Book Club Image

Book Club Tips & Tricks

Star Rating

Rated by Karyn H
Jun 25, 2024

Reading and discussing books is one of life’s simple pleasures.  Librarians facilitate book discussions at several Johnson County Library branch locations.  I’m one of the lucky librarians creating safe spaces for patrons to find intellectual fellowship and express their love of literature.  Do you dream of hosting your own book club but do not know how to get started?  As a veteran book discussion facilitator, I’m here to offer some tips and tricks to help you build your own successful book club.  I’ll cover how to select books for discussion, adult book club kits, how to find book discussion

Recording setup of microphone with pop filter

Sound Production Kit

By JCL Maker Kits
Star Rating

Rated by Charles H
Dec 1, 2021

There is a concept in the world of libraries called the “Library of Things.” This growing movement recognizes that library can provide more than the traditional book and media resources, and some libraries now have collections of seeds, tools, board games, or cake pans. Within the Johnson County/Olathe Public Library system, one form this movement has taken is in the kits curated by the Makerspace team. These kits contain technology that you and I can check out, take home, and try something new. The newest offering in the kits line is the Sound Production Kit, and I checked one out to see how

Book cover

The Book of Delights

By Ross Gay
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
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

Cover of the book My Second Work by Bridget Lowe.

My Second Work by Bridget Lowe

By Bridget Lowe
Star Rating

Rated by Lisa A.
Apr 7, 2021

“Poetry is a matter of life, not just of language.” Lucille Clifton 

This quote—a favorite, I freely admit—echoed in my mind as I read and re-read Bridget Lowe’s second collection, My Second Work. I understand Clifton’s quote to mean that poetry can be esoteric—a symphony of sounds that lull us into a state in which we choose to not question the meaning of it all simply because it sounds so good in the air. Let’s be clear: I love poetry that sings to me and, sometimes, I do not care “what it means” or if it means anything to me, personally, because the language of it lets me imagine/lets me

{#289-128}: Poems by Randall Horton

Eradicating the Language of Recriminalization with Dr. Randall Horton

By Randall Horton
Star Rating

Rated by Lisa A.
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 the

A Year of Reading Harder: Chapter Two

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Dec 13, 2019

As part of my 2019 reading goals, I’m working my way through the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. So far, so good (read part one here). My progress is slow, but I’m back with part two of my reading challenge round-up.

In the midst of a teen reading kick at the time, I decided to find a teen book that would fulfill a task. Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae fit the bill nicely for task #1: an epistolary novel or collection of letters. The space opera story tells the tale of teens Kady and Ezra, whose home planet is destroyed by a menacing megacorporation. They escape onto two different

An Homage to Isaac Asimov

Star Rating

Rated by Diane H.
Jun 27, 2019

When I was a kid I wanted to be a robot psychologist when I grew up. I knew that Isaac Asimov’s robot stories were fiction, but I firmly believed that robots would one day be a part of our daily lives. It didn’t seem impossible that I could be like Dr. Susan Calvin, the robopsychologist featured in I, Robot, Asimov’s book of short stories.

The fact that I’m now grown up with no robots in sight, has not lessened my enthusiasm for the world Asimov created, from the Caves of Steel to Foundation, The Robots of Dawn to Foundation and Earth. I credit Asimov for beginning my lifelong fascination

Your Ticket to Broadway (Without Leaving Home)!

