Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: The Naked Mountaineer

MountaineerSteve Sieberson is a world traveler – and a mountaineer. His law career has taken him to numerous foreign places. His expertise in international business has included lecturing and advising. In 2006 he joined the Creighton University Law School faculty. Sieberson’s writing includes a recent textbook on international business contracting. But for those of us not closely connected to international business his book on mountaineering is a much more interesting read.

I met Steve Sieberson and his wife Carmel at an Omaha Public Library book event. It was there that I picked up a copy of his book, The Naked Mountaineer: Misadventures of an Alpine Traveler (University of Nebraska Press). Outside of his years as a practicing attorney and international businessman, Sieberson developed a passion for mountaineering. A family trip one summer from his rural home in northwest Iowa to Colorado began his lifetime fascination with high elevations. From there he read books on mountaineering, books that he found at his local library. His boyhood fascination has endured through his adult years.

Sieberson’s move to Seattle and his many years there provided the proximity to enjoy his passion for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. During his years in Seattle he was a member of Seattle Mountain Rescue and the Mountaineers organization. The Naked Mountaineer is a delightful commentary on Sieberson’s global travels and opportunities to climb many of the world’s highest and most challenging mountains – the Matterhorn, Mount Agung, Mount Fuji and many more. Especially enjoyable are his commentaries about his experiences as a climber – the places, the people, and the customs. His passion and his good humor are found throughout his book.

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Friday Reads: The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch

FRLiesLockeLamoraI’ve always enjoyed a good adventure tale—swords, boots, sailing ships. These days, many of those are found in the Fantasy genre and often include some magic or monsters as well. Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora fits the bill with the added bonus of a caper. This book is the first in an on-going series, currently three volumes long and looking toward a fourth in 2016. Our protagonist, Locke Lamora, has been raised by a Fagin-esque mentor as a well-educated thief and swindler in a late medieval alternate universe of city states. Much of the action involves Locke and his pals (gang?) cleverly swindling an aristocrat while becoming entangled in lethal underworld wars. Think “Ocean’s Eleven” in tights mixed with a little “Gangs of New York” and a helping of “Game of Thrones.” The twisty fast-moving plot and the charm of the characters carry the book along. Some of the violence is extreme, and the language is salty—although inventive. I listened to the audio version, narrated by Michael Page. The other books in the series are Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves.

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Friday Reads: The Whites by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt

whites“When I was in prison, I was wrapped up in all those deep books. That Tolstoy crap – people shouldn’t read that stuff.”

–Mike Tyson

The Whites, by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt (more on that later) tells the familiar story of police detectives chasing criminals. The story mostly follows main character detective Billy Graves (still on the force but relegated to the night shift after some mishaps) and his cop friends (who have all left the force). Each of them has their own “white”, which is a reference to the white whale or Moby Dick. In this case the white is the one person that they believe got away with a brutal crime, but whose guilt cannot concretely be proved. Thus, their white roams free, escaping any societal punishment. Instead of tracking them down, injecting them with M99, encasing them in plastic, giving them their just desserts in a way not suitable for the squeamish (think power tools) and then dumping them into the ocean ala Dexter Morgan, the detectives just remain haunted by the open cases and continue to work the system to try and develop a new lead or evidence to connect the dots. Ho-hum. At least until the whites start turning up dead; certainly not in Dexter Morgan fashion, but dead nonetheless. And Price navigates the moral waters of such a course in a more typical way, at least compared to the morality of Dexter Morgan.

The thing about Price is that there is nothing new in the story or the formula (including a thrilling side story), but where Price excels is in the way he describes the ordinary dialogue and events of these somewhat (at least for cops) ordinary people. It’s what made his previous novels and his writing on The Wire so raw, real, engaging, and so darkly humorous.

