Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: War of the Foxes by Richard Siken

“Trust me. I have things to say” (14).

Poetry is a difficult genre to review. Poetry is a personal subject: for each of our bodies, there is a poetry that corresponds, that resonates and echoes with us.

Richard Siken’s Crush is my favorite collection of poetry – and one of my favorite books. I went through a period in my life when I read it once a week (on Sundays). I’ve recorded myself reading poems from Crush and sent the recordings to romantic prospects (with varying degrees of success, but that says nothing of Siken).

War of the Foxes is not Crush. There is a different amplitude about it. It is less concussive than Crush; more a stiletto knife through rib-spaces than a gut-punch (I like my poetry like a back-alley-fight — I like to come away with marks, impacted). And yet, perhaps it is not fair, I think, to talk about Foxes in the shadow of Crush (though how to separate them? there is no yolk from the white. if you do read Siken, you should start with Crush; the climax and catharsis of grief and the understanding of how he frames poetry is, perhaps, clearer in the older anthology).

So let’s talk about War of the Foxes. We begin in an art gallery. And that is what Foxes is, at the end of it, I believe: an art gallery. This may seem inactive. This is especially so if you do not particularly enjoy art galleries, have not been to an art gallery in a long time, or do not realize that while you are looking at the art, the art is also looking back. “All painting is sent downstream, into the future” (26). There’s the impression that the artist remains the active participant, the repetition of the act of creation, even as the viewer is looking (or we are). But what is the art, and who is the artist, and who is the viewer – these are the questions behind the obvious, behind the poems; “We do not walk through a passive landscape. The paint dries eventually” (6). Using something to talk about something else: this is poetry. (This is a good story). This is an exhibit on history, on war, on love. On birds. Ghosts. Paintings. “What is a ghost? What is a painting? Yes and yes, / the same answers” (42). War of the Foxes invites us to look within each frame and to see what we can find — ourselves, and maybe each other. “What’s the difference between me and the world? / Compartmentalization” (40). Connection is the art of it.

When I selected this book to review and began my post, I didn’t know that I would wake up on December 4th to the news of a new poem by Richard Siken. This is wonderful news because, in the Spring of 2019, Siken suffered a stroke and underwent a long recovery, during which he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to write again. Today, he shared “Real Estate.” I am delighted to have him back again.

Siken, Richard. (2015). War of the Foxes. Copper Canyon Press.

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “New World Sourdough” by Bryan Ford

This #BookFaceFriday is the best thing since sliced bread!

Did you start a pandemic hobby? Learn to knit, bake the perfect loaf of bread, organize your closets? Expand your horizons from the comfort of your home with a new cookbook or craft book, like “New World Sourdough” by award-winning bread maker, Bryan Ford.

“Bryan brings so much heart, soul, and terroir to his bread baking. Each loaf tells a story and I can’t wait to bring those stories to life in my own kitchen.” – Joy Wilson, Joy the Baker

Find this cookbook and many more nonfiction DIY titles through Nebraska OverDrive. 173 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: City of Jade by Fonda Lee

I really enjoyed Jade City by Fonda Lee. While many reviewers drew parallels to the Godfather, I felt more as if I’d been transported into a somewhat different, contemporary Asian city, such as 1990s Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Bangkok. Years ago in this world, Kekon Island, and its people were in a war fought over the control of bioenergetics jade, a stone that gives the wearer super abilities, such as strength, perception, or making the body lighter. The warriors who wear jade, (called Green Bones) use it for added abilities, especially in combat. The war was settled, and foreign soldiers and overlords were defeated. Two of the heroes of that war founded families that helped control the exportation of bioenergetic jade. In the modern capital city, an added source of tension is the introduction of a drug called “Shine”, that can be used to give the ability to use jade to those who don’t have the natural ability. It also has a cost, addicting those that use it.


The characters are complex, and the source of the magic is intriguingly crafted. There is even a world stage, where events in the city and small island, make a difference, as well as influences the action in the story. The book is compared to the Godfather, and mob based movies and books. It’s also been compared to Wuxia (wooSHya) stories, wandering kung fu masters. Science and magic exist side by side, in this 20th century city. There are also family, and interpersonal relationships that helped pull me into the story, along with the awesome world building.

It is also a multiple viewpoint story, with a family with all the quirks of a real one. Kaul Sen, the grandfather, fought in the liberating guerilla war, where his son Kaul Du died. Kaul Lan, 35, the oldest grandson, is the current Pillar, leader of the clan, competent, cautious, and ambassadorial. Kaul Hilo, is the Fist of the clan, an extroverted, impulsive younger man. And their sister Kaul Shia, has come home from college abroad, with a degree in business, and determined to construct a life for herself away from clan business. A large part of clan business is the regulation of crime, especially the ownership of bioenergetic jade, only legally used by “Green Bones” Kekoneese clan members, whether they are warriors or lawyers, or businessmen. This jade, only found and mined on Kekon island, grants those attuned to it to use powers verging on magical, strength, lightness, perception, healing, to those who are trained to use it. It is only a stone, to the Abukei, indigenous to Kekon. The rest of the world, it is used by special armed forces, with the help of a drug called “Shine.”

