Winter Break Reading Suggestions

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Finals are a stressful time for law students(Duh.)  I remember wishing in law school that I could just take a nap one day and wake up with the entirety of my finals season completed (with excellent grades on my exams of course.)  While that may not be possible, or probably healthy, it can be useful to look forward to the relaxing holiday break that is a few short weeks away.

For the first time in almost four months, you’ll probably have a little time on your hands.  You may want to sleep in or catch up with friends or family, or maybe, just maybe, read something for fun.  For this reason, we here at The Georgia State College of Law Library thought it might be fun to offer up a few non-law reading suggestions for winter break.  Here we go!

Patrick Parsons

Working  by Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel is maybe the most famous interviewer in American history.  He’s interviewed thousands of people and ran a longstanding interview program on WFMT Chicago between 1952 and 1997.  He also wrote a number of oral histories detailing everyday people’s accounts of World War II, The Great Depression, and in this case, what they do to earn a living

Meg Butler

Bad Feminist  by Roxanne Gay

I recommend Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay. Although it is not read by the author, I enjoyed it as an audiobook. In addition to providing a thought-provoking and self-aware narrative, Gay has a gift for description. One of my favorite parts is the chapter describing her relationship with Scrabble. I checked this out from the library ( and will return when I’m done! It’s also available in print form if you want to request it through GSU.) If you prefer fiction over essays, I recommend her collection of short stories Difficult Women.

Cassandra Patterson

Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

Terrance Manion

Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

– coincidentally was named Entertainment Weekly’s Best Fantasy of the Decade just the other day

The Hike by Drew Magary –

“a surprisingly rewarding piece of fiction ”

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

” stirring in that it is both troubling and hopeful” (which in all honestly I read at the behest of my wife who works for a non-profit organization whose platform includes international women and girl empowerment programs)

Movies and Other Things by Shea Serrano

is like arguing with your buddies (who know a lot more about film than you) at a bar and letting the debate go do whatever tangent the person who bought the last round wants.

Gerard Fowke

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

With a propulsive murder plot set in an insular academic environment during a season of bitter cold, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is clearly the perfect diversion for any law student on winter break.

Thanksgiving & Exam Hours


Image by Flickr user Cathy Liu

As usual, we’re changing up the library’s hours for the Thanksgiving holiday and the upcoming exam period.

During the week of Thanksgiving we are operating with reduced hours, as follows:

  • Monday, Nov. 25th & Tuesday, Nov. 26th: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 27th: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 28th – Saturday, Nov. 30th: Closed

We will reopen for extended hours on December 1st through December 18th. During the exam period, the building is closed to those not affiliated with the College of Law.  Since we are open until midnight, do remember you can call a safety escort when you are here studying late.

After the exam period (whew!), we will again have reduced hours until the winter break, as follows:

  • Thursday, December 19th & Friday, December 20th: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The above is also on our calendar.

If you’re traveling, we wish you safe travels! Remember that our online study aids have Audiobooks available via West Academic – the Law School Legends and Sum and Substance Audio Series. Those study aids, along with the ones from Wolters Kluwer, are available online on our Study Aids page.

We’re Hiring!


The Law Library is currently accepting applications for graduate research assistants (commonly known as GRAs) for the spring semester. We currently need multiple Reference, Law Library, and Digital Services GRAs.  Position descriptions are linked below: 


Law Library GRA positions are open to all GSU law students who have completed their first two semesters of classes. Part-time students are eligible. Students may apply for both types of GRA position, but cannot be hired for both positions at the same time.


Reference GRA applicants (Due Nov. 20) – Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter, 2) current resume to Patrick Parsons ( Include your last name in the file name.  Please note that our current open position is for Tues/Thursday 6-8, Saturdays 1-6.  Applicants can also complete the application process through symplicity.

Law Library GRA applicants (open until filled) – Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter, 2) current resume to Cassandra Patterson ( Include your last name in the file name.  Applicants can also complete the application process through symplicity. Students must have a Scholarship Letter to be eligible for this position.

Digital Services GRA applicants (open until filled) – Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter, 2) current resume to Gerard Fowke ( Include your last name in the file name.  Applicants can also complete the application process through symplicity. Students must have a Scholarship Letter to be eligible for this position.

True Crime at the Law Library

Looking for a frightful distraction from the stress of law school? Perhaps you should investigate the law library’s true crime collection, currently on display. But don’t forget to think critically about the power of these depictions to shape perceptions of the law.

For the increasing numbers of readers, viewers, and listeners who have fallen victim to the thrills of true crime, the genre is an important source of exposure to criminal justice. So it’s no surprise that many scholars have explored the relationship between the consumption of true crime media, fear of crime, and attitudes towards the legal system.

Some have bemoaned the purported link between the public demand for punitive criminal laws in the late 80s/early 90s and the increased popularity of true crime books. More recently, however, commentators are encouraged by the genre’s capacity for informing the public about our system’s shortcomings (such as the prevalence of wrongful convictions), but wary of risks that that same informative quality could also misinform the public. But those risks might be overstated: when it comes to legal concepts like the insanity defense, true crime addicts are no less informed than the general public.

Others have focused on the genre’s effects on the fear of crime. Compared to viewers of fictional crime dramas, true crime viewers are more fearful of crime, and that fear even appears to undermine their confidence in the criminal justice system. That lack of confidence might even mean that true crime viewers are more likely to acquit criminal defendants. And these effects can vary depending on viewers’ race and ethnicity, perhaps due to the genre’s overrepresentation of white female victims.

As an important actor within the legal system, these intriguing findings should give you something to ponder as you probe our ref-section ‘crime scene’ (pictured). Our display includes some of the genre’s most notorious works, while also highlighting accounts of crimes that occurred here in Georgia, such as the infamous Atlanta Child Murders (depicted in the most recent season of Netflix’s Mindhunter). Check them out!