By Various
Star Rating

Rated by Heather McCartin
Jun 5, 2019

If you think Broadway is only accessible in New York City or on tour think again.  Several classic and contemporary shows are often revived and filmed for audiences to see (either as live TV specials or as limited film releases).  Here you can meet a young boy who never wanted to grow up (Peter Pan) or see how to stand up for injustice one move at a time (Hairspray).  Featuring several big names of stage and screen (John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris) these stories are preserved for a lifetime with the power of DVD, introducing a brand new world of audiences to

A Year of Reading Harder: Chapter One

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 15, 2019

Every January, new reading challenges float around the bookish realm of the internet. No matter what your reading time is like or what you want to achieve in a year of reading, there's probably a reading challenge out there for you. For the past few years, I've been interested in the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which encourages readers to "break out of your reading bubble and expand your worldview through books. With new genres, new authors, and new points of view, the challenge will (hopefully) help you discover amazing books you wouldn’t have otherwise picked up." Some of the tasks in

Breaking Free: Generational Stereotypes

Star Rating

Rated by Diane H.
Apr 12, 2019

This spring, the Johnson County Library has been exploring the theme Breaking Free. While the library programs have been focusing primarily on food insecurity, this theme can be applied to many areas of life, such as generational stereotypes.

From workplace complaints to praise, from ageism to closing the generation gap, from generations colliding to breaking through stereotypes, opinions abound regarding the different generations. Quite a few articles have been written about the different generations, how they interact, and how to work and live with them. You can also find a number of books

Happy Galentine's Day!

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 12, 2019

It’s a little hard to miss all the pink and red hearts present in every retail space right now, the ads for sparkly jewelry, and displays of roses and flowers, but let’s take a few minutes to honor another February holiday: Galentine’s Day, which falls on the 13th of the month.

For those unacquainted with the wonderful show Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is a holiday invented by star Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, a dedicated public servant and unabashed supporter of all her friends. As she describes it, “Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our

Reading Soundtracks

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Dec 19, 2018

Do you ever want to match the tone of a novel to music? I do! Here's some of my favorite music and author combinations matched up for your listening and reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Radiohead and George Orwell 

Stylistically unique, dystopian, paranoid, deep, fascinating, groundbreaking in sound and genre, political, and futuristic are hallmarks of both Radiohead and George Orwell. The reflection of culture makes these works timeless. These British legends pair perfectly together.

Radiohead, Kid A

George Orwell, Animal Farm


The Beatles and Harry Potter 

As you're experiencing both The

Reading Alone Together: The Gardner Silent Book Group

Star Rating

Rated by Matt C.
Sep 28, 2018

Groundhouse Coffee Shop in Gardner Kansas is hushed but lively on a Monday night.  The air is rich with the smell of fresh ground coffee.  The rolling murmur of voices from the various tables is punctuated by the occasional hiss from the machine behind the coffee bar.  At the very back table, by the fireplace, we sit together silently reading, all seven of us.  We are each reading our own book, wrapped in the splendor of our own private world, but we are together.  As 7:30 rolls nearer, we stretch and put our bookmarks in our books.  I ask one of the participants about the mystery she’s


By Analicia Sotelo

Rated by Emma F.
Jul 15, 2018

"We're all performing our bruises"

It’s eighty-two degrees and I sit on sun drenched concrete, hot pink book in hand, pebble- small crimson strawberries staining my left hand and right knee. Suddenly, a fluttery brown butterfly wiggles between my thigh and the ground, crouching against my skin. I shriek- being the put together young woman i am- and then quiet, carefully shifting to stare at this beautiful thing that has chosen me to rest against. It flutters upwards too quickly, shooting straight into my neck where its wings rustle kisses much too softly against the most intimate sections of

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS4 or XboxOne)

By 505 Games

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 9, 2017

Did you like Ico?  How about JourneyRobot Dreams?  Do you like wordless stories that pack an emotional punch?  How about creative use of game controls?

Have I got a game for you.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (available on both PS4 and XBox 360) is exactly that.  It’s the story of two brothers going on an epic journey in order to save their sick father by travelling to a distant land to retrieve the water of life.  Challenges range from getting through the village with a mischievous child closing gates in your path to wending your way through a landscape devastated by a battle between

The Hunt

By Vinterberg, Thomas
Star Rating

Rated by Megan C.
Apr 16, 2015

What are the limits of friendship? The Hunt explores this question when a misinterpretation of facts unleashes a chain of consequences in a small town in Denmark. Lucas, a newly divorced father and kindergarten teacher, is tested to the limits of his emotional endurance as he slowly becomes an object of suspicion and mistrust among his coworkers, the townspeople, and even his closest friends. The plot builds to a level of exquisitely wrought tension that keeps you holding out for some kind of relief as Lucas reaches his edge.