The family itself has enough conflict for a novel, but the jade being mined is not all reaching the Kaul clan. The Ayt clan is trying to consolidate all the clans in their own. Violently, for the most part. The island is still not free from the foreign interests that they warred in an earlier generation.

Jade War, is the second title in the trilogy, and is already out.

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

NCompass Live: Reading Diversely

Learn about ‘Reading Diversely’ on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, December 2 at 10am CT.

Nebraska Library Association Diversity Committee members will booktalk diverse titles and share resources for finding more reading to diversify your shelves. Attendees will be encouraged to share titles of diverse literature they have read to create a list for everyone to use.

Presenters: Tim Lentz, Chair, Nebraska Library Association Diversity Committee and Community Resource Librarian, Hastings Public Library.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Dec. 9 – Esports and Evidence-Based Connected Learning
  • Dec. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Video Production: Tools, Tips and Tricks

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.

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten” by Barbara Park

Gobble-gobble! We’re so thankful it’s #BookFaceFriday!

Here’s a kid’s title we can really sink our teeth into this holiday weekend. Feisty and fun, Junie B. Jones has long been a favorite among young chapter book readers!

“Junie B. is the darling of the young-reader set” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

Find this title and many more from this series through Nebraska OverDrive. 173 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

Posted in Books & Reading, Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State-wide Winter Reading Challenge – Snow Many Great Books!

The Nebraska Regional Library Systems and the Nebraska Library Commission want citizens of Nebraska to stay warm this winter and enjoy the terrific library books available in public libraries across the state.

To participate, go to ReaderZone.com or download the Reader Zone app on your smart device. Register for the Snow Many Great Books! program with this 5-digit code 93723. Complete at least eight of the twenty challenges by February 28th to be eligible for a Grand Prize Drawing for one of three $50 Visa Gift Cards. Please choose books you’ve never read from your home library. Books can be fiction or nonfiction, and J, YA, or Adult. Contest is open to all Nebraskans ages 10 and older. Drawing will be held March 15, 2021.

  1. Read a book with “snow” in the title.
  2. Read a book set in a place where it typically snows.
  3. Read a book in bed, under a blanket.
  4. Read a book with a recipe in it.
  5. Read any large print book.
  6. Read a nonfiction book about a winter sport.
  7. Read a book with a picture of a penguin or a polar bear on the cover.
  8. Read with a scarf and gloves on.
  9. Read a book about traditions.
  10. Read a favorite book from your own childhood.
  11. Read a book that became a movie.
  12. Read to someone younger than you.
  13. Read a book on a cold and snowy day.
  14. Read a book with “blue” in the title.
  15. Listen to any audiobook.
  16. Read in your pajamas.
  17. Read a book where winter plays a part in the story.
  18. Read a book with a one-word title.
  19. Read a classic you’ve been meaning to read.
  20. Read a book recommended by your librarian.

This activity is supported in part with funding from the State of Nebraska and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provision of the Library Services and Technology Act as administrated by the Nebraska Library Commission.

Posted in Books & Reading | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Pie Academy” by Ken Haedrich

We’re drooling over this #BookFaceFriday!

Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shake things up in the kitchen and try out a new dessert. We’ve all got a little more time on our hands at home, so push up your sleeves, sprinkle some flour on the counter, and roll out the perfect pie crust for your Turkey Day feast.

“An excellent resource for home bakers looking to up their pie game.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The wide-ranging, well-curated mix of classic and contemporary recipes and expert advice make this an essential primer for avid home bakers.” Library Journal, starred review

This cookbook and many more are available through Nebraska OverDrive. 173 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

Posted in Books & Reading, Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

This review is a two for one special: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves and How Innovation Works, both by Matt Ridley. One book leads into the other, so it’s a good pairing. Both books make the case that the world doesn’t suck quite as bad as we all thought, and discusses how life can get better through innovation. It’s a nice concept, so let’s start with some rational optimism. 

I first encountered The Rational Optimist ten years ago in my college library. I didn’t read it then. The description on the back of the book claimed that “life is getting better at an accelerated rate”. I had to wipe off the back of the book after snorting in disbelief. This was before Covid, otherwise I would have used my ever-present disinfectant wipe. All of my college classes to date would blatantly disagree with the “life is getting better” statement.

It took me ten years and a lot of living before I finally read this book. The book stretches back in time to illustrate what life used to be for people all around the world. If you have ever watched historical movies, taken a history class, read books, or gone to a museum, you probably have an inkling of the comparatively primitive ways people onced lived. Ridley picks out excellent examples across history to demonstrate that quality of life is indeed improving.

