Search the Blog
- Books & Reading
- Broadband Buzz
- Education & Training
- Friday Reads
- Information Resources
- Library Management
- Nebraska Center for the Book
- Nebraska Memories
- Now hiring @ your library
- Pretty Sweet Tech
- Public Library Boards of Trustees
- Public Relations
- Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS)
- What's Up Doc / Govdocs
- Youth Services
Search Results for: great american read
The Great American Read is the new PBS eight-part television competition and nationwide campaign to discover America’s favorite novel. Everyone can vote for their favorite from a list of 100 novels chosen in a national survey. NET Television is offering Nebraska resources for programming to help community members participate in the Great American Read. Nebraska libraries are invited to request posters and bookmarks (and possibly a local screening) from Marthaellen Florence, Director, Community Engagement, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications – NET, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-470-6603.
See http://netnebraska.org/greatread or Facebook.com/netNebraska for more information about the program broadcasts on NET. The series is hosted by Meredith Vieira and features conversations with authors, celebrities, and book lovers. The programs are scheduled for the next six weeks, leading up to the last day of voting (October 18, 2018) and announcement of America’s favorite read (October 23, 3018).
“Launch Special” (Premiered Tuesday, May 22, 2018) – WATCH NOW
“Fall Kick-off” (Premieres Tuesday, September 11, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“Who Am I?” (Premieres Tuesday, September 18, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“Heroes” (Premieres Tuesday, September 25, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“Villains and Monsters” (Premieres Tuesday, October 2, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“What We Do For Love” (Premieres Tuesday, October 9, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“Other Worlds” (Premieres Tuesday, October 16, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
“Grand Finale” (Premieres Tuesday, October 23, 2018 7:00 p.m. ct)
The Nebraska Library Commission’s Talking Book and Braille Service helps Nebraska librarians serve library customers who can’t use regular print, and all but four of the Great American Read titles are available in the talking book format through this service. For more information, see http://nlcblogs.nebraska.gov/nlcblog/?s=great+american+read. To help serve book clubs that want to read a title from this list, the Nebraska Library Commission Book Club Kit collection contains 59 of the 100 selections. To serve your library customers, search at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub/ or contact Lisa Kelly, Information Services Director, 402-471-4015 for the list of Great American Read titles available in Book Club Kits.
For more information, see the recording of the Sept. 5, 2018 NCompass Live Great American Read broadcast at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgID=17615
Join us for the next NCompass Live, ‘The Great American Read’, on Wednesday, September 5, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.
The Great American Read is the new PBS eight-part television competition and nationwide campaign to discover America’s favorite novel. Everyone can vote for their favorite from a list of 100 novels chosen in a national survey. Marthaellen Florence, from NET Television, and Katie Murtha, from Lincoln City Libraries, will join us to share resources and activities that you can use in your library to help your community participate in the program.
Upcoming NCompass Live events:
- Sept. 12 – Book vs. Movie: The Ultimate Showdown!
- Sept. 19 – Get a Youth Grant for Excellence!
- Sept. 26 – 2018 Continuing Education/Training and Internship Grants
- Oct. 3 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE – ENJOY NLA/NSLA!
- Oct. 24 – Strategies for Identifying Fake News
For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.
NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.
This reading list, curated by PBS, shows the diversity of America’s 100 most beloved fiction books. Voting for America’s greatest novel began May 22nd and will end in October 2018. Learn more about The Great American Read and how to vote at http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/about/show/
For library patrons who can’t use regular print, all but four of the Great American Read titles are available in the talking book format. If you know readers who would love to be involved, but their vision is making it hard to use regular print, they can’t hold a book, or turn pages, the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service is here to help! You can use the 5-digit numbers beside the book titles below to order these and many other wonderful books and magazines. Simply give us a call anywhere in Nebraska by dialing 1-800-742-7691, or visit our section of the NLC website.
