Author Archives: Aimee Owen

#BookFaceFriday – “Komi Can’t Communicate” by Tomohito Oda

Is our quiet #BookFaceFriday coolly aloof…or just super awkward?

This #BookFaceFriday is also this week’s Friday Read’s post by our Youth Services Coordinator Sally Snyder! Read all about the first volume in this Manga series in her review.

“The journey to 100 friends begins with a single conversation.” book cover

This week’s #BookFace model is Library Development Staff Assistant, Linda Babcock!

Love this #BookFace & reading?  Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Dracula” by Bram Stoker

Velcome to #BookFaceFriday!

Grab your garlic and wooden stakes, we’re wrapping up October with this classic tale of horror (Puffin Classics, 1994, first published 1897). Written as a series of journal entries and letters, it tells the story of the quest to destroy the evil Count Dracula and end his reign of terror.

“Those who cannot find their own reflection in Bram Stoker’s still-living creation are surely the undead .” New York Times Review of Books

This week’s #BookFace model is our new TBBS Circulation Technician, Amy Irons!

Love this #BookFace & reading?  Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

It’s a well known fact that sisters have complicated relationships, possibly none more so than Korede and her younger sister Ayoola. Nurse Korede is hardworking, practical, and reliable, while her beautiful little sister is anything but. Charming and sweet, but ultimately selfish and unmotivated, Ayoola surrounds herself with those that will take care of her: men, friends, and Korede.

While she resents Ayoola’s easy and fun-filled life, Korede nevertheless continues to bail her sister out of every mess she gets into… including murder. Ayoola has killed the last 3 men she dated, calling her big sister to help her hide the evidence. Now, Ayoola has attracted the attention of Korede’s boss (and crush), head doctor Tade. Korede must decide if blood really is thicker than water (or just harder to clean up).

Braitwaite, Oyinkan. My Sister the Serial Killer. Doubleday, 2018.

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Friday Reads: “Pretend I’m Dead” and “Vacuum in the Dark” by Jen Beagin

I read a review for Vacuum in the Dark and discovered that it was the sequel to Jen Beagin’s 2015 debut novel, Pretend I’m Dead. The latter tells the story of Mona, a 24-year-old cleaning woman in Lowell, Massachusetts, who just can’t seem to find her place in the world. Mona volunteers at a clean-needle exchange, collects vintage vacuum cleaners, and has an inner-dialogue with NPR’s Terry Gross (“This is Fresh Air!”). After a doomed relationship with a junkie, she moves to Taos, New Mexico.

The rest of the novel, and the next book, follow Mona as she builds her house cleaning business in Taos (getting to know her clients in person and through their belongings; if you ever thought your cleaning person didn’t snoop, you’d be wrong). She makes poor decisions and weird friends, follows a man to Bakersfield, California, and confronts her past… and her future.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d suggest reading them in order. Neither is terribly long – about 240 pages each. If you enjoy gallows humor, quirky characters, and discussions of cleaning products, Mona is the anti-heroine you’ve been waiting for.

Beagin, Jen. Pretend I’m Dead. Northwestern University Press, 2015.
Beagin, Jen. Vacuum in the Dark. Scribner, 2019.

 

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#BookFaceFriday – The Dewey Decimal System of Love

This #BookFaceFriday has love down to a (library) science…

“For questions about love, and more particularly, inappropriate love, go the 306.7s.” If you’re searching your library’s catalog for a quick, funny, and perhaps slightly naughty, summer beach read, look no further than Josephine Carr’s “The Dewey Decimal System of Love” (New American Library, 2003).

“…a most bizarre, unpredictable and thoroughly delightful mess that keeps the pages turning and the laughs coming.” — Tampa Tribune

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Sauers, our Government Information Services Librarian. Mary knows all about love in the library – she married another librarian, former NLC Technology Librarian, and current Director of Technology at Do Space, Michael Sauers.

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!

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#BookFaceFriday “Prodigal Summer”

It’s a jungle out there, #BookFaceFriday fans!