At some point I set the book down and considered college. Many of the class discussions centered on why organizations, processes, government, and the interwoven systems of a nation were not working effectively right now. Depending upon the course, there was little discussion about how poorly those same systems worked in the past, if they even existed at all. Over time, there is definitely an improvement. If nothing else, The Rational Optimist made me look at the evolution of prosperity in a different way. Humans can now do more with less using different technology and processes. Consider the way we get around in trains, planes and automobiles. A series of systems were developed to leverage these technologies and diversify access. The system isn’t perfect, but in the grand scheme of things, transportation has come a long way.

Read the book for the deep dive, it’s interesting. But for the sake of time in this review, let’s fast forward to 2020 where Ridley digs into How Innovation Works. This book digs into the process of innovation. Innovation is “the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people”. Read the Goodreads description for the definition of innovation that got me to read the book. Innovation is necessary for change. It seems obvious, but it’s true.

How Innovation Works tells the individual stories of innovations that have changed the world. Yes, the innovation of coffee did change the world. I heat water for coffee in my microwave. When I’m lazy, microwavable dinners save the day. Robots are making microwaves. I bought my microwave online. I find recipes for microwave meals on my smartphone. I find tutorials for robot STEM activities while my meal is cooking. I run on coffee. The world runs on innovation. 

That is why schools and libraries everywhere are concentrating deeply on innovation. Think about the maker movement, STEM and STEAM activities. I started looking at the wider world and exploring problems that really need solving. Innovation happens when inventions solve a practical problem people face everyday. This book and others changed the way I look at innovation in the library. Look to the world for opportunities of innovation, then funnel innovation towards what matters most to people. It’s a work in progress.

Long story short: read the books. Good things will happen.

Ridley, Matt. How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom, 2020. Print.

Ridley, Matt. “Rational Optimist.” New Scientist. 206.2766 (2010): 30-30. Print.

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged | Leave a comment

NCompass Live: Summer Reading Program 2021: Tails and Tales

Get ready for the 2021 Summer Reading Program, Tails and Tales, on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, November 18 at 10am CT.

Get ready for next summer by learning about quality books to consider for your library’s collection and start planning for Tails and Tales. Kids will be clamoring for both fiction and nonfiction titles as they read all about animals, the topic for the 2021 Summer Reading Program.

Presenter: Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Nov. 25 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Teach Kids to Podcast, or Start Your Own!
  • Dec. 2 – Reading Diversely
  • Dec. 9 – Esports and Evidence-Based Connected Learning
  • Dec. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Video Production: Tools, Tips and Tricks

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.

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, Youth Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

Imagine yourself in lovely Victorian-era England with grand homes, elegant balls, and a large steam powered dirigible school floating by.

Wait…what?

The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger is an absolutely lovely young adult series that follows one Miss Sophronia Temminnick through her time at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Classes include “Fainting in a crowd to attract attention” and “Buying poison and planning dinner on a limited budget”.

Hold on! What?

As the books progress we’re taken out of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy into the greater world. In Scotland we’re introduced to Sophronias friend Sidhegs pack, her grandfather and uncles, all of whom are werewolves. And to London where the vampires are trying to undermine a plot they just know the Picklemen are trying to run against them.

STOP!!!! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?

I absolutely love this series! The fantasy elements are done in such a way as to seem completely plausible and familiar. This is neither a dystopian set of novels, which seem to be so popular these days, or a “princess in need of rescuing” story. These girls can take care of themselves thank you very much! Not a fan of YA? Most of Gail Carrigers other books all take place in this same lovely world but are decidedly not YA.

Oh! I almost forgot my favorite part – the mechanicals! Simple household type tasks are carried out by these steam and gear-powered robots. Sophronia happens upon one, which happens to look like a dachshund, early on in the series whom she eventually carries around like a purse. Isn’t that just the cutest thing?

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Code Talker” by Joseph Bruchac

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War II” by Joseph Bruchac (Dial Books, 2005) is a part of the NLC Book Club collection! Even better, your book club can celebrate Veteran’s Day all month long with our book club search engine’s Category setting. Quickly find fiction and non-fiction books covering the topic of War and Military Service.

“Bruchac’s gentle prose presents a clear historical picture of young men in wartime, island hopping across the Pacific, waging war in the hells of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima. Nonsensational and accurate, Bruchac’s tale is quietly inspiring…” —School Library Journal

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

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town, by Barbara Demick

Barbara Demick’s 2009 book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, blew me away with the eye-opening window it provided into everyday life in North Korea. In Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town, published this past July, Demick offers similar insight into Tibet by profiling a handful of individuals whose lived experiences paint a representative picture of life in a little-known land.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in my limited knowledge of Tibet. I associate it with the Dalai Lama, living in exile in India; Mount Everest, located on the border between Nepal and Tibet; and conflicts with the Chinese government, which claims sovereignty over it. After reading Demick’s book, I’ve definitely expanded my knowledge of the issues Tibetans have faced, particularly since 1950 when the Chinese army “liberated” them on behalf of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party.