|DB||Title and Author|
|73474||1984 by George Orwell|
|50482||A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole|
|29012||A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel by John Irving|
|24697||A Separate Peace by John Knowles|
|44769||A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith|
|53084||The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain|
|65599||The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho|
|Alex Cross Series by James Patterson|
|50842||Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll|
|77188||Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie|
|11077||And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie|
|(also within DB 53999)|
|56114||Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery|
|(also within DB 50475)|
|51074||Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand|
|26026||Beloved by Toni Morrison|
|62431||The Book Thief by Markus Zusak|
|65402||The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz|
|49486||The Call of the Wild by Jack London|
|48063||Catch-22 by Joseph Heller|
|47480||Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger|
|74950||Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White|
|50083||Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis|
|52680||Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel|
|57412||Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah|
|58842||The Color Purple by Alice Walker|
|56946||Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas|
|50147||Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky|
|56893||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon|
|55735||The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown|
|24290||Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes|
|26423||Doña Bárbára by Rómulo Gallegos|
|44126||Dune by Frank Herbert|
|74504||Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James|
|36176||Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews|
|80139||Foundation series by Isaac Asimov|
|book 1 10365, book 2 80139, book 3 10610|
|25835||Frankenstein by Mary Shelley|
|45742||Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin|
|Prequel Companion 80183, Prequel Anthology 80183|
|book 1 45742, book 2 49913, book 3 51406,|
|book 4 62348, book 5 73557|
|85921||Ghost by Jason Reynolds|
|59561||Gilead by Marilynne Robinson|
|37689||The Giver by Lois Lowry|
|25677||The Godfather by Mario Puzo|
|74888||Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn|
|33082||Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
|68308||The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck|
|53991||Great Expectations by Charles Dickens|
|16147||The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|23150||Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift|
|24695||The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood|
|Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling|
|book 1 47260, book 2 48437, book 3 48772, book 4 50228,|
|book 5 56062, book 6 60262, book 7 64495|
|30535||Hatchet by Gary Paulsen|
|12613||Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad|
|68889||The Help by Kathryn Stockett|
|18339||Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams|
|Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins|
|book 1 68384, book 2 69689, book 3, 71734|
|21513||The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy|
|56346||Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison|
|47868||Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë|
|29021||The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan|
|32018||Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton|
|47462||Left Behind by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins|
|44071||The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry|
|18128||Little Women by Louisa May Alcott|
|Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry|
|book 1 43928, book 2 45001, book 3 22959, book 4 37323|
|61873||Looking for Alaska by John Green|
|The Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien|
|prequel 48978, book 1 47486, book 2 47487, book 3 47488|
|54698||The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold|
|78389||The Martian by Andy Weir|
|45008||Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden|
|34184||Moby-Dick by Herman Melville|
|43180||The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks|
|25181||One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez|
|Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon|
|book 1 36535, book 2 36536, book 3 38591, book 4 43320|
|book 5 53366, book 6 61201, book 7 70073, book 8 79331|
|22433||The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton|
|56794||The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde|
|59950||The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan|
|30999||The Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follett|
|50549||Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen|
|73772||Ready Player One by Ernest Cline|
|11106||Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier|
|67237||The Shack by William P. Young|
|52190||Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse|
|15759||The Sirens Of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut|
|12942||The Stand by Stephen King|
|34114||The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway|
|26498||Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon|
|Tales of The City series by Armistead Maupin|
|book 1 39531, book 2 39602, book 3 39603, book 4 39604,|
|book 5 39605, book 6 39606, book 7 65336, book 8 72107,|
|book 9 78276|
|35745||Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston|
|47510||Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe|
|29252||This Present Darkness by Frank. E. Peretti|
|36414||To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee|
|Twilight Saga series by Stephanie Meyer|
|book 1 82750, book 2 64367, book 3 65812, book 4 67238|
|67136||War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy|
|25982||Watchers by Dean Koontz|
|The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon|
|prequel 57628, book 1 57628, book 2 34701, book 3 34702,|
|book 4 36984, book 5 37569, book 6 39661, book 7 43043,|
|book 8 47082, book 9 51203, book 10 55506, book 11 62078,|
|book 12 70020, book 13 71926, book 14 76085|
|32449||Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls|
|50261||White Teeth by Zadie Smith|
|25178||Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë|
Nebraska public libraries are invited to apply for grants to host public programs around the PBS series “The Great American Read,” an eight-part television and online series designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books that have inspired, moved, and shaped us, the ALA Public Programs Office announced. “The Great American Read” will engage audiences with a list of 100 diverse books, encouraging audiences to read the books, vote from the list of 100, and share their personal connections to the titles.
