Category Archives: Books & Reading

NCompass Live: The Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award

Want to know more about how the Golden Sower Award, Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award, was started and how titles end up on the list each year? Then join us to find out on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, July 24, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

The 2019 Golden Sower Award winners were announced on May 1! Golden Sower Award Committee Chair, Kathy Schultz, and NLC Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Sally Snyder, will present the history and the process of the Golden Sower Award, including a look at the web site.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • July 31 – How Does Your Library Garden Grow?
  • Aug. 7 – Life in Fort Schuyler: The Challenges Faced at the SUNY Maritime College Library
  • Aug. 14 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • Aug. 21 – Research – the Key to Library Design
  • Aug. 28 – Eliminating Late Fines is a Win-Win for Your Library and Community

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

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

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

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

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

 

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#BookFaceFriday – The Dewey Decimal System of Love

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

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

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

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

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: ‘Redshirts’ by John Scalzi

I’m going to start off my review of Redshirts with a bold statement. If you are a fan of Star Trek – you need to read this book! And if you are a fan of Star Trek, the title should probably have been an obvious clue.

For the uninitiated, ‘redshirt’ is the term that fans use to refer to the expendable crew members in the Star Trek universe. Whenever you see a landing party heading down to a planet, and a previously unknown character has been added to the team, you can almost guarantee that they are destined to die, in some horrific and/or ridiculous way. Typically these characters are security personnel, who wear red shirts as their uniform.

But, what if these particular crew members started noticing the trend, realizing that their friends and colleagues keep dying on away missions, more often than should be statistically possible. What would they do about it? Can they do anything about it? You’ll definitely be surprised by what they discover and how they try to save their own lives.

John Scalzi is a brilliant writer, and I think Redshirts is one of his best. It’s creative, funny, heart-wrenching, and thought provoking. I admit it, I literally laughed out loud many times while reading this book. If you like Star Trek, sci-fi parody, and yes, even time travel, I think you’ll really enjoy Redshirts.

And if you like audiobooks, this one is read by none other than Wil Wheaton. Yes, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Perfect casting!

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#BookFaceFriday “Under the Harrow”

New Books = New #BookFaceFridays!

"Under the Harrow" by Flynn Berry BookFace PhotoHas your book club been on the hunt for new reads? The NLC Book Club Kit collection is here to help! We’ve recently added several new titles to the collection, one of which is   “Under the Harrow” by Flynn Berry (Penguin Books, 2016). For those of you who devoured “Gone Girl” and “Girl on a Train,” this psychological thriller is sure to get your blood pumping. Browse all the new additions at nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub today!

“A thrilling novel of psychological suspense…Under the Harrow contains similarities [to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl]that will undoubtedly attract readers – but underneath its hard-driving, page-turning, compulsively readable narrative is a striking, original voice all Berry’s own…[Her] precise sentences call to mind Hitchcock’s meticulous storyboards and enrich the work with a cinematic scope.”—Elizabeth Brundage, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

This week’s #BookFace photo is Cathy Hatterman, our Acquisitions Librarian! We added a large number of titles to our book club kit collection in the past 2 months! Cathy has been hard at work tracking down all our requests, as well as adding quite a few books to our library science collection.

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

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Friday Reads: What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Set in the 1970s, Nandu (12) was found alone at about age 2, except for a pack of wild dogs protecting him, in the Nepalese Borderlands, having been abandoned by his parents.  He was unofficially adopted by the Subba-sahib, the head of an elephant stable in the Borderlands, a very southern part of Nepal.  The King of Nepal owns the stable and the elephants, but only rides once a year to hunt tigers in the area.  Nandu is learning to handle elephants and become a mahout (an elephant trainer) – his charge is an older female elephant called Devi Kali, and she is protective of him.

The beauty and danger of nature is explored and appreciated, as Nandu, Devi Kali, and other mahouts and elephants walk to the river for the elephants’ baths and sometimes must go into the jungle.  Orphan rhino calves are rescued by the boys and tended by Rita, the sister of Nandu’s friend, Dilly.  And sometimes the wild dogs provide unexpected assistance.