Demick’s subjects tell tales of property seizure and struggle sessions. They also suffered from famine–a result of collectivization coordinated by cadres who ignored the delicate balance Tibetans had previously maintained between herding and high-altitude farming. Perhaps the biggest affront, however, was the Chinese government’s effort to suppress Tibetan’s religion, culture, and language through attacks on monks, monasteries, and the Dalai Lama:

Seeing the monks humiliated, statues smashed, and paintings burned shook Tibetans to the core. Buddhism provided the rituals through which the seasons were measured, births celebrated, and deaths grieved. . . . The attacks on religion alienated Tibetans who might otherwise have supported the Communist Party’s efforts to stamp out feudalism and create social equality. (48)

Not surprisingly, monasteries have become primary sites of contemporary Tibetan resistance. Initially demolished or repurposed in the late 1950s, monasteries started reopening in 1980. By 1994, however, the Communist Party had started cracking down on them again to “rein in Tibetan religious life” (144). Since then conflicts have escalated until, in 2009, a young monk set himself on fire, triggering a wave of self-immolations over subsequent years. (The 156th occurred on November 26, 2019.)

Due to the shocking nature of this means of political protest, self-immolations have received international media coverage. If you are like me, this may be the primary reason you have even the slightest inkling of what’s been happening in Tibet. If you’d like to learn more, however, you now have a book recommendation: Barbara Demick’s Eat the Buddha!

Demick, Barbara. Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town. New York: Random House, 2020.

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Vote For Cupcakes” by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

This #BookFaceFriday gets our vote!

Have an aspiring baker at your house? “Vote For Cupcakes” is the 10th book in The Cupcake Club series, which follows 4th grader Kylie and her cupcake-baking buddies as they battle the mean girls and deliver sweet treats. The series is written by Sheryl Berk and her cupcake-obsessed daughter Carrie. Their recipes are included in each book – yum!

“Kids and cupcakes are the perfect recipe!”—Sophie and Katerine, stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes

The whole series is available through Nebraska OverDrive. 173 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

Posted in Books & Reading, Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 3, 2020

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

Young readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the Nebraska Letters about Literature (LAL) contest, a state reading and writing promotion program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre-fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic-explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s view of the world. Submissions must be completed online November 1- December 31, 2020. Nebraska Letters About Literature is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Houchen Bindery, Ltd., Humanities Nebraska, and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

The Nebraska Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select a winner and alternate per competition level (Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8, and Level III for grades 9-12) to be honored in a proclamation-signing ceremony at the state capitol during National Library Week in April 2021. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. Nebraska winners and alternates will receive state prizes.

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download the contest guidelines, free teaching materials, information on the online entry system, and past winning letters on the Nebraska Center for the Book website. There will be an informational NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, November 4th at 10:00 am CT discussing this year’s contest. Get inspired by listening to past Nebraska winners, Ashley Xiques and Sydney Kohl, read and talk about their letters on NET Radio’s All About Books (netnebraska.org/basic-page/radio/all-about-books). For more information contact Nebraska Center for the Book.

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.”

###

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 .

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Nebraska Center for the Book, Public Relations | Leave a comment

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 September and October 2020:

Anything Will Be Easy After This : A Western Identity Crisis Bethany Maile (Series: American Lives)

Bethany Maile had a mythological American West in mind when she returned to Idaho after dropping out of college in Boston, only to find a farm-town-turned-suburb instead of the Wild West wonderland she remembered. Haunted by what she had so completely misremembered, Maile resolved to investigate her attachment to the western myth, however flawed.

Deciding to engage in a variety of “western” events, Maile trailed rodeo queens, bid on cattle, fired .22s at the gun range, and searched out wild horses. With lively reportage and a sharp wit, she recounts her efforts to understand how the western myth is outdated yet persistent while ultimately exploring the need for story and the risks inherent to that need. Anything Will Be Easy after This traces Maile’s evolution from a girl suckered by a busted-down story to a more knowing woman who discovers a new narrative that enchants without deluding.

Beckoning Frontiers : The Memoir of a Wyoming Entrepreneur George W. T. Beck, Edited and with an introduction by Lynn J. Houze and Jeremy M. Johnston (Series: The Papers of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody)

George W. T. Beck, an influential rancher and entrepreneur in the American West, collaborated with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody to establish the town of Cody, Wyoming, in the 1890s. He advanced his financial investments in Wyoming through his numerous personal and professional contacts with various eastern investors and politicians in Washington DC. Beck’s family—his father a Kentucky senator and his mother a grandniece of George Washington—and his adventures in the American West resulted in personal associates who ranged from western legends Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, and Calamity Jane to wealthy American elites such as George and Phoebe Hearst and Theodore Roosevelt.

