Non-fiction

Oct 21, 2021

In his brilliant study on the stages of the Earths' history, Peter Brannen in his book, The Ends of the World, brings the five ancient worlds, lost to the five mass extinctions, to life. Including different topics, such as paleontology, geology, climate change, and ecology, Brannen connects these scientific topics through the use of stories, theories, facts, and of course, humor. The author's casual writing style and sense of humor differentiate his book from other books formatted as old-school science textbooks. Most people prefer to read fiction stories; however, I highly recommend reading

Oct 21, 2021

You Can’t Say That by Leonard S Marcus is an informative and fascinating collection of interviews by award-winning children and teen authors. These authors share their thoughts and experiences regarding censorship and free expression in eye-opening, sensitive, and sometimes comedic ways, all in an effort to explain why censorship is such an important issue in our modern world. I found the book thoroughly entertaining and would recommend it for older kids, teens, and adults.

Oct 21, 2021

Laura Bufano Edge’s Apollo 13 A Successful Failure is an informative nonfiction book about the Apollo 13 disaster. NASA had already been sending astronauts into space for a while, but wanted to do more research on the moon. The Apollo13 launch crew wanted to land on the moon to do said research. Problems with the oxygen tanks created an explosion, causing the crew to lose a lot of their air, water, fuel, and other supplies. The team now had to focus solely on surviving and getting home. They had to use the moon’s gravity to fling them back towards Earth. After four days, they landed in the

Oct 21, 2021

Into Thin Air is an exciting nonfiction recount of the 1996 Mt. Everest Disaster. Author and protagonist Jon Krakauer is a mountain climber and magazine writer. Krakauer wants to write an article about the commercialization of Mt. Everest, and he joins an expedition team that wants to make it to Everest’s summit. The team is faced with the expected problems of being at high altitudes, such as cold weather and a lack of oxygen. But the biggest challenges come from the mental strain put on Krakauer by the deaths of his teammates. He makes it to the summit; some of the other members of his team

Book cover of Urban Quilting

Urban Quilting

By Wendy Chow
4
Rated by Elizabeth F
Oct 11, 2021

Appropriate for beginning sewists looking to try quilting, Urban Quilting is a straightforward guide to creating modern quilts for the home.  The first section of the book covers basic techniques like fabric selection, ironing, rotary cutting, seam allowances, quilt construction, and binding.  The second section describes how to make the individual quilts. Each quilt can be made in three sizes and quilts are rated by difficulty from beginner to advanced beginner.  The patterns are modern, featuring bright solids and bold geometric shapes. Recommended.

Oct 7, 2021

An excellent collection of ten workshops and tutorials from popular modern quilters (including Denyse Schmidt, Cheryl Arkison, Heather Jones, and Angela Walters) on a variety of topics. Several workshops explore color, modern quilting methods for using solids and prints, working with circles, and large scale designs. Other workshops focus on specific techniques like paper piecing and improvisation patchwork. The last workshop is a study of modern quilts that shows quilts from many of the influential modern quilters.


All of the workshops are well written and thoroughly illustrated.  Each

The Literature Book by DK Publishing

Referential Treatment

By James Canton (Editor)
5
Rated by Adam H
Sep 9, 2021

Although admitting this may qualify me as a one-hundred percent board-certified nerd (dweeb, Poindexter, etc.), I’ve loved reference books for as long as I can remember. And they’ve come a long way since three clever Scots dreamed up the first Encyclopædia Brittanica in Edinburgh in 1768. Over the years they’ve become much more accessible, engaging, and, dare I say, delightful, in large part thanks to a company called Dorling Kindersley Limited, better known as DK Publishing. 


I first became aware of DK Publishing through their expansive Eyewitness series. As a grade school student in the

Sep 3, 2021

A fascinating and quietly powerful book.


I can't remember for sure, but I believe this was recommended to me by a high school teacher even though the four children at its center are first graders; its wisdom is that widely applicable. I even kept mentally applying its situations to my workplace manager-employee relationships. It's something I recommend for all educators, parents, and managers--to anyone with power over others.


Troublemakers struck me with particular relevance and immediacy because my two children are currently in kindergarten and first grade and have been known to cause

Sep 1, 2021

When you start tuning in to winter, you realise that we live through a thousand winters in our lives--some big, some small.


Sometimes you find yourself reading a book so full of interesting, exciting ideas that the author has found a way to express so clearly and exquisitely that they are both familiar and revelatory, that the book continuously sparks moments of resonant discovery so that you find yourself stopping to have your own related ideas, pondering your own life in light of the new perspectives just gained from the reading, marking passages to revisit, taking notes to develop later

Aug 23, 2021

Poet Gay decided he would adopt a practice for a year of paying attention to what delighted him and writing a daily "essayette" recording his related thoughts. This is his compilation of those journal entries. He writes in the prologue how the habit helped him develop a kind of "delight radar," as he became more aware of the delightful aspects of life at all times and happier for it, and his joy is apparent on every page.


Gay writes with an intentionally free-flowing, rambling style (see the excerpt below). It captures the personality and spontaneity of his process, and readers come to know

Aug 9, 2021

One of the greatest scientific discoveries has been made - on the brink of a war. It’s 1938, and chemist Otto Hahn has discovered that neutrons, at a high enough speed, can cause uranium atoms to split apart, releasing a huge amount of energy. The idea of an atomic bomb slowly falls into place and spreads like lightning, as Germany begins its campaign across Europe. As Germany begins collecting uranium, the rest of the world needs to catch up and create their own atomic bombs. Renowned scientists coalesce in Los Alamos, researching the atomic bomb, even with spies in their midst. Meanwhile

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