Best Books We Read in 2014

best books

There’s no shortage of “Best Of” lists going around this time of year. Amazon, NPR, and The New York Times are great ones to start with if you’re looking for a good book.

This year we thought we’d give you an inside peek at what the Nielsen Library staff read and loved this year. If you’re looking for something to read over Winter Break here’s 14 places to start:


All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant “New York Times” bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Recommended by: Carol Smith, Library Director




Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, by Robert B. Reich

A brilliant new reading of the economic crisis–and a plan for dealing with the challenge of its aftermath–by one of our most trenchant and informed experts.

Recommended by: Carol Smith, Library Director





Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details.

Recommended by: Rosanna Backen, Access Services and Distance Learning Librarian



Egg : A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient, by Michael Ruhlman

Offers over one hundred recipes for dishes featuring eggs, from simple techniques for making poached and scrambled eggs, to recipes for brioche and soufflés, covering a wide variety of sweet and savory creations.

Recommended by: Mary Walsh, Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian



empire of sinEmpire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and The Battle for Modern New Orleans, by Gary Krist

A vibrant and immersive account of New Orleans’ other civil war, at a time when commercialized vice, jazz culture, and endemic crime defined the battlegrounds of the Crescent City. Empire of Sin re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans’ thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city’s elite ‘better half’ against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime.

 Recommended by Jordan Gortmaker, Circulation Supervisor



The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Recommended by: Mary Walsh, Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian


king leopolds ghost

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, by Adam Hochschild

In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million–all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.

Recommended by: Carol Smith, Library Director


kingdom of ice

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides

A dramatic account of the ill-fated 19th-century naval expedition to the North Pole cites the contributions of German cartographer August Peterman, New York Herald owner James Gordon Bennett and famed naval officer George Washington De Long in the team’s efforts to survive brutal environmental conditions.

Recommended by Jordan Gortmaker, Circulation Supervisor




The Martian, by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Recommended by: Stacy Taylor, Emerging Technologies Librarian



The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman

Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Recommended by: Mary Walsh, Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian




The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother.

Recommended by: Rosanna Backen, Access Services and Distance Learning Librarian



sation ele

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Recommended by: Stacy Taylor, Emerging Technologies Librarian




Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir, by Liz Prince

Eschewing female stereotypes throughout her early years and failing to gain acceptance on the boys’ baseball team, Liz learns to embrace her own views on gender as she comes of age, in an anecdotal graphic novel memoir.

Recommended by: Stacy Taylor, Emerging Technologies Librarian



hite fire White Fire, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who–with brutal precision–begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside.

Recommended by Jordan Gortmaker, Circulation Supervisor

Finals Week at Nielsen Library


Whether you’re cramming hard or need a break, here’s what’s going on at the Nielsen Library during Finals Week:

Extended Hours:
Open until 2am
Sunday, Dec. 14 – Thursday Dec. 18

Therapy Dogs:
Monday, Dec. 15 6pm-7pm
Tuesday, Dec. 16 1pm-2pm
First floor lobby

Coloring and Crafts:
All week long in the first floor lobby

The K2 Coffee Lounge will be open until 2am, serving up coffee, tea, and more!
Come to the reference desk and get a voucher for a free hot beverage while supplies last.

Quiet Zones:
1st floor = Collaborative Zone, 2nd floor = Quiet Zone, 3rd floor = Silent Zone
Create your own Silent Zone with earplugs

Research on the Run (The Librarians are Coming!)

roaming 1 copyWith finals fast approaching the library staff is hitting the road and heading to a building near you.

From December 8 – December 15 librarians will have tables set up in various buildings around campus.

We’ll be there to help with research, citations, looking up books…any service we normally provide at the reference desk.

Stop by and ask us anything!

