Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: “Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused” by Melissa Maerz

I enjoy celebrity biographies and behind-the-scenes stories, and those two things come together quite groovily in Melissa Maerz’s oral history of the 1993 cult-classic Dazed and Confused.

Maerz interviews everyone involved with the movie, from Richard Linklater, to the costume designer, casting director, the casts and their families, even Linklater’s high school classmates, many of whom were inspirations for the characters (however unflattering they may find that fact). I learned all sorts of fun facts about the movie and it’s cast, as did my family and friends, because I would constantly share what I was reading as I went along (sorry guys!). I couldn’t help it – this movie was on constant VCR rotation when I was in high school and I can still quote whole scenes without fail. This book was a fun trip down memory lane.

It was especially fun to look at the cast and how far they’ve come since 1993 – this was Matthew McConaughey’s first movie, and his bit part grew and grew until he became the breakout star. Mila Jovovich, who was the biggest name of the cast at the time, saw her part shrink considerably as she got caught up in an on-set romance and neglected her role; her boyfriend Shawn Andrews effectively got himself blackballed from Hollywood for a time due to his attitude and behavior during filming. Texas native Renee Zillweger wanted to be in the movie badly enough that she took a non-speaking, uncredited roll as “Girl in Blue Truck”.

If you’re in need of a slow ride down memory lane while school’s out for the summer, this book will help you rock and roll all night long. Just don’t forget your reading glasses, because if this was your favorite movie in high school, you’re now old like me.

Maerz, Melissa. Alright, alright, alright: the oral history of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. Harper, 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Librarian Tales” by William Ottens

This #BookFaceFriday really stacks up!

We are not done hyping NLC’s library science collection! It’s not just textbooks and curriculum, but fun reads like “Librarian Tales: Funny, Strange, and Inspiring Dispatches from the Stacks” by William Ottens (Skyhorse, 2020.) A book of anecdotes that is perfect for library staff and those who think librarians just read all day long. This Library Science Collection provides professional and reference materials for Nebraska librarians and library science programs. This includes all librarians and library science students. The checkout period is 4 weeks, and items can be sent through the mail or picked up in person. You can find all of these books and more in our catalog, or reach out to our reference staff for a recommendation!

“”In this delightful book, Ottens pulls back the cover of library life and the magic and mayhem found within. Librarians will recognize themselves in these wonderful stories, while readers will gain a greater appreciation for their favorite local library.”

Jill Grunenwald, author of Reading Behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian

This week’s #BookFace model is the most adorable book stack I’ve ever seen.

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

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Friday Reads: Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors by Benjamin Wallace

What does a librarian do after the apocalypse? He becomes a post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior, of course!

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, by Benjamin Wallace, is the first book in a series, the Duck & Cover Adventures. There are 5 novels in the series, plus an anthology of short stories.

You would think that, seven years after nuclear bombs and chemical weapons destroyed civilization, there would be plenty of work for such a person. Chaos reigns, food and medicine is scarce, mutants and cannibals are around every corner! And don’t forget the Super Smart Bears. Right? That’s what we’ve all been told an apocalypse would bring.

But, no, not this apocalypse. Things are actually going…OK. Most people have gathered together into safely walled communities, growing plenty of food, governing themselves with few issues. The Librarian believes that they need his help anyway, and travels from town to town with his female mastiff, Chewy, offering to save them from whatever they might need saving from. He tries to convince the town of New Hope, Texas that they need to hire him. But, he’s told they’re doing just fine and don’t require the Librarian’s services, literally throwing him out the front gate.

The Librarian isn’t the only post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior around, though. His rival, Logan, has also come to New Hope. And he tells the town that there actually is a roving band of killers out there, and they may be on the way to New Hope next.

Will the Librarian or Logan be the savior of New Hope? Is there really a silver lining in an apocalypse? And how smart are Super Smart Bears anyway?

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read that doesn’t take the apocalypse too seriously, this book is for you.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Creativity for Library Career Advancement”

A bright idea for a #BookFaceFriday!

Voila! Did you know the Commission has a collection of library science titles? Our Library Science Collection provides professional and reference materials for Nebraska librarians and library science programs. This includes all librarians and library science students. The checkout period is 4 weeks, and items can be sent through the mail or picked up in person. We get new titles in all the time like “Creativity for Library Career Advancement: Perspectives, Techniques and Eureka Moments” edited by Vera Gubnitskaia and Carol Smallwood (McFarland, 2019.) You can find all of these books and more in our catalog, or reach out to our reference staff for a recommendation!

“An insightful collection…expertly organized and presented…an extraordinary, informative, comprehensive, and insightful contribution that is very highly recommended”―Midwest Book Review

This week’s #BookFace model is Jen Wrampe, NLC’s Administrative Staff Assistant. She pretty much keeps our office running; without her we wouldn’t even have pens to write with.

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

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Friday Reads: Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen

A memoir in five parts. There is a reason Gary Paulsen is so popular: his writing – both his stories and his words.  The author’s method of storytelling creates a smooth transition that enables the reader to evolve from observer to active participant.

Many librarians have read or heard Paulsen say that the library saved his life.  Here, along with other tales of his childhood and young adulthood, the reader learns much more about the story behind his statement.  Part Four, titled “Thirteen,” contains this story.  It begins,

“Because it was safe there.

In the library. Only three places safe. The library, moving through the alleys at night after hard dark and, best of all, the woods.”

Part One starts the book with his mother putting him (at five years old) on a train, alone, in Chicago, for a total trip of about 800 miles to his relatives’ farm in Minnesota.  We join Paulsen as he encounters security with his aunt and uncle, then the opposite as his life changes on another person’s whim, with no consideration for his preferences or choices.  Throughout his life, he found security, safety, and peace in the woods, on his own. This book is for anyone who has loved any of Gary Paulsen’s books, from middle school age through high school and adulthood.  Readers of his other memoir, Guts, will find different stories of his life here.

Paulsen, Gary. Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. (New York) Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, LLC, 2021.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Collected Works of Jim Morrison” by Jim Morrison

The time to hesitate is through, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

Come on baby light my fire as we explore the poetry, prose, and lyrical genius that was Jim Morrison. “The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics” by Jim Morrison (‎HarperAudio, 2021) is an Audiobook available in our Nebraska OverDrive Libraries collection. Narrated by the Lizard King himself, along with other musicians such as Patti Smith, Liz Phair, Ian Morrison, and Ian Ray to name a few. This title can be found in Literary Anthologies or the Latest 500 Titles Added collection on the main page. Excellent new titles are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries, make sure to check them all out!

