More than a Building: Celebrating the Past, Present, and Future of the Undergraduate Library Experience

In 1949, The University of Illinois opened the first Undergraduate Library on campus in the Main Library. In 1969, the Undergraduate Library moved to its current home, an underground building affectionately known by students as “The UGL.” This year, the UGL will begin its transformation into the new Archives and Special Collections Facility and undergraduate library services will return home to the Main Library and other locations on campus where exciting updates are underway for the 2022-23 academic year.

Aerial View of Undergraduate Library

So join us on Reading Day, Thursday, May 5th from 3-8 pm as we celebrate the rich history of the undergraduate library experience, and look toward its future. Explore an exhibit, enjoy cake and punch, craft mementos, take Polaroids, play video games from our vintage gaming collection, and more!

Schedule of Events:

3pm-8pm: Undergraduate Library Exhibit
-Celebrate the over 75 years of an Undergraduate Library and over 50 years in its current building with archival photos and stories. 

3pm-8pm: Coloring Pages
-Get creative and unwind with coloring pages on the Upper Level. Coloring pages and supplies will be provided!

4pm-5pm: Cake and Punch
-It’s not a party without a little cake and punch! Join us for a treat on the Upper Level.

hamster eats cake

5pm-8pm: Message Mural
-Brushes and paint will be provided, join us and leave your mark!

5pm-8pm: Buttons
-Make a button! Create a UGL memento button, or design your own.

5pm-8pm: Polaroids
-Grab a photo with the original selfie machine, the Polaroid. You get to keep your picture and with it a memory of the UGL!

hand holding a camera takes a photo, photo prints out

5pm-8pm: Vintage Gaming: RetroN
-See if you remember how to “pown” your friends in MarioKart with RetroN, a gaming console that lets you play Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis games! It’s on like Donkey Kong.

We hope to see you at our party and can’t wait to share the next steps of the Undergraduate Library experience with you in the years to come!

Written and Posted by: Maurissa

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An Earth Day Eco-Reading List

Spring is springing, the cherry trees are in blossom, and Earth Day and Arbor Day are just around the corner! If you’re looking to dive into some reading about the environment, nature, and climate change, the University Library has great fiction and non-fiction for you to check out.


1. Kim Stanley Robinson – The Ministry for the Future
Upward view of person in concrete pip
Kim Stanley Robinson has won dozens of awards in his long career as a sci-fi author, and it’s easy to see why when you pick up his 2020 novel The Ministry for the Future. This story follows activists, diplomats, and ordinary people over the course of the 21st century as they fight to prevent climate change. Robinson skillfully mixes hard science with likable, compelling characters, and balances realism with optimism, as he imagines our path to a future society where humans live in harmony with the environment.

The Ministry for the Future is available as an ebook from the University Library.

(Many of Robinson’s books deal with human society and our relationship to the environment – if you enjoy this one, be sure to check out his Mars trilogy, New York 2140, or others of his books.)

2. Octavia Butler – Parable of the Sower
black hands hold a book
Octavia Butler was a titan of sci-fi who won many awards for her brilliant explorations of race and gender. In her 1993 dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, the United States of the near future has been ravaged by climate change, unchecked corporate power, and religious fundamentalism. When teenager Lauren sees her home destroyed by bandits, she is forced to survive the harsh realities of the road and begins to develop a new religion, Earthseed, as she gathers a community around her.

Parable of the Sower, and its sequel, Parable of the Talents, are available from the University Library.

3. Paolo Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl
crumbling futuristic city with a laden elephant in the foreground
Paolo Bacigalupi’s 2009 debut novel imagines a 23rd-century Thailand struggling with rising sea levels, genetically engineered plagues, and neocolonial corporations. The novel follows a sprawling cast of characters through this dystopia, including Emiko, a genetically modified indentured servant seeking freedom and community; Anderson, an economic hitman for an American corporation; and Jaidee, a captain in the Thai Environment Ministry who aims to protect his country from foreign exploitation. The Windup Girl won many awards for its contributions to the climate fiction and “biopunk” genres.

