Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal, by Amy Krause Rosenthal

I first encountered Amy Krause Rosenthal’s work when I was shopping for a baby book, back in those pre-kid days when I could still leisurely shop. The pale yellow book I chose was quirky and funny, with just enough sarcasm to balance out the preciousness that is the first year of your kid’s life.  (Amy created several guided journals, and she was also a prolific children’s book author; one of her better known titles is Duck! Rabbit!)

Her latest “grown-up” title, Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal, came out on August 9th, 2016. On September 6th, 2016, Amy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She passed away just last month on March 13th, 2017.

I’d had this book on my to-read list for a while, and I wish I’d read it sooner. It is a follow up to her 2005 memoir, Encyclopedia Of An Ordinary Life; she comments that it was only appropriate to follow an encyclopedia with a textbook.  It is a short, fast read, with lots of white space. The book was meant to be “interactive”; Amy offers a cell phone number readers can text, so that at certain points in the book you can send her notes and photos and maybe even win a freshly-baked pie. Texts sent while Amy was alive were kept and added to the book’s website.

Amy writes of moments, of everyday occurrences.  She makes the mundane experiences we all have seem both hilarious and absolutely heartbreaking. She talks of how fleeting life is and how, even if she were to live to 80, the number of times she could cut up an apple, or look at her children, wouldn’t be enough. There was no way she could have known, as she was writing those words, how small that number would become. There is no way for any of us to know, and I’m trying to remember that every day and live by her words: “Make the most of your time here.”

If you are already an “AKR” fan, tomorrow (April 29th) would have been her birthday.  There is a Facebook group, #MoreForAKR, that you can check out if you’d like to pay tribute to Amy’s memory this weekend with acts of kindness.

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Friday Reads: Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Garvey is not interested in sports at all.  He is interested in reading, science, and jokes, which his father does not value. His dad keeps trying to pique his interest in becoming an athlete and is not able to drop the topic. Garvey knows he is not an athlete but is not certain who he is. He faces bullies at school due to his weight and awkwardness. Finally Garvey’s best and only friend since first grade guides him to Chorus at school, where he finds his place and a second friend. His wonderful voice is valued and his confidence grows.  Now his dad has something in common with him at long last, since many years ago he sang in a band.

This short, small book offers a heartfelt story about finding one’s place and uses a poetry form that may be new to many.  It is told in tanka poetry which involves five lines with a particular number of syllables for each, and is explained at the back of the book.  Spend a little time with Garvey and friends Joe and Manny to relive what it is like to be an adolescent again.  You will leave content.

Grimes, Nikki (2016). Garvey’s Choice. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong.

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Friday Reads: Just a Geek

For Christmas a few years ago, I received two biographies by Wil Wheaton. Yes, THAT Wil Wheaton. Wesley Crusher himself! I also discovered his blog. And then his Twitter…and then Facebook. Makes me look like a stalker, doesn’t it? But no, I’m not. He puts himself right out there, just like the rest of us!

So, I started with Just A Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise. Wow, that’s a freakishly long title. We’ll call it Just A Geek from now on. It’s a collection of some of the posts from his blog, but with updated info and commentary by him.

Now, you may only know Wil Wheaton as an actor. But I’ve discovered that Wil is also a great storyteller. I started just reading his blog, jumping around seeing what he has been saying over the years. He is funny and smart and he can definitely make you all teary-eyed when he wants to.

My favorite part of Just A Geek is when Wil looks back on his old blog posts with a new perspective. Time changes things. He looks back and see events very differently. Sometimes he had to wait until years later to understand what was really happening. And other times, you learn that the real story wasn’t really told in the first place. Looking back on his life helps him come to terms with what really happened and share the truth with his readers.

Yes, there are some Star Trek stories in there, which made the Star Trek fan in me squee. And yes, he is quite the geek, another plus from the geek in me.

If you want to continue reading more stories based on his blog, he has continued them in two more books – Dancing Barefoot and The Happiest Days of Our Lives. If non-fiction or autobiography isn’t your thing, he also writes fiction. I recommend starting with The Day After and Other Stories, a collection of his short stores. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Friday Reads: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

I am a boy-mom.  (Or at least I was until we welcomed a baby girl into our house almost 2 years ago.  2?!? How is she almost 2?  Wait… where was I? Ah, yes, boys.) I am inclined to fall in love with realistic fiction centered on boys, probably because I can see my own son living these adventures and learning those early-life lessons. I felt especially enamored recently with the 3 friends that narrate Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. Topher, Steve, and Brand are 6th graders, finishing out their last year of elementary school.