This film has many strengths but what stood out most for me was


By Mikal Cronin
Star Rating

Rated by Bryan V.
Jun 10, 2014

I don’t know much about Mikal Cronin. He has two albums out under his name, MCII and a self-titled debut that only hinted at the accomplishments found on here. He is obviously an acolyte of the kind of very melodic power pop music that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Does he reveal too much about himself in his music? Is it that he’d rather let his songs speak for themselves than have to provide a press-ready narrative? Who knows? What I know for sure is that MCII is a terrific set of songs that shows Cronin to be the kind of pop craftsman who doesn’t want the craft to get in the way of the

Persona 4: Arena


Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 11, 2014

If you loved Persona 4 for its characters, then you might want to give this a try. 

If you loved it for its gameplay, then don't bother. 

If you have no clue what the Persona games are but you're a fan of fighting games, this might be okay if you don't mind not understanding what's happening.

If you loved Persona 3 and just want to see Mitsuru in leather and Akihiko shirtless, then by all means play this game.  (Or look up the artwork online.)

The nameless, voiceless main character of Persona 4 has been assigned both, and Yu Narukami is back for a visit to Inaba a couple of months after he

Every Day

By Cinematic Orchestra
Star Rating

Rated by Scott S.
Jan 17, 2014

One part jazz, one part hip-hop, one part space jam, one part funk of the earth, Cinematic Orchestra’s Every Day is (at the very serious and dangerous risk of hyperbole and cliché) truly an album that defies convention and classification. For musicians, there are moments sublime and surreal harkening back to the funk/jazz cocktails of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter featuring the superb vocals of Fontella Bass (particularly on the opening track, “All That You Give”). Hip-hop fans will discover slick beats reminiscent of the RZA, smooth breakdowns à la Dan the Automator, and a top-draw vocal

Apr 8, 2013

A modern-day fairy tale with some teen drama and angst thrown in!  A 15-year-old girl brings a storybook character to life as she struggles with her own real-life issues. My 12-year-old daughter and I both really enjoyed this book! It would make a great mother/daughter read. The audiobook provides three different voices which added to my enjoyment of the story.  Another fun fact is that it is co-written with Jodi Picoult’s daughter.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 28, 2012

Set in a world resembling medieval Russia, Plain Kate starts with small and ugly Kate Carver, who must watch her beloved father die.  He has witch’s fever, and soon, an anti-magic hysteria grips the land.  The gypsy-like Roamers are persecuted, people are burned.  And even Kate herself may be in danger.

Desperate to find a safe place for herself and her cat Taggle, she agrees to give her shadow to a stranger named Linay in exchange for a new life.    But after she begins to make a home for herself with the Gypsy-like Roamers, a new threat and Plain Kate’s missing shadow begin to twist

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer on DVD

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Oct 14, 2011


The television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which appeared for seven seasons, is a mix of California sunshine and old B movies.  Buffy manages to bypass the stereotypical gothic atmosphere with a modern, realistic setting and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor.  Each episode starts with the beginning of the story and explodes into music by the band Nerf Herders, accompanied by a slide show of pictures from current seasons. Sara Michelle Gellar as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” leads the Scooby Gang, as they refer to themselves, through a nonstop combination of karate, street fighting, and

Murder Under a Mystic Moon by Yasmine Galenorn

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 14, 2011

Emerald O’Brien is a thirty-six-year-old divorced mother of two and owner of the Chintz ‘n China Tea Room, a quaint little business in the town of Chiqetaw, Washington.  Emerald’s daughter, Miranda, suggested the name be changed to Chintz ‘n China Tea Room and Tarot Emporium since her mother reads cards for many of her customers.  The name, however, did not change.  The townspeople already lovingly call her their “town witch”, and Emerald doesn’t want her gift of second sight to have any more attention drawn to it than it already does.  Not that she’s ashamed of her talent, it’s just that any

