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In the Spotlight

We Are the Ants: Coming of Age, Aliens, and the End of the World

“Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe.

But you don’t.

Because we are the ants.” Read More..

Prepare For the Worst—And Enjoy Every Moment of It!

Let’s say that a sudden accident has left you stranded and alone on a faraway planet (Does this scenario ring some bells? If not, come by the Library to check out a copy of this year’s Read Across Lawrence pick, Andy Weir’s The Martian). How on (off?) Earth are you going to get out of this predicament?

Between you and me, if you find yourself in this situation, you’re going to wish you had spent some time at the library, because it’s knowledge and know-how that can you a fighting chance. Want to study up in case you find yourself involved in an interplanetary mishap? I’ve got a few reading suggestions to get you started! Read More..

The Hateful Eight and the Books You’ll Love

Influenced by The Thing, Clue, and Sergio Corbucci’s nihilistic spaghetti western The Great Silence, Quentin Tarantino’s new film The Hateful Eight takes place in post-Civil War Wyoming where eight sadistic strangers seek shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery during a whiteout blizzard. Read More..

The Once and Future Read: T.H. White’s Classic in 2016

Last year, Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk was released to tremendous praise (our own Eli considered it his book of the year). It’s a true story that examines the intersections between isolation, solace, civilization, and wildness.

In an attempt to exorcise her own rage and desperation, a grieving Macdonald, long a practitioner of falconry, decides to train a ferocious young goshawk after her father’s sudden passing.

Having never trained this particular species before, she relies upon T.H. White’s The Goshawk as a manual of sorts. In a rave review for H is for Hawk, Kathryn Schulz of The New Yorker describes the work as “one part grief memoir, one part guide to [goshawks], and one part biography of [author] T. H. White.”

Read More..

2016′s New Book Club Services

It’s Thursday, you’re counting down the hours until the workday is done, and you have book club tonight. Not only do you have book club, it’s YOUR TURN to host. You’ve got cheese dip to make, pinot to purchase, and you still don’t know what book to suggest to your group for next month. Under pressure, you google what’s big on Amazon right now and throw a metaphorical dart. (Besides, your club never seems to agree on a book, so you figure it really doesn’t really matter anyway.)

Convenient printable PDF of our new services.

Read More..

Star Wars: Legends of the Past

I am a Star Wars fan like my father before me. My bedroom walls aren’t plastered with the posters and my shelves aren’t lined with the action figures preserved in their original packaging, but I do enjoy the films. Who am I kidding? I love them. Oh, and I did go through a stage during my teen years in which I spent many late night hours reading the Expanded Universe novels.

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Reading Across the Galaxy with Adam Rex

Road trips don’t get much stranger than the one 11-year old Gratuity Tucci must make, accompanied by a soap-eating alien named J-Lo, in this year’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids title, The True Meaning of Smekday.  But author and illustrator Adam Rex, whose “divinely demented” sensibility has entertained children and adults alike for over a decade, rarely stays on the map.

Rex, who will join us via Skype on February 27th to crown a month of events we’ve put together with the help of KU Libraries and the Friends of the Library, recently answered a few questions about his book, free copies of which will be distributed (along with pizza, but not soap) to kids at the kickoff party on January 30th.  Read More..

Spark a Resolution with Kondo Spirit

In 2014, Marie Kondo, Japan’s decluttering wunderkind, published a little-known and unassuming book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. As a professional cleaning consultant, Kondo developed a technique called the KonMari Method (its’ title derived from her first and last name) and has since become an international bestselling author. Life-Changing Magic has gone on to sell more than 3 million copies, as well as being published and translated in over 30 countries; in 2015, Kondo was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

So, if you’re looking for some motivation for making those New Year’s resolutions a reality, you’re in luck, because Kondo has released an improved, illustrated edition titled Spark Joy. Read More..

On Mourning

There is a version of an ancient Chinese fable that goes like this:

The Emperor, feeling depressed, calls his court philosopher in.

“Tell me a happy story,” he says.

Read More..

New Year, New Books! Hot Reads for 2016

2016 is here, which means it’s time to write the wrong date on your checks. I mean, it’s time to take a look at some exciting upcoming titles. We’ve put together a collection of some of their most anticipated releases, both in fiction and nonfiction. It’s been both fun and challenging to speculate about which books will become our new favorites, and we hope you enjoy browsing the selections. At the very least, it’ll give you something to take your mind off the fact that it’s somehow freakin’ 2016 already. (Seriously. Wasn’t it just 1998?)

Anyway, bring on the books!