Ms. Bixby is one of those rare teachers that is a “Good One”. She has a pink streak in her hair and spouts endless inspiring quotes, or “Bixbyisms”.  She sees what’s special in each of her students and helps them to see it too. But Ms. Bixby suddenly takes ill and can’t finish the school year.  When she has to miss her good-bye party at school, our three heroes decide to skip school and take the party to her in the hospital.

Each boy’s perspective colors the nature of their scheme. Topher, the artist and story-teller, is playing out a military-grade mission in his mind.  Brand is determined to do for Ms Bixby what he never could do for his own injured father.  And Steve is just worried about how much trouble he’s going to be in for ditching school.

Their quest is fraught with peril, as good adventures are wont to be, and the boys find themselves, and their friendship, put to the test.  Will they be able to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves?  It’s an incredibly moving story, both laugh-out-loud funny at times, and sob-inducing at others.  This boy-mom highly recommends!

Anderson, John David (2016). Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. New York: Walden Pond Press.

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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                  
April 5, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

Do young people still write letters? They do if they want to tell an author about how books can make a difference in a young person’s life. Young Nebraska writers who wrote winning letters in the Letters About Literature competition will receive award certificates from Gov. Pete Ricketts on April 12, 2017 at a proclamation-signing ceremony celebrating National Library Week, April 9-15, 2017. Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program. Nearly 50,000 adolescent and young readers nationwide, in grades four through twelve, participated in this year’s Letters About Literature program—hundreds of them from Nebraska. The competition encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) who had an impact on their lives.

This annual contest is sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, with funding from Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. The Nebraska competition is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

Young Nebraska writers to be honored are:

Winners
Caleb Hamilton, Falls City, for a letter to John David Anderson
Ethan Morrow, Omaha, for a letter to Andy Weir
Matthew Heaney, Omaha, for a letter to Theodore Gray

Alternate Winners
Lexi Miller, Falls City, for a letter to R. J.  Palacio
Madelyn Stoffel, Omaha, for a letter R. J.  Palacio
Jack Slagle, Omaha, for a letter to John L. Parker Jr.

The students wrote personal letters to authors explaining how his or her work changed their view of themselves or the world. They selected authors from any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. Winners were chosen from three competition levels: upper elementary, middle, and secondary school.

The Nebraska winners will be honored at a luncheon and receive cash prizes and gift certificates. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. They will advance to the national competition, with a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. for themselves and their parents. For more information see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

 

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Friday Reads: The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

A newly married couple move to Quebec for the summer where Kay works as an acrobat while Theo translates a French biography on Eadweard Muybridge (famous for his photographs of galloping horses and movement).

As the couple explores the city, they find an old toy shop with a wooden puppet under a glass jar that can be seen from the dusty window. Kay falls in love with the puppet and returns often to look at it, although the shop remains closed.

On her way home late one night, Kay hears footsteps behind her. Looking for shelter, she sees a light on in the toy shop and rushes inside without a thought.

The next morning, when Theo realizes that Kay never made it home, he starts contacting the police and the other members of Kay’s group of performers. Only Egon believes that something terrible has happened and together they search the city for any trace of Kay.

In alternating chapters with Theo’s desperate search, the point of view switches back to Kay. She’s been transformed into a puppet and now resides in the back room of the toy shop which is run by the “giants” who decide which puppets get to leave and perform. Kay and the other puppets, who have all been magically transformed over the years, can only wake between midnight and dawn. With her human memories fading more each day, Kay must learn to adapt to her new surroundings unless she can somehow escape with the one puppet, Noe, who still clearly remembers her past life or be rescued.

Based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, this story is more odd/magical than creepy/horror. Slower paced, but well written and still a fairly short read.

 

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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 March 2017.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts, the Nebraska Legislature, and the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System, to name a few.

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It’s #bookfacefriday!

Tom Osborne "More Than Winning" BookFaceIf you’re on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) and interested in libraries, you may have come across the hashtags #bookface or #bookfacefriday.

According to the New York Times “bookface involves strategically lining up your face or another body part alongside a book cover that features a matching body part so that there appears a melding of life and art.”

Mayor Helen Boosalis BookFaceTo highlight some of the Nebraska 150 books, we’ve been posing Library Commission staff (and sometimes their kids!) for our own Bookface Fridays. It’s trickier than you’d think! Fortunately we have a photographer with a great eye, and some good-natured staff!

You can see past bookface photos on the Center for the Book’s Facebook page, or check in every Friday to see the latest shot!

Has anyone at your library posted a #bookfacefriday?

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Behind the Scenes: Learn about Recording Talking Books

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.