When Nandu is sent away to school, hopefully to learn things that will help the stable, he finds bullies and a couple of friends.  One teacher accepts his invitation to visit the stable, and Father Autry’s wisdom is very helpful to Nandu and the Subba-sahib.  The stable is threatened with closure, and at first the Subba-sahib takes no action, only waiting for the King’s reply to his request not to close.  Things are beginning to look dire when Rita suggests they change their focus to becoming a breeding stable.  It becomes Nandu’s job to travel to the elephant sale and buy a tusker worthy of their elephants, an event he has never attended and something he knows little about.   Will he be successful and will that keep the stable alive?

Books that contain a great story and some actual facts about animals have always appealed to me.  This title will appeal to middle grade readers (grades 4-7) who are likewise interested in animal stories.  I have not yet read the companion novel (listed below), but I am going to have to find myself a copy.

Awards include winning the 2017 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and being named a 2017 ALA Notable Children’s Book.

What Elephants Know is followed by A Circle of Elephants: A Companion Novel, which was published in January of 2019.

Dinerstein, Eric. What Elephants Know. Disney-Hyperion, 2016.

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#BookFaceFriday “Prodigal Summer”

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

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

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

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

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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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 June 2019.  Included are Annual Reports from the Nebraska Water Center, reports from the Nebraska Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, WellCare of Nebraska, Nebraska Environmental Trust Board, Nebraska Department of Education, 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 books in the June blogpost.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972, 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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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, in Nebraska.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in June:

Abuses of the Erotic : Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States                                                                                         Josh Cerretti (Series: Expanding Frontiers–Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality)

Events ranging from sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib to the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hint that important issues surrounding gender and sexuality remain at the core of political and cultural problems. Nonetheless, intersectional analyses of militarism that account for questions of race, class, and gender remain exceedingly rare. Abuses of the Erotic fills this gap by offering a comprehensive picture of how military values have permeated the civilian cultural sphere and by investigating connections between sexuality and militarism in the United States since the late 1980s.

Josh Cerretti takes up the urgent task of applying an interdisciplinary, transnational framework to the role of sexuality in promoting, expanding, and sustaining the war on terror to understand the links between what Cerretti calls “domestic militarism” and later projects of state-backed violence and intervention. This work brings together scholarship on domestic and international militarization in relation to both homosexuality and heterosexuality to demonstrate how sexual and gender politics have been deployed to bolster U.S. military policies and, by tracking over a decade of militarized sexuality, how these instances have foundationally changed how we think of sexual and gender politics today.

Apostles of Empire : The Jesuits and New France                                Bronwen McShea (Series: France Overseas–Studies in Empre and Decolonization)

Apostles of Empire is a revisionist history of the French Jesuit mission to indigenous North Americans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, offering a comprehensive view of a transatlantic enterprise in which secular concerns were integral. Between 1611 and 1764, 320 Jesuits were sent from France to North America to serve as missionaries. Most labored in colonial New France, a vast territory comprising eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region that was inhabited by diverse Native American populations. Although committed to spreading Catholic doctrines and rituals and adapting them to diverse indigenous cultures, these missionaries also devoted significant energy to more-worldly concerns, particularly the transatlantic expansion of the absolutist-era Bourbon state and the importation of the culture of elite, urban French society.

In Apostles of Empire Bronwen McShea accounts for these secular dimensions of the mission’s history through candid portraits of Jesuits engaged in a range of secular activities. We see them not only preaching and catechizing in terms that borrowed from indigenous idioms but also cultivating trade and military partnerships between the French and various Indian tribes. Apostles of Empire contributes to ongoing research on the Jesuits, New France, and Atlantic World encounters, as well as on early modern French society, print culture, Catholicism, and imperialism. McShea shows how the Jesuits’ robust conceptions of secular spheres of Christian action informed their efforts from both sides of the Atlantic to build up a French and Catholic empire in North America through significant indigenous cooperation.