This definitive edition of Beck’s memoir provides a glimpse of early life in Wyoming, offering readers a rare perspective on how community boosters cooperated with political leaders and wealthy financiers. Beck’s memoir, introduced and annotated by Lynn J. Houze and Jeremy M. Johnston, offers a unique and sometimes amusing view of financial dealings in eastern boardrooms, as well as stories of Beck’s adventures with Buffalo Bill in Wyoming. Beck’s memoir demonstrates not only his interest in developing the West but also his humor and his willingness to collaborate with a variety of people.

Foxlogic, Fireweed Jennifer K. Sweeney (Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry)

Winner of the Backwaters Prize in Poetry, Jennifer K. Sweeney’s Foxlogic, Fireweed follows a lyrical sequence of five physical and emotional terrains—floodplain, coast, desert, suburbia, and mesa—braiding themes of nature, domesticity, isolation, and human relationships. These are poems of the earth’s wild heart, its searing mysteries, its hollows, and its species, poems of the complex domestic space, of before and after motherhood, gun terror, the election, of dislocation and home, and of how we circle toward and away from our centers. Sweeney is not afraid to take up the domestic and inner lives of women, a nuanced relationship with the natural world that feels female or even maternal, or a duty to keeping alive poetry’s big questions of transcendence, revelation, awe, and deep presence in the ordinary.

If the Body Allows It Megan Cummins (Series: Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, If the Body Allows It is divided into six parts and framed by the story of Marie, a woman in her thirties living in Newark, New Jersey. Suffering from a chronic autoimmune illness, she also struggles with guilt over the overdose and death of her father, whom she feels she betrayed at the end of his life. The stories within the frame—about failed marriages, places of isolation and protection, teenage mistakes, and forging a life in the aftermath—are the stories the narrator writes after she meets and falls in love with a man whose grief mirrors her own. If the Body Allows It explores illness and its aftermath, guilt and addiction, and the relationships the characters form after they’ve lost everyone else, including themselves.

Introspective, devastating, and funny, If the Body Allows It grapples with the idea that life is always on the brink of never being the same again.

Knowing Native Arts Nancy Marie Mithlo

Knowing Native Arts brings Nancy Marie Mithlo’s Native insider perspective to understanding the significance of Indigenous arts in national and global milieus. These musings, written from the perspective of a senior academic and curator traversing a dynamic and at turns fraught era of Native self-determination, are a critical appraisal of a system that is often broken for Native peoples seeking equity in the arts.

Mithlo addresses crucial issues, such as the professionalization of Native arts scholarship, disparities in philanthropy and training, ethnic fraud, and the receptive scope of Native arts in new global and digital realms. This contribution to the field of fine arts broadens the scope of discussions and offers insights that are often excluded from contemporary appraisals.

Lonesome Dreamer : the Life of John G. Neihardt Timothy G. Anderson

American poet and writer John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) possessed an inquiring and spiritual mind. Those qualities came to the fore in Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Lakota holy man Black Elk, for which he is best remembered. Over the course of thirty years he also wrote a five-volume epic poem, A Cycle of the West, which told the story of the settling of the American West. 

Despite Neihardt’s widespread name recognition, the success of Black Elk Speaks, and a list of critically acclaimed books and poems, Lonesome Dreamer is the first biography of Neihardt in nearly forty years. Timothy G. Anderson describes Neihardt’s life from his humble beginnings in Illinois, to being named poet laureate of Nebraska in 1921, to his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show at the age of ninety. Anderson also delves into Neihardt’s success as a poet far from the East Coast literary establishment, his resistance to modernist movements in poetry, and his wish to understand and describe the experience of the Plains Indians. Offering insight into both his personal and his literary life, this biography reaffirms Neihardt’s place in American literary history, his successes and failures, and his unbreakable spirit.

Nebraska : Poems Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is not a native Nebraskan. Born in Ghana, he later moved to Jamaica, where he spent most of his childhood and early adulthood. In 1992 he relocated to the United States and eventually found himself an American living in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In Nebraska, this beautiful and evocative collection of poems, Dawes explores a theme constant in his work—the intersection of memory, home, and artistic invention. The poems, set against the backdrop of Nebraska’s discrete cycle of seasons, are meditative even as they search for a sense of place in a new landscape. While he shovels snow or walks in the bitter cold to his car, he is engulfed with memories of Kingston, yet when he travels, he finds himself longing for the open space of the plains and the first snowfall. With a strong sense of place and haunting memories, Dawes grapples with life in Nebraska as a transplant.

Nebraska Isolation & Quarantine Manual Edited by Theodore J. Cieslak, Mark G. Kortepeter, Christopher J. Kratochvil, and James V. Lawler

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has gained international recognition for its expertise in the control and management of highly infectious diseases, with a good deal of public attention given to its work during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in west Africa and now in 2020 with its biocontainment and treatment of more than a dozen cruise ship evacuees who were exposed to the coronavirus. The Nebraska Isolation and Quarantine Manual is a practical guide for local public health officials, emergency management personnel, and health care providers looking to implement evidence-based best practices in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.  

