Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: All In: An Autobiography, by Billie Jean King

Forty-eight years ago, on September 20, 1973, 90 million people worldwide watched top women’s tennis player, Billie Jean King, 29, defeat former champion, Bobby Riggs, 55, in the Battle of the Sexes. I was eight and not a sports fan, but King has been on my radar, at least peripherally, ever since.

Just because you know a few facts about someone doesn’t mean you really know them, though, so it’s been a delight listening to King narrate her recently released autobiography, All In. It’s a long listen—18 hours—but King provides an engaging, enlightening account of her lifelong fight for equal treatment and pay for women in sports. And the fact that I don’t understand or particularly care about tennis didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of the book one bit!

One surprising takeaway is just how early King’s sensitivity to injustice and inequality, along with her commitment to rooting it out, kicked in. As an athletic, sports-loving girl growing up in the 1950s, King regularly ran up against gender-based stereotypes and restrictions. They ranged from being yanked from a photo of junior tennis tournament participants for wearing shorts instead of a skirt, to watching top teen boy tennis players getting comped for meals at the Los Angeles Tennis Club while she, a top teen girl, ate brown-bag lunches from home, to being told at 15 that she’d be good because she was ugly. “Even if you’re not a born activist, life can damn sure make you one,” she says of these early experiences.

Though young, King’s own run-ins with gender-based slights and limitations sensitized her to race-based discrimination as well. In 1955, while attending a championship tournament at the Los Angeles Country Club, she was particularly struck by “how white everything was.” She had what she describes as an epiphany:

I told myself that day that I would spend my life fighting for equal rights and opportunities for everyone, so no one felt scorned or left out. I believed our church’s teaching that I was put on this earth to do good with my life. Now I had a better idea what my calling could be: I could bring people together through tennis. If I was good enough and fortunate enough to be No. 1 in the world, tennis would be my platform.

King achieved number 1 ranking in the world for the first time in 1966 (she’d go on to achieve it five additional times) and she stayed true to her calling–leveraging personal success to fight for social change. All athletic champions feel pressure to stay at the top of their game, but for King the stakes were higher than personal glory: “Unless I was number 1, I wouldn’t be listened to,” she’s stated. And to me, learning more about these fights for equal rights, especially what went on behind the scenes, was the most interesting and inspiring aspect of the book.

Here are just a few of the fights you’ll learn more about if you tackle All In:

  • In 1970, despite threats of suspension from the male-run tennis establishment, King, along with eight other women, signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis magazine, to create the first women’s pro tennis circuit.
  • King campaigned vigorously for equal tournament prize money for women tennis players who were paid significantly less than their male peers—sometimes by a margin of eight to one. The U.S. Open was the first major tournament to offer pay equity, in 1973, after King threatened to boycott, but Wimbledon didn’t come around until 2007.
  • When King started college in 1961 she’d already won her first Wimbledon championship, but no sports scholarships were forthcoming because she was a woman. Just over a decade later, King testified before Congress in support of Title IX. Passed in 1972, this legislation prohibited sex discrimination in all federally funded school programs, including sports. This meant schools had to start distributing athletic scholarship dollars equitably between male and female student athletes.

If you like inspiring reads that shows how much work goes into achieving incremental social progress, All In is definitely worth checking out!

King, Billie Jean, et al. All In: An Autobiography. Random House Audio, 2021. 

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What’s Sally Reading?

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.)

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state

documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in July and August 2021:

C’RONA Pandemic Comics, by Bob Hall, Judy Diamond, Liz VanWormer, and Judi M. Gaiashkibos.

C’RONA Pandemic Comics is a collection of short comics and essays developed to help youth understand the complexities of living through a viral pandemic. Each focuses on a different theme: the biology of the COVID-19 virus; the relationship of wild animals, particularly bats, to the pandemic; and the impact of the pandemic on tribal communities. Created by a group of artists, educators, tribe members, and scientists, this comic book provides an engaging way to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic from a cast of fictional characters—a parrot, a fox, a goat, a bat, a mouse, a coyote, and a ghost.

