Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

The Buzz About Small Biz

As the local and national economy struggles and job markets shrink, many have decided to pursue their aspiration of owning and running a small business. Such an enterprise is not an easy endeavor nor is it for everyone. But one of the best things a person interested in actualizing their entrepreneurial dream can do, is to empower themselves with fundamental knowledge of practices and procedures involved in the formation and growth of a small business. Accessing information is vital for successful business owners, both for those looking to start a business and for those already up and running. If you’re a small business owner or investigating whether or not you want to invest your time and money into becoming one, stop by the library and browse our Small Business Collection, located on the second floor. You’ll find books (legal structures, accounting, business planning, financing, marketing strategies, demographic data, tax guides, e.g.) reference materials, magazines, databases, and information about community and library programs that support local entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge training.


The small business start-up kit

Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith

Joe Eszterhas is well known for his provocative screenwriting, from Basic Instinct to Flashdance and Showgirls. He has written equally edgy books, such as Hollywood Animal and American Rhapsody. But his latest endeavor must be his most surprising yet – the story of his journey from sinner to “crossbearer” on Sunday as he faithfully processes into church, having rediscovered and embraced his Catholic faith.

This book is down to earth, even gritty as he talks about his life, but Eszterhas comes across as sincere and truly inspired to turn his life around and redeem himself from addictions, guilt, and an empty life.

I found the book mesmerizing – and even a little humorous as Eszterhas relates how no one was more surprised than him when he felt God’s call in his life.

I love books that inspire, and this is definitely one of them.


Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith

How to be a Good Customer

I seem to have a penchant for bloggers turned book writers. My latest discovery is “The Waiter.” The Waiter blogged anonymously about life in a high-end NYC restaurant and the Big Apple.  He still blogs, but he’s moved on to other topics.  One of his readers, Barb, comments, “Each of your blogs is an adventure into the human condition,” and I agree.

In Waiter Rant, we get a close-up view of “fine dining” from a server’s perspective, and the frustrating, annoying aspects of dealing with a hungry, finicky public. But the Waiter offers much more: profound observations of human nature; reflections on the importance of pursuing a livelihood that feeds your soul; practical tips on how to “how to be a good customer.” 

In his ranting, the anonymous author wonders often when he’ll find a “real job” and figure out what he wants to do when he grows up.  Well, I think he’s found his right livelihood, and I, for one, hope he’ll keep writing when he grows up.


Waiter rant : thanks for the tip--confessions of a cynical waiter

This Week in Science History Feb. 25

Here are some highlights from this week in science history. For further reading on these intriguing topics, just click on the underlined words in blue print to access the library catalog. Happy reading!

Feb. 23, 1954 the Salk vaccine was used in the first mass inoculation of children against polio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jonas Salk, who worked closely with the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now the March of Dimes) while at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, worked for eight years to develop the vaccine against polio.

Feb. 26, 1852 John Harvey Kellogg, American physician and health-food pioneer was born. Kellogg, whose surgical skills were admired by the brothers Mayo, was a staff physician at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. His development of dry breakfast cereals contributed to the creation of the flaked-cereal industry. It was his brother, William K. Kellogg, who sweetened the flakes with malt and began commercial production as the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906. Being a serious cereal consumer, I say “thank you” to the Kellogg brothers.

Feb. 26, 1829 inventor and manufacturer of jeans, Levi Strauss was born. Strauss, who travelled to San Francisco in 1850, originally planned to make his fortune manufacturing tent and wagon covers. He instead realized there was a greater market creating durable pants for the Forty-niners. He opened a factory and used a heavy blue denim material, called genes, from France to make them. Voila, jeans were invented!   

Feb. 27, 1891 David Sarnoff, American pioneer in radio and television broadcasting was born. Sarnoff, whose life had a rags-to-riches theme, became the general manager of RCA and founded the television network NBC in 1926. He predicted early on that radio would become “a household utility in the same sense as the piano or phonograph”.


The Boy Genius And The Mogul: The Untold Story of Television



Creepy (in a good way)

I have loved Neil Gaiman's Coraline since it was published in 2002. The cover art was too scary for me, so I had to avoid looking at it as I read the book. I went to see the movie (in 3D!) this weekend and it made me appreciate the book even more. A few fun nods to Michigan added to the movie's charm (producer Bill Mechanic's an MSU grad), and the voice of Teri Hatcher makes for a sickly sweet Other Mother. If I had my way, the soundtrack would have included more music from They Might Be Giants but the movie almost lived up to my imagination.



Wendy W.

So Many Poems, So Little Time

Billy CollinsPoet Laureate of the US from 2001-2003, wrote, “the problem with writing poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.”  I think something similar can be said about reading poetry.  The more one reads, the more one wants to read---more poetry.  Loving poetry is a prerequisite, of course, so if you’re not a fan, you should stop reading now. 

