Category Archives: Books & Reading

Friday Reads: The Long Weekend, by Gilly Macmillan

cover image The Long Weekend

I picked up The Long Weekend from the new audiobook display at the library, and I got what I wanted: a fast-paced, engrossing thriller to listen to on a long drive. The cover boasts “Three couples, two bodies, one secret,” and by the end of the first disc, I had counted way more secrets than that. Also, one of my favorite ingredients in thrillers—is there something supernatural happening, or is one of the characters just trying to make it seem like there is? (Is that a shapeshifter lurking near the barrows, or is it just someone who’s not happy to see you?)

The Long Weekend is a story about well-off people being not that nice to each other, except it is British, so I guess I’d call them posh people. A group of friends plans a weekend getaway to the North of England, but some of them are planning more than others are, and betrayals overlap like a dense fog. There are enough twists and turns to keep me guessing, and enough humor to keep the story popping along. I appreciate Macmillan’s storytelling strategy, like how we know pretty quickly who committed a murder—but not who their victim is. The character newest to the friend group is jealous of the closeness of the others, but then we learn how the original friends in the group also feel estranged from each other. One character is shown to be quite ruthless and cunning—and then they are manipulated by another party outside of the friend group.

There are multiple characters narrating the action, and I wish the audio tracks had been edited to indicate that. The audio is all recorded by Olivia Poulet, who has a fantastic reading voice, but it would have been helpful to not have the character narration switch within tracks, because the listener regularly has to figure out which character is narrating, and a new track starting would have been a good way to indicate that switch in character narration. This is not as much of a problem as it sounds like it would be—as clever and twisty as the story is, there is a formula here, and nothing remains indecipherable. Macmillan knows how to give us information about the characters and their relationships in a paced way that keeps us interested in learning more.

Macmillan, G. (2022). The long weekend: A novel.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Reading List” by Sara Nisha Adams

#BookFaceFriday‘s TBR list has never been longer!

Maybe a little on the nose for a Book Club read but who cares, it was too good not to use for this week’s #BookFaceFriday. We have gotten several new titles in our Book Club Kit collection, just one being “The Reading List: A Novel” by Sara Nisha Adams (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2022.) You can find this title and all the new books available on our Book Club Kits page; just look in the Browse Options section and select the Browse New Additions link for our latest reads. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook on Nebraska Overdrive Libraries.

“This moving debut demonstrates the power of novels to provide comfort in the face of devastating loss and loneliness, with relatable characters and a heartwarming tone throughout. Readers who enjoyed Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop will find themselves drawn in by this book.”

Booklist

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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#BookFaceFriday “Just Like That” by Gary D. Schmidt

Throw your hands in the air for #BookFaceFriday!

Check out this new book by Newbery Honor-winning writer Gary D. Schmidt!  This week’s #BookFaceFriday! “Just Like That” (Clarion Books, 2021), follows a character we meet in Schmidt’s Wednesdays Wars, and like his other titles, expertly blends humor and tragedy. It is available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in both ebook and Audiobook format, so no matter how your kid likes to read, this book is for you. We have eight Gary Schmidt titles in our OverDrive collection, and two titles available in our Book Club Kits collection.

“Set in 1968, Just Like That is part of an outstanding series that began with Newbery Honor recipient The Wednesday Wars and continued in Okay for Now, a finalist for the National Book Award. While each book can be read separately, overlapping characters and themes enrich each other in understated and often profound ways. “Just Like That” is a riveting, award-worthy novel from a truly accomplished writer. Don’t miss it.” —BookPage

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 190 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 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 #BookFaceFriday model is our Cataloging Librarian, Shoshana Patocka!

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

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Friday Reads: Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli

This book was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of NPR. After reading several biographies on Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Gloria Steinem, the gender discrimination incidents presented here were not revelatory; however, the history of each of the four women was worthwhile and interesting.

Their individual journeys to what their male counterparts contemptuously called the "Fallopian Jungle" (the female section of the newsroom) required tenacity and the willingness to work long hours learning on the job.

Unfortunately, one sentence derailed my experience with this book and lead me down a rabbit hole of research. In July 1974, Nina Totenberg, “polled 200 hundred people on the Hill” to write a story called “The Dumbest Congressman.”