Finally, why do we have “Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt”? Here’s Price’s explanation:

“I wrote it under a pseudonym because I intended to write a straight-up urban thriller — which I’ve never done before — and I wanted to have a separate persona for it. However, the book kept expanding and became like any other book I’ve written, so looking back, I wish I hadn’t used a pen name.”

Long story short: Nothing new here, but if you liked his other stuff you’ll like this one. Price also mentioned other writers who adopted pen names and who seemed to morph into those roles with distinction. Although this apparently was his idea from the start (to morph into a literary alter ego), he mentioned that he never really felt that way. Call him what you want (Harry, Richard, Guy, or Fella), but if you go into it knowing that The Whites isn’t any of that “Tolstoy crap” (and not expecting it), you might enjoy it just a little bit.

 

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Nebraska Writer’s Novel Chosen for 2016 One Book One Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 16, 2015onebooklogo163pxw

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

Nebraska Writer’s Novel Chosen for 2016 One Book One Nebraska

The Meaning of NamesKaren Gettert Shoemaker’s The Meaning of Names, a Nebraska-set novel with a World War I backdrop, is Nebraska’s reading choice for the 2016 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The Meaning of Names follows a German-American woman trying to raise a family in the heartland and keep them safe from the effects of war and the influenza panic, as well as from violence and prejudice.

The One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, is entering its twelfth year. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. A committee of the Nebraska Center for the Book selected this book from a list of twenty-seven titles nominated by Nebraskans from across the state. The book was published in 2014 and was announced as the 2016 selection at the Celebration of Nebraska Books on November 14 in Lincoln.

Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events that will encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. Support materials to assist with local reading/discussion activities will be available after January 1, 2016 at http://onebook.nebraska.gov. Updates and activity listings will be posted on the One Book One Nebraska Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/onebookonenebraska.

One Book One Nebraska is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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

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Friday Reads: Ghost Train to New Orleans

Zombies, vampires, ghosts, demons, and other undead citizens like to go on vacation, just like you and me. And, when they visit a new city, they also use travel guides to find the best activities and locations to check out. But, they can’t use just any travel guide. There are certain things that nonhumans need to know about the cities they visit – there are resources and establishments that cater specifically to them. Zoe Norris edits those kinds of travel guides for Underground Publications, a company that specializes in producing travel guides for the coterie, as the nonhumans prefer to be called. GhostTraintoNewOrleans

Ghost Train to New Orleans is the second book in The Shambling Guides series written by Mur Lefferty. In what I know will upset many other readers, I read this book first. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to visit, so I jumped on it first. The first book is The Shambling Guide to New York City. There are many references to the first volume throughout Ghost Train to New Orleans, and some of them could be considered spoilers, but they didn’t have a detrimental effect on my enjoyment of this book. They just made me want to read the first one even more!

After the success of her first travel guide to New York City, Zoe and her co-workers are sent to New Orleans to research the sequel. What could be a relaxing trip ends up being anything but. Her boyfriend is slowly turning into a zombie, the city is trying to talk to her about a new threat to Zoe, and her writing team of vampires, death goddess, Valkyrie, and dragon just can’t get along with each other.

I found this urban fantasy to be a really fun read. The supernatural characters are creatively written, not at all what you’d expect. And the descriptions of New Orleans and use of the city in the storyline were perfect. I’m already planning my next trip there, and will definitely be checking out some of the locations that Zoe visited. Maybe I’ll even see some of her readers on holiday.

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Friday Reads: How to Babysit a Leopard by Ted & Betsy Lewin

Ted and Betsy Lewin take turns recounting some of the many experiences they had while traveling the globe in order to research different animals and locations for the books they have written for children.  Some events were frightening – somLewin072e humorous, all retold for the reader to share the back seat during their lives on the road in Africa, India, Mongolia and more – covering six continents!

Plenty of their sketches from the trips as well as photographs are included on each two-page spread.  I enjoyed reading about Africa, somewhere I have been, as well as the many places I have not!  This book may inspire future travelers, artists, and writers. What amazing lives they have led!