Fifty U.S. public libraries will be selected through a competitive application process to receive a cash grant to support programs and events related to “The Great American Read.” Selected libraries will also receive a programming kit, developed by ALA and PBS, that will help public libraries participate in a national conversation about reading and books, including those featured in the series that highlight themes of love, heroes, villains, other worlds and self-discovery.
Selected libraries will be required to hold at least three public programs related to “The Great American Read” series May and November 2018. Collaboration with local PBS member stations is strongly encouraged.
“The Great American Read” will premiere May 22 on PBS stations with a two-hour launch, kicking off a summer of reading and voting. In fall 2018, seven new episodes will air, featuring appearances by celebrities, athletes, experts, authors and everyday Americans advocating for their favorite book, culminating with a finale that reveals America’s best-loved novel as chosen by the American public. Selected libraries will receive a DVD collection of the eight-part series with public performance rights; a hardcover copy of the companion book, “The Great American Read: The Book of Books” by PBS (Black Dog & Leventhal, August 21, 2018); print materials for local program promotion and publicity; a programming guide developed by ALA, PBS and a panel of librarian advisors; and more. The libraries will also have the opportunity to host private screenings of the series premiere and six fall episodes before they broadcast to the public.
“The Great American Read” is a production of Nutopia for PBS. PBS Funding for “The Great American Read” is provided by The Anne Ray Foundation and PBS. For more information contact Sarah Ostman, Communications Manager, Public Programs Office, American Library Association, 312-280-5061, email@example.com.
I have been a huge fan of time travel fiction, historical fiction, and medical fiction for a very long time, and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, tops my list of all three of these genres. The 9th book in the series, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (2021), is her latest installment in this sweeping saga. I am also a huge fan of the Outlander TV series, currently having just concluded season 6, with each season roughly matching each book. Because it had been 8 years since the previous book, I went back and listened to books 6, 7, and 8–before diving into book 9. As always, it did not disappoint!
For those new to the series, Claire Beauchamp Randall, a WWII British Army nurse, falls through standing stones (similar to Stonehenge) in 1946, and lands in 1743 Scotland, where she meets Jamie Fraser, a twenty-something red-haired Scots warrior and laird. Claire, while trying to figure out how to get back to her own time and husband, is protected by Jamie, and they fall in love. Together they must survive clan wars, British Redcoats, injuries, starvation, and French intrigue as they come ever closer to Culloden–the Jacobite Rising battle that would determine the fate of Highlands culture and possibly the throne of Great Britain. Through all of these circumstances, Claire uses her medical knowledge to help any and all in need. Immediately before Culloden, Jamie sends Claire back through the stones to her own time–back to her husband Frank. For the next twenty years, Claire believes Jamie to be dead at Culloden, and not until Frank dies does she begin to suspect that Jamie might still be alive in the past. Eventually Claire and Jamie are reunited, and their adventures together in 18th century Scotland, the Caribbean, and the American Colonies are a great read. That brings us to Book 9–Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
It is now 1779, and Claire and Jamie have been settled for awhile on Fraser’s Ridge, North Carolina, along with their daughter Brianna and her family, friends, and other refugees from Scotland. They have built a solid life–Jamie as a land owner, and Claire as a healer. Independence from Great Britain has been declared, but loyalties are split across all of the colonies, even on Fraser’s Ridge. As the Revolutionary War rages from New York to Georgia, Jamie and Claire need to once again stay closely bonded to survive–through war, fire, disease, injuries, death, and someone special from Jamie’s past. As always, a wonderful historical fiction saga with a great set up at the end for book 10. I can’t wait!
