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In the Spotlight

Like, Try, Why: Nonfiction by Women Writers

We’ve explored a lot of fiction in our like, try, why series, but this week we thought we’d offer some reading suggestions for fans of nonfiction. These books are all written by women who examine culture.
Like Try Why - Female Nonfic - Blake

If you enjoyed (or are waiting on the holds list) for The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, consider checking out Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. Both books examine the fascinating creation and cultural influence of iconic female characters who have endured for well over half a century.

In The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion, Meghan Daum offers her singular point of view, whether remarking on culture or her own life. Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a similarly crafted collection of essays.

Eula Bliss and Susan Sontag both take a hard look at how language and public perception shapes our misunderstandings of complex health issues. In On Immunity, Bliss comments on the controversy surrounding immunization of children, while Sontag dissects the discourse around cancer and AIDS in Illness as Metaphor.

Do you have a favorite essay collection by a women author? Share it in the comments. Looking for some reading suggestions on a particular topic or in a specific style? Let us know! 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrate National “Write to a Friend” Month

In elementary school, my fourth grade classroom was assigned the task of managing our school’s internal postal service for one glorious semester. It was a highly-coveted responsibility that rotated among classes and, by the time it reached us, I was overjoyed. We spent time learning about the Pony Express and the history of the U.S. Postal Service, looked at all kinds of interesting stamps, and — most importantly — managed the mail delivery for the entire (note: tiny) elementary school. Students were able to send one another letters addressed to their name and classroom, and we were responsible for collecting and distributing these letters. It. Was. Awesome.

Now, nearly two decades later, I still love mail. I enjoy sending letters, packages and postcards, and my day is instantly improved when I find anything other than bills or junk in my mailbox. In today’s email-centric society, it’s nice to slow down and celebrate the quiet art of letter-writing.

Fortunately for my fellow proponents of post, December is National Write to a Friend Month and I’ve compiled a list of letter-centric books and movies to help you celebrate. Read More..

Like Try Why: Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her novels transcend the (artificial) division between literary and genre fiction. If you’ve never read Le Guin, this guide will give you a place to start, and if you’re already a fan, hopefully you’ll find a new book.  Read More..

10 Things You Never Knew about Sesame Street

Long-lost but familiar books, games, and toys can be a revelation when re-experienced through the eyes of children, and one of the most amusing reunions I’ve had in recent years is with the people and puppets of Sesame Street.  The library is a great place to find anything Sesame Street, from classic picture books like The Monster at the End of This Book, to songs like “C is For Cookie” and “I Love Trash”.  Among my favorites are DVD compilations of the animated shorts dedicated to specific letters and numbers my sister and I always used to call “commercials.”  They hold kids as spellbound today as they did when first broadcast, and it turns out my sister and I weren’t far off the mark, since Sesame Street’s creators, who hoped for the first time to harness the educational potential of catchy 1950’s and ‘60’s advertising jingles, called them commercials, too.  Read More..

Like, Try, Why: New Literary Fiction

If you are the reader who is always on the look out for the best in new literary fiction, we’ve got suggestions based on some of last year’s most popular literary fiction.  Read More..

Girls Gone Graphic!

I bought my first comic seven years ago.

Feeling unsure and out of place, I ventured up the steps to Lawrence’s local comic shop, Astro Kitty, to buy Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. As a longtime devotee of Joss Whedon’s TV show, I was thrilled when I learned it was going to continue in comic form, even if I didn’t have any experience with the format and had grown up thinking that it was just superhero stories that were really meant for boys who didn’t like to read (oh, how naive my younger self was). Read More..

Like, Try, Why: Short Stories

If you’ve ever lamented the fact that you can’t seem to finish a book due to a lack of reading time or been late back to work because you couldn’t put down the book you were reading on your lunch break, short story collections my be the solution to your reading woes. Here are some great literary collections to get you started.  Read More..

Jes’ Walk Right In

For something different, I thought I would recommend a CD.

Growing up in Southern California, every Thanksgiving one of the Rock and Roll stations would always play all 23 minutes of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.  I always enjoyed the satire and humor, as well as the powerful message of the song.  Read More..

Documentaries We Love

Released in 2013, Flex is Kings is a documentary following the lives of young African-American flex dancers over a two-year period.  Flex, an undulating, free-style street-dance, originated in Brooklyn, New York and is centered around Battlefest, where dancers face off to find out who flexes best. The filmmakers do an incredible job using artistic camera shots and beautiful staging to capture the evocative, athletic nature of flex dancing.  Focusing on the community of dancers and the struggles they face, the movie is an elegant reminder of the power of dance. Read More..

Like, Try, Why: Romantic Suspense

If you’re looking for action and love stories, chances are, you’re a fan of Romantic Suspense novels. The key factor in these novels is danger, whether it involves a murder investigation or a government conspiracy. Fans of this subgenre are in good company — it’s quite popular. Here are a handful of suggestions, and we’ve made a list of even more popular romantic suspense authors in the catalog. Read More..