Can’t you just feel the heat radiating from this rain forest setting? Oh, wait, that’s just the local weather! Set over the course of a particularly humid summer, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial, 2000) “weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia.” This title is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, along with several other titles by Kingsolver. It seemed like a perfect choice for this week’s bookface, as our local flora and fauna thrive (while the rest of us wilt) in the current heat and humidity!

A “blend of breathtaking artistry, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world, attention to detail, and ardent commitment to the supremacy of nature.” San Francisco Chronicle

This week’s #BookFace photo was taken on location in Costa Rica by our staff assistant, Kayla Henzel. Thank you Kayla, for your dedication to the #BookFace cause, even while off the clock!

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!

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#BookFaceFriday “Black Cherries”

This #BookFace seemed ripe for the picking…

Black Cherries by Grace Stone Coates (Bison Books, 2003) is a reprint of the original 1931 title. “In this series of linked stories the child narrator, Veve, cannot fathom all the mysteries of her family’s life together, but by watching and listening she pieces together a painful past.” This title is published by Bison Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state documents program.

Black Cherries is a work of genius, written in vital fluids, illuminated by lightening, quivering with truth.”—Statesman Journal, Salem, OK

This week’s #BookFace model is Tina Walker, director of the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont. She was visiting the Library Commission to present on our weekly NCompass Live webinar series. Check out her episode, Growing Partnerships Where Least Expected.

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!

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Beyond To Kill a Mockingbird

PBS recently posted this list of “10 books besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that tackle racial injustice” and I couldn’t help but notice that the Nebraska Library Commission has several of these titles in our book club kit collection.

If your class or book club would like to read any of these, click on the title to request the book set. Of course, we have To Kill a Mockingbird too!

Looking for other great book club reads? Check out our entire collection here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub/

 

 

 

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Nebraska Archives Online from the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries

“Archivists from the four University of Nebraska institutions have collaborated to launch
Nebraska Archives Online
, a database that provides access to finding-aids and guides for the university system’s archival and manuscript collections.

Through the work of the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries, Nebraska Archives Online meets a longstanding need to provide a one-stop portal to these collections. It’s a resource meant to engage the public’s curiosity and improve the research process for students and others with research needs. The materials in each of the NU archives are available for anyone to use.”

Read more about the database here:
https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/university-launches-nebraska-archives-online/

 

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#BookFaceFriday “Stoner”

This week’s #BookFaceFriday is kind of a bummer, man…

Does this #BookFace look familiar? You might recognize this cover from Sam Shaw’s recent Friday Reads post about “Stoner” by John Williams (NYRB Classics, 2006). Sam, our Planning and Data Coordinator, was gracious enough to pose for this week’s photo.

“A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life…I’m amazed a novel this good escaped general attention for so long.” —Ian McEwan

Friday Reads is a weekly book review series posted by Nebraska Library Commission staff. Former NLC staffer Laura Johnson created this series to model the idea of talking about books and to help readers get to know our staff a little better.  We hope that our book reviews will start a conversation about books among our readers and encourage others to share their own reviews and recommendations. Past Friday Reads are archived on the NCompass blog, or you can browse a list of reviews here.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura realized as a child that she was different from everyone else. Her classmates and teachers were increasingly dismayed by her behavior and her family desperately wanted her to be “cured” and become “normal.” Until Keiko found her job at the Smile Mart convenience store during university, she felt doomed to be the odd one out.

But at Smile Mart, the world makes perfect sense. She can follow the employee behavior manual, mimic the speech and dress of her co-workers, and everyone seems happy with her. Flash-forward 18 years; working part-time at a convenience store is no longer enough to keep her friends and family satisfied, and Keiko finds that it is time for a change.

This story gives some insight into the importance of conformity in Japanese culture; it is more important to Keiko’s friends and family that she meet societal expectations, to get married or find a real career path, than to live a content life as a misfit…even if that marriage is dysfunctional or the career makes her unhappy. Keiko must decide if she will do as others think she should… or be true to herself. A short read, this humorous yet heart-breaking tale may have you wondering who the misfits really are.

