History is Happening: A Reader’s Advisory for the Hamilton Fan

Everyone has caught Founding Fathers fever with the overwhelming popularity of the musical Hamilton. Not only is it currently playing to sold out crowds on Broadway, and coming to Chicago this September, but it’s winning accolades left and right from the Pulitzer Prize for Drama to the Tony Award for Best Musical. The UGL can help you explore even more about the time and people from the smash musical. What’s our name? Undergraduate Library!


Hamilton Advisory

There’s a million books you haven’t read…just you wait!

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

What better place to start than the book that inspired the musical? Chernow, who also penned books about the Morgan family and John D Rockefeller, uses his skills as a historian to shed light on yet another figure central to American finance. Alexander Hamilton seeks not only to recast a monumentally misunderstood figure in American history, but to explore his relationship to the American Revolutionary War and the mythic figures who emerged from it. Come for the musical inspiration, stay for the amazing history lesson.


John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough

Much like Chernow’s book about Hamilton, David McCullough’s book about John Adams also inspired an adaptation–this time as an HBO miniseries. McCullough has written about many influential American historical figures. This 2002 biography of the second president won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. McCullough not only examines the public and political life of Adams, but the personal and private as well. Read the book and then check out the miniseries starring Paul Giamatti, both available at the UGL!


Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Much has been said about the men who wrote the Federalist Papers, battled the British, or founded our nation, but the women in their lives have barely been mentioned. Just as Lin-Manuel Miranda shoves the Schuyler sisters out of relative public obscurity, journalist Cokie Roberts includes women in the sequel, and brings to light the influences that these mothers, sisters, and daughters had on the founding of our nation. Roberts includes Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington, many of whom are never included in a school textbook, but have used their courage, pluck, sadness, joy, energy, grace, and sensitivity to manage their businesses, raise their children, provide their husbands with political advice, and WORK!


Burr by Gore Vidal

Burr by Gore Vidal- (Image from Amazon.com)

Burr by Gore Vidal

If you like heroes a little on the controversial side, try Burr by Gore Vidal! Vidal’s historical novel shows the Burr-Hamilton feud in a new light with Burr as our anti-hero of the story who reflects on his experience thirty years after Hamilton was killed. Burr will give you a new lens through which to view your favorite Hamilton characters.


The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

Alexander Hamilton is only one of many stars of this historical fiction novel by David Liss. The Whiskey Rebels follows former Revolutionary spy as he serves Alexander Hamilton in the midst of the Jefferson-Hamilton rivalry over the national bank and a woman who distills whiskey in order to move west. As Hamilton’s circle closes in on whiskey and its profits, these two main characters each prepare for a patriotic fight.

Brookland by Emily Barton

Brookland by Emily Barton

Brookland by Emily Barton

This historical fiction novel set in New York during the revolution, steps away from the war and into the sights and smells of 18th century Brooklyn. After inheriting a gin distillery from her father, Prue makes a big promise to the residents of Brooklyn: she’s going to build a bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Barton’s highly praised second novel places you in “the room where it happens” but in a completely different context.

We hope we were writing like we had plenty of time…but if we missed anything, let us know! Check out our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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Reader’s & Watcher’s Advisory: So, You’re Graduating Soon?

Whether you’re sappy or psyched for commencement this year, we believe in you! No matter how you feel about graduating, we know you’ve got some feelings. We’ve got some materials for you to read and watch to deal with those feelings.


Commencement Advisory

What commencement story should you read or watch next? Check the flowchart to find out!

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Book: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

In this commencement story by Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides, nothing is easy: Madeleine is unsure of her life goals except for that she loves Leonard, who experiences emotional rollercoasters she is unable to fully grasp. Mitchell, Madeleine’s college friend, pines for her while examining philosophical life questions during his travels abroad. But even for graduates of Brown University in the 1980s, the best laid plots may fail. This novel examines love in an unexpected (and not always happy) way and is not for a reader who loves a perfect ending.


Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Book: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

If you ever feel like you’re awkwardly fumbling through life, you are not alone. Lena Dunham’s smash hit Not That Kind of Girl, similar to her tv show Girls, is a silly, but simultaneously gravely serious, memoir of what it feels like to not always know what you are doing. Although Dunham details her life from childhood to a few years after her college graduation, she captures the spirit of many young graduates embarking on their own self-discoveries.


Gilmore Girls Season 7

Gilmore Girls Season 7

Television Show: Gilmore Girls Season 7

Re-watching all of Gilmore Girls with your roommate during your final semester of college?!? Well, hurry up and get to the last season (even though it suffers because the creator was gone). Rory is starting (and finishing) her last year at Yale, all the while still in a long distance with Logan (obviously the greatest boyfriend she’s ever had), and Lorelai is doing what Lorelai does best…making questionable decisions. Will Lorelai and Luke end up together? Will Rory have the job of her dreams? What were the four words Amy Sherman-Palladino (the show’s creator) wanted to use for the ending of Gilmore Girls? What happens next? Luckily, you will find out! Sherman-Palladino and the rest of the Stars Hollow family are coming back for a series of four 90 minute Netflix episodes, due to be released in the near future.


The Graduate

The Graduate – Image from Amazon

Movie: The Graduate

In what is regarded as one of the best movies of all time by the American Film Institute, Dustin Hoffman stars as Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate, in this 1967 comedy-drama. Braddock has decided to spend the summer after he graduates lounging by the pool, ignoring any suggestion from the adults in his life about what to do after graduation. After engaging in an affair with one of his parent’s friends, Benjamin’s life takes a wild turn. This movie is based off the 1963 novel of the same name, that has also been adapted into a Broadway play. Will Benjamin figure out what he wants to do with his life? Will he get the girl of his dreams? Spend some time and find out, by watching the movie that Champaign native and University of Illinois favorite, Roger Ebert, called “funniest American comedy of [its] year.”

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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Reader’s Advisory: LGBTQ Stories

LGBTQ characters in comics, literature, television, and film have become increasingly popular and accepted. The success of TV shows such as Orange is the New Black, the recently critically acclaimed film Carol, and queer retellings of stories such as that of Catwoman have boosted representation of LGBTQ people. If you’ve been searching for more LGBTQ characters, here is a list of books available in the Undergraduate Library that will capture your interest.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home:A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This graphic memoir by lesbian comic artist Alison Bechdel, author of the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, explores Bechdel’s sexuality as a child and college student alongside the retelling of her father’s complicated sexuality and premature death. This Lambda Literary and Eisner award-winning graphic memoir is a great introduction to graphic novels and queer literature, but will also please aficionados of the genres. Fans of the Broadway musical Fun Home who were left craving more should pick up this original story!

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

This book tells the story of Ijeoma, a young Nigerian girl who falls in love with another girl of a different ethnic group as the civil war becomes the backdrop of their lives in the 1970s. As the adult Ijeoma reminisces about her childhood, she discovers herself and her desires in this intimate debut novel. People interested in coming-of-age stories will love Ijeoma’s journey to understanding her sexuality.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s 1956 classic Giovanni’s Room follows a man conflicted between the women to whom he has recently engaged and his affair with an Italian bartender—who just so happens to be a man. As David struggles to choose between his goal of a traditional lifestyle and his sexual desires, he falls deeper into his affair with Giovanni. Baldwin wrote the classic tale of self-discovery mixed with a sex and sin in this literary masterpiece.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fans of lesbian romance, mysteries, and historical fiction alike will devour this period romance by renowned lesbian author Sarah Waters. Sue, an orphan raised in a community of con artists, becomes the maid of a wealthy woman whose inheritance is the object of desire. With a surprising romance and plot twists, if you can’t get enough of this Lambda Literary winning story, it was retold in the form of a BBC One series, which is also available in the Undergraduate Library!

Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald

Long Red Hair by Meags Fitzgerald

Comic artist Meags Fitzgerald details her story of discovering and labeling her sexuality while struggling with the social pressure to choose between her attraction to men and to women. Even within queer literatures, stories of bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities are less prevalent than gay or lesbian narratives. Fitzgerald interweaves historical examples of relationships and sexuality with her own in this 93-page whirlwind of a memoir. Readers who seek representations of lesser-discussed sexualities, or those looking for a book to devour in one sitting, will love this graphic retelling of Fitzgerald’s coming-of-age as a queer woman.

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

Takako Shimura’s manga series follows two transgender friends in middle school as they discover what it means to be transgender and how to live as their authentic selves. Through eight volumes, Shimura gives readers a coming-of-age story unlike any other: as the characters approach and experience puberty, their experiences are shaped by their gender identities that do not match their bodies. This manga series broke new ground during its first release in 2002. It will be enjoyed by lovers of comics, coming-of-age stories, and LGBTQ literature alike.

What are your favorite LGBTQ books? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)!

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Reader’s Advisory: Books About Music

November is American Music Month, so we decided to take the opportunity to walk you through some of our music books about American musicians and movements. Though the Music and Performing Arts Library holds all the actual music the libraries have to offer, the UGL does have a pretty eclectic collection of books about music. Whether you’re into Broadway or Grunge, we like to think our collection has at least a little something for everyone. Take this opportunity to find a new favorite genre or simply to learn a bit more about your favorite band with the suggestions below.

No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead by Peter Richardson

With the band playing what are supposed to be their final shows together back in July for their Fare Thee Well series, there has been resurgence in interest for the Deadhead world and in the great American rock band those fans follow. This 2015 book attempts to find out why the Grateful Dead were so popular and spin the band and their fans not as the hippie burn-outs the mainstream media has portrayed them, but as a cultural tour de force and one of the most influential and talented bands to tour the world.

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John F. Szwed

Billie Holiday is one of the most influential and remarkable individuals to ever grace this Earth with their presence. If you like Adele or Amy Winehouse, you are indebted to the work that Billie Holiday did in her lifetime. In fact, if you like popular music at all, reading this book will help you recognize the huge impact Billie Holiday has had on the musical world of today. Szwed is also an accomplished author who has unraveled the mystery around many other great American musicians and music industry giants such as Alan Lomax, Sun Ra, and Miles Davis.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

If you’re into the history of indie rock at all, find out about its ins and outs via this unique and personal book by Kim Gordon. Saying that Gordon is cool is an understatement. Kim Gordon was a founding member and bassist/guitarist/vocalist of Sonic Youth, one of the biggest punk bands of the 80s and 90s and one of the most influential bands to ever make music. Gordon details her life in this book from her days growing up in California to the aftermath of her divorce from Sonic Youth cofounder Thurston Moore.

The Riot Grrrl Collection edited by Lisa Darms and Johana Fateman

Punk rock has always been strongly associated with DIY ethics and strong personal identities and the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement was one of the most well known and documented of these sorts of movements. This collection of zines, personally produced and published magazines, shows how so many people during this era found their way to feminism and found their own voices through a kind of music and culture that finally represented them. This collection does a great job of showing just how easy it is for someone to take part in a movement bigger than themselves and celebrates the voices of the many fans and fighters of a historic and interesting cultural movement.

The B Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song by Ben Yagoda

The American songbook is rich and deep and it all started with Tin Pan Alley. This book tells the end of the Tin Pan Alley era as rock n’ roll reared its tumultuous and tide-changing head. The intertwining stories told in this book are ones that shaped the entire landscape of American music, giving readers a better, deeper understanding of the reasons things played out the way they did. Frank Sinatra had it his way and rock n’ roll had its own and this book breaks down the very difference between those contrasting ideas.

How are you celebrating American Music Month? Did we miss any of your favorite books about music? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)!

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An Ocean of Good Reads

Central Illinois is a wonderful place. It is home to our wonderful Alma Mater, the charming cities of Urbana and Champaign, and enough cornfields to support even the most voracious grilled corn habit. There is, however, a distinct lack of salt air, of booming waves, and of billowing sails. If you find yourself pining for the sea life, take home one of these ocean-themed books from the UGL. You can read them in a hammock and pretend you’re below-decks!

Silver : My Own Tale as Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder
by Edward Chupack

An Ocean + A Boat = Pirates, obviously. You’re probably familiar with Treasure Island, perhaps the most well-known pirate story of Western literature. But have you ever wondered about how the infamous pirate Long John Silver became who he is? This is his life story, recounted by Silver himself, as he sails imprisoned towards his execution in England. Many murders and treasure troves are recounted, in highly stylized pirate lingo, but the biggest and most mysterious treasure is only hinted at…

The Seas: a Novel
By Samantha Hunt

“Long walks on the beach” are often heralded as being the height of romance. What if, however,  you’re a young woman in a desolate seaside town, grieving the loss of your father, convinced you’re a mermaid, and in love with a older, damaged veteran? Time spent on the beach together might have a different feel to it, then. That’s the premise behind this novel, which draws from ethereal fairy tales but is set in cold, hard reality.

8 Men and a Duck : an Improbable Voyage by Reed Boat to Easter Island
by Nick Thorpe

Translating the art of the road trip to the southern Pacific, this is the tale of 8 dudes (mostly non-sailors) who attempt to travel from the coast of Chile to Easter Island in a boat made out of reeds. Their motivation? Living to tell the tale, mostly. There are sharks, storms, and rival sailing teams who attempt to sabotage the mission; there is also, as promised, a duck. The duck’s name is Pedro.

The Sea is My Brother
by Jack Kerouac

Before he became a famous figure in Beat literature, Jack Kerouac was a merchant marine. That means he worked as a sailor on ships carrying passengers and cargo, and that is the setting of this, his first, incomplete novel. Young men at sea grappling with loneliness, identity, and drinking in the modern world – if that sounds like your cup of grog, pick this one up.


The Sea Wolf
by Jack London, adapted by Riff Reb’s

Originally a novel by Jack London, of White Fang and Call of the Wild fame, this graphic novel adaptation adds dramatic, high-contrast illustrations to a classic adventure tale. Instead of furry beasts in snowy Yukon climes, the ‘wolf’ in this story is a hardened sailor in the South Pacific. He and his crew of seal hunters pick up a shipwreck victim, Humphrey, who is initially glad for their help…but Humphrey soon realizes that this ain’t no pleasure cruise, and he will have to fight to survive.


That’s it for our fleet of ocean-centered stories. We hope you got to see more of the ocean this summer that the UGL ever does, from it’s vantage point underground. Do you have a favorite book or movie set on the high seas? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Got Pride? LGBT Pride Month at the UGL

The Stonewall Inn Riots, a series of protests following police raids on a queer bar in New York City that are widely considered the igniting spark for the modern LGBT rights movement, took place on June 28-29, 1969. Ever since then, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks in the United States have taken the month of June as a symbolic time to demonstrate pride in their sexual and gender minority identities.

A rainbow-colored robot invites you to LGBT pride month.

Original image by Quinn Dombrowski.

This year, 45 years later, President Barack Obama has again declared June LGBT Pride Month, recognizing the importance for LGBTQ people to celebrate themselves and the political struggles their communities have been involved in. In order to show off our own pride, the UGL would like to recommend some items from our collection that display some LGBTQ pride and history.


by Martin Duberman

If you’re interested in going back to the beginning, Martin Duberman’s Stonewall is an important look—even 20 years on—at the watershed nature of the events at Stonewall through the eyes of six very different people. His history captures the conflicting and varied responses to the Stonewall events and draws a messy picture of the events leading up to Stonewall that made the riots such a historic event.

Smash the Church, Smash the State book cover with vintage photos of activists

Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation

edited by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Smash the Church, Smash the State takes a look at the political climate immediately following Stonewall by investigating the early years of the Gay Liberation Front, a anti-assimilationist activist group—the first to use the word “gay” in its name—that worked alongside (and sometimes against) other radical movements of the 1970s. Written by former GLF members, this book provides insight into a turbulent and fabulous movement whose work laid the foundation for contemporary LGBTQ politics.