Nominees for YALSA’s 2022 Lists Are Updated Weekly
YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a section of the American Library Association (ALA), has a schedule of updates of nominees for several of their lists for 2022. Check their blog, The Hub, each week or month to learn what titles are being considered for their Best Fiction for Young Adults (Mondays), Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (Tuesdays), Amazing Audiobooks (Wednesday), and Great Graphic Novels (Thursday). You see a copy of the cover and a review of the book, usually one title with a review and one or more additional titles merely listed per posting.
At the bottom of each posting there is occasionally a place to click to see all the postings referring to that list. A quarterly compilation of each list is available, the first ones were posted on The Hub in early April, the second list was posted in early July.
You and your teens are also welcome to submit titles for consideration for any of the lists. Also at the bottom of each posting is a link to the information and form to suggest a title for that list.
Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney and illustrated by Robyn Smith is a graphic novel included on two nominees’ lists: Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Great Graphic Novels.
Nubia is fast and strong – really strong. She is black and her two mothers constantly remind her not to use her strength, it will only get her in trouble; they DO want the best for her. Her two best friends (LaQuisha and Jason) want her to enjoy her summer, but that seems unlikely. She is in a convenience store for a refill when two robbers enter. She stays low, as her mothers would want, until a guy she likes is threatened – and she throws the ATM at the robber and then runs. No surprise to Nubia, a policeman finds her part way home and handcuffs her, until he learns the two robbers were men. Then he releases her and tells her to stay out of trouble.
Dealing with many things common in high school – liking a guy and being awkward around him – Nubia must also deal with racism; and keep in mind that if people learn of her abilities, they will likely be afraid of her, they will not see her as Wonder Woman. But when her best friend Quisha, is threatened by her former boyfriend, Nubia finds a way to catch him out without violence. And… it turns out Nubia is related to Wonder Woman.
As School Library Journal said, “No superhero collection is complete without Nubia.”
(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers. After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)
I’m not sure why I haven’t read Kristin Hannah’s books until recently, but once discovered, I am completely hooked. So far, I’ve read four of her books, loved all of them, but especially The Great Alone. It kept my interest so completely that I stayed up late reading, and when I couldn’t read it, I was listening to the audio version. It’s that good.
Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in 18 hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger.
The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night audiobook about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. (Audible)
The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I love reading historical novels, especially ones that are based in fact and teach me about a subject I previously knew little about. The Signature of All Things is just such a book. Elizabeth Gilbert’s descriptions of the botanical world, and how plants were discovered, acquired, and improved, are truly masterful.
Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family, led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.
Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. (Amazon.com)
It’s time for more cookbooks!
I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to share, so I thought I would include a few favorites from my last cookbook haul:
Perfectly Golden: Inspired Recipes from Goldenrod Pastries, the Nebraska Bakery that Specializes in Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Vegan Treats by Angela Garbacz
Goldenrod Pastries, located in Lincoln, is an amazing bakery with the best baked goods of all kinds. As much as I would love to just visit every day, having the cookbook now helps fill the gaps.
Gluten-free and vegan baking can be intimidating, but the recipes are clear and easy enough, even for beginning bakers. The photos are all bright and cheerful, and there are plenty of notes to help explain different parts of the recipes, like flours.
I started with the cinnamon rolls which turned out perfectly and may very well replace my usual recipe!
Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Flora Shedden
One of the best parts of reading cookbooks, especially this last year, is looking at amazing pictures and reading stories of far-off places, and turning your kitchen into something like a small Scottish bakery. Flora Shedden’s (from the Great British Bake Off) book has become a favorite. Aran (meaning bread) is full of recipes arranged by the time of day in the bakery, starting with making bread before dawn, including a section for getting your sourdough starters just right. The recipes are simple and encouraging, with plenty of instructions for North American conversions. Some recipes, like croissants, are multi-day projects but well worth the extra time and effort (with lots of butter).
And now for something completely different!