Honoring Representative Elijah Cummings


© AFGE – 2017 AFGE Legislative Conference Sunday  [CC BY 3.0], from Creative Commons – Flickr (

You may have heard that Congress suffered a loss this morning, as Maryland Representative Elijah E. Cummings passed away. Before beginning his lengthy public service career, Cummings graduated from Howard University with a degree in political science and later the University of Maryland with his J.D.

His lengthy terms of public service include 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates. Among his notable accomplishments, he was the first African American in Maryland history to be named as Speaker Pro Tem, according to Congressman Cummings’s official biography. At the time of his death, the Congressman represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He served in that capacity since 1996, including his current assignment as the Chairman of the powerful Committee on Oversight and Reform.

You might wonder—how do we, as a country, honor our public servants when they pass on? (Note: this might be written slightly differently and described as an issue statement: whether the United States requires particular pageantry, ceremony, or memorial upon the death of a serving Congressman?)

The great news is that the United States Code (U.S.C.) offers some answers!

According to the 4 U.S.C. § 7(m), “The flag shall be flown at half-staff…on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.”  This code section generally addresses the position and manner of display of the flag.

As we parse statutes, we understand that there are often definitions that are relevant. In this code section, there is a sub-section 4 U.S.C. § 7(m)(3) which offers the following definition: “the term ‘Member of Congress’ means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.” Clearly, Congressman Cummings is a member of Congress.

As a researcher, parsing the code section, I might also wonder what “half-staff” means. Is that defined anywhere?

Yes! It is! First, 4 U.S.C. § 7(m) explains clearly that a flag flown at half-staff should first be raised to the top of the flag pole and then lowered to half-staff. A bit more reading, and the researcher sees “half-staff” defined! Unsurprisingly, “’Half-staff’ means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.” 4 U.S.C. § 7(m)(1).

There is a related Presidential Proclamation (No. 3044), issued by President Eisenhower on March 1, 1954 and amended on December 12, 1969 by President Nixon. The proclamation indicates that “the flag…shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States…Representative…, and it shall also be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the State, Congressional District, Territory, or Commonwealth of” the Representative “from the day of death until interment.”

President Trump issued his own Proclamation on the Death of Elijah E. Cummings, and it appears consistent with the requirements mandated in the United States Code. In fact, since 1994, there have been 26 presidential proclamations on the death of various individuals ranging from celebrity Bob Hope who was famous in part for entertaining troops; to United States Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White; to civil rights icons Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks.

In the interest of completeness, it may be worth checking for additional relevant statutes. (Remember, with no statutes there will not be relevant regulation.)

The index to the U.S.C. includes entries for the House of Representatives — Death. A sub-entry under Death is Monuments and Memorials, directing me to 2 U.S.C. § 4110 (formerly 2 U.S.C. § 51).

Upon reviewing the code section, the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives has the duty of having a granite monument inscribed and erected for any deceased member of Congress who is actually interred in the Congressional Cemetery. The cost of the monument is paid from the contingent funds of the House of Representatives.

Need a break?

By Trina Holloway, Head of Collection Services


You have been in law school for almost two months now, and you may be thinking, “when is the next break?” Well, the next break is not until November, but, there are several ways the law library can assist in helping you to take law exams and papers off your mind for just a few minutes.


“Professor Fowke plays multiple games while RBG watches on…”

Did you know the Law Library has a wonderful “Leisure” collection? It’s a perfect opportunity to read about something other than Torts, Constitution Law, Criminal procedures, etc. – you get the point. If you’re not in the reading mood, we also have plenty of DVD’s you can enjoy as well. Both collections are located on the fifth floor across from the Technology Desk.

Maybe you’re into games? The Law Library has these as well! We have board games and cards that can be checked out at the Circulation desk, as well as the quick games on the big monitor. You can challenge a friend or the computer to a game of chess, or enjoy playing solitaire, doing a crossword or word search puzzle.

There is also what we like to call the “puzzle option.”  This break can be exactly as short or as long as you want, depending on how many pieces you find or how “sucked in” you get. The puzzle is located in the Reference Desk area. Not only will you be able to contribute to the puzzle, but you will meet the great staff that works at the Circulation Desk and a fantastic Librarian who could help you with your future research needs.

Meet Cassandra Patterson

This is the long-overdue continuation of an “in-depth” interview series with new librarians at Georgia State University College of Law Library, See earlier installments here, here, here, here, and here.

We introduce our new librarians in the same way we introduced their colleagues at Georgia State Law Library– with a questionnaire invented by Austin Williams which is borrowed in spirit, if not in part, from Marcel Proust.

Austin (if he were still here): What is your name and what do you do?

Cassandra: Cassandra Patterson, I provide reference services, teach one class of legal research (Research Methods), and oversee the library’s outreach services.

A: How long have you been at Georgia State University College of Law Library? 

C: It will be three months next Tuesday. Time flies when you’re having fun!

A: What books are currently on your nightstand (or Kindle)?

C: I am currently reading books that focus on leadership and vulnerability. (I love self-development books!) This month, I am finishing up Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

A: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

C: I love college sports, especially basketball. My love for basketball started when I played basketball in my “younger” days. I also played on a team during law school (1Ls vs 2Ls)!

A: When you are not saving the world here at GSU Law Library, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

C: I enjoy watching sports and movies. I also love to travel and visit new sites.

A: Lastly, what is your favorite vacation spot? The place you go to leave it all behind for a few days.

C: My favorite vacation spots are the Isle of Palms in SC and Wrightsville Beach in NC.

There you have it, folks. The complete, unedited, behind the scenes interview with Cassandra Patterson.