Body Counts boko cover with image of couple kissing

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival

by Sean Strub

Moving forward in time, another historically significant event in the history of queer people in the United States was the AIDS crisis of the late 80s and early 90s. Sean Strub’s memoir, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, documents one slice of that time and what it meant for the gay community. As the founder of POZ magazine and the first openly HIV-positive candidate for the US legislature, Strub’s insight into the critical need for AIDS-related protections and research and his work with ACT UP paints an important picture of this era.

Redefining Realness book cover with image of Janet Mock looking incredibly regal

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More

by Janet Mock

For a contemporary look at one aspect of LGBTQ pride, check out Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. Mock was born to Black and Native Hawaiian parents in a working class neighborhood of Honolulu, and is now a respected writer and advocate for trans rights, creating #girlslikeus, an online movement for transwomen living visibly. Mock’s memoir traces her life from a childhood in Hawai‘i through her career in New York City, and it highlights the need for mainstream LGBTQ movements to center the experiences of trans women of color to continue to fight oppression both within and outside of LGBTQ communities.

There’s lots more Pride to be found in the stacks of the UGL and in Champaign-Urbana more widely. If you’re looking to celebrate this month, check out the UP Center’s Reel It UP! LGBT film festival, with showings every Tuesday in June at the Champaign Art Theater. Or, if you won’t be back on campus until school starts, Champaign-Urbana Pride  will be on Saturday, September 6 in downtown Champaign. We encourage you to celebrate along with us by checking out some of these resources and events…Happy Pride!

Special thanks to guest blogger Tad Andracki!

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Warm up for Spring Break at the UGL

Hey UGL-ers! Here in Chambana, it’s finally starting to warm up. Which means there’s only one thing on our minds—spring break! Whether you’re staying in town to catch up on sleep or packing for an exotic adventure, the UGL has all the resources you need to make this spring break the best yet.

Cover of Foder's Los Cabos guidebook

Where can you snorkel in Los Cabos? Find out here!

If you’re heading out of town for spring break this year, check out the UGL’s collection of travel guides to read up on your favorite destination. Where is the best place to hike in Wisconsin? Which towns in Spain are must-sees? Where can you snorkel in Los Cabos? All your travel questions can be answered in these handy guidebooks.

Traveling out of the country? Learn a few phrases or brush up on your conversation skills in hundreds of languages for FREE using our Tell Me More language software. Take a look at our previous blog post to learn how to use this great resource.

Cover of The Globetrotter Diaries

Get inspired for an adventure of your own.

If your spring break plans look a lot like your pillow, the UGL can bring out your inner hitchhiker while you catch some Z’s right here at home. Check out our Pinterest board that highlights a few of our favorite books about travel writing and photography, as well as the guidebooks we mentioned above.

The Hobbit DVD cover

“Not all who wander are lost.”

As always, the UGL’s collection of movies, TV shows, and audio books are ready to cure your travel bug from the comfort of your couch. Need a European adventure? Live vicariously through every James Bond film. Feeling wanderlust? Trek through Middle-earth with a Lord of the Rings marathon. Or, get pumped for the release of the next Captain America film with your Avenger pals. Stock up on all your favorites before break!

If you’re looking for a thrilling page-turner to pass some time over break, be on the lookout for our up-coming display “Road Trip with a Book.” We’ll surprise you with a great new read!

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On Being Inclusive

We’re guessing that you’re just as sick of the snow this season as we are. One of the nicest things that can happen when it’s cold, wet, and windy, though, is the possibility of a snow day. A week or so ago, when Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced that inclement weather wouldn’t mean the University was closing, some members of our community turned to Twitter to announce their displeasure with unfortunate racist and sexist remarks.

In response, many units of our campus, including our very own University Library, have planned an event, #ONECAMPUS: Moving Beyond Digital Hate, in order to promote an open dialogue about maintaining an inclusive atmosphere on campus. It takes place this evening, Thursday, February 6, at 7:30 pm in the Krannert Great Hall.

