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!

Law Faculty Offers Summer Reading Suggestions

Now that summer is almost here, you may be thinking of more than just reading class assignments. To help you, our law faculty has offered some summer reading suggestions. Whether you like non-fiction or thrillers or something in between, we hope you’ll find something to interest you here. (And for more suggestions, see our posts from previous years: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014.)

Find something you like? Do you want to tell us about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Megan Boyd

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies detail the reign of Henry VIII from the perspective of Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell, a lawyer, rose from common birth to become one of Henry’s most trusted advisors and facilitated Henry’s split from the Catholic church, his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and, ultimately, her execution for treason and heresy.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Capote’s most famous work, In Cold Blood, tells the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb Kansas in 1959. Capote spent six years writing the book, which examines the relationship between the killers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, and the events in their lives that ultimately led them to commit the brutal crime.

The World According to Garp by John Irving
John Irving’s Garp, both tragic and comedic, is the story of the only child of feminist icon Jenny Fields and the people (or, more appropriately, characters) around him. Garp is difficult to summarize; you must read it for yourself. Few books have impacted me in the way that Garp and Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany have.

Pam Brannon

The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis
It’s a fascinating book in the way that “behind the scenes” books about institutions are fascinating, but on an grander level, because this is the Vatican. This is a place where a proposed parking lot uncovers priceless artifacts, and where the Pope sends a team of scientists in under cover of darkness to verify that St. Paul is really buried in St. Paul’s tomb. It’s incredibly interesting.

Jennifer Chiovaro

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn Saks
Professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Professor Saks delivered GSU College of Law’s Miller lecture in Fall 2014. Professor Saks’s memoir details her life with chronic schizophrenia, allowing the reader to feel her psychotic episodes, including those she experienced as a law student. Professor Saks book validates that people with significant mental illness can achieve personal and professional success.

Bill Edmundson

The short film, The Russian Ark, is enjoyable, though nostalgic in a way that I now doubt was possible for the aristocrats who endured the death rattle of the Romanovs. Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution is showing me why. The brilliance of Trotsky’s prose and humor equals Mark Twain’s, but he takes his responsibility as an historian with the gravest seriousness. Trotsky does not try to delude himself or anyone else by claiming to have adopted a disinterested viewpoint for the task. In fact, he indirectly shows how any such viewpoint conceals the heart of things. The book also stimulates the thought that our time, too, shows signs of becoming one in which “the antagonisms of society reach their highest tension.”

Yaniv Heled

I recently finished Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind and would strongly recommend reading it to anyone planning on being an attorney over the next 10-30 years. This very short book (only 165 pages) provides lots of food for thought about the future of legal practice and education.

Julian Juergensmeyer

The Lawyer Myth: A Defense of the American Legal Profession by Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read
Interesting discussion and evaluation of some of the criticisms of our profession.

Lauren Sudeall Lucas

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson is not just a remarkable lawyer, but a talented writer and storyteller. His memoir will leave you with a sense of how deeply flawed our criminal justice system is, but also inspired by those working in the struggle against injustice. Stevenson’s work is a shining example of the legal profession at its hardest working and its best.

Deborah Schander

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life by Charles A. Murray provides invaluable insight into the opinions and thought processes of many people you will encounter in your legal career (think senior partners and judges, for example). Murray covers a wide variety of topics, from writing a professional email to piercings and clothing choices, and from when to swear and when not to suck up to someone. In short, Murray wants you to know how and why people you encounter as a professional adult may be judging you and your behavior. You may not always agree with him — if fact, that’s rather the crux of the book — but it’s also an opportunity to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. This summary probably sounds a bit curmudgeonly itself, but this short, concise book is well worth the time.

And then for something completely different, I can also recommend Moonraker by Ian Fleming. The third James Bond novel sees our hero infiltrating a rocket program run by the mysterious Sir Hugo Drax. I’ve been slowly listening to the Bond novels, in part because of the excellent set of readers, and assumed this one would be as redonkulous as the movie version, but it was delightfully fun instead. High stakes card games! A man without a past! Racing against the clock! Enjoy.

Roy Sobelson

I’ve recently read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. I enjoyed both very much, although All the Light We Cannot See is a much more serious and well-written book. I’ve also read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and The Stranger by Harlan Coben, both of which are good “beach reads.”