Fuel Your Body: How to Cook and Eat for Peak Performance: 77 Simple, Nutritious, Whole-Food Recipes for Every Athlete by Angie Asche
This is already my new favorite everyday cookbook. The recipes are super simple and delicious, focusing on helping you reach your full athletic potential whether you’re just trying to get healthy, you’re a recreational runner, or a more serious athlete. The first section includes great information for athletes (or parents of athletes) on basic nutrition concepts and timing your meals around game time to give you the best boost, as well as several weekly meal plans (including a vegan/plant-based plan) and how to make the perfect smoothie. These recipes are quick and easy, perfect for weekly meals. The baked banana oatmeal has been great for breakfast meal prep through the week. The lentil tacos, almond flour cookies, and ginger-citrus smoothie are also new staples.
ALA Upcoming Youth Awards and Newly Announced Lists
The American Library Association (ALA) will announce the Youth Media Awards (think Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King Awards and more) starting at 8 am CT next Monday, January 25. For the first time that I am aware of, they also have released several annual booklists early. They are:
Check these lists out to see what you may already have in your collection.
One of the Top Ten titles for the “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” Continue reading
More accurately described – Friday listens, this title is available exclusively from Audible.com. Break Shot was recorded by James in his home studio, TheBarn in western Massachusetts and released in conjunction with his 19th studio album, American Standard. At only an hour and a half, I listened twice, enjoying it even more the second time. It begins with the following: “I’m James Taylor and I’m a professional autobiographer. I usually talk about myself with a guitar in my hand and I have one now.” James explains that the title is an analogy for his tight knit family that eventually split apart “like a break shot in the game of pool … when you slam the cue ball into the fifteen other balls and they all go flying off.” James and his four siblings were raised with great privilege in North Carolina in the ‘60’s but the family fell apart. Three of the four kids ended up in psychiatric hospitals. Drug and alcohol addiction took their toll.
Despite coming from a family of doctors and lawyers, James wasn’t interested in college. His parents supported his decision to spend tuition money on a flight to London. This trip provided the pivotal moment of his life. Through life-long friend Danny Kortchmar, James met with Peter Asher, the head of A&R (Artist & Repertoire) at Apple Records and played his demo tape. Peter liked what he heard and recalls calling out, “is there a Beatle in the house?” James auditioned for Paul McCartney and George Harrison with the song Something in the Way She Moves. James’ first album James Taylor, was the first recording by a non-British artist released by Apple Records in 1968.
Break Shot didn’t provide a great deal of revelatory information, so much of James’ life is in his lyrics, but the storytelling intertwined with the recorded songs provided an experience you can’t have with a printed book. This audio memoir was for me, a private concert. This recording is part of a new series, Words+Music, Audible’s musical storytelling initiative. With other exclusive music biographies by Tom Morello, Common, St. Vincent, Sheryl Crow, and T Bone Burnett, I hope other audio publishers will begin providing similar recordings.
Friday Reads: Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In, by Phuc Tran
I love memoirs. Not only do they offer readers insight into what it’s like to live lives different from their own, they also remind us of how much we humans have in common. That’s definitely the case with Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In, by Vietnamese American teacher, writer, and tattoo artist Phuc Tran.
In 1975, when Tran was one, his family fled the fall of Saigon and wound up resettled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In Sigh Gone, Tran describes what it was like growing up as a member of “the token refugee family” (2) in town. As one can imagine, it included schoolyard taunts and name-calling, and, when out in public with his family, the discomfort of always sticking out.
Tran also describes the resentment he felt toward his parents over what he saw, at the time, as their cultural and English language failings: “I needed to trust in my dad’s ability to navigate the world at large, and I was already doubting him. . . . Five-year-olds were supposed to believe what their parents said. Maybe some kids’ parents still had the golden nimbus of infallibility, but not my parents and not for me” (16).
Going forward, Tran chronicles his relentless efforts to assimilate. By high school, his two-pronged strategy included pursuit of academic excellence and successful integration into the punk/skater subculture. Of the later, he writes, “[b]eing a freak because of my weird clothes and hair was a respite. These were things that I had chosen . . . Fighting rednecks because you were a punk was far better than fighting because you were Asian, and fighting with allies was far better than fighting alone” (6).