Contra Instrumentalism : a Translation Polemic                                      Lawrence Venuti (Series: Provocations)

Contra Instrumentalism questions the long-accepted notion that translation reproduces or transfers an invariant contained in or caused by the source text. This “instrumental” model of translation has dominated translation theory and commentary for more than two millennia, and its influence can be seen today in elite and popular cultures, in academic institutions and in publishing, in scholarly monographs and in literary journalism, in the most rarefied theoretical discourses and in the most commonly used clichés.

Contra Instrumentalism aims to end the dominance of instrumentalism by showing how it grossly oversimplifies translation practice and fosters an illusion of immediate access to source texts. Lawrence Venuti asserts that all translation is an interpretive act that necessarily entails ethical responsibilities and political commitments. Venuti argues that a hermeneutic model offers a more comprehensive and incisive understanding of translation that enables an appreciation of not only the creative and scholarly aspects of what a translator does but also the crucial role translation plays in the cultural and social institutions that shape human life.

In Defense of Farmers : The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of  Corporate Power                                   Jane W. Gibson and Sara E. Alexander, editors (Series: Our Sustainable Future)      

Industrial agriculture is generally characterized as either the salvation of a growing, hungry, global population or as socially and environmentally irresponsible. Despite elements of truth in this polarization, it fails to focus on the particular vulnerabilities and potentials of industrial agriculture. Both representations obscure individual farmers, their families, their communities, and the risks they face from unpredictable local, national, and global conditions: fluctuating and often volatile production costs and crop prices; extreme weather exacerbated by climate change; complicated and changing farm policies; new production technologies and practices; water availability; inflation and debt; and rural community decline. Yet the future of industrial agriculture depends fundamentally on farmers’ decisions.

In Defense of Farmers illuminates anew the critical role that farmers play in the future of agriculture and examines the social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities of industrial agriculture, as well as its adaptations and evolution. Contextualizing the conversations about agriculture and rural societies within the disciplines of sociology, geography, economics, and anthropology, this volume addresses specific challenges farmers face in four countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States.

By concentrating on countries with the most sophisticated production technologies capable of producing the largest quantities of grains, soybeans, and animal proteins in the world, this volume focuses attention on the farmers whose labors, decision-making, and risk-taking throw into relief the implications and limitations of our global industrial food system. The case studies here acknowledge the agency of farmers and offer ways forward in the direction of sustainable agriculture.

Power Lined : Electricity, Landscape, and the American Mind      Daniel L. Wuebben

The proliferation of electric communication and power networks have drawn wires through American landscapes like vines through untended gardens since 1844. But these wire networks are more than merely the tools and infrastructure required to send electric messages and power between distinct places; the iconic lines themselves send powerful messages. The wiry webs above our heads and the towers rhythmically striding along the horizon symbolize the ambiguous effects of widespread industrialization and the shifting values of electricity and landscape in the American mind.

In Power-Lined Daniel L. Wuebben weaves together personal narrative, historical research, cultural analysis, and social science to provide a sweeping investigation of the varied influence of overhead wires on the American landscape and the American mind. Wuebben shows that overhead wires—from Morse’s telegraph to our high-voltage grid—not only carry electricity between American places but also create electrified spaces that signify and complicate notions of technology, nature, progress, and, most recently, renewable energy infrastructure. Power-Lined exposes the subtle influences wrought by the wiring of the nation and shows that, even in this age of wireless devices, perceptions of overhead lines may be key in progressing toward a more sustainable energy future.

The Supernatural Sublime : The Wondrous Ineffability of the Everyday in Films from Mexico and Spain    Raul Rodriguez-Hernandez and Claudia Schaefer (Series: New Hispanisms)

The Supernatural Sublime explores the long-neglected element of the supernatural in films from Spain and Mexico by focusing on the social and cultural contexts of their production and reception, their adaptations of codes and conventions for characters and plot, and their use of cinematic techniques to create the experience of emotion without explanation. Deploying the overarching concepts of the supernatural and the sublime, Raúl Rodríguez-Hernández and Claudia Schaefer detail the dovetailing of the unnatural and the experience of limitlessness associated with the sublime.

