May 30, 2023

Kimmerer has the scientific training--rational, evidence-based, data-driven--of a botanist; the indigenous culture, worldview, and beliefs of a Potawatomi Anishinaabe; and the language, spirit, and skill of a poet. In this book she wonderfully melds those three ways of seeing, of knowing, of understanding and communicating. She beautifully shares an ecological message of the possibility of harmonious co-existence with plants and nature, a perspective deeply supported by science. More than any other book I know, it spoke equally to my head, my heart, and my soul.

If there's a single concept at

Mar 20, 2023

I was, I think, 18 years old when I saw the movie Flatliners; just the right age for it to make a vivid impression on me even though it has never been thought of as a particularly good film. The characters are medical students who agree to take turns temporarily dying ("flatlining") before being revived by the others. They hope to experience a moment of the afterlife to gain insight and wisdom. They wanted, in the parlance of this book, to learn from a visit to the land of the dead.

McDonald writes that we don't have to actually die to gain that wisdom, though, as stories of visits to the

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This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution

By David Sloan Wilson
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Dec 10, 2022

We generally think of evolution as a purely physical process, happening only at the level of genetics and DNA. Yet that is not the way Charles Darwin conceived it nor how evolutionary biologist Wilson understands it. In fact, genes and DNA were not yet discovered during Darwin’s time, and he saw heredity happening through many varied mechanisms—particularly in humans. From his Descent of Man, for instance:

There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to

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Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... and What Does

By Susan Fowler
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Oct 14, 2022

It was only this week I finished watching the first season of Ted Lasso. I'm arriving late to the show, but am loving it as much as expected--from both all the praise it's received and the little I knew about its premise. One of the areas it's exceeded my expectations is Ted's approach to coaching. In case you don't know, Ted is a top American football coach who takes a job as a British football (soccer) coach. He knows nothing about the game or culture he's jumped into, but he's completely confident in his ability to succeed because he knows something even more important: what motivates

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The Other Talk: A Reckoning With Our White Privilege

By Brendan Kiely
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Jun 23, 2022

A valuable, necessary, and accessible book. Kiely has an easy-going manner and presents ideas that could be abstract, academic theory through relatable anecdotes and stories, more often than not about himself when he was a teenager. It reads quickly and directly addresses young white readers without confrontation or shaming, encouraging listening, empathy, and a sense of responsibility (instead of guilt). Highly recommended.

If I have one complaint, it's that Kiely tries so hard to be casual and appealing that he sometimes condescends to his readers and implies low expectations of their

Picture of the cover of The Genius Under the