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Author Archives: Mary Jo Ryan
Nebraska public libraries are invited to apply to host rotating makerspaces as part of the Library Innovation Studios: Transforming Rural Communities project. The Nebraska Library Commission along with partners University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension, and Regional Library Systems, are excited about the project, which was recently awarded a National Leadership Grant of $530,732 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The project, which will begin July 1, 2017 and conclude June 30, 2020, uses Library Innovation Studios (makerspaces) hosted by thirty public libraries to support community engagement and participatory learning experiences by providing access to technological and innovative learning tools not readily accessible locally. This strengthening of the maker culture in Nebraska communities is expected to stimulate creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to facilitate entrepreneurship, skill development, and local economic development.
Accredited Nebraska public libraries with a legal service area of less than 25,000 are eligible to apply. The deadline for the first application cycle—to identify twelve to twenty participating libraries—is July 10, 2017. The balance of the participating libraries are expected to be selected in an application process sometime in 2018. For more information see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/grants/InnovationStudios/ or watch the recorded NCompass Live webinar at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgId=16370.
Every time I think about this book, I have to smile. That must be why I decided to review it for this edition of Friday Reads. It certainly wasn’t because everyone I know that read it loved it. Quite the contrary, most of my book group was indifferent or somewhat negative. But it’s a book that really got a lot of conversation going. And since I’m not the writer of the book, I prefer that to overwhelming acclaim.
The story is told in the voice of Mary Frances Lombard, who at the beginning of the book is twelve years old and growing up on a family apple orchard. As the narrator, her voice rings loud and true for a precocious teen growing up in an increasingly endangered, changing rural area. Since she speaks in the voice of a teenage girl—not an adult looking back on her teenage self—she isn’t always the most pleasant character. But what teenager is? Mary Frances is full of ideas and plans. And for a young person, she is inordinately concerned about her future. Will she be able to stay on the farm? Will her brother be her business partner? Will a host of relatives and interlopers take over and push them out? And in the short term, will she win the Geography Bee and travel to Washington, DC to represent the state and bring glory to her family and her beloved teacher?
Since Mary Frances’ mom is the town librarian, librarian readers of this book will find that some of it is quite familiar. There’s plenty of realistic library customers, circulation desk kibitzing, and even a library book cart drill team drama in the story.
The land is a real character in this book—beautifully drawn and complicated, described as stunning and romantic yet brutally conflicted. In this book, the characters take center stage. I loved watching them grow and change over time. If you want a hard-driving storyline and plot, this might not be the book for you. If you can sit in a foreign film and just watch the visual beauty unfold on the screen, forgetting to read the subtitles, then you might like this book. One thing is certain, the writing is so good that you might just be stopped in the middle of the page to ponder what you just read (e.g., p. 46: “Time, we could see, was beginning to run as if it were leading somewhere, as it had not exactly done when we were very small, time occurring back then only in bursts.”). I highly recommend this book, especially if you want lots of discussion at your book club.
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton, Grand Central Publishing, 2016
Review by Mary Jo Ryan
Library and Information Services (LIS) class registration is now open at Central Community College for Summer and Fall 2017 classes, see www.cccneb.edu/library
Summer 2017 – May 22 to July 27
- Reference Resources and Services, with Marty Magee, Instructor. This course provides a background on professional competencies, ethical responsibilities, and the reference interview as well as effective use of print and digital resources including databases and websites.
Fall 2017 – August 21 to December 15
Foundations of Library and Information Services, with Marty Magee, Instructor. This course provides introductory information in multiple areas including the history of libraries, foundational principles, databases and websites, library technology use, programming, and changing library roles.
Leadership and Management in Library and Information Agencies, with Michael Straatmann, Instructor. This course includes the theories, concepts, and activities integral to leading and managing 21st Century libraries and information agencies.
Library and Information Services Capstone Practicum, with Erica Rose, Instructor. This course is the capstone course, the last in the Library and Information Services curriculum, and includes a review of principle pieces of learning from the LIS program. Students will complete 40 hours of service learning in a host library.
For information concerning Admissions or Registration, contact: Dee Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-562-1418 or Toll Free: 877-222-0780.
If you have ever wondered how a book becomes a talking book, you can find out in the most recent edition of the NCB News from the Nebraska Center for the Book. The Nebraska Library Commission’s Talking Book and Braille Service creates audio versions of print materials for the use of Nebraskans with a visual or physical condition or a reading disability that limits the use of regular print. The activities of staff and volunteers throughout the process of mapping, narration, review, postproduction, markup, and duplication are described in an article in the Spring 2017 NCB News (page 9 at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/docs/publications/NCBNewsSpring2017.pdf). For more information see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/tbbs/. To volunteer as a narrator, contact Annette Hall, Volunteer Services Coordinator, 402-471-4033, 800-742-7691, email.
Beginning in the Fall of 2017, the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) at Emporia State University will be offering classes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The program is accredited by the American Library Association and offers a two-year, 36-credit-hour Master of Library Science degree that prepares students for careers as information professionals in all types of libraries and information agencies–public, academic, school, corporate, private, government, and special libraries.
Seven core courses are offered in a blended format, with some online coursework and some face-to-face time with professors. The face-to-face time is accomplished during weekend intensives, with classes held on Friday nights from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Each core course requires two face-to-face weekends per semester. Most electives are in online format. Face-to-face classes will be held at Augustana University or Siouxland Libraries. Apply by July 1, 2017. For more information, contact Kathie Buckman at email@example.com or 620-341-5065 or see https://www.emporia.edu/news/03/15/2017/get-your-mls-in-south-dakota/?
Nebraska Public Libraries Participate in IMLS Internet2® Pilot Program to Assess Rural Library Broadband
During the first week of March, three Nebraska Public Libraries had a unique experience, participating in kick-off site visits for a pilot program funded by a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant was awarded to Internet2®, a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2® provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research, and community service missions.
Public library directors and staff in the Nebraska communities of Valley, Walthill, and Wymore each spent an afternoon with two state employees who are the technical advisors for the site visits to the five Nebraska libraries. Library staff and technical advisors examined the details of each library’s broadband profile. Susannah Spellman from Internet2® participated in site visits to the public libraries in Valley and Wymore. Susannah said, “We are delighted to partner with the Nebraska Library Commission and Network Nebraska to pilot the IMLS-funded Broadband Toolkit. Being able to leverage the library technology expertise of the Nebraska Library Commission, especially from their Library Broadband Builds Nebraska Communities BTOP grant, and the broadband and E-Rate expertise of Network Nebraska delivers an even more powerful learning experience for the library staff involved in the pilot.”
The Toolkit is designed to help library staff assess and evaluate their library’s broadband connection. Topic areas include: how broadband is delivered to the library; the library’s broadband provider; and infrastructure details including inside wiring, types of devices connecting the libraries network, age of wiring and devices, and reliability of the library network (availability and speed). The Toolkit includes links to online resources and a glossary to help guide the staff through the assessment activities. As staff work through the assessment with the technical advisors, they identify quick fixes and long-range plans that are summarized in a customized Broadband Improvement Plan for the library.
All three of the pilot libraries appreciated having an opportunity to learn about the status of the broadband in their libraries and identify improvements that can be made immediately (and in the long term) to better serve the library and their community
“The information in the Toolkit that we received will help us learn and prepare to become a bigger and better community hot spot. We were presented with resources, hands-on demos, suggestions, and best of all—a timeline to accomplish what will help us improve and be a better asset to our community,” said Janet Roberts, Library Director, Wymore Public Library.
Additional site visits are planned for the public libraries in Atkinson and Gering at the end of March.