 

 

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New State Agency Publications Received at the Library Commission

NEState SealNew state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for September and October, 2015.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Crime Commission, the Nebraska Secretary of State, and University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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Nebraska Authors to Speak at November 14 Celebration of Nebraska Books

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NCB logo
November 2, 2015

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

Nebraska Authors to Speak at November 14 Celebration of Nebraska Books

Presentations by winning Nebraska writers and book designers will highlight the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books on November 14 at 1200 N Street, in downtown Lincoln. Presenters will include the following 2015 Nebraska Book Award Winners:

Fiction writer: Rebecca Rotert, Last Night at the Blue Angel.

Non-fiction writers: Ted Genoways, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food; James J. Kimble, Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II; Melissa Amateis Marsh, Nebraska POW Camps: A History of World War II Prisoners in the Heartland; and Ronald C. Naugle and John J. Montag, History of Nebraska.

Photographer: Nancy Warner, This Place, These People: Life and Shadow on the Great Plains.

Poets: Ted Kooser, The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book; Barbara Schmitz, Always the Detail; and Laura Madeline Wiseman, Intimates and Fools.

The celebration, free and open to the public, will also feature presentation of the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Jane Geske Award to the Lincoln City Libraries One Book-One Lincoln Community Reading Program for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, and literature in Nebraska. The Jane Geske Award commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Pope Geske was a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book, former director of the Nebraska Library Commission, and a long-time leader in Nebraska library and literary activities.

This year the Celebration marks the eleventh year of One Book One Nebraska with a presentation celebrating Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting by Beverly Deepe Keever. The presentation by Thomas Berg, Ph.D., Dept. of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is titled “Beverly Deepe Keever: An Unconventional Woman for an Unconventional War” (see http://onebook.nebraska.gov/2015/ ).

The Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m.—just prior to the 2:30-6:30 p.m. Celebration. An awards reception honoring the winning authors, book signings, and announcement of the 2016 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities. For the list of finalists, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases/1510FinalistFor2016OBONAnnounced.aspx.
The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, and University of Nebraska Press, with support for the One Book One Nebraska presentation from Humanities Nebraska. The bookstore is provided by Indigo Bridge Books. Celebration information is available at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/celebration.html.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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

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Friday Reads: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I’m not sure I consider myself a child of the 80s, but I’m certainly old enough to appreciate the vast majority of the pop culture references in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. From Ferris Bueller to Geddy Lee, Max Headroom to Dungeons & Dragons, Monty Python to Back to the Future, there’s a bit of 80s nostalgia for everyone in this story. I listened to the audiobook (one of the pleasures of a long daily commute), narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Ready_Player_One_coverThe year is 2044. Our hero, Wade, is an 18-year-old orphan living in the stacks – an overgrown trailer park where the mobile homes are literally stacked sky-high. Things are not going so great for Wade “IRL” (in real life), but that’s OK! Wade spends most of his waking hours in the OASIS, a sprawling online utopia that most of the population of Earth relies on to escape the crumbling mess that the real world has become. When the OASIS’s creator, game designer James Halliday, passed away, he promised control of the OASIS and his vast fortune (in the hundreds of billions) to the first person who can find the “Easter Egg” he has hidden inside this virtual world. The catch? The egg hunters or “gunters”, as they’ve been come to be known, must possess enough knowledge of 1980’s trivia to decipher the clues Halliday has sprinkled throughout the OASIS. It’s been 5 years and no one has found the first clue that will begin the game and lead to the ultimate prize… Until one day Wade stumbles upon it, putting his name at the top of the game’s scoreboard and making him both a legend among gunters and a target for the ruthless corporation that has its sights set on taking over the OASIS.

If you enjoy fast-paced humorous science fiction (even if you’ve never picked up a joystick), grab this one before it hits the big screen in the not-too-distant future.