“The definitive anthology of Jim Morrison’s writings with rare photographs and numerous handwritten excerpts of unpublished and published poetry and lyrics from his 28 privately held notebooks.”

book jacket

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

This week’s model is a new face around the Commission, even though you can’t see it in this photo. Eric Saxon is our new Talking Book & Braille Service Circulation/Studio Support Clerk! We had to break on through to the other side (of the building) to find him. How appropriate that we caught him at work in one of our recording booths!

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

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

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for March through June, 2021.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts, History Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Nebraska Legislature, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

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

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

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Friday Reads: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón

“I want to try to be terrific.
Even for an hour.”

During the Impossible age of everyone (23)

Ada Limón is an American poet who, along with Richard Siken, Natalie Diaz, and Mary Oliver, is one of my favorite poets. Her poem, “The Leash” – which is not included in this collection – is a poem I reach for like the hand of a trusted friend, after stumbling on the road. I know that it will be there to pull me back onto my feet.

Bright Dead Things, published in 2015, was a National Book Award finalist. It is Limón’s fourth collection of poetry. I could stare at its cover all day.

Poetry is a heavy, fluid beast to review and recommend. You cannot trap it, pin it down. Every poem is a kaleidoscope, shifted in image from the time of my witnessing to the moment that I hand it to you. How can I show you a poem and have you see the same poem?

And yet, Limón’s collection in Bright Dead Things is about the universal, the human, the everyday: nature, grief. The body, the entropy of the body, life, and the passage of time.

In “State Bird,” Limón writes about her move to Kentucky from New York in a way that is so personal that tears sprang to my eyes, because it was exactly how I felt about remaining in Nebraska, despite my original, younger plans to leave for some distant, fresher place. “Confession: I did not want / to live here, / among the goldenrod, / wild onions, / or the dropseed” (58). Peace is made with it; on her part, and on mine. “Sometimes,” Limón writes in a later poem, “Oh Please, Let It Be Lightning” (174), “you have to / look around at the life you’ve made and / sort of nod at it, / like someone moving their / head up and down / to a tune they like.” There’s a repetition, to use a grief analogy — this collection is, I think, at its heart, about grief — of coming through the stages to acceptance and back again, like the way the wind changes direction.

There’s a line that struck me, from “Miracle Fish”: “I swear I will play on this blessed earth until I die” (64). Her use of the word play is fantastic, poignant. Not work, not grin and bear it, not survive: I will play. Especially since this collection is saturated (as life is) with grief. With lost family, lost homes, lost friends – lost, sharp as I read this in the ongoing roils of a pandemic, time. Limón takes that grief and rather than shear it from life (as we are wont to do, or want to do) — she says, this is a part of life. This is how it happens. This is a part of what make us alive. Death, loss — it is not an antithesis, it is a harmony.

Overall, the image of the bright dead things has remained with me. I won’t spoil that poem’s title here, so that you can discover what they are for yourself. Maybe you can carry them with you as well, you, ebullient and reckless, you, living just because you can.

Limón Ada. Bright Dead Things. E-Book, Milkweed Editions, 2015.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah

The mountains are calling, and #BookFaceFriday must go.

Sometimes you find the perfect book club read, but if you’re really lucky, you find the perfect book club author. We think Kristin Hannah deserves such an honor. Her novels are hard to put down and full of great topics to spur discussion in your groups. NLC has seven Hannah titles in our Book Club Kit collection, including “The Great Alone” (‎Griffin, 2019). This book is available in both eBook and Audiobook formats in our Nebraska OverDrive Libraries collection, along with 16 other Kristin Hannah titles.

“There are many great things about this book…It will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet-like coming of age story and domestic potboiler. She recreates in magical detail the lives of Alaska’s homesteaders…and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force.”

Kirkus (starred review)

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

Rules for Book Club Kits

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

This week’s model is the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado! While we are very committed to getting the perfect #BookFace shot, we did not travel to Alaska for this week’s photo. Special thanks to my dad for waking up at the crack of dawn to stand on an overpass and hold a book for me.

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

 
 
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Friday Reads, Dead in Dublin, by Catie Murphy

Dead in Dublin

I rarely have the good fortune to pick up the first in a series, but this time I picked up a fun read, a cozy mystery called Dead in Dublin, by Catie Murphy. Not only is the writer excellent, but she also lets one have a very good view of Dublin, and Irish culture. The writer keeps the reader working to catch up with the mystery, too.

Megan Malone is an American retired combat medic, veteran of 20 years in the U.S. Army. She drives limos and town cars for a living for the Leprechaun Limo Service in Dublin, Ireland, and has for three years. She enjoys hearing her passenger’s stories as well as driving them through Ireland. She’s picking up a famous American food blogger & her husband, when the blogger drops dead in front of the Molly Malone statue near the restaurant they were having dinner. Her husband, a doctor, begins CPR, and Megan arrives from the nearby car to help. The restaurant owner is a friend of Megan’s, Fionnuala (Finn) Canan, is frantic about the fate of the blogger, and worried about her restaurant’s reputation, as is her partner, Martin Rafferty, who also runs an adjoining club upstairs, since both will be closed over the weekend. Megan is the chef, and Martin is the moneyman—finding loans and silent partners. Megan keeps meeting red headed handsome detective garda (what the police are called in Ireland), Paul Bourke, as she asks questions. He in turn, is both annoyed, and intrigued by the “Yank.” Fortunately, for Finn, the blogger didn’t have food poisoning. She was poisoned.

The story is filled with information about the city—street signs are on the buildings, making them hard to see, even to the natives. Housing is in short supply, and very old, historical, even. Doughnuts are still not like our doughnuts—they look pretty, but taste like bread with frosting. With the historical and cultural information, is a lot of computer and cell phone texting, calling, and Voning (Video phoning, a term one of Megan’s friends wants to make a “thing”.) As well as modern cultural run ins—one bit of gossip has the blogger having an affair with a young woman. At another point in the story, Megan is speaking to a slender, young adult, with long hair, and dressed in baggy clothing, gender undetermined. Altogether a very modern story, set in a very old city, among people with their own way of doing things!

Spoiler alert. Catie Murphy is also C. E. Murphy, writer of “award-winning fantasy and Scifi books”, quote from the back blurb about the author. She’s one of my favorite authors. I hadn’t realized who the writer was until I started writing this Friday Reads, and found the blurb!

2nd title in the Series, Death on the Green, is out.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn

Is it steamy out here, or is it just #BookFaceFriday?

A rakish rouge, a scheming debutante, a mysterious gossip column…what could go wrong? Whether or not you spent your pandemic binging Bridgerton on Netflix, why not read the series that inspired it? The Nebraska Library Commission has the first book in the series, The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn (Avon Books, 2000) in our Book Club Kit collection. You can browse the other romances in our Book Club Kits collection by choosing Romance in the Genre dropdown.