Murata, Sayaka. Convenience Store Woman. Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, Grove Press, 2018.

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Disaster Planning and Recovery

Taylor Nebraska Damaged BridgeAs the floodwaters begin to recede, many communities in our state are working to assess and repair the damage left behind. Staff at the Nebraska Library Commission and Regional Library Systems have been in contact with Nebraska libraries. With great relief, we have heard that minimal damage has been reported in the public libraries in affected areas; some wet carpet and a few flooded basements. Now those libraries can focus on helping their communities recover.

If your library is looking for information on disaster planning and materials preservation, check out our page of library-specific resources: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/preservation.aspx

If you are helping residents find information on disaster recovery, we have compiled this page of resources on NebraskAccess: http://nebraskaccess.nebraska.gov/emergency.asp

We are always updating our pages, so if you notice that we are missing a crucial resource, please reach out to us.

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#BookFaceFriday “Very Valentine”

If the shoe fits…

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani is the first book in the Valentine trilogy, and was an obvious choice for the week of Valentine’s Day! Love, travel, and shoes… what more could a girl ask for?

“With its vibrant cast of characters, its magical settings, and handmade shoes to die for Very Valentine is a sumptuous feast, a celebration of love and loss filled with Adriana Trigiani’s trademark heart and humour.” – from the back cover.

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Administrative and Communications Staff Assistant Kayla Henzel.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available at Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Miracle on 49th Street”

This week’s bookface was nothing but net!

Miracle on 49th Street by Mike Lupica is the story of professional basketball player Josh Cameron, who is suddenly confronted by 12-year-old Molly, the daughter he never knew he had. Molly has just lost her mother to cancer, and is shocked to discover that her father is none other than her favorite Celtics’ MVP. Now all she has to do is convince Josh that she’s telling him the truth…

“This novel is . . . an enjoyable read with interesting peeks into the world of professional basketball. It will appeal to young teen sports enthusiasts as well as kids just looking for a good story.” –VOYA

Today’s #BookFace model is an “oldie but a goodie!” Sue Biltoft is back with the NLC as our accountant. Sue returned to us in December after a few years off, and we are very happy she did!

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!

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#BookFaceFriday “The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist”

To #BookFace, perchance to dream…

“Poetry is all I have to give. I don’t know any other way to help.” Based on real-life abolitionist Gertrudis Gomez de Avellanda (Tula), Margarita Engle’s book of verse tells the story of a brave young woman who fought against her family’s expectations and spoke out against her country’s treatment of women and the practice of slavery. The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionistis a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is one of many YA selections that we have available. Reserve it for your book club today!

“An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers… Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.” – Kirkus Reviews

Today’s #BookFace model is one of our Talking Book & Braille Service reader advisors, Holly!

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!

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Friday Reads: Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss

My most vivid memory of second grade was trying to read a Sweet Valley Twins book under my desk during class, only to get caught and kept in from recess. This may have happened multiple times (sorry, Mrs. Wade). From the ages 8 to 12, I heavily favored the sort of books that Gabrielle Moss revisits in her new history of tween and teen fiction from the 1980s and ’90s, Paperback Crush.

Flipping through this book was a fun trip down memory lane, with stops along the way in Stoneybrook, CT, Sweet Valley, CA, and Shadyside, OH. Was it classic literature? Not in the slightest. But I would stalk the shelves of my local library or mall bookstore, just waiting for the latest installment of my series-du-jour.

I was surprised at how many titles/series I had forgotten about over the years. Sleepover Friends and Girl Talk, The Face on the Milk Carton, 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys; their plots had obviously wormed their way into my subconscious, judging by how many clubs I convinced friends to form and how fascinating the idea of having a twin was to tween-age me.

