I’m pretty sure I would have stuck around long enough to become an Eagle Scout if there had been more activities like the shrunken heads we made for Halloween out of decaying apples and potatoes one year early in my scouting career. Apparently that fondness for rotten vegetables hasn’t faded, or else I was just happy to see an affirmation of my annual laziness in removing jack-o-lanterns far past their prime from our front porch, because I thoroughly enjoyed David M. Schwartz’s new book, Rotten Pumpkin , when I saw it recently on the Children’s new non-fiction shelf. In a series of striking photographs and testimonials from 15 “voices” in the process (“Hear this, all you molds and rots: I the sow bug, owe you!”) ranging from squirrel to slime mold, the book documents the gradual decline of a typical jack-o-lantern, from fresh orange pumpkin flesh to black goo. But not to worry, you who may expect to find such a tale depressing; Schwartz leaves us with a redemptive ending (spoiler alert, literally) in which a seed, missed by the pumpkin carver’s hand, finds nutrients in the heap of goo and sprouts the following spring. So it’s a great book not only for the young gross-out aficionado in your life, but the budding gardener, as well. Read More..
In the Spotlight
Name: Jenny Cook
Department: Youth Services
Book you’ve read too many times to count: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. (Maybe I’ll read it again instead of reading Pride and Prejudice. Hmm.)
Favorite genre? I like reading funny nonfiction and literary fiction. Most of my reading life these days is spent getting to know the children’s section (fantasy and realistic fiction are my favorites!).
Do you currently have any overdue items or fines? Yes- I always have fines!
Your favorite book from childhood? Where the Red Fern Grows <3
What superpower would you like to have? I would like to time travel. Being able to heal people would also be pretty amazing.
What is your favorite place to eat/shop/hang out downtown? ATC is my favorite clothing shop. The Bourgeois Pig and Aladdin Café are also favorite spots.
Interesting bonus fact: (special skill? volunteer experience? etc). I’m pretty good at moving each of my toes individually, which really impresses my husband. I love making art when I find the time. Also, I’m a pretty good whistler.
Nerd Nite 21 brings you Sam Shepard, Charles and Ray Eames (who we love!), and William Morris (the marxist textile designer, not the talent agency). We’re excited to meet some new nerds with the help of Rob Shulte, Meredith Moore, and John Kaleugher.
If you want to learn more about the man check out his autobiography Motel Chronicles.
Unfortunately we don’t have a collection of the plays Rob talks about, but we can score them on inter-library loan.
The Eames were also prolific film makers, and while we don’t own this collection, we can get it for you!
Originally I had set out to do a write-up of Neil Gaiman’s short novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s a book of magic and wonder and British children battling nefarious forces, not unlike Harry Potter or Mary Poppins. But in Gaiman’s book those winning attributes are spun a degree darker, creating a story more akin in mood to Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. It’s a fantastic tale, and I’d like to be able to describe it beyond simple comparisons, but I’m at a loss to adequately put some of the magical happenings into words. Here’s a quick attempt - Read More..
If you’ve been in the library lately, you may have noticed that our last display featured intriguing, unusual, and inspiring true life stories. As Mark Twain put it, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” Well, after spending the last month combing our library for the wildest true life stories to display, I’ve found quite an array of unbelievable tales- explorers living amongst killer ants, extreme gardeners and their giant gourds, Michael Jackson‘s life story. Yes, I thought I had seen it all…until I came across a shocking new documentary called The Source Family. Read More..
One of the best books I read over the summer was The Moment, a collection of very brief pieces by writers, artists, and others describing one moment in which their entire lives changed. In addition to feeling something like a Chicken Soup for the Literary Soul (Jennifer Egan, Neal Pollack, Dave Eggers, and Michael Paterniti are just a few of the 125 contributors), I love a book like this for the new authors to whom it may lead. In my case, I came across Laurie David, whose “moment” stood out for its simplicity among the many career and romance-related epiphanies recounted in the book. Although her brief bio describes her as the Academy Award-winning environmental activist who co-produced An Inconvenient Truth, she chose as her momentous occasion an ordinary dinner one evening with her two teenage daughters, in which she realized she had actually done one thing right as a parent: “to insist on a daily family dinner.” Read More..