So why did this book resonate with me? For one, Tran’s depiction of high school, with its cliques and angst—a “cultural cul-de-sac built with the craftsman blueprint of John Hughes, the Frank Lloyd Wright of teen malaise” (2)—is viscerally familiar. His description of his job as a library page also warmed my librarian’s heart, as did his discovery and adoption of Clifton Fadiman’s The Lifetime Reading Plan, which he stumbled on while prepping for the library’s used book sale.
Though the Plan, was “unapologetically American, classist, and white” (4), Tran could not have cared less at the time; it served as a catalyst for his burgeoning love of literature–which the English major in me appreciated. He also viewed the Plan as his entrée to the world of big ideas that can connect people across time, geography, and culture—which is what Tran, himself, has accomplished with this memoir. Sigh, Gone concludes right after Tran graduates from high school, just as he’s poised to head off to Bard College, which had described itself to him in its admissions literature as “A Place to Think” (267). So fitting!
I first picked up this book because I was drawn to the cover art and soft, muted color scheme, but also because I’m a sucker for historical fiction. I expected a straight forward period romance, boy meets girl, boy goes to war, there’s pining, an injury, and a happily ever after. Don’t get me wrong, there is some of the expected, but let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised by this novel’s unexpected plot and characters.
It all starts with a torrid affair between gods, Aphrodite and Ares to be exact. Then turns into two love stories the goddess orchestrated during the last World War. The author introduces us to interesting characters from different walks of life, weaving their stories together for the reader. Berry dives in to overlooked parts of World War I history like the roles of black American soldiers, James Reese Europe’s introduction of Jazz to France, and YMCA volunteer work to name a few. I really appreciated the appendix and bibliography included at the end of the book. They let the reader know which parts of the story are factual and expand on those issues. Berry also includes references to nonfiction works that she used, so the reader can keep learning.
This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.
Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!
Berry, Julie. Lovely War. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2019.
YALSA Announces the 2020 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers List
YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the list on January 8, 2020 on their blog, The Hub. You will see the committee also chose a “top ten” out of the 64 titles on the final list.
One of the titles selected as a top ten of the list is the graphic novel Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, a Nebraska author. Deja and Josiah (who goes by Josie) are great friends and have worked together each fall at the pumpkin patch. This is the last day of their last fall together. Deja is determined to get Josie to talk to his four-year crush – the Fudge Girl. He is reluctant. This final evening is a whirlwind of hitting different parts of the Patch trying to find his crush. They encounter a snack-thief, a runaway goat, the maze, lots of chances to eat, all as Josie suffers anxiety about actually talking to Fudge Girl. As School Library Journal (8/1/19) says, “The characters in this graphic novel are so expressive and authentic, it’s impossible not to love them…the dialog is cute, funny, and punny…”
Ms. Rowell notes in the back of the book that the Pumpkin Patch in the novel is fictional. However, illustrator Faith Erin Hicks did travel to Omaha to join Rainbow Rowell in a visit to her favorite Omaha pumpkin patch. There is a fun conversation between them at the back of the book.
(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers. After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)
Coding is no secret. In fact, there’s an almost paralyzing amount of information available to people. So much that it can be difficult to decide where to start and where to go next. Knowledge of computers and technology is rapidly becoming vital to life, but many people don’t have a computer science or technology background. And that’s okay.
In 2017, the American Library Association (ALA) and Google saw this and partnered together to make Libraries Ready to Code. Librarians and educators from 30 different libraries worked on their own project to decide what “coding” means to them and how to best introduce it to their own communities. The result is s set of tools that has been made freely available to us all.
This resource is geared towards all experience levels, so you can filter resources by experience level: “I’m Getting Started”, “I’ve Had Some Practice”, and “I’m Experienced”. Some of these resources are further divided into subject categories like art and fashion, while others are parceled out by recommended age range. Either way, this resource is a great place to connect K-12 students with computational thinking and “coding” skills.