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

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “The Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award”, on Wednesday, October 28, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Want to know more about how the Golden Sower Award was started and how titles end up on the list each year? Golden Sower Chair, Kathy Schultz; Golden Sower Historian, Marsha Bradbury; and Library Commission staff member 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:

  • Nov. 4 – 2016 Nebraska Library Internship Grant Program
  • Nov. 12 (Thursday) – Secrets of the NLC Website
  • Nov. 18 – Inspire Your Community with an Innovation Lab

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: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You've Been Publicly ShamedIn history’s darker days, ne’er-do-wells were marched to public squares, sometimes by mobs waving torches or pitchforks, and displayed publicly as punishment.  Here in 2015, most of us don’t have pitchforks or torches at home.  But almost all of us have Facebook or Twitter or Reddit accounts.  We also have the same basic impulses that drove extrajudicial justice in the past.

This is where Jon Ronson’s latest book begins.  Times and tools have changed, but people haven’t.  Some people still exhibit offensive (if not really criminal) behavior—plagiarism, insensitive jokes, outright lying.  And some other people don’t like it and aren’t afraid to use the tools at hand to do something about it.

It’s probably never been fun to be publicly shamed.  But, in the past, you’d eventually stop riding the rail, or go home and wash the tar and feathers off.  At worst, you could move to a different village.  Public shaming on the Internet has a bit more permanence.  How do you ever move forward with your life when your bad deed has been retweeted thousands of times?  How do you get a new job when that employer Googles your name and sees very cringeworthy images?

This book answers these questions and (re)introduces the reader to some famously shamed people.  Those who have read Ronson’s The Psychopath Test and exquisite Them: Adventures with Extremists will recognize his narrative multitasking and brisk style.  For a book with such substance, this is an exceptionally quick read—you can finish it in an afternoon—and it’s worth your time.  The anonymous “mob justice” aspect of the Internet, which sometimes gets things extremely wrong, continues to grow anyway (and probably won’t be limited to shaming only the worst offenders).  This book is all about that behavior and might make you rethink your next Send, Like, or Share.

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Finalists for 2016 One Book One Nebraska Announced

2015obonfinalistcovers (4)

Finalists for 2016 One Book One Nebraska Announced

Two nonfiction books, one poetry collection, and three novels—all stories with ties to Nebraska and the Great Plains—are the finalists for the 2016 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The finalists are:

  • Backstage: Stories from My Life in Public Television by Ron Hull. University of Nebraska Press (2012)
  • The Meaning of Names by Karen Shoemaker. Red Hen Press (2014)
  • The Naked Mountaineer: Misadventures of an Alpine Traveler by Stephen Sieberson. University of Nebraska Press (2014)
  • Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry edited by Greg Kosmicki and Mary K. Stillwell. The Backwaters Press (2007)
  • The Plain Sense of Things by Pamela Carter Joern. University of Nebraska Press (2008)
  • While the Patient Slept by Mignon Eberhart. University of Nebraska Press (1995)

 The One Book One Nebraska reading program, now in its eleventh year, is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss the same book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. A Nebraska Center for the Book committee selected the six finalists from a list of twenty-seven titles nominated by Nebraskans. In the coming weeks, Nebraska Center for the Book board members will vote on the 2016 selection.

Nebraskans are invited to attend the Celebration of Nebraska Books on November 14, where the choice for the 2016 One Book One Nebraska will be announced at 5:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Library Commission, 1200 N Street in downtown Lincoln. This year’s One Book One Nebraska, Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting, by Beverly Deepe Keever, will be featured at the Celebration in a presentation, “Beverly Deepe Keever: An Unconventional Woman for An Unconventional War,” by Thomas Berg, PhD, Dept. of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. See http://onebook.nebraska.gov or https://www.facebook.com/OneBookOneNebraska for more information about ongoing 2015 One Book One Nebraska activities.

