Leaves

If you’re a fan of Welcome to Night Vale’s surreal news radio updates and are looking for a novel with the same weird atmosphere, you may want to check out House of Leaves. Danielewski’s book is a strangely arranged book that includes vertical footnotes, colored words, and multiple appendices. The story begins with a young family who makes a shocking discovery – their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Prepare to be challenged by the originality and forever changed by the questions it will leave you with.

 

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End
Image from: Amazon.com

Movie: John Dies at the End

This movie is based on David Wong’s comic horror novel of the same name. The dark, fantasy/science fiction horror film follows two college dropouts who are trying to save the world from an otherworldly invasion as a street drug, called Soy Sauce, which makes users hallucinate and drift across time and other dimensions. This humorous horror film is great for those of you that love the absurdist qualities of Welcome to Night Vale.

 

If you like Black Girls Talking

You should try…

TwERK

TwERK
Image from: Amazon.com

Book: TwERK

This collection of poems written by the highly praised LaTasha N. Nevada, is a full body and mind experience. Through use of multiple languages, cultural inclusivity, and identifiable markers of American popular culture, Nevada attempts to remind the reader that America has always been more than just the English language. Like “Black Girls Talking”, “TwERK” is humorous and satirical, but offers many moments of seriousness and sincerity that give balance, keep your interest, and remind you of its intent.

 

Beyond the Lights

Beyond the Lights
Image from: Amazon.com

Movie: Beyond the Lights

Gugu Mbatha-Raw gets her chance as a Hollywood leading actress with her turn as “Noni Jean”, a pop star who makes it big immediately, but suffers under the immense pressure of stardom. A movie widely praised by critics for its “smart direction” by director Gina Prince Blythewood (“Secret Life of Bees” & “Love and Basketball”) and powerhouse performance by Mbatha-Raw (“Jupiter Ascending” & “Concussion”), the romantic drama transcends its cliché plot to bring true entertainment to the screen.

 

If you like Guys We F’d: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast

You should try…

The Single Standard

The Single Standard
Image from: Amazon.com

Movie: The Single Standard

This silent movie filmed in 1929 (after “talkies” had been invented) stars Greta Garbo, Nils Asther, and Johnny Mack Brown in a love triangle film. Garbo, a strong independent woman, believes in equality of the sexes though, and thinks that the “single standard” for freedom, equality, and relationships should go both ways, and she is not going to fall for a man who thinks he will be able to mold her into something she does not want to be. For those of you who like comedians Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson in their female-empowering, sex-positive, and hilarious podcast “Guys We F’d”, take the time to watch Greta Garbo deliver a romantic performance where she makes her own choices over her body and love, and thinks about what will be best for her child and her own well-being.

 

Men Explain Things to Me

Men Explain Things to Me

Book: Men Explain Things to Me

This scathingly hilarious essay, written by Rebecca Solnits, examines the disconnect in conversation between men and women. She tackles the difficult issue of men making assumptions about female encounters without considering if their assumptions are mutual. Similar to “Guys We F’d” where Corinne and Krystyna interview sexual partners from their pasts, and celebrities like Amber Rose and Andy Dick, “Men Explain Things to Me” uses personal experiences to highlight the importance of not silencing women, to combat “mansplaining”, and tackle other important aspects of gender that need to be discussed.

 

If you like The Nerdist Podcast

You should try…

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Comic Book: The Walking Dead

If you are all about Chris Hardwick, host of “The Nerdist”, and his quest for ultimate nerd-dom, you should check out the monthly comic book series “The Walking Dead”. Hardwick hosts a television re-cap show called “The Talking Dead” where he recaps episodes from the television show loosely based on this award winning comic book series. The plague of the undead have taken over the world, and it is up to Rick, a sheriff from Kentucky, and the remaining survivors on Earth, to band together and work together to survive.

 

Ant Man

Ant Man
Image from: Amazon

Comic Book: Ant Man

“Ant Man” the hit Marvel superhero movie from the summer of 2015, stars Paul Rudd as a superhero with the ability to shrink down to the size of an Ant, but who can still do some serious butt-kicking. As one of Marvel Comic’s lesser known comic series, host of “The Nerdist” Chris Hardwick, is excited at the prospect of such a small series being such a hit. He attended the red carpet for the premier of the film, and interviewed Paul Rudd last summer, for “The Nerdist”, about joining the immense world of Marvel as such a pint-sized superhero.

Did we miss anything? What are some of your favorite podcasts right now? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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