Alchemical Thoughts

Things left out from September 11 reading lists

Posted on: September 17, 2008

My workplace is participating in the September Project (ok, I have mostly dragged them into doing it, but that is a separate story). Anyhow, we had a film showing, with a decent turnout if you ask me considering some of the obstacles we had to overcome. And we made a book display related to learning about the world after 9/11. I also made a list of the books featured inside the display, which I posted to my workplace's blog. At any rate, there were some book titles that I would have liked to either feature on the display case or add to the book list that I did not put in for a few reasons. For one, we did not have the books in the library. Now ordinarily, that would not stop me. If I thought the book was important, and it was or else I would not be writing about it here, I could have just told people to get the book in question via Interlibrary Loan. Two, these are actually books that I have personally read. You would think that it would be appropriate to put them on the list since I have personally read them, and therefore, I can vouch for those books. In fact, for a couple of the titles I left out, I even blogged about them in my personal blog. So, it would have been perfect since I could have linked to those posts. However, the topic of September 11, not to mention Constitution Day, which is in September (and for which we are making displays as well), can be a bit volatile. Some of my book reviews have some opinions which may or not (ok, probably not) go along with the red conservative mindset predominant in the little East Texas town I work. Do I think people should be reading the books I left out? Absolutely. But in the end, I don't think it is worth it to make a fuss because one of two things could happen. One, someone will see the additional items, follow a link to a post of mine with a strong opinion, feel (easily) offended, then gripe to some administrator. Not that I give a hoot if they gripe or not, but I don't need my boss coming down on me asking questions. Not worth the hassle. Actually, that is the scenario I would like to happen. In reality, odds are good no one would notice, and it would be an effort for naught. Such is life. It's moments like this when I wish I could be back in an actual library instruction position so I could be working with students instead of trying to do PR work that a significant number of the campus population does not appreciate. But I disgress.

So, what did I leave out. Here they are, in no particular order. Title links go to the WorldCat record so you can find them at your local library or demand they get it for you:

And speaking of Osama, I happen to think that it could be a good idea to maybe read some of the things the guy along with Al Qaeda has said and/or written. On the display, I did feature the book Al Qaeda In Its Own Words. Not a bad choice, and for me, it was the only one we had in the library. However, I knew there were at least two others that we probably should have, but we currently do not. The two I would add are:

  • What Does Al-Qaeda Want? Unedited Communiqués. I wrote about it on The Itinerant Librarian here. This is a pretty short book, with some commentary to the texts. I think it is a very accessible way to get a sense of what Al Qaeda wants. And no, they don't hate us for our freedoms; they may not like our freedoms and values, but they don't hate us for them. Then again, a lot of fundamentalists and dominionists in this country don't like our freedoms either, but let's not go there now. By the way, the post I linked also mentions a couple of other items I read that could fit on the reading list.
  • Messages to the World: the Statements of Osama Bin Laden. I did not blog about this one, but I briefly reviewed in my GoodReads list (my GR profile is linked on the right column of this blog). Anyhow, a bit more comprehensive than the previous book.

One more thing I wanted to link to someplace are the excellent reading lists provided by the American Association of University Presses. Under their section "Books for Understanding," the AAUP provides excellent lists of books on various topics in the news and current events as well as civil rights.The thing that bummed me out, so to speak, is that I pulled their list on 9/11, and we lacked pretty much most of the titles. What little we did have was in the form of e-books, which is fine other than the fact that it makes them mostly inaccessible. I say that because offering a student an e-book on a topic is pretty much like pissing on their oatmeal, as the adage goes. Yes, I have had students basically say to me, "oh, you mean you don't have a real book?" I have my work cut out for me, but here we have seen fit to follow the trend of getting as much in electronic format as humanly possible (that's another story for another day). One or two may be ok with the idea (and distance students are mostly ok with it), but overall, students here want an actual book. Plus, I can't put an e-book in a display case. Anyhow, the "Books for Understanding" is an excellent resource I cannot recommend highly enough. Looking it over, if we add a couple other things, this by itself would not be a bad list. Just a thought.

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