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..
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..
It’s easy to picture the scene we’ve been hearing so much about over the past few weeks: A horde of shiftless young men, drunken and menacing, elaborately unkempt and reeking of smoke and grime, descends on Lawrence in the August heat. No, it’s not the Kaw Valley Kickball League playoffs. I speak, of course, of Quantrill’s Raiders. And if you’ve been taking in the solemn ceremonies, groundbreaking Twitter re-enactments, and typical tasteless Missouri pouting that has caught the eye of commentators on the national stage, then you may be in the mood to check out some cinematic treatments of the historical events commemorated this week. Read More..
With more than a month to devote to my reading (I missed last month’s Reading the Classics deadline due to my not paying attention to said deadline), I was able to take on an extended reading project. Luckily, I had already jumped in to a project, a project that I was a bit skeptical of at first, the mystery genre. And of course if a guy trying to read classics decides on a mystery…well, there are certain authors that spring to mind. Agatha Christie was an obvious frontrunner, followed by several other huge names in mystery. However, my mind was made up with the help of LPL’s faithful Acquisitions Volunteer, Michelle. She is a pretty devout fan of Sherlock Holmes…mostly, I think, because of the current BBC TV series Sherlock. I have yet to see Sherlock…I have my hold on Season One of the series (you’d think the guy that orders the stuff for the collection would be able to get his holds placed a bit sooner). And since I couldn’t get my hands on the DVD set, I decided to do it the old fashioned way. I’d read some Sherlock Holmes stuff! And then, I decided to cheat and went straight to the audio version of A Study in Scarlet from the library’s handy audiobook partner, One Click Digital. It was a quick read listen and I enjoyed it so much that I was ready for some more Holmes stories. Luckily the library has plenty of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest character! I made it through several Holmes stories, some in their printed form, and others in their audiobook format. I did a few of the big ones…The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four. And I grabbed a couple volumes of the library’s Holmes collections. I haven’t yet made it through all three volumes, but I’m enraptured enough to keep going! In fact, I said to my wife last night, “I think what I like about the Sherlock Holmes stories is trying to solve the mystery before Holmes does!” Well, she duly informed me that that’s the reason ALL mystery fans read mysteries. And so with my pride only slightly hurt (I say, only slightly because I’m proud to report that I have beat Holmes to a closed case on more than one occasion) I picked up my volume of Sherlock Holmes stories and got back to deducting, deducing, solving crimes!
-Dan Winsky, Acquisitions
At times when my 2 ½ year old son gets in a DVD rut, I “accidentally” pop something totally random into the player. More often than not, this doesn’t fly, and we’re doomed to a 34th viewing of Goofy’s Coconutty Monkey, or yet another Team Umizoomi quest. However, I recently had good luck with an old standby from my own grade school 16mm days, a 28-minute film from 1966 entitled Paddle-to-the-Sea, which was sufficiently different from anything my son had ever seen in the Day-Glo CGI wonderland of today’s children’s television that it held him spellbound almost from start to finish. Paddle-to-the-Sea, based on a Caldecott honored book of the same title by Holling Clancy Holling, tells the story of a miniature birchbark canoe and rider carved by an Indian boy living in a wilderness cabin north of Lake Superior. The boy carves the words “Please put me back in water—I am Paddle-to-the-Sea” on the bottom of the canoe, and releases it to flow down the river from his home into Lake Superior and beyond. Read More..
As a concerned citizen, you try to do your part. You’ve switched every light bulb in your house to those swirly compact fluorescents, you only buy produce grown within spitting distance of your kitchen table, and the closest thing to T.V. you watch is the fuel economy monitor in your Prius. And for all those best efforts, you might just be making the environment worse. Thanks. Read More..
I love Frida Kahlo. I love the brutality and the deeply personal nature of her paintings, the abandon with which she lived her life, her fierce devotion to her country and her lovers. I am intrigued by the mysteries and the ambiguities of her life. The way my coworker Kelli swoons over Abe Lincoln, growing giddy at the thought of holding a lock of Lincoln’s hair…that’s the way I feel about Frida Kahlo. Read More..