Quinn is a consummate storyteller. Her prose is spry and assured, and she excels at creating indelible characters.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Rules for Book Club Kits

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

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

 
 
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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 University of Nebraska Press books received in May and June 2021:

Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50 : 1971-2021

Edited by Marin F. Hanson ; Contributing authors: Jonathan Holstein, Carolyn Ducey, Sandra Sider, Jonathan Gregory, Nao Nomura, and Marin F. Hanson

Fifty years after its debut, the exhibition Abstract Design in American Quilts is remembered as a pivotal moment in the intersecting histories of art, craft, and design. Installed at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971, the exhibition presented traditional American pieced quilts on walls more commonly used to display modern art such as abstract expressionist paintings. The exhibition, curated by Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof from their own collection, unexpectedly struck a chord with museumgoers and art critics alike, breaking attendance records and subsequently traveling to museums across the United States, Europe, and Japan.

With Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50, an exhibition series that includes an installation of the original quilt group, the International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln reexamines the half-century impact of this watershed exhibition. In five essays, leading quilt scholars assess the areas upon which the exhibition, in its various iterations, had its greatest impact, most notably the growth of quiltmaking across the United States and in art circles. The essays also discuss broader cultural phenomena that produced an environment in which quilts and other forms of material culture could be viewed and valued in new ways.

Black Snake : Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Justice

By Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) made headlines around the world in 2016. Supporters called the pipeline key to safely transporting American oil from the Bakken oil fields of the northern plains to markets nationwide, essential to both national security and prosperity. Native activists named it the “black snake,” referring to an ancient prophecy about a terrible snake that would one day devour the earth. Activists rallied near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota for months in opposition to DAPL, winning an unprecedented but temporary victory before the federal government ultimately permitted the pipeline. Oil began flowing on June 1, 2017.

The water protector camps drew global support and united more than three hundred tribes in perhaps the largest Native alliance in U.S. history. While it faced violent opposition, the peaceful movement against DAPL has become one of the most crucial human rights movements of our time.

Black Snake is the story of four leaders—LaDonna Allard, Jasilyn Charger, Lisa DeVille, and Kandi White—and their fight against the pipeline. It is the story of Native nations combating environmental injustice and longtime discrimination and rebuilding their communities. It is the story of a new generation of environmental activists, galvanized at Standing Rock, becoming the protectors of America’s natural resources.

California & Hawai’i Bound : U.S. Settler Colonialism and the Pacific West, 1848-1959

By Henry Knight Lozano ; Series: Studies in Pacific Worlds

Beginning in the era of Manifest Destiny, U.S. settlers, writers, politicians, and boosters worked to bind California and Hawai‘i together in the American imagination, emphasizing white settlement and capitalist enterprise. In California and Hawai‘i Bound Henry Knight Lozano explores how these settlers and boosters promoted and imagined California and Hawai‘i as connected places and sites for U.S. settler colonialism, and how this relationship reveals the fraught constructions of an Americanized Pacific West from the 1840s to the 1950s.

The growing ties of promotion and development between the two places also fostered the promotion of “perils” over this transpacific relationship, from Native Hawaiians who opposed U.S. settler colonialism to many West Coast Americans who articulated social and racial dangers from closer bonds with Hawai‘i, illustrating how U.S. promotional expansionism in the Pacific existed alongside defensive peril in the complicated visions of Americanization that linked California and Hawai‘i.

California and Hawai‘i Bound demonstrates how the settler colonial discourses of Americanization that connected California and Hawai‘i evolved and refracted alongside socioeconomic developments and native resistance, during a time when U.S. territorial expansion, transoceanic settlement and tourism, and capitalist investment reconstructed both the American West and the eastern Pacific.

Cattle Country : Livestock in the Cultural Imagination

By Kathryn Cornell Dolan ; Series: At Table

As beef and cattle production progressed in nineteenth-century America, the cow emerged as the nation’s representative food animal and earned a culturally prominent role in the literature of the day. In Cattle Country Kathryn Cornell Dolan examines the role cattle played in narratives throughout the century to show how the struggles within U.S. food culture mapped onto society’s broader struggles with colonization, environmentalism, U.S. identity, ethnicity, and industrialization.

Dolan examines diverse texts from Native American, African American, Mexican American, and white authors that showcase the zeitgeist of anxiety surrounding U.S. identity as cattle gradually became an industrialized food source, altering the country’s culture while exacting a high cost to humans, animals, and the land. From Henry David Thoreau’s descriptions of indigenous cuisines as a challenge to the rising monoculture, to Washington Irving’s travel narratives that foreshadow cattle replacing American bison in the West, to María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s use of cattle to connect race and imperialism in her work, authors’ preoccupations with cattle underscored their concern for resource depletion, habitat destruction, and the wasteful overproduction of a single breed of livestock.

Cattle Country offers a window into the ways authors worked to negotiate the consequences of the development of this food culture and, by excavating the history of U.S. settler colonialism through the figure of cattle, sheds new ecocritical light on nineteenth-century literature.

Engendering Islands : Sexuality, Reproduction, and Violence in the Early French Caribbean

By Ashley M. Williard ; Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

In seventeenth-century Antilles the violence of dispossession and enslavement was mapped onto men’s and women’s bodies, bolstered by resignified tropes of gender, repurposed concepts of disability, and emerging racial discourses. As colonials and ecclesiastics developed local practices and institutions—particularly family formation and military force—they consolidated old notions into new categories that affected all social groups.

In Engendering Islands Ashley M. Williard argues that early Caribbean reconstructions of masculinity and femininity sustained occupation, slavery, and nascent ideas of race. In the face of historical silences, Williard’s close readings of archival and narrative texts reveals the words, images, and perspectives that reflected and produced new ideas of human difference. Juridical, religious, and medical discourses expose the interdependence of multiple conditions—male and female, enslaved and free, Black and white, Indigenous and displaced, normative and disabled—in the islands claimed for the French Crown.

In recent years scholars have interrogated key aspects of Atlantic slavery, but none have systematically approached the archive of gender, particularly as it intersects with race and disability, in the seventeenth-century French Caribbean. The constructions of masculinity and femininity embedded in this early colonial context help elucidate attendant notions of otherness and the systems of oppression they sustained. Williard shows the ways gender contributed to and complicated emerging notions of racial difference that justified slavery and colonial domination, thus setting the stage for centuries of French imperialism.

Everybody’s Jonesin’ For Something

By Indigo Moor ; Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Honorable Mention

Turning an unflinching spotlight on the American Dream, Indigo Moor plunges headfirst into national—and personal—laments and desires. From Emmett Till to the fall of the Twin Towers and through the wildfires of Paradise, California, Moor weaves a thread through the hopes, sacrifices, and Sisyphean yearnings that make this country the beautiful trap that it is. Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something takes an imagistic leap through the darker side of our search for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, perusing what we lose, what we leave behind, and what strange beauty we uncover.