The November 14 Celebration of Nebraska Books is scheduled for 2:30 – 6:30 p.m., with the Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting to be held at 1:30 p.m. Awards will be presented to the winners of the 2015 Nebraska Book Awards, and some of the winning authors will read from their work. A list of Nebraska Book Award winners is posted at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards.html. The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Friends of University of Nebraska Press. For more information, contact Mary Jo Ryan, maryjo.ryan@nebraska.gov, 402-471-3434 or 800-307-2665. Confirmed presenters will be announced at www.centerforthebook.nebraska.gov and http://www.facebook.com/NebraskaCenterfortheBook

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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

 

 

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National Book Award Finalists

Here is the list of fiction, non fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature nominations for the National Book Award revealed this morning. Winners in each category will receive a bronze sculpture and a purse of $10,000, at a ceremony in New York City on Nov. 18.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/14/448053224/finalists-unveiled-for-this-years-national-book-awards

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Friday Reads: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House tells us the story of Eleanor anJacksond her visit to Hill House, where she has been invited to take part in the exploration of its possible haunting. Eleanor is in a bad place in a sad life as she travels to the house—she has been the caretaker for her recently deceased mother, and her remaining family is caught up with their own busy lives, and they don’t seem to care about her health or well-being. At Hill House, she meets colorful characters she never would have met otherwise. There is Dr. Montague, who wants to scientifically quantify any eerie occurrence they find, to finally connect science and the supernatural. There is Theodora, who is a free spirit who seems to have figured out a lot of things about life that continue to baffle Eleanor, but who still doesn’t have all the answers. And there’s Luke, who will inherit Hill House someday, and all the baggage the house represents—and symbolizes. The group of psychic adventurers has to work out their interpersonal dynamics with each other and with newcomers.

 
Jackson’s novel is a quick read of, as Dorothy Parker says in the blurb on the back, “beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.” The text can be enjoyed as a breezy distraction, or there are plenty of plot points to reflect upon if the reader wishes. For example, Eleanor has been invited to the house by Dr. Montague because of a psychic experience as a child—what does it mean to have been a “special” child who grows up to be an adult that seems quite ordinary? How much can we rely on childhood memories and how do they affect us? How do we use memories to reconstruct traumatic family events?

 

This is one of those stories that will have you questioning what the characters believe—and will inspire you to think about what is really frightening in life. Ghosts? Loneliness? Bad architecture? Home ownership? Letting someone else do your thinking for you?

 
The Haunting of Hill House is a great example of the female gothic novel, where issues affecting women are explored through the themes of gothic literature. These themes include the influence of place, power dynamics, our struggle to reconcile logic with nature, and the reliability of memory, among other interesting issues.

 
This novel was adapted to make the 1963 movie The Haunting, which is enjoyably stylish but less nuanced than the novel. (The movie was remade in 1999 with an impressive cast and poor result.) Shirley Jackson is also the author of many other novels and stories, including “The Lottery,” which you may have had to read in school. If you already appreciate Shirley Jackson, you might enjoy this quiz: http://the-toast.net/2015/04/20/how-to-tell-if-you-are-in-a-shirley-jackson-story/

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Book Award Winners to be Honored at November 14 Celebration of Nebraska Books

NCB logo

 

Book Award Winners to be Honored at November 14 Celebration of Nebraska Books

An awards presentation ceremony will highlight the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books on November 14 at the Nebraska Library Commission, 1200 N Street, The Atrium, in downtown Lincoln. Winners of the 2015 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators. And the winners are:

2015 Nebraska Book Award Winners

Anthology

The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book by Ted Kooser. University of Nebraska Press.

 Cover/Design/Illustration

As All My Fathers Were: A Novel by James A. Misko. Cover and design by Jonathan Friedman. Northwest Ventures Press.

Cover/Design/Illustration Honor

Intimates and Fools by Laura Madeline Wiseman. Art by Sally Deskins. Internal layout and design by Adam Wagler. Les Femmes Folles Books.

Fiction

Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert. William Morrow.

