Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today. From: autismspeaks.org
Autism isn’t a set of defined symptoms that collectively worsen as you move “up” the spectrum. In fact, one of the distinguishing features of autism is what the DSM-V calls an “uneven profile of abilities.” There’s a reason people like to say that “if you have met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Every autistic person presents slightly differently.
That’s because autism isn’t one condition. It is a collection of related neurological conditions that are so intertwined and so impossible to pick apart that professionals have stopped trying.
The other night I was selecting a streaming video of a late night comedian/talk show host. I was looking at March dates and began watching. The show was being filmed from the host’s garden and the host himself looked very pale and washed out. He began talking about COVID, which was certainly not unusual when it dawned on me that this was done in March, 2020, not 2021. No wonder he looked so bad!
Then he and his guest began to discuss the pandemic, saying “well in a couple of months when this is all over…”
What a good thing that none of us knew how long we would be dealing with this…
Here are a variety of web pages from the past year discussing various aspects of life since the pandemic began.
Who doesn’t want to read a good love story? Preferably one that ends well and gives us faith that love is real and true, such as The Princess Bride. There are many such stories which are very satisfying in their own way yet we are often drawn to other stories where love has gone awry or whose plots take us to places and endings we never anticipated. Stories such as those in Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, or The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Here are three such stories.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate…” So begins the classic romantic suspense novel published in 1938 and never out of print since then. Du Maurier leads you down paths you think you know until you don’t and yet you do at the same time. Alfred Hitchcock’s first American project was the 1940 film Rebecca. (available on YouTube)
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
A contemporary novel in a lighter vein, Sarah meets Eddie and has an idyllic couple of weeks with him. With no doubt in her heart that he will be in touch with her after a planned trip, she is completely bewildered when he doesn’t call. Her bewilderment turns into obsession and leads her down painful paths she has not expected. I dare you to guess the ending!
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Who says love stories can’t also be funny? In this novel the main character, a food writer named Agnes, is putting on a wedding for a daughter of southern “mafia” when she meets Shane, a hitman with no last name. An entertaining “beach read” this book combines action, humor, and romance.
Many of these books have been made into movies (identified with an asterisk). In some cases we have DVDs available for checkout ; others may be available through various streaming services or for free on YouTube (often older classics).
*Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (atmospheric; dramatic; moody; romantic)
*Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (dramatic; romantic)
*The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (bittersweet; romantic)
*Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (multiple perspectives; moody)
*The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (atmospheric; romantic)
*Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (atmospheric; bittersweet; romantic)
Sula by Toni Morrison (haunting; moody)
*Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (bleak; disturbing)
*Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (dramatic, romantic, lyrical)
Roman Fever (short story) by Edith Wharton (irony, multiple viewpoints)
*The Graduate by Charles Webb (coming of age)
Innocent Erendida (short story) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( literary fiction; lyrical; stylistically complex)
*Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (melancholy, obsessive)
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (complex; haunting; romantic)
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (atmospheric, lyrical)
*Flowers in the attic series by V.C. Andrews (atmospheric; disturbing; violent)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garci (atmospheric; creepy; menacing)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (retelling of the Iliad; atmospheric; dramatic; lyrical; romantic)
The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion (funny; heartwarming)
*The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (romantic; thought-provoking)
*The Thorn Birds by Coleen McCullough (dramatic; moving: family saga)
*Like water for chocolate by Laura Esquivel (magical realism)
*Dona Flor and her two husbands by Jorge Amado (magical realism)
*A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
*Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (the most classic of the classics!)
*A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
*Cat on a hot tin roof by Tennessee Williams
*Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (fast-paced; bleak; disturbing;)
The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate (moving; thoughtful)
Love by Toni Morrison (haunting; moody; complex)
The Wife of His Youth (short story) by Charles Chestnutt (African American fiction; culturally diverse); available at The Atlantic 1898
Property by Valerie Martin (disturbing; haunting; moody)
Eva’s Man by Gayl Jones (disturbing; violent; gritty)
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (time travel)
Rude awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (time travel)
*A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (short story/short film) (macabre)
November 20 marked the twenty-first annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), the day when we remember people who have been murdered because of transphobia. Started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize Rita Hester, TDoR grew to encompass all lives lost to anti-transgender bigotry and violence during the preceding year. Now, TDoR comes at the close of Transgender Awareness Week (November 13-19), which is a time to raise awareness of the transgender community and the issues transgender people face.
According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, there are an estimated 1.4 million transgender people — persons “whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth” (Doubly Victimized) — living in the US today, but a GLAAD/Harris poll found that more than 80% of Americans reported that they didn’t know someone who is transgender. Some men, women, and non-binary people may choose not to publicly disclose their true gender identity, in order to avoid discrimination and harassment (or simply to protect their privacy). In addition, transgender Americans are more likely to face poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. They’re also less likely to have reliable access to healthcare.
Overwhelmingly, though, members of the transgender community — and particularly, transgender women of color — are targeted for hate violence. So far, in 2020, almost forty transgender people have been murdered. Many of them were under 25 years old.
Tonight, we wrap up National Hispanic American Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), in which we’ve celebrated Hispanic and Latin American culture and honored the contributions of the Latinx community in the US. It is timed to coincide with the dates that many Latin American countries shrugged off the yoke of European colonization and won their independence. It began as Hispanic Heritage Week during the Johnson Administration and was expanded by Ronald Reagan twenty years later – but we don’t have to stop there.