 

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Friday Reads: The Great Mistake, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Great Mistake

In the mystery series “Death on Demand”, by Carolyn Hart, several women authors of the golden age are mentioned: Agatha Christy, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and our own Mignon Eberhart. But one author I’d never heard of was Mary Roberts Rinehart. So when an e-book edition of The Great Mistake, one of her titles, popped up on BookBub,  I bought it.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Set in a small town called Beverly set near Town, it is large enough to have a hunt club, and Society. After some digging online, I discovered the book was published in 1940, but nothing of World War II, politics, or international tensions shadow this book. I was a third of the way through before I could clearly say, “well, we don’t do that anymore”.  The characters are from all sections of society, and for the most part are treated very fairly. If anyone comes off looking churlish, it’s the homicide officer from Town, and of course, it’s part of his job, as the outsider. The main characters are all definitely rounded. There is a love story, but surprisingly enough for the time, it is low-key.  The foundation of the mystery is built skillfully, adding to the suspense.

The main character, Pat, comes into “the big house on the Hill,” to be a secretary to the widow of the billionaire who built the house for her and her son.  Maude, the widow, is a vibrant, attractive personality, and busy hostess in need of help for her parties and social responsibilities. And Pat is fond of her.  Tony is the son,  who runs the family firm in Town  and at first they merely get on each others nerves.  Pat never sets out to be a detective of any type, unlike many other main characters of mystery fiction, particularly cozy mysteries. She is meant to be more of a way for us to be a part of the mystery. The events of the story tell on her, as her employer falls mysteriously ill. Then a dear friend’s runaway & divorced husbanded returns for nursing for a terminal illness, (he says.)  A mysterious figure is seen peering in a window, and a night watchman is mugged, stripped of trousers (& keys).  The entire mystery is framed by remarks about writing the entire story down for everyone, which serves as a fine way to find out how the dangling threads are tied up. It all flows so well, the language enhances the story and never shouts out the time period. A smoother read in that regard than Christie.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was often called the American Agatha Christie. While she is considered the source of the phrase “the butler did it”, from her novel The Door, 1930, the writer never used that phrase in the book. She is also considered to have invented the “Had-I-But-Known” school of mystery writing in her book The Circular Staircase, 1908. She wrote novels, plays, short stories, travelogues, and was a war correspondent. With her sons she founded the publishing house Farrer & Rinehart, and served as director.

More about Mary Roberts Rinehart and lists of her titles from Wikipedia

 

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NCompass Live: Small and Rural Libraries Leading with TV Whitespace

Join us for the next NCompass Live, ‘Small and Rural Libraries Leading with TV Whitespace’, on Wednesday, March 22, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

This presentation provides an opportunity for librarians working in small and rural library contexts to learn about the innovative applications of TV White Space (TVWS) technology in their communities. Join us to find out how small and rural libraries can implement this emerging technology and use it to collaborate with other community anchor institutions to advance access, inclusion, and crisis planning.

TVWS is an extremely valuable license-exempt radio spectrum located in the bands for traditional TV broadcast. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently made a portion of these TVWS bands of spectrum available for free, open, and shared public use (similar to WiFi). TVWS, in conjunction with WiFi, allows libraries to extend their networks of internet access strategically across their communities.

Among our objectives are to build awareness of TVWS technology, describe how TVWS wireless networks operate, and help participants develop familiarity with several library TVWS case studies. We anticipate sharing how to plan for a new TVWS network and next steps participants might take. Also discussed will be a recent project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which will give small and rural libraries the opportunity to apply to become a pilot site/early adopter of TVWS.

Presenters: Kristen Rebmann, Associate Professor, School of Information, San José (CA) State University, and Don Means, Gigabit Libraries Network.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • March 29 – Conversation Circles: A Simple ESL Program
  • April 19 – LMNOP: The Evolution of Engagement
  • April 26 – Collecting Library User Feedback: Free! high tech and low tech options that will meet your needs

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: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Far away from bike paths that lead to grocery stores that sell kale is Appalachia.  It runs through West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, and some parts of Tennessee and the Carolinas, too.  It’s mostly dirt-poor and the things for which it’s known—family feuds, coal mining, moonshine—seem to have little connection with modern life in other parts of America.  These days, unless Appalachia is being mocked, it’s generally ignored.

