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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Reader’s Advisory: Halloween Graphic Novels

Well Club UGLers, it is getting ever closer to Halloween which means it’s time to make costumes, eat candy corn, and scare ourselves with movies, books, and haunted houses. In this week’s Reader’s Advisory, we are going to give you some graphic novel reading suggestions that up the ante on chills, thrills, and blood. The Undergraduate Library has one of the biggest graphic novel collections in the country, so stay tuned because there is bound to be something you’ll like.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Broshol

Anya’s Ghost, by Russian-American Vera Broshol, is a creepy, yet tame, ghost story option for those who prefer not to be kept up at night. Anya is a Russian immigrant navigating high school with no friends and low self-esteem when she unexpectedly falls into a well and meets a ghost. When Anya is rescued, she also rescues the ghost, who she adopts as her new best friend. The best laid plans go awry in this ghostly graphic novel perfect for someone who gets a bit squeamish in a horror film!

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

If your favorite part of a graphic novel is the artwork, Through the Woods is sure to suit your tastes. This horror graphic novel by Canadian lesbian author Emily Carroll is composed of five spine-tingling fairy tales gone wrong. From kidnapped sisters in the cold winter to a murdered wife’s ghost, these five tales and the horrifically beautiful depictions will be just creepy enough for people who like fear without the gore.

Dark Metro by Tokyo Calen and illustrated by Yoshiken

For those who prefer manga, Dark Metro is a perfect Halloween choice. This exploration of the Tokyo underground beneath the subways. The boundaries between life and death are challenged by those who spend time here with Seiya, the guide of the land of the dead. These short stories about people preyed upon by the ghosts of the city’s terrifying underworld will please those who are a little into the dark side. This creepy manga has two volumes to keep you reading all Halloween weekend.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb

If manga isn’t your thing, you could always go to the tried and true Batman for your source of Halloween entertainment. In Batman: The Long Halloween Batman must stop a serial killer called Holiday. Holiday is a crazed maniac who kills people every holiday. In this story, Batman’s greatest foe is defeating this villain while also wrestling with some of the most iconic members of his rogues gallery including Falcone, Two-Face, and the Joker. This graphic novel is sure to delight the murder-mystery fans in us all. Check this one out if you need to quench your superhero fix with a Halloween twist.

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

Last on the list is easily the most brutal and bloody. 30 Days of Night, takes place in a small town in Alaska where the sun does not rise for 30 days. Vampires come to the town to openly kill and feed on the townspeople. How will this seemingly endless vampire rampage end? You could always check out the graphic novel! This graphic novel is definitely for fans of vampires – and those that aren’t on the squeamish side.

For more Halloween graphic novel suggestions, check out our handy chart:

Halloween Graphic Novels

Have any other suggestions for frightful graphic novels? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)! Happy reading, Club UGL!

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Reader’s Advisory: Book to Film

Well it appears that the summer is over and school is back to dominate your life. With school comes endless amounts of homework and social events that could really slow down your progress on that constantly growing “to-read” list. Unfortunately for you, your time to read these books before they are inevitably adapted into movies could be coming to an end. From Sci-Fi to young adult dystopians, no genre is safe from the entertainment machine that is the movie industry! You better put your reading hat on, you do not want the movie to ruin the book!

Here at the UGL, we understand your plight, so this week’s reader’s advisory is focusing on books that will be adapted into movies during the Fall semester.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