The Supernatural Sublime embeds the films in the social histories of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Mexico and Spain, both of which made a forced leap into modernity after historical periods founded on official ideologies and circumscribed visions of the nation. Evoking Kant’s definition of the experience of the sublime, Rodríguez-Hernández and Schaefer concentrate on the unrepresentable and the contradictory that oppose purported universal truths and instead offer up illusion, deception, and imagination through cinema, itself a type of illusion: writing with light.

Unfair Labor? : American Indians and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago                                                                        David R. M. Beck

Unfair Labor? is the first book to explore the economic impact of Native Americans who participated in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. By the late nineteenth century, tribal economic systems across the Americas were decimated, and tribal members were desperate to find ways to support their families and control their own labor. As U.S. federal policies stymied economic development in tribal communities, individual Indians found creative new ways to make a living by participating in the cash economy. Before and during the exposition, American Indians played an astonishingly broad role in both the creation and the collection of materials for the fair, and in a variety of jobs on and off the fairgrounds.

While anthropologists portrayed Indians as a remembrance of the past, the hundreds of Native Americans who participated were carving out new economic pathways. Once the fair opened, Indians from tribes across the United States, as well as other indigenous people, flocked to Chicago. Although they were brought in to serve as displays to fairgoers, they had other motives as well. Once in Chicago they worked to exploit circumstances to their best advantage. Some succeeded; others did not.

Unfair Labor? breaks new ground by telling the stories of individual laborers at the fair, uncovering the roles that Indians played in the changing economic conditions of tribal peoples, and redefining their place in the American socioeconomic landscape.

We Average Unbeautiful Watchers : Fan Narratives and the Reading of                                                           American Sports                                                                                        Noah Cohan (Series: Sports, Media, and Society)

Sports fandom—often more than religious, political, or regional affiliation—determines how millions of Americans define themselves. In We Average Unbeautiful Watchers, Noah Cohan examines contemporary sports culture to show how mass-mediated athletics are in fact richly textured narrative entertainments rather than merely competitive displays. While it may seem that sports narratives are “written” by athletes and journalists, Cohan demonstrates that fans are not passive consumers but rather function as readers and writers who appropriate those narratives and generate their own stories in building their sense of identity.

Critically reading stories of sports fans’ self-definition across genres, from the novel and the memoir to the film and the blog post, We Average Unbeautiful Watchers recovers sports games as sites where fan-authors theorize interpretation, historicity, and narrative itself. Fan stories demonstrate how unscripted sporting entertainments function as identity-building narratives—which, in turn, enhances our understanding of the way we incorporate a broad range of texts into our own life stories.

Building on the work of sports historians, theorists of fan behavior, and critics of American literature, Cohan shows that humanistic methods are urgently needed for developing nuanced critical conversations about athletics. Sports take shape as stories, and it is scholars in the humanities who can best identify how they do so—and why that matters for American culture more broadly.

Women in the Writings of Mari Sandoz                                                    Edited and with an introduction by Renee M. Laegreid and Shannon D. Smith, Foreword by John Wunder (Series: Sandoz Studies, Volume 1)

Mari Sandoz, born on Mirage Flats, south of Hay Springs, Nebraska, on May 11, 1896, was the eldest daughter of Swiss immigrants. She experienced firsthand the difficulties and pleasures of the family’s remote plains existence and early on developed a strong desire to write. Her keen eye for detail combined with meticulous research enabled her to become one of the most valued authorities of her time on the history of the plains and the culture of Native Americans.

