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In the Spotlight

The Dilemma

If you’re a lover of books (or any kind of art, really) you’ll probably have faced this dilemma in your enjoyment of a beloved author – that day you find that they are actually a turd of a human being.

It’s happened over and over again to me. Here I stand, talking about books I love and sharing them with others, only only to find out the author is an anti-Semite, a racist, a misogynist, a pedophile, or generally just a nasty piece of work. And once that happens, the conversation ensues – can one still love the book if the author is a terrible person? (Or worse, are you a terrible person for still loving those books, now having the knowledge you have?) Read More..

There Can Only be One: A Biography of Everyone’s Favorite Device

“Today we’re introducing THREE revolutionary products… The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch control. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.”

It’s 2007, only ten years ago. On stage, Steve Jobs continues: “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.” And so the smartphone revolution started. Read More..

2017’s Best New Picture Books

Thank you, Dan Coleman, for writing a beautiful, nostalgic piece about the Vinland Fair, so I can go hog wild suggesting all of the newest picture books! Hooray for me! And you, fortuitous reader! I’m lucky enough to do storytime here at LPL, and while there are some challenging days of herding toddlers, it is a joy and a privilege to introduce children to literature and catch a small slice of their innocence and wonder.

When we started up storytime again this fall, I wanted to try something different: read a handful of random books, held together only by the fact that they were published in 2017. (Weirdly most of them are from February, who knew that was such a hot picture book publishing month?)

Here are a few of my favorites. My only disclaimer is that I chose these for a Toddler Storytime audience; I think ALL of these would work well for older and younger kids, I mean, they utterly delight me, but keep in mind they were picked to work for toddlers especially. Read More..

Renaissance Woman: Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston wrote during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, contributing novels and short stories, as well as literary anthropology. She was a bold woman surrounded by male peers and unparalleled in both talent and ideas. She died alone and impoverished, buried in an unmarked grave, without having received the recognition or recompense she so strongly deserved. Read More..

Peanuts, A Great American Novel After All

The DNA of four-panel funnies, well-respected graphic novels, and highfalutin literary novels might not be so different as they seem. Obviously, a strip like Family Circus isn’t even remotely in the same realm as, say, Toni Morrison, to be clear, but each tradition shares some surprising hallmarks when it comes to form and philosophy. Read More..

Relatively Wild—Inspired Intersections of Ecological & Social Justice

Left: Stan Herd’s rock art on the Kansas River Levee in Lawrence; photo courtesy of Kansas Geological Survey.

I live within a mile of the Kansas River. In spite of the Bowersock Dam and other infrastructure, this is a good place to connect with wildness. Walking on the levee beside the river offers a chance to watch birds soaring and fishing—great blue herons are frequently present at the river, and in winter bald eagles too.

Frequently people are making use of the water via kayak, canoe, or fishing boat. In spite of the nearby development, the river is a relatively wild place. At the other side of the broad continuum of local wild spaces are the richly-diverse Haskell-Baker Wetlands and also the expansive Clinton Lake Wildlife Area, yet there is value in every degree of wilderness.

My reflections are inspired from reading the book Wildness: Relations of People and Place. This new anthology includes creative and provocative essays, stories and poetry—it represents diverse understandings of our natural world by many highly regarded writers.

Read More..

This is Just a Distraction

What a strange thing it is to be an American today. Sometimes we may feel as if we are literally dodging bullets while simultaneously posting fake jubilance to social media, attempting to appear happier than we really are. Yesterday, I shared to facebook a think-piece on North Korea and then about two hours later, a filtered picture of my cats (who are adorable, by the way, but just needed that extra pizzazz the Nashville filter brings). Guess which one got more comments.

It is no wonder this environment can leave us feeling frazzled (and only frazzled, if we are lucky) and looking for solace and escapism. The news is chock-full of tragedy– terrorism, wars, Nazis– Actual Nazis have taken over the news cycle.

People are always yelling at other people not to be distracted. The idea of caring about too many things is worrisome to a lot of folks.THIS IS JUST A DISTRACTION. We are always warned of distractions in all caps.

The logical reaction to all of this is to log off of social media. But, what are we supposed to do if we’re not mindlessly scrolling through our ex-of-20-years-ago’s vacation pics? I mean, how is he affording that boat, anyway? Some will turn to books, of course. For others, films or unhealthy vices. Maybe you’re the kind of person who hits the gym and works it out. I always try to be a gym person but, in reality, I’m more of a wine person. What I’ve come to realize lately, though, is that when it comes to tumultuous times, what I’m not is a book person. Read More..

Doc Discussions

I’ll be honest, until this year I had never participated in a book club. In theory, they’re right up my alley. I work at a library. I’ve always worked in bookstores. Reading = good. Discussions = good. But joining a book club can be a little intimidating.

Apart from leaving the comfort of my home, which as a rule I only leave to work or shop for groceries, it’s a time commitment. There are only 24 hours in a day and when eight of those are spent playing video games, time just gets away from you. Who knew?

For those of you in a similar time crunch–legitimate or self imposed–the library is launching our first documentary club, Doc Discussions. It’s as easy as “book” clubs get. Step one: an hour and a half (more or less) commitment to watch one of the best documentaries around. Step two: Come talk about it in an hour long gab sesh at the library. Doesn’t get more efficient than that.

Or does it? Read More..

What are you reading? #SummerReading2017

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock rather than reading our phenomenal blog posts, I’m obligated to tell you that Sarah is a freaking rockstar.

She reads things, she writes about them, she spreads generally wonderful vibes, and every Sunday morning throughout Summer Reading 2017 she’s asked you: What are you reading? Read More..

For Marvel’s Consideration

We’ve now entered into what I’ve deemed the “weird phase” of Marvel.

Brought on by the commercial and critical success of the previously unknown property Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman have paved the way for indie creators to work on blockbuster titles while bringing their own unique visions and perspectives to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read More..