Non-fiction

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 admin
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 admin
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

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

Oct 2, 2019

Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams isn’t going to help you interpret your dreams quickly, but it will help you interpret them correctly. Eugene Gendlin’s technique is simple. You’ve got to feel something rather than think it. And while Gendlin does recommend a popular technique – working with others to free associate meanings so as to stumble upon one that resonates—he’s clear about the limits of this technique. The intellect is a slow tool, and language can’t reliably access dream meaning. Our bodies are the true knowers, Gendlin says. Offering a number of techniques to help us recognize

Sep 10, 2019

How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum is a scary, eye-opening, informative book that outlines the world’s use of plastics (which is in almost everything - including our clothing), the impact plastics are having on the environment, and suggestions to reduce the amount of plastic we use each day. Will McCallum is at the heart of the anti-plastics movement for the past three years and is Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK. In his book, the author mostly focuses on single-use plastics which mainly include items like plastic bags, straws

May 23, 2019

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems." While I am emotionally in full agreement with Rainer Maria Rilke's poetic words on the season, when it comes to plunging my hands into the dirt to see what wonderful partnership I can form with Nature and her bounty--it is what I don't know that comes rushing to mind, muddling my enthusiasm in the confusion of what to do next. Whether you're interested in beautifying your landscape, planting edibles to munch on, or figuring out what to do with what you grow, books abound. But which ones offer easy-to-absorb advice that quickly get you back outside or whipping up magic in the kitchen?

May 20, 2019

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you jumped into a black hole? Or maybe you're curious about what would happen if you traveled to another planet, like Jupiter or Venus? Could this book kill you while you're reading it and, if so, how? And Then You're Dead examines these and dozens of other scenarios to offer a scientific explanation for how you would meet your demise in these unlikely and unlucky ways.


Yes, on the surface this book sounds depressing. The authors bring a dry sense of humor to each scenario that effectively balances out the cringe effect of rather gory descriptions

The Electric War

5
Rated by Julia B.
May 16, 2019

In The Electric War, readers dive into the initial application of electricity in late 19th century America and the substantial struggle that sprung from it. A decade-long conflict is waged on the effectiveness, danger, and control of direct and alternating current. Great minds such as George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison utilize their knowledge and prowess of electricity to compete in the race of lighting the world. 


The most compelling aspect of The Electric War is the focus on the false portrayal of alternating current by Thomas Edison and the extent that these great minds

We Are Here To Stay

4
Rated by Julia B.
May 9, 2019

This book encompasses the stories of multiple teens who made the journey to America through hardships and struggles in order to live a better life for themselves and their families. The book is written in first person and through short stories that allow the reader to get to know the subjects of the story and from the mouths of the immigrants themselves, without influencing the reader to think a certain way about the issue. I think that the cover was really powerful because It draws the attention directly to the title, which is ultimately the message of the book. I would say that it is also

May 7, 2019

I am a mother. A working mother. A working mother who somehow scored the right blend of help, stubbornness, and luck to successfully breastfeed. As a working, breastfeeding mother I’ve spent a lot of time in Mother’s Rooms (which thankfully are becoming more prevalent) and as a working, breastfeeding, *librarian* mother, I’ve pondered the books I think should come standard with all Mother’s Rooms. The following is a list I am titling “My ideal Mother’s Room bookshelf.”


 


Unbuttoned: Women Open Up About the Pleasures, Pains, and Politics of Breastfeeding


Unbuttoned is a beautiful

Apr 5, 2019

"Never underestimate the power of nerds."  Self proclaimed nerd Mallory O'Meara pours her heart and three years of her life into The Lady From The Black Lagoon,  a biography to uncover the lost legacy of Milicent Patrick.  


Sadly, but not surprisingly, I was unfamiliar with Milicent Patrick and her work.  I knew nothing of her time at Disney as an animator or her work at Universal Studios making monsters come to life for the big screen.  In reading this book I was struck by how hard it must have been to work in a male dominated field in which no matter how talented you are most of your male

Feb 28, 2019

Eleanor Roosevelt served as her husband’s eyes and ears throughout his twelve years in office; she knew every corner of the United States from personal visits and meetings with locals without a cocoon of Secret Service protection. Starting in 1941, the very hands-on First Lady solved the personal problems of worried Americans while she traversed the continent. Ladies’ Home Journal included her first of several advice columns, entitled “If You Ask Me,” which shares both its name and content with this book. Collected from over twenty years of columns, Ms. Roosevelt’s writing exudes purpose

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

By Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto, Nicholas Ma
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Jan 15, 2019

As a child of the early '90s, I grew up with classic PBS children's programming - programming that may look very different from the current PBS Kids programs that are currently airing.  One of my go-to, can't miss programs was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  He was my preschool teacher before I attended school and he was my guidance counselor before I knew such a title existed.  While he didn't devote time to ABCs and 123s (that was more Sesame Street's specialty), he introduced the concepts of feelings, emotion, and self-worth, all while showcasing places, people, and events from all around the

Dec 31, 2018

Working in a public library has, by and large, broken me of the habit of just meandering through the stacks, open to whatever strikes my fancy. This is unfortunate. Fortunately, though, working in a library also frequently involves my being in those stacks, whether it's making a beeline for a book a patron wants, pulling a book to fulfill a hold, or seeking out books to fill a gap in a display. So I still get those moments of serendipity, even if I'm not roaming the stacks looking for my own next read.
It was one such occasion that led me to the serendipitous find of Notes from a Public