Last week, the crantastic wonderful NPR broadcaster Susan Stamberg was in town to headline an event for the Library Foundation. When asked about her favorite storytellers, she responded that Studs Terkel, Joan Didion, John McPhee and Philip Roth are all on her shortlist. The authors she noted are all hugely acclaimed and brilliant, of course, but something else they share is a keen ability to unearth and examine different facets of life in America – which is maybe not a surprising preference for a journalist. So here’s a few books from Susan Stamberg’s favorites, each reporting on uniquely American experiences (if you find that you like them, maybe shoot a couple bucks to NPR during their next pledge drive as a thank you to S.S.): Read More..
The question “what is art” can be quite simple or complex. When we think about art in cities, things get even murkier. Who is art for? Is it statues of long-gone military heroes? How does art enhance the public realm? Author and urbanologist Max Grinnell will talk about the role of public art in American cities, via illustrative materials from his travels at the Lawrence Public Library (February 20, 7 pm). Read More..
Over on our Facebook page, we asked “If you had to read one book ten times, what would you pick?” We got so many great responses that we decided to share them here! Click on the titles to view them in our catalog and place a request if you like! Read More..
On January 26th, you can celebrate Kansas Day at Lawrence Public Library by meeting Kansas ranchers practicing the art of sustainable animal husbandry! Free tasting portions of beef, elk, turkey and buffalo will be provided by Local Burger. In the meantime, beef up on your reading by checking out these recommendations by Hilary Brown of Local Burger: Read More..
Here’s a fun fact: Katy Perry’s fans refer to themselves as “Katy Kats.” I gleaned this info off an SUV I’ve noticed parked around my neighborhood. This vehicle has been painted sky blue and cotton candy pink and is bedecked with a giant rendering of Ms. Perry’s head. It’s really something else. Hats off to the crew over at Maaco. Read More..
Much like professional wrestlers and wives of philandering politicians, every comedian of even middling success is mandated to write a book. I don’t think that a week goes by where I don’t notice another questionable addition to this already underperforming sub-genre. It’s not hard to see why these books are being published, with Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler having penned such monster bestsellers. But when Ms. Handler’s hangers-on start getting book deals (even Chuy), it’s a signal that we are in the midst of a comedy book bubble – and like all bubbles, its chief characteristic is a wanton disregard for quality control. Read More..
Last year, The New Yorker named Gary Shteyngart one of their “20 Under 40” writers to watch – and for good reason. He has published some exceptionally funny and compelling work in his relatively-young life. Shteyngart spent his first seven years in St. Petersburg before immigrating with his parents to the United States and settling in New York. Straddling both cultures, his literary voice is a pleasing blend of Russian severity and American frivolity – which he deftly uses to skewer the prevailing nonsense of our times. Read More..
Sebastian Faulks is one of Britain’s most popular literary authors, yet he remains relatively unknown in the US. A former journalist and editor who turned to fiction in his late twenties, he writes richly detailed, well-researched stories that are deeply evocative of the some of the 20th century’s most remarkable periods and places, from WWII-era Europe to America on the brink of the Vietnam War. His perspective is thoroughly modern, but his books have an old-fashioned, epic feeling–often due to their wartime settings and lush romantic plots. As a testament to his popularity, and in a break from his usual work, Faulks was commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate to write a new James Bond book, Devil May Care, for the 2008 centenary of Fleming’s birth. If you enjoy sweeping historical dramas that have decidedly literary bent, check out Sebastian Faulks. Read More..
Quirky, surreal, bizarre, ironic, and completely original are all adjectives used to describe Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s fiction. Acclaimed by critics world-wide, he writes about themes of modern life, especially the alienation that comes from an increasingly technological society. His works often center on a young, modern man who approaches the bizarre circumstances he finds himself in with a dry, deadpan perspective. Although they almost always take place in Japan, his stories and novels are full of references to American popular culture and could almost take place anywhere. If you are looking for a fresh voice and a unique point of view, check out one of Murakami’s books. We recommend the following: Read More..
British author Penelope Fitzgerald penned her first book at age 58, after a career as a teacher, bookseller, and mother. The winner of England’s prestigious Booker Prize and the first non-American to win the National Book Critics Circle Award, she is known for a spare writing style applied to intricate plots and deft characterizations. Though her novels rarely exceed 200 pages, they are as satisfying as a longer yarn because of their attention to detail, distinct settings, and the complex moral situations her characters confront. Many of her novels were based very loosely on her own life experiences. Fitzgerald died in 2000, at the age of 83. If you’re interested in trying one of her novels, we recommend one of these: Read More..