Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Illustrator Kadir Nelson: “It’s part of my DNA!”

I wish I could have seen the exhibit for Kadir Nelson presented by Calvin College. It was held in conjunction with Festival of Faith and Writing and was called Beauty of the Spirit: Paintings and Illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Kadir Nelson gave new life to Ellen Levine’s edition of Henry’s Freedom Box with his detailed illustrations. Kadir showed the sorrow and pain, happiness, hard work and determination in Henry’s story. In Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom Carole Boston Weatherford tells of the struggle of slave life while Kadir does a fantastic job of illustrating the determination for freedom from it. He has illustrated books for Debbie AllenSpike and Tonya Lee and Jerdine Nolen. And Kadir knows Hip Hop as you can see from the work he has done with Hip Hop artists like Tupac& Biggie, NeoSoul, Ecay Uno and others in the entertainment industry. He did art work for the movie Spirit, stallion of Cimarron. Now he is the author of his own book We Are the Ship:the story of Negro League baseball. But what I like most are the old time portraits that portray a lot of character in the faces, body, hands and feet. Check Kadir Nelson out and see how well he does the future and the past!

Henry's Freedom Box



Birds?? Flamingos?? You Choose!!

 I stumbled upon my latest mystery read quite by accident recently.  I was reading Publisher’s Weekly, a professional journal, and came across the review for Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews.   Actually the most recent title in the series featuring Meg Langslow as its nosy, sensible, silly, newly-wed, and lovably loony civilian who tries to do police work.

Left with a friend’s (use the term friend loosely) 2-year-old toddler, Meg realizes that her keeping the baby for “just a little while” may not be exactly what’s happening.  When friend Karen doesn’t answer the phone at home or her cell phone either, Meg decides she must find out what’s going on.  She begins to suspect that her friend’s disappearance is tied to at least one serious crime.  “Has Karen been killed or kidnapped?  Is she on the run from the bad guys?  Or is she one of the bad guys?  The police don’t seem to care, so Meg once again plays sleuth…”  (quote from book jacket)

The library owns others in the Meg series, all having something to do with birds in their titles.  Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos is another title that strikes a chord of interest since I have an aversion to the pink plastic things that appear in people’s yards!

Ms. Andrews may, in my opinion, be a close competitor for Stephanie Plum and Janet Evanovich!


Cockatiels at Seven

Murderous Clutch

Haley Randolph works in the accounting department of a major law firm in Los Angeles. She has an obsession with owning designer handbags. An accounting error occurs along with missing funds and Haley is put on unpaid leave while the firm is investingating. Meanwhile, at her evening job at Holt's Department store, a co-worker is murdered, Haley finds him and learn that handbags have gone missing. The police suspect Haley in both cases and it's up to her to clear herself. Handbags and Homicide by Dorothy Howell is a light summer read.


Handbags and Homicide


Joanna L

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

There have been some terrific memoirs published recently . . . Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood by Robyn Scott is an interesting look at growing up in Botswana in the past twenty years.  There’s everything here:  flying doctors, crocs in the rivers, homeschooling theories, dysfunctional relatives, and chickens, of course.


Twenty Chickens for a Saddle





Food 2.0

Charlie Ayres was hired in 1999 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin to feed the young staff of Google. Page and Brin believed that their staff needed good healthy food to be creative and productive rather than the junk food and fast food they were eating. They also felt it would be a much more efficient use of employees time to eat in-house rather than go out. The end result was a very successful four and one half year venture of Ayres feeding all of Google and this book Food 2.0: Secrets From The Chef Who Fed Google. 

Ayres believes that "we can all eat delicious, clean, fast cuisine that is good for us, good for the community, and good for the earth". Helping people "eat better" is the focus of his book and it is written in a very efficient, easy-to-read, no fuss way. The book is divided into his smart choices for choosing food and cooking methods, his pantry suggestions, and then a section of great recipes. It is a quick read that you will find yourself thumbing back through again and again.

I often enjoy reading cookbooks but really never end up trying any recipes because they are either too time-involved, too exotic, too many ingredients, or they just don't spark any desire in me to try. This book did, however. It inspired me to get excited about cooking again. Taking the time to look at Ayres' book is time well-spent.


Food 2.0: Secrets From The Chef Who Fed Google



How Do Doctors Think?

Ever had a frustrating, non-productive visit to the doctor—or worse yet, been dangerously misdiagnosed? If so, you’ll want to read How Doctors Think, by Jerome E Groopman, MD. Learn about the assessment processes physicians use in diagnosing patients and how best to communicate with them to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Approach your next physical exam armed with sage advice from a doctor who knows the inside scoop!

(By the way, this book came recommended to me by a friend who comes from a family of medical practitioners.)


How Doctors Think



And One Giant Metal Grasshopper ...

I have to admit that it was the title that drew me to this book. The author, Linda Godfrey, writes, “Is it weird that the Wolverine State may never have had any wolverines in it? We think so, and that suits us fine. The weirder the better, we say, and Michigan falls perfectly into that category.” In this volume of things unusual one finds such attractions as the giant snow gauge on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the huge tire in Allen Park, the eagle made from trash bags in Iron River, the village of Christmas which has a St. Nicholas Ave., the largest weather vane which is in downtown Montague, and the metal sculpture of the giant grasshopper in Kaleva. Kalamazoo rates entries on pages 196, 206, and 239. Not limited to roadside items, this work also contains chapters on unexplained phenomena, cemeteries, and fabled people and places. For those who prefer to branch out, the library owns and is ordering many other volumes in this series by Sterling Publishing Company, such as Weird Las Vegas and Nevada, Weird Massachusetts, and Weird Pennsylvania.


Weird Michigan : Your Travel Guide to Michigan's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets


David D.

Where the Wild Things Are: Right Here

Tom Springer doesn’t understand why folks feel the need to go up north to experience wildness. And he's right. It’s all around us in Southwest Michigan. All we need to do is take some time and look around.

Tom’s new book, Looking for Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest, is a collection of essays celebrating wild things in and around this part of the world —  from the satisfaction of gathering berries to the restorative experience of wading down a river. Billing his July 15 program as the “Smell the Wood Tour,” Tom passed around pieces of wood cut from trees found in the area — burr oak, cherry, hickory, osage orange and walnut — so we could appreciate each specimen's characteristic beauty and fragrance.

Tom was joined by artist Lad Hanka who illustrated the book. For the program, they brought along some tasty samples of foodstuffs made from wild things: serviceberry jam, maple syrup and sassafras tonic.


Looking for Hickories


Our catalog record summarizes J.M. Coetzee’s novel this way: 
At fifty-two, Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire, but lacking in passion. An affair with one of his students leaves him jobless, shunned by his friends, and ridiculed by his ex-wife. He retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated smallholding, where a brief visit becomes an extended stay as he tries to find meaning from this one remaining relationship. 

This description barely even scratches the surface of the masterpiece Coetzee has created in Disgrace.  Taking place in South Africa, the story writhes through the complex concept of disgrace and its personal, societal, mental, and emotional aftermath.  It is a story of relationships:  to family, to creatures, to society, to a higher power, with one’s self.  It is no wonder the author is a Nobel Prize winner.

Disgrace leaves the reader saturated and longing at the same time.  On one hand, it is as if you want to start reading again and find someone to discuss the book with others.  On the other hand, it is as if you want to gently close the book and your eyes and reflect in silence.



Free Mediation Clinic

The law library is partnering with trained mediators from Dispute Resolution Services to provide a free clinic, designed to give patrons helpful information about how to resolve civil disputes and non-court conflicts. What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process to help people resolve conflicts. Trained mediators do not take sides, but make sure everyone has a chance to talk. If those involved are able to resolve their conflict, the mediator then helps them to create a written agreement. Examples of conflict include:

  • I moved and left my apartment in good shape, but the landlord won’t return my security deposit.
  • My neighbor parks his car in our shared driveway and blocks my garage.
  • I bought new tires, but one won’t hold air. The store won’t honor the warranty and replace it.
  • My ex-spouse put our child in a different school without telling me.

Call 553-7920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


Mediate, don't litigate
Share RSS