Which is why it’s strange that this memoir has struck such a chord.  It has been sitting atop the bestseller lists for months and has received coverage in tons of major media outlets.  On its face, the story doesn’t seem to be widely relatable.  J.D. Vance’s family originated in the hills and hollers of rural eastern Kentucky.  He experienced the traumas that often shadow poor communities: drug abuse, outbursts of violence, and other self-defeating behaviors.  But, unlike many, Vance escaped and prospered, eventually attending Yale and joining a San Francisco investment firm.  Hillbilly Elegy reads like a gateway into the world of “Bloody Breathitt” County, Kentucky.  But it also details the process through which Vance found a better life outside the region.  The book is interesting as a depiction of an overlooked place, but it also works as a coming-of-age story.

And it’s getting talked up as a kind of Rosetta Stone that explains election results.  The Times calls it “a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election”.  I’m not sure that I totally buy that.  Appalachia is a pretty unique place.  I don’t know how much you can port over its attributes to cities in the Rust Belt and so on.  It’s worthwhile to examine a culture and community for its own sake, but if you’re just looking for national power brokers or explanations for electoral trends, Hazard, Kentucky might not be where you want to start.

Even if Hillbilly Elegy can’t provide pat answers to complex political questions, it’s still a good book that’s very affecting and ultimately inspiring.  If you would like to learn more about the region, I’d recommend this book, as well as two documentaries.  American Hollow focuses on the same area and lifestyle described in Hillbilly Elegy and Oxyana viciously captures the prevalence of drug addiction in Appalachian communities.   It’s great that attention is being drawn to a part of our country that’s often been forgotten—hopefully, it will lead to some real change for the region.

Vance, J. D. (2016). Hillbilly elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis. New York: Harper.

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Friday Reads: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Somewhere in Chicago right now there is a wizard named Harry Dresden.  You might know him because he is the only professional wizard listed in the phone book: “Lost items found.  Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment”.  If you ever run into a werewolf, vampire, demon or other nasty creature of the night he is your man!  Just don’t ask him to perform at your son’s birthday party because he is not a magician.  That you would think that is just offensive.

Jim Butcher knows Harry the best.  There is rumor that Harry is merely a product of Butcher’s imagination, but I refuse to believe that bit of blasphemy.  I also believe in fairies and nothing you say or do will ever erase the twinkle from my eye.

In any case, Jim Butcher has written a series of books called The Dresden Files detailing some of the more notable events from Harry’s life.  The first book in the series is Storm Front where we learn that “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face”.  Sage advice.  I must take moment here to point out that I have grown rather fond of my face and must thank Mr. Dresden for taking on said demon.  My face thanks him.

I also highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of The Dresden Files because James Marsters is magical.  Just in case you didn’t know this bit of trivia, James Marsters played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  When I heard Mr. Marsters as Harry I am pretty sure I swooned and melted. In that order.  I was a full on puddle by the middle of the first book.

You may not be aware, but this review is in real danger of turning into a fangirl rave.  But I am a professional so I will just say that Harry Dresden is a clever private investigator who likes to break tension with a perfectly timed one-liner that will have you tittering into your morning latte.  If you like fantasy, P.I. stories, or have grown accustomed to your face, you will love Harry Dresden. Happy reading!

Butcher, Jim. Storm Front. Penguin, 2000.

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NCompass Live: Build a Better World: Summer Reading Program 2017

Join us for the next NCompass Live, ‘Build a Better World: Summer Reading Program 2017’, on Wednesday, March 15, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services at the Nebraska Library Commission, will give brief book talks of new titles pertaining to the 2017 Summer Reading Program theme: Build a Better World.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • March 22 –  Small and Rural Libraries Leading with TV Whitespace
  • March 29 – Conversation Circles: A Simple ESL Program
  • April 19 – LMNOP: The Evolution of Engagement

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 Sari Shop Widow

Anjali Kapadia is in a bit of trouble. Her family’s business, a chic sari boutique named Silk & Sapphires in the heart of New Jersey’s Little India, is in financial trouble. In an effort to save the business from bankruptcy, her father has called on his entrepreneur brother, Jeevan Kapadia, to come and help. However, Jeevan has a reputation for being a bit of a dictator; he likes things done his way, or not at all. The idea fills Anjali with dread, but she will do just about anything for this business, which she helped build after the death of her husband ten years earlier.

When Jeevan arrives, though, he is not what Anjali was expecting, and he brings along a visitor he treats like a son. Rishi Shan is Jeevan’s partner in business, and has brought along some ideas that will radically change the small boutique Anjali has put her heart and soul into. What’s more, he imposes on Anjali’s life in a way that makes her wonder if she’ll lose her heart to him in the process.

The Sari Shop Widow is a lovely story that gives readers an insight into Indian culture and values. The need for Anjali to remarry is the underlying current throughout the novel, and the traditional values of her uncle and parents war with her mainstream American views of the world. Yet the relationships Anjali deals with are universal, so anyone, whether familiar with Indian culture or not, will enjoy the story.

