RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Books

Remodeling Resources

Both home owners and those renting should browse our various interior decoration and architecture books if they're looking for ideas for renovations or room-specific make-overs. I am contemplating refreshing my kitchen's look and as I browsed our new books section on the first floor, I stumbled across this new book, My Cool Kitchen. There's plenty of applicable ideas jumping off the pages in this page turner of a book that features different approaches to organization, color and design.

The Orchardist

The Orchardist is set in Washington State at the beginning of the 20th century, where William Talmadge lovingly cultivates his orchards of apples and apricots. Talmadge, a reclusive and sorrowful man, unexpectedly becomes a foster father of sorts to two adolescent girls who escape from a brothel owner who has enslaved them.

This novel, a favorite of many book groups with much to discuss, explores the human character, what makes a family, and to a lesser extent, the history of the region.

Many reviewers consider this a strong debut novel from Coplin, with hopefully more to follow. I agree.

Make Way for Ducklings(1)

 Don’t you love Mr. and Mrs. Mallard?  They work so hard to find the perfect place to build a nest and raise their ducklings; Robert McCloskey’s life-like illustrations are perfect.  Make Way for Ducklings has been a favorite at our house for a long time.  Recently I’ve seen two other “duckling” books that are such nice companions for the Mallard family. . . Little Ducks Go by Emily Arnold McCully, and Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore.  Take a look at these recent books and share them with the duckling-lovers at your house. 



The Series Series: Very Short Introductions

This is probably the most aptly named series ever published. Each book in the series is short (96-224 pages) and provides a brief introduction to a complex. These books are written to be very readable to those new to the topic and provides a balanced prospective. If you are looking to learn about a brand new topic, this is a great place to start.

Very Short Introductions include:
Indian philosophy
The Bible

Emmanuel's Dream

Emmanuel’s Dream, written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls, tells the true story of Ghanaian athlete Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with only one healthy leg (the other was severely deformed). Where Emmanuel grew up, most kids with disabilities couldn’t go to school, but Emmanuel hopped back and forth two miles each way. He also played soccer and learned to ride a bike – in fact, he became famous after he cycled 400 miles across Ghana, raising awareness that people with disabilities can still greatly contribute to society. My 5 year-old daughter enjoyed this story and the illustrations very much. I highly recommend checking out the list of books in our catalog by illustrator Sean Qualls -- his artwork is exquisite!


Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed

“Why don’t you have kids?” That’s a question that not many people have to respond to. However, there are a few who have begun to be more vocal in providing, thoughtful, deeply considered perspectives on why they’ve chosen to not have children. Are they selfish and self-absorbed? Not likely. That’s a spun out media and cultural stereotype that has little substance according to most of the writers collected in this new anthology Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: 16 Writers on the Decision to Not Have Kids. The childless are a diverse lot and so their reasons and motivations for not having a family are similarly varied. This is a nice grouping of cleverly conceived and intelligently executed essays that will function as a much needed corrective to the specious accusations that many childless people have had to endure.

Crusade for Justice

The Google Doodle that marks Ida B. Wells’ 153rd birthday today begins by reporting that the American journalist was a voracious reader, consuming all of Shakespeare and Dickens before she turned twenty. As a journalist and newspaper editor she was a prolific writer and truth teller even in the face of racial inequality and mob violence. When thugs destroyed her printing press because they opposed her newspaper’s message against segregation, Wells kept on. 

The library has several biographies of Ida B. Wells along with her memoir, Crusade for Justice. Wells was married to fellow journalist Ferdinand L. Barnett who went on to practice law and became the first black state's attorney in Illinois. Their daughter, Alfreda M. Duster, edited Crusade for Justice. At its publication in 1970, Elizabeth Kolmer wrote: "Besides being the story of an incredibly courageous and outspoken black woman in the face of innumerable odds, the book is a valuable contribution to the social history of the United States and to the literature of the women's movement as well."

A People's History of the Peculiar

One has only to look at the classification number of this book to know that it's going to be material more or less off-the-track. But, in my view, the early 000s hold some very appealing books. This 2014 volume of 'the peculiar' is subtitled A Freak Show of Facts, Random Obsessions, and Astounding Truths. Under the heading '25 Random Remedies': For blondes in chlorine pools whose hair has turned green, just add ketchup and cover with cling wrap for 30 minutes. In the category '25 Random Bridge Collapses': In May 1845, 79 people drowned after the Yarmouth Bridge in England collapsed from the shifting weight of people on the bridge watching as a circus clown floated downriver in a barrel pulled by geese. One more. Under 'Random Cemeteries for You to Haunt': In New Brunswick, New Jersey, Mary Ellis's grave has monopolized a parking space for the better part of the 20th century. Once situated outside a flea market, her grave now rests alone in the Loew's Theatre parking lot. All these, and more, can be found in A People's History of the Peculiar. Reserve it today!

Hope Was Here

Joan Bauer writes a fast-paced realistic story about Hope Yancey, she is 16 years old and travels the country with her Aunt Addie who adopted her when she was just a baby. Hope has already attended six different schools and has lived in five different states. Why all the moving? Addie is a cook and all the diners where she’s worked go belly-up. Hope is an excellent waitress, a good waitress has to be ready for anything. Sweeping through the counter, getting orders. Adrenaline pumping. If you want a thrill there’s nothing like in-the-weeds waitressing. You never know what’s coming next. You could wait on a mainiac or a guy passing out twenties.
The story begins with Hope and Addie traveling to Mulvaney, Wisconsin, to begin their new jobs at the Welcome Stairways Restaurant. G. T. Stoops, the owner, has leukemia and he needs help, fast! Addie answers his ad for a cook and professional manager to run his diner.
Hope’s biological mother is Deena, her Aunt Addie’s sister, who didn’t want to be saddled with the responsibility of a baby. Hope’s never met her real father, but she keeps thinking he’ll show up someday, she even keeps scrapbooks of her adventures in anticipation of showing them to her dad… will she ever have a father?
G. T. Stoops is a great guy, so much so that he joins a mayoral race against the corrupt mayor. Hope is a busy teen. She and the staff of the Welcome Stairways get involved in the campaign. There is excitement when the diner fills with customers day by day eager for delicious meals.
The name of the Welcome Stairways diner name is explained on the menu: From early times, the Quakers had welcome stairways built in front of their homes in Massachusetts. These double stairways descended to the street from the front door and were symbols of Quaker faith and hospitality—constant reminders that all guests were to be welcomed from whichever way they came, and,My mother always said that the stairways symbolized how we must greet whatever changes and difficulties life may bring with firm faith in God... Welcome, friend, from whichever way you’ve come. May God richly bless your journey.
Hope Was Here is a refreshing story of loss and triumph.

Between the World and Me

The talk of the book world today will surely be Harper Lee's greatly anticipated Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to her beloved 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. But another book released today, one that will certainly inspire a lot of conversation, also deserves your attention. Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog for the Atlantic magazine is where the best writing on American life today is happening and his new book, Between the World and Me, continues with that subject in a personal way. Written as a letter to his teenage son Samori, Between the World and Me lyrically describes Coates' experience living in a black, male body within the context of American history.

Coates will visit Kalamazoo in November to speak at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's community meeting. The event is free and open to the public; find more information at the Community Foundation's website.