Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott

On this day, 67 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to move from her bus seat to one in the back of the bus. This marked the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, lasting from the day Rosa Parks was arrested (December 5) to more than a year later. On December 20, 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the bus segregation laws in Alabama and Montgomery were unconstitutional. 

While this did mark a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, Parks was not the first to refuse to move her seat on a bus. Earlier in 1955, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old student, was arrested for refusing to move from her seat for a white person. As for why she did not become a catalyst for the movement the way Rosa Parks did, Colvin offers a simple explanation: “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.” (NPR, 2009

Additionally, Rosa Parks was active in the Civil Rights Movement before the bus boycott and for decades afterward. She was involved with the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, a member of the League of Women Voters, and attended the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism for workers’ rights and racial equality.  

For more information on Rosa Parks and integral figures in the Civil Rights Movement, check out these titles: 

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis 

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks 

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin 

The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990 by Clayborne Carson 

Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy by Karen Gray Houston 

-Linnea

Live from New York, it’s Saturday night! 

Okay, maybe we’re in Cleveland. And maybe it’s Thursday. But it is Lorne Michaels’ birthday, the creator of the beloved series Saturday Night Live. Through showrunner changes, controversial sketches, and the COVID-19 pandemic, SNL has remained a mainstay in many households. For some, it’s how they learn about a hot new band; for others, it’s how they learn about the latest political scandal. And while the number of laughs per season may ebb and flow, comedy remains a focal point of the show.  

Many adored comedians have done their turn on the SNL stage. Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, John Belushi, Leslie Jones—the list goes on and on. Even though our favorite stars come and go, they’ve kept the content coming. 

Whether you’re waxing nostalgic for the old days or just want to revisit some of the funny people you’ve only seen on SNL, here are some materials to check out that will hopefully satisfy your sense of humor. 

Tina Fey 

Tina Fey starred on, wrote for, and hosted SNL for numerous years. After her nine years on SNL, she went on to create hit shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’s received Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, and was even nominated for a Grammy and Tony. Her memoir, Bossypants, was a huge hit, staying true to her comedy bona fides. 

Eddie Murphy 

Credited with saving SNL from cancellation, Eddie Murphy’s genius is practically unmatched. He has had quite the career, from voice acting to singing to stand-up to dramas and back to comedy. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, an NAACP Image Award for Trading Places, and People’s Choice Awards for Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Shrek.  

Will Ferrell 

Will Ferrell made a name for himself on SNL, starting in 1995 on season 21. Since leaving SNL after seven years, he’s acted in many comedic movies, many written and directed by former SNL writer Adam McKay. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy are all classic comedies you’d expect from the inimitable Will Ferrell.  

Gilda Radner 

One of the first cast members, Gilda Radner was an accomplished impressionist. After five years on SNL, she left for other pursuits. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away at the age of 42 in 1989 after an extremely tough battle. She wrote a memoir, It’s Always Something, in 1989, a few months before her death, detailing her struggles and successes. Alan Zweibel, a former writer for SNL, wrote a biography for Gilda, sharing stories of their friendship that began on the SNL set and endured until her death. 

Chevy Chase 

One of the original cast members, Chevy Chase was also the first cast member to be banned from SNL (though he has appeared in sketches since, so perhaps the ban is not so strict). His comedic chops have been proven time and time again, from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to the more recent television show Community

Kenan Thompson 

Kenan Thompson started on SNL in 2003 and has become the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history. Other than SNL, he is probably most known for his time on the Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The pair also starred in the delightful movie Good Burger together in 1997. While not for all senses of humor, it certainly appeals to anyone craving some ridiculous 90s comedy. 

-Linnea

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

Prolific storyteller Neil Gaiman was born on this day 61 years ago. From short stories to graphic novels to nonfiction to screenplays, Gaiman has left no storytelling stone unturned. While a large swatch of his fan base are avid sci-fi and fantasy readers, Gaiman still has mass appeal. Children’s books, such as Coraline, have garnered an adult fan base. Films and television shows have been created based on his books and Gaiman has even written episodes for beloved series like Doctor Who. 

Gaiman has written screeplays, produced films, and directed some too. He has an immense body of work with no signs of slowing down. The Sandman television series (based on Gaiman’s own DC Comics of the same name), a comic adaptation by Colleen Doran (from Gaiman’s Chivalry), and Miracleman comics were all released this year.  