Women in the Writings of Mari Sandoz is the first volume of the Sandoz Studies series, a collection of thematically grouped essays that feature writing by and about Mari Sandoz and her work. When Sandoz wrote about the women she knew and studied, she did not shy away from drawing attention to the sacrifices, hardships, and disappointments they endured to forge a life in the harsh plains environment. But she also wrote about moments of joy, friendship, and—for some—a connection to the land that encouraged them to carry on.

The scholarly essays and writings of Sandoz contained in this book help place her work into broader contexts, enriching our understanding of her as an author and as a woman deeply connected to the Sandhills of Nebraska.

 

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Friday Reads: The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman CoverIn six months’ time, an asteroid is going to slam into the Earth, ending all life as everyone knows it, and Detective Hank Palace just wants to do his job.

Peter Zell – actuary, ordinary, quiet man, fellow-waiter-for-the-End – is found dead in a McDonald’s bathroom. Suicide, of course. It must be, because all over Concord, and all over the world, people are killing themselves in a preemptive epidemic – it’s the end of the world, and things are beginning to get bad, and they’re only going to get worse before – BAM! – so why not get it out of the way sooner rather than later?

Only Hank – who wanted to be a detective since he was a kid, now, finally, has the chance; all around him people are walking off their jobs, because who wants to clock in when death, confirmed in odds and orbit is hurtling on a direct and unstoppable path towards your species’ sole habitable planet? And those people happen to include detectives, which means rookie cops get promoted years early, making Hank the luckiest, unluckiest man in Concord, depending on your perspective; hey kid, you made it, sorry about the asteroid. Ain’t the just the old sting of existential dread that comes with being a Millennial? – Only Hank isn’t so sure Peter Zell killed himself. Hank, still mostly bright-eyed, still dedicated, with Farley and Leonard’s Criminal Investigation’s textbook memorized, is pretty sure that Peter Zell was murdered.

The Last Policeman is not your everyday detective novel. The elements of a typical mystery are there: the suspects, the clues, the red herrings and the twists, the suspense that moves quick enough to have your spine straightening and your eyes brightening with quickened interest; did we get ‘em, did we figure it out? Remove the asteroid and you have a standard detective story: was a man murdered, and for what? Depending on who the man was, maybe there’s less dragging of feet. Put back the asteroid. Now a man is dead. Maybe murdered, maybe not; does it matter?

To Hank, it matters. He wants to know the story (175). He wants to do his job; a man is dead and that matters, even though they’re all going to die.

I love a good detective story, and if there’s a good, solid human element mixed with a literary style, then I am sold. Winters crafted a doomed world but kept Hank’s chin up enough despite, as one character calls it, “the weight of all this unbearable immanence” (39). It’s a complicated, bittersweet novel that surprised me by having bright moments of humor. Since it is the first in its trilogy, it left some threads dangling, and I am curious to see how Winters develops those plotlines. It is interesting to start a series where the end is pretty much a given – and not a particularly, one must assume, happy end. There was an element of denial I found myself falling into as I read. Because I – like Hank, like everyone – don’t want it to end like that. 

Which creates a fascinating connection between the characters and the reader: to hope, in that ever-irrational, ever-human way, for an impossible way out; that somehow, someone failed to carry a one somewhere and threw the entire model off course; that at the last moment the asteroid is going to veer away and the disaster will be averted and we will all go on living.  

The Last Policeman is followed by Countdown City and World of Trouble.

Winters, Ben H. The Last Policeman. Quirk Books, 2012.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Night Circus”

Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth! #BookFaceFriday!

Join us under the big top for the magic, mystery, and romance that is “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern (Random House Audio, 2011). Braver than a lion, more beautiful than a bearded lady, as nail-biting as the flying trapeze! Morgenstern’s debut novel is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection. This book kit includes a magical Audiobook version, available upon request! Narrated by Jim Dale, who also narrated all of the Harry Potter books.


“Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, is quietly, enchantingly perfect…reading this novel is like having a marvelous dream, in which you are asleep enough to believe everything that is happening, but awake enough to relish the experience and understand that it is magical.”
–Newsday

This week’s #BookFace model is NLC’s Technology & Access Services Librarian, Allana Novotny! Unfortunately, we were not able to coax a rabbit out of the hat.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

“Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!”

