Non-fiction

Jun 18, 2021

In this true story, a white man, journalist John Howard Griffin, decides to become a Negro to see how it feels like. At the beginning of the book, he meets with his friend and tells him his idea. Regardless of what others thought, John goes to New Orleans and consults with doctors. He changes his skin color to see how one would treat a negro. However, he learns that some still treat black men without equality. John decides to change that.


I think this book starts very slowly, but I grew interested as I read. It teaches people equality, and I find this book pretty good. I do not usually read

Jun 7, 2021

In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates discusses how at this point, climate change is unavoidable; too much time was not used to solve the climate change crisis, so wildfires, rising sea levels, increased storms for some and droughts for others are inevitable now and in the future.  However, the worst consequences of climate change are avoidable, just so long as every country can achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.  Although the world is far from net-zero emissions, Gates mentions the current technologies governments and researchers can use to significantly reduce greenhouse gas

Cover of Star Trek Cross-Stitch by John Lohman

Star Trek: Cross-Stitch

By John Lohman
4
Rated by Charles H
May 19, 2021

Cross-stitching: the final frontier. These are the exploits of the librarian Charles. His three-week mission: to explore strange new books. To seek out new crafts and new materials. To boldly make where no man has made before!


I am a maker. I love exploring new ways to express my creativity through the things I create. I am often at my happiest when I am trying a new craft or project, anticipating the learning and challenges ahead of me.


I am also a Star Trek fan. My dad introduced me to the series through Star Trek: Voyager, and I enjoy the show’s focus on using science and logic to

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook

Banned Book Club

By Kim Hyun Sook
4
Rated by Josh N.
Apr 28, 2021

About halfway through reading this biographical graphic novel, it struck me just how little I knew about the history of the Republic of Korea. I'm not a fan of not knowing things. This led me on a dive into at least a surface reading on South Korea’s political and cultural history, fascinating and sometimes turbulent. Imagine living in a country where the leader of the nation wages a war on intellectual thought, educational inquiry, and popular culture; where citizens are beaten and gassed by the police for protesting peacefully; where corrupt politicians are only arrested and imprisoned after

Apr 6, 2021

This is unlike any other book I've read on racism, and it's a good, refreshing thing.
Menakem is a therapist, and his perspective starts with the body. He sees the trauma induced by racism as a physical thing and posits that we need to address as such. Specifically, in the vagus nerve, "which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers."*

Feb 24, 2021

Just Mercy is a first-person account of Bryan Stevenson, a black lawyer, who helps prisoners that did not receive fair trials as part of a non-profit organization. Stevenson writes about various clients that he has worked for over the years and how the justice system has failed them.


Living in Johnson County, racism and prejudice can seem like a distant thing. Just Mercy is so powerful because it uses stats and facts to show just how prevalent it really is. This book is one of my favorites because it opened my eyes to the failings of our justice system. These tragedies of cases were

Feb 10, 2021

The Republican War on Science​ is a nonfiction novel detailing the falsification of scientific evidence by the Republican Party written by Washington Post reporter Chris Mooney. This book relays several examples of Republicans falsifying, hiding, or cherry-picking scientific information to promote their own purposes, most of which come from the Bush administration. As expected, this book is clearly biased, but that didn’t make the information any less intriguing. Some topics mentioned are stem-cell research, sex education, reproductive rights, and climate change.


However much I enjoyed

Jan 14, 2021

The Battle for Room 314 by Ed Boland, published in 2016, tells the compelling story of his year teaching in an inner-city high school in New York City. As a young man, Boland worked for Project Advance, a non-profit working to place low-income, inner-city students in elite boarding schools and eventually Ivy League universities; however, he begins to feel unfulfilled and wants to widen his impact to help more deserving students. Therefore, he goes back to school to get his teaching degree and ends up getting hired in an inner-city high school –this story follows the trials and tribulations of

Jan 5, 2021

A must-read for any history fans, Killing the SS by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard shows the hunt to find the worst war criminals in the world and the race against time to bring them to justice. Dugard and O’Reilly bring you back to the end of WWII, following the stories of multiple “Nazi Hunters” who devoted their lives to catching these immoral individuals.