No need to be overwhelmed, though! Here’s a list of offerings in every area Gaiman has his hands.  

Stories 

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions 

Short stories and poems make up this fantastical collection from 1998. Most of the works had been published in magazines, anthologies, or other places prior to being assembled in Smoke and Mirrors. 

Coraline 

It may be considered a children’s book, but this creepy tale can be read at any age. Young Coraline and her parents move to a big, old house converted into apartments. Accompanied by an odd cast of characters, Coraline soon finds another world that is parallel to her own. While it seems perfect, it quickly becomes a nightmare Coraline must escape. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane 

Gaiman, a master of dark fantasy and magical realism, has also proven his mastery of human connection. The narrator, returning to his town to attend a funeral, reminisces on a tragedy that he witnessed as a child. Sometimes recommended as a children’s book, this fares better for an adult reflecting on their childhood. 

Nonfiction 

Adventures in the Dream Trade 

This is a collection of Gaiman’s essays and introductions and includes the original weblog of American Gods, before it was written into a novel. 

Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion 

Not just a companion guide into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a wonderfully absurd science fiction series), this nonfiction work is also a biography of the author Douglas Adams. 

Comics 

The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman 

This comic collection contains Batman, Superman, and Metamorpho. Published in 2016, the comics span from 1989-2013. 

Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days 

This is a collection from DC that includes several hard-to-find works from Gaiman’s earlier days. It includes comics centered around the Sandman, John Constantine, and the Floronic Man. 

Films and Television 

American Gods 

In addition to providing the source material, Gaiman was a writer and executive producer for this television series adaptation. 

As New Gods gain prominence, the Old Gods worry they are becoming irrelevant. Shadow Moon, recently released from prison, becomes embroiled in this world of magic and the mission of uniting the Old Gods to rebuild their status. 

Princess Mononoke 

Originally released in Japan, this is a classic film from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Gaiman wrote the script when it was dubbed for English in 1999. 

-Linnea 

The Great Space Race

On this day in 1957, the Soviet Union launched its second artificial satellite, Sputnik 2, about one month after the launch of Sputnik. Included on this journey was the first animal launched to orbit the Earth, a dog named Laika. Afraid they had fallen behind as the Cold War raged on, the United States picked up its space and weapons programs. In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created. The United States and the Soviet Union continued to send spacecrafts into space, to orbit the Earth, and eventually sending humans as well. The Soviet Union was first, with Yuri Gagarin in 1961. And then in 1969, the United States successfully landed on the moon, thus “winning” the space race.  

Want to delve deeper into this intense period of time? Here’s a list to get you started! 

Laika by Nick Abadzis 

This graphic novel melds fact and fiction about the first animal to go into space, aboard Sputnik 2. Told from multiple viewpoints, this is a tender interpretation of Laika’s journey. 

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam 

Inspired by the launch of Sputnik, Homer Hickam and his high school friends set off to create their own rockets in their small town of Coalwood, West Virginia. This is a classic coming-of-age memoir, filled with rich storytelling and universal themes of class, family, and friendship. And if you’d rather watch than read, the film October Sky with Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern is a wonderful adaptation. 

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley 

For a more in-depth look at the moon landing of 1969, Douglas Brinkley’s got you covered. Full of primary sources, this book showcases all the minds that contributed to make landing on the moon a reality.  

In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race by Amy E. Cherrix 

On opposite sides of the world, two engineers are working to make space exploration possible. Amy E. Cherrix provides two biographies of the men that changed what we thought was feasible. Wernher von Braun, a Nazi officer living in the United States, and Sergei Korolev, a former prisoner turned Soviet rocket designer, both worked in their respective countries to achieve greatness. 

Sputnik Mania 

This documentary from the History Channel examines multiple facets of the space race, from the Sputnik launches to international relations to broader aspects of the space race and Cold War. 

Space Exploration: A History in 100 Objects by Sten F. Odenwald 

For a more general introduction and understanding of the history of space exploration, Sten Odenwald has compiled an excellent collection of objects. From the O-ring that doomed the Challenger in 1986 to Galileo’s telescope, this is a wonderful resource to track the advancement in space exploration and technology.  