The Windup Girl is available from the University Library.

4. Jenny Offill – Weather
drawings of clouds
Jenny Offill’s 2020 novel follows a college librarian, Lizzie, as she contemplates climate change and her relationship to the environment, while navigating the daily dramas and crises of family life. Rather than imagining future dystopias or utopias of climate crisis, Offill skillfully grounds us in the present with wry humor and thought-provoking observations.

Weather is available from the University Library.

5. Richard Powers – The Overstory
painting of redwood trees
In Powers’ 2018 novel, a group of characters from diverse walks of life come together as activists to fight against deforestation. This Pulitzer Prize-winner is a beautiful exploration of humanity’s connection to and need for forests.

The Overstory is available as an ebook from the University Library.


1. Robin Wall Kimmerer – Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
braided grass
As a professor at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer brings a unique perspective to this 2013 book about the relationships between humans, plants, and the land, blending indigenous and scientific knowledge.

Braiding Sweetgrass is available as an ebook from the University Library.

2. Amitav Ghosh – The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
Overhead photo of river delta
Indian writer Amitav Ghosh adapted a series of lectures on climate change into this 2016 work of non-fiction. Ghosh addresses our culture’s failure to truly grapple with climate change in literature, and the ways that colonialism drives the current crisis.

The Great Derangement is available from the University Library.

3. Carolyn Finney – Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors
Picture of a waterfall, person in the foreground with a painting held in front of the face
This 2014 study examines the history of American racism to explain why African Americans are underrepresented in environmentalism and outdoor pastimes, and to challenge the idea of the outdoors as a white space.

Black Faces, White Spaces is available as an ebook from the University Library.

4. Elizabeth Kolbert – The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
red mastodon skeleton
In this 2014 book, journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert documents the history of mass extinctions past and present as she argues that we are currently in the midst of a man-made mass extinction, affecting species and biomes all over the world. She translates peer-reviewed science and interviews with experts into clear, concise prose to paint a picture of this chilling crisis.

The Sixth Extinction is available from the University Library.

5. George Monbiot – Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea, and Human Life
deer inside a concrete room
George Monbiot is a British writer, journalist, and activist whose 2013 book explores the concept of rewilding and informs us of projects to rewild ecosystems around the world. He blends lyrical nature writing with thoughtful scientific, social, and historical assessments of rewilding efforts, helping the reader to imagine what a wilder world might look like.

Feral is available from the University Library.

Written by: Tali
Posted by: Maurissa

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Books to Keep Black History Month Going All Year Long

To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.
-Ibram X. Kendi

      In the previous UGL Blog post, we talked about the recent rise of banned and challenged books. As Black History Month comes to a close, I’d like to draw your attention to the ALA’s Top 10 Banned Books of 2020, and how six are challenged because they relate experiences of Black Americans. Reading and learning are the greatest tools we have to fight against banned books and ignorance. There is power in sharing experiences and knowledge through books.

      In honor of Black History Month, and to keep its spirit going all year round, here is a list of books by Black authors that tell powerful stories. Though the ALA’s Banned Books list is mainly books for younger readers, this list has something for all ages, so you can share with all of your loved ones!

Banned Books:

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

silhouette of boy with word stamped on top

      A remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s award winning Stamped from the Beginning, this book takes you on a journey through the history of racist ideas. This book shows how racist ideas are created, perpetuated, but also how they can be discredited. It is an excellent book for those who want to see how racism affects their own lives as well as the lives around them and helps examine how to stamp out racist ideas in our daily lives. Nonfiction, written for a teen audience.

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.”

You can request Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You from the University of Illinois Library. 

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

man holds hands above head in front of dark blue sky

      Jason Reynolds again! This time this fictional story, written for a teen audience, uses alternating narrators tell the story of Rashad and Quinn, one black teen and one white, and the violent act of police brutality that begins to tear their community apart. A story that is reminiscent of those we hear about in the news. Fiction, written for a teen audience.