First on the list is James Dashner’s The Scorch Trials. If you were a fan of the first book in the series, then you will be quite pleased to read The Scorch Trials. Centered on the Gladers after their adventures and hardships in the maze, the story sees the group from the first story face even more tragic situations and encounter new friends. From start to finish, this book is full of excitement and with the adaptation, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, coming out September 18th, you better get off your butt and do some reading.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Have you ever wondered if you would be able to survive in the wilderness with just your wit and your smarts? Well stop wondering, you would definitely not make it. But Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, depicts someone who is attempting to survive on Mars with just those tools (and a couple degrees in botany and engineering). In Weir’s groundbreaking novel, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a freak accident. Now, against all odds Mark must survive long enough for NASA to save him. Humorous, dark, and amazingly hopeful, Weir’s novel is the go-to read of the fall. With the adaptation coming out October 2nd, you have a couple weeks to read this page turner.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Next on your young adult list is the final chapter of the popular Hunger Games trilogy: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. After the last hunger games, which saw the launch of a revolution, Mockingjay sees Katniss’ story end with a violent revolution, secrets, and love. With the success of the previous films and pending release of Mockingjay Pt. 2 in theaters on November 20, you have some time to read this one, but why wait?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Let’s be completely honest, you probably skipped Frankenstein in your high school class. So what better time to read Mary Shelley’s magnum opus than now? Frankenstein tells the classic story of a doctor attempting to create life. Frankenstein has been spoofed and adapted into a number of different movies, novels, and plays, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from trying again. Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe) is starring in an adaptation that tells the story from Igor’s perspective titled Victor Frankenstein. With this coming out November 25th, you better start scheduling some “me time” with Mary Shelley.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Guys and gals, Moby Dick was real! In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex tells the real life story of man’s encounter with nature and giant whales. The novel, by Nathaniel Philbrick, tells the story of the survivors of the Essex, a whaleship that was attacked by a sperm whale in November 1820. Tragedy after tragedy befalls the survivors of the attack who were eventually saved in February of 1821. This is a must read for non-fiction aficionados and it is also a great way to mentally prepare to see Chris Hemsworth (yes, that is indeed Thor) on the big screen once again. In the Heart of Sea comes out December 11th which sounds like a thrilling way to kick start your Christmas vacation.

Which of these fine books are you most looking forward to read? Let us know by tweeting @AskUndergrad. All of these and more can be found at the Undergraduate Library or online using the library catalog.

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New Science Fiction Books at the UGL

Are you a fan of space travel? Do you crave futuristic storylines? Are you interested in reading about science, technology, and parallel universes? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you’re in luck. The UGL has recently added several new science fiction works to its collection. Whether you’re looking for a standalone cyberpunk novel, or a space opera series, the UGL has you covered.

Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun


Olukotun’s debut novel is equal parts action and history. Nigerians in Space, which is primarily set in Cape Town, combines African politics, culture, and thrilling adventure. This afrofuturist science fiction novel is a great choice for readers that want a little bit of everything.


The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle

The Atlantis Gene is the first novel in the Origin Mystery Trilogy. Riddle’s novel takes place at the start of the next human evolution. This novel takes both the past and future of humans into consideration with great detail. The Atlantis Gene is a great choice for anyone who is looking to be immersed in incredible detail and a fast-paced plot.


The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata

Nagata’s Locus award winning novel blends cyberpunk and hard science fiction to tell a story about nanotechnology, privilege, and strong female characters. The Bohr Maker is the first book in the Nanotech Succession, a collection of standalone novels. Readers looking to think deeply about what it means to be human should consider checking this book out.


Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Trading in Danger is the first of five novels in the Vatta’s War space opera series. Kylara Vatta, the novel’s heroine, forgoes tradition and chooses to join the military rather than pursue a career in her family’s business. Things don’t quite go as planned and soon Ky’s easy journey as a ship captain turns into an adventure filled with interplanetary rebellion and exciting space battles. This book is great for readers that are looking to become immersed in an action-packed series about military strategy and brilliant characters.

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson

Tau Zero is a hard science fiction novel that fuses emotion with technology. Anderson’s novel follows the crew of a starship as they embark on a journey to reach a distant star system. With in-depth scientific explanations of how time, relativity, and the cosmos work, this novel is a great read for hardcore science enthusiasts.

What are your favorite science fiction novels? Let us know in the comments!

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Valentine’s Day: Blind Date with a Book

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is nearing, *swoon*. While this is mostly a holiday for couples to celebrate their love, single or not, it is also an excuse to stuff your face with chocolate or pizza (if it’s that kind of night). Whether you like Valentine’s Day or not, the UGL has the perfect blind date for you. Yes, it’s time for the “Blind Date with a Book.”

Who will you choose as your blind date? Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Who will you choose as your blind date? Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

We have selected books, movies, and audio books for your blind date. This is how it works:

  • We wrapped the selected items using our great wrapping skills
  • Like a dating profile, the cover has a picture, likes, dislikes, and their idea of a perfect date
  • You can use this information to select your perfect match!
Find your perfect match. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Find your perfect match. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

You can have as many dates as you’d like. After you have selected your dates, take the items to the circulation desk and check them out. When you get home, get some coffee, unwrap your blind date, and prepare to fall in love. What are your favorite books to read or movies to watch around Valentine’s Day? Share them with us in the comments below.