French St. Louis : Landscape, Contexts, and Legacy

Edited by Jay Gitlin, Robert Michael Morrissey, and Peter J. Kastor ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

A gateway to the West and an outpost for eastern capital and culture, St. Louis straddled not only geographical and political divides but also cultural, racial, and sectional ones. At the same time, it connected a vast region as a gathering place of peoples, cultures, and goods. The essays in this collection contextualize St. Louis, exploring French-Native relations, the agency of empire in the Illinois Country, the role of women in “mapping” the French colonial world, fashion and identity, and commodities and exchange in St. Louis as part of a broader politics of consumption in colonial America. The collection also provides a comparative perspective on America’s two great Creole cities, St. Louis and New Orleans. Lastly, it looks at the Frenchness of St. Louis in the nineteenth century and the present.

French St. Louis recasts the history of St. Louis and reimagines regional development in the early American republic, shedding light on its francophone history.

The Greater Plains : Rethinking a Region’s Environmental Histories

Edited by Brian Frehner & Kathleen A Brosnan

The Greater Plains tells a new story of a region, stretching from the state of Texas to the province of Alberta, where the environments are as varied as the myriad ways people have inhabited them. These innovative essays document a complicated history of human interactions with a sometimes plentiful and sometimes foreboding landscape, from the Native Americans who first shaped the prairies with fire to twentieth-century oil regimes whose pipelines linked the region to the world.

The Greater Plains moves beyond the narrative of ecological desperation that too often defines the region in scholarly works and in popular imagination. Using the lenses of grasses, animals, water, and energy, the contributors reveal tales of human adaptation through technologies ranging from the travois to bookkeeping systems and hybrid wheat. Transnational in its focus and interdisciplinary in its scholarship, The Greater Plains brings together leading historians, geographers, anthropologists, and archaeologists to chronicle a past rich with paradoxical successes and failures, conflicts and cooperation, but also continual adaptation to the challenging and ever-shifting environmental conditions of the North American heartland.

Hostages of Empire : Colonial Prisoners of War in Vichy France

By Sarah Ann Frank ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

Hostages of Empire combines a social history of colonial prisoner-of-war experiences with a broader analysis of their role in Vichy’s political tensions with the country’s German occupiers. The colonial prisoners of war came from across the French Empire, they fought in the Battle for France in 1940, and they were captured by the German Army. Unlike their French counterparts, who were taken to Germany, the colonial POWs were interned in camps called Frontstalags throughout occupied France. This decision to keep colonial POWs in France defined not only their experience of captivity but also how the French and German authorities reacted to them.

Hostages of Empire examines how the entanglement of French national pride after the 1940 defeat and the need for increased imperial control shaped the experiences of 85,000 soldiers in German captivity. Sarah Ann Frank analyzes the nature of Vichy’s imperial commitments and collaboration with its German occupiers and argues that the Vichy regime actively improved conditions of captivity for colonial prisoners in an attempt to secure their present and future loyalty. This French “magnanimity” toward the colonial prisoners was part of a broader framework of racial difference and hierarchy. As such, the relatively dignified treatment of colonial prisoners must be viewed as a paradox in light of Vichy and Free French racism in the colonies and the Vichy regime’s complicity in the Holocaust. Hostages of Empire seeks to reconcile two previously rather distinct histories: that of metropolitan France and that of the French colonies during World War II.

Indian Soldiers in World War I : Race and Representation in an Imperial War

By Andrew T. Jarboe ; Series: Studies in War, Society, and the Military

More than one million Indian soldiers were deployed during World War I, serving in the Indian Army as part of Britain’s imperial war effort. These men fought in France and Belgium, Egypt and East Africa, and Gallipoli, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. 

In Indian Soldiers in World War I Andrew T. Jarboe  follows these Indian soldiers—or sepoys—across the battlefields, examining the contested representations British and Indian audiences drew from the soldiers’ wartime experiences and the impacts these representations had on the British Empire’s racial politics. Presenting overlooked or forgotten connections, Jarboe argues that Indian soldiers’ presence on battlefields across three continents contributed decisively to the British Empire’s final victory in the war. While the war and Indian soldiers’ involvement led to a hardening of the British Empire’s prewar racist ideologies and governing policies, the battlefield contributions of Indian soldiers fueled Indian national aspirations and calls for racial equality. When Indian soldiers participated in the brutal suppression of anti-government demonstrations in India at war’s end, they set the stage for the eventual end of British rule in South Asia.

Indigenous Languages and the Promise of Archives

Edited by Adrianna Link, Abigail Shelton, and Patrick Spero ; Series: New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Languages and the Promise of Archives captures the energy and optimism that many feel about the future of community-based scholarship, which involves the collaboration of archives, scholars, and Native American communities. The American Philosophical Society is exploring new applications of materials in its library to partner on collaborative projects that assist the cultural and linguistic revitalization movements within Native communities. A paradigm shift is driving researchers to reckon with questionable practices used by scholars and libraries in the past to pursue documents relating to Native Americans, practices that are often embedded in the content of the collections themselves.

The Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at the American Philosophical Society brought together this volume of historical and contemporary case studies highlighting the importance of archival materials for the revitalization of Indigenous languages. Essays written by archivists, historians, anthropologists, knowledge-keepers, and museum professionals, cover topics critical to language revitalization work; they tackle long-standing debates about ownership, access, and control of Indigenous materials stored in repositories; and they suggest strategies for how to decolonize collections in the service of community-based priorities. Together these essays reveal the power of collaboration for breathing new life into historical documents.

The JPS Jewish Heritage Torah Commentary

By Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel ; Series: JPS Study Bible

The JPS Jewish Heritage Torah Commentary shows Jews of all ages and backgrounds that the Jewish people’s most significant book is not dusty and irrelevant but an eternally sacred text wholly pertinent to our modern lives. Designed to keep the attention of all readers, each lively essay is both brief enough to be read in minutes and deep and substantive enough to deliver abundant food for thought.

Its cornerstone is its unique four-part meditation on the Jewish heritage. After briefly summarizing a Torah portion, the commentary orbits that portion through four central pillars of Jewish life—the Torah (Torat Yisrael), the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), the Jewish people (Am Yisrael), and Jewish thought (Mahshevet Yisrael)—illuminating how the four intersect and enrich one another. Furthering the Jewish thought motif, every essay ends with two questions for thought well suited for discussion settings. Each commentary can be used as the launchpad for a lesson, a sermon, a d’var Torah, or a discussion.

Readers from beginners to experts will come away with new understandings of our Jewish heritage—and be inspired to draw closer to its four dimensions.

Maestro : André Tchelistcheff and the Rebirth of Napa Valley

By James O. Gump ; Series: At Table

Wine insiders called André Tchelistcheff the “winemaker’s winemaker,” the “wine doctor,” and simply “maestro.” After Prohibition brought Napa Valley and its wine industry to the brink of catastrophe, Tchelistcheff (1901–94) proved essential in its revitalization.