Internet2® was awarded a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant of $248,725 from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Internet2® will pilot a project to develop a broadband network assessment Toolkit and training program for rural and tribal libraries in partnership with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums; the American Library Association; the Association of Rural and Small Libraries; the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies; and Internet2® member research and education networks. The pilot will include more than thirty library practitioners in at least 30 rural public and tribal libraries across five states, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The Toolkit will provide training for librarians to advance their understanding of and advocacy for broadband infrastructure in their libraries and will be developed to address library-specific broadband technology and infrastructure needs.
When a fan approaches the autobiography of a rock star, the bar is set pretty high. And with Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, I thought the high bar was reached and sailed over. I didn’t really know what to expect. I always thought the real Bruce was probably a combination of the characters that shine out from his songs, but of course that’s an oversimplification. The character that comes off the pages of this book does have a lot in common with the characters that are seen in the narratives in his music. But Bruce Springsteen is a multi-layered guy and he is complicated. He is the real deal, for sure. He came up on the streets of New Jersey and early Greenwich Village, and his reflections on those early days (and what came later) take the reader into a slice of America that goes well beyond voyeuristic star gazing. When he says, “The grinding hypnotic power of this ruined place and these people would never leave me,” (in reference to his hometown) you can bet it won’t be leaving the reader soon either.
This book was written over seven years in several drafts and redrafts. Springsteen likens the process of writing the book to song-writing. That comparison isn’t lost on this reader. He writes the book in the same cool, clean voice that brought us “In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream / At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines.” The pages of this book ring just as true as the lyrics to the Springsteen songs that this fan listened to over and over on a front porch in Nebraska on hot summer nights.
I was also struck by the fact that for an autobiography there is a ton of rich, juicy detail about the others on this journey with him. His family is finely drawn and very interesting. And there is lots of intel on the cast of characters that made up his bands through the years. For me, Stevie Van Zandt (think stellar musician and one of the central members of the Sopranos cast) and the late sax great Clarence Clemons are tremendously compelling characters that really help paint the picture of Springsteen. Knowing more about his close relationships really rounds out the reader’s understanding of who “The Boss” really is. You’ll love this book if you ever sang along to “We gotta get out while we’re young / `Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” Even if you didn’t, this autobiography is worth your time.
Review by Mary Jo Ryan
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Simon & Schuster, 2016
Accredited public libraries are invited to submit a proposal for a 2017 Nebraska Library Commission Internship Grant. Apply now to receive up to $1,000 to fund a high school or college intern in 2017. The final deadline to submit your application is Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Interns bring a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm to Nebraska library services–and as you can see in this photo of the Atkinson Public Library’s 2016 intern, they are often invaluable as library programming assistants.
Details about the 2017 Nebraska Library Internship Grant Program are available at: http://nowhiringatyourlibrary.nebraska.gov/Internships.asp For more information contact: JoAnn McManus, Grants Program Manager, 402-471-4870 or 800-307-2665.
In Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, Tom Robbins assures us that we are not getting his autobiography or his memoir. What we are getting is a delightful collection of stories, vignettes, memories, and strange—but charming—non-sequiturs from a writer that can just flat-out write. If you grew up in the sixties, you know Tom Robbins from the irreverent, witty, wacky, bestselling novels that he wrote and that readers (me included) devoured the week they were released. With Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All, Still Life with Woodpecker (to list a few), Robbins showed a whole generation of counterculture youth the power of words when the writer has the skill to mix sharp wit with dramatic tales.
The stories in Tibetan Peach Pie are presented more or less chronologically, starting from accounts of Robbins’ exploits as a little tyke (nicknamed Tommy Rotten by his mom) in rural Appalachia during the Depression, and moving through a series of careers and numerous marriages that took him on a journey from U.S. Air Force recruit to beatnik, to hippie, to world traveler—all the time observing and writing about his observations. Especially entertaining for me was the section on his stint in Omaha while working for Strategic Air Command and discovering the art scene at the Joselyn Museum and the jazz scene at the Red Lion Inn.
If you read his novels, knowing more about his life at the time the books were written is a bonus. If you’ve not read his novels, just enjoy the ride.