DEAR DIASPORA, by Susan Nguyen. Series: The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

Dear Diaspora is an unapologetic reckoning with history, memory, and grief. Parting the weeds on a small American town, this collection sheds light on the intersections of girlhood and diaspora. The poems introduce us to Suzi: ripping her leg hairs out with duct tape, praying for ecstasy during Sunday mass, dreaming up a language for buried familial trauma and discovering that such a language may not exist. Through a collage of lyric, documentary, and epistolary poems, we follow Suzi as she untangles intergenerational grief and her father’s disappearance while climbing trees to stare at the color green and wishing that she wore Lucy Liu’s freckles.

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Dear Diaspora scrutinizes our turning away from the trauma of our past and our complicity in its erasure. Suzi, caught between enjoying a rundown American adolescence and living with the inheritances of war, attempts to unravel her own inherited grief as she explores the multiplicities of identity and selfhood against the backdrop of the Vietnamese diaspora. In its deliberate interweaving of voices, Dear Diaspora explores Suzi’s journey while bringing to light other incarnations of the refugee experience.

DEATH OF THE SENATE : MY FRONT ROW SEAT TO THE DEMISE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY, by Ben Nelson.

Something is rotten in the U.S. Senate, and the disease has been spreading for some time. But Ben Nelson, former U.S. senator from Nebraska, is not going to let the institution destroy itself without a fight. Death of the Senate is a clear-eyed look inside the Senate chamber and a brutally honest account of the current political reality.

In his two terms as a Democratic senator from the red state of Nebraska, Nelson positioned himself as a moderate broker between his more liberal and conservative colleagues and became a frontline player in the most consequential fights of the Bush and Obama years. His trusted centrist position gave him a unique perch from which to participate in some of the last great rounds of bipartisan cooperation, such as the “Gang of 14” that considered nominees for the federal bench—and passed over a young lawyer named Brett Kavanaugh for being too partisan.

Nelson learned early on that the key to any negotiation at any level is genuine trust. With humor, insight, and firsthand details, Nelson makes the case that the “heart of the deal” is critical and describes how he focused on this during his time in the Senate. As seen through the eyes of a centrist senator from the Great Plains, Nelson shows how and why the spirit of bipartisanship declined and offers solutions that can restore the Senate to one of the world’s most important legislative bodies.

DEER SEASON, by Erin Flanagan. Series: Flyover Fiction.

It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.

A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.

EARLY MODERN TRAUMA : EUROPE AND THE ATLANTIC WORLD, Edited by Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards. Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies.

The term trauma refers to a wound or rupture that disorients, causing suffering and fear. Trauma theory has been heavily shaped by responses to modern catastrophes, and as such trauma is often seen as inherently linked to modernity. Yet psychological and cultural trauma as a result of distressing or disturbing experiences is a human phenomenon that has been recorded across time and cultures.

The long seventeenth century (1598–1715) has been described as a period of almost continuous warfare, and the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries saw the development of modern slavery, colonialism, and nationalism, and witnessed plagues, floods, and significant sociopolitical, economic, and religious transformation. In Early Modern Trauma editors Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards present a variety of ways early modern contemporaries understood and narrated their experiences. Studying accounts left by those who experienced extreme events increases our understanding of the contexts in which traumatic experiences have been constructed and interpreted over time and broadens our understanding of trauma theory beyond the contemporary Euro-American context while giving invaluable insights into some of the most pressing issues of today.

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN : A FATHER AND SON REDISCOVER AMERICA ON THE OREGON TRIAL, by B. J. Hollars.

At the sound of the bell on the last day of kindergarten, B.J. Hollars and his six-year-old son, Henry, hop in the car to strike out on a 2,500-mile road trip retracing the Oregon Trail. Their mission: to rediscover America, and Americans, along the way. Throughout their two-week adventure, they endure the usual setbacks (car trouble, inclement weather, and father-son fatigue), but their most compelling drama involves people, privilege, and their attempt to find common ground in an all-too-fractured country.

Writing in the footsteps of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Hollars picks up the trail with his son more than half a century later. Together they sidle up to a stool at every truck stop, camp by every creek, and roam the West. They encounter not only the beauty and heartbreak of America, but also the beauty and heartbreak of a father and son eager to make the most of their time together. From Chimney Rock to Independence Rock to the rocky coast of Oregon, they learn and relearn the devastating truth of America’s exploitative past, as well as their role within it.

Go West, Young Man recounts the author’s effort to teach his son the difficult realities of our nation’s founding while also reaffirming his faith in America today.

MOSQUITOES SUCK!, by Katherine Richardson Bruna, Sara Erickson, and Lyric Bertholomay.

Using a science comic format to engage readers of all ages, Mosquitoes SUCK! conveys essential information about mosquito biology, ecology, and disease transmission needed for community-based control efforts. Starting with a story of a dystopian mosquito-less future, Mosquitoes SUCK! travels back in time to depict the present-day work of a scientist in her lab and the curiosity of the students she works with as they learn about the history of mosquito-human interaction, science as an ever-evolving tool, and the need to balance cutting-edge preventative technologies with broader care for environmental stewardship.

NANCY CROW : DRAWINGS: MONOPRINTS AND RIFFS, by Nancy Crow.

Nancy Crow: Drawings: Monoprints and Riffs is a beautifully illustrated catalog showcasing the newest work of renowned artist Nancy Crow. Over the last decade Crow has transformed her quiltmaking by developing a unique monoprinting technique. Monoprinting on cotton fabric, she focuses on drawn lines, layered one upon another, that result in a complex visual tangle. The work in this series simultaneously produces both clarity and depth.

In her Riff and Drawing: Riff series, Crow has continued to explore her “drawing with fabric” approach. In these works Crow improvisationally cuts through layers of highly saturated hand-dyed fabrics, creating crisp forms with slight curves and undulations caused by subtle movements of her arm, which are then stitched together in dynamic compositions.

This catalog includes Crow’s descriptions of these innovative techniques as well as candid musings on her personal journey as a driven, passionate artist. In addition, Crow’s work is discussed in an essay by Jean Robertson, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Art History at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University–Purdue University. Also featured is a foreword by David Hornung, professor of art and art history at Adelphi University, New York. The catalog accompanies a 2020 exhibition of Crow’s work at the International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

NEBRASKA HISTORY MOMENTS : STORIES & PHOTOS FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF HISTORY NEBRASKA, by David L. Bristow.

Even a moment is enough for wonder and curiosity. Each page of this book uses a photo or artifact to tell a true story about the past, drawing from the extensive collections of History Nebraska. You can read it straight through, but it’s written to be browsed. Here are the turning points, disasters, amusements, causes and controversies, changing technologies, and scenes of daily life of the people who lived in a Nebraska that sometimes seems familiar to us, and sometimes seems a world away.

WHAT ISN’T REMEMBERED : STORIES, by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry. Series: The Raz/Shumaker Prairies Schooner Book Prize in Fiction.

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the stories in What Isn’t Remembered explore the burden, the power, and the nature of love between people who often feel misplaced and estranged from their deepest selves and the world, where they cannot find a home. The characters yearn not only to redefine themselves and rebuild their relationships but also to recover lost loves—a parent, a child, a friend, a spouse, a partner.

A young man longs for his mother’s love while grieving the loss of his older brother. A mother’s affair sabotages her relationship with her daughter, causing a lifelong feud between the two. A divorced man struggles to come to terms with his failed marriage and his family’s genocidal past while trying to persuade his father to start cancer treatments. A high school girl feels responsible for the death of her best friend, and the guilt continues to haunt her decades later.

Evocative and lyrical, the tales in What Isn’t Remembered uncover complex events and emotions, as well as the unpredictable ways in which people adapt to what happens in their lives, finding solace from the most surprising and unexpected sources.

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Friday Reads: The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

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)

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#BookFaceFriday “The Calamities of Kalamity Kate”

Yeehaw! Get along, lil’ #BookFaceFriday!

In honor of a true Nebraska legend, today we are highlighting Leta Powell Drake’s memoir, “The Calamities of Kalamity Kate: A History of Nebraska’s Children’s TV Shows(J & L Lee Co., 2014). Leta Powell Drake was a celebrity in Nebraska and throughout the world of entertainment with a 50-year career in broadcasting. To us, at NLC, she holds a special place as a narrator for our Talking Book and Braille Service. Many of her famous interviews have been archived by History Nebraska and can be found on their YouTube channel. We highly recommend her memoir and 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 University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program. In 1972, the Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.

