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Staff Picks: Books

Celine

If you have enjoyed Peter Heller’s previous two novels The Dog Stars and The Painter, you will certainly enjoy his latest effort Celine. Celine is very different from either of those first two novels, and requires a bit of a leap of faith to wrap your head around the storyline and the character of Celine herself, but that leap is made oh so much easier by the skill of Heller’s writing. Celine is an older, aristocratic, and well-dressed private detective who also happens to be a firearms enthusiast, greasy spoon aficionado, fan of Soldier of Fortune magazine, and has a complex and secret back-story. The novel follows Celine and her partner/husband Pete as they investigate the disappearance of the father of a captivating woman named Gabriela, with a complex and tragic back-story of her own. The story is beautifully written, fun to read, and strikes just the right balance of romp and heartbreak to really sink in and keep the pages turning quickly.


I like a warm, rustic look!

This book has a lot of great ideas! A lot of them are simple, easy and inexpensive. I think I’ll try a couple of them but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull it off. The most striking thing about Liz Fourez’s home is how clean and fresh it looks. The reused wood and re-purposed household utensils add pizzazz and create a calming environment. Very fengshui, at least what I know about fengshui. I like the clean look of the overstuffed chairs at the dining room table but I’m afraid of the antique grater dish towel holder. I’d probably scrape my knuckles every time I reach for a towel, but it’s a clever, neat idea. 

I guess I like A touch of farmhousecharm: easy DIY projects to add a warm and rustic feel to any room because it's full of easy DIY ideas that anyone can do. 


I Am Yoga

I Am Yoga, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, is a children’s picture book presenting a journey through various yoga poses. The narrative is carried along with sweeping, imaginative watercolor illustrations, and book ends with a glossary of each yoga pose presented. This short and colorful book is a fantastic way to introduce children to both the idea and practice of calm, focused movement.


Are Hunters Environmentalists?

Recommended to me by a fellow staff member, I was a little reluctant to read this book. While I am a hunter myself - I hunt once a year for deer in the U.P. - I don't like to talk about it, as if hunting had any moral value. In my opinion, veganism and vegetarianism are the superior moral choices to killing and eating animals. Thus my hesitation to read a book about it.

The book is well written, researched, and has a touching personal narrative that is interwoven with the thoughts, data, and exposition about food, hunting, death, guns, and environmentalism. The entire purpose of the book is this: why can't hunters and environmentalist just get along? In theory they should. There is common ground. The book tries to expose the myth about hunters-as-NRA-gun-nuts, and tries to bridge the gap. Does it accomplish this? Not sure. See for yourself.


UTR MI: the First 50

We were researching where to vacation in Michigan and came upon this TV clip about Beaver Island. I was intrigued to learn more about lesser-known places in Michigan, so I sought out Under the Radar Michigan’s website. The TV show takes viewers all around MI to places both quirky and not quirky, but just worthy of getting to know. The series will be coming to KPL’s DVD collection this summer. In the meanwhile, check out the companion book to the show.

Each chapter corresponds to the episode of the same number. Sometimes they go to opposite sides of the state in one episode. Other times they zero in on a region-- as with chapter 45, the “West-Side Mitten Adventure”-- or a theme such as the “Michigan Festivals Special” (ch. 26.) The indexes enable you to find specific sites, cities, and regions covered in the book. Kalamazoo is featured more than once, and the Kalamazoo places listed in the book are brag-worthy. I learned about some businesses I had not known, as well as more about places already familiar to me in our community.

Check it out and start planning your next trip!


This is What a Librarian Looks Like

The first librarian in my life was my elementary school librarian. Everyone was so afraid of her. She would yell at us if we didn't put the books back to the correct places. Since then I have always thought that librarians were book police that all they did was keeping their books safe.

It was not until I was in a college research writing class when I realized librarians can also help me come up with research topics, guide me through the research process, and even proofread my citations! And of course, working at the library now also helps me understand that librarians actually do all kinds of things.

This book includes more than 200 portraits of librarians. They share their passion towards what they do and why that is meaningful and important. This books helps the public to understand that there are so many different kinds of librarians out there, and they all share a common goal: to help people. 


And Still We Rise

There’s still time to go see And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations, the quilt show on display at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (KVM.) But hurry, it ends June 4. Give yourself plenty of time both to appreciate the amazing artistry and also to take in the depth of the stories depicted.

The quilts have so much texture, vibrancy, passion woven into them. Many depict painful, brutal episodes of racist treatment of African-Americans in the United States’ story. The very first in the display is 3-dimensional. Instantly, you are face to face with the picture of many Africans stuffed into the hull of a slave ship headed to Virginia, while one man escapes to ‘freedom’ into the ocean. Many others offer deep celebration of the inventive, intellectual, creative, athletic, entrepreneurial, political and heroic triumphs of various African-American individuals and groups in the past 400 years.

Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network, curator of this exhibit and author of the book by the same name, will be at KVM this Sunday, May 21. If you plan to go, tickets are free, but required.

Each quilt has an artist’s statement. These appear in the book, alongside photos of their quilts. Reading the book, you have a second chance to absorb what they had to say about their piece and remember.


Animal Cuteness Overload

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World In Poetry and Pictures by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore , with captivating poetry by Newbery Award winning author Kwame Alexander, observes the natural beauty, diversity and fragility of the animal world.

This mesmerizing and amazing book features more than forty unique full-color animal photographs accompanied by lively haikus, each set against a solid black or white page. The message here is simple: it's steadfast focus is on the conservation of the "natural" in the planet we all live on.

Although officially a children's book, this brilliant collaboration between photos and text will certainly please anyone interested in nature and the animals that inhabit it.


Now For Something Completely Different

When I was a kid, Monty Python’s Flying Circus came on at 11:00 pm on Sunday nights on PBS, long past my bedtime, especially with school the next day. My older brother had discovered it and his room was in the basement where the tv was, unlike my younger brother and I who shared a room upstairs. So on Sunday nights, my brother and I would sneak into the upstairs bathroom and lower ourselves down through the laundry chute that my dad had made by cutting a hole in the floor and a plastic garbage can and shoving that garbage can into the hole in the floor. It was pretty easy to get down, but it was a struggle as my older brother had to push us back up the chute when it was over.


So I was eager to read Monty Python alum, Terry Gilliam’s book Gilliamesque: a pre posthumous memoir. Gilliam rarely appeared on the Flying Circus, but he was responsible for all the crazy animation sequences. He was also the only non-British member of the troupe, having grown up in the United States. 

 
Gilliam also directed a few of my favorite movies: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits, and The Fisher King and he touches a little on all the movies and projects of which he has been a part. 

 
What surprised me most was how normal his childhood was. Especially for someone who created such bizarre images and fantasy filled movies. It’s nice to know that is possible.


The Circle

 So you might have noticed that new movie out in theatres right now. You know the one starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson called The Circle? You might have seen the trailer and thought, “Oh, that looks interesting, I will spend my money on this.” I am here to urge you to think again!

I want you all to read the book by Dave Eggers instead for two reasons: 1, the movie is horrible. 2, The book is a thrilling masterpiece exploring the way information is shared and stored in modern times that will have you examining all of your life choices regarding social media.

Some of you are saying, “But I really like Tom Hanks,” and to that I just want to point out that 1, you can always imagine Tom Hanks in your mind’s eye as you read the much better book, and 2, there are so many other great Tom Hanks movies. So many.