Nebraska’s Bucks & Bulls : the Greatest Stories of Hunting Whitetail, Mule Deer, and Elk in the Cornhusker State Joel W. Helmer

Eclipsing Memorial Stadium on a Husker football game day, deer season is arguably the largest single sporting event of the year in Nebraska, with more than one hundred thousand hunters going afield with the hopes of tagging a trophy buck or bull.

Nebraska’s Bucks and Bulls tells the stories and shares the photographs of the greatest whitetail, mule deer, and elk shot in Nebraska. Collected through firsthand interviews with the hunters, these personal hunting stories span the decades from the mid-1940s through the 2010s. Each story shares the excitement and adventure of the hunt while weaving in Nebraska history, ecology, and geography. Photographs of the trophy animals showcase not only the quality and variety of big-game hunting in Nebraska but also the changes in hunting clothes, gear, guns, and vehicles through the state’s history.

Recounted by Joel W. Helmer, an avid hunter and official measurer for the Boone and Crockett Club, which created the scoring system for measuring North American big-game animals, each chapter tells the story of a buck or bull certified through official state or national records books. Nebraska’s Bucks and Bulls has finally gathered the state’s greatest hunting tales in one place.

Nepantla Squared : Transgender Mestiz@ Histories in Times of Global Shift Linda Heidenreich (Series: Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality)

Nepantla Squared maps the lives of two transgender mestiz@s, one during the turn of the twentieth century and one during the turn of the twenty-first century, to chart the ways race, gender, sex, ethnicity, and capital function differently in different times. To address the erasure of transgender mestiz@ realities from history, Linda Heidenreich employs an intersectional analysis that critiques monopoly and global capitalism. Heidenreich builds on the work of Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of nepantleras, those who could live between and embody more than one culture, to coin the term nepantla², marking times of capitalist transition where gender was also in motion. Transgender mestiz@s, too, embodied that movement.

Heidenreich insists on a careful examination of the multiple in-between spaces that construct lives between cultures and genders during in-between times of shifting empire and capital. In so doing, they offer an important discussion of race, class, nation, and citizenship centered on transgender bodies of color that challenges readers to rethink the way they understand the gendered social and economic challenges of today.

Sky Songs : Meditations on Loving a Broken World Jennifer Sinor (Series: American Lives)

Sky Songs is a collection of essays that takes inspiration from the ancient seabed in which Jennifer Sinor lives, an elemental landscape that reminds her that our lives are shaped by all that has passed through. Beginning with the conception of her first son, which coincided with the tragic death of her uncle on an Alaskan river, and ending a decade later in the Himalayan home of the Dalai Lama, Sinor offers a lyric exploration of language, love, and the promise inherent in the stories we tell: to remember.

In these essays, Sinor takes us through the mountains, deserts, and rivers of the West and along with her on her travels to India. Whether rooted in the dailiness of raising children or practicing yoga, Sinor searches for the places where grace resides. The essays often weave several narrative threads together in the search for relationship and connection. A mother, writer, teacher, and yoga instructor, Sinor ultimately tackles the most difficult question: how to live in a broken world filled with both suffering and grace.

Some Are Always Hungry Jihyun Yun (Series: Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry)

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Some Are Always Hungry chronicles a family’s wartime survival, immigration, and heirloom trauma through the lens of food, or the lack thereof. Through the vehicle of recipe, butchery, and dinner table poems, the collection negotiates the myriad ways diasporic communities comfort and name themselves in other nations, as well as the ways cuisine is inextricably linked to occupation, transmission, and survival. Dwelling on the personal as much as the historical, Some Are Always Hungry traces the lineage of the speaker’s place in history and diaspora through mythmaking and cooking, which is to say, conjuring.

Sporting Realitites : Critical Readings of the Sports Documentary Edited by Samantha N. Sheppard and Travis Vogan (Series: Sports, Media, and Society)

Despite the increasing number of popular and celebrated sports documentaries in contemporary culture, such as ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, there has been little scholarly engagement with this genre. Sports documentaries, like all films, do not merely showcase objective reality but rather construct specific versions of sporting culture that serve distinct economic, industrial, institutional, historical, and sociopolitical ends ripe for criticism, contextualization, and exploration.

Sporting Realities brings together a diverse group of scholars to probe the sports documentary’s cultural meanings, aesthetic practices, industrial and commercial dimensions, and political contours across historical, social, medium-specific, and geographic contexts. It considers and critiques the sports documentary’s visible and powerful position in contemporary culture and forges novel connections between the study of nonfiction media and sport.

Talking Books with Mario Vargas Llosa : A Retrospective Edited by Raquel Chang-Rodríguez and Carlos Riobó (Series: New Hispanisms)

The essays included in Talking Books with Mario Vargas Llosa celebrate Mario Vargas Llosa’s visits to the City College of New York, the creation of the Cátedra Vargas Llosa in his honor, and the interests of the Peruvian author in reading and books. This volume contains previously unpublished material by Vargas Llosa himself, as well as by novelists and literary critics associated with the Cátedra.