“Among the dumb? Sen. Roman Hruska from Nebraska was so dumb he’d actually said that ‘mediocrity deserves a seat on the Supreme Court’ (Napoli, 109). I’m uncertain if this next sentence was in Totenberg’s article or added by Napoli but the charge against Hruska continues “(two strikes: Hruska owned a chain of dirty movie theaters, yet had sponsored an anti-smut bill.)” (109). Regardless who is calling out Hruska’s hypocrisy, what piqued my curiosity was getting to the bottom of the theater question. A Nebraska senator owning what I would interpret as pornographic theaters was something I’d never learned in my Nebraska history. Trust, but verify. A New York Times article  from 1970 titled “Rival Charges Hruska Peddles Smut” reveals there was more to the story:

In what may be the region’s bitterest election contest, Senator Roman L. Hruska of Nebraska, a noted opponent of violence and pornography, has been labeled a smut peddler and glorifier of brutality. The man who seeks to unseat him, former Gov. Frank B. Morrison, says the 66-year old Republican is using the screens of five drive-in movie theaters he partly owns in this area to show horror scenes in such films as The Blood Drinker and lewd situations in such works as Catch 22. Despite Senator Hruska’s continued explanation that he is merely an investor in a chain of Nebraska theaters and does not participate actively in the management (Mr. Morrison) continues to imply the Senator votes against pornography on the Senate floor but peddles smut in his theaters.” (Drummond Ayres Jr.)

An investor in several drive-in theaters definitely isn’t the same thing as owning a chain of dirty movie theaters. I called Kay Schmid, the director of the Roman Hruska Public Library. She provided the following political advertisement titled “At the Movies with Roman Hruska” published in the Columbus Telegram on October 30, 1970.  The advertisement quotes Jack Anderson of the Washington Post and was paid for The Concerned Citizens of Nebraska:

When Senator Roman Hruska preaches about the evils of violence and pornography, he knows whereof he speaks. He is a partner in a movie chain that has recently featured skin flicks like Girl on a Chain Gang and violence like The Blood Drinker. The pious Nebraskan has sponsored numerous bills against smut and violence but Hruska’s “common decency and good morals” apparently do not impel him when his pocketbook is affected. The senator wouldn’t say how much he gets out of the Douglas Theaters, except that it is “making a profit.” Asked whether he would make a public accounting, the crusader for public morality said, “Heaven’s No! It’s none of the public’s business as long as there is no conflict of interest.” Senator Hruska incidentally voted against a Senate Standards of Conduct Amendment, which would have required Senators to report their sources of income.

However, it was amassed, Hruska’s fortune was enough to have a public library (David City), a federal courthouse (Omaha), and law center (Lincoln), named for him. You can draw your own conclusions about Hruska’s values, but Napoli or Totenberg’s throwaway sentence about “owning a chain of dirty movie theaters” is inflammatory and inaccurate. It left me wondering if Napoli made any other statements that might require fact checking.

Napoli, Lisa. Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR. Blackstone Publishing. 2021.

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Book Club Spotlight – Sula

Cover of Sula by Toni Morrison: A well-dressed Black woman poses with the brim of her hat covering half of her face. She is looking off to the right with a flock of birds flying behind her in silhouette.

I believe that Toni Morrison is best read in the heat of the summer. I find her work sits with me best during extreme weather or extreme times. Her prose and unashamed depictions of Black lives always get to me, and her rhythm never falters. So when HBO announced they’re making a limited series adaptation of Morrison’s 1973 work, Sula, I figured it was a perfect time to add it to the Spotlight!

When reading Sula, we first learn about two towns on a hill—The Bottom on top and the white town below. We meet the people who came together to make the Bottom a community and have held it together since. Once the story has settled into the established Bottom, actions and judgments have taken place, and people’s livelihoods have come and gone; only then do we meet the titular Sula and her best friend/mirror Nel. Both girls are from families with deep ties in the Bottom, and are set up on entirely different tracks they have no choice but to follow. As we watch Sula and Nel grow older and split as they mature, Sula’s perception in and of the town changes. While Nel is the upstanding young wife and mother, Sula is the seductress, the rebel, and the reason for the town to unite against a common enemy. And for what end?

She had no center, no speck around which to grow.”

Toni Morrison

I adore Sula as a Book Club read; it’s hard to understate the importance of the novel as a tool of Black Feminist literary criticism and work. Described on Oprah.com as “a lyrical blend of myth and magic, as real as a history lesson, and as enchanting as a fable,” the empty spaces of the novel are where it really shines. Because of these knowledge gaps, you, the reader, are integral to the meaning-making process of Sula. In a book club, one member might read it through a cultural lens, another for the feminist or psychological themes, yet another can find interest in simply the history of the period.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

To see more of our Black Voices collection, visit the link here.


Toni Morrison. Sula. Knopf. 1973.

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NCompass Live: Building a Reading Community Through Podcasting

Learn about ‘Building a Reading Community Through Podcasting’ on next week’s NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, August 3 at 10am CT.

During this program Omaha Public Library’s The Book Drop podcast team will discuss how they use podcasting as a remote readers’ advisory tool for both patrons and staff. With over 90 episodes under their belts, they’ll share the insight they’ve gained in working across departments, keeping the show fresh, and broadening the conversation around books and reading.