Leslie Wolf

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is one of the best books I have read in a while. It is a spy thriller, but far from the usual genre. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a compelling read.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress, without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works describes ABS News correspondent Dan Harris’s journey after experiencing a panic attack on national television toward mindfulness meditation. He goes into full journalistic mode in his exploration, bringing along his skepticism and self-criticism, so it is unlike other self-help books (a genre that usually does not end up on my reading list).

Surprise! Librarians read too.

In honor of Banned Books Week — and our own Law Library Week — we thought it would be fun to share what we in the library are currently reading. We hope you’ll see something of interest here too.

Rachel Ashe, GRA

I’m currently reading We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch. I’m actually reading it for International Criminal Law, but have wanted to read it for a while.

Pam Brannon, Faculty Services Librarian

I’m reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I’ve read everything else he’s written, loved everything, and this is the latest thing he wrote. And it’s been sitting around my house for months.

Meg Butler, Associate Director for Public Services

I’m reading two books: The Cruel Ever After by Ellen Hart and Fatal Error by J.A.Jance.

Katie Ginnane, GRA/Intern

Although I am currently only reading law school stuff right now, right before school got back I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover. The book covers a year of Ms. Kingslover’s family limiting the food they ate to what they could get locally. Ms. Kingslover starts a garden and raises chicken and turkey with her family. This book celebrates the miracle of homegrown food that does not come from a test tube or mass production.

Trina Holloway, Acquisitions/Serials Librarian

I am currently reading Redemption by Jacquelin Thomas. It is my book club selection for the month.

Nancy Johnson, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Professor of Law

Try This: Traveling the Globe without Leaving the Table by Danyelle Freeman, 2011 (author is editor of The author covers the most popular world cuisines—how to order and eat them. Her point of departure is the New York City restaurant, where one can find just about any kind of dish as the natives fashioned it, from British to Vietnamese, including information on ingredients, ordering tips, and etiquette. There’s a good bit of research into what’s actually contained in dishes like mincemeat (dried fruit and nuts – no meat), Moros y Cristianos (Cuban beans and rice), and many Asian choices.

Terrance Manion, Director of Information Technology and Librarian

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, a graphic novel. I’m trying to show my son that the Pittsburgh Pirates were a competitive team and played relevant baseball in September at one time.

Kristin Poland, GRA

I am not currently reading anything but casebooks, but just before the semester started I read Waterland by Graham Swift on the recommendation of my sister, whose opinion I value very highly.

Deborah Schander, Reference/Student Services Librarian

I’m about halfway through Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. I’ve been working my way through her mysteries because they’re easy reading for the MARTA commute.

Meghan Starr, GRA

I am mostly reading textbooks at the moment, but when I get a chance I’m reading Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (the third book of his Song of Fire and Ice saga). My husband strongly recommended the series, then Martin was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 influential people, so I decided to give it a try.

Austin Williams, Reference/Student Services Librarian

Currently I am about 100 pages into Executive Orders by Tom Clancy. I am reading it because the series was on a seven year hiatus until 2010, and I wanted to go through them again to catch up with the newest novels. This is the ninth out of thirteen books set in the Jack Ryan universe.

Emily Williams, Library Technical Assistant

I am currently reading The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. I’m reading it because I absolutely loved her first book, Crow Lake.

Betty Wright, Library Reference Specialist

I am currently reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. I’m reading this because I am part of a virtual book club created by one of my favorite bloggers. For leisure reading I prefer books with African American women as the main character. Fortunately, this book has been a very interesting read.

Professors Offer Summer Reading Suggestions

The semester is drawing to a close, and you may be thinking that a bit of non-caselaw reading could be just what your brain needs after a busy school year. But what to read? The law faculty has a few suggestions for you.

Pam Brannon

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
The idea of David Foster Wallace going to the Illinois State Fair is really funny in and of itself, but his report on the experience is even funnier. Besides, like me, Wallace was a geek who loved footnotes.