The Nazis, after losing the war, go into hiding with the knowledge that they will be put to death if they are caught. The book follows the stories of 4 of the most influential Nazis, who have each been directly involved in the deaths

Nov 5, 2020

John Urschel played professional football and is completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University in Mathematics. This memoir reveals John’s challenges of living with divorced parents, trying to become a math major and earning a Ph.D., and making it to the National Football League. Mr. Urschel’s biography is heart-warming and shows the ups and downs of his journey of making it to the NFL and earning a Ph.D. Urschel was interested in math at a very young age and loved solving math problems. It wasn’t until later in middle school that Urschel became interested in football. The story is told in

Oct 26, 2020

Free Lunch is an autobiography by Rex Ogle, following him through the 6th grade being a kid from an under-privileged, abuse home in a wealthy school district. He's living with his half baby brother, his stepdad, and his mother. His mom puts him on the free lunch program at school and he's confused, but above all, embarrassed. While he's facing embarrassment and judgement from his classmates, he's facing abuse from his mom and stepdad and trying to protect his brother rand help his family. 


I really loved this book; it was not only entertaining by very eye-opening to the battles so many

Sep 23, 2020

“When did you realize poetry could be your companion? Your release?” 


In this episode of the Johnson County Library podcast Did You Hear, Dr. Randall Horton and Anishinaabekwe poet Louise K. Waakaa’igan discuss poetry both as a lifeline and as a discipline.  It’s a discussion between two people who share a gift for and love of poetry; but it’s also a discussion between two people who share a common language that only those who have been “inside” can fully understand.  


An unrelenting advocate for personal voice and perfect line breaks, Dr. Horton is equally passionate about eradicating

Book Cover of The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

The Biggest Bluff

By Maria Konnikova
5
Rated by Jack V.
Aug 11, 2020

Maria Konnikova's family was going through a rough patch. Her grandmother passed away, her mother lost her job, and Konnikova herself was diagnosed with an unknown immune disorder that left her in constant pain. Chance had reared its ugly head, in a way that couldn't be mitigated by professional success or personal resolve. What does that say about individual agency? Can any of us actually take our fate into our own hands?


The Biggest Bluff is Konnikova's attempt to come to grips with this dilemma. The book chronicles her project: one year devoted entirely to the study of poker. It's not a

Jul 8, 2020

I say "graphic books" because not all are novels, and the ones I am most often drawn to are the graphic nonfiction--bios, memoirs, history lessons. I am not an expert on graphic books; I do not have boxes of comic collections accumulated since childhood (though I do fondly remember reading some of my older brother's X-Men comics as a kid--intrigued by smart, strong females like Storm, Jubilee, Rogue); but perhaps because I approach graphic books from a more literary view, I can translate their value to those who might otherwise relegate "comics" to their not-to-be-read shelf.

Jul 2, 2020

British aristocracy has an interesting hold on many people around the world, the closer to the Royal Family and the more intense this interest and scrutiny becomes. 


Lady Glenconner served as a maid of honor at the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, and was Extra Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, from 1971 until the Princess died in 2002.


Life among the titled is not all high teas and hunting parties; as this book will show, titles and privilege do not always guarantee a happy life, although more often than not, it is an interesting

Atomic Habits

By James Clear
4
Rated by Josh N.
May 21, 2020

There are a lot of things I start but never finish. I have a lot of good intentions that never really get going. On the flip side, I have some bad habits I have a difficult time breaking myself of. It's easy to feel discouraged and lazy when I can't get myself to follow through and stick with something or to quit something that hinders your life.