I recently finished Shirley Jackson’s 1962 work “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” There’s definitely something lyrical in Jackson’s writing, that perfectly mirrors the narrator, Mary Katherine or “Merricat’s,” sing-song thought process. The children’s rhyme above is repeated throughout the novel underlining the story’s natural rhythm. Merricat lives an isolated existence with her older sister Constance and their invalid Uncle Julien. While Merricat is in her late teens, she still has a childlike existence, playing in the woods, burying treasure, her sole companion (outside her family) a cat named Jonas. Through her, we learn the backstory of a dark family tragedy, the death of her parents, brother, and aunt by poison six years earlier. The authorities charged Constance with murder and she’s acquitted of the crime but it leaves her agoraphobic, unwilling to leave the family’s large estate. The sisters are taunted and ostracized by the small local village, by the children and adults alike. And just as you are settling into this family’s strange routine, a long-lost family member shows up on their doorstep and turns their little world on its head.

I chose this book for a couple of reasons, first, I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone and read different genres and authors. I thought I’d dip my toe in horror with this book and move on to Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” next if it all went well. My second reason is that the movie recently hit theatres and it’s always my goal to read the book first. This was my first Shirley Jackson book, and it will not be my last.

Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Penguin Classics, 2006.

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#BookFaceFriday “Black Cherries”

This #BookFace seemed ripe for the picking…

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

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

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

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Beyond To Kill a Mockingbird

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Friday Reads: Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story is a comic memoir by Jacob Tobia. I recommend the audiobook, read by the author, whose voice is a like a comfortable but sparkly sweater. Tobia is a vegetarian, gender-nonconforming, Syrian-American from North Carolina who got into (but didn’t go to) Harvard, and who grew up loving Sunday School; and if you don’t already know that you have a lot in common with our author, you will realize it quickly.

Tobia tells their story in an irreverent and authentic way, focusing on recognizing human needs, understanding human impulses, acknowledging human discomfort and pain, and just simply being a living and learning person. You might expect the book to be sad or “heavy,” and Tobia does not shy away from frank discussion and language about serious and emotional topics and events. But the book is funny, even while addressing all of that with respect (and did I mention frank language?). As Tobia told Salon in an interview about the book, “I don’t want to talk about what being trans means so much as I want to talk about how being trans feels.” Tobia is not trying to tell the one trans narrative that speaks for all trans people—they are telling one person’s story, their own, and we can all relate.

In the introduction, Tobia discusses gender identity in the context of physical and emotional health that’s especially illuminating. We all have a relationship with our bodies and our genders, relationships that are dynamic over our lifetimes. And we don’t stop growing and learning when we become adults. If anything, that’s when the truly informed growth and awareness can start. The book goes on to tell an engaging story that is far from being over.

Tobia, Jacob. Sissy : A Coming-of-Gender Story. Penguin Publishing Group, 2019.

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#BookFaceFriday “Sister Noon”

Who’s up for a little #BookFace intrigue?

Take a trip to San Francisco, circa 1890 with this week’s #BookFace title. Get to know Ms. Lizzie Hayes as she navigates upper-class society as a middle-aged spinster in “Sister Noon” by Karen Joy Fowler(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002). This book is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is the perfect selection for your book club!

“A playful, mysterious, highly imaginative narrative set in the San Francisco of the 1890’s…Robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never, ever, boring.”—Margot Livesey, The New York Times Book Review

This week’s #BookFace model is Susan Knisley, NLC’s Online Services Librarian. She was kind enough to indulge us and played dress up for this week’s photo.

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 Sally Reading?