“The Calamities of Kalamity Kate is a nostalgic trip into the past that is not only enjoyable but edifying.” — foreword by Ron Hull

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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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for July through August, 2021.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources,

the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services, the University of Nebraska Agricultural Extension, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972 as a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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Friday Reads: Can I Give You a Squish? by Emily Neilson

Our two (and a half) year old recently discovered the delightful melodies of “Baby Shark” as performed by the Australian group Bounce Patrol, in multiple versions and complete with choreography, of course. Along with the adorable new dance moves, she’s been much more interested in anything with “fishies,” including books.

Can I Give You a Squish by Emily Neilson is an incredibly cute book about a little merboy and his fish friends. Kai is an enthusiastic hugger who loves to give squishes to his mama and to all of his underwater friends. After meeting a new little puffer fish though, he realizes not everyone likes hugs as much as he thought. With help from an octopus, a dolphin, and a crab, they all learn new ways of showing affection (and asking first), like fin bumps and tentacle shakes. The friends are all very encouraging and supportive of the scared puffer fish, and it’s a great way to start teaching young kids about boundaries and consent.

The illustrations in this book are lovely and it’s just a sweet story.

(She’s also really enjoying the Narwhal and Jelly books by Ben Clanton, if you need another good fishy book.)

With this squish book, I’ve been looking for some other picture books to start teaching or talking about consent/personal space:

  • C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison and Faye Orlove
  • Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
  • Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung
  • Hands Off, Harry! by Rosemary Wells

Neilson, E. (2020) Can I Give You a Squish?

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#BookFaceFriday “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman

 No need to fret, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

New book club kits alert! The Nebraska Library Commission’s Book Club Kit Collection is constantly growing. either from purchases or donations. One of our newest titles is “Anxious People: A Novel” by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press, 2021) and we just couldn’t wait to share it with you! This is one of five Backman titles NLC has available in our Book Club Kit Collection. This week’s #BookFace and Fredrik Backman’s other books can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. NLC also has several of Backman’s titles available to our Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, which one will you check out today?

“[A] tight-knit, surprise-filled narrative… the brisk, absorbing action prompts meditation on marriage, parenting, responsibility, and global economic pressures. Comedy, drama, mystery, and social study, this novel is undefinable except for the sheer reading pleasure it delivers. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal (starred review) 

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

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

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NCompass Live: Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library

Graphic novels and manga are everywhere: TV series, movies, and now coming to a library near you! Learn how to get started with ‘Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library’ on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, September 8 at 10am CT.

Starting a collection or updating your holdings can be a challenge in this medium. Which superhero do I follow? Should I start purchasing this manga or wait until it’s complete? Graphic novels and manga are a great addition to any library, but it can feel intimidating to purchase items for this collection without having a knowledge base to work with. This presentation will cover what exactly makes up a comic or manga, the different types and genres, how to get started with your collection, and the logistics of getting into this particular art form.

Presenter: Brooke Zarco, Library Director, Blair Public Library & Technology Center.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Sept. 15 – Library School Now – Library Workers Talk about Their Library Science Coursework
  • Sept. 22 – ConnectEd Nebraska – Wireless Internet for Students
  • Sept. 29 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • October 6 – The Queer Omaha Archives: The First Five Years
  • October 13 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA!

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.

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Friday Reads: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

The Perfume Thief: A Novel by [Timothy Schaffert]

I’m reading the new WWII novel, I’m reading the new perfume novel, I’m reading the new WWII perfume novel, and it’s delightful and I don’t want it to end.

I’ve been looking forward to reading The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert, and it’s finally here! The publisher describes the book as “A Gentleman in Moscow meets Moulin Rouge.” I’m ready to follow Clementine, a raconteur in tailored suits, who’s spent her seventy plus years living life her way—while happening to break all of society’s rules. Now she’s facing a big change in her life—the Nazis are threatening to destroy Paris, including the vibrant underground scene she loves. It turns out she has some very exceptional skills, honed over decades of her refined and indecent life, that can help hand defeat to the Nazis. She just has to thread the needle carefully, with the finest silk, of course.