Moss has broken down the 80s/90s teen fiction genre into 7 broad themes (love, friends, family, school, jobs, danger, and terror) and covers the most popular books for each theme, and the knockoffs they inspired. Teen fiction during this time period certainly had its flaws: lack of diversity, corny plot-lines and cheesy cover art, neatly wrapped up endings, but it also fueled the girl-power movement and sparked a lifelong love of reading for many of us. These girls could do anything – take on the school bully, run for class president, deal with an annoying brother or divorcing parents, fight vampires… Interspersed throughout are interviews with authors such as Rhys Bowen, Caroline Cooney, and Christoper Pike, as well as a timeline of teen lit from the turn of the 20th century until more modern times.

If you ever started your own babysitter’s club, or asked yourself if you were an Elizabeth or a Jessica, I would recommend spending a couple of nostalgia-filled hours with this “totally radical” history book.

Moss, Gabrielle. Paperback Crush. Philadelphia, PA : Quirk Books. 2018.

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Friday Reads: (Another) Year in Review

As we begin the countdown to 2019, the Nebraska Library Commission is looking back at all the great books we’ve reviewed in 2018!

In our weekly blog series Friday Reads, a staff member at the Nebraska Library Commission posts a review of a book every Friday. Spanning all genres, from short stories to celebrity memoirs, young adult to crime fiction, we’ve shared what we’ve read and why we’ve read it.

Former NLC staffer Laura Johnson created this series to model the idea of talking about books and to help readers get to know our staff a little better. Readers advisory and book-talking are valuable skills for librarians to develop, but they are ones that take practice. We hope that our book reviews will start a conversation about books among our readers and encourage others to share their own reviews and recommendations.

The series has been going strong for 4 1/2 years and has produced over 200 reviews, which are archived on the NCompass blog, or you can browse a list of reviews here.

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Friday Reads: Short Story Binge

The Booklist Reader recently had a blog post about short stories that have been turned into feature films, leading with the announcement of a new film adaptation of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. My first thought was that it would be difficult to create a full-length movie out of such a  short story, but the more I sat with it, the more it made sense. After all, most movies based on books have to trim the story considerably to fit within the allotted time. With a short story, you can capture the entire plot, or even expand as needed, playing with pacing and visual and sound effects.

The list of short stories and their corresponding big screen treatment inspired me to pick up a few of the suggested titles, so I’ve been having my own “short-story-athon” this past month. Here are some of the collections I chose from Booklist Reader’s list that I would recommend for anyone looking for a break from 300+ page novels:

Stories Of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. A collection of science fiction and fantasy tales, the title story was the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro. The title story was adapted into Hateship Loveship with Kristen Wiig of SNL fame and is currently streaming on Netflix.

Short Cuts by Raymond Carver. Robert Altman adapted this collection for the screen, and he writes the introduction.

The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes. Tales of suburban life and how you never know what is happening behind closed doors. The movie didn’t get rave reviews, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. My library didn’t have the collection that this story is in (Close Range, one of three collections she wrote set in Wyoming), but I was able to listen to just Brokeback Mountain as an audio download during my commute one day. The movie stays very true to the story, and is a great example of why short stories make good films.

Love movies based on books? (Or hate ’em?). If you missed our recent NCompass Live discussion on the topic, you can catch it in the archives: Book Vs Movie: The Ultimate Showdown!

Chiang, Ted. Stories Of Your Life and Others. 2014. Audio.
Munro, Alice. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. 2001. Print.
Carver, Raymond. Short Cuts. 1993. Print.
Homes, A.M. The Safety Of Objects. 1990. Print.
Proulx, Annie. Brokeback Mountain. 2005. Audio.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Pope Joan”

#BookFace– the woman, the myth, the legend!

“For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die–Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter…in this riveting novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept.”

Pope Joan” by Donna Woolfolk Cross (Ballentine Books, 2009) is this week’s #BookFaceFriday selection. Based on the legend of the only women to hold the papal throne, it is the “dramatic story of a woman whose strength of vision led her to defy the social restrictions of her day”.   This novel a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and it’s the perfect choice for book clubs that like historical fiction.

Pope Joan has all the elements one wants in a historical drama–love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets. Cross has written an engaging book.”–Los Angeles Times Book Review

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is our interim director of the Western Library System, Kathy Terrell!

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!

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Friday Reads: Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

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.

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