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Once upon a time there was a drummer, and his name was Oskar…

If I was forced to name a favorite fictional character, it would have to be Oskar Matzerath from German writer Gunter Grass’ 1959 novel The Tin Drum. It’s been several years since I read that outlandish and sprawling World War II era satire, and many of the finer details have been lost to memory, but I have never been able to forget about little Oskar who is, easily, the most radical and subversive figure I have ever encountered.  After all, could there be a greater act of defiance than to purposefully throw oneself down the cellar stairs, as a three-year old Oskar does, permanently stunting his growth for the sole purpose of avoiding  entrance into the grownup world? Oskar, who claims to have been fully mentally developed at birth, can already see the trappings of the adult life and he chooses to opt out. And with perfect timing too. This bold decision will leave him nearly invisible to the majority of the adults in his home city of Danzig, as they’re slowly being seduced by Hitler and the Third Reich. Read More..

About a Boy

 On the tail end of a warm, windy afternoon last month at Lyons Park, my 4-year old son, who had been running the bases on the ball fields there for 45 minutes, reached a familiar point of no return, triggered by his frustration that I was unable, at the moment, to continue trying to tag him out with an invisible baseball.  Reason being, my 2-year old daughter, whose idea of fun doesn’t have much to do with imaginary plays at the plate and “real baseball dirt” swirling into her eyes, had reached her own point of no return just moments earlier.  I was close to a meltdown myself as I shuffled over the mound through the screams, trying to conjure a little inspiration from a vision of big league pitchers struggling on up here without their best stuff.

Usually at times like this I look for humor in the situation, but that wasn’t working today, even though at the same time my son was pretending to be Eric Hosmer, he was also wearing his little sister’s Minnie Mouse sweatpants—pink with white polka dots and a long black mouse tail attached in back—quite tight in the seat and three inches too short for him at the ankles.  It would be a few more hours until I could cure myself of the weariness and frustration of the afternoon.  Kids put to bed, my wife and I watched a DVD from the library that shifted my perspective and transformed my dusty funk into a sense of wonder, as if I had been able to zoom out and glimpse a big picture view of family life akin to one of those images of Earth from space.   Read More..

Child-free Spinsters: Two Brand New Books on Adulting Differently

Adulthood is kind of difficult. Supposedly, millennials (or Gen Y, or whatever the hell) are having an even tougher time than previous generations at figuring out the whole “growing up” thing, or at least that’s what we’ve been told many, many, many times. Rather than dashing directly into marriage and children and life-long careers just after school — as had previously been the assumed “correct” path in America — those of us born in the 1980s and later are waiting longer and longer to wed and start families, if at all. Read More..

Literary Cribs: William Faulkner Edition

For spring break this year, I didn’t go to Malibu. I didn’t go to Cancun. I didn’t drain two forties in a bowling alley parking lot. I went to place that was even crazier– a place humming with machismo and a legacy of “getting tore up”…

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Contributing a Verse: O Me! O Life! O Film and Poetry!

For movie lovers who love poetry (and poetry lovers who love movies), these three unforgettable films all have poetry and poets as central characters or themes.

From an irrepressible English teacher in a stuffy Delaware all-boy’s prep school challenging his young students to ‘suck the marrow out of life;’ to a soft-spoken coach of a rowdy, young-yet-streetwise slam-poetry team in Chicago pushing his kids to work harder and dream louder; to a communist poet exiled to a small Italian island helping an uneducated neighbor to woo the woman of his dreams, these riveting films engage, entertain, and uplift. And still they manage to explore with heart and honesty the bittersweet truths of life–love, death, friendship, identity, courage in the face of oppression–that unite the human race. These films will no doubt leave you inspired, exhilarated, and aching for your own unique and powerful voice to be heard.

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A Multimedia Like, Try, Why!

In previous “If you like…” posts, we’ve stuck primarily with books and authors (with some movies sprinkled in). This time, however, Fisher from Readers’ Services takes the series even further, bringing us some great suggestions across multiple types of media.

If you’ve ever wondered what audio or visual materials might go well with your current reading obsession, this post is for you!

Check out some of his suggestions for relevant materials all over our collection. Got a question about your own latest read? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for more multimedia Like-Try-Why’s in the future! Read More..

Like, Try, Why: Historical Mysteries with a Female Sleuth

If you enjoy well-written mysteries, set in a historical context, with women investigators then you may find a new favorite. These recommendations are for discerning readers who prefer to avoid explicit violence and brutal details. Each book highlighted here is the first title in the series. Find more information with this list in the catalog! Read More..

Like, Try, Why: Dystopian Stories

Tired of cold, rainy days? Be sure to count your blessings; at least you’re not a semi-slave to a ruthless general, fighting your high school friends for survival, or on the the run from a society that brands you a murderer because of the color of your skin. Those dark tales and more come from the following list of dystopias.  Read one and the new spring flowers will smell all the sweeter.

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Your Top 5: Reasons to Stop by LPL and Then Head Outside!

After another eventful Midwestern winter, April has finally arrived, and we at LPL are absolutely thrilled. Daffodils are blooming, temperatures are warming up, and downtown Lawrence is buzzing with activity.

This week we bring you our top 5 reasons to hit the library and then go outside!

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Why I’m Actively Avoiding Books by White Dudes

The folks at Book Riot have started a wonderful series this year on reading diversely, an issue very dear to my heart. For the past year, I have been striving to read – and request - more books by women of all backgrounds and by men who are not white. I’m essentially choosing to avoid the “dead white guy” as much as possible.

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