Presenters: Michelle Carlson, Book Club Librarian; David Dick, Adult Services Specialist; Erin Duerr, Readers & Writers Librarian; and Anna Wilcoxon, Diversity & Inclusion Librarian, Omaha Public Library.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Aug. 10 – Reinventing Programming Kits
  • Aug. 24 – Team Up with your Community!
  • Aug. 31 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • Sept 7 – Retirement: Time to Ease on Down, Ease on Down the Road

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: Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

I’ve been rereading the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, in anticipation of the next book in the series. This is a tradition I have with this series and others, I love revisiting my favorite books. Right now I’m on the 5th book, “Troubled Blood.” I love the multidimensional characters that are both lovable but flawed, making them come to life for me. The combination of the personal lives and stories of the main characters and the professional pursuit of solving one major mystery in each book will keep readers invested in the story as the series continues. In Troubled Blood, the Strike Detective Agency is hired to look into a missing person’s case from 1974, and a trail that went cold decades ago. Without a body to even prove death or foul play, the possibilities of what happened to Margot Bamborough are seemingly endless. The search through old police files and the troubled mind of the original detective on the case will make their search for the truth even more difficult. This book and series are perfect for readers who love mysteries and procedural dramas. I highly recommend starting at the beginning with “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” for the full story.

Galbraith, Robert. Troubled Blood: A Cormoran Strike Novel. Mulholland Books. 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray

Miss Congeniality has nothing on #BookFaceFriday!

There she is, Miss America.. er I mean #BookFaceFriday! Don’t be a pageant mom with this week’s #BookFace, “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray (Scholastic Inc., 2017.)

You can find it as an Audiobook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. As an added perk, Libba Bray voices all her audiobooks! 
Bray is a New York Times bestselling author, you can find eight other Bray titles in our OverDrive collection, including, “A Great and Terrible Beauty,” “Going Bovine,” and “The Diviners.” We also have Bray’s “Going Bovine” available to readers in our Book Club Kit collection as well!

“Whip-smart social commentary, surreal plot elements, and feminist themes come together in this bizarre and brilliant story… The empowering theme of self-acceptance and the affirming message that women should not underestimate themselves or others makes this novel a potentially life-changing book for budding feminists.”

School Library Journal (starred review)

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 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!

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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#BookFaceFriday: “My Antonia” by Willa Cather

O! #BookFaceFriday!

“During that burning day when we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl whom we had both known long ago.”

This week’s #BookFace title comes from the collection “Nebraska Connections” on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, it’s compiled from various end-of-the-year lists and has 167 eBooks and Audiobooks, including, “My Antonia” by Willa Cather (Random House Publishing Group, 2020.)

This Nebraska classic is available as an eBook and audiobook, along with many other Cather titles and nonfiction titles about the author and other Nebraskans. Explore the collection today and find your next read. The Nebraska Library Commission also offers a wide selection of Nebraska titles in our Book Club Kit Collection as well, you can find them all by browsing the “Nebraska-Related” section at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub/.

“’The best thing I’ve done is My Antonia,’ recalled Willa Cather. ‘I feel I’ve made a contribution to American letters with that book.’ Set against the vast Nebraska prairie, Cather’s elegiac novel features one of the most winning heroines in American fiction—Antonia Shimerda—a young woman whose strength and passion epitomize the triumphant vitality of this country’s pioneers. ” book jacket

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 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!

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

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Friday Reads: Son of a Gamblin’ Man by Mari Sandoz

Son of a Gamblin’ Man is Mari Sandoz’s historical novel about the gambler, entrepreneur, promoter, controversial, bold, and visionary John J. Cozad. Book descriptions note that it is Robert Henri’s story. It is, but the book is every bit as much the story of an ambitious man who chooses to develop a community in mid-Nebraska near a 100th meridian sign, a Pacific Railway Act of 1862 benchmark. Every village, town, and city has its own story. The community that became Cozad, Nebraska, has an especially unique and colorful history. While fictional, Son of a Gamblin’ Man includes real people, experiences, and events.

The book evolves from the 1870s with John J. Cozad’s relentless recruitment of settlers to establish this new mid-Nebraska community. Described with much exaggeration, the imagined community was not the paradise described and promised to easterners hoping for a better life. Settlers experienced – as settlers did elsewhere – harsh winter months, drought, illnesses, hunger, massive grasshopper invasions, prairie fires, lawlessness, and more. Some left. Others stayed on to overcome the many challenges of life in a new and growing community.

There were also the challenges, clashes, and violence that emerged between cattlemen and settlers. The need for feed and the open prairie were an on-going source of conflict. And there was the early rivalry that developed between Cozad and Plum Creek (later to become Lexington).

The book is rich in detail with descriptions of family and community life in the latter part of the 1800s. Within is the story of the Cozad family, friends, neighbors, and enemies. As described in the book’s introduction, the story is essentially that of Robert, John Cozad’s youngest son. Robert, still in his teen years, was given responsibility for local management of family business and properties. These tasks were needed during his father’s frequent business absences and his brother’s location in Denver selling hay. Robert had an early fascination with stories and art. He imagined, wrote stories, and drew throughout childhood. Later came fame as an internationally recognized artist and teacher. The Robert Henri Museum, in Cozad, is a remarkable destination for viewers of his art.

Sandoz, Mari. Son of a Gamblin’ Man: The Youth of an Artist. University of Nebraska Press. 1960.

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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 May and June 2022.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Foster Care Review Office, the Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Judicial Branch, 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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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 has received.

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 May and June, 2022:

A Frail Liberty

A Frail Liberty : Probationary Citizens in the French and Haitian Revolutions, by Tessie P. Liu ; Series: France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization

A Frail Liberty traces the paradoxical actions of the first French abolitionist society, the Société des Amis des Noirs (Society of the Friends of Blacks), at the juncture of two unprecedented achievements of the revolutionary era: the extension of full rights of citizenship to qualifying free men of color in 1792 and the emancipation decree of 1794 that simultaneously declared the formerly enslaved to be citizens of France. This society helped form the revolution’s notion of color-blind equality yet did not protest the pro-slavery attack on the new citizens of France. Tessie P. Liu prioritizes the understanding of the elite insiders’ vision of equality as crucial to understanding this dualism.

By documenting the link between outright exclusion and political inclusion and emphasizing that a nation’s perceived qualifications for citizenship formulate a particular conception of racial equality, Liu argues that the treatment and status distinctions between free people of color and the formerly enslaved parallel the infamous divide between “active” and “passive” citizens. These two populations of colonial citizens with African ancestry then must be considered part of the normative operations of French citizenship at the time. Uniquely locating racial differentiation in the French and Haitian revolutions within the logic and structures of political representation, Liu deepens the conversation regarding race as a civic identity within democratic societies.

A Woman of Adventure

A Woman of Adventure : The Life and Times of First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, by Annette B. Dunlap.

When Lou Henry married Herbert Hoover in February 1899, she looked forward to a partnership of equality and a life of adventure. She could fire a rifle and sit a horse as well as any man. The Quaker community of Whittier, California, where she lived as a teen, reinforced the egalitarian spirit of her upbringing. But history had other ideas for Lou Henry Hoover.

For the first fifteen years of married life, Lou globe-trotted with her husband as he pursued a lucrative career in mining engineering and consulting. World War I not only changed the map of the world, it changed the map of the Hoovers’ marriage. Herbert Hoover’s Commission for the Relief of Belgium launched him into a political career that led to the White House. Lou, who detested the limelight, led a dual life: she supported her husband’s political career, managed their multiple households, and saw to the needs of their family. Behind the scenes, she pursued her own interests.

History has long since forgotten the breadth of her achievements, but Lou Henry Hoover’s powerful legacy endures in the ongoing success of the Girl Scouts, the music and physical therapy degree programs at Stanford University, athletic opportunities for women, and the countless unknown men and women who received an education thanks to Lou’s anonymous financial support.

Conveying Lou’s humor, personality, and intelligence, A Woman of Adventure takes a fresh look at the first lady who preceded Eleanor Roosevelt and her also-extraordinary accomplishments.

Cattle Beet Capital

Cattle Beet Capital : Making Industrial Agriculture in Northern Colorado, by Michael Weeks.

In 1870 several hundred settlers arrived at a patch of land at the confluence of the South Platte and Cache la Poudre Rivers in Colorado Territory. Their planned agricultural community, which they named Greeley, was centered around small landholdings, shared irrigation, and a variety of market crops. One hundred years later, Greeley was the home of the world’s largest concentrated cattle-feeding operation, with the resources of an entire region directed toward manufacturing beef. How did that transformation happen? Cattle Beet Capital is animated by that question.

Expanding outward from Greeley to all of northern Colorado, Cattle Beet Capital shows how the beet sugar industry came to dominate the region in the early twentieth century through a reciprocal relationship with its growers that supported a healthy and sustainable agriculture while simultaneously exploiting tens of thousands of migrant laborers. Michael Weeks shows how the state provided much of the scaffolding for the industry in the form of tariffs and research that synchronized with the agendas of industry and large farmers. The transformations that led to commercial feedlots began during the 1930s as farmers replaced crop rotations and seasonal livestock operations with densely packed cattle pens, mono-cropped corn, and the products pouring out of agro-industrial labs and factories. Using the lens of the northern Colorado region, Cattle Beet Capital illuminates the historical processes that made our modern food systems.

Creek Internationalism in an Age of Revolution, 1763–1818

Creek Internationalism in an Age of Revolution, 1763–1818, by James L. Hill ; Series: Borderlands and Transcultural Studies

Creek Internationalism in an Age of Revolution, 1763–1818 examines how Creek communities and their leaders remained viable geopolitical actors in the trans-Appalachian West well after the American Revolution. The Creeks pursued aggressive and far-reaching diplomacy between 1763 and 1818 to assert their territorial and political sovereignty while thwarting American efforts to establish control over the region. The United States and the Creeks fought to secure recognition from the powers of Europe that would guarantee political and territorial sovereignty: the Creeks fought to maintain their connections to the Atlantic world and preserve their central role in the geopolitics of the trans-Appalachian West, while the American colonies sought first to establish themselves as an independent nation, then to expand borders to secure diplomatic and commercial rights.
           
Creeks continued to forge useful ties with agents of European empires despite American attempts to circumscribe Creek contact with the outside world. The Creeks’ solicitation of trade and diplomatic channels with British and Spanish colonists in the West Indies, Canada, and various Gulf Coast outposts served key functions for defenders of local autonomy. Native peoples fought to preserve the geopolitical order that dominated the colonial era, making the trans-Appalachian West a kaleidoscope of sovereign peoples where negotiation prevailed. As a result, the United States lacked the ability to impose its will on its Indigenous neighbors, much like the European empires that had preceded them. Hill provides a significant revisionist history of Creek diplomacy and power that fills gaps within the broader study of the Atlantic world and early American history to show how Indigenous power thwarted European empires in North America.

Dirt Persuasion

Dirt Persuasion : Civic Environmental Populism and Heartland’s Pipeline Fight, by Derek Moscato.

Dirt Persuasion examines a watershed moment in U.S. environmental politics: the fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline. The complex interplay of resources extraction industries with grassroots environmentalism and advocacy has transformed the role of activists in the contemporary public sphere. Bold Nebraska’s years-long fight against pipeline company TransCanada provides a compelling case study: a contemporary state-level organization that simultaneously challenged political and business leaders in its home state of Nebraska, at the national level in the United States, and in the foreign jurisdiction of Canada.

Dirt Persuasion sheds light not only on the activism practices of social movements but also on the changing environments in which such actions are deployed. The KXL Pipeline fight represents a watershed moment both for U.S. energy politics and in the communication of environmental activism. The rural dimension of this environmental saga is critical: environmentalism must be understood from the perspective of the rural Americans who coexist with one of the planet’s most delicate ecologies. Populism, rhetorical appeals, strategic advocacy framing, and media framing all factor prominently within the pipeline debate—leading to a civic environmental persuasion built on the attributes of narrative, engagement, hyperlocalization, and bipartisanship in order to build broad stakeholder support and influence public policy.

Eye on the World

Eye on the World : A Life in International Service, by Anthony C. E. Quainton.

Eye on the World is the autobiography of diplomat Anthony C. E. Quainton, the story of a long and varied life lived in eleven countries on six continents. Rather than a formal history, this is Quainton’s reflection on his interactions with the events of those times, beginning with George VI’s historic visit to North America in 1939, through the years of the Cold War, the efforts to contain and then defeat the Soviet Union, and finally the two decades of uneasy peace that came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. To some of these events Quainton was merely a spectator. In other areas—India, Nicaragua, Kuwait, and Peru—he was actively involved either as a participant in the policy process in Washington or as the senior representative of the United States in those countries.

Spanning his upbringing and education through two decades after his retirement, Quainton describes the expanding horizons of a middle-class boy from the northwest corner of North America as he encountered the complexity of the world in which he spent his professional life. Quainton served in seven different presidential appointments under presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. These included four ambassadorships in distinct parts of the world and three assistant secretary–level posts in Washington. This range of geographic and functional assignments was unique in his generation of Foreign Service officers.

In Praise of the Ancestors

In Praise of the Ancestors : Names, Identity, and Memory in Africa and the Americas, by Susan Elizabeth Ramirez ; Series: Borderlands and Transcultural Studies

Apart from collective memories of lived experiences, much of the modern world’s historical sense comes from written sources stored in the archives of the world, and some scholars in the not-so-distant past have described unlettered civilizations as “peoples without history.” In Praise of the Ancestors is a revisionist interpretation of early colonial accounts that reveal incongruities in accepted knowledge about three Native groups.

Susan Elizabeth Ramírez reevaluates three case studies of oral traditions using positional inheritance—a system in which names and titles are inherited from one generation by another and thereby contribute to the formation of collective memories and a group identity. Ramírez begins by examining positional inheritance and perpetual kinship among the Kazembes in central Africa from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Next, her analysis moves to the Native groups of the Iroquois Confederation and their practice of using names to memorialize remarkable leaders in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, Ramírez surveys naming practices of the Andeans, based on sixteenth-century manuscript sources and later testimonies found in Spanish and Andean archives, questioning colonial narratives by documenting the use of this alternative system of memory perpetuation, which was initially unrecognized by the Spaniards.

In the process of reexamining the histories of Native peoples on three continents, Ramírez broaches a wider issue: namely, understanding of the nature of knowledge as fundamental to understanding and evaluating the knowledge itself.

The Great Plains, Second Edition

The Great Plains, 2nd ed., by Walter Prescott Webb.

This iconic description of the interaction between the vast central plains of the continent and the white Americans who moved there in the mid-nineteenth century has endured as one of the most influential, widely known, and controversial works in western history since its first publication in 1931. Arguing that “the Great Plains environment . . . constitutes a geographic unity whose influences have been so powerful as to put a characteristic mark upon everything that survives within its borders,” Walter Prescott Webb identifies the revolver, barbed wire, and the windmill as technological adaptations that facilitated Anglo conquest of the arid, treeless region. Webb draws on history, anthropology, geography, demographics, climatology, and economics in arguing that the 98th Meridian constitutes an institutional fault line at which “practically every institution that was carried across it was either broken and remade or else greatly altered.”

This new edition of one of the foundational works of western American history features an introduction by Great Plains historian Andrew R. Graybill and a new index and updated design.

Under Prairie Skies

Under Prairie Skies : The Plants and Native Peoples of the Northern Plains, by C. Thomas Shay.

In Under Prairie Skies, C. Thomas Shay asks and answers the question, What role did plants play in the lives of early inhabitants of the northern Great Plains? Since humans arrived at the end of the Ice Age, plants played important roles as Native peoples learned which were valuable foods, which held medicinal value, and which were best for crafts.

Incorporating Native voices, ethnobotanical studies, personal stories, and research techniques, Under Prairie Skies shows how, since the end of the Ice Age, plants have held a central place in the lives of Native peoples. Eventually some groups cultivated seed-bearing annuals and, later, fields of maize and other crops. Throughout history, their lives became linked with the land, both materially and spiritually.

**Pictures and Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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Book Club Spotlight – El Deafo

Cover of El Deafo by Cece Bell. 
A bunny girl with a red cape flies through the ear with a large hearing aid strapped to her chest. The wires spell out "El Deafo".

This month is the 32nd year since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), making July Disability Pride Month! Featured in the 2022 Disability Readathon– is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s El Deafo by Cece Bell! A graphic novel, recommended for grades 3-7, is an “only slightly fictionalized, honest!” account of what it was like growing up deaf.

In El Deafo, we meet 4-year-old bunny Cece, who loves her polka-dotted swimsuit, singing, and being “a regular kid.” But when a case of meningitis takes her hearing, she has to navigate her new silent world and the awkwardness of growing up! With her bulky hearing aid and cords, Cece can’t help but feel embarrassed by her deafness. She’s bullied, ignored by teachers, and has to deal with people who mean well but treat her differently, all because she can’t hear. As she gets older, she realizes that her deafness isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s a part of who she is! Plus- her hearing aid actually gives her superpowers! All she needs is a couple of good friends, and to show her classmates that her disability doesn’t mean she can’t be a hero too!

“And being different? That turned out to be the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”

Cece Bell

El Deafo has something for every reader. Using resources like the Teaching Guide, groups can cover questions from language arts to science and social studies! If your readers are interested in watching these characters come to life, El Deafo was made into a three-part mini-series on Apple TV+. In addition, you can find excellent topics for discussion in the Author’s Note, where Bell discusses the diversity of the deaf community and how each person approaches their disability differently. Some people might disagree with her approach to deafness and that’s ok! We’re all different, “most of the time we are lost, drifting along on our own planets. But we are together in the same universe, at least”.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form HERE. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

Cece Bell. El Deafo. Amulet Books. 2014.

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NCompass Live: Learning Opportunities and Resources from WebJunction

Come on a tour of WebJunction and learn how to build your library-specific knowledge, skills, and confidence on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, July 20 at 10am CT.

WebJunction provides a range of library-specific, online, and on-demand courses and webinars to help meet your continuing education needs. Whether you are looking to pick up a new skill, or to find inspiration for a new idea, these resources can help you take the first, or next step. With the support of the Nebraska Library Commission, all of the content, webinars and courses are free, and you’ll find topics ranging from customer service to organizational management to space planning. Join this session for a tour of WebJunction and to hear about these flexible and dynamic learning opportunities!

Presenter: Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager, WebJunction.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • July 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech: CES 2022 and Libraries
  • Aug. 3 – Building a Reading Community Through Podcasting
  • Aug. 10 – Reinventing Programming Kits
  • Aug. 24 – Team Up with your Community!
  • Sept 7 – Retirement: Time to Ease on Down, Ease on Down the Road

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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#BookFaceFriday “When the Wind Came” by Jan Andrews

There’s no place like home with #BookFaceFriday!

We are embracing, or at least making use of, these windy Nebraska days for this week’s #BookFace! Life is not always rainbows and blue skies. While we know this is true for adults, we often forget it’s just as true for children. Books are an excellent way to broach hard topics, help kids understand trauma, and explore healing, just like in “When the Wind Came” written by Jan Andrews and illustrated by Dorothy Leung (Kids Can Press, 2022.)

“A powerful story about loss and healing told in simple text and pictures. Particularly relevant to students who have been through the trauma of any extreme event, weather or otherwise.” —Sue Morgan, School Library Journal

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: Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is a post-apocalyptic dystopian movie with an outwardly simple plot: the protagonists escape captivity and race towards a destination, The Green Place, where they will be safe from their captors who are in murderous hot pursuit. After discovering The Green Place no longer exists, they go back the way they came, taking the fight to their oppressors in order to return to the only viable home they know, in the process transforming from property to heroes who make it rain with redemption. It is the archetypal hero’s journey, but in the hands of director George Miller, it arrives customized with outrageous visionary style and much chrome. This book, Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan, is an oral history of the making of the movie. On every page, somebody involved with the movie discloses something that reinforces how unlikely it is that it movie ever came to be.

The captivity/desperation/redemption arc in Fury Road could function as a metaphor for its own production. Starting around 1997, multiple studios tried to get it made, each one eventually glad to get it off their hands until the game of heavy metal musical chairs ended within the studios of Warner Brothers. Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Michael Fassbender, Johnny Depp, and even Eminem were at various points seriously considered for the role of Max, which eventually went to Tom Hardy. Gal Gadot, Jessica Chastain, and Uma Thurman were slated to play Furiosa, the true main character of the movie, before Charlize Theron won the role.

Immortan Joe, the chief villain, was initially blue. All of the stunts observable in the movie were created with real, ornately customized vehicles and real people. The shoot was moved from Australia to Namibia because a historic amount of rain turned the inert wasteland into fields of wildflowers. The flame-throwing electric guitar wielded by Immortan Joe’s mutant bugler had to be redesigned because director Miller wanted it not only to shoot flames but to actually play notes. It then weighed eighty pounds, which is why the bugler character, The Doof Warrior, dangles throughout the movie from a bungee in front of the wall of speakers fastened to the Doof Wagon…et cetera.

The long gestation of the movie allowed Miller to get every second visualized. This fever dream manifested itself as 3,500 storyboard panels; there was no real script. This was a problem for the actors, who did not necessarily know why they were doing what they were doing at any given time; only George Miller knew. Because they were filming from basically a graphic novel, panel by panel, the takes were often only a few seconds. Once these pieces were edited together, the method resulted in action of a remarkably frenetic pace, perhaps the reason why many cite Fury Road as the greatest action movie of all time. But it could have been the greatest disaster in the history of film.

 

Buchanan, Kyle. Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road. New York: William Morrow & Company, 2022.

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NCompass Live: Talking Book and Braille Service: Continuously Evolving

Learn all about the NLC’s Talking Book and Braille Service on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, July 13 at 10am CT.

Join Gabe Kramer, Director of the Nebraska Library Commission’s Talking Book & Braille Service, to learn about the free audiobooks, audio magazines, and Braille available through the TBBS to individuals with a visual or physical condition, or a reading disability which limits use of regular print. We will take a look at the past, present, and future of the talking book program’s technology and services.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • July 20 – Learning Opportunities and Resources from WebJunction
  • July 27 – Pretty Sweet Tech: CES 2022 and Libraries
  • Aug. 3 – Building a Reading Community Through Podcasting
  • Aug. 10 – Reinventing Programming Kits
  • Aug. 24 – Team Up with your Community!
  • Sept 7 – Retirement: Time to Ease on Down, Ease on Down the Road

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: Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom.

NOTE: I wrote this draft in 2017, and shelved it. With the recent (2021) release of the HBO documentary, 100 Foot Wave, I’ve revived it.

There aren’t a lot of books written about surfers, and certainly not a lot of books about surfers in my local library. Some of the books are clearly written primarily by the co-authors, and come across as literary braggadocios that are mostly turn-offs. At the least, they run counter to a more modest surfer code. So after starting but not finishing a couple of these, I then picked up Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom, written by big wave surfer Garrett McNamara (GMac) and Karen Karbo. It is a worthy effort, and only a little bit of braggadocio, coming across as a seemingly honest portrayal of GMac’s childhood (which is interesting even without the surfing), rise among the surfing circuits, and his eventual record setting big wave rides.

I had originally wanted something about surfing legend Kelly Slater, arguably the most dominant athlete in his sport, or even any sport, as illustrated by this fantastic infographic. Some facts worth extrication: GOAT Slater has won more world titles than any athlete in any major sport, holds the record for being both the youngest and oldest surfer to win a title (20 and 40), and Kelly has won more titles than the next 3 surfers combined. I also found Slater’s clean living lifestyle of particular interest. But, my public library only had a couple of kid’s books about Mr. Kelly, so I turned to the big wave surfers. Big wave surfing is of interest in its own right, whereby the surfer is towed by a jet ski into waves that are at least 20 feet high, and often much larger. GMac held the world record for largest wave surfed (subsequently eclipsed since I wrote this in 2017), and while the images and video in the aforementioned link are impressive, the size of these waves is somewhat relative. Not to diminish the accomplishment, as it is truly impressive, but relative in the sense that many other big wave surfers have feats that are just as impressive due to a differing set of factors (e.g. barrels, reefs, etc.)

Where this biography succeeds is in telling the story of GMac’s childhood, relationship with his family and fellow surfer brother (Liam McNamara), the surf culture in Hawai’i (GMac settled on the North Shore of Oahu), and his passion for the sport and culture. It fails in that, while not outright braggadocios, it does seem like self-promotion and certainly at times like fortune cookie philosophy.  

McNamara, Garrett and Karbo, Karen. Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom. New York: Harper Wave. 2016.

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#BookFaceFriday: “Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket” by Hilma Wolitzer

We’re just crazy for this #BookFaceFriday!

Well, this just sounds like a regular Tuesday night. This week’s #BookFace title comes from the collection “Best Books of 2021 (Adult Fiction & Nonfiction)” on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, it’s compiled from various end-of-the-year lists and has 361 eBooks and Audiobooks, including, “Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket: Stories” by Hilma Wolitzer (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021.) This collection of short stories is available as an eBook.

“[A] sterling and ambushing retrospective collection. . . . [Wolitzer is] an artist with a deceptively light touch, creating stories of psychological and social incisiveness that are at once poised and lacerating. She deftly reveals how women are harshly judged and how women judge, how children are trapped in their parents’ snares and snarls and how they escape. Delectably funny and radically insightful . . . . [Today A Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket is] a striking and enlightening gathering of polestar short stories.”
Booklist

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 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!

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

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Book Club Spotlight – Firekeeper’s Daughter

Cover of Firekeeper's Daughter. In Woodland School of Anishinaabe art style: An image of a butterfly born from flames. The Wings are two identical women's faces, one with tanner skin than the other.

Today, we will be spotlighting a popular title that you might not know we have! Called an “Indigenous Nancy Drew” by the author, Firekeeper’s Daughter is not only a New York Times best-seller, but a TIME Magazine Best of Book of All Time Selection. Author Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, spent ten years researching for the novel, wanting to perfectly capture her tribe and the intricacies of tribal vs. federal laws.

In The Firekeeper’s Daughter, 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine is the product of a scandal between a white woman and an Ojibwe man. Even though her mother’s family is well-respected, and her father’s side are revered Firekeepers, Daunis is an outsider. She is not welcome in her predominantly white town or at the reservation, where tribal leaders deny her parentage and membership. But when murders and overdoses related to drug trafficking slowly spread around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Daunis is witness to it all. Now she must team up with the new (and mysterious) star hockey player to use her knowledge of science, Ojibwe medicine, and these tight-knit communities to uncover long-held secrets. 

“People say to think seven generations ahead when making big decisions, because our future ancestors—those yet to arrive, who will one day become the Elders—live with the choices we make today.”

Angeline Boulley

If you’re an adult book group, don’t let the “YA” label scare you away. Firekeeper’s Daughter is a wonderfully rich story for anyone interested in YA and above. If your group loves stories of small communities haunted by their past, such as Beartown by Fredrik Backman, this is the title for you. However, be forewarned because many heavy topics, seen and unseen, such as sexual assault, suicide, murder, and illicit drug use, are present in this novel. Be prepared to have conversations on these sensitive topics. 

Higher Ground, the Obama’s production company, has also purchased the rights to adapt Firekeeper’s Daughter into a Netflix limited series, so keep your eyes peeled! 

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form HERE. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

To see more of our books from Native Voices, visit the link HERE.

Angeline Boulley. Firekeeper’s Daughter. Henry, Holt and Co. 2021

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