Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nonfiction Tuesday, 1.15.13 / From the Stacks

"T" for Tuesday! Click to see.
Before I reveal today's nonfiction selection (because it's Nonfiction Tuesday!) I thought it might be interesting to explain the origins of the word "stack" or "stacks." The title of this column is "From the Stacks," indicating that the library items showcased all come from our shelves or "stacks." When did this common word with other meanings like "to stack chairs" or "a stack of papers" come to also denote library shelves?

The answer can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. The LMC's copy of The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Volume 2) includes a detailed entry for "stack." Referring specifically to libraries, it reads: "A tall set of shelving for books, esp. in a library; a part of a library for the compact storage of books, esp. one to which public access is restricted. Also bookstack." Yes, it's true... in previous times, it was very common for access to the stacks to be restricted to library staff. Patrons had to request to see specific books. Most interestingly, though, this dictionary entry includes the notation L19, which indicates that the word "stack," referring to library shelves, first came into use in the late nineteenth-century (1870-1899). So, I bring you today's edition of From the Stacks:

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson, pub. 2003, call # 364.15 LAR

This book was a Finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Nonfiction, as well as the Winner of the 2004 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime.

The Random House website
provides a description of the book: 
"Their fates were linked by the magical Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, nicknamed the “White City” for its majestic beauty. Architect Daniel Burnham built it; serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes used it to lure victims to his World’s Fair Hotel, designed for murder. Both men left behind them a powerful legacy, one of brilliance and energy, the other of sorrow and darkness.
Here, then, is your ticket to the greatest fair in history—a place where incredible dreams came to life alongside darkest nightmares."
The author's website provides some compelling endorsements for the book:
"So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already.”—Esquire

"[A] vivid history of the glittering Chicago World’s Fair and its dark side."—New York magazine, best pick of the week
"An irresistible page-turner that reads like the most compelling, sleep-defying fiction."Time Out New York
This is one of those titles that I've had my eye on for a couple of years. And after writing this, I'll admit, it just might have moved a couple notches up my reading list!

~ Mrs. Z

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