#FridayREADS Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins ( Ecco Reprint Edition, 2015)
Library and Information Services class registration is now open at Central Community College for Fall 2016: August 22, 2016 – December 16, 2016.
- Foundations of Library and Information Services, with Marty Magee, Instructor. This course provides introductory information in multiple areas including the history of libraries, foundational principles, databases and websites, library technology use, programming, and changing library roles.
- Leadership and Management in Library and Information Agencies, with Michael Straatmann, Instructor. This course includes the theories, concepts and activities integral to leading and managing 21st Century libraries and information agencies.
For information concerning Admissions or Registration, contact: Dee Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-562-1418 or Toll Free at 877-222-0780
This stunning collection of short stories illuminates the human condition—warts and all! “Runaway,” the title story, is such a carefully crafted examination of three flawed humans that when I reached the end I sucked in my breath, put the book down, and debated whether to pick it back up again to read the next story. Eventually I did and I’m so glad I did, but I did need a little time to catch my breath.
“Powers,” divided into five sections, uses diary entries and letters to tell the story in the real, genuine voices of the characters. We meet these characters over a period of time and the interplay between them really shows the depths of their personalities and their true natures. The story shows a lifelong journey toward self-awareness, but do they make it to the destination?
One set of stories— “Chance,” “Soon” and “Silence,” —allows us to peek in on the protagonist’s life at various stages. Together these three stories give such a complete detailed picture of her that readers feel like we know her very well, even though we’ve only seen her through three short vignettes. As with all these stories, we may get to know ourselves a little better as we reflect on her feelings and reactions to key incidents in her life.
Munro’s skill as a writer is so evident in all of these stories. She is never manipulative, always presenting straight-forward and minimalist prose. And did I mention stunning? In 2013, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature for “Dear Life: Stories” (Vintage, 2012), another book that demonstrates why she is considered by many to be the “best short-story writer in English today.”
Spoiler Alert (especially for my Bookclub): If you are into happy endings, they are not to be found in this book. But even though the stories are dark, the prose is so light that they are not depressing—just sad. But I promise you’ll be thinking about these characters and their stories long after you finish the book.
Developed and presented by Libby Post of Communication Services, the Library Campaign Training Institute will teach attendees how to create, market, and implement an effective advocacy campaign for your library.
(Note: Registration is mandatory, and “seats” in the virtual room are first-come, first serve. All four hour sessions will be recorded and archived for future viewing; registrants will be sent a link after each session to watch the recorded webinar. Thanks in advance for understanding!)
Part 1: Building your Base – July 14, 2016, 12:00, CST
This workshop makes the connection between program and services outreach and building a library’s base of support for advocacy. This workshop details:
- Using recent research as well as preparing public service return on investment calculations.
- How to map a community.
- Options for program development – examples used are the Recreation market and local elected officials.
- Connection between customer service and advocacy.
- Use of social media.
- Managing data.
- Using volunteer messengers.
Part 2: The Best Defense is a Good Offense – July 21, 2016, 12:00, CST
This workshop provides participants with the knowledge needed to:
- Create a campaign plan.
- Recruit volunteer leadership.
- Detail roles and responsibilities.
Part 3: Message, Marketing, & Media – July 28th, 2016, 12:00, CST
This workshop walks participants through:
- How to develop a campaign message using values and emotional branding.
- Integrating that message into campaign outreach.
- Public presentations.
- Using the media to advance the message.
Part 4: Connecting with YES Voters + Part 5: Get out the Vote (Immediately following Part 4): August 4, 2016, 12:00, CST
This workshop details the nuts and bolts of a library field operation including:
- Targeting through using enhanced voter files.
- Phone Banking/Direct Mail/Social Media/Email/Voter Tracking
This workshop brings the previous four together with the ultimate goal of reaching out to Yes voters and getting them to the polls.
Nebraska’s Champions of Literacy and Literature Deserve an Award! The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines award (n.) as “something (such as a prize) that is given to someone or something for being excellent or for doing something that is admired.” Each year the Nebraska Center for the Book honors individuals and organizations that we greatly admire with awards for their “excellent” support of Nebraska reading and writing. Do you know an organization that has demonstrated this by providing “excellent” literacy services? (HINT: It’s fine to nominate your own organization.)