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be ‘too much of a sensitive matter right now.’”

You can request All American Boys from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

the bluest eye

      Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize winner and for good reason, she writes stories about people that you can’t forget. The Bluest Eye is a novel about an 11-year-old Black girl named Pecola who has one wish- for her eyes to turn blue. She sees the way the blond-eyed blue-eyed children are treated- as beautiful- and she yearns to be seen as beautiful as well. Her yearning draws us through the story as we begin to question our own obsession with beauty and conformity. The Bluest Eye is often read by high schoolers and is recommended to any adult that hasn’t picked it up yet. 

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.”

You can request The Bluest Eye from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

african american girl holds sign that reads the hate u give

      A novel about sixteen-year-old Starr, who splits her life between the poor neighborhood where she lives and the affluent, suburban school she attends. Starr’s world is shattered when she witnesses the killing of her friend, an unarmed black young man, by the police. As her community splinters, some calling the man a victim and some a thug, Starr is the only person who knows the truth about what happened that night. Does she have the courage to speak that truth, even if it will upend her community? Great for teens and older, and a film adaptation came out in 2018.

From the American Library Association: “Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message.”

You can request The Hate U Give from the University of Illinois Library. 

Though not (yet) popularly banned, the following books are by Black authors and you won’t want to miss them.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

blocks of images including an eye, a gem, and a safe lock

      This novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead drops the reader in 1960’s New York with Ray Carney, furniture salesman. Ray runs an upstanding shop, but with money tight he occasionally does some under the table business in questionable acquisitions (read: stolen goods). But when Ray’s cousin gets involved in a high-profile jewelry heist Ray gets pulled into a much seedier and darker world. Thus begins the struggle between Ray Carney the straight-shooting salesman, and Ray Carney the crook. He must navigate the two all while keeping his shop, saving his cousin, and keeping himself from getting killed. A great adult fiction novel for those who love capers, Harlem, or just good storytelling.

You can request Harlem Shuffle from the University of Illinois Library. 

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Waves and blue water, gold words read Call us what we carry

      Having captured the spotlight, and our hearts, with her moving poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 inaugural address, Amanda Gorman’s collection of poetry is perfect for any lovers of the beauty of words. Exploring language, identity, erasure, Gorman’s poems capture the complexity of these unprecedented times. (Formerly known as The Hill We Climb and Other Poems.)

You can request Call Us What We Carry from the University of Illinois Library. 

March (Trilogy) by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

multiple people standing in rows man watches as a bus is engulfed in flame overhead shot of many people walking down a street

      The March trilogy is written by American icon and civil rights activist John Lewis. These graphic novels are a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, the graphic novels reflect on the distance traveled from the days of Jim Crow and segregation but doesn’t shy away from asking how much further we need to go. Visually stunning and offering an intimate look inside the civil rights movement, March is perfect for reluctant readers and fans of art books as well as those who appreciate honest and unflinching memoir.

You can request March: Book One, March: Book Two, and March: Book Three from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

color block image of faces

      History is full of stories of great men, but often we forget about the very real women who supported those men. The Three Mothers looks at three Black women who survived Jim Crow and passed on their strength, resistance, and a fundamental right to dignity of Black people to their sons, who would go on to do great things. This non-fiction book is perfect for anyone who is interested in American history, but especially great for those who are interested in seeing that history from a different angle.

You can request The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation from the University of Illinois Library. 

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith

two black people swim in dark water

       A picture book with stunning prose and verse that starts with a grade-school child being given a genealogy assignment. Instead of learning about her ancestor’s arrival at Ellis Island or on the Mayflower, she learns that her ancestors were stolen and brought to America by slave traders. But she also learns that before that violence, her ancestors had a home, a culture, a language. She also learns how they survived. Perfect for all ages, but especially as an introduction to American history for grades 2-5.

You can request The 1619 Project: Born on the Water from the University of Illinois Library. 