This collection offers readers an opportunity to learn about Vargas Llosa’s body of work through multiple perspectives: his own and those of eminent fiction writers and important literary critics. The book offers significant analysis and rich conversation that bring to life many of the Nobel Laureate’s characters and provide insights into his writing process and imagination. As the last surviving member of the original group of writers of the Latin American Boom—which included Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Julio Cortázar—Vargas Llosa endures as a literary icon because his fiction has remained fresh and innovative. His prolific works span many different themes and subgenres.

A combination of literary analyses and anecdotal contributions in this volume reveal the little-known human and intellectual dimensions of Vargas Llosa the writer and Vargas Llosa the man.

History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Keith L. Bryant Jr. and Fred W. Frailey

Cyrus K. Holliday envisioned a railroad that would run from Kansas to the Pacific, increasing the commerce and prosperity of the nation. With farsighted investors and shrewd management, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway grew from Holliday’s idea into a model of the modern, rapid, and efficient railroad. There were many growing pains early on, including rustlers, thieves, and desperadoes as well as the nineteenth century’s economic and climatic hardships. The railroad eventually extended from Chicago to San Francisco, with substantial holdings in oil fields, timber land, uranium mines, pipelines, and real estate.

This is the first comprehensive history of the iconic Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, from its birth in 1859 to its termination in 1996. This volume discusses the construction and operation of the railway, the strategies of its leaders, the evolution of its locomotive fleet, and its famed passenger service with partner Fred Harvey. The vast changes within the nation’s railway system led to a merger with the Burlington Northern and the creation of the BNSF Railway.

An iconic railroad, the Santa Fe at its peak operated thirteen thousand miles of routes and served the southwestern region of the nation with the corporate slogan “Santa Fe All the Way.” This new edition covers almost twenty-five more years of history, including the merger of the Santa Fe and Burlington Northern railroads and new material on labor, minorities, and women on the carrier along with new and updated maps and photographs.

Thinking About the Prophets : A Philosopher Reads the Bible Kenneth Seeskin (Series: JPS Essential Judaism)

Rethinking the great literary prophets whose ministry ran from the eighth to the sixth centuries BCE—Amos, Hosea, First Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Second Isaiah, and Job—Thinking about the Prophets examines their often-shocking teachings in light of their times, their influence on later Western and Jewish thinkers, and their enduring lessons for all of us. As a noted scholar of Jewish philosophy, Kenneth Seeskin teases out philosophical, ethical, and theological questions in the writings, such as the nature of moral reasoning, the divine persona, divine providence, the suffering of the innocent, the power of repentance, and what it means to believe in a monotheistic conception of God.

Seeskin demonstrates that great ideas are not limited by time or place, but rather once put forth, take on a life of their own. Thus he interweaves the medieval and modern philosophers Maimonides, Kant, Cohen, Buber, Levinas, Heschel, and Soloveitchik, all of whom read the prophets and had important things to say as a result. We come to see the prophets perhaps in equal measure as divinely authorized whistle-blowers and profound thinkers of the human condition.

Readers of all levels will find this volume an accessible and provoking introduction to the enduring significance of biblical prophecy.

Too Strong To Be Broken : The Life of Edward J. Driving Hawk Edward J. Driving Hawk and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Series: American Indian Lives)

Too Strong to Be Broken explores the dynamic life of Edward J. Driving Hawk, a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, former president of the National Congress of American Indians, husband, father, recovered alcoholic, and convicted felon.

Driving Hawk’s story begins with his childhood on the rural plains of South Dakota, then follows him as he travels back and forth to Asia for two wars and journeys across the Midwest and Southwest. In his positions of leadership back in the United States, Driving Hawk acted in the best interest of his community, even when sparring with South Dakota governor Bill Janklow and the FBI.

After retiring from public service, he started a construction business and helped create the United States Reservation Bank and Trust. Unfortunately, a key participant in the bank embezzled millions and fled, leaving Driving Hawk to take the blame. Rather than plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, the seventy-four-year-old grandfather went to prison for a year and a day, even as he suffered the debilitating effects of Agent Orange.

Driving Hawk fully believes that the spirits of his departed ancestors watched out for him during his twenty-year career in the U.S. Air Force, including his exposure to Agent Orange, and throughout his life as he survived surgeries, strokes, a tornado, a plane crash, and alcoholism. With the help of his sister, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, Driving Hawk recounts his life’s story alongside his wife, Carmen, and their five children.

Wildlife of Nebraska : A Natural History Paul A. Johnsgard

In Wildlife of Nebraska: A Natural History, Paul A. Johnsgard surveys the variety and biology of more than six hundred Nebraska species. Narrative accounts describe the ecology and biology of the state’s birds, its mammals, and its reptiles and amphibians, summarizing the abundance, distributions, and habitats of this wildlife. To provide an introduction to the state’s major ecosystems, climate, and topography, Johnsgard examines major public-access natural areas, including national monuments, wildlife refuges and grasslands, state parks and wildlife management areas, and nature preserves.