Tchelistcheff’s unique background—a sickly child, a Russian émigré forced from his homeland during the Bolshevik Revolution, a White Army lieutenant who fought in the Crimea, a physical laborer in a Bulgarian coal mine, a Czechoslovakian-trained agronomist, and a French-schooled viticulturist and enologist—prepared him for a remarkable winemaking career. He spent thirty-five years in Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyard and nearly two “post-retirement” decades doing freelance consulting work for more than thirty wineries.

His early struggles forged his principal character traits, which he passed on to an entire generation of winemakers. His students, including some of the most accomplished winemakers of the post-Prohibition period, marveled over their mentor’s sense of authority, profound insight, humble presence, and abundant wisdom.

This inspiring account of Tchelistcheff’s life includes interviews with friends, family, and mentees, which reveal how one man used his passion and knowledge to help save a community on the edge of disaster. In Maestro James O. Gump preserves the memory of a fascinating individual and one of the most influential winemakers of the modern era.

The Melancholy Void : Lyric and Masculinity in the Age of Góngora

By Felipe Valencia ; Series: New Hispanisms

At the turn of the seventeenth century, Spanish lyric underwent a notable development. Several Spanish poets reinvented lyric as a melancholy and masculinist discourse that sang of and perpetrated symbolic violence against the female beloved. This shift emerged in response to the rising prestige and commercial success of the epic and was enabled by the rich discourse on the link between melancholy and creativity in men.

In The Melancholy Void Felipe Valencia examines this reconstruction of the lyric in key texts of Spanish poetry from 1580 to 1620. Through a study of canonical and influential texts, such as the major poems by Luis de Góngora and the epic of Alonso de Ercilla, but also lesser-known texts, such as the lyrics by Miguel de Cervantes, The Melancholy Void addresses four understudied problems in the scholarship of early modern Spanish poetry: the use of gender violence in love poetry as a way to construct the masculinity of the poetic speaker; the exploration in Spanish poetry of the link between melancholy and male creativity; the impact of epic on Spanish lyric; and the Spanish contribution to the fledgling theory of the lyric.

The Melancholy Void brings poetry and lyric theory to the conversation in full force and develops a distinct argument about the integral role of gender violence in a prominent strand of early modern Spanish lyric that ran from Garcilaso to Góngora and beyond.

More in Time : A Tribute to Ted Kooser

Edited by Jessica Poli, Marco Abel, and Timothy Schaffert

More in Time is a celebration and tribute to Ted Kooser, two-time U.S. Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Presidential Professor of the University of Nebraska. Through personal reflections, essays, and creative works both inspired by and dedicated to Kooser, this collection shines a light on the many ways the midwestern poet has affected others as a teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend, as well as a fellow writer and observer-of-the-world. The creative responses included in this volume are reflective of the impact Kooser has had in his connections to other writers, while also revealing glimpses of his distinct way of seeing.

The New White Race : Settler Colonialism and the Press in French Algeria, 1860-1914

By Charlotte Ann Legg ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

The New White Race traces the development of the press in Algeria between 1860 and 1914, examining the particular role of journalists in shaping the power dynamics of settler colonialism. Constrained in different ways by the limitations imposed on free expression in a colonial context, diverse groups of European settlers, Algerian Muslims, and Algerian Jews nevertheless turned to the press to articulate their hopes and fears for the future of the land they inhabited and to imagine forms of community which would continue to influence political debates until the Algerian War. The frontiers of these imagined communities did not necessarily correlate with those of the nation—either French or Algerian—but framed processes of identification that were at once local, national, and transnational.

The New White Race explores these processes of cultural and political identification, highlighting the production practices, professional networks, and strategic-linguistic choices mobilized by journalists as they sought to influence the sentiments of their readers and the decisions of the French state. Announcing the creation of a “new white race” among the mixed European population of Algeria, settler journalists hoped to increase the autonomy of the settler colony without forgoing the protections afforded by their French rulers. Their ambivalent expressions of “French” belonging, however, reflected tensions among the colonizers; these tensions were ably exploited by those who sought to transform or contest French imperial rule.

Not a Big Deal : Narrating to Unsettle

By Paul Ardoin ; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Not a Big Deal asks how texts might work to unsettle readers at a moment when unwelcome information is rejected as fake news or rebutted with alternative facts. When readers already recognize “defamiliarizing texts” as a category, how might texts still work toward the goals of defamiliarization? When readers refuse to grapple with texts that might shock them or disrupt their extant views about politics, race, or even narrative itself, how can texts elicit real engagement?

This study draws from philosophy, narratology, social neuroscience, critical theory, and numerous other disciplines to read texts ranging from novels and short stories to graphic novels, films, and fiction broadcasted and podcasted—all of which enact curious strategies of disruption while insisting that they do no such thing.

Following a model traceable to Toni Morrison’s criticism and short fiction, texts by Kyle Baker, Scott Brown, Percival Everett, Daniel Handler, David Robert Mitchell, Jordan Peele, and Colson Whitehead suggest new strategies for unsettling the category-based perceptions behind what Everett calls “the insidious colonialist reader’s eye which infects America.” Not a Big Deal examines problems in our perception of the world and of texts and insists we do the same.

On the Sidelines : Gendered Neoliberalism and the American Female Sportscaster

By Guy Harrison ; Series: Sports, Media, and Society

When sports fans turn on the television or radio today, they undoubtedly find more women on the air than ever before. Nevertheless, women sportscasters are still subjected to gendered and racialized mistreatment in the workplace and online and are largely confined to anchor and sideline reporter positions in coverage of high-profile men’s sports. In On the Sidelines Guy Harrison weaves in-depth interviews with women sportscasters, focus groups with sports fans, and a collection of media products to argue that gendered neoliberalism—a cluster of exclusionary twenty-first-century feminisms—maintains this status quo.

Spinning a cohesive narrative, Harrison shows how sportscasting’s dependence on gendered neoliberalism broadly places the onus on women for their own success despite systemic sexism and racism. As a result, women in the industry are left to their own devices to navigate double standards, bias in hiring and development for certain on-air positions, harassment, and emotional labor. Through the lens of gendered neoliberalism, On the Sidelines examines each of these challenges and analyzes how they have been reshaped and maintained to construct a narrow portrait of the ideal neoliberal female sportscaster. Consequently, these challenges are taken for granted as “natural,” sustaining women’s marginalization in the sportscasting industry.

Pseudo-Memoirs : Life and Its Imitation in Modern Fiction

By Rochelle Tobias ; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Pseudo-Memoirs redefines the notion of fiction itself, a form that has all too often been understood in terms of its capacity to produce a seeming reality. Rochelle Tobias argues that the verisimilitude of the novel derives not from its object but from the subjectivity at its base. What generates the plausibility of fiction is not the referentiality of its depictions but the intentionality of consciousness.

Edmund Husserl developed the idea that consciousness is always intentional in the sense that it is directed outside itself toward something that it does not find so much as it constitutes as an object. Pseudo-memoirs reveal the full implications of this position in their double structure as the tale of their own telling or the fiction of life-writing. In so doing they reveal how the world of fiction is constructed, but more important they bring to the fore the idealist premises that fuel the novel and guarantee its truth, even when it remains an invention of the imagination.

Rochelle Tobias explores novels by Thomas Mann, Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and W. G. Sebald in conjunction with philosophical and theoretical texts by René Descartes, Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche, György Łukács, Roland Barthes, and Maurice Blanchot.

Tenacious of Life : The Quadruped Essays of John James Audubon and John Bachman

By John James Audubon and John Bachman, Edited and with original commentary by Daniel Patterson and Eric Russell

Daniel Patterson and Eric Russell present a groundbreaking case for considering John James Audubon’s and John Bachman’s quadruped essays as worthy of literary analysis and redefine the role of Bachman, the perpetually overlooked coauthor of the essays. After completing The Birds of America (1826–38), Audubon began developing his work on the mammals. The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America volumes show an antebellum view of nature as fundamentally dynamic and simultaneously grotesque and awe-inspiring. The quadruped essays are rich with good stories about these mammals and the humans who observe, pursue, and admire them.

For help with the science and the essays, Audubon enlisted the Reverend John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. While he has been acknowledged as coauthor of the essays, Bachman has received little attention as an American nature writer. While almost all works that describe the history of American nature writing include Audubon, Bachman shows up only in a subordinate clause or two. Tenacious of Life strives to restore Bachman’s status as an important American nature writer.

Patterson and Russell analyze the coauthorial dance between the voices of Audubon, an experienced naturalist telling adventurous hunting stories tinged often by sentiment, romanticism, and bombast, and of Bachman, the courteous gentleman naturalist, scientific detective, moralist, sometimes cruel experimenter, and humorist. Drawing on all the primary and secondary evidence, Patterson and Russell tell the story of the coauthors’ fascinating, conflicted relationship. This collection offers windows onto the early United States and much forgotten lore, often in the form of travel writing, natural history, and unique anecdotes, all told in the compelling voices of Antebellum America’s two leading naturalists.

Thinking About Good and Evil : Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity

By Rabbi Wayne Allen ; Series: JPS Essential Judaism

The most comprehensive book on the topic, Thinking about Good and Evil traces the most salient Jewish ideas about why innocent people seem to suffer, why evil individuals seem to prosper, and God’s role in such matters of (in)justice, from antiquity to the present.

Starting with the Bible and Apocrypha, Rabbi Wayne Allen takes us through the Talmud; medieval Jewish philosophers and Jewish mystical sources; the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples; early modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Luzzatto; and, finally, modern thinkers such as Cohen, Buber, Kaplan, and Plaskow. Each chapter analyzes individual thinkers’ arguments and synthesizes their collective ideas on the nature of good and evil and questions of justice. Allen also exposes vastly divergent Jewish thinking about the Holocaust: traditionalist (e.g., Ehrenreich), revisionist (e.g., Rubenstein, Jonas), and deflective (e.g., Soloveitchik, Wiesel).

Rabbi Allen’s engaging, accessible volume illuminates well-known, obscure, and novel Jewish solutions to the problem of good and evil.

Transmovimientos : Latinx Queer Migrations, Bodies, and Spaces

Edited by Ellie D. Hernández, Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., and Magda García

Within a trans-embodied framework, this anthology identifies transmovimientos as the creative force or social mechanism through which queer, trans, and gender nonconforming Latinx communities navigate their location and calibrate their consciousness. This anthology unveils a critical perspective with the emphasis on queer, trans, and gender nonconforming communities of immigrants and social dissidents who reflect on and write about diaspora and migratory movements while navigating geographical and embodied spaces across gendered and racialized contexts, all crucial elements of the trans-movements taking place in the United States.

This collection forms a nuanced conversation between scholarship and social activism that speaks in concrete ways about diasporic and migratory LGBTQ communities who suffer from immoral immigration policies and political discourses that produce untenable living situations. The focal point of analysis throughout Transmovimientos examines migratory movements and anti-immigrant sentiment, homophobia, and stigma toward people who are transgender, immigrants, and refugees. These deliberate consciousness-based expressions are designed to realign awareness about the body in transit and the diasporic experience of relocating and emerging into new possibilities.

Unholy Heart : New and Selected Poems

By Grace Bauer

Unholy Heart includes generous selections from each of Grace Bauer’s previous books of poetry, plus a sampling of new poems. Bauer has long been known for the wide range of both her subject matter and poetic styles, from the biblical persona poems of The Women at the Well, to the explorations of visual art in Beholding Eye, to the intersections of personal history and pop culture in Retreats and Recognitions and Nowhere All At Once, and to the postmodern fragmentations in MEAN/TIME. Along with these selections, Bauer incorporates her most elegiac work yet.


 A Warning for Fair Women : Adultery and Murder in Shakespeare’s Theater

Edited by Ann C. Christensen ; Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies

A Warning for Fair Women is a 1599 true-crime drama from the repertory of Shakespeare’s acting company. While important to literary scholars and theater historians, it is also readable, relevant, and stage-worthy today. Dramatizing the murder of London merchant George Saunders by his wife’s lover, and the trials and executions of the murderer and accomplices, it also sheds light on neighborhood and domestic life and crime and punishment.

This edition of A Warning for Fair Women is fully updated, featuring a lively and extensive introduction and covering topics from authorship and staging to the 2018 world revival of the play in the United States. It includes a section with discussion and research questions along with resources on topics raised by the play, from beauty and women’s friendship to the occult. Ann C. Christensen presents a freshly edited text for today’s readers, with in-depth explanatory notes, scene summaries, a gallery of period images, and full scholarly apparatus.

Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh

Edited by Timothy W. Bintrim, James A. Jaap, and Kimberly Vanderlaan ; Series: Volume 13, Cather Studies

Willa Cather wrote about the places she knew, including Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia. Often forgotten among these essential locations has been Pittsburgh. During the ten years Pittsburgh was her home (1896–1906), Cather worked as an editor, journalist, teacher, and freelance writer. She mixed with all sorts of people and formed friendships both ephemeral and lasting. She published extensively—and not just profiles and reviews but also a collection of poetry, April Twilights, and more than thirty short stories, including several collected in The Troll Garden that are now considered masterpieces: “A Death in the Desert,” “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” “A Wagner Matinee,” and “Paul’s Case.” During extended working vacations through 1916, she finished four novels in Pittsburgh.

Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives : The Poetry & Scholarship of Edward Sapir, Margaret Mead & Ruth Benedict

By A. Elisabeth Reichel : Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology

Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives re-examines the poetry and scholarship of three of the foremost figures in the twentieth-century history of U.S.-American anthropology: Edward Sapir, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict. While they are widely renowned for their contributions to Franz Boas’s early twentieth-century school of cultural relativism, what is far less known is their shared interest in probing the representational potential of different media and forms of writing. This dimension of their work is manifest in Sapir’s critical writing on music and literature and Mead’s groundbreaking work with photography and film. Sapir, Mead, and Benedict together also wrote more than one thousand poems, which in turn negotiate their own media status and rivalry with other forms of representation.

A. Elisabeth Reichel presents the first sustained study of the published and unpublished poetry of Sapir, Mead, and Benedict, charting this largely unexplored body of work and relevant selections of the writers’ scholarship. In addition to its expansion of early twentieth-century literary canons, Writing Anthropologists, Sounding Primitives contributes to current debates about the relations between different media, sign systems, and modes of sense perception in literature and other media. Reichel offers a unique contribution to the history of anthropology by synthesizing and applying insights from the history of writing, sound studies, and intermediality studies to poetry and scholarship produced by noted early twentieth-century U.S.-American cultural anthropologists.

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Friday Reads: World War Z by Max Brooks

Yes, Max Brooks is Mel Brooks’ son. No, World War Z is not anything like Spaceballs or Young Frankenstein. Just get that out of your head right now. No comparison. None.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War brings the zombie apocalypse to life through the shared stories of military personnel, medical professionals, filmmakers, rescue workers, submarine operators, political figures, and other key players of the Zombie War. The book has been out since 2006, but the zombies are more real today then ever before. I learned more about global politics and human relations from this Oral History than I did in a semester’s worth of World Politics in college. The zombies were an added bonus to my global education.

The audiobook version of World War Z is narrated by a full cast of characters who personalize each story as their own. I listened to the chapter narrated by Allen Alda twice because he has seen war! I may have also re-watched a couple episodes of M.A.S.H. in between. Alda was acting in M.A.S.H. The zombies are here today. There’s a difference.

Each chapter takes you to a new part of the world. Travel to Japan, China, Korea, Denver, the open ocean, and more. See the world from every perspective and hear from the people on the front lines of the zombie war. These people made sure the world kept spinning, even as loved ones turned into flesh-eating zombies, decimating the global population. It’s a messy job, but somebody’s got to do it.

The global travels begin with patient zero in China, through the initial spread and panic, and on to the perseverance of the human population. I won’t spell out the ties to the current pandemic, but it’s not a great leap to link the two together. I’m sure there will be high school and college papers written on the topic for years to come.

Read World War Z to escape the current pandemic and learn about the real world from different perspectives. If you’ve read the book before, give it a listen. Close your eyes and embrace the chaos. Consider it a practice run.

Brooks, Max. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. New York: Crown, 2006. Print.

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#BookFaceFriday “Furia: A Novel” by Yamile Saied Méndez

Calling all YA readers with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

Attention! Attention, please! We have an announcement: Book clubs are not just for adults. That’s all, thank you for coming to my TED Talk. But seriously, here at NLC, we have Book Club Kits for a wide range of readers. From fiction to nonfiction, translated books to Nebraska authors, and kids chapter books to adult titles. One such YA title is “Furia: A Novel” by Yamile Saied Méndez (Algonquin Young Readers, 2020.) This title is a Reese Witherspoon & Hello Sunshine YA Book Club pick and was a recipient of the 2021 Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Medal. Whether your a school librarian, teen advisory group, or just looking to facilitate a summer reading group, we’re here for you. You can search our Book Club Kits collection by grade level or by choosing Young Adult in the Genre dropdown.

Weaving rich cultural specifics and electric energy into her prose, Méndez crafts a dynamic, feminist narrative that commands attention from the very first line. At its core, this novel is a full-hearted love letter to Argentina and “incorrigible girls” everywhere, emboldening readers to stand up for themselves and chase the dreams they hold dear.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Rules for Book Club Kits

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

This week’s model is NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet! She’s our go-to model when a book cover needs a beautiful head of hair. Thank you, Amanda!

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

 
 
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#BookFaceFriday “The Brightsiders” by Jen Wilde

It’s Jem and the Holograms meets #BookFaceFriday!

We see your true colors shining through with this week’s Pride-themed Bookface! Nebraska OverDrive Libraries has a special collection this month “Rainbow Reads” dedicated to books, both fiction and nonfiction, telling LGBTQ+ stories. Just one title from the collection is “The Brightsiders” by Jen Wilde (Blackstone Publishing, 2018) it’s available as an Audiobook. Join teen drummer Emmy King in this rock and roll fantasy about the trials of stardom, friendships, and love.

“The author adeptly captures the essence and confusion that young people may go through when trying to figure out their identities. This inclusive romance features multiple LGBTQ+ protagonists, including a nonbinary character who uses the pronouns they/them… Perfect for collections seeking high drama and romance.” School Library Journal

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

This week’s model is NLC’s Information Services Librarian, Aimee Owen, she’s the better half of this Bookface duo. Aimee’s back in the office after a year of working from home, and I gotta say, I’m really excited to have her here!

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

 
 
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Friday Reads: The Anthropocene Reviewed Essays on a Human-Centered Planet, by John Green

If you have never heard of John Green where have you been, living under a rock? Just kidding, but seriously this man is prolific writer of young adult fiction, creator of video content with his brother Hank, and is a great philanthropist. His books always seem to land on the New York Times bestsellers lists, winning numerous awards, and a number of them have been adapted for the screen. The video ventures he does with his brother Hank, specifically “Crash Course”, have won the highest acclaim of teachers who use their YouTube content in class. I could go on and on, so to learn more about John start with his website at https://www.johngreenbooks.com/

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” is a departure from his other works as it is not strictly geared towards young adults and, probably more importantly, it is his first work of nonfiction. John has taken his wonderfully cozy prose writing style to share his thoughts our modern age, specifically the current geological age – the Anthropocene, by rating the seemingly most mundane things on a five star scale. Everything from diet Dr. Pepper, to sunsets, to Super Mario Brothers gets a chapter. He uses the Anthropocene as a lens to focus the reviews as it the first age in which humans have played a huge roll in how the world is shaped.

I loved everything about this book! The writing style makes me feel like I’m back on my grandma’s lap listening to her read me a story, but the content makes you think and look at the world differently. John’s choice of items to review, his silly little footnotes1, and how each chapter is a story unto itself is just perfect.

Covid-19 and quarantine have probably affected every single person on the planet. The “Anthropocene Reviewed” is the first book that I have read where the author is aware of this and shares its effect on themselves, to remind us that we are not alone in what is shaping our world right now.