Black history is rich and deep, with stories that need to be read year round. Black history is also American history, and the best way to celebrate Black History Month is to incorporate more works by Black authors into your “to be read” pile.

Written and Posted by: Maurissa

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DeStress Fest

Finals week is fast approaching, and some of us may already be feeling the stress.

Man says I'm very anxious about it

In this trying time, the UGL has got your back! This Thursday, December 9th, we’re celebrating DeStress Fest from 12 pm-11 pm! In addition to our normal services like reservable study spaces and Research and Writing Consultations, we will be providing fun activities throughout the day so you can take a study break and relax a bit. Here’s a schedule of the events:

  • Noon-11 PM: Coloring pages, cute animal videos, and polaroid selfies (upper level UGL)
  • Noon-1 PM: Creative Writing Break! (upper level UGL)
  • 1-3 PM: Button Making (upper level UGL)
  • 3-5 PM: Keychain Crafting (upper level UGL)
  • 5-7 PM: Make Your Own Pet Rock (upper level UGL)
  • 7-9 PM:  Scream or Meditate (lower level UGL)
  • 9-11 PM: Blackout Poetry (upper level UGL)

Stop by for a quick craft, or stay for all of them! We will also be giving away care packages on a first-come, first-served basis at 12 PM, 5 PM, and 9 PM. 

See you there! And remember: you’ve got this!

purple cat says you can do this

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Banned Books Week 2021

Censorship Divides Us Books Unite Us Banned Books Week and hands holding a book

It’s Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week is an annual event organized by the American Library Association (ALA) and other organizations to celebrate the freedom to read.

This week brings awareness to the work done by librarians, teachers, and other advocates to stop the censorship of books and encourages everyone to participate in events that promote freedom of expression. This year’s Banned Books Week theme is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” Author Jason Reynolds is the honorary chair of Banned Books Week; you can find out more about events and lectures he is hosting on the Banned Books Week website.

You can also share why the freedom to read matters to you by using #BannedBooksWeek on social media or following @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter!

Why do books get banned?

Books get banned for a wide variety of reasons. Usually, a concerned community member (a “challenger”) will suggest that a book or other resource be removed from library circulation, or be taken down from a public display. Sometimes, librarians or other figures of authority act as challengers, and refuse to buy or promote books and materials on controversial topics. All kinds of books get banned, too—including children’s books, young adult novels, nonfiction books, and adult literary fiction.

Some of the most common reasons books get challenged or banned are because they conflict with a certain religious viewpoint, they promote certain political views, they include “adult” topics that are seen as inappropriate for children or teens, or because a book doesn’t “share the values of the community.” Librarians around the world—including right here at the University of Illinois—work to stop the unnecessary censorship of books and other materials in schools and libraries, and instead work to educate communities on the power of freedom to read.

Happy Banned Books Week

What are some examples of banned books?

man opens glowing book

We’ve listed the top 10 most challenged books in the country from 2020 below, compiled by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. Find them interesting? Click on the links to check them out from one of the university libraries!

  1. Melissa’s Story (Alex Gino): Originally published under the title “George,” this heartwarming middle grade novel follows the life of a young transgender girl as she tries out for a main role in the school play.
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds): In this nonfiction work, renowned scholars and authors Kendi and Reynolds explore the history of racist ideas in America, how racism continues to persist in American attitudes and structures of power, and include ways to advocate and fight for an antiracist future.
  3. All American Boys (Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely): Two teen boys (one who is Black, and one who is white) grapple with the aftermath of an incidence of police brutality in this young adult novel.
  4. Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson): A young woman in high school uses art to process and heal after experiencing a sexual assault in this young adult novel.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie): A young man growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation explores his experiences at a predominantly white high school, inspired by Alexie’s own adolescence.
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story of Racial Injustice (Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, ill. By Jennifer Zivoin): This children’s book follows the paths of a Black family and a white family as they follow the aftermath of the police shooting of a Black man in their community.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee): This classic novel explores the trial of an innocent Black man in the Great Depression through the eyes of a six year old narrator.
  8. Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck): Steinbeck’s novel follows two migrant ranch workers as they travel through California during the Great Depression.
  9. The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison): Morrison’s heartbreaking novel tells the story of Pecola, a young Black girl growing up in Ohio.
  10. The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas): This young adult novel follows Starr as she grapples with the aftermath of the police killing of her friend and begins to advocate for racial justice.