The Widow's Tale by Margaret Frazer

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 14, 2011

With the untimely death of her beloved husband, Edward, Cristiana Helyngton is now a widow.  She and her daughters, eight-year-old Jane and twelve-year-old Mary, are grateful for the help and guidance of Cristiana’s brother, Gerverys.  But Gerverys is no match for Edward’s cousin Laurence Helyngton, who is determined to have all the Helyngton land and properties as well as Jane and Mary under his control.

The first step in Laurence’s plan is to whisk Cristiana to a convent where the sisters are told she is mad with grief and has taken to indecent behavior, no longer fit to mother her children

Jul 14, 2011

Having read the first five books in Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series, I was eagerly awaiting the next installment. I was not disappointed. While there is not much drama until nearer the end of the book, we do get to see what path Ayla’s life has taken.

Ayla is the main character throughout the series, beginning with her childhood. While Ayla is extraordinary even for her time, we do get a comprehensive look at what life was, or could have been like, for our early ancestors. The Land of Painted Caves would therefore be a good read for those who have read the Earth’s Children series and for

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 13, 2011

Set in modern day Hanoi, Vietnam, this dreamy tale reflects on the Communist takeover and a little on the wars with America and France. Old Man Hung is the "enlightened" proprietor of a beloved and illegal pho shop. He survived the political upheaval and has found a way to feed his customers and neighbors through dire poverty. His shop was once a gathering place for a group of artists who started the Beauty of Humanity Movement in response to the increasingly despotic takeover of Ho Chi Minh's regime in the 1950's. Tu, a tour guide, and his father Binh, son of one of the poets from the 1950's

ROOM by Emma Donohue

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 12, 2011

How would you learn to use stairs if you lived every day of your first five years in an 11' x11' room? What it would it be like to see a bird flying, or know what a blade of grass looks like? That's life for Jack. His Ma has been held captive in the room for seven years. She bore and raised Jack there, living off the frugal "generosity" of their captor. Told entirely by Jack, this poignant and often oddly funny narrative begs the question "what kind of ROOM are you living in?" Jack is not a victim. He knows nothing else. Room, chair, rug, duvet and other items are his world and his family. I

The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 12, 2011

Many of us would not be alive today if not for the work of Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler. This fascinating Jazz Age tale of the birth of forensic medicine in the U.S. highlights the careers of these two heroes, who worked against incredible odds to develop techniques that would reveal the poisons that killed countless citizens. Their cases included: a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey’s famous Blue Man and a diner serving poison pies. Because of their work arsenic, morphine, thallium and radium are no longer available across the counter to shoppers who may have

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jun 29, 2011

Tom Bender is a typical seventh-grade student at St. Catherine's private school. He loves sports cars and has a crush on Courtney Zisky. Everything changes when a new student arrives. Jessica Feeney has been badly burned and has moved to New Haven to be close to a hospital specializing in burn therapy.

"As horrible as I thought the girl would look, it was nothing compared to what stepped into the room". The other students were frightened of Jessica and cruel rumours started about the origin of her accident. Jessica's medical condition causes her to miss many days of school. One day Tom's

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jun 24, 2011

If you are looking for a fast-paced action read, then this debut novel by Helen Simonson is not for you. However, if you love all things British and are interested in a gentle, entertaining read, then Major Pettigrew's Last Stand  is a novel you should not miss!

Ret. Major Ernest Pettigrew has lived his entire life in the small community of Edgecombe St. Mary, but in recent years many changes have come about putting the Major quite off his routine. First, his wife passed away and now his only sibling, his younger brother, Bertie, has died. The passing of his brother causes the Major to re