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
In this kaleidoscopic debut novel, protagonists Effia and Esi are half-sisters who were born in different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. The sisters are unknown to one another, and we follow their radically different journeys into privileged English society and American slavery, respectively. Yaa Gyasi, an author born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, is already receiving high praise for her debut, which comes out in June 2016. (To prep yourself, check out another amazing Ghanaian author – Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.)

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Historical fiction lovers, listen up: The Queen of the Night is here with a rich, captivating story. Lilliet Berne, a world-renown opera singer, is offered a life-changing original role that she soon learns is based on her own tangled history. As her closely kept secrets are brought to the surface, Lilliet must wrestle with competing desires for fame and privacy. Dazzling, passionate, and rich with historical details, Alexander Chee is an author to follow.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Author Grady Hendrix breathed new life into a zombified horror genre in 2014 with his hilarious— and terrifying— tale of a haunted IKEA store. His next novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, boasts a similarly refreshing premise: a 1980’s high school is faced with demonic possession. It’s being described in pre-publication reviews as The Exorcist meets Mean Girls. Hendrix will surely bring his unique blend of wit, quirkiness, and chills.

Zero K by Don DeLillo
Zero K follows a man whose billionaire father has created a secretive compound where people have their bodies preserved, hoping to be brought back to life in the future. The title implies a cryogenic setting, but nothing can be assumed of DeLillo’s masterful prose. Zero K promises to be another substantial novel of the human condition, this time meditating on life and how it is ended. Look for it in early May.

 

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Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
Much was said of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his acclaimed 2015 release Between the World and Me. For 2016, though, he’ll be commenting on racial injustice in America— and other societal problems— not with essays, but with comics. Coates is writing a year-long story arc for the first black superhero, Black Panther, who was introduced in 1966. “A Nation Under Our Feet” is set to begin sometime this spring. The transition in medium isn’t as jarring as it might seem, as Coates has described being an avid comics fan since childhood.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Sunil Yapa bursts onto the international literary scene with this debut novel, which follows seven people dealing with the 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle. Earnest and powerful, Yapa examines the humanity of his characters amid the violence and strife unfolding in the streets. Fans of historical fiction and raw, emotional stories alike will enjoy this novel.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
This is one I’m super pumped about. Imbolo Mbue made headlines last year for receiving a million-dollar advance from Random House. This is a first for an African author, and to say that fans of African literature – myself included – are excited is an understatement. The novel is a beautifully crafted immigrant’s tale that explores heavy topics as race, class, marriage, and the potential pitfalls of “The American Dream.” Not much is known about the author, as she keeps a pretty low profile, but if you’d like a glimpse at her writing style check out a previously published excerpt here. The original publication date of Behold the Dreamers has been pushed back to August, but I hear it’s worth the wait. (How’s this for a cryptic review??)

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up took the world by storm with its brilliant and easy-to-implement advice on de-cluttering one’s life. Now she’s back with an illustrated guide and more tidying wisdom. Read both to jumpstart your spring cleaning! This one comes out TODAY, so be one of the first in line.

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Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Another debut novel by an award-winning writer, Here Comes the Sun comes out in July and captures rhythmic, lyrical Jamaican life in prose form. I am a big fan of novels written in dialect so captivating that you can almost hear them read aloud, and this one seems like it will deliver. It features themes of gender equality, sexual orientation, and political/personal independence. While you wait, try Under the Udala Trees, for similar themes but within a Nigerian community.

Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
It’s been years since dry, witty, hilariously caustic author Augusten Burroughs has released a memoir. If you’re new to his work, check out Dry and Running with Scissors, and then hop on the holds list for this one. Note: Given his past works, I’m 99.9% certain this will contain “adult language,” so keep that in mind.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The frontrunner for 2016’s most-devastating book is definitely When Breath Becomes Air. The memoir, written by late neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, recounts his journey from being a healthy, successful young man with a family, to battling an abruptly-diagnosed case of stage IV lung cancer. With eloquent, vulnerable prose, Kalanithi seeks to understand death and explores what life he has left before his terminal illness deprives him of it.

Note: Kate thinks this review should simply consist of the “sobbing” emoji.

Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante
Frantumaglia: Bits and Pieces of Uncertain Origin collects a variety of essays and letters written by the intriguing Italian author Elena Ferrante, who has managed to keep her true identity hidden from the world. Ferrante, whoever she might really be, discusses her life and experience with writing, as well as other topics concerning art and culture. Don’t worry, it won’t be released until April, so you’ll have plenty of time to work on being able to say the mouthful that is Frantumaglia with some level of grace.

Since some of these titles are coming in the next few months, you can get on the holds list already! Keep an eye on this list, and we will add books as they are ordered for the collection.