Banned Books Week banner on red book

Written by: Aine
Posted by: Maurissa

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Flower Power

As the days grow longer and the stress of finals week fades to a distant memory, you may find yourself with more time to spend outdoors appreciating the natural beauty of the Midwest. If you’re staying in Champaign-Urbana over the summer, there are plenty of places near campus to get your daily dose of nature!

The University of Illinois Arboretum, Meadowbrook Park, and Allerton Park and Retreat Center all offer accessible walking trails with dazzling views of the local flora and fauna. But no matter where you find yourself in the coming months, the UGL is here to help you become an expert on any flower that may cross your path!

Spongebob throws petals on Squidward

If you’d prefer to take a physical book on your outdoor expeditions, try checking out one of the library’s many flower identification guides. The National Wildlife Federation field guide contains wildflowers from all across North America, while the National Audubon Society has separate guides for the Eastern and Western regions. You can also search the library catalog to find a guide specific to your area.

Many flowers

Apps can be great resources for budding botanists, and luckily for us there are many free options out there! Created by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, iNaturalist can help you identify flowers, trees, and wildlife using image recognition technology and information crowdsourced from other users. PlantSnap allows you to upload pictures of a plant to instantly identify your specimen from their database of over 600,000 species. What’s That Flower works more like a traditional field guide, allowing users to search based on a flower’s color, number of petals, and region.

Girl running through rows of flowers

If you’re looking for an on-the-go option but don’t want to commit to downloading an app, websites like the University of Illinois Wildflower Directory or Wildflower Search could be perfect for you! However you choose to learn about your floral finds, we hope you find something that makes you as happy as this corgi in a field of flowers.

Corgi surrounded by poppies.

Written by: Hannah
Posted by: Maurissa

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Five Tips for Surviving Finals Week

It’s that time of year, folks. With finals upon us, here are five basic tips to keep in mind for hanging in there during finals week.

1) Know Your Schedule

gif of scrolling through a calendar
If you’re taking exams, make sure to have them marked on your calendar. Also be sure to note down all of your deadlines so you don’t miss any.

2) Have a Plan
Having a study plan is essential for making time to prepare yourself for finals, especially if you have multiple deadlines to juggle. Scheduling out designated blocks of time for each class can help ensure you aren’t forgetting to prepare for any of your finals. However, it’s a good idea to prioritize which exams or essays are the most important so that you can ensure extra time to prepare.

3) Get 8 Hours of Sleep

gif of sleeping starfish
Hear me out on this one. While we’ve all had to pull an all-nighter at least once, remember to be still getting roughly eight hours of sleep per night. Being sleep-deprived not only is bad for your health but makes it much more difficult to focus on your materials.

4) Eat Right and Drink Lots of Water
Even though it can be tempting to have Starbucks for every meal during finals week, a healthy diet and staying hydrated will give you the fuel you need to rock those exams. High protein foods, fruits, and vegetables are great sources for energy that’ll make you feel better in the long run than ten cups of coffee.

5) Don’t Forget Self-Care

gif of woman knitting a sweater on herself, text says I knit because it relaxes me
Always remember to take care of yourself and take the occasional break, especially if you’re feeling burnt out from hours of studying. Taking an hour to watch your favorite show, knit, or decorate your Animal Crossing village can give you a much-needed break and help grant you mental energy to focus on your work afterwards. Don’t forget to get some sunlight outside and take advantage of the lovely spring weather.

Good luck with finals, and remember the Undergraduate Library has study spaces available if you need a space to prepare for exams.

Written by: Will
Posted by: Maurissa

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Books for Your Zodiac

Finals are almost here!