And then along comes James Clear to make keeping and losing habits more understandable and more attainable. Atomic Habits grew from posts on his blog and having them all in one book is easier to digest and refer back to than jumping around his blog

Apr 29, 2020

I'm going to start off with a confession: I have absolutely no talent as a baker or cook of any kind. At best I can boil water and at worst... well. Let's just say I have a bad habit of leaving out key ingredients and forgetting that I left food in the oven until the smoke alarm goes off. My completely inedible, rock-hard Rice Krispie treats are still something of a legend among my family.


One of my New Year's resolutions, however, is to get more comfortable in the kitchen. So this week I decided to try something that terrifies me (and my entire family) - baking my very first pie. When I

Becoming

By Michelle Obama
5
Rated by Becky C.
Apr 29, 2020

Friends, I’m so excited! Michelle Obama’s documentary, based on the memoir Becoming, is coming soon to Netflix. Read more:


Netflix & Higher Ground Productions Announce Original Documentary "Becoming"


From the post, my emphasis in bold:


A NOTE FROM MICHELLE OBAMA:


I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir…


…Even as we can no longer safely gather or feed off the energy of groups, even as many of us are

Apr 17, 2020

Socrates famously worried that the development of writing would atrophy the ability to store and remember information, that dependence on external memory would negatively change the brain. And he was right, reading and writing have changed the way human brains work--though whether for better or worse is still up for debate. Similarly, Nicholas G. Carr famously asked Is Google Making Us Stupid? in an article in The Atlantic a dozen years ago. He examined how the act of reading is changing in a digital age and worried it is negatively impacting the way our brains process information. Maryanne

Apr 16, 2020

Psst! Hey, parents! I know you’re at home right now. I know your kids are out of school. I know this because I’m at home right now, and my kid is out of school. I know this because WE’RE ALL #ATHOMETOGETHER RIGHT NOW.  


Ahem. Sorry for shouting. These are stressful times.


If it’s at all possible, I want you to find a private spot in your house—please stop laughing—away from your kids, so you can fully concentrate on a little parenting secret I’d like to share with you.


Who am I, you ask? Here are my qualifications:


I am a professional storytime leader at the Johnson County Library

Apr 6, 2020

From Ötzi the Ice Age hunter-gatherer to billion-dollar pharmaceutical research and development labs people have been looking for substances to ease pain, cure disease and prolong a healthy life.


In The Drug Hunters we follow along the circuitous paths drugs can take on their way to the pharmacy shelf. One antifungal drug that was researched as a cure for athlete’s foot is now used in anti-rejection therapies. The birth control pill started with Swiss dairy farmers' efforts to keep their cows producing milk. We also learn how the earliest synthetic dye companies transformed into modern-day

Mar 6, 2020

Check out the favorite reads and listens of 2019 from the MakerSpace squad.


BooksEvery Tool's A Hammer
by Adam Savage
"Adam Savage narrates the audiobook and is a good storyteller. I had no idea what his backstory as a maker was pre-Mythbusters, so hearing that was super interesting. The book is Insightful and it was surprisingly gratifying to hear someone else's journey grappling with the ever-changing world of materials, machines, and processes." - Nick WHow to Make Hand-drawn Maps
by Cann, Helen
"How to make hand-drawn maps – As a traveler and immigrant, maps mean a lot to me: a way

Relish

By Lucy Knisley
4
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Feb 21, 2020

I am super late to the Lucy Knisley party and I'm a little perturbed with myself. I cannot believe I waited this long to read Relish. It has a lot of things I love about a good book: 


- memoir   
- lotsa foodie talk 
- incredible illustrations 
- stories about malicious birds.  


I was hooked by page 8 when Knisley talks about having poached salmon in cream for her baptism day. 