But keep in mind that this is just a drop in the bucket of what is available. Not everyone learns the same way either. Feel free to look to these learning tools as inspiration to build your own. Think of Libraries Ready to Code as a starting point on the long road towards future-ready technology.
Keep an eye out for students who devour every resource on this list, then ask for more. Ask them what they want to learn, then do a little digging to find out which resources you need to make it happen. You might not know every line of code that makes a product work, but you can connect interested students with the information they need to learn.
At one time, information took the form of books and journal articles. Now that information may appear in a Raspberry Pi or YouTube video. It’s time to curate our ever-changing resources. But do yourself a favor and don’t try to learn every bit of technology on the planet. You would be in for a world of hurt.
Start asking students to teach as they learn. There is no telling what people are capable of when given the tools to learn. Take a look at this Virtual Reality headset and software built by a group of high school students in France. Their passion was to make technology accessible to all income levels. They learned more thoroughly with the intent to teach. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, machine learning and more are all at our fingertips.
Technology is not slowing down, and neither are libraries. We can work together to curate resources and pave the way towards a better future.
Old McDonald has nothing on this week’s #BookFaceFriday!
“The Last Farmer: An American Memoir” by Howard Kohn (Bison Books, 2004) is a great read, even if you’re just a farm kid at heart. This memoir is based on Howard Kohn’s father, his last few seasons working the farm that they both were raised on. Kohn, a former editor at Rolling Stone, digs into the gritty details of his father’s story and the only way of life he ever knew. As part of our permanent collection it’s available for check out to anyone. Just ask our amazing Information Services staff! This title is published by the Bison Books, and imprint of University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program.
“A stunning portrait. . . . Kohn went looking for one story—his father’s—only to find his own.”—Chicago Tribune
Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!
This title came to my attention on July 1st aka Canada Day as the daily special from Audible. I was intrigued, downloaded the title, and eagerly began listening. It helps that the author of whom I have long been a fan reads this title.
Myers begins with the premise that Canada lacks a mission statement. The country promises to provide good government and a safe place to live but is that enough? The inevitable comparisons to life in the United States make up a great deal of content. He compares regional colloquialisms, health care, the love of hockey, and the government supported CBC to their American counterparts. The United States does not propagate information about Canada so there may be many episodes in Canadian history that will be new information. To drive this point home, when my curiosity was piqued for the Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I looked for books to read more about him from my local library, but there were none.
Mike Myers was born to two Liverpudlian parents who immigrated to Canada for better employment opportunities. English parents making a life in Canada caused a clash of culture. Mike shares how the values of his parents and the humor of his brothers Peter and Paul shaped his worldview and brand of comedy. One of the attributes of his father in often-difficult situations was a non-rhetorical question of “how can we make this funny?”
Mike shares how his character Wayne Campbell (Wayne’s World) is a quintessential Canadian creation, specifically from the Scarborough district of Montreal, dissecting everything from his language to his name. Other Saturday Night Live characters also owe their origin to Mike’s Canadian and British upbringing. With Canadian, British, and United States Citizenship, it’s clear that Mike Myers is a very proud Canadian patriot despite being an expatriate.
Myers, Mike (2016) Canada. Doubleday Canada
I heard Celeste Ng speak at a United for Libraries hosted author event a few years ago. At the same event, I received an advance copy of her book, Little Fires Everywhere. I enjoyed her remarks but I wasn’t especially interested in reading the book. The book has received a lot of attention since its publication. It is included on many best books of 2017 lists and it is now among three books on Lincoln City Libraries short list for One Book One Lincoln voting. During a recent and long road trip, I had a chance to listen to the audio version of Ng’s book. I wasn’t disappointed.
Little Fires Everywhere begins with a house on fire and speculation about who is to blame. At the top of the list is the youngest family member – a non-conforming teen rebel. But did she do it and, if so, why? The setting is Shaker Heights, Ohio, and the story evolves from the developing relationships among members of two families – one long rooted in the community and prosperous, and the other (a mother and daughter) impoverished and living day to day under uncertain circumstances. Central are the two mothers – Elena Richardson, a local news reporter, mother of four and a well-connected community member, and Mia Warren, a mysterious artist and single mother of one. Connections evolve and conflict emerges as a result of the attempted adoption of a Chinese-American baby and an ensuing custody battle. In the background is Elena Richardson’s effort to uncover Mia Warren’s true identity.