James Bross

Sarah Caudwell was the pseudonym of Sarah Cockburn (1939 – 2000, Cheltenham), a British barrister and writer of detective stories. She is best known for a series of four murder stories written between 1980 and 1999, centred around the lives of a group of young barristers practicing in Lincoln’s Inn and narrated by a Hilary Tamar, a Professor of Medieval Law (gender unknown), who also acts as detective.

This series of four books, described as “legal whodunits”, were written over a period of twenty years. Their primary setting is the top floor of 62 New Square at Lincoln’s Inn, where four young barristers have their chambers: Michael Cantrip, Desmond Ragwort, Selena Jardine and Timothy Shepherd. While the last named only appears sporadically, taxes barrister Julia Larwood, who works in the adjacent premises, is a regular visitor and is in effect the fourth member of the group. These characters are in some ways thinly drawn, never communicating in anything other than in an ironic tone, so that even when they are in deadly danger the atmosphere remains uniformly light-hearted. Even though the characters are sexually active, their cheerful friendship is sometimes reminiscent of the chummy gangs encountered in juvenile fiction.

Mark Budnitz

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial by Janet Malcolm
This book includes several elements that make up a riveting story and that raise significant legal and moral issues. The main story is a murder trial, but the motivation for the murder was likely a child custody battle presided over by a judge who made a questionable ruling. The book also illustrates how poorly the legal system operates when the persons involved come from a culture that is different from mainstream American society.

Meg Butler

Broken by Karin Slaughter
Grady doctor Sara Linton returns to her home town and finds herself drawn into the investigation a rural Georgia murder. In her 10th novel featuring these characters, Karin Slaughter builds suspense and tells a compelling story, weaving together the lives of unlikely characters.

Sylvia Caley

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
Cultural sensitivity, bioethics, communication in health care setting

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Understanding, accommodating, accepting disability

Coma by Robin Cook
Scare resources, bioethics, buying/selling organs, organ sharing policy

Jennifer Chiovaro

The most memorable book I’ve read in the last year or so is Columbine by Dave Cullen. [It’s] the most definitive account of what really happened and why, although the entire truth won’t be known until the parents’ depositions are unsealed in 2027. Meticulously researched, the book dispels most of what was reported about the massacre. An essential read for understanding America’s deadliest high-school mass murder.

William Edmundson

For anyone saddened by the end of the US manned space program, I can recommend Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars and Riding Rockets by former astronaut Mike Mullane.

Anne Emanuel

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet
An easy read and a fascinating story.

Jessica Gabel

The Edgar Award Nominees for Best Novel, Best Debut Novel, and Best Paperback were a particuarly good crop this year, and I read most of them. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Laura Lippman, I’d Know You Anywhere. A woman who was kidnapped as a child comes to terms with why she survived the ordeal when other victims did not. A interesting read that goes back and forth between 1985 and 2010(ish) as the main character realizes that events she tried so hard to forget have shaped her adult life. Nominated for a 2011 Edgar Award for best novel.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton. Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for best novel. A mute man-child (i.e., he’s 18) with a knack for opening locks and cracking safes shares his escapades with the reader. I learned probably more than I wanted to know about picking locks, but the dialogue – both internal and between supporting characters is fantastic.

For those who prefer less mystery and more dialogue: Karen Russell, Swamplandia. A young girl aims to save both her family’s alligator theme park and her wayward older siblings. Nice to know that there is a family more dysfunctional than mine.

Lynn Hogue

I have two really great books to recommend: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly and The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly. Both are great yarns about lawyers and law. I finished both very recently and highly recommend them. Readers can learn something about the profession of law and be entertained at the same time. What could be better.

Nancy Johnson

The Confession by John Grisham takes the reader on an incredible roller coaster ride of emotions all centered around one hot-button issue: the death penalty. Grisham very clearly has strong opinions against the death penalty and The Confession makes absolutely no attempt to be an unbiased display of the facts of the matter. It is a quick read and a great story.

Julian Juergensmeyer

Although it is law related – I still recommend The Lawyer Myth: A Defense of the American Legal Profession by Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read. I just think it gives a perspective that we tend to miss when we are involved with the “law” – in whatever capacity – on a daily basis.