Including more than thirty-five line drawings by the author along with physiographic, ecological, and historical maps, Wildlife of Nebraska is an essential guide to the wildlife of the Cornhusker State.


  **

All book covers and synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press  (https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/)

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, General, Information Resources, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | Leave a comment

NCompass Live: Letters About Literature

Learn about Nebraska’s state reading and writing contest for youth, Letters About Literature, on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, November 4 at 10am CT.

Nebraska Letters About Literature is a state reading and writing competition that asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives. This session will provide helpful information for teachers and librarians interested in the competition. It will also cover the new submission process and be an excellent opportunity to ask questions about the entire competition process.

Presenters: Tessa Terry – Communications Coordinator, Nebraska Library Commission; Christine Walsh – Assistant Library Director, Kearney Public Library, and Nebraska Center for the Book President.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Tues. Nov. 10 – Creating an Open Educational Resource: Grenzenlos Deutsch, German Language Online Curriculum
  • Nov. 18 – Summer Reading Program 2021: Tails and Tales
  • Nov. 25 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • Dec. 2 – Reading Diversely
  • Dec. 9 – Esports and Evidence-Based Connected Learning

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.

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, Youth Services | Tagged | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson

I am almost always drawn to books with the words book, bookshop, library or librarian in the title. The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson, caught my attention first with the title, then the unusual plot, then the location. Having lived in the Denver area for 22 years, this book was like walking down familiar streets again. I was hooked from the very first page, and I was 7/8’s of the way through before I figured out the awesome plot twist. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined, and learn to live with the result. (Amazon)

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Once a Witch” by Carolyn MacCullough

Let #BookFaceFriday cast a spell on you!

Happy Halloween from NLC! Take advantage of all the spooky reads available on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, like “Once a Witch” by Carolyn MacCullough (HMH Books, 2010). It’s available in eBook format, and if this title doesn’t sound like the perfect Halloween read check out our A Book a Day Keeps the Monsters Away (YA Horror) collection for more choices. 173 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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.

“[MacCullough] has created an enormously sympathetic character in Tamsin, whose itchy relationship with her family will resonate with teens struggling to define themselves. Characters, setting, conflict—all develop nicely to create a light urban fantasy that goes down easy and will have readers asking for its sequel.”—Kirkus Reviews

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!

Posted in Books & Reading, Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard

Book cover with title "Half Baked Harvest Super Simple More than 125 recipes for instant, overnight, meal-prepped, and easy comfort foods" on top. Author Tieghan Gerard on bottom. Image in center of oval serving dish with chicken, lemon slices, and cherry tomatoes.

As we seem to be jumping right into winter weather this week, it’s the best time for soups, comfort foods in general, and so much baking.

Tieghan Gerard’s Half Baked Harvest Super Simple is my current favorite cookbook with “more than 125 recipes for instant, overnight, meal-prepped, and easy comfort foods.” Recipes like browned sage-butter chicken pot pie” (p. 172) or broccoli cheddar soup (p. 94) are perfect for cold, rainy/snowy weeknights.

The recipes are divided into: basics, breakfast and brunch, appetizers and sides, salad and soup, pizza and pasta, vegetarian, poultry and pork, beef and lamb, seafood and fish, and dessert. Each recipe fits on a single page with a short personal note from Tieghan (such as growing up in the Ohio and her love of Top ramen which has now become a more “grown-up” version with garlic-butter noodles). She includes different instructions for cooking on a stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker, as well as ingredient alternatives. The recipes are intended to be fairly easy to make without a long list of ingredients. Some recipes include premade or store-bought items, like her Blondie Brownie Bars (p. 274) which includes a boxed brownie mix or the Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup (p. 91) which includes a box of mini potato gnocchi. But some days, there’s just not time to make everything from scratch and the recipes make them super delicious. (She also has a five ingredient hazelnut brownie recipe or cinnamon rolls with chai frosting which are both incredibly easy and wonderful.)

Along with the recipes, the photography in this book is gorgeous. The book is well worth checking out just to look at the pretty pictures of delicious food.

Gerard, T. Half baked harvest super simple. Clarkson Potter. 2019.

Posted in Books & Reading | Tagged | Leave a comment

#BookFaceFriday “Took: A Ghost Story” by Mary Downing Hahn

We’re very taken with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

It’s the perfect time of year for a spooky story like Mary Downing Hahn’s Took: A Ghost Story. Grab a blanket, a warm cup of cider, and a tale of terror… if you dare…

“This creepy tale skillfully weaves in—and honors—the oral tradition of folklore, legends, and ghost stories.”

Horn Book Magazine

It’s available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

Posted in Books & Reading, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment