Category Archives: Books & Reading

#BookFaceFriday “The Midnights” by Sarah Nicole Smetana

We’re ringing in this #BookFaceFriday!

As we wait for the clock to strike twelve, some of us will be reading in the New Year instead. Join us in scrolling all the available books on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries while we look for all the books we want to add to our 2023 TBR lists. Just like this YA read, “The Midnights” by Sarah Nicole Smetana, it’s available as an ebook today. Here at NLC we like to embark on a new year by setting fresh reading goals or a new reading challenge! If you’re trying to read a certain number of books this year, the library is the easiest way to make that happen, don’t forget to check out ebooks and audiobooks from Nebraska OverDrive Libraries.

“An atmospheric voyage through grief and self-discovery perfect for fans of Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things and Tim Federle’s The Great American Whatever.”

— School Library Journal

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. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 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 – Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

This Christmas I hunted around for Native American stories for my niece and nephew. They are finally old enough to start asking questions about their culture and the color of grandpa’s skin. My dad is from the Band River Band of Chippewa at the very tip of Wisconsin. My brother and I are half Native, which makes my niece and nephew a quarter Native. We all tan pretty well.

To help the kids learn their heritage, I am reviewing Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Not surprisingly, I learned a lot from this collection of poems and short stories as well. In hindsight, I probably won’t give it to the kids until they are in middle school or at a higher reading level, but it was still a good read.

Many of the stories centered on Indian kids learning their culture through powwow celebrations and everyday life on the reservation, or elsewhere in the world. My brother and I didn’t grow up on the reservation like our dad did, but the stories still felt familiar and well-worn. I’ve been to many a powwow in my lifetime, but my niece and nephew have never seen one in person. Now they can learn the good, bad and ugly of Indian life from the safety of this book.

While some stories pass down traditional fancy dancing and our native languages, one of my favorite stories was told from the perspective of a reservation dog observing people in all their flawed and wonderful glory. If you’ve never heard of a reservation dog, nearly ever rez has got one. That dog that cannot and will not be owned by a single person. Rez dogs are cared for by and cares for all the people on the rez. Sort of like a library cat.

Even though some of these stories represent specific tribes, when you stack them all side-by-side, the similarities are unmistakable. Every language has a word for family, belonging, fear, loss, identity, and all those very human things. Having explored stories from around the world, all of our Ancestors must have all been talking to each other for a lifetime.

If you want to peer into the lives of dozens of Native cultures, try Ancestor Approved. Our history comes to life through story. These stories are real and refuse to be whitewashed.

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#BookFaceFriday – “The Snow Globe” by Sheila Roberts

We’re shaking things up with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

This winter wonderland is making our holiday books feel right at home! Looking for the perfect Hallmark read, reserve a holiday title like “The Snow Globe” by Sheila Roberts (Piatkus, 2014) for your book club! Take a peek

at all of our holiday-themed book club kits today!

In the collection we have 114 holiday titles, 81 of which have 4 or more copies. If a library is looking to weed some of their holiday titles – they can think of us because we’re always happy to add to this particular collection!

These titles are very popular in November and December, with some book club groups reserving their choices up to a year in advance! NLC staff keep their eyes peeled for holiday-themed books year-round in order to meet the demand come the first snowfall.

“This lighthearted and charming read will appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah’s magical, light romances and readers who enjoyed Roberts’s previous holiday offerings.”

–Library Journal (Starred Review)

This week’s #BookFace model is Kay, she’s a TBBS Readers Advisor.

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 – The Fishermen

Cover for the The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. On a bright red background, four fishing hooks are intertwined and tangled together

While we’re busy getting snowed in this week, you’ll want to hunker down with a good book like this week’s spotlight! During the winter holidays, many of us spend our time around family or loved ones, and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma is, first and foremost, a book about family. Written as a love letter to his brothers, Obioma explores the intrinsic connection between siblings and how easily chaos can sow a rift between them. I love sharing books that have a special connection to Nebraska, and The Fishermen, recipient of the 2016 Nebraska Book Award for fiction, is an excellent example of one such book. Born in Nigeria, Chigozie Obioma is currently the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of Creative writing at UNL. The Fishermen, his debut novel, also won the Inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, and was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize. 

In 1990s Nigeria, under the dictatorship of Gen. Sani Abacha, there is a family of brothers. Ikenna, the oldest; Boja and Obembe in the middle; and the youngest, Ben as our narrator. When their father moves away for work, the delicate family structure begins to crumble without its leader. In a fit of rebellion, the four boys go behind their mother’s back to fish in a forbidden and polluted river, leaving her clueless, tending to their two youngest siblings. At the river, the boys encounter the town’s prophetic madman, who convinces Ikenna that he will be murdered brutally by one of his siblings. Driven mad by this prophecy, the family suffers the loss of another authority figure, as their eldest brother becomes suspicious, anxious, and even violent toward them. So, the four brothers, like Cain and Abel before them, are plunged into turmoil, testing their bond and loyalty to the bitter end.

“I heard someone say that the end of most things often bears a resemblance- even if faint- to their beginnings”

– Chigozie Obioma

Perfect for an adult book group that enjoys character-driven plots that tell a deeper story, The Fishermen is rife with metaphors and parables from Obioma’s Igbo roots. Described as “an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions—economic, political and religious—and the epic beauty of its own culture,” each of the brothers represents the four major tribes of Nigeria and how the political tumult in the country led to unrest between them. Even though the novel is an allegory for and takes place during a dangerous time in Nigeria’s history, this is not a historical war novel. While affected and aware of the situation, the children are more invested in their interpersonal lives rather than politics. This style reminds me of the show Derry Girls in how it isn’t only addressing issues in a political sense but also in a personal sense. And in this book is about strife and torn bonds, Obioma delivers hope for the future resting on the next generation’s unmarred shoulders.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. There are 20 copies available with large print and audio CD (Items must be requested by a librarian) 

Obioman, Chigozie. The Fishermen. Little, Brown and Company. 2015.

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NCompass Live: Summer Reading Program 2023: All Together Now

Get ready for the 2023 Summer Reading Program, All Together Now, on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, December 21, at 10am CT.

Learn about quality books to consider for your library’s collection and start planning for All Together Now. Kids will be clamoring for both fiction and nonfiction titles as they read all about Kindness, Friendship, and Unity, the topics for the 2023 Summer Reading Program.

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

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Dec. 28 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Managing Technology Problems: Using SpringShare LibAnswers as a Ticketing System
  • Jan. 4, 2023 – Critical Hit! Tabletop Gaming in the Library
  • Jan. 11, 2023 – Best New Teen Reads of 2022
  • Jan. 18, 2023 – First Amendment Audits: What You Need to Know
  • Jan. 25, 2023 – Pretty Sweet Tech: Learn About TechGirlz & Inspire Girls in Your Community Today!
  • Feb. 8, 2023 – Accessibility Isn’t Just for Patrons! Internal Documentation for Everyone
  • Feb. 15, 2023 – Digital Libraries as Digital Third Place: Virtual Library Programming
  • March 8, 2023 – Read the Rainbow: Serving the LGBTQ+ Community in Your Library

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 “First Snow” by Bomi Park

 It’s beginning to look a lot like #BookFaceFriday!

You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but maybe not two feet worth. Even if winter weather ruins your regular trip to the library you and your kids can still enjoy new books like “First Snow” by Bomi Park (Chronicle Books, 2016). This title is available as an ebook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, along with many other children’s favorites. We also have a few of his titles in our book club kit collection, if your younger readers want to read them as a group.

“Toddler-PreS—The simple narrative holds readers’ interest while it moves from the familiar to the ethereal. The concise language and dreamy yet understandable images are perfect for toddlers. The artwork, in shades of black-and-white with accents of red, is reminiscent of the visuals in Akiko Miyakoshi’s Tea Party in the Woods, although Park’s images, mostly depicting nighttime scenes, are darker. VERDICT This quality picture book debut is a delight and just right to share one-on-one or in toddler storytime.”

School Library Journal

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. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 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: How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, by Leslie Jordan

I listened to Leslie Jordan’s How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, shortly after the 67-year-old actor’s October 24th death. Jordan was well known for his roles in “Will & Grace” and “American Horror Story,” but his profile shot through the roof during the pandemic. Stuck at home, he started making regular posts to Instagram to keep himself entertained. The posts were short and silly but obviously resonated, because before he knew it he had five and a half million followers and a book contract!

When describing his Instagram posting philosophy Jordan states: “On my Instagram page, I usually follow the old rule of not discussing politics and religion in company. I don’t know what I don’t know, and who would want to hear about what I don’t know? All I know is comedy and my sweet self.” And therein lies the appeal of listening to Jordan narrate the audiobook edition of How Y’all Doing? – it is a chance to spend four hours and 14 minutes in his sweet, hilarious company, listening to him tell stories in his delightful Tennessee accent.

Jordan writes about how much fun he’s had with Instagram, crediting the need to tell a story in around a minute with improving his comedic delivery: “Get to the point. Cut to the chase. No meandering around.” But he also celebrates the comedic freedom he experienced writing this book: “Who knew that writing for the printed page could send an artist soaring? To be able to tell not only the story but the backstory as well. And the story that led up to the backstory.”

Jordan’s memoir doesn’t have to be read in any particular order, since its chronology isn’t linear. Instead, most chapters are structured around a theme on which Jordan riffs, sharing stories from his life that are in some way related to that theme. In “The Bride Doll,” for instance, he talks about everything from the negative connotations attached to being a boy who loved playing with dolls, to being a man who, due to work he did in recovery programs, could walk into an American Girl doll store without shame and purchase one as a gift. “[I]t was a milestone moment,” Jordan writes. “Not one with trumpets blaring and angels singing, but a nice quiet realization that I had changed.”

It’s not until the chapter’s end that he tells the story of the bride doll he asked Santa to bring him back in 1958, when he was three. Initially, his father, “a man’s man” who died in 1967 when Jordan was 11, told his mother there was no way he was buying his son a bride doll. But on Christmas Eve, confronted with his son’s exuberant anticipation and unwilling to be the cause of his crushing disappointment the next morning, his father snuck out and procured one. “Thank you, Daddy. For having enough love for your son to buy him a doll,” Jordan writes in his conclusion. “And thank you, Don Norman [Jordan’s recovery advisor]. For helping me live a joyful, shame-free life.”

And that’s how most of the chapters unfold, including the final one, poignantly titled “”Until We Meet Again.” Jordan starts out reminiscing about the Florida vacations his family took each summer, and how bereft he felt when they ended: “It was then I realized how hard goodbyes can be.” He then pivots to the fact that even though the book is ending, it won’t really be the end because he has an endless supply of stories to tell. Knowing of his recent death, it was impossible not to choke up at his optimistic concluding words, which promise something that will now never come to pass:

So, to all my dear new friends, this is not goodbye forever. It is only goodbye for now. Goodbye till I get revved up and ready to launch into a whole bunch of new stories.

See you then.

Jordan, Leslie. How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived. Read by the author. Harperaudio, 2021. Audiobook, 4 hr., 14 min.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Cold” by Mariko Tamaki

This #BookFace is ice cold!

With the wintery weather all across the state, we couldn’t think of a more fitting book for this week’s #BookFaceFriday! The perfect ebook to cozy up with is “Cold: A Novel” by Mariko Tamaki (Roaring Brook Press, 2022.) A suspenseful teen read about murder in a small town, perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars or One of Us is Lying. And because this title is available as an eBook on Nebraska OverDrive Libraries you won’t even have to leave the house to check it out. Find this title and more winter reads available to Nebraska OverDrive Libraries.

“Sharp and authentic, Cold doesn’t just take its title from the chill of a wintry day but also from the cruelty and isolation of adolescence. Readers who love intense, suspenseful storytelling will devour it in one sitting.”

—BookPage

Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 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: The Personal Librarian

The Personal Librarian is a remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as White in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, by New York Times bestselling authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.

This book had my attention from the very first sentence, and I was so riveted that I listened to, and read, this book. The narrator of the Audible book, Robin Miles, is masterful as always. At the end of the audio book, the authors, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, each talked about the process of researching and writing this book, and how, as a result, they became close personal friends. This is a MUST read, so here is a little more about it:

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as White—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted White identity in the racist world in which she lives. (Audible)

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Book Club Spotlight – Outside Valentine

The cover of the novel "Outside Valentine" by Liza Ward. The D is blood red.
A red car drives away on an snowy country road.

For 60 days in the winter of 1957-1958, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate raced across Nebraska and Wyoming, leaving 11 dead in their wake. As one of America’s most infamous and widely-reported killing sprees, Starkweather and Fugate are immortalized through movies, music, and literature. And Liza Ward, the granddaughter of two victims, Lauer and Clara Ward, decided it was time to tell the story from a new perspective. Her 2004 novel Outside Valentine is the story of her family and the trauma that has consumed it for generations. But instead of focusing on the notorious Starkweather, this novel takes a step back, concentrating on Caril Ann and those he left behind in a stunning re-telling of what happened that winter. 

Outside Valentine is a fictional account of the Starkweather killing spree, following the three narrators simultaneously. One narrator, Caril Ann Fugate, is a disenfranchised impressionable 14-year-old who finds solace and a desperate love with 19-year-old Charles Starkweather. Their romance soon burns too hot when he takes Caril on a joyride, murdering her family and anyone found in the way of that love. Four years later, the story follows Susan Hurst, who finds herself obsessively reading about the killing spree, envious of the pair’s violent love. Desperate for this kind of love and recognition, she lives a lonely life with her emotionally distant parents, all the while harboring a secret obsession for the surviving son of the Bowmans (the fictionalized Lauer and Clara Ward), whom she has never met. The son, Lowell Bowman, is our third narrator, who, 30 years later, is still dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy. Unable to cope, he runs away from his wife and children, both from and to his past.    

“There was no doubt to me he wouldn’t care. He’d blow up the world for a stuffed dog, if he thought I wanted it enough.”

Liza Ward

Outside Valentine is an engaging and lyrical read that isn’t quite “true crime” but still has that thrilling air. Because the story takes place over 30 years, the reader follows how Fugate and Starkweather’s actions spiral bigger than just themselves. Ward creates an atmosphere that sucks you in so deeply and wholly that you forget where you are. And the stark winter setting makes this a perfect book club selection coming into the colder months. Book club groups, especially those here in Nebraska, will find plenty to discuss in how Ward uses the setting to instill her characters with deep longing and isolation. She does an incredible job of identifying the true loneliness of being a young girl and the dark side of romanticism. 

While both were found guilty and Starkweather sentenced to death, Caril Ann Fugate spent 17 years in prison on a murder conviction before she was paroled in 1976. In 2020, With her father’s support, Liza Ward advocated for Fugate’s pardon, believing her grandparents “would want people to know the truth,” and that it is “time to show that young girl’s stories are worth being listened to.” And she gives young girls that opportunity in Outside Valentine

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. There are 12 copies available (Items must be requested by a librarian) 


Ward, Liza. Outside Valentine. Picador. 2004.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett

Strike a pose, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

This week’s #BookFace is as pretty as a picture. We wanted to highlight all the Ann Patchett works in our various collections, like “The Dutch House: A Novel” (Harper, 2019), available as an NLC Book Club Kit.

We just added a book to this kit, so we now have 13 copies available for your book club. In total, NLC has seven of Patchett’s titles in our Book Club Kit Collection. You can also find Ann Patchett’s novels through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, we have eight titles, including copies of “Commonwealth”, “Bel Canto”, and “These Precious Days”.

“Patchett is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home. . . . With echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in sync with Alice McDermott, Patchett gracefully choreographs surprising revelations and reunions as her characters struggle with the need to be one’s true self.”

―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

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. 189 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: Haven by Emma Donoghue

Before the pandemic, Emma Donoghue took a boat trip around Skellig Michael, an island off the Southwest coast of Ireland. Also known as Sceilg Mhichíl, the island became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996—but you might more likely know it from a little film called The Force Awakens, episode seven of the Star Wars franchise. Before Donoghue could actually set foot on the island on her second trip, travel restrictions went into effect, and she finished her research and wrote this book before visiting it again.

Haven is a fictionalized account of an early attempt to set up a monastery on the island. Three Irish monastics, who all had different paths to the religious life, set out on a boat from the Irish mainland around the year 600 to found a new holy order on the skellig. The island is both abundant and sparse, an allegory for the faith of the travelers. Donoghue goes into fascinating detail of the natural world of the island, especially the bird life, and fans of nature writing will appreciate this immersion into the physical world of the island. While the monks have different ideas about how to interact with the natural world, two of the monks, Cormac and Trian, have vowed to obey Artt, whose vision has brought them to the island. Artt’s faith, more educated and intellectual, is served well by a monastic life—but not by a natural life.

The struggle for survival, both physical and spiritual, is heart-wrenching and transformative. The narrative is both claustrophobic and expansive, which might sound like a familiar feeling to fans of Donoghue’s most famous work, Room. There are lessons for the characters, and so for the readers, about faith, about stewardship, about vulnerability and acceptance—as well as about which freedoms and responsibilities we embrace, and turn over, and perhaps wrestle back.

Here’s a fun article about how there are so many birds on the island, that when filming that Star Wars movie, it was easier to create a new monster to CGI over the birds: Porgs!

Donoghue Emma. Haven : A Novel. First ed. Little Brown and Company 2022.

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#BookFaceFriday “Dear Fahrenheit 451” by Annie Spence

This week’s #BookFaceFriday is stacked!

It’s our last #BookFace for November, so we want to give one more shout-out to all the readers and writers out there participating in #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month! This annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new books since 1999. So we’re back with another book-loving read for #BookFaceFriday, “Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life” by Annie Spence (Flatiron Books, 2017). It’s available as an audiobook in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Find it and other reads in the “Books for writers, would-be writers, and word lovers” curated collection for Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Plus new titles, both nonfiction and fiction, are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“The truest testament to the quality of Dear Fahrenheit 451…is that my enjoyment of it was, in the end, great enough to outweigh my fury that someone other than me had written it… She has a unique ability to capture the thoughts and feelings of book lovers, both professional and otherwise, on the page.”

NPR

Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 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 – Native American Heritage Month

For November, we are spotlighting titles in our Book Club Collection written by Indigenous authors for Native American Heritage Month. In 1976 Cherokee-Osage Native American Jerry C. Elliott-High Eagle authored the Congressional legislation for Native American Awareness week, which grew into what we now celebrate as Native American Heritage Month in 1990 with a declaration from then-President George H.W. Bush. This month is a great opportunity to read and learn about whose ancestral land you live on, their history, colonization, and all the incredible works of Indigenous art and literature.

Past Book Club Spotlights featuring Native American Authors:

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

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. 

____

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

Excitable and brave spirited, Omakayas, or Little Frog, is a young Ojibwe girl who lives with her family near present-day Lake Superior. As white people begin to take over the land, Omakays and her siblings continue their way of life while the adults fear that they must move soon. We follow the local community as they survive, learn important lessons and skills, and enjoy a peaceful life together. But when a sickly visitor crashes a powwow one night, he brings deadly smallpox to the area; and the course of the community and Omakayas’ life are changed forever.

_____

You can find a list of both our fiction and non-fiction titles on our Book Club Kit page under the Native American Voices keyword.

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”

Black elk
Black Elk Speaks (One book One Nebraska 2017)

And if like me, you’re excited about the food-heavy holidays, we have a few foody titles in our collection that your club might be interested in as well:

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbie Michiko Florence

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

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NCompass Live: Best New Children’s Books of 2022

Hear about the Best New Children’s Books of 2022 on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, November 23, at 10am CT.

Sally Snyder, Nebraska Library Commission’s Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, will give brief book talks on titles published in the last year that could be good additions to your library’s collection. Titles for pre-school through elementary school will be included.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Nov. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Everything You Missed from Internet Librarian 2022
  • Dec. 21 – Summer Reading Program 2023: All Together Now
  • Jan. 11, 2023 – Best New Teen Reads of 2022
  • Jan. 18, 2023 – First Amendment Audits: What You Need to Know

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 “Johnny Carson” by Henry Bushkin

Heeeeere’s #BookfaceFriday!

Ever wonder what the librarians at the Nebraska Library Commission do in their free time? When we aren’t ironing our cardigans or putting our grocery lists in alphabetical order (just kidding, I think?), we’re probably reading juicy celebrity biographies like this week’s BookFace selection, “Johnny Carson” by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). This title is also the subject of this week’s Friday Reads post, written by Information Services Director, Lisa Kelly. Library Commission staff take turns writing weekly book reviews of titles they have enjoyed (and sometimes not!) in our weekly Friday Reads series. Want to read it yourself? “Johnny Carson” is available as an ebook on Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Henry Bushkin’s ‘Johnny Carson’ is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what he’s talking about.”

The New York Times

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. 189 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: Johnny Carson and Kate Remembered

When I shelved books at Beatrice Public Library, we had a separate room for biographies and all of our comfortable chairs were located there. I always wondered about the patrons that found the lives of others so fascinating, and now, I realize that person is me. Is it just one-step away from reading People magazine at your dentist office or is it something more? Since I have started reading biographies, they have become one of my favorite genres. Here are two biographies I read this summer: 

Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin

I grew up with Johnny Carson reliably making us laugh at the end of the day until his last broadcast in May of 1992 when Bette Midler serenaded him with One More For My Baby. The author is described as Johnny’s “personal legal adviser, fixer, confidant, and close friend.” Carson referred to Bushkin as his best friend.  The book covers their 18-year relationship, which began when the author was 27 years old in 1970. Had the relationship not ended abruptly or acrimoniously, I wonder if Bushkin would have written this book?  The author reveals Johnny’s copious generosity, his inability to be a good husband or money manager, and the psychological damage inflicted on him by his mother from which he never recovered. His mercurial temperament and his grudges were legend. This book pulled back the curtain on an icon that I would have rather left alone but through the eyes of Bushkin, I felt I got closer to the truth or at least one version of it.  Despite it all, nobody hosted a show quite like Johnny and watching old clips of him still brings a smile to my face.

Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg

I listened to Kate Remembered shortly after it was published in 2003. After I gave copies to my neighbor Mary and to my friend Vern, I thought it was time to have another listen. Incidentally, the book is narrated by the actor Tony Goldwyn who does a fair Hepburn impression. The book focuses on Berg’s friendship with Hepburn that started in 1983 and lasted until her death. Berg was Kate’s chronicler as she lavished stories upon him from her life and some episodes that I suspect she rarely shared.  From the author’s book cover,   “… Miss Hepburn often used our time together to reflect, an exercise in which I don’t think she indulged with anybody else.”  I found Scott’s speculative answer to Kate’s question on why he thought Tracy drank so much fascinating and likely spot on. Learning about Kate through Scott’s writing, and what I hope were direct quotes of Hepburn’s, was worth a first and a second visit. After I finished, I re watched The Philadelphia Story and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner again. Time well spent.

So what is the appeal of biographies? Because there is always more to someone’s life is than meets the eye. Triumphs and tragedies are a human condition no matter your fame or infamy. We are all broken.

Bushkin, Henry. Johnny Carson. Boston, MA; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
Berg, A. Scott. Kate Remembered. New York, NY. Putnam Adult, 2003.

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Friday Reads: “Those Who Return” by Kassandra Montag

Set in the Sandhills of Nebraska, this mystery centers around a children’s home for troubled youths and a psychologist who is trying to start a new life. Isolated and far off the beaten path, Hatchery House, is a treatment facility for orphaned children with psychiatric disorders. Lore Webber has left a job with the FBI in Omaha and moved out west to start over, but when one of her patients at Hatchery House is found murdered her old life and her new life will collide. This closed-door murder thriller will have readers guessing until the very end. The inherent remoteness of the setting has limited the suspect pool, and no one wants to think the people they live with are capable of murder. The beautifully written descriptions of the setting honor the unique beauty and seclusion of the Sandhills. Too many people who comment on the Nebraska landscape have only ever driven through on I80, it was good to read a book that looked deeper. The characters are complex and well-written, with interesting backstories that unfold throughout the story as you work alongside Lore to solve the crime. Thoroughly well-researched and compelling, this is Montag’s second novel, her first “After the Flood” was published in 2019, and is also a favorite read of mine. I would highly recommend both.

Montag, Kassandra. Those Who Return. Quercus. 2022.

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#BookFaceFriday “Rebel With A Clause” by Ellen Jovin

This #BookFaceFriday is something to write about!

It’s November, which means it’s time for #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month! This annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new books since 1999. So we found this fun, literary read for this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Rebel With A Clause: Tales and Tips from a Roving Grammarian” by Ellen Jovin (Mariner Books, 2022). It’s available as an eBook in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Find it and other reads in the “Books for writers, would-be writers, and word lovers” currated collection for Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Plus new titles, both nonfiction and fiction, are added daily to Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Jovin uses a combination of intuition and established guidelines to demonstrate that there’s almost always more than one correct answer to questions of communication. Along the way, she shares funny anecdotes about the interactions at her booth and how it functioned as an outlet for individuals to passionately express their points of view…Fellow language lovers will enjoy the ride.”

Publishers Weekly

Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 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 – The Birchbark House

Cover of The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. A young Ojibwe girl stands with a crow perched on her shoulder. Behind her is a field with trees and a single room house built of birchbark and tanned hides behind her.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and I’m excited to spotlight books written by Indigenous authors in our collection. As we go into the month of Thanksgiving, it’s important to remember the people who were here first and the sacred land we are on. Today, we will focus on a story of a young girl in the Northern Midwest on traditional Ojibwe land. The Birchbark House, by Chippewa woman Louise Erdrich, began as a story she would tell to her daughters. Wanting to show the love, community, and humanity that represents Native American culture rather than the negative depictions, Erdrich published the story, which went on to win the WILLA Literary Award in 2000.

Excitable and brave spirited, Omakayas, or Little Frog, is a young Ojibwe girl who lives with her family near present-day Lake Superior. As white people begin to take over the land, Omakays and her siblings continue their way of life while the adults fear that they must move soon. We follow the local community as they survive, learn important lessons and skills, and enjoy a peaceful life together. But when a sickly visitor crashes a powwow one night, he brings deadly smallpox to the area; and the course of the community and Omakayas’ life are changed forever.

“Like Andeg, she couldn’t help being just who she was. Omakayas, in this skin, in this place, in this time. Nobody else. No matter what, she wouldn’t ever be another person or really know the thoughts of anyone but her own self.”

Louise Erdrich

The Birchbark House is the first in the series chronicling the life of Omakayas’ family over 100 years. This novel is perfect for a young book group who wants to read stories like The Little House on the Prairie but through the lens of a young Indigenous girl instead. It is also an interesting read for adult groups who want to learn more about Indigenous culture pre-colonization. The story is brought to life through beautiful illustrations by the author and stories taken from her own life and family. Often the action will stop, and the reader is fully engrossed in the storytelling of an elder. Through this, Erdrich shows the reverence for the past, tradition, and the land that Omakayas and her people hold. Reading groups can discuss how tradition and culture play into their lives and the connections they see between the people in Omakayas’ tribe and those they know.

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 Native American Voices book club titles, visit the link here.

Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. HarperCollins Publishers. 1999.

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