Monday 12/8
1:30pm-3:30pm: East Campus, West Entrance
3pm-5pm: Business, South Entrance Lobby

Tuesday 12/9
1pm-3pm: McDaniel, North Side Lobby
3pm-5pm: Porter, East Entrance
6pm-8pm: McDaniel Computer Lab

Wednesday 12/10
6pm-8pm: SUB Computer Lab

Thursday 12/11
10am-12pm: McDaniel, North Side Lobby
1pm-3pm: SUB, South Entrance Lobby

Friday 12/12
1pm-3pm: Business, South Entrance Lobby

Monday 12/15
1pm-3pm: Porter, East Entrance

Food For Fines

Bring non-perishable food items to the Nielsen Library from November 23 – December 20 and get rid of all those pesky overdue charges! Each non-perishable food item is good for waiving $5 in late fees and there is no limit. All food will be donated to the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley.


Food for Fines Flyer copy


ASU Alumni Literature Showcase

Come to the Nielsen Library this Friday, November 7 at 5pm for the ASU Alumni Literature Showcase.

Alumni Literature Night Poster

Frankie Colton ‘79, CEO of Alacrity House Publishing LLC, will speak with her husband, Dr. Terry Colton, about the challenges of running a small publishing house in the San Luis Valley.

Phil Ray Jack ‘88, adjunct ASU English instructor and Valley Courier columnist, will speak on his books The Spirit of the Horse and Other Works, Soar High.

Ruth Koenig ‘92, will speak about her book, Sunflower and Tequila, a work of fiction about the rodeo.

Refreshments will be served.

Presentation Practice Rooms

Do you have a big presentation coming up and need a place to practice? Did you know you can reserve any of the Nielsen Library’s classrooms?


Classrooms may be reserved for presentation practice, group study, and more!

Rooms 315 and 316 have computers and SMARTboards, and room 317 has a computer and portable projector. You can also reserve the Cooper Room, which has a conference table and large screen TV with HDMI hookup.

The Cooper Room must be reserved in advance, but classrooms can be  used anytime they’re not reserved by another group. For more information, see our Room Reservations page. Email Stacy Taylor to reserve a room.


What You Need to do to Vote in Colorado

Voting is your opportunity to have a say in the leaders and the laws that govern us. Here’s some information on how to vote in November’s midterm elections.

Registering to Vote

Registering to vote is the all-important first step in participating in the voting process.

In order to register to vote in Colorado, people must be:

  • United States citizens
  • Residents of Colorado* for at least the 22 days leading up to election day (Tuesday, November 4, 2014)
    • Non-Colorado residents can consult their home state for voter registration information. You might consult your home state’s information if you’re attending ASU, but you still consider your family’s address in another state to be your permanent address.
  • At least 18 years of age on election day
  • Not serving a sentence of confinement, detention or parole for a felony conviction

*If you aren’t already a Colorado resident, review the residency requirements and prerequisites for any financial aid or scholarships you may have before you consider registering to vote in Colorado.

How to register to vote:

  • At the Nielsen Library Reference Desk
  • At the Alamosa County Clerk and Recorder’s office, 8999 Independence Way in Alamosa
  • If you have a current Colorado driver’s license or ID card, online here!


Colorado voters can vote either by mail-in ballot or in person.

To receive a mail-in ballot by mail, you need to register to vote by Monday, October 27.

Completed mail-in ballots must be received (not postmarked) by the Alamosa County Clerk and Recorder by 7pm on election day, Tuesday, November 4. You might want to try and get your mail-in ballot in the mail by the week before the election. If you think you might be too late, you can drop it off:

Mail-in ballots can be dropped off by election day in the provided envelope at:

If you plan to vote in person, you can register to vote any time up until election day.

If you vote in person, you’ll need an acceptable form of identification.

The polling place (where in-person voting happens) for Alamosa County is the Alamosa County Clerk and Recorder’s office. NOTE: the Clerk and Recorder’s office has moved and this information is not reflected on the website. The new location is at 8999 Independence Way.

Not sure how you’ll get down there?

Adams State University’s Campus Elections Engagement Project will provide transportation to and from the polling place from 10am to 7pm on election day. Shuttles will depart from and arrive to the cul-de-sac in front of the Student Union Building (SUB). (The U-shaped driveway right by the big Grizzly statue.)

If you’re still unsure about anything related to registering to vote or voting, check with: