Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“He thought the month was October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kept a calendar for years …
He lowered the glasses and pulled down the cotton mask from his face.”

This is how Cormac McCarthy’s The Road begins.  

It sounds familiar. It sounds relevant — timely; I was afraid, almost, that it would be too timely.

I’d read The Road before, years ago, and it easily became a favorite. Something about McCarthy’s prose is more akin to poetry, and that teetering, razor-edge brilliance of darkness not entirely lost to despair. This is a book whose memory of reading has haunted me through our own ever seeming dystopia; the world darkening through the corners like a vignette. And something beckoned me towards the book again; a glimmer of hope, survival.  

This time, I chose the audiobook. Because this time, I was thinking about stories, and what will come next, and what came before: how stories were told without paper, how simple it seems to carry something that weighs nothing more than the air in your lungs. How stories might ask to be told again, in the future (a clock, time, is a great circle).  

I’m a reluctant convert to audiobooks — my attention “span” is more of a blip these days, but I ended up listening while laying in bed, right before sleep. I’m sure this was partially responsible for some stressful dreams, but to be honest, they weren’t really any worse than normal. 

The other trouble I have with audiobooks — the primary reason for my hesitation — is that I am so very picky about narrators. When I first played the recording of The Road, courtesy of my public library’s hoopla service, I almost backed out.  

At first, hearing McCarthy’s words read instead of reading them was a jolt. McCarthy’s style is sparse — he eschews punctuation, dialogue tags, constructs sentences in short, sharp bursts. To hear it spoken out was so different than seeing it on the page; and yet, as I adjusted, listening ended up grounding the prose much more familiar terms. And, to be honest, it became enjoyable. When less engaged from the work of literature, I picked up on new dynamics of the story, new emotions; the narrator Tom Stechschulte, delineated the characters with excellent voices, and added a layer of closeness I don’t think I’d had to the story before. I’d originally enjoyed The Road because the language was gorgeous, and I like McCarthy’s style. I respected the human element, but I hadn’t connected to it. Having an actual person read the story — bring it to life, add dimension, did that for me in a way that hearing the story in the theater of my own mind wasn’t quite able to do. Near the midway point in the book, there’s a scene between the man and his wife — a terrible argument, about the horrors and reality of their future — that I felt was so well acted, and I was caught up in it, breathless.

The center of The Road is the man, and the boy — his son, his only son, and his legacy, and his only reason for living — unnamed and surviving the last gasps of a world ended on the road, trying to make it south, to the coast where the winter might be survived. On the surface, there’s really no reason to survive. Nothing is going to get better; in fact, in a world where cannibalism has become a fore-running dietary option, humanity made macabre ouroboros, it’s safe to say things are only going to get worse. Yet, call it foolish, call it stubbornness, call it humanity — the man and the boy keep going. Still they keep going, down the road.

I’ve always read that as the definition of hope, and now I’ve heard it, too.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. Narrated by Tom Stechschulte, Recorded Books, Inc., 2006. Audiobook.

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#BookFaceFriday “Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich” by Adam Rex

This #BookFaceFriday might ruin your dinner!

You think you’ve got problems? They don’t hold a dripping black candle to those of the monsters in this week’s #BookFace, “Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (And Other Stories You’re Sure to Like, Because They’re All About Monsters, and Some of Them Are Also About Food. You Like Food, Don’t You? Well, All Right Then.” by Adam Rex (Harcourt, 2006). With fiendishly-clever rhymes and Rex’s signature drawing style, this picture book will surely delight ghouls and goblins of all ages.

“With irreverent entries such as ‘Count Dracula Doesn’t Know He’s Been Walking Around All Night With Spinach in His Teeth,’ this mash of monster poems will send kids howling (with laughter).”—Family Fun

This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems.

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 October Man, by Ben Aaronovitch, novella

The October Man, by Ben Aaronovitch is an offshoot of Aaronovitch’s The Rivers of London series, and perfect for the coming Halloween season. Set in the city of Trier, one of the few Roman conquered cities in Germany, this modern urban fantasy runs, KDA Polezei Tobias Winter, and local officer Vanessa Sommer, up and down hills, staircases, and steep vineyards in a puzzling magic and mythology-laden case.

Tobias is a member of the Abteilung Komplexe und diffuse Angelegenheiten (KDA)—Department of Complex and Diffuse Matters, a lovely, and vague way to say that his division looks into what it calls “infractions” –of a supernatural nature, often involving death. No aliens are involved, but, as in Aaronovitch’s other stories, a great many creatures from myth, plus, of course, river spirits. Tobias is the Director’s apprentice, just as Peter Grant of the Rivers of London Series, is an apprentice of the Nightingale. Vanessa Sommer is a Kriminalpolizei officer in Trier, specializing in crimes involving wine. As the story develops, she also has a budding talent for magic.

The mystery begins with a dead male body, covered with a fungus called Botrytis cinerea or Noble Rot (sometimes introduced to grapes to create a sweet wine, ) and not usually found on humans, much less as a cause of death. The body was dumped below a steep field of grapes, and above a river. The victim was a member of a club of mostly middle-aged men, who started with the quote from Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” They begin by drinking good wine, but eventually branch out by beyond their comfort zones, taking classes, going to museums, going to live theatre. When the first death occurs, it was actually at the point of starting to voluntarily disband. Every member had improved his life and was happier in it. Tobias and Vanessa have to discover how magic is involved.

The owner of the vineyard is involved, as well. The Stracker family had a connection with the river below, the Kyll (or Kelly, as she prefers to be known when walking around town.) When Jacqueline Stracker inherited the vineyard from her grandfather, she returned from working in the wine country of California, and that may have started the supernatural activity. And when pressed about unusual activities, admits to following her grandfather one night when he made a “wine sacrifice” to the river, intending to steal the bottles. She was very surprised when a shining, nude woman walked out of the water and gave her a message for her grandfather, that the compact was broken. She never mentioned the incident to family.

Aaronovitch’s writing is addicting, his descriptions of the countryside and highways can be confusing, but add texture to his stories. His characters have depth. I’d like more stories about these two. It doesn’t hurt to have an interest or background in folklore and mythology, but it certainly not necessary. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The October Man, by Ben Aaronovitch, A Rivers of London Novella, Subterranean Press, ISBN 9781596069084, hard back. 208 pages.

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#BookFaceFriday “Love & Other Curses” by Michael Thomas Ford

Let this #BookFaceFriday cast a spell on you!

This week was the Nebraska Library Association Fall Conference, and this #BookFace, “Love & Other Curses” by Michael Thomas Ford (HarperTeen, 2019), was among the free books available to Nebraska librarians at the School, Children, & Young People (SCYP) booth.

This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems.

Love & Other Curses is a book with heart—a big, generous, loving heart. Anyone looking for a deep, thoughtful story about love and life and coming of age will enjoy the relationships, the search, and the lovely magic that may or may not be a part of every person’s life.” — New York Journal of Books

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

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Friday Reads: I Am Mr. Ellie Pooh by Dr. Karl Wald

This is the first time I’ve reviewed a coloring book. But it’s made out of elephant dung paper, so I couldn’t resist. Turns out when you wash the stinky poo part away from elephant dung, you get raw vegetation. I don’t want to know how they found this out.

After boiling the vegetation in a pressure cooker to kill bacteria, the end-result is mixed with post-consumer paper. From here, it’s smooth sailing. The paper can be made just like handmade paper: screen, press, and hang to dry. I used to make paper when I was in high school, so I was fascinated by elephant dung paper.

Now kids (and adults!) can color on paper that is 50% fiber from elephant dung and 50% recycled paper. The process was perfected by Dr. Karl Wald and his veterinarian friend on a trip to Sri Lanka. The book tells the story of how the paper is made, and how the book you are holding is saving elephants from angry farmers. You can read the story behind the story on the Mr. Ellie Pooh website. You can also see pictures of the paper-making process and how Mr. Ellie Pooh is creating jobs for local papermakers and artisans in the “About” section.

I got these coloring books for my niece and nephew for Christmas a couple years ago and they loved Mr. Ellie Pooh. Enough to grab Winnie the Pooh and declare, “Pooh is an elephant too!? There can be only one!” Then threw Winnie behind the couch. Poor bear.

At the time, I found the coloring books at Ten Thousand Villages in Lincoln. I’m not sure if they are still there, but they are also sold on the Mr. Ellie Pooh website. Apparently they have a bunch more stuff now too. I didn’t see the coloring book on Amazon, but the store does carry some items through Amazon as well. So if you’re looking for a new activity in the library, give Pooh a try.

Disclaimer: Pooh paper looks and smells just like regular paper. If I hadn’t read the stories and seen the pictures, I would have never known. That’s the power of pooh.

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#BookFaceFriday “Fable” by Adrienne Young

This week’s #BookFaceFriday really tells a story!

New additions to our Book Club Kit collection are always worth a mention. Especially when they have beautiful, spooky covers, perfect for an October #BookFace! “Fable: A Novel” by Adrienne Young (Wednesday Books, 2020) is the first book in a New York Times bestselling series and a Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine Book Club YA pick. It’s now available as a book club kit, or as an eBook and Audiobook on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. OverDrive has the second book in Young’s Fable series as well as two of her other titles.

“Young (The Girl the Sea Gave Back) blends adventure and intrigue in this lush nautical duology opener, crafting a flinty world in which danger lurks at every turn.” – Publishers Weekly 

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  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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Call for Speakers: Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022

The Call for Speakers for Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022 is now open!

This free one-day online conference is aimed at librarians from small libraries; the smaller the better! We are looking for speakers from small libraries or speakers who directly work with small libraries. Small libraries of all types – public, academic, school, museum, special, etc. – are encouraged to submit a proposal. We’re looking for seven 50-minute presentations and four 10-minute “lightning round” presentations.

Do you offer a service or program at your small library that other librarians might like to hear about? Have you implemented a new (or old) technology, hosted an event, partnered with others in your community, or just done something really cool? The Big Talk From Small Libraries online conference gives you the opportunity to share what you’ve done, while learning what your colleagues in other small libraries are doing.

Here are some possible topics to get you thinking:

  • Unique Libraries
  • Special Collections
  • New buildings
  • Fundraising
  • Improved Workflows
  • Staff Development
  • Advocacy Efforts
  • Community Partnerships
  • That great thing you’re doing at your library!

Submit your proposal by Friday, January 14, 2022.

Speakers from libraries serving fewer than 10,000 people will be preferred, but presentations from libraries with larger service populations will be considered.

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2022 will be held on Friday, February 25, 2022 between 8:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (CT) via the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Speakers will present their programs from their own desktops. The schedule will accommodate speakers’ time-zones.

This conference is organized and hosted by the Nebraska Library Commission and is co-sponsored by the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

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Friday Reads: “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches book cover

Have you ever read a book that reminds you of someone?

The novel “Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness follows historian Diana Bishop as she researches science in the 15th and 16th centuries, more specifically manuscripts covering alchemy. Sounds boring, right?

During her work, Diana runs across one particular manuscript that just feels different. Literally! The book seems to sigh when she places her hand on it. Slightly spooked by the sigh, and what she finds within the volume, she sends it back to the bowels of the Oxford library where she has been working hoping to forget about it.

This seemingly insignificant moment sparks a journey for Diana across Europe, and eventually to her childhood home in New England, all the while trying to avoid witches, vampires, and other creatures, with the help of Matthew Clairmont, a fellow academic and a vampire. Oh, did I forget to mention that Diana is a witch? She’s been spending her entire life trying to forget that fact, too, leading to some interesting situations stemming from her out-of-control magic.

“Discovery of Witches” has recently been made into a series by AMC, causing the book series to have a resurgence. Deborah Harkness doesn’t waste a single word or phrase in this book and while a pretty hefty at nearly 600 pages I found this book really easy to read and enthralling. So much so, I’ve already purchased the rest of the series.

By now you’re probably curious about whom I’m reminded of when reading this book. I came across this book while spending an afternoon with my best friend, who just so happened to be heading off to Europe to teach at a university. The adventure, romance, and mystery of this novel will catch anyone’s interest but for me, the parallels to my own “Diana” made this read so much more enjoyable.

Harkness, Deborah. A Discovery of Witches. Penguin Books, 2011.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This week’s #BookFaceFriday is off-limits!

We are celebrating Banned Books Week with a very dapper banned #BookFace! The Nebraska Library Commission supports readers and the freedom to read so we make sure our various collections reflect that. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Washington Square Press, 2021) has been banned or challenged for decades, cited for “coarse language” and “sexual content,”  it’s available as a book club kit, or as an eBook and Audiobook on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. A book is considered challenged when calls are made for it to be banned or removed from the public’s access. This is one of many banned or challenged titles NLC has available in our Book Club Kit Collection, titles like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Beloved by Toni Morrison, the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, just to name a few.  This week’s #BookFace and other banned books can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. NLC also has several banned or challenged titles available to our Nebraska OverDrive Libraries.

You can find more information about Banned Books Week and the fight against censorship at ALA.org/advocacy/bbooks! What are you doing to celebrate Banned Books Week? Let us know!

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  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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Friday Reads: All In: An Autobiography, by Billie Jean King

Forty-eight years ago, on September 20, 1973, 90 million people worldwide watched top women’s tennis player, Billie Jean King, 29, defeat former champion, Bobby Riggs, 55, in the Battle of the Sexes. I was eight and not a sports fan, but King has been on my radar, at least peripherally, ever since.

Just because you know a few facts about someone doesn’t mean you really know them, though, so it’s been a delight listening to King narrate her recently released autobiography, All In. It’s a long listen—18 hours—but King provides an engaging, enlightening account of her lifelong fight for equal treatment and pay for women in sports. And the fact that I don’t understand or particularly care about tennis didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of the book one bit!

One surprising takeaway is just how early King’s sensitivity to injustice and inequality, along with her commitment to rooting it out, kicked in. As an athletic, sports-loving girl growing up in the 1950s, King regularly ran up against gender-based stereotypes and restrictions. They ranged from being yanked from a photo of junior tennis tournament participants for wearing shorts instead of a skirt, to watching top teen boy tennis players getting comped for meals at the Los Angeles Tennis Club while she, a top teen girl, ate brown-bag lunches from home, to being told at 15 that she’d be good because she was ugly. “Even if you’re not a born activist, life can damn sure make you one,” she says of these early experiences.

Though young, King’s own run-ins with gender-based slights and limitations sensitized her to race-based discrimination as well. In 1955, while attending a championship tournament at the Los Angeles Country Club, she was particularly struck by “how white everything was.” She had what she describes as an epiphany:

I told myself that day that I would spend my life fighting for equal rights and opportunities for everyone, so no one felt scorned or left out. I believed our church’s teaching that I was put on this earth to do good with my life. Now I had a better idea what my calling could be: I could bring people together through tennis. If I was good enough and fortunate enough to be No. 1 in the world, tennis would be my platform.

King achieved number 1 ranking in the world for the first time in 1966 (she’d go on to achieve it five additional times) and she stayed true to her calling–leveraging personal success to fight for social change. All athletic champions feel pressure to stay at the top of their game, but for King the stakes were higher than personal glory: “Unless I was number 1, I wouldn’t be listened to,” she’s stated. And to me, learning more about these fights for equal rights, especially what went on behind the scenes, was the most interesting and inspiring aspect of the book.

Here are just a few of the fights you’ll learn more about if you tackle All In:

  • In 1970, despite threats of suspension from the male-run tennis establishment, King, along with eight other women, signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis magazine, to create the first women’s pro tennis circuit.
  • King campaigned vigorously for equal tournament prize money for women tennis players who were paid significantly less than their male peers—sometimes by a margin of eight to one. The U.S. Open was the first major tournament to offer pay equity, in 1973, after King threatened to boycott, but Wimbledon didn’t come around until 2007.
  • When King started college in 1961 she’d already won her first Wimbledon championship, but no sports scholarships were forthcoming because she was a woman. Just over a decade later, King testified before Congress in support of Title IX. Passed in 1972, this legislation prohibited sex discrimination in all federally funded school programs, including sports. This meant schools had to start distributing athletic scholarship dollars equitably between male and female student athletes.

If you like inspiring reads that shows how much work goes into achieving incremental social progress, All In is definitely worth checking out!

King, Billie Jean, et al. All In: An Autobiography. Random House Audio, 2021. 

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What’s Sally Reading?

Nominees for YALSA’s 2022 Lists Are Updated Weekly 

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a section of the American Library Association (ALA), has a schedule of updates of nominees for several of their lists for 2022.  Check their blog, The Hub, each week or month to learn what titles are being considered for their Best Fiction for Young Adults (Mondays), Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (Tuesdays), Amazing Audiobooks (Wednesday), and Great Graphic Novels (Thursday).  You see a copy of the cover and a review of the book, usually one title with a review and one or more additional titles merely listed per posting. 

At the bottom of each posting there is occasionally a place to click to see all the postings referring to that list.   A quarterly compilation of each list is available, the first ones were posted on The Hub in early April, the second list was posted in early July.

You and your teens are also welcome to submit titles for consideration for any of the lists.  Also at the bottom of each posting is a link to the information and form to suggest a title for that list.

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney and illustrated by Robyn Smith is a graphic novel included on two nominees’ lists: Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Great Graphic Novels. 

Nubia is fast and strong – really strong.  She is black and her two mothers constantly remind her not to use her strength, it will only get her in trouble; they DO want the best for her.  Her two best friends (LaQuisha and Jason) want her to enjoy her summer, but that seems unlikely.   She is in a convenience store for a refill when two robbers enter.  She stays low, as her mothers would want, until a guy she likes is threatened – and she throws the ATM at the robber and then runs.  No surprise to Nubia, a policeman finds her part way home and handcuffs her, until he learns the two robbers were men.  Then he releases her and tells her to stay out of trouble.

Dealing with many things common in high school – liking a guy and being awkward around him – Nubia must also deal with racism; and keep in mind that if people learn of her abilities, they will likely be afraid of her, they will not see her as Wonder Woman.  But when her best friend Quisha, is threatened by her former boyfriend, Nubia finds a way to catch him out without violence.  And… it turns out Nubia is related to Wonder Woman.

As School Library Journal said, “No superhero collection is complete without Nubia.”

(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers.  After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state

documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in July and August 2021:

C’RONA Pandemic Comics, by Bob Hall, Judy Diamond, Liz VanWormer, and Judi M. Gaiashkibos.

C’RONA Pandemic Comics is a collection of short comics and essays developed to help youth understand the complexities of living through a viral pandemic. Each focuses on a different theme: the biology of the COVID-19 virus; the relationship of wild animals, particularly bats, to the pandemic; and the impact of the pandemic on tribal communities. Created by a group of artists, educators, tribe members, and scientists, this comic book provides an engaging way to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic from a cast of fictional characters—a parrot, a fox, a goat, a bat, a mouse, a coyote, and a ghost.

DEAR DIASPORA, by Susan Nguyen. Series: The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

Dear Diaspora is an unapologetic reckoning with history, memory, and grief. Parting the weeds on a small American town, this collection sheds light on the intersections of girlhood and diaspora. The poems introduce us to Suzi: ripping her leg hairs out with duct tape, praying for ecstasy during Sunday mass, dreaming up a language for buried familial trauma and discovering that such a language may not exist. Through a collage of lyric, documentary, and epistolary poems, we follow Suzi as she untangles intergenerational grief and her father’s disappearance while climbing trees to stare at the color green and wishing that she wore Lucy Liu’s freckles.

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Dear Diaspora scrutinizes our turning away from the trauma of our past and our complicity in its erasure. Suzi, caught between enjoying a rundown American adolescence and living with the inheritances of war, attempts to unravel her own inherited grief as she explores the multiplicities of identity and selfhood against the backdrop of the Vietnamese diaspora. In its deliberate interweaving of voices, Dear Diaspora explores Suzi’s journey while bringing to light other incarnations of the refugee experience.

DEATH OF THE SENATE : MY FRONT ROW SEAT TO THE DEMISE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY, by Ben Nelson.

Something is rotten in the U.S. Senate, and the disease has been spreading for some time. But Ben Nelson, former U.S. senator from Nebraska, is not going to let the institution destroy itself without a fight. Death of the Senate is a clear-eyed look inside the Senate chamber and a brutally honest account of the current political reality.

In his two terms as a Democratic senator from the red state of Nebraska, Nelson positioned himself as a moderate broker between his more liberal and conservative colleagues and became a frontline player in the most consequential fights of the Bush and Obama years. His trusted centrist position gave him a unique perch from which to participate in some of the last great rounds of bipartisan cooperation, such as the “Gang of 14” that considered nominees for the federal bench—and passed over a young lawyer named Brett Kavanaugh for being too partisan.

Nelson learned early on that the key to any negotiation at any level is genuine trust. With humor, insight, and firsthand details, Nelson makes the case that the “heart of the deal” is critical and describes how he focused on this during his time in the Senate. As seen through the eyes of a centrist senator from the Great Plains, Nelson shows how and why the spirit of bipartisanship declined and offers solutions that can restore the Senate to one of the world’s most important legislative bodies.

DEER SEASON, by Erin Flanagan. Series: Flyover Fiction.

It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.

A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.

EARLY MODERN TRAUMA : EUROPE AND THE ATLANTIC WORLD, Edited by Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards. Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies.

The term trauma refers to a wound or rupture that disorients, causing suffering and fear. Trauma theory has been heavily shaped by responses to modern catastrophes, and as such trauma is often seen as inherently linked to modernity. Yet psychological and cultural trauma as a result of distressing or disturbing experiences is a human phenomenon that has been recorded across time and cultures.

The long seventeenth century (1598–1715) has been described as a period of almost continuous warfare, and the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries saw the development of modern slavery, colonialism, and nationalism, and witnessed plagues, floods, and significant sociopolitical, economic, and religious transformation. In Early Modern Trauma editors Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards present a variety of ways early modern contemporaries understood and narrated their experiences. Studying accounts left by those who experienced extreme events increases our understanding of the contexts in which traumatic experiences have been constructed and interpreted over time and broadens our understanding of trauma theory beyond the contemporary Euro-American context while giving invaluable insights into some of the most pressing issues of today.

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN : A FATHER AND SON REDISCOVER AMERICA ON THE OREGON TRIAL, by B. J. Hollars.

At the sound of the bell on the last day of kindergarten, B.J. Hollars and his six-year-old son, Henry, hop in the car to strike out on a 2,500-mile road trip retracing the Oregon Trail. Their mission: to rediscover America, and Americans, along the way. Throughout their two-week adventure, they endure the usual setbacks (car trouble, inclement weather, and father-son fatigue), but their most compelling drama involves people, privilege, and their attempt to find common ground in an all-too-fractured country.

Writing in the footsteps of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Hollars picks up the trail with his son more than half a century later. Together they sidle up to a stool at every truck stop, camp by every creek, and roam the West. They encounter not only the beauty and heartbreak of America, but also the beauty and heartbreak of a father and son eager to make the most of their time together. From Chimney Rock to Independence Rock to the rocky coast of Oregon, they learn and relearn the devastating truth of America’s exploitative past, as well as their role within it.

Go West, Young Man recounts the author’s effort to teach his son the difficult realities of our nation’s founding while also reaffirming his faith in America today.

MOSQUITOES SUCK!, by Katherine Richardson Bruna, Sara Erickson, and Lyric Bertholomay.

Using a science comic format to engage readers of all ages, Mosquitoes SUCK! conveys essential information about mosquito biology, ecology, and disease transmission needed for community-based control efforts. Starting with a story of a dystopian mosquito-less future, Mosquitoes SUCK! travels back in time to depict the present-day work of a scientist in her lab and the curiosity of the students she works with as they learn about the history of mosquito-human interaction, science as an ever-evolving tool, and the need to balance cutting-edge preventative technologies with broader care for environmental stewardship.

NANCY CROW : DRAWINGS: MONOPRINTS AND RIFFS, by Nancy Crow.

Nancy Crow: Drawings: Monoprints and Riffs is a beautifully illustrated catalog showcasing the newest work of renowned artist Nancy Crow. Over the last decade Crow has transformed her quiltmaking by developing a unique monoprinting technique. Monoprinting on cotton fabric, she focuses on drawn lines, layered one upon another, that result in a complex visual tangle. The work in this series simultaneously produces both clarity and depth.

In her Riff and Drawing: Riff series, Crow has continued to explore her “drawing with fabric” approach. In these works Crow improvisationally cuts through layers of highly saturated hand-dyed fabrics, creating crisp forms with slight curves and undulations caused by subtle movements of her arm, which are then stitched together in dynamic compositions.

This catalog includes Crow’s descriptions of these innovative techniques as well as candid musings on her personal journey as a driven, passionate artist. In addition, Crow’s work is discussed in an essay by Jean Robertson, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Art History at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University–Purdue University. Also featured is a foreword by David Hornung, professor of art and art history at Adelphi University, New York. The catalog accompanies a 2020 exhibition of Crow’s work at the International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

NEBRASKA HISTORY MOMENTS : STORIES & PHOTOS FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF HISTORY NEBRASKA, by David L. Bristow.

Even a moment is enough for wonder and curiosity. Each page of this book uses a photo or artifact to tell a true story about the past, drawing from the extensive collections of History Nebraska. You can read it straight through, but it’s written to be browsed. Here are the turning points, disasters, amusements, causes and controversies, changing technologies, and scenes of daily life of the people who lived in a Nebraska that sometimes seems familiar to us, and sometimes seems a world away.

WHAT ISN’T REMEMBERED : STORIES, by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry. Series: The Raz/Shumaker Prairies Schooner Book Prize in Fiction.

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the stories in What Isn’t Remembered explore the burden, the power, and the nature of love between people who often feel misplaced and estranged from their deepest selves and the world, where they cannot find a home. The characters yearn not only to redefine themselves and rebuild their relationships but also to recover lost loves—a parent, a child, a friend, a spouse, a partner.

A young man longs for his mother’s love while grieving the loss of his older brother. A mother’s affair sabotages her relationship with her daughter, causing a lifelong feud between the two. A divorced man struggles to come to terms with his failed marriage and his family’s genocidal past while trying to persuade his father to start cancer treatments. A high school girl feels responsible for the death of her best friend, and the guilt continues to haunt her decades later.

Evocative and lyrical, the tales in What Isn’t Remembered uncover complex events and emotions, as well as the unpredictable ways in which people adapt to what happens in their lives, finding solace from the most surprising and unexpected sources.

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Friday Reads: The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

I’m not sure why I haven’t read Kristin Hannah’s books until recently, but once discovered, I am completely hooked. So far, I’ve read four of her books, loved all of them, but especially The Great Alone. It kept my interest so completely that I stayed up late reading, and when I couldn’t read it, I was listening to the audio version. It’s that good.

Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.

For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. 

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in 18 hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. 

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger. 

The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night audiobook about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. (Audible)

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#BookFaceFriday “The Calamities of Kalamity Kate”

Yeehaw! Get along, lil’ #BookFaceFriday!

In honor of a true Nebraska legend, today we are highlighting Leta Powell Drake’s memoir, “The Calamities of Kalamity Kate: A History of Nebraska’s Children’s TV Shows(J & L Lee Co., 2014). Leta Powell Drake was a celebrity in Nebraska and throughout the world of entertainment with a 50-year career in broadcasting. To us, at NLC, she holds a special place as a narrator for our Talking Book and Braille Service. Many of her famous interviews have been archived by History Nebraska and can be found on their YouTube channel. We highly recommend her memoir and as part of our permanent collection, it’s available for check out to anyone. Just ask our amazing Information Services staff! This title is published by the University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state document program. In 1972, the Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.

“The Calamities of Kalamity Kate is a nostalgic trip into the past that is not only enjoyable but edifying.” — foreword by Ron Hull

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

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

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for July through August, 2021.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources,

the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services, the University of Nebraska Agricultural Extension, 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 as 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: Can I Give You a Squish? by Emily Neilson

Our two (and a half) year old recently discovered the delightful melodies of “Baby Shark” as performed by the Australian group Bounce Patrol, in multiple versions and complete with choreography, of course. Along with the adorable new dance moves, she’s been much more interested in anything with “fishies,” including books.

Can I Give You a Squish by Emily Neilson is an incredibly cute book about a little merboy and his fish friends. Kai is an enthusiastic hugger who loves to give squishes to his mama and to all of his underwater friends. After meeting a new little puffer fish though, he realizes not everyone likes hugs as much as he thought. With help from an octopus, a dolphin, and a crab, they all learn new ways of showing affection (and asking first), like fin bumps and tentacle shakes. The friends are all very encouraging and supportive of the scared puffer fish, and it’s a great way to start teaching young kids about boundaries and consent.

The illustrations in this book are lovely and it’s just a sweet story.

(She’s also really enjoying the Narwhal and Jelly books by Ben Clanton, if you need another good fishy book.)

With this squish book, I’ve been looking for some other picture books to start teaching or talking about consent/personal space:

  • C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison and Faye Orlove
  • Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
  • Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung
  • Hands Off, Harry! by Rosemary Wells

Neilson, E. (2020) Can I Give You a Squish?

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#BookFaceFriday “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman

 No need to fret, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

New book club kits alert! The Nebraska Library Commission’s Book Club Kit Collection is constantly growing. either from purchases or donations. One of our newest titles is “Anxious People: A Novel” by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press, 2021) and we just couldn’t wait to share it with you! This is one of five Backman titles NLC has available in our Book Club Kit Collection. This week’s #BookFace and Fredrik Backman’s other books can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. NLC also has several of Backman’s titles available to our Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, which one will you check out today?

“[A] tight-knit, surprise-filled narrative… the brisk, absorbing action prompts meditation on marriage, parenting, responsibility, and global economic pressures. Comedy, drama, mystery, and social study, this novel is undefinable except for the sheer reading pleasure it delivers. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal (starred review) 

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  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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NCompass Live: Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library

Graphic novels and manga are everywhere: TV series, movies, and now coming to a library near you! Learn how to get started with ‘Manga and Graphic Novels in Your Library’ on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, September 8 at 10am CT.

Starting a collection or updating your holdings can be a challenge in this medium. Which superhero do I follow? Should I start purchasing this manga or wait until it’s complete? Graphic novels and manga are a great addition to any library, but it can feel intimidating to purchase items for this collection without having a knowledge base to work with. This presentation will cover what exactly makes up a comic or manga, the different types and genres, how to get started with your collection, and the logistics of getting into this particular art form.

Presenter: Brooke Zarco, Library Director, Blair Public Library & Technology Center.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Sept. 15 – Library School Now – Library Workers Talk about Their Library Science Coursework
  • Sept. 22 – ConnectEd Nebraska – Wireless Internet for Students
  • Sept. 29 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • October 6 – The Queer Omaha Archives: The First Five Years
  • October 13 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Friday Reads: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

The Perfume Thief: A Novel by [Timothy Schaffert]

I’m reading the new WWII novel, I’m reading the new perfume novel, I’m reading the new WWII perfume novel, and it’s delightful and I don’t want it to end.

I’ve been looking forward to reading The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert, and it’s finally here! The publisher describes the book as “A Gentleman in Moscow meets Moulin Rouge.” I’m ready to follow Clementine, a raconteur in tailored suits, who’s spent her seventy plus years living life her way—while happening to break all of society’s rules. Now she’s facing a big change in her life—the Nazis are threatening to destroy Paris, including the vibrant underground scene she loves. It turns out she has some very exceptional skills, honed over decades of her refined and indecent life, that can help hand defeat to the Nazis. She just has to thread the needle carefully, with the finest silk, of course.

I imagine a few agents in Hollywood are getting calls about playing the part of Clem in the movie that must happen. I can see Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep fighting over the part, but I can see Jamie Lee Curtis owning it. Of course Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, although they are a bit young for the part—isn’t that refreshing? Casting suggestions are welcome in the comments, of course. (Not just for Clem, but also for Zoe St. Angel, and also the villain, Oskar Voss.)

Did I mention Clem is from Nebraska? Did I mention Schaffert painstakingly researched Paris life, down to the weather reports on every day in the book? Did I mention it’s a page-turner? Excuse me while I get back to enjoying The Perfume Thief.

(We did write about The Perfume Thief here as well–yes, we’re fans! And yes, our Book Club Kit is available for Nebraska libraries to check out, and details are at that link.)

Schaffert, T. (2021). The Perfume Thief.

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