No. It’s not the classic question about which book you might choose if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question of how you might behave if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question that William Golding asks in his classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. It’s a story about a group of boys during a fictitious nuclear war that have crash-landed on an island as they are being evacuated from England. Golding makes sure that no adults survive the crash so that only these boys are faced with the questions…how will you survive? What will become of society? Read More..
Some months ago, the fabulous folks over at the State Library of Kansas, implemented a pilot program of a new digital book platform called Freading (free reading, get it?). What makes Freading unlike our 3M and OverDrive products is there are no wait lists on any of the books. As many people can read a book at the same time as they want! (In library lingo, we call that unlimited simultaneous use.)
Great, right? So, why not try it out. (You just need a State Library of Kansas Card. If you don’t have one, we can get you one here at the library.) There are a lot of books on the site and since it can be a bit tricky to search, here are ten great titles to get you started!
- J. Robert Lennon, The Funnies
- Clinton Heylin, From the Velvets to the Voidoids
- Andre Dubus, Selected Stories
- George Gamow, One Two Three… Infinity
- Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
- Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
- Larry Brown, Joe
- Rebecca Lee, Bobcat and Other Stories
- Lewis Nordan, Music of the Swamp
- Edward Eager, Half Magic
We are so happy that Nerd Nite is partnering with us again for our Read Across Lawrence selection and the KU Common Book The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. There will be talk of the farm equipment that ripped up the prairie, land erosion’s affect on art, and populist movements born out of hard economic times. Did we mention there will be Nerd Nite pint glasses too?
What is nerd nite you ask?
We all know that learning is more fun when you’re drinking with friends and colleagues. Thus, Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 50 cities across the globe during which several folks give 18-21-minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines – while the audience drinks along. And there are often bands, acrobats, trivia, and other shenanigans as well. Imagine learning about everything from math feuds or the science of the Simpsons, to the genealogy of Godzilla or debunking beer myths. Fun, right? As nerds and non-nerds like to say, Nerd Nite Is Like the Discovery Channel™…with Beer! (from http://nerdnite.com/)
Check out our local nerd nite here http://lawrence.nerdnite.com
Of course this resource list starts out with The Worst Hard Time. But our presenters have other dust bowl resources for you to check out.
From One Ways to Listers: The Agricultural Equipment that Helped Usher in the Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s by Donald Worster
Encyclopedia of Antique Farm Implements & Antiques by C.H. Wendel
Farm Collector magazine: www.farmcollector.com
Encyclopedia of the Great Plains: http://www.unl.edu/plains/pha/pha.shtml
Texas Plant Information Database at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: http://tpid.tpwd.state.tx.us/
The National Archives: http://www.archives.gov
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/
Kansas Memory/Kansas State Historical Society: http://www.kansasmemory.org
The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns
The Plow that Broke the Plains a 1937 documentary that the Farm Security Administration released.
You Need a Continent Against Your Feet: The Dust Bowl and Eroded America
Bust To Boom: Documentary Photographs Of Kansas, 1936-1949 by Donald Worster
Hard Times: the 30s Time Life Books
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Bound for glory: America In Color, 1939-43 introduction by Paul Hendrickson
Framing America: A Social History of American Art by Francis K. Pohl
Well, I had planned on continuing my new series on environmental classics with Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, a favorite book by a favorite author in a favorite place. But only nine pages into a rereading of it and I got sidetracked by Kevin Fedarko, who just wrote a thoroughly enjoyable book called The Emerald Mile. As I was drawn into this compelling tale of running the Colorado River, I thought, “No problem. I’ll do a joint Abbey-Fedarko review. It’s a perfect fit.” Read More..