The Nebraska Center for the Book is accepting nominations to honor Nebraska’s champions of literacy. Awards will be presented at the Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 29 at the Nebraska History Museum in downtown Lincoln. The Jane Geske Award is presented annually to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Pope Geske was a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book, former director of the Nebraska Library Commission, and a long-time leader in Nebraska library and literary activities. The award is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, and is supported by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress as part of the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program.
Nominations will be accepted until August 15. For more information see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards.html. Nominations forms are available at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/nominationforms.html or contact Rod Wagner, Nebraska Library Commission Director, 402-471-4001, 800-307-2665.
Nebraska libraries are invited to join libraries across the country in celebrating Money Smart Week® April 23-30, 2016. Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. This is achieved through the collaboration and coordinated effort of hundreds of organizations across the country. Classes, activities, events, and programming will be offered to all demographics and income levels and will cover all facets of personal finance. Resources for local events are available at http://www.moneysmartweek.org/resources.
The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in partnership with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation, recently announced that fifty public libraries will host a new traveling exhibition, Thinking Money. Two are located in Nebraska: Morton-James Public Library in Nebraska City and Lincoln City Libraries. Through an adventure-themed storyline, interactive iPad content and other fun activities, the exhibition explores themes like wants vs. needs, preparing for a rainy/sunny day and imagining your future self.
Comment below to share what your library is doing to help the people in your community find the information they need to improve their financial decisions.
- Foundations of Library and Information Services
- Reference Resources and Services
- Leadership and Management in Library and Information Agencies
For more information see: http://www.cccneb.edu/library, http://nowhiringatyourlibrary.nebraska.gov/LISFlyerSummerFall2016.pdf, or contact Dee Johnson at CCC, email@example.com or 402-562-1418 or 877-222-0780, extension 1418.
Saturday, May 21 is National Readathon Day, a day dedicated to the joy of reading and giving, when readers everywhere can join together in their local library, school, bookstore, and on social media (#Readathon2016) to read and raise funds in support of literacy. Nebraska libraries are invited to partner with the American Library Association (ALA), Penguin Random House, and libraries across the country by hosting events to benefit ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, a program that supports the early literacy development of children from birth to age five in libraries across the nation. For more information see http://www.readathonday.com/
If you know me, you will not be surprised to hear that I’m obsessed with a book about yoga. The thing is, it’s not just a book about yoga; it is THE book about yoga. I’ve borrowed it from (several) libraries dozens of times, bought it for myself and others, and talked about this book to so many people that, frankly, people are starting to drift away at cocktail parties when I bring it up. But since I assume that most of the readers of this post are librarians, I’ll continue on.
If you’ve appreciated the proliferation of yoga classes in contemporary culture, you might have this author to thank for it. Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.) Iyengar is considered the father of modern yoga and the teacher that opened the door to yoga to the Western world. Called “Guruji” by millions of devoted followers, he was honored with a Google doodle showing him in yoga poses last year on what would have been his 97th birthday to celebrate his practicing, teaching and writing about yoga for more than seventy-five years. It has been said that B.K.S. Iyengar could hold a headstand for nearly half an hour well into his eighties. He died in 2014 at the age of 95.
This book provides concise information on the history and philosophy of yoga, but the bulk of the book is devoted to photos and text on how to practice the classic yoga postures (asanas). The book promises: “Yoga is for everyone. You do not need to be an expert or at the peak of physical fitness to practice the asanas described in this book…This book focuses on techniques, so that even a beginner will have a thorough understanding of how to practice the asanas in order to obtain the maximum benefit. By using a few simple props, students with different capabilities can gradually build up strength, confidence, and flexibility without the threat of strain or injury.” And it delivers on this promise with step-by-step instruction on each asana, featuring photos from different angles. The instruction stresses proper alignment and breathing, with variations from beginner to advanced practitioner. The section on Yoga Therapy offers specific asanas to treat specific ailments by rejuvenating the body and then addressing the cause of the ailment. I can attest to the fact that I have come to the mat with a backache and left without it, but the book stresses the importance of steady, consistent, sequential practice—no quick fixes here.