Lincoln’s three books selected for the all community read are all excellent choices. Celeste Ng’s book is worthy and notable. If chosen, it will make an interesting read and a great source for conversation.
Little Fires Everywhere is Celeste Ng’s second novel. Her debut book is, Everything I Never Told You, an award winning best seller.
Ng, Celeste. Little fires everywhere. (New York: Penguin Press) 2017.
I became motivated to reread this book when I looked at the booklist for The Great American Read program and realized that it had been about forty years since I first encountered this classic “Coming of Age” story.
With Bless Me, Ultima (1972), the first in a trilogy (followed by the publication of Heart of Aztlan in 1976 and Tortuga in 1979), Anaya follows six-year-old Antonio on his growing-up journey and spins the story by revealing dreams and reality—and blurring the fine line between them from time to time. Anaya says he does not seek characters—they just come to him. So it is with Ultima. Anaya says she appeared in the doorway while he was writing and assured him that the story will not work unless he put her in it. Ultima is a pivotal character in the story. She is a curandera—a healer and teacher, and she guides Antonio gently without prescribing exact choices to make or solutions to problems.
From the first dream sequence to the last (you’ll recognize them, they are in italics), it is clear that Antonio was born to struggle and that his path is marked by having his feet in two different worlds. Throughout the book, he is faced with tests. Some are common tests of childhood, like how to overcome the loneliness of feeling different. Others are extremely unusual and painful tests for a young person to endure and learn from. I feel like this book has resonated with so many readers because even though we may live in different worlds, many of us can really relate to his experience. Are we all on the same journey as Antonio? Struggling to understand good and evil around (and within) us? But are some of us especially lost with no guides or curanderas to show us the way?
The setting and characters ring true to me. The book mirrors my experience in small towns in New Mexico right down to my best friend Lenora’s grandmother—who might very well be the model for Antonio’s mother—speaking only Spanish, warning us against straying to the city (too late—we were already on our way to LA), and feeding us the most heavenly comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The story is told in flat-out beautiful writing, and unless you read the book, you’ll just have to take my word for it that this book has one of the best first paragraphs ever! So I’d suggest you (and your book group) find out for yourselves. This #FridayReads feature is available as a Book Club kit from the Nebraska Library Commission at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub.
The Great American Read is an eight-part PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, in the context of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen through a national survey). It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience. Voting for America’s favorite book opened with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode on May 22 and continues throughout the summer, leading up to the grand finale “favorite” announcement in October 2018. Viewers can vote at pbs.org/greatamericanread and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter using #GreatReadPBS. I think I might be voting for Bless Me Ultima. Which book will you vote for?
Review by Mary Jo Ryan.
All 5-year-old Mike wanted from life was to go to Disney World. One day, his dad packed him in the car, drove him to an abandoned shipyard, and told him that The Happiest Place on Earth must have closed. That was the day that ol’ Mike Muñoz realizes that life will be a constant disappointment, and just when you think you’re going to get what you want, it will all be taken away.
Today, Mike is a 22-year-old landscaper (although he prefers the title “topiary artist” for his skills with the hedge-trimmers). He still lives with his mom and his developmentally disabled brother, their dad long gone to parts unknown. He drives a junky car, always one step away from engine failure, and still hangs out with his high school buddy, neither of them with any romantic prospects on the horizon.
When Mike loses his landscaping job for refusing to pick up dog poo, he is determined to do whatever it takes to break free of his hand-to-mouth existence and chase the American Dream, perhaps writing “the great American landscaping novel” along the way. And so begins a series of unfortunate events that will be all too familiar to anyone who has ever tried to escape from the cycle of poverty that holds down a good portion of our society. Though angry and resentful about his lot in life, Mike keeps his sense of humor, even as “The Man” takes everything else away.