I give “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green four and three quarters stars.

_____

1 The footnotes are probably the best thing about this book! Do not miss his footnote on the copyright page that reviews… well, the copyright page! I give John’s use of footnotes one million stars out of five.

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Friday Reads: We Are Watching Eliza Bright, by A.E. Osworth

            We Are Watching Eliza Bright is, for all intents and purposes, a dark read. It deals in plot devices as disturbing as any Stephen King novel, with an update for the Reddit age. We witness Eliza take a real issue of workplace sexual harassment to management, where she is given a lukewarm response and told that the incident will not result in the firing of either offender. Nor, it seems, will it herald a shift in the culture at Fancy Dog Games, where a supposed commitment to transparency and productive conversation dissolves in front of Eliza’s eyes. It does not matter how capable, headstrong, or courageous she is—and she is all three—the culture of male violence she faces almost leads to her undoing, though not without bringing down some of the novel’s other key players, some of whom were integral to the initial campaign against her.

            There are few things on earth as chilling as the loss of your personal safety and security. This central theme dominates the narrative in We Are Watching Eliza Bright, as the protagonist finds herself in unique danger due to her gender and prestigious role at a successful, fictitious video game development studio in New York City. The work is written almost entirely in the third person from the perspective of a group of anonymous, unreliable, and increasingly violent misogynists, who critique Eliza’s every move as she moves through the world, offering to the reader misguided and offensive commentary about her status as a woman in the gaming industry. We are to believe, if you trust the narrators’ voice at all, that women don’t belong in the male world of video games—or, for that matter, any public or private space where women and marginalized people get to make their own choices and have agency in any meaningful way. This includes the real world—which is referred to in actual gaming circles and the book as Meatspace—as well as the internet, which we come to understand represents as extension and only an extension of who we are in real life, with none of the grittier or more evil parts of our psyches left out.

            On the defensive, we are met with another group of narrators toward the middle of the work who give Eliza a home at their security and unity-minded feminist art collective in the city. These individuals try to represent and uphold the best of what cobbles together a community, including guaranteeing each person physical safety, the space and comfort they need to process trauma, ritualistic tradition and healing, and undying compassion in times of both joy and profound stress. It is a refreshing break from the anonymous cabal of mean and, frankly, ridiculous Reddit and 4chan narrators, whose occasional moments of humanity and empathy hint at glorious change on a wider scale.

            I would recommend this book to anyone in need of a change of pace or to anyone looking for an indictment on internet culture, the work of feminism in 2021, and what it means to be and feel secure in our bodies and identities, though with a heavy dose of caution as this work includes graphic physical, emotional, and sexual violence.

Osworth, A. E. (2021). We Are Watching Eliza Bright. Grand Central Publishing.

#FridayReads #WeAreWatchingElizaBright #A.E.Osworth

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#BookFaceFriday “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton

Things are heating up with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

As summer temperatures rise so does our search for the perfect summer read, and maybe the perfect summer drink. A Tequila Mockingbird or Margarita Atwood anyone? We think this week’s title “Next Year in Havana: A Novel” by Chanel Cleeton (Berkley, 2018) has excellent potential, and would pair perfectly with an ice-cold Cuba Libre. Even if you don’t leave your backyard this summer, you can still take a trip with this Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Find all the most recently added books with the Browse New Additions search tool. We can’t wait to see what all of our book clubs think of our newest additions.

“A flat-out stunner of a book, at once a dual-timeline mystery, a passionate romance, and paean to the tragedy and beauty of war-torn Cuba. Simply wonderful!”

Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

Rules for Book Club Kits

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

This week’s model is NLC’s Accountant, Laura Stueck! She might be the most important person at the NLC, because she’s the one who makes sure we all get paid!

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

 
 
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Friday Reads: Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner was born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Eugene, Oregon, by her American father and Korean mother. She is already well known as an indie pop singer/songwriter, who performs and records under the name Japanese Breakfast. (Her third studio album is scheduled for release later this month, and she will be in Omaha on July 31 at the Maha Music Festival.) Her debut book, Crying in H Mart, is an expansion of an essay of the same name that she published in the New Yorker in 2018.

If I had to sum up Crying in H Mart in a single sentence, I’d say it’s a memoir by a daughter about a fraught relationship with her late mother. But that’s reductive. It’s also an exercise in grieving, a culinary celebration, and an exploration of what it’s like to straddle two cultures, not feeling like you completely belong in either one. There’s also a love story slipped in.

H Mart, Zauner tells us on the opening page of her book, is a U.S. supermarket chain that specializes in Asian food, “where parachute kids go to get the exact brand of instant noodles that reminds them of home.” It’s also frequently a trigger for Zauner’s grief over the loss of her mother, who died in 2014, at the age of 56, after a brief, brutal battle with cancer. This death is the animating event of the memoir, but Zauner’s narrative stretches backward and forward in time. She recounts both the prickly relationship she had with her mother growing up and the love of Korean food they shared. She also addresses the alienation she feels from her Korean self after losing her mother: “Am I even Korean anymore if there’s no one left in my life to call and ask which brand of seaweed we used to buy?” she asks herself at one point, while shopping at H Mart.

Zauner’s writing is often visceral, which leads to a powerful reading experience: Her descriptions of food—how it tastes, what it feels like to share it, the yearning to be able to prepare it—are transporting; however, her descriptions of the hands-on care she provided to her mother in her final days, as her body deteriorated, are raw and gut wrenching. The latter may be too much for someone who has recently gone through something similar, but it’s a testament to Zauner’s talent that she is able to bring all types of experiences to vivid life.

Zauner, Michelle. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir. New York: Random House Audio, 2021.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley

Sit back and relax with this #BookFaceFriday!

Every week the Nebraska Library Commission adds new titles to our Book Club Kits Collection! Some we purchase, some are donated by libraries and book clubs. We’ve recently gotten in some great titles, like “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley (Penguin Books, 2020). From the Book Club Kits main page you can narrow your search to New Additions, browse by genre or subject matter, find copies of large-print or audio options, or dive into the list of read-a-likes we’ve compiled to help you find your group’s next book. Take a little time and explore all the Nebraska Library Commission’s Book Club Collection has to offer, we promise, you won’t be disappointed!

The Authenticity Project reads like a gorgeous box of chocolates: sweet, surprising and impossible not to love.  I found myself cheering, cringing, laughing and crying as I read this book and – above all – remembering the true value of community and human connection.”
—Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics

Rules for Book Club Kits

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

This week’s model is NLC staff member Chelsea Lemburg, she’s been working as our Library Innovation Studios Project Assistant but will be transitioning into her new position as Federal Documents Staff Assistant in July! We are so glad she’ll be staying with the NLC when the Library Innovation Studios grant is finished!

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

 
 
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