Whether you only have one book on yoga in your collection, or dozens, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar, is one you’ll want to review. And the best way to review it is to try it out on the mat. Namaste…mjr
PS: If you wonder why I have had to borrow it from several libraries, it’s heavy (large format, 400+ pages, 4.2 pounds) and I don’t take it with me when I travel—but I can’t seem to go more than a few sessions on the mat without referring to it. So wherever I travel, I have to have it. Thank you public libraries across the country for loaning me this great book.
April is School Library Month: School Libraries Transform Learning–the perfect time to try out the new School Library Snapshot tool that you can use to tell your school library story to parents, administrators, elected officials, students, and community residents. School librarians are encouraged to use this tool to produce your own tailored infographic and create a visual representation of how your library aligns with provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), from providing information literacy instruction to working with teachers and hosting enrichment activities. Please share them with us by commenting below and including your infographic in the comment. The tool was made available by the Office for Library Advocacy (OLA), in collaboration with American Association of School Librarians (AASL). More information is available at http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2016/03/ala-and-aasl-introduce-school-library-snapshot-tool.
Online Course Offerings: January 11, 2016 – May 5, 2016
LIBR 2150 Managing Collections in Libraries and Information Agencies,
Patty Birch, Instructor
This course will provide students with an understanding of managing collections in libraries and information agencies, including:
- Basics of Collection Management (terminology, models)
- 21st Century Literacies
- Selection (All resources, for all age levels)
- Intellectual Freedom
Suggested prerequisite: LIBR 1010 Foundations of Library & Information Services. For information regarding course content, contact the instructor: Patty Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
LIBR 2210 Cataloging and Classification, Ruth Carlock, Instructor
This course will include theories, concepts and activities for cataloging and classifying materials in the 21st Century. It includes the following topics:
- The bibliographic record
- Sears and Library of Congress subject headings
- Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems
- The MARC record
- Resource Description and Access Instructions
Suggested prerequisite: LIBR 1010 Foundations of Library & Information Services
For information regarding this course, contact the instructor: Ruth Carlock, email@example.com
For information concerning Admissions or Registration, contact: Dee Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-562-1418 or 877-222-0780 ext. 1418.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin Books, 2014) What reader doesn’t love a story set in a bookstore? …especially a quirky, little independent bookshop in a purple Victorian cottage on Alice Island where the faded sign reads:
Alice Island’s Exclusive Provider of
Fine Literary Content since 1999
No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World
Within the first ten pages of this book, the reader is transported to a place where time is trying to stand still, but of course it won’t. We are immediately introduced to a curmudgeonly bookshop proprietor (A.J Fikry), an eager young publishing representative (Amelia Loman), and a tragic set of circumstance that creates tension between the two of them from the beginning. Fikry is reeling from the loss of his beloved wife and he’s not really coping with his grief and loss. The store isn’t exactly thriving either. We meet Fikry just as his life is about to change dramatically. He suffers another devastating loss and gains a reason to live in the space of a few short weeks.
As the story unfolds, we meet more of the residents of Alice Island and the characters in this book are very well written, interesting, and endearing—with lots of juicy dialog between them. We come to care about them and their community and it goes without saying, we are rooting for Fikry to pull himself together. The writing is clever and crisp and I love a good convention in a book and this one has one—each chapter is introduced with a short book review suitable for a printed shelf-talker. Sometimes it takes until the end of the chapter to figure out what the review had to do with the action in the chapter, but that just makes it more fun. A side benefit of this setup is that I got a bunch of recommendations of books to read.
This is a great selection for a book club, makes a great gift for a reader in your life, and I promise it’s a page-turner.
Mary Jo Ryan