Although the official celebration is drawing to a close, we can still recognize and honor the vibrancy of Hispanic culture through the many resources Reynolds Libraries can offer. Whether you’re looking for facts about Latinx college graduates (Martinez et al.), the verse of poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, or the real meaning of Cinco de Mayo to share with your kids (Colón García), we have a variety of books, videos, and online resources to help you learn more.
The Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was certified by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26, 1920. Better known as the Susan B Anthony Amendment, congressional approval and ratification by the requisite 75% of states was the result of over seventy years of active struggle. An amendment allowing women the vote had been introduced in Congress as early as 1878! Although some women had sought equal treatment under the law since Colonial times, the modern organization for women’s suffrage grew out of the Abolition and Temperance movements of the mid-1800s. Many detractors were concerned that women’s suffrage would mean a ban on alcohol and child labor.
Women whose names we know today – Anthony, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton – were joined by men such as Henry Ward Beecher and Ralph Waldo Emerson in support of equal rights. The Seneca Falls Convention, in July 1848, marked a shift away from the earlier social movements into a focus on women’s right to vote. A further division occurred after the Civil War, when concern about the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment (granting the vote to African American men, including the formerly enslaved) divided supporters into a federal faction led by Anthony and Stanton and Lucy Stone’s state-by-state approach. In 1890, Anthony and Stanton’s group joined forces with Stone’s to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with notable members like Clara Barton and Julia Ward Howe.
Although western territories and states were early adopters of woman suffrage, beginning with Wyoming in 1869, the struggle for women’s right to vote gained traction after 1900, as more women were going to college and joining the workforce in white-collar jobs. While Carrie Chapman Catt focused on winning the support of senators and lobbyists, militant strategists like Alice Paul organized marches, rallies, and even hunger strikes to gain national support. After World War I, the 19th Amendment was finally approved by Congress in 1919 and ratified a year later when, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to sign.
Joint Resolution of Congress proposing a constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage to women, approved June 4, 1919. Ratified Amendments, 1795-1992; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.
Joint Resolution of Congress proposing a constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage to women, approved June 4, 1919. Ratified Amendments, 1795-1992; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=63.
On June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas Union Major General Gordon Granger read General Order Number Three to an assembled group of people stating that all slaves were free. This was the news that resulted from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from Jan. 1, 1863 as it finally reached all states, and Texas became the very last state to hear of the news. Within the black community, this announcement sparked an immediate celebration, and was again celebrated the following year. Years later at Booker T. Washington Park in Limestone, Texas the celebrations drew thousands of people in commemoration of this freedom. Black families gathered together that day to commemorate their final notification that slavery had officially ended.
As a result the date of June 19th was known as the blended word, Juneteenth, and celebrations spread throughout Texas and neighboring states. In the 19th century, festivities included the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, slave stories, prayer, speeches, rodeos, dances, games and lots of food. As populations spread from the southern United States to more urban areas the celebrations continued. In the 1970’s the popularity of Juneteenth was resurfacing in Texas, and in 1980 it became a state holiday. Celebrations now include many festivities in many states as a celebration of freedom from slavery.
“The spirit that emerged outside a Mafia-run bar in 1969 became the pulse of the gay community and inspired not just an annual parade but ways to express gay pride in individual lives. Stonewall happens every day.” ― Ann Bausum, Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
June is Gay Pride Month, and this year celebrates the impetus of the Pride movement, the Stonewall Riots of 1969. In recent years, we have witnessed laws passed ensuring marriage and workplace equality for the LGBTQ+ community. These rights were won through years of protest and legal battles – the will to fight for all of these hard-won rights began at the popular NYC hangout The Stonewall bar, which was also the epicenter of the Manhattan Gay and Lesbian community.
The New York City Police department would regularly raid the bar, arresting, or in some cases, brutally assaulting many of the customers. On June 28th 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall decided to fight back, inciting a riot when NYC Police attempted yet another raid. This time the police were met with stiff resistance, and from this uprising was born the Pride Movement, which has been fighting for equality ever since.
To read about the Stonewall Riots, and other stories about early champions of the Gay Rights Movement, start with the resources listed below. When performing your own search, make sure to utilize the filtering menus in the library catalog and library databases.
Helpful search terms for your research: Gay Pride, LGBTQ+, Stonewall Riots, Marriage Equality
The Wedding Heard ‘Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriageby Michael McConnell, Jack Baker, and Gail Langer Karwoski – 2016
In June of 1967, the Lovings won a landmark civil liberties case against the Commonwealth of Virginia’s interracial marriage laws and were the first of many couples to celebrate the downfall of Anti-miscegenation Laws that were in effect across the Southern states. June 12th is the day that we celebrate the accomplishment of one couple in the face of a tyrannical law that opened the gates for a multitude of couples across these United States.
Carrington, Adam M. “Free and Happy Bonds: Loving V. Virginia’s Nineteenth-Century Precedent on Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Perspectives on Political Science, vol. 45, no. 2, Routledge, 2016, pp. 87–96, doi:10.1080/10457097.2015.1111733.
Gordon-Reed, Annette. Race on Trial : Law and Justice in American History. Oxford University Press, 2002.
Infobase, film distributor, and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Mildred Loving and Interracial Marriage. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, 2008.