As Club UGL-ers, we hope that you’re interested in keeping our hoppin’ underground spot as safe and welcoming for all kinds of people as we possibly can. In addition to letting you know about that event, we’d like to feature some resources, available right here at the UGL, that will help you extend your knowledge beyond this one-time conversation, and which we hope help make the UGL an inclusive place to be.

Book cover: Static TVs to represent the media

Race/Gender/Class/Media 3.0 by Rebecca Ann Lind

Lind’s newly updated anthology is jam-packed with all kinds of fascinating essays about race, gender, class, and sexuality in the media. She looks at an enormous array of media, from TV to magazines and from radio to social media, digging into important issues to help us understand how racism and sexism can play out in media spaces, especially those online.

book cover: hand-made signs in windows of houses advertising parties

 House Signs and Collegiate Fun: Sex, Race, and Faith in a College Town by Chaise LaDousa

Club UGL-ers know how to have a good time, right? In this book, LaDousa looks at the experience of “just havin’ fun” in universities and analyzes the cultural meanings put into signage produced by partying college students . LaDousa shows how the ways that we understand race, gender, sexuality, and religion show up in things that we often don’t even think twice about, making this an especially timely book on this topic.

book cover: plain white text on blue background, very academic

 Why Aren’t We There Yet?: Taking Personal Responsibility for Creating an Inclusive Campus edited by Jan Arminio, Vasti Torres, and Raechele L. Pope

In Why Aren’t We There Yet?, the editors ask why, despite years of talk about increasing diversity and making campuses inclusive, events of racism and sexism like SnowDayTweetGate still happen. Their answers aren’t easy, but the book is a guide to helping us continue to have difficult conversations about power and justice and asks us to step up in ending discrimination on our campus.

The UGL thinks this is an important conversation and wants to make sure that you know that we’ve got the resources to help you with all kinds of problems, from the big ones like our campus climate, to the little ones. We hope that you’ll join us as we try to make sure that the library—and the university—are safer spaces for people of all races, genders, orientations, and abilities. The Media Collection will still be waiting when you get back.

Special thanks to guest blogger Tad Andracki.

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Go 4th and Celebrate

This coming Thursday is July the 4th, also known as Independence Day. There are lots of fun ways to observe this US national holiday – here’s a round-up of resources to help you make the most of your celebration.

Just a quick note about hours – due to the holiday, all campus libraries will be closed on Thursday, July 4th. So if you want to check out a book or movie to get in the spirit of things, make sure you do it before Thursday! We’ll be back on Friday, July 5th for our regular summer hours.

Historical and Educational Resources
July 4th is a celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the full text of which can be found online via Credo Reference. There’s also an entry in the Encyclopedia of American Studies on the Fourth of July itself. For more information about the Declaration of Independence, the people who developed it, and the American Revolutionary War in general, you can check out some of the following books:
The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89 by Edward S. Morgan
Revolutionary America, 1763-1815 : a Sourcebook edited by Francis D. Cogliano
The Invention of George Washington by Paul K. Longmore
The Women of the American Revolution by Elizabeth F. Ellet
“Strong and Brave Fellows” : New Hampshire’s Black Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution, 1775-1784 by Glenn A. Knoblock
Founding Friendship : George Washington, James Madison, and the Creation of the American Republic by Stuart Leibiger
The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood

As with many holidays in the US, food is a major part of July 4th celebrations. Grilling food outside and cooking over open flames are especially appropriate for the midst of summer – check out one of these cookbooks to get fired up about your July 4th feast. Just remember to be careful and observe fire safety rules!