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Classic Horror Stories Readers’ Advisory

Halloween season is here! Although there are many things to enjoy about the holiday (dressing up in silly costumes, eating tons of candy, the return of the NBA, etc.),a favorite part of Halloween is the tradition of reading scary stories. You can be scared witless by a story at any time of the year, but around this time feels just right to curl up with a scary book as the leaves are beginning to turn.


Horror fiction has a long, rich history. Many modern horror novels and films are influenced by the classic horror stories of yesteryear. The following reader’s advisory are horror stories and novels whose frights have withstood the test of time.


The Raven: Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

 Arguably the father of the horror short story, Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most notable writers in the horror/suspense genre. Poe is perhaps best known for his poem, “The Raven,” but his short stories are where the true scares can be found. This collection includes the titular poem, as well as nail-biters like “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” Recommended if you like Gothic literature, detective stories, and mystery.

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

 This 1895 collection of weird, supernatural short stories has experienced something of a renaissance this year. The cause behind this spike in interest is the HBO series “True Detective”, which heavily referenced Chambers’ work in its suspenseful first season (ex: The Yellow King, Carcosa, etc.). American horror master H.P. Lovecraft was also heavily influenced by this collection. Recommended if you like supernatural stories and/or if you’re a “True Detective” fan waiting for Season 2.


“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

 Published in 1898, this novella is a literary tale of psychology and the supernatural. Given its short length, this is a good choice if you’re looking for an evening of mystery. Like many of the best horror stories, this novella is still inspiring a debate over whether the ghosts in the tale are real or merely imagined. Recommended if you like psychological literature, ghost stories, and New Criticism.

Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

 Despite not being widely recognized during his lifetime, H.P. Lovecraft is now one of the most celebrated authors of Horror and Weird Fiction. Although not all of his work falls into the horror genre, Lovecraft’s short stories and novellas have plenty of terrifying and eerie moments. This collection contains all of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories, including his most famous story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” as well as his legendary novella, “At the Mountains of Madness.” Recommended if you like terrifying creatures, complex mythologies, and artist H.R. Giger’s work on the Alien films.


The Shining by Stephen King

 One of Stephen King’s best works, The Shining is a quintessential haunted house (or hotel) story. Although Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation is excellent and quite scary at times, the book is way more terrifying. Set at a luxurious mountain hotel in Colorado, The Shining explores what happens when the Overlook Hotel closes for the winter and aspiring novelist Jack Torrance and his family stay on as caretakers. Recommended if you like supernatural terror, haunted houses, and being scared of bathtubs.


These five works merely scratch the surface of the scares that horror literature has to offer. What are your favorite scary stories or films? Tell us in the comments below. Happy haunting!

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Baseball Playoffs Readers’ Advisory

Football is back, political campaigns are turning in to high gear, leaves are beginning to change color, and the 2014 Major League Baseball playoffs are mere days away. This year’s playoffs are shaping up to be very intriguing with several different exciting plot points. Los Angeles Angels Mickey Mantle-replicate/baseball cyborg Mike Trout will be making the first playoff appearance of his career. After missing the playoffs last season, Bryce Harper and the Nationals will be back in the race to the Fall Classic. Clayton Kershaw will bring his Koufax-esque pitching stats along as the big-spending LA Dodgers make another run at October. Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers will try to atone for their streak of disappointing playoff finishes, and the St. Louis Cardinals will be back as the nearly dynastic team that everyone outside of the Midwest loves to hate.


Although there will be several fresh faces in the playoffs this year, baseball is a game steeped in history. Fans often make sense of new players by comparing them to the stars of the past. Baseball is also (arguably) the major sport that best lends itself to literary works. The following list contains some excellent fiction and non-fiction works in the UGL’s collection that you can read while enjoying the playoffs.


October 1964 by David Halberstam


Halberstam was one of our best chroniclers of American political and cultural history. He was also a damn good sportswriter. This 1994 book covers the 1964 World Series between the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. Halberstam also explores the complex racial issues of America in the mid-60s through the lens of professional baseball.


The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

One of the finest sports novels to come out in recent years, The Art of Fielding follows golden gloved college shortstop Henry Skrimshander at the fictional Westish College. Henry approaches the record for most consecutive errorless games by a shortstop, but a tragic accident derails his streak. This nuanced character study is especially recommended for fans of Melville’s Moby Dick.


Underworld by Don DeLillo

Although Don DeLillo’s magnum opus is not entirely about baseball, it opens with a fantastic novella-length section set in the Polo Grounds in 1951 on the day that the New York Giants famously captured the National League pennant on Bobby Thompson’s three run homer (aka The Shot Heard Round the World). In DeLillo’s novel we find out what happened to Thompson’s homerun ball (which in real life remains a mystery). Recommended for fans of baseball history, the Cold War, and postmodern literature.


Down to the Last Pitch: How the 1991 Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves Gave Us the Best World Series of All Time by Tim Wendel


If you’re not old enough to remember the 1991 series, or if you’d like to refresh your memory, Wendel’s 2014 book covers the utterly bonkers series between the Twins and Braves. To get some context on just how crazy the series was, take a look at the following sentences: 4 games were won on walk-offs. 3 games went into extra innings. Recommended if you like thrillers, Kirby Puckett, and/or John Smoltz.


Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs by Ira Berkow

Although Cubs fans have to suffer through another season of not even sniffing the playoff race, they can take solace in this book. An exploration of the storied history of Wrigley Field with accompanying photographs, the book includes interviews of many famous Cubs fans about their Wrigley experiences (including President Obama). Recommended if you like Chicago, architecture, and/or long suffering fanbases.


The UGL has all these baseball books, as well as many others in its collection on the lower level. If you’re looking for non-fiction baseball books check the GV section of our collection.







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World Cup 2014: Reader’s Advisory

It’s officially the season of pool parties, Summer II classes, and smoothies.  For those “futbol” fans among us, the summer of 2014 marks the most important event of the season, the World Cup. The first World Cup began in 1930 and takes place every four years and is hosted by a different country every time. This year, it is taking place in the Mecca of soccer, Brazil. Now, if you’re not familiar with the World Cup, or even soccer, have no worries, the UGL is here to the rescue!

We have compiled a list for the fans and for those who are starting to get familiar with the sport.

“A Beautiful Game” by Tom Watt

A Beautiful Game: The World’s Greatest Players and How Soccer Changed their Lives” by Tom Watt

Ever wonder how soccer can change the lives of kids? Well, read now read it from the players themselves. Lionel Messi, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, among others. An insight on how soccer affected and changed their lives, to become some of the greatest names in the sport.

The ESPN World Cup Companion: Everything you need to know about the planet’s biggest sports event

The ESPN World Cup companion : everything you need to know about the planet's biggest sports event

“The ESPN World Cup companion : everything you need to know about the planet’s biggest sports event”

Chips, check. Soda, check, the game is on the television, check. Now what? It’s time to sit back and enjoy the game. Have this handy guide next to you if you’re just getting to know the game. If not, it never hurts to have a guide to the game.

Why Soccer Matters” by Pele (AKA Edson Arantes do Nascimento)

“Why Soccer Matters” by Pele

A fascinating insight into the mind and thoughts of one of the greatest players of all time (in our humble opinion). Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a Brazilian player, also known as Pelé, is one of the greatest players to come out of Brazil. In this book, he explores the game of soccer from his perspective and also writes about working with charitable organizations all over the world. A great read for the soccer fan or for an inquiring mind.

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid” by Sid Lowe

“Fear and Loathing in La Liga” by Sid Lowe

The rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid has been going on for years, but the conflict stems from the time of the Spanish Civil War. It’s much more than Messi vs. Ronaldo. Read all about this fascinating rivalry and why it’s more than just a game.

Solo: A Memoir of Hope” by Hope Solo

“Solo: A Memoir of Hope” by Hope Solo

A memoir of world-famous American Goalkeeper, Hope Solo. Follow her journey from a broken childhood to a world-class goalkeeper and an Olympic gold-medalist. She serves as a role model to not only Americans, but to people from all over the world.

The Girls of Summer: The U.S Women’s Soccer Team and how it changed the world” by Jere Longman

“The Girls of Summer” by Jere Longman

In July of 1999, the American Women’s soccer team defeated China in the Women’s Wold Cup. From this day forward, the popularity of women’s soccer increased and has been going strong ever since.

As a special treat, we have “1283” which is limited edition, 500 page book by Pele. This book was recently purchased by the International and Area Studies Library here at UIUC. It is available by request, so check it out!

Be sure to mark your calendars for any important games you don’t want to miss! When there aren’t any games being played, be sure to do some summer reading, after all, you wouldn’t want to get behind, would you?

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