-Linnea

Scary Stories to Read in the Dark

The trick-or-treats haven’t started yet but it’s never too early to indulge in some spooky tales. Whether you fancy a recent thriller, a classic haunting, or creepy creatures, there are plenty of books to keep you sleeping with the lights on till next year.  

If you like a fast-paced psychological thriller, explore some of these titles: 

Kismet by Amina Akhtar

“A viciously funny thriller about wellness—the smoothies, the secrets, and the deliciously deadly impulses. Lifelong New Yorker Ronnie Khan never thought she’d leave Queens. She’s not an “aim high, dream big” person—until she meets socialite wellness guru Marley Dewhurst. But when the glam gurus around town start turning up gruesomely murdered, Ronnie has her answer: all is not well in wellness town. As Marley’s blind ambition veers into madness, Ronnie fears for her life.” 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley 

“Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead. The narcissistic bride, the unstable bridesmaid, the odd wedding planner and her husband, the resentful plus-one, the groom and his former schoolmates, who are revealed to be a pack of sadistic bullies. By the time the worst of them is found murdered, readers will not be sorry and might, in a Christie moment, have wanted to kill her or him themselves. This is one guest list no one would want to be on.” 

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda 

“Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.” 

Interested in the classics? Here are a few to sink your teeth into: 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

“For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.” 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

“Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.” 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 

“Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate – and eliminate – human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.” 

Zombies, vampires, and clowns keep you up at night? Hope these aren’t too creepy for you…: 

Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre  

“If you’ve ever wondered what ingredients to use to create a zombie out of a living person, your search ends with this one-of-a-kind novel. “I died on the night of the most beautiful day of my life” so begins the testimony of Hadriana Siloé, a sensuous pale-skinned Creole woman who, on the Saturday evening of Jan. 29, 1938, collapses at her wedding altar. She had earlier taken a mysterious potion that induces living death. An icon of Haitian literature serves up a hotblooded, rib-ticking, warmhearted mélange of ghost story, cultural inquiry, folk art, and véritable l’amour.” 

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

“Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. The town is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.”

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

“Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized. Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?” 

Enjoy…

-Linnea

What we’re reading now…..

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 

 In the dystopian world of Celeste Ng’s latest novel, books are banned, children are re-homed, and Asian Americans are outcasts. Amidst it all, twelve-year old Bird is left with a handful of memories of his mother. Her presence and poetry have faded from his life, but a familiar image sparks his curiosity and forces him to revisit her disappearance. Melinda

The Making of Her by Bernadette Jiwa

Raised in a Dublin housing estate by an alcoholic father toward the end of the 1940s, Joan and her sister had to grow up fast. Working in a factory by age fourteen it made sense she would find the love of her life at eighteen. Martin Egan, son of a successful business owner, promised Joan the world until she became pregnant and he persuaded her to place the baby up for adoption. Thirty years later when their secret child makes contact, how will they each respond? Family relationships are seen from the women’s perspective and as we get to know the characters better, we understand how difficult and limited their choices truly were, making Joan, in particular, even more endearing. If you enjoy spending time with interesting characters, this is the book for you! Stacey

Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid

A sheltered wizard’s daughter falls in love with a ballet dancer while a monster stalks the streets and the bodies of brutalized men appear all over the city. A reimagining of the classic fairy tale “The Juniper Tree.” Shannon

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher 

Marra is a princess on a quest to save her sister with the help of a reluctant grave-witch and a dog she creates out of bone and wire. Along the way, their party grows, with the addition of Marra’s fairy godmother, whose blessings turn out to be curses and a loveable disgraced knight, whose heart is in desperate need of rescuing. Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is an adult, revenge-filled fairy-tale that is equal parts action-packed, humorous, and original – a perfect feminist fantasy novel.  Carol

The Divorce Colony:  How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White

In the 19th century, Sioux Falls, SD, became a haven for women seeking a divorce. Among the laxest laws in the country, women came from all the States and Europe to gain their freedom during a time that women had few rights. The book explores not only the  social drama but political and religious drama, while telling detailed and entertaining stories of the women who took hold of their futures. Christine