Other favorite moments: 
* The hate writing on the wall of one of her childhood homes: "The former residents had split in a nasty divorce, prompting the furious wife to use olive oil to write 'Fred

Dec 16, 2019

You’ve heard of Dungeons and Dragons.  Right?
It’s been around for 45 year and been in everything from Simpsons to Stranger things. 
What is it? 
It’s a pen and paper Roleplaying game.  A set of rules to tell a shared story with friends and family with a backdrop of classic sword and sorcery in the vein of The Lord of the Rings.


 


Pretty simple right?  Well that’s what Tales from the Loop is.  A very rules-simple pen and paper Roleplaying Game!  Only it ditches the old tropes of Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, and Goblins for a more contemporary setting.


 


You and your friends play

Dark Money

By Kimberly Reed
4
Rated by Dylan R
Dec 9, 2019

We've all seen attack ads during campaign season; the efforts to deride one candidate's political record while propping up the opposition. It's likely safe to say we've become so numb to their existence, we don't always stop to consider the source behind these messages, we viewers just assuming Candidate A has paid for & approved their ad against Candidate B.


But what are we to make of disclaimers such as this?


     "Paid for by ________Not authorized by any candidate..."


This is the question at the heart of Dark Money, which seeks to shine a light on recent political intrigue in

Orange is the New Black

By Piper Kerman
5
Rated by Megan K.
Dec 6, 2019

Many of you may be familiar with Piper Kerman’s story but I’ll give you a quick summary: in 1993, 24 year old Piper smuggled money for her then-girlfriend who was involved in an international drug ring. Following the money smuggling incident, she cut off all ties to the people involved and got started on a new life. However, her past caught up to her and Piper was indicted for her involvement in 1998. Six years later, in 2004, she was sent to Danbury, a minimum-security facility to serve 15 months. Piper ended up serving 13 months, and detailed her experience in this book.


It is important

Three Women

By Lisa Taddeo
4
Rated by Lisa A.
Nov 4, 2019

I have feelings about this book. It’s graphic. Sometimes maybe too much so, though it bothers me I would say that. The subject is clear: female desire. But in truth, there’s nothing clear about desire. We want what we want—or don’t—for reasons we sometimes don’t know, for reasons that stem from harmful situations or events. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s complicated—desire is complicated, sex is complicated, and the implications of sex and how sex affects us throughout our lives is complicated.


Three Women follows three women for a span of eight years. Each woman’s story is different

Hook: A Memoir

By Randall Horton
5
Rated by Lisa A.
Oct 18, 2019

“We script our lives on reaction rather than action, meaning daily life is always in response to, or a reply to, a command or demand. The world uses us in that way...The world does this--holds us down.”― Randall Horton, Hook: A Memoir


Randall Horton and I have lived wildly different lives. His memoir, Hook, tells part of his story: as an undergrad at Howard University, as an addict, as a cocaine smuggler, as a prisoner, as a reader, as a poet, as an author, as an educator, as a mentor, as a friend. Yes, all of this is part of his story—and, like his story, the book itself is unique. It’s

Waking Up

By Sam Harris
4
Rated by Michelle H.
Oct 16, 2019

Waking Up is a firsthand account of a scientist using his own mind to respond to the question, "what is the nature of awareness?"  It’s great reading, has lots of level headed advice, and looks squarely at a question with a bias against it so strong there isn’t another book out there like it. The subject of consciousness is usually handled in one of two ways, either with no use of the intellect or with a skepticism so strong exploration into the topic never even occurs. What we learn from Sam Harris is that we can ask this question as a skeptic while simultaneously opening to the ways we are

Oct 9, 2019

“Every ten years or so, I either go back to therapy or I write a book in order to tell myself again, in a new way, my life story. This current version is death heavy, feminism heavy, whale heavy, but also multilayered, even multigenerational. I’m not only fifty-six but also seven, twelve, twenty-seven, thirty-four, and forty-eight. My story is like a choral piece with many different parts. In fact there are so many separate but connected narratives that I sometimes feel a temporal vertigo—I am all ages and no age at all.”--Darcey Steinke, Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of