Nominees for YALSA’s 2020 Lists Are Updated Weekly

As a follow-up to last month’s “What’s Sally Reading,”  I also want you to know that 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 2020.  Check their blog, The Hub, each week or month to learn what titles are being considered for their Quick Picks (Tuesdays), Amazing Audiobooks (Wednesday), Great Graphic Novels (Thursday), and Best Fiction for Young Adults (Fridays).  You see a copy of the cover and a review of the book, usually two titles per posting.  At the top of each posting is a place to click to see the complete list (so far) for each topic, with title and author only.   Click on the title in this list to go to the review, no hassle to find them!

I am a giraffe fan, so of course I must highlight the picture book, Just Like My Brother written and illustrated by Gianna Marino.  A young giraffe plays hide and seek with her older brother. When looking for him she asks different animals if they have seen him, giving each animal a different characteristic of her brother.  Each animal replies that she has that characteristic too.  Tall, lots of spots, fast – and she begins to see that she does have those characteristics, just in time to confront a leopard that has been stalking her throughout the story.  Attentive young listeners will see both the leopard hiding and her older brother secretly following her – to be sure she is safe.  Delightful, with beautiful illustrations.

(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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Friday Reads: The Lost for Words Bookshop

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland opens with Loveday Cardew, rescuing a book from the gutter in York. England, not Nebraska. Just thought I would clarify so you can get the accent right in your mind. Anyway, the book she pulled from the gutter is sheer poetry, mixed with a bit of mud and grit. It also leads her to another poet, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

Despite her name, Loveday hates people with an awkward passion. It’s easier to control written people than real. When characters annoy you, just skip a few pages or shut the book in their face. It’s been known to happen.

But there is a bit of love mixed between the pages of The Lost for Words Bookshop. Not surprisingly, Loveday is the Byronic hero(ine) with the tortured past here. There is always a tortured past, isn’t there? But it’s not all angst. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this review right now. I would have shut the book in her face. With enthusiasm!

Instead there is growth and a tentative hope for a better future. As often happens, this book about books is really about people. Loveday’s journey shifts between Crime, Poetry, and History. These are not my favorite sections of the bookstore, but this is also not your traditional crime novel. This particular crime had been solved years ago. Sort of. The mystery was how to deal with the fallout. You’ll have to read it to find out.

If you like books about the love of books, paired with a heroine who is discovering life, The Lost for Words Bookshop will help you find your way.

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#BookFaceFriday “On the Road”

We just can’t wait to get on the road again . . .

Passport services at the Library? That’s exactly what we’re talking about in this week’s NCompass Live and #BookFaceFriday! Which made “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac (Penguin Books, 1976) an obvious choice. This title is available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries! 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 12,407 audiobooks and 24,143 eBooks, with new titles added weekly. 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!

On The Road, the most famous of Jack Kerouac’s works, is not only the soul of the Beat movement and literature, but one of the most important novels of the century. Like nearly all of Kerouac’s writing, On The Road is thinly fictionalized autobiography, filled with a cast made of Kerouac’s real life friends, lovers, and fellow travelers. Narrated by Sal Paradise, one of Kerouac’s alter-egos, On the Road is a cross-country bohemian odyssey that not only influenced writing in the years since its 1957 publication but penetrated into the deepest levels of American thought and culture” —Amazon.com Review

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Joseph Leier, Customer Service Manager from the Colorado Passport Agency and presenter in Wednesday’s episode of NCompass Live. Check out the recorded show, “Providing Passports at Your Library” in our NCompass Live archives. Learn how your library could begin offering passport services, generating income with each application.

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

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Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census

The American Library Association has released the Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census, a new resource to prepare libraries for the decennial count of every person living in the United States.

The Guide contains practical information to assist library staff in addressing potential patron and community requests regarding the upcoming 2020 Census. The Guide includes:
• basic information about the Census process;
• highlights of new components in the 2020 Census, such as the online response option;
• frequently asked questions;
• a timeline of key Census dates;
• contact information and links to additional resources.

ALA teamed with the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality to develop the Guide, with support from ALA’s 2020 Census Library Outreach and Education Task Force. ALA plans to provide additional resources for library practitioners in the months leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020.

The Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census is available for free download at ala.org/census.

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