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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 February 2017.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Friday Reads: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

At the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Viola Davis said the following upon accepting her award for Outstanding Performance by a Female for the movie Fences: “What August (Wilson) did so beautifully is he honored the average man …and sometimes we don’t have to shake the world and move the world and create anything that is going to be in the history book. The fact that we breathed and lived a life … means that we have a story and it deserves to be told.”  I think writers who choose ordinary subjects can tell amazing stories. I think this is Kent Haruf’s talent–to tell everyman’s story, the story of those people we all know and recognize, who live next door if not in our own home.

Our Souls at Night was Haruf’s last novel before his death in 2014, and it takes place in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, a small town created for three of his other novels. Addie Moore and Louis Waters have both lost their partners and have lived a long time in Holt knowing of each other rather than being well acquainted. One day, Addie pays a visit to Lois and asks: “I’m wondering if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me … I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you could sleep in the night with me. And talk … I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about getting through the night … the nights are the worst don’t you think?” And this is where their story begins as this invitation turns into many evening conversations and the revelations of life, regrets, and love lost. It confirms how grief needs to be shared with others especially those for whom the loss is similar. When two people form a bond, onlookers will have opinions and often, not so quietly. I could relate to the gossipy town conversations that made me forever choose to live in a city with a population of at least 100,000 or more.

This is a spare read with uncomplicated and honest characters. There is a cadence to Haruf’s books – small town living and the daily minutia that are both familiar and regular. The conversations are ones you’ve had yourself. Spending time in Holt is downshifting to rural America; slowing down and looking people in the eye when you walk past them on the street.

A movie adapted from this book will be released sometime this year, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, who first appeared together in 1967’s Barefoot in the Park. This will be quite a contrast.

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Doc Spot: Unicameral Update

The Unicameral Update is a newsletter produced during each legislative session by the Clerk of the Legislature’s Unicameral Information Office since 1977. The Update covers legislative activity, including floor action and committee hearings, and is available daily online and weekly in print.

To see the Update online, click on any of the highlighted links above.

To receive a free print subscription to the Unicameral Update, call (402)-471-2788, or send an email to Clerk of the Legislature.

The Unicameral Update is also available in audio to Talking Book and Braille (TBBS) patrons. For more information, contact TBBS at (800) 742-7691.

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Big Talk From Small Libraries is tomorrow!

Small libraries! Awesome ideas! FREE!

Join us tomorrow for the Big Talk From Small Libraries 2017 online conference. Registration is still open, so head over to the website and sign up.

This free one-day online conference is aimed at librarians from small libraries, but regardless of how big or small your library is, you are welcome and encouraged to come learn about the innovative things your colleagues are doing in their small libraries.

We have a great agenda for the day, with seven 50 minute sessions plus five 10 minute lightning round sessions. You can log in and out of the conference as you like throughout the day, based on your interest and availability.

And, Nebraska library staff can earn 1 hour of CE Credit for each hour of the conference you attend:  http://nlc.nebraska.gov/CE/bigtalkform.asp

So, come join us for a day of big ideas from small libraries!

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Friday Reads: The House of the Spirits

I first read Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits my junior year of high school.  At the time, I was taken with the elements of magical realism that permeated the story. In the twenty years since, I have lost track of the number of times I have read this book.  Each time, I gain new insight into this complex, multi-generational novel.

Set in Chile, against the backdrop of social and political upheaval, Allende focuses on the ever-changing fortunes of Esteban Trueba, his wife, Clara del Valle and their children: Blanca, Jaime and Nicolas. While Esteban concentrates on accumulating wealth and power, Clara endeavors to strengthen her clairvoyant talents.  Since childhood, Clara has been able to move objects and predict future events, such as the deaths of her older sister and parents. Although Clara cares for her husband, she leads an independent life because she abhors his conservative values.  Following their mother’s lead, the children, and later Esteban’s green-haired granddaughter, become swept of up in the socialist revolution and  subsequent military coup.

Despite its dark themes, The House of the Spirit is a story of hope and survival.  Allende’s characters often experience the worst, but retain an innate sense of right and wrong.  Until the bitter end, they continue to believe in the basic goodness of mankind.  The last time I read The House of the Spirits, I realized that despite the horrors she had just experienced, Esteban’s granddaughter continues to hope for a better tomorrow. Following her imprisonment, she encounters a woman whose spirit remains strong regardless of efforts to destroy it. Alba, whose name is Spanish for dawn, knows the conservative regime will end and life in Chile will improve for everyone.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits. Translated by Magda Bogin. New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

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