Fiction: Short Story

In Reach by Pamela Carter Joern. University of Nebraska Press.

Non-Fiction: Investigative Journalism

The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food by Ted Genoways. Harper.

Non-Fiction: Memoir

Leaving the Pink House: A Memoir by Ladette Randolph. University of Iowa Press.

Non-Fiction: Nebraska as Place

This Place, These People: Life and Shadow on the Great Plains by David Stark and Nancy Warner. Columbia University Press.

Non-Fiction: Nebraska History

Nebraska POW Camps: A History of World War II Prisoners in the Heartland by Melissa Amateis Marsh. The History Press.

 Non-Fiction: Nebraska Spirit

Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II by James J. Kimble. University of Nebraska Press.

 Non-Fiction: Reference

History of Nebraska by Ronald C. Naugle, John J. Montag, and James C. Olson. University of Nebraska Press.

Poetry

Morning: Last Poems by Don Welch. pigeonpress.

Poetry Honor

Always the Detail by Barbara Schmitz. Stephen F. Austin State University Press.

The celebration, free and open to the public, will also feature presentation of the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Jane Geske Award to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, and literature in Nebraska. The Jane Geske Award commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Pope Geske was a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book, former director of the Nebraska Library Commission, and a long-time leader in Nebraska library and literary activities.

This year the Celebration marks the eleventh year of One Book One Nebraska, selecting and promoting a book title for Nebraskans to read to celebrate the literary richness of our state. Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting, by Beverly Deepe Keever is the 2015 One Book One Nebraska, and Nebraska libraries and other literary and cultural organizations across the state are hosting activities and events to encourage all Nebraskans to read and discuss this book (see http://onebook.nebraska.gov.) The Celebration keynote will be presented by Thomas Berg, PhD, Dept. of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, on “Beverly Deepe Keever: An Unconventional Woman for An Unconventional War” at 2:45 p.m.
The Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m.—just prior to the 2:30-6:30 p.m. Celebration. An awards reception honoring the winning authors, book signings, and announcement of the 2016 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, with support from the Friends of the University of Nebraska Press. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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

 

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Celebrate National Reading Group Month!

October is National Reading Group Month and to celebrate I wanted to investigate what makes a group endure. I located plenty of information on starting a group, selecting titles, and leading a discussion but very little on how to keep it going through the years. My book group celebrates its anniversary in the fall so as we are wrapping up our 13th year, I interviewed them and posed the question, what makes you keep coming? The answers not surprisingly resemble the qualities of any other long-lasting and good relationship:

  • I keep coming because of the people and the chemistry of the group.
  • The discussions are rich and varied.
  • The group is respectful and agrees that completing and actually discussing the book is an important part of our gathering.
  • The frequency of the group (six times a year) keeps me coming because my personal reading isn’t always being interrupted.
  • The group is intimate because we’ve created trust which allows us to share things we otherwise might keep to ourselves.
  • The discussion can really turn around my opinion of a book. Sometimes it seems we have each read a different book with the same title!
  • I like the way the group selects titles (everyone takes a turn); it provides a variety of reading and makes each one of us take the roll of selecting very seriously.

The takeaway is, now that you’ve created a book group, how are you gauging their dynamics? Reading a book takes precious time and discussing it is an additional level of commitment.  Perhaps taking time to ask about your book group’s assessment might be worthwhile to iron out any kinks and keep it running satisfactorily for all.