Kentucky BBQ book in library catalog America's Best BBQ book in library catalog Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction book in library catalog One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking book in library catalog 30-Minute Vegetarian Grilling book in library catalo Grilling Vegan Style book in library catalog Great Grillin' Cookbook book in library catalog

After you’ve got your plate heaped with food, you might want to kick back with a movie, whether it be related to American history, takes place on the 4th of July, or is just about baseball, America’s pasttime. The movies below all fall into at least one of these categories. If you took advantage of any of the books above, maybe you can spot some inaccuracies in the historical films.
1776 movie in library catalogNational Treasure movie in library catalogJohn Adams movie in library catalogJaws movie in library catalogBorn on the Fourth of July movie in library catalogA League of Their Own movie in library catalogEight Men Out movie in library catalogBad News Bears movie in library catalog
And of course, don’t forget the best July 4th movie of all time: Independence Day.

Local Information
If you’re not throwing your own party, there are plenty of local events for you to attend instead. July4th.net is the online home of the Champaign County Freedom Celebration, which has information about a parade, an evening entertainment lineup, and a fireworks display. The Champaign County Park District will also have 4th of July festivities at the Sholem Aquatic Center, including face-painting and a watermelon eating contest. If you’re willing to travel a little, the Champaign County Forest Preserve is also having a Freedom Fest in Mahomet, Illinois.

Going to a public display is the best way to enjoy fireworks on the 4th of July – be safe and remember that using fireworks on your own could get you into a lot of trouble.

We hope this collection is helpful to you in your celebration! If you have any other ideas for ways to enjoy the holiday, feel free to share them in the comments, and have a wonderful Independence Day.



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Summer Survival

Ah, summer. The time of year when temperatures rise, and nature simultaneously asserts itself as a source of enjoyment (Sunshine! Flowers!) and a force to be reckoned with (Sunburn! Bug bites!).

If battling the heat and summer classes have got you down, take a break and enjoy something from this reading list inspired by the age-old theme of People Versus Nature. Some of them are very suspenseful, and some are not – you can choose according to how adventurous you’re feeling. And all of them, of course, are enjoyable from within the air-conditioned luxury of the library. Stop in and pick one up!
Gilligan's Island Season 2 tv show in library catalog

The characters in Gilligan’s Island may be shipwrecked, but they really don’t have it that bad. It seems there is no problem they can’t solve using bamboo and coconuts. Enjoy all three seasons of their exploits, and if their craftiness inspires you, check out  this book on Eco-Crafts; maybe you, too, can make something useful or fun from the things in your environment.

Robinson Crusoe book in library catalog

 One step up from Gilligan’s Island is the classic adventure story of Robinson Crusoe. The main character still gets clever with his surroundings, but the stakes are higher, since cannibals and wild animals are everywhere. Don’t worry about him too much, though – in the end he gets rescued. For a contemporary spin on the shipwrecked loner theme, try the film Cast Away. It has a sadder ending, but 100% more anthropomorphic volleyballs.

Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls

If you’re ready to step away from the confines of fiction, pick up this autobiography of Bear Grylls, TV survival artist extraordinaire. What will this man not do to survive? He has, for instance, ” utilised the corpse of a sheep as a sleeping bag and flotation device.” I expect big things from a person like that. If things go really wrong, however, his support crew is never too far away, so he’ll make it out alright.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed book in library catalogCheryl Strayed might not have ever done anything ingenious with a dead sheep, but she did walk the entirety of the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail, alone, with no previous backpacking experience and no TV crew to help her. The experience helped Strayed cope with the disintegration of her personal life and come out ahead of many personal challenges.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer book in library catalogSometimes those who face the forces of nature don’t come out on top. Into the Wild is the story of an American hitchhiker who disappeared from civilization and attempted to live off the Alaskan wilderness, and who was eventually found dead  in an abandoned bus. His motivations for undertaking such a dangerous expedition, and how basic preparation could have perhaps prevented his demise, have inspired much discussion, and even a movie version.

If reading these tales of humanity versus wilderness leaves you hankering for your own outdoor adventure, make sure you adequately prepare, so you can spend your time enjoying nature instead of struggling to live. Check out a book on outdoor skills, such as Hiking in Illinois or the Wilderness Survival Handbook, and get information about local destinations and regulations via Champaign Park District or the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Your favorite underground library will still be here to offer you shade and comfy chairs when you get back!


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