The end of the semester is so close, and yet, it seems so far away. If you are like me, you are probably in dire need of some lighthearted content, and a book to ease your woes. I hope this post can help with both.

Thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda’s Netflix documentary Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, I have had the pleasure of connecting with a neglected part of my heritage: the legacy of the great Walter Mercado. Who is he, you ask? Walter Mercado was a visionary, a person who, by refusing to subscribe to gender normative labels, broke through the barriers of machismo to become one of the most famous celebrities in Latinx culture. When I was a kid, he had his own TV Show, where you could tune in to listen to your horoscope, delivered by Walter in a swoosh of bedazzled robes with as much flair and vivaciousness of an actor on stage. It didn’t matter if you believed in the signs or las estrellas, you couldn’t help but wait silently for him to read your horoscope. In many Latinx households, it was part of their daily routine.

Gif of man dancing

After watching the documentary, I decided to combine my love of books with this new found interest and bring to you recommendations based on your zodiac sign. I might not be Walter Mercado but I promise I will do my best. Alas I will be dressed in not quite so bedazzled robes but trust me I will be reading las estrellas with the same flair that he did.

Las estrellas:

Aries (March 21-April 20)
You are courageous, confident and enthusiastic. To complement your sense of adventure and curiosity, I recommend the Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda.

Image of a red gate with words Seven Deadly Shadows

What is it about? 
Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her parents ignore her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: she can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Kyoto. But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end.


Taurus (April 21-May 20)
You are practical and well-grounded. At times a bit stubborn, but loyal and responsible. You always rise to the challenge. I recommend They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez. 

Image of two women sleeping text says They Could Have Named Her Anything

What is it about? 
Racism, class, and betrayal collide in this poignant debut novel about restoring the broken bonds of family and friendship.


Gemini (May 21-June 20)
You are curious and enjoy tasks that are mentally engaging. You can be a bit indecisive but are quick to learn and adapt to new circumstances. I recommend a suspenseful book to keep you engaged such as When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole.

Image of a blue house and text that says When No One is Watching

What is it about? 
Finding unexpected support from a new friend while collecting stories from her rapidly vanishing Brooklyn community, Sydney uncovers sinister truths about a regional gentrification project and why her neighbors are moving away.


Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You are characterized by your tenacious and sympathetic nature. You can be a deeply intuitive and sentimental person, because of this I recommend a book that will pull on your heartstrings such as A House of Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi. 

Image with stylized words that says A House For Happy Mothers

What is it about? 
In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs; a loving husband, a career, and a home. But the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much. She and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads. But she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset, her womb, to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.


Leo (July 23-August 22)
You have all the makings of a leader: self-confident, creative and dramatic. Just remember to be conscious of those around you. Listen and care for your people. For you I recommend Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

image of mixed paint with words Untamed Glennon Doyle

What is it about? 
In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and “patron saint of female empowerment” (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us.


Virgo (August 23-September 22)
You are hardworking, practical and analytical. Usually people will characterize you as detailed oriented, often leaving nothing to chance and ensuring that you have a plan. Sometimes you can focus too much on work and you forget to take care of yourself. Rest, explore and have some fun! For this, I recommend the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

image of a woman with crossed arms text says Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine

What is it about? 
A socially awkward, routine-oriented loner teams up with a bumbling IT guy from her office to assist an elderly accident victim, forging a friendship that saves all three from lives of isolation and secret unhappiness.


Libra (September 23-October 22)
Of all the signs, Libras tend to be diplomatic, fair, and peaceful. You tend to value partnership deeply therefore you invest a lot in your relationships.  Remember not to shy away from confrontation, communicating openly with those around you can be very beneficial. For you, I recommend Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney.

image of two faces, one wears sunglasses text reads conversations with friends a novel

What is it about?
Devoting herself to an intellectual life and the self-possessed lover with whom she performs spoken-word poetry readings, a college student is drawn into the lives of a sophisticated journalist and her husband before the increasingly intimate relationship tests the boundaries of her resolve


Scorpio (October 23-November 22)
Scorpios are characterized by their resourcefulness and bravery. When you have a question or are curious about a topic, you will research until you find a satisfactory answer. For this reason, I recommend the thriller The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.

image of a mansion in front of a mountain, text reads The Sanatorium

What is it about?
Accompanying family members to an isolated Swiss Alps hotel to recuperate from a traumatizing case, a woman detective uncovers the fates of long-ago tuberculosis patients who went missing from the property years earlier when it operated as a sanatorium.