Recently, I spent a Saturday morning searching the KPL collection for the perfect poem for a particular purpose. As I immersed myself in the task, time fell away, responsibilities faded, places to go and people to meet became inconsequential.  Each poem led to another poem. Each collection of old favorites sparked memories of other old favorites. Books by remembered poets brought the discovery of new poets nearby on the shelf.  I sat on the floor, surrounded by heaps of prospects. The distinctions between good poetry and better poetry got murkier by the minute.  Everything appealed. I was completely stymied.

Subsequent to my foray into the stacks, I learned that KPL stocks over 3,000 poetry books.  No wonder I struggled.  As it turned out, the perfect poem, a gem by Billy CollinsCandle Hat, was suggested by a colleague. Her assistance reminded me that the treasures to be found in libraries include not only the vast array of books (and other materials) but also the awesome wisdom of librarians!


The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems


Spring Butterflies and Hummingbirds

I am longing for spring in these dreary, cold, late-winter days. I am beginning to think about my gardens and plan my outdoor projects as I feel that familiar anticipation of getting my hands in the dirt. One of my goals is to add a new garden in my yard to attract more hummingbirds and butterflies, which I love. I turned to the Library’s gardening collection to learn more about hummingbirds and butterflies, and research the types of gardens and plants that feed and attract them. I found some truly helpful, extremely informative books such as Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard, Hummingbird Gardens: Turning Your Yard Into Hummingbird Heaven, and Gardens for Birds: Hummingbirds & Butterflies to name just a few. These titles explain what these beautiful and delicate creatures needs are in terms of survival, food, and protection, and then provide the plant information and gardening suggestions to best suit different geographical areas. I know I enjoyed the escape from winter while reading about them, at least in my mind. As I took notes and made garden sketches, I could begin to feel the spring fever start to take over in me. Oh well, it won’t be long!


Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard



Three Shadows

A ton of graphic novels showed up in the Teen area over the past month, and I've been wading through the pile, looking for new favorites. One that stood out immediately was Cyril Pedrosa's Three Shadows, for it's unique artistic style and it's moody, heartbreaking story. The book centers around a family of a mother, father, and young son on a small farm in a vaguely 18th-Century European country. Life is simple and pleasant until one night, when the three shadows of the title appear on a nearby ridge. It's soon discovered by a local oracle that the three shadows are the physical manifestation of death, come to take young Jaochim. Louis, Joachim's father, decides to take the boy and outrun the shadows, and the remainder of the book follows Louis as he attempts to protect his son from the inevitable.

Pedrosa worked as an animator on several Disney films, and it's obvious in his character designs which show great emotional range with just a few brushstrokes while remaining wonderfully exaggerated. The forests and alleyways of the unnamed European country are rendered using a variety of ink techniques, and one notable scene where Louis becomes (literally) a heartless monster in a vain effort to hide his son away is accomplished with a loose, expressionist line that explodes all over the page like a snowstorm.

Three Shadows doesn't get everything right: There's an extended section where the focus shifts from the father and son to an over-literal look at the other characters that stops the story dead in it's tracks. There's also a number of spots where the symbolism gets out of hand and threatens to smother the simpleness of the rest of the storyline. These problems aside, I still loved this book for it's graceful, flowing attempt to handle such dark subject matter. Overall, despite it's flaws, Three Shadows is a touching, magical story about a father's love for his child and his determination to protect him, no matter the cost. I'm eagerly awaiting more work from this artist in the future.


Three Shadows
Stewart F.

Crow-like one

After finishing Nicholas Fox Weber’s excellent and very complete biography of the enigmatic architect and urban planner Le Corbusier I was struck by the contradictions and inconsistencies in a life that seemed orchestrated in such a deliberate and precise way. In his 30’s, Swiss born and lacking any formal architectural training Charles-Edouard Jeanneret would change his name to Le Corbusier (often translated - the crow-like one) in an artistically inspired maneuver designed to not only add grandeur to his life and work, but to alter his personality completely and launch himself, larger than life, onto the world stage. Contradictions abound throughout the story of Le Corbusier’s life and career, as urban planner he zealously pushed to radically change the way cities functioned and to create efficiency in urban life, yet later admitted to never really expecting his plans to be fully realized, a reader of Nietzsche, he self-promoted the clarity of his architectural vision and the strength of his character, yet could easily be described as a “momma’s boy” who, even as he become world famous, sought the approval of his parents above all else, he required purity of form and famously wanted his buildings to function as “machines for living”, yet, like America’s own titan of modern architecture, was unapologetic and unhelpful when the roofs leaked in his buildings, and though he was responsible for some the most significant architectural achievments of his time, he was only truly at peace as a painter. Rather than deminish his charecter or the image he created for himself, the contradictions only add to the absorbing story of the fascinating Le Corbusier!


Le Corbusier: A Life

Apartment Therapy

Whenever I have a little free time, I like to browse interior design blogs.  The creator of my favorite blog, Apartment Therapy, recently came out with a book that showcases some of the homes featured on his website.  Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Real Design Solutions offers examples of how to make your own place more fun, organized, and chic.  If you like what you see on the Apartment Therapy blog, be sure to check out the book!


Apartment Therapy presents real homes, real people, hundreds of real design solutions
Caitlin H.
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