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Friday Reads: Make Your Home among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

cover make your home_In this excellent debut novel by a newly transplanted Nebraska author, Jennine Capó Crucet demonstrates that she is a gifted writer who can create strong multi-dimensional characters. Relocating to Nebraska from Miami, she teaches English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In Make Your Home among Strangers: A Novel, Lizet leaves Miami to venture north to an Ivy League school for her first year of college. The change in climate is not the only thing she has to get used to in her new environment. Besides adjusting to a very different life—academic and social—she has to traverse some unanticipated emotional territory. Learning to live with people with very different backgrounds and expectations than she’s ever been exposed to is just one part of the adjustment process. She also has to manage her own feelings about those she left at home—and maybe left behind? (And what a great colorful crew of well-developed, interesting characters they are!) Lizet has to decide how much her sense of responsibility for family and friends at home will trump her own needs—where the past ends and her future begins. She has to deal with managing her own expectations about her ability to help and steer the ones she loves vs. her ability to do this for herself in her own life.

All of this is explored in the context of very engaging storytelling and true-to-life dialog. We come to really care about Lizet and her family. I found myself really cheering for them all by the end of the book. This story is fun to read and I really enjoyed the author’s wicked observations of human nature—portrayed with gentle humor, not malice. There’s a fascinating sub-plot about what goes on in Miami’s Little Havana while Lizet is away at school and it leaves the reader wanting more of that story about Lizet’s family and friends. I hope I get to read about what happens next for them. Welcome to Nebraska, Jennine Capó Crucet. We can’t wait to read the rest of your stories.

This would be a good book for library book clubs. They would have a great time reading this book—and talking about it. Maybe you could even persuade the author to come to your library to make a presentation. I would love to come to that program!

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NCompass Live: 2015 One Book One Nebraska: Death Zones & Darling Spies

NCompass live smallJoin us for next week’s NCompass Live, “2015 One Book One Nebraska: Death Zones & Darling Spies”, on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

In this eleventh year of One Book One Nebraska, Nebraska libraries and other literary and cultural organizations continue to plan activities and events to encourage all Nebraskans to read and discuss the same book. Join us to hear more about this statewide reading promotion activity, sponsored by the Nebraska Library Commission, Humanities Nebraska, and the Nebraska Center for the Book.

Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner and Nebraska Library Commission Communications Coordinator Mary Jo Ryan will be joined by special guests Ron and Lois Meyer, Nebraska Center for the Book. Join us to:

  • Learn about how to create a successful local reading promotion using Nebraska’s year-long, statewide celebration featuring Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting, by Beverly Deepe Keever.
  • Brainstorm strategies to read and discuss Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting, a nonfiction story in which Keever describes what it was like for a farm girl from Nebraska to find herself halfway around the world, trying to make sense of one of the nation’s bloodiest and bitterest wars.
  • Find tools to help engage your community in local activities to encourage them to come together through literature to explore this nonfiction work in community-wide reading programs.
  • Learn about the Celebration of Nebraska Books, set for Nov. 14, which will celebrate this book, along with the winners of the 2015 Nebraska Book Awards.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Oct. 7 – STEAM @ Your Library
  • Oct. 14 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – Enjoy the 2015 NLA/NSLA Annual Conference!
  • Oct. 21 – Introducing Two New Library Guides
  • Oct. 28 – The Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award

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: Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar

bookgreatrailwaybazaar_Why would a person be interested in reading a book published forty years ago? It doesn’t seem that is old enough to be considered a “classic,” and, to a degree, the author is not one of current list of “hot” authors that everyone wants to pick up. Still, there are often reasons to read a book not on a current best seller list that have less to do with the author, the subject, the title, the whatever. In this case it was a “waste not, want not” situation. I’d purchased this book over two years ago on a trip out of the country (It cost 187 “I-don’t-know-whats,”), I’d had it sitting around and had recently run across it again while winnowing my book collection to decide what to give to Lincoln City Libraries as donations.

A little history here — I’ve always been interested in trains. Our first home (my twin sister’s and mine) was an apartment a couple of stories above the local public library in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, with the back “yard” a steep bank falling away to railroad tracks on which heavy rail cars clanked their way by. Our second home was an old place (Built in 1879 by A. & H. Hoerhammer) on Railroad Street, with those same railroad tracks now a narrow street and a less-steep bank away from our front door. So, you see, I couldn’t help but be, if not interested, at least steeped in the noise, smells, etc. first of steam locomotives, then diesel monsters as their rushed or crawled by our house.