I imagine a few agents in Hollywood are getting calls about playing the part of Clem in the movie that must happen. I can see Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep fighting over the part, but I can see Jamie Lee Curtis owning it. Of course Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, although they are a bit young for the part—isn’t that refreshing? Casting suggestions are welcome in the comments, of course. (Not just for Clem, but also for Zoe St. Angel, and also the villain, Oskar Voss.)

Did I mention Clem is from Nebraska? Did I mention Schaffert painstakingly researched Paris life, down to the weather reports on every day in the book? Did I mention it’s a page-turner? Excuse me while I get back to enjoying The Perfume Thief.

(We did write about The Perfume Thief here as well–yes, we’re fans! And yes, our Book Club Kit is available for Nebraska libraries to check out, and details are at that link.)

Schaffert, T. (2021). The Perfume Thief.

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#BookFaceFriday “Brat” by Andrew McCarthy

If someone doesn’t believe in #BookFaceFriday, I can’t believe in them.

“Blaine!? That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!” But whatever his name is, we are like totally here for his memoir. Dive into the world classic 80’s movies with “Brat: An 80’s Story” by Andrew McCarthy (Grand Central Publishing, 2021) as this week’s #BookFaceFriday. It’s available as an eBook at Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. New titles, both nonfiction and fiction, are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“[A] heartful memoir…McCarthy is clear-eyed and unsparing about Hollywood but takes the emotional intensity of the actor’s craft and life seriously. The result is a riveting portrait of the artist as a young man.”

Publishers Weekly

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. 180 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 25,520 audiobooks, 32,303 eBooks, and 3,403 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

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

 
 

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#BookFaceFriday “All In” by Billie Jean King

It’s match point for this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

We’re serving up “All In: An Autobiography” by Billie Jean King (Knopf, 2021.) for this week’s #BookFaceFriday, just in time for the start of the U.S. Open next week. It’s available as an eBook and Audiobook at Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. New titles, both nonfiction and fiction, are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries! Don’t fault us if you find yourself in “love-love” with your next great read!

“A constant role model in my life, Billie Jean King is a leading example of integrity in the face of adversity. The book’s powerfully honest and unapologetic candor is a reflection of King’s brilliant mark on the world and the glass ceilings she shattered. It’s a story about the personal strength, immense growth, and undeniable greatness of one woman who fearlessly stood up to a culture trying to break her down.”

—Serena Williams

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. 180 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 25,520 audiobooks, 32,303 eBooks, and 3,403 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

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

 
 

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Friday Reads: Reading with Mary

My dear friend Mary, who lives two floors above me, suffered a television outage last winter. This was catastrophic since her TV is always on, serving as companion, entertainer, and white noise. Out of desperation, Mary–who in recent years earnestly believed she’d lost the concentration needed to read an entire book—picked up the copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer that I’d given her. She read it cover to cover; it reminded her of her home in North Carolina, and she loved it! More importantly, she felt triumphant, proving to herself that she COULD still read books!

I wanted to keep her reading momentum going so when Nigella Lawson, a favorite food writer of ours, released a new book called Cook, Eat, and Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories, I ordered two copies. We kept a running commentary as we consumed the pages. An entire chapter on anchovies? Are they REALLY the bacon of the sea? Saving and cooking with banana peels was a zero waste solution? Not something either of us will try. But her essay on food as a guilty pleasure?  That was worth rereading together.

Nigella’s book made me think of Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: A Cookbook, and I bought it for Mary and I listened to my copy a second time. This lead to conversations about Ruth’s other books, many of which Mary owned. Just as she’d somehow missed My Kitchen Year, I’d missed For You Mom, Finally, so Mary happily lent me her copy.

I turned to Mary’s own book stacks for my next recommendation, handing her an unread copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. As a faithful letter writer and a lover of stationary, I had a feeling she would enjoy this epistolary book. She did and was ready for more.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mary-2.jpg
Mary in her eclipse sunglasses, August 2017.
Photo credit: Julee Hatton

After I finished reading Andre Leon Talley: The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir, I thought it would be a good fit for Mary knowing she had been a Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue subscriber. An added bonus was Andre’s North Carolina nativity. After reading the first chapter she told me she was purposely taking it slow to make it last. Mary took a reading break to watch Wimbledon but once she was finished with Andre, I handed her I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi because I could tell she was still in the mood for fashion designers and had a penchant for biographies.

We next tackled, The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren, recommended by a coworker. This safe haven for modern, working women was the home to many celebrities including Sylvia Plath, an author Mary had previously researched. We both finished and thought the book was interesting and worthwhile but the finest takeaway was our discussion afterwards.  I was able to ask Mary questions no one had ever asked her before, and she answered them. It was an intimate communion and an evening I will never forget.

Floundering over what to offer Mary next, I ended up loaning her my copy of The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, continuing with the theme of female solidarity. Mary initially greeted this selection with reticence because she grew up in a house with hired help. However, because I’d earned her trust with my previous recommendations, she acquiesced and agreed to try it. She was hooked from the first page! When she finished it a week later, she returned it with high praise and a heartfelt thank you note I will treasure forever.

Having spotted two Rosamunde Pilcher paperbacks in Mary’s collection, I gave her a copy of the The Shell Seekers, confident she would appreciate Penelope, the bohemian protagonist, and the English locations. She finished in a week, sad for it to be over and sharing that she usually skips over description but she read every word in this book. She then expressed concern that she was now spending too much time reading, but she also wanted more Pilcher books!

Most recently–and just in time for the U.S. Open Tennis tournament–I presented her with the new Billie Jean King autobiography, All In. The next day she told me she stayed up way too late the night before, using the index to cherry pick stories, and that she really needed to get more sleep! My copy of All In is on hold at the library, and I’m eager to read it so we can discuss this amazing icon of tennis and gender equality.

I have never experienced this kind of simpatico with another reader. Whatever aligned for us to enjoy so many of the same books at the same time has been a luxury. Our discussions have been a respite from the pandemic and the news, but the biggest gift is learning more about each other and deepening our friendship. It has been such a pleasure to plot Mary’s reading through these last several months, and I must say I’m so grateful Mary’s television stopped working!

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Tech-Friendly Book Club Ideas

The best way to learn about technology is to read about it! Get some ‘Tech-Friendly Book Club Ideas’ on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, August 25 at 10am CT.

Even if they are not all going to make it themselves, people are infinitely curious about robots, computers, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and all the tech that is changing the world. While libraries can’t be expected to teach all of this directly, books can help tackle the big stuff! Over the years I tracked the books I used to learn about all my favorite tech and practiced with different discussion questions and ways to talk about tech.

By the end of this session you will have:

  • A list of recommended titles for book clubs & discussion
  • Tech topics to tackle in book groups
  • Ideas for wraparound activities
  • Book groups as market research

I focus mainly on options for adults and teens in this session, but harvested some options from people who specialize in K-12 to help out the kids!

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.os Live shows:

  • Sept. 1 – NLC Grants for 2022
  • Sept. 8 – Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library
  • Sept. 15 – Library School Now – Library Workers Talk about Their Library Science Coursework
  • Sept. 29 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • October 6 – The Queer Omaha Archives: The First Five Years
  • October 13 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA!

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.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Perfume Thief” by Timothy Schaffert

 We’d let this #BookFaceFriday steal us away any day!

Nebraska’s very own Timothy Schaffert has just released his latest book, “The Perfume Thief” (Doubleday, 2021) and we just couldn’t wait to share it with you! This historical fiction novel, set in Paris at the beginning of WWII, is one of six Schaffert works NLC has available in our Book Club Kit Collection! This week’s #BookFace and Timothy Schaffert’s other books can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Meet the author and hear him talk about his work this Saturday, 4:30-6:00 pm, at Francie & Finch Bookshop in downtown Lincoln!

“[An] intoxicating blend of decadence and intrigue . . . Schaffert’s evocation of Paris and its wartime demimonde is sensual and alluring, but the heart of his novel is Clementine’s demonstration through her own adventures of how every life is its own heady perfume. . . This is a rich and rewarding tale, as original and unique as the handiwork of its eponymous character.”

 Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

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

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Friday Reads: “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

If you could save the lives of eight people by sacrificing the life of one, would you do it? Is it possible to break free of a path your life has been set on since before you were even born? If you create something, do you own it? What if the thing you created is a human? These are all questions a reader will find themselves grappling with in “Never Let Me Go,” the sixth novel by British and Japanese author, Kazuo Ishiguro.

An idyllic childhood spent at a boarding school in the English countryside, what could be better? Kathy spends her adulthood traveling around England working as a Carer, looking after hospice patients. After ’caring’ for two of her old classmates and reminiscing about how they grew up, all Kathy can think about is her childhood. As Kathy’s memories unfold so does the mystery and strangeness that is this “Brave New World” she lives in. With each new memory, we begin to understand just how different Kathy’s life has been, and we come to understand that what at first seems idyllic is far from it.

In “Never Let Me Go” the topics of childhood innocence, science and ethics, and free will are all explored in this thoughtful novel. Readers who like a slow burn and subtle, yet thought-provoking plot twists will enjoy this book.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. Vintage, 2006.

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NCompass Live: One Book for Nebraska Kids & Teens

Wouldn’t it be great if kids all over Nebraska were talking about books? Hear about the Nebraska Library Commission & the Regional Library Systems’ program where kids can all read and discuss the same book on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, August 18 at 10am CT.

Join Sally Snyder, the NLC’s Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, and Aimee Owen, Information Services Librarian, to learn all about the One Book for Nebraska Kids and Teens program. Our 2021 titles are: One Book For Nebraska Kids – Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson, and One Book For Nebraska Teens – Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. And the 2022 titles have been selected: One Book For Nebraska Kids – The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader, and One Book For Nebraska Teens – Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • August 25 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Tech-Friendly Book Club Ideas
  • Sept. 8 – Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library
  • Sept. 15 – Library School Now – Library Workers Talk about Their Library Science Coursework
  • Sept. 29 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • October 6 – The Queer Omaha Archives: The First Five Years
  • October 13 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA!

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.

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#BookFaceFriday “Sidekicked” by John David Anderson

We love a good back-to-school #BookFaceFriday!

Ahh, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and new erasers, makes us want to go out and buy school supplies! This week’s #BookFace is a reminder that a Book Club Kit is the perfect back-to-school supply too. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. We have a great selection of kids/YA titles for you to choose from, like “Sidekicked” by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, 2014). Even better, this book club kit is available for your next read! You can search for books based on grade level, genre, the number of copies available, or keywords, helping librarians and teachers find great reads for their YA book clubs.

“From memorable characters to a complex yet accessible plot, this [is a] superhero story that any comics fan will enjoy.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

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

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Friday Reads: Great Plains Indians by David J. Wishart

David Wishart covers a vast span of over thirteen thousand years in his book, Great Plains Indians. Many know bits and pieces of this astonishing story. Professor Wishart dispels a number of myths and provides important detail and perspective in his coverage of Indian life on the Great Plains.

Wishart describes in his Great Plains Indians historical account the elements of geography, climate, perseverance, innovation, culture, and adaptation. The book is organized in four broad chapters: coverage of thirteen thousand years of Plains history, life circumstances of Plains Indians around the early nineteenth century, the period Lewis and Clark explored the Plains region, and the period that began and continued with regional control by the United States.

Significant are the impacts of disease (notably smallpox), food sources, climate, horses, guns, alcohol, and beginning contacts and conflict with people moving into the Great Plains region.

Wishart provides extensive coverage of the nineteenth-century and continuing to the present geographic and cultural dispossession of the Great Plains Indians. Within a hundred year span, the Plains Indians land base was reduced from an area extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to a territory inclusive of a small number of reservations in Oklahoma and other Plains areas.

A slim book, Great Plains Indians is written in a clear, concise style. Professor Wishart’s Great Plains expertise, and notably that of Great Plains Indians, provides the reader with a rich and informative historical presentation.

Great Plains Indians is among books in the University of Nebraska Center for Great Plains Studies “Discover the Great Plains” series (Richard Edwards, Series Editor).

David Wishart is a professor of geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The author of many books, Wishart is the editor of Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (2004).

Wishart, David J. Great Plains Indians. University of Nebraska Press, 2016.

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