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In the Spotlight

Coming to Terms (or Tears) with Wonder

“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” -Auggie, Wonder

Whenever I’m handed a book with the promise “This will make you cry,” I’m always a little skeptical. A montage of dogs seeing their owners after they get back from deployment, I am bawling, but it is the rare book that makes me break down and cry. So when Wonder by R.J. Palacio was handed to me and I was told that it was a tearjerker that might become our Read Across Lawrence book, I was skeptical. Read More..

These January Gems are Diamonds in the Rough

There is an enduring misconception that librarians spend their workdays reading the books in the collection (and then their nights fussing cat hair off of cardigans – which is accurate).  As a book selector, my job might come closest in terms of reading at work.

I spend a healthy amount of time each day going through book reviews, and in doing so, I see plenty of titles with positive reviews and starred ratings – but often, with no star author attached, those titles will go unnoticed by the general reading public.

Below is a list of critical darlings being released in January that you may never hear about.  Since the list of possible contenders was too long for a single post, I’ve winnowed it down to a theme of darkness to match winter’s long nights – and to dispel any residual holiday cheer.  Enjoy! Read More..

Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50 and the Books I Did Not Finish

It’s typically a rare case for me not to finish a book. At some point, I think I convinced myself that not finishing was giving up on an author or myself as a reader. But I have come to understand that neither of those is true at all. For whatever the reason, it’s okay to stop reading a book, especially if you’ve lost interest in it, because there are so many other books that could be more interesting to you.

This year, I’ve decided to try out Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book. Pearl, a famous librarian with her own action figure and author of Book Lust, acknowledged that the world of books is immense, but time is short. So “If you’re fifty years old or younger, give every book about fifty pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give up.” Over fifty? Subtract your age from 100 and use that as your guide.

To prep myself, I’ve been thinking about some of the books that I did put down and why I never finished them:

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Anticipated Reads of 2018 Forecast

With a new year comes a fresh slate of books on the horizon; here are just a few highly anticipated (but perhaps less well-known) releases coming up.

Get your calendars ready!


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December Look Play Listen Round Up

Hi Lawrence!

Look Play Listen is the library’s team of AV appreciators. Each month we’ll round up some of our favorite music, film/TV, and video game reviews from our staff and put them in one easy to read, easy to locate blog post.

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Fact and Fiction Collide in The Only Harmless Great Thing

The stranger-than-fiction story of the women who painted radium dials during the first World War got a proper exploration earlier this year in the nonfiction hit The Radium Girls.

In January, the topic gets its due in the realm of fiction with Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing, with an intriguing twist. As if the story of the radium factories were not already peculiar—and tragic—enough, Bolander reimagines sentient elephants working alongside the women of history. Read More..

It’s Time for the 2018 Squad Goals Reading Challenge

In 2017, the Book Squad introduced the Squad Goals Reading Challenge, a collection of 13 prompts designed to get you reading more widely.

In 2018, by popular demand (really!), we’re back with 13 new prompts that we hope will intrigue, delight, and, yes, challenge you.

We’ll have hard-copy forms available at the library by January, and the same “rules” apply as last year:

  • Read along month-by-month, or read in any order you like.
  • Make a plan and stick with it, or pick books on a whim.
  • Start every book you finish, or stop reading anything you aren’t enjoying.

You do you, is what we’re saying.

Because I love making plans (and willfully discarding them), I’ve mapped out my choices below. Read More..

The Best Books of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, with all its turbulence—for better or worse—one thing remains constant: great books of all flavors.

Staff from all across the library share their favorites; read on for the LPL’s best books of 2017.


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Cozy Reads to Get You Through the Endless Night

It’s that time of year again! The ground is covered in leaves, the holiday lights are on, the heater is cranked all the way up, and snow is imminent. You look outside one minute, and the sun is shining, and the world is like a gorgeously illustrated picture book, and then one minute later you look again, and suddenly the world is now made of darkness. Your body is all “what is happening?!” and your brain is like “but it’s only 5pm!” Winter has (almost) come.

The sudden weather change is discombobulating, and sometimes even a little disturbing when you manage to miss those few hours of sunlight, and your mood levels plummet*. At times like these, I find it most comforting to try and embrace the season by cuddling up with a fuzzy blanket, baking some of these fabulous scones (suggestion: use coconut sugar and coconut milk instead, and double or even triple the blueberries!), and topping it all off by grabbing a cozy book. Read More..

Eight(ish) Miraculous Books

Taking place every year on the 25th of Kislev, Hanukkah commemorates the story of Jewish persecution at the hands of the Syrian despot Antiochus, who made observance of Judaism a capital offense, regularly slaughtered Jews, and made it a point to desecrate the Temple.

A man named Mattathias and his sons formed a band of rebels, the Maccabees, and after three years of fighting they eventually ousted the Syrians.

When they saw the state of the Temple, the warriors openly wept and went about ritually cleaning it for use again. Tradition tells us there was enough oil to light the great Menorah for one night, but miraculously, it lasted eight days – enough time to manufacture more ritual oil. In celebration (and because of the holiday’s proximity to a larger American holiday) the holiday has grown in prominence.

We eat latkes, spin dreidels, and put our menorah in the windows, quietly shining amid the more conspicuous holiday lights of our neighbors.

In honor of Hanukkah starting this evening, it seemed fitting to address miracles, specifically the miracle of the right book, just as it is needed. Wouldn’t you consider it miraculous when the formation of a thought in a stranger’s head is written down, then survives the publishing process to be made into a book, which gets purchased by your local library, which a friendly librarian delivers to your hands at the right time to resonate with the deepest needs of your current life? Well, now. I certainly would.

With that in mind, I decided to visit books that were a miracle in my life.  I’ve read a lot, even before I became a professional bookslinger, so there were oodles to choose from. This listing is not necessarily the best book ever written on a theme or a subject (though most are quite good), but they were miracles in that they came at just the right time in my life and made a lasting impact. Read More..