Murder in the Park by Jeanne M. Dams

This story takes place in 1925 in Oak Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Elizabeth Fairchild is a close friend of Mr. Anthony, owner of a quaint antique store. Mr. Anthony is found stabbed to death and the local police think they have the killer. Elizabeth and a few others, including Mrs. Hemingway are certain the police have arrested the wrong man. At this point in the story the search is on for the real killer. Please stay tuned… Emma

The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo

In post-WWII Japan, Detective Kindaichi is called and warned that the reading of a local magnate’s will is certain to set off a series of murders. Though skeptical of the prognostication, Detective Kindaichi travels to the small town and awaits the reading. However, immediately upon his arrival, he is witness to a life-threatening accident that portends the danger to the magnate’s family yet to come. The detective must first uncover the family secrets to unravel the mystery. Trent

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

The final installment in the Beartown trilogy, about the resilient and closely knit community that puts hockey above all else. Taking place over two weeks, Beartown residents must prove their love for each other and for their town, struggling to move on from the past in the wake of numerous changes. Told in Backman’s signature reflective style, it’s hard to put this one down. Linnea

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor

When a 12-year-old girl goes missing in a rural Australian town during the worst heat wave in decades, tempers flare and townspeople with skeletons in their closets, and long histories together, begin to fall apart, and also to come together to search for the young girl. Kept me guessing for quite awhile. Sara

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is a time for candy and colorful leaves and costumes. A time when the sun sets earlier than we want and there’s almost always a chill in the air.  

It is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  

Other than skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for women. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and even men can get breast cancer, though it is rare (National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc).  

Most people know someone who has been impacted by cancer, whether it is themselves, a family member, a friend, or just an acquaintance. There are plenty of resources available to learn more and engage with. Some may find too much information overwhelming, while others may benefit from learning all they can from nonfiction and fiction materials.  

I hope one or more of these books will be helpful, whether you are going through treatment, know someone who has breast cancer, or want to learn more. 

Talking to My Tatas: All You Need to Know from a Breast Cancer Researcher and Survivor by Dana Brantley-Sieders  

The Black Woman’s Breast Cancer Survival Guide: Understanding and Healing in the Face of a Nationwide Crisis by Cheryl D. Holloway 

The Silver Lining: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer by Hollye Jacobs  

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde 

The Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd 

The Breast Cancer Book: A Trusted Guide for You and Your Loved Ones by Kenneth D. Miller  

Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America by Kate Pickert

-Linnea 

Banned Books

Banned Books Week may have ended on September 24, but it’s important to keep the conversation going as more books continue to get challenged. Most commonly, books by Authors of Color or LGBTQ+ authors get challenged (Publisher’s Weekly).  

While it’s nice to believe that challenged books get a bump in sales and promoted more, that just isn’t the case for the majority (Book Riot). Often, authors don’t even know their book was challenged as very few challenges become newsworthy. It could be as simple as a bookstore choosing to pass on buying a book because it is “subversive” or a school library quietly pulling a book from their shelves.  

One way to help combat challenges is to read! Read banned books, talk about them with friends, and let your local library know that you are glad they have books by Authors of Color, books by LGBTQ+ authors, books that reflect actual communities. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of the most challenged books from 2021 (ALA)

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 
     
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison 
     
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson 
     
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez 
     
  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
     
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
     
  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 
     
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
     
  1. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson 
     
  1. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin 

-Linnea

It’s Fall!

Welcome, Autumn Equinox! As we enter chillier fall days, visit pumpkin patches, and begin to don our cozy sweaters, let’s remember we are also entering spooky season!  

On this day in 1692, the last witches were hanged in the Salem Witch Trials. Seven women and one man were hanged on September 22, 1692, totaling about twenty lives taken. After this set of executions, public opinion began to shift and witch trials subsided. Over 250 years later, Massachusetts formally apologized for the events in the late 1600s. Now Salem has plenty of witchy attractions, to educate and entertain visitors, from the official courthouse documents at the Peabody Essex Museum to the witch wax models at the Salem Wax Museum. 

Embrace your inner witch and get the most out of spooky season with these titles: 

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet 

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill 

The Salem Witch Trials: A Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts by Jenny MacBain 

The Crucible by Arthur Miller 

A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J.W. Ocker 

The Path of the Witch: Rituals & Practices for Discovering Which Witch You Are by Lidia Pradas 

-Linnea