Deborah Schander

If you’re the type of person to read the book once you’ve seen the movie (or vice versa), check out Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America (2005-present). It’s not the full 70 year history of the comic, of course, but the upcoming movie is apparently heavily influenced by Brubaker’s take on the story (which has even made the national news a few times). He focuses as much attention on Cap’s WWII origins as he does on what’s happening in the modern Marvel universe — and my bet’s on the inevitable movie sequel giving major screen time to something Brubaker introduces in his very first issue. The collection starts with Winter Soldier, Book One.

But if I can’t convince you to read a comic, try Alan Bennett’s novella The Uncommon Reader. It’s a funny, insightful look at the influence reading can have on people (in this case, the Queen of England).

Roy Sobelson

These are some of the books that have brought me the greatest enjoyment in the last couple of years. Most I’ve read, but some I’ve listened (unabridged) to.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Life in the Mississippi Delta at the end of WWII. A central character is an African American man who, after serving nobly in the Army, returns home to be treated precisely as he and other African Americans have been for ages.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
If you think Tina Fey is smart and funny (and who doesn’t?), check this out. Given the fact that she reads the audiobook, I recommend it over the written version.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
I’m not going to describe it. I’ll just say this is one of my favorite books of all time.

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel (no relation, so far as I know)
Using the correspondence between Galileo and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste (so named because of Galileo’s obsession with the heavens), the author tells a good bit of the story of the trial of Galileo, who had the gall to argue that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Austin Williams

February 18, 2011 was the 10 year anniversary of Robert Hanssen’s arrest at Foxstone Park. The Bureau and the Mole by David A. Vise is a thorough and concise overview of Hanssen’s life prior to and during his time at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read about how he initially created contact with the Soviet Union and what clues eventually led to his demise after 22 years of spying on the United States.

Doug Yarn

Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
True story of the survival of a book that John Calvin tried to destroy. This book makes one appreciate the sacrifices people made to express ideas and the extraordinary effect that the emergence of printing had on the history of ideas.

Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander by David Cordingly
If you like Hornblower or the Patrick O’Brian series about early 19th century naval warfare, you have to read this book to appreciate the real historic figure on which the main characters of those two series are based. Cochrane story is much more compelling and exciting.

New DVDs to Check Out

More DVDs have been added to the Leisure Collection. Not sure what to check out first? Here are a couple suggestions for whichever topic you’re currently focusing on.

Law school: The first two seasons of The Paper Chase (yes, there was a TV show too)

Legal Practice: Matlock (seasons 1-3)

Ethics and PR: House (seasons 1-6) or Boston Legal (seasons 1-5)

Police Procedure: The Wire (seasons 1-5)

Not sure you’re ready to commit to a full TV series? We’ve also got new movies like The Social Network, You Don’t Know Jack, Never Let Me Go and Gattaca (all with suitably legal-related issues, of course).

Relaxing Over Break

Law Library Leisure Collection

Finals are nearing their end. Three weeks of vacation stretch before you in glorious Technicolor. You find yourself thinking, “Gosh, what a perfect time this would be to catch up on the first seven seasons of Law & Order. If only I had access to them!”

Oh, but you do. The law library’s leisure collection not only has all the “ripped from the headlines” stories you might want, but it offers more TV shows like The West Wing as well as Legally Blonde, 12 Angry Men, Breaker Morant and other movies.

If you’re thinking more about curling up with a good book and some eggnog, we’ve got you covered too. Cozy mystery fans can work their way through Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series. Maybe A Christmas Carol has put you in the mood for some Dickens. And there’s always John Grisham’s legal thrillers too.

The leisure collection offers a lot of selection. Whether you’re wanting a light mystery or a legal classic, swing by the 130s study rooms to check out some great holiday break choices.

50th Anniversary of “Mockingbird”

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird turned 50 this summer. Harper Lee’s classic story features Atticus Finch, perhaps the most famous fictional lawyer in the world.

Did you know … ?

  • The character of Dill is based on Truman Capote, Harper Lee’s own childhood friend.
  • Robert Duvall made his film debut in the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird playing Boo Radley. To prepare, Duvall dyed his hair blond and stayed out of the sun for six weeks before filming.
  • In 1997, the Alabama State Bar erected a monument in Atticus Finch’s honor.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird is currently #4 on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned and Challenged Classics list.

The library owns copies of both the book and the movie in our Leisure Collection.