But back to the book. The Great Railway Bazaar recounts author Theroux’s four-month journey, mostly by rail (with a few legs of the journey by ship and plane) all the way from Great Britain, to Japan and back. Most critics consider this book Theroux’s greatest achievement, but he has also written fiction — Jungle Lovers, Saint Jack, and perhaps more famous, The Mosquito Coast, several of these having been made into films.

If you choose to read this book, you will find the author highly entertaining (of the “laugh-out-loud” variety) at times. Other times he comes across as too critical of an entire culture (a little too much generalization at times), and at other points in the book very incisive. He doesn’t shrink from controversy and tackles just about anything, not excluding himself from criticism when he feels it is needed.

I do not doubt his sometimes shocking descriptions of life in a number of the countries he rides through. The most interesting feature of the book, however, is seeing how his descriptions of life on the various trains he takes reflect the countries and cultures they are riding through, and how he is affected by those forces. (“The railway bazaar, with its gadgets and passengers, represented the society so completely that to board it was to be challenged by the national character.”) But at other times the train travel itself, especially on journeys that lasted for days at a time, the author expresses his pleasure: “Train travel animated my imagination and usually gave me the solitude to order and write my thoughts. I travelled easily in two directions, along the level rails while Asia flashed changes at the window, and at the interior rim of a private world of memory and language.”

Of course, so many years later his descriptions are probably woefully out-of-date for a number of the countries he passed through, although I have to admit that some of them still appear quite incisive today. (For example, the Shah is still in power in Iran; the U.S. is just pulling out of the war in Vietnam. In Saigon a local woman tries to get the author to take a “half-American” baby with him. In Japan he experiences a noodle soup (“ra-men”) for the first time, probably one of the earliest mentions of that ubiquitous food in American writing.)

One of the most entertaining aspects of this book for me was that it dragged me decades back to my time as a not-very-good English major in college. The book is loaded with literary and historical allusions, making me want to go back to books I missed (or didn’t finish reading) all those years ago, and savor them with the passage of time and their relationship to this book. The author also captures the essence of really long-distance travel, especially to foreign countries when he says, “. . . the scenes changing in the train window from Victoria Station to Tokyo Central are nothing compared to the change in himself; and travel writing, which cannot but be droll at the outset, moves from journalism to fiction, arriving . . . at . . . autobiography.” And in this he is in good company with both Mark Twain and Henry James.

Try it. I think you’ll like it!

Richard Miller

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Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

 NCB logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 22, 2015

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mary Jo Ryan
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 Letters about Literature (LAL) contest, a national 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. The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations. This reading and writing promotion is sponsored in Nebraska by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, and supported by Houchen Bindery Ltd. and Chapters Books in Seward.

Prizes will be awarded on both the state and national levels. The Nebraska Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select the top letter writers in the state, to be honored in a proclamation-signing ceremony at the state capitol during National Library Week in April 2016. 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 will receive state prizes, and then advance to the national judging.

A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select one National Winner per competition level (Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8, and Level III for grades 9-12) to receive a $1,000 cash award, to be announced in May 2016. The judges will also select one National Honor winner on each competition level to receive a $200 cash award.

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download free teaching materials on reader response and reflective writing, along with contest details and entry forms, at www.read.gov/letters. Nebraska-specific information (including lists of Nebraska winners of past competitions) is available at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html. Listen to Nebraska winners, Ashley Xiques and Sydney Kohl, read and talk about and their winning letters to authors that meant something to them in their own lives on NET Radio’s All About Books (http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/radio/all-about-books). Submissions from Grades 9-12 must be postmarked by December 4, 2015. Submissions from Grades 4-8 must be postmarked by January 11, 2016. For more information contact Mary Jo Ryan, 402-471-3434 or 800-307-2665.

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

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

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