Sagittarius (November 23-December 21)
You are known for being generous, curious, and energetic. You approach life with an open mind and would gladly engage in a philosophical conversation on the meaning of life. For your sense of adventure and philosophical nature, I recommend The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

image of portals with many items coming out text reads The Midnight Library

What is it about?
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.


Capricorn (December 22- January 19)
This sign is characterized by its responsible and disciplined nature. Your ability to learn from your mistakes, and revise your plans, makes you an asset to any team. Use your expertise to uplift others, and to lend them a hand. I recommend The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms.

image of woman walking down city street with books overlaid text reads The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

What is it about?
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.


Aquarius (January 20- February 19) 
You are known for being an intellectual person, you can be independent but you love helping others. You enjoy your space and your alone time. It helps to recharge your battery. For your me-time, I recommend The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab.

stylized text reads The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

What is it about?
Making a Faustian bargain to live forever but never be remembered, a woman from early 18th-century France endures unacknowledged centuries before meeting a man who remembers her name.


Pisces (February 20-March 20)
You are friendly, and have no trouble connecting with different people. You are generous, compassionate and caring. All of these characteristics make you a very intuitive person. Trust your intuition when meeting new people, it will lead the way. Because connecting with people is your jam, I recommend Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela. 

stylized text reads Bird summons

What is it about?
Three active members of a Muslim Women’s group take a road trip together to the Scottish Highlands, where each confronts the contrast between their hearts and their realities.

Enjoy the books for your star sign, as well as others on this list! Many thanks to the wonderful Nicole, whose passion for all things astrological guided this blogpost. 

I hope that you finish the semester strong and in the words of Walter Mercado: “Que reciban de mi siempre paz, mucha paz pero sobre todo mucho, mucho, mucho amor”*

*Translation: I hope that you have peace and that you receive a lot of love in your life

image of a man blowing a kiss

Written by: Sylvia

Posted by: Maurissa

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Calling All Gamers!

Do you love social and board games? Are you looking for a distraction from final papers and exams? Are you free THIS Thursday at 7 PM?? If your answer to any of these questions is yes (or even if it isn’t), join us Thursday, April 29th, for an evening of fun and games!

We will be meeting on the UGL Board Games Discord server and heading over to Backyard for a few quick rounds of games like Codenames, Pictionary, and Camp Werewolf. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to play– we’ll be learning together!

For updates on this event and future UGL gaming sessions, please follow our Discord server. We’re open to your feedback and welcome suggestions for future game nights!

See you there!

Hand rolling dice, text "They see me rollin'"

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Not-To-Miss Book-To-Screen

Welcome to Fall 2020! Chilly weather is setting in. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and you can’t go ANYWHERE because of the pandemic! But fear not, (or perhaps fear is what you’re after?) there are a bunch of new book to screen adaptations that can get you through the spooky nights. Read a book, watch a movie, and compare! Here’s a list of some fantastic stories that started as books that can soon grace your screen. 


Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie whodunit set on a cruise ship on the Nile river. Inspector Poirot follows the clues to try to find a killer.

Book cover with palm branches and the title Death on the Nile    Movie poster with a river boat on the water and a dark red sunset, reads Death on the Nile   

The film version is scheduled to be released in theaters on December 18th, starring A-listers like Gal Godot, Annette Benning, Letitia Wright, and Russel Brand. 

You can request a copy of the book or audiobook through the UIUC Libraries or the Champaign Public Library (or, for remote students, your local public library). You can also purchase from your favorite bookseller.


Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier

A brooding thriller about a young woman who marries a rich widow and goes to his large manor as his new bride. But once there she can’t help but feel like his deceased wife hasn’t really left.

 Book cover of stairs, a stylized "R" and the title Rebecca    Film post of a man and woman, title Rebecca

The 1940 Alfred Hitchcock version is ICONIC, but Netflix is now streaming a new version starring Armie Hammer, Lily James, and Kristen Scott Thomas. 

A copy of the e-book is available through Hathi Trust via the UIUC Libraries or you can get a copy at the Champaign Public Library (or, for remote students, your local public library). You can also purchase from your favorite bookseller.


The Witches by Roald Dahl

Who says only kids can read a kid’s book? The Witches is a fabulously fun and sometimes freaky story about a boy and his grandmother staying in a hotel during a witch’s convention. And these witches HATE children. From the same mind that brought us James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.

Book cover with an illustration of a woman in a green dress standing arms outstretched over a small boy. Title The Witches.     Movie poster, image of a woman with her arms outstretched standing on a red carpet while others look over her shoulders. Title The Witches.

HBOMax released a film adaptation on October 22nd. Starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and directed by Robert Zemeckis. This book to film adaptation is another case where there’s a classic movie version (1990’s The Witches starring Angelica Houston) which is tough competition. The Witches (1990) is currently streaming on Netflix providing the possibility of a read-watch-watch and compare!

You can request a copy of the book through the UIUC Libraries or the Champaign Public Library (or, for remote students, your local public library). You can also purchase from your favorite bookseller.


The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is actually a novella, so it’s one of the shorter ones on the list. First published in 1898, the language is definitely that of its time. If you’re looking for shocking, graphic horror, this might feel underwhelming, but the brooding atmosphere is perfect for a spooky season read. It is written as a manuscript from a young woman who accepts a position as a governess in the English countryside for two young children. Isolated, she puts all her energy into protecting the children. But who is protecting her?

Book cover of a painting of two silhouettes in a boat in front of a large house. Title The Turn of the Screw.   

There have been many adaptations of The Turn of the Screw, including a film version from earlier this year called The Turning (2020). The newest is from the creators of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix (also a book to screen adaptation!) and it’s called The Haunting of Bly Manor. Like Hill House, this adaptation isn’t an exact replica of the book plot, but rather a base for the story. You’ll love seeing how the writers wove in details from the book!

Available online as audiobook through the UIUC libraries, or a book can be requested  through the Champaign Public Library (or, for remote students, your local public library). You can also purchase from your favorite bookseller.


Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune is one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time. A man, Paul Atreides, leads nomadic tribes in a battle to control the desert planet Arrakis. There’s political intrigue, a resource vital for interstellar travel, and giant worms. The book is lengthy, but you won’t regret delving into this universe.

Book cover with orange and yellow waves and figure of a man walking into the distance. Title Dune  Movie poster, multiple figures in front of a night sky, planets visible. Title Dune.

The movie adaptation starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya was slated for December 2020 but has been pushed back until December 2021. Though a bummer, it will give you time to get through this hefty book and also perhaps check out some of the sequels. There is also a classic movie version from 1984 directed by David Lynch that’s worth a watch and might just hold you over for the newest version.

Available as an e-book and audiobook through the UIUC libraries and through the Champaign Public Library (or, for remote students, your local public library). You can also purchase from your favorite bookseller.

You’d be surprised how many movies are adaptations of books. Reading a book and watching its movie counterpart is a great way to fill the long, chilly nights. Suggest a mini book-club to your friends, or bring your thoughts to our monthly Bring Your Own Book Club meetings! Though we can’t all pile onto a couch for a movie night, you can always have a great, socially-distant conversation about what you did or didn’t like about the books, the movies, the shows, all of it! Let us know in the comments if you’ve checked any of these out, or if there’s another upcoming adaptation that you’re excited for!

Written by Maurissa Myers O’Connor

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