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In the Spotlight

Angélique Kidjo, a Joyful & Empowering Advocate

Charismatic singer-songwriter and human rights advocate Angélique Kidjo is an energetic powerhouse. She creates world-renowned eclectic, genre-complex music and works diligently to empower others.

She has championed empowerment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. In 2007 she co-founded the Batonga Foundation, which supports girls’ education in Africa and continues the legacy of advocacy of Kidjo’s own family.

I’m currently reading her book, Spirit rising: My Life, My Music, released in 2014. This memoir is full of inspiration, heartfelt revelry, and the humor of a fascinating, talented activist. She points out we are all descended from Africa and can join together to make positive changes where needed, but we also need to recognize that the African continent is diverse and not universally impoverished. Her words resonate, acting as a powerful salve-therapy against xenophobia. Read More..

Suss Out Your Truthiness

Two definitions:

Post-truth: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Truthiness: “Believing something that feels true, even if it isn’t supported by fact.”

Quick: conjure the zeitgeist with a single word. A decade ago, that word (according to Merriam-Webster) was “truthiness.” This year, the feeling of truthiness is back with a sequel:  citing a 2000% increase in its use during the year, Oxford Dictionaries has proclaimed “post-truth” to be the word that best reflects the spirit of the times. These two words are subtly different in meaning, but both point to a reliance on feeling rather than objective fact in decision-making. Read More..

Bibliobominable: Winter Reading for Young Yetis

Ah, winter. The trees are bare, a chill is in the air, and I’ve got all the classic picture books of the season stacked beside my kids’ beds. We could read my own childhood favorite, Ezra Jack Keats’ iconic The Snowy Day. Or there’s Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley, in which Mary Azarian renders the wonders of snow in Caldecott Medal-winning woodcuts. And here is Raymond Briggs’ jolly and gentle Snowman, a holiday presence to rival Santa in some homes.  Listen!  Are those the choirboys of St. Paul’s Cathedral I hear on the north wind, intoning the angelic melody of “Walking in the Air,” the song made famous in the 1982 short film adaptation of The Snowman? Read More..

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Introducing the Squad Goals Reading Challenge

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I love a reading challenge. Whether I’m searching for a book set in my home state or one with nonhuman characters, one with a color in the title or one that’s becoming a movie this year, if you give me a series of prompts and a checklist to mark off, I’m a happy woman.

In 2016, the Book Squad worked on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, but in 2017, we’re trying something new. Read More..

The Best Books from the Worst Year

Let’s be honest, 2016 has been kind of a hot mess. Between so many celebrity deaths (David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel… holy cow, SO MANY) and some, uh, general upheaval, most people are ready to write this one off as a loss.

But! As much as we’d like to say goodbye and good riddance to the year as a whole, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the very good things that came from 2016; this year has offered readers a wealth of fabulous new books. Debut authors and big-hitters alike have released incredible works in 2016, and the staff of LPL would like to share a few of our favorites. If you’re looking for great gifts for bibliophiles in your life, try one of these librarian-approved reads: Read More..

YA Backlist: Reality Boy by A.S. King

I’m not ashamed to admit Young Adult lit predominated my reading list this year. It’s partly because I get to order books for the library’s teen collection—but also because YA books are awesome. Yeah, awesome. Books for teens have gotten so much more diverse, so much more in-depth, and so much more engaging over the past decade and a half. Any fan of John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, Tessa Gratton (this list could go on forever…) could tell you that. Read More..

Queer Adventures in Romance

Every year, I try to challenge myself to diversify my reading.  Whether it’s exploring a new genre or delving into books written by authors of color, part of what I love most about reading is seeing the world from a new perspective or gaining a greater understanding of the beautiful lives of others.

This fall, I became obsessed with LGBTQ+ Romance novels, a genre I tend to avoid because I find it to be riddled with stereotypes.  Imagine my surprise when I picked up Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk, which proved to be so much more than the generic romances I’ve become accustomed to perusing at the grocery store check-out aisle.   Read More..

Book Squad Podcast: 03 – Winter Reading and More!

The Book Squad Podcast

a collaboration with AudioReader.

Once a month, the librarians are in, with their favorite recommendations, a toe-to-toe discussion on a book or topic, as well as news from the book world and bookish-Lawrence. Listen to the latest episode: Read More..

Too S.A.D. to Read: When Winter Hits Your Shelf

As someone who has no kids and no television, I read a lot — during my lunch hour, after work with a beer, at a coffee shop, waiting in line. In fact, my boss and I have a segment on our podcast called “We can’t always be reading” and I always have trouble coming up with content for this section. Like Rory Gilmore, I basically always have a book with me (at least one.) Read More..

A Reflection on Zadie Smith, 15 Years in the Making

[Nota Bene: What I have attempted below is most likely better left to academics and others better suited to pontificate upon Zadie Smith and White Teeth, her critically-acclaimed debut novel, but oh well, here goes…]

In celebration of Zadie Smith’s December 1st visit to Lawrence—thanks to our lovely friends at KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities—I was asked to write a piece about Zadie Smith.

Why me, you may ask? Fantastic question. Anyone who has mentioned Zadie Smith within earshot of me will most likely have been told (by me!) a well-worn, old story of writing a grad school paper on White Teeth and then accosting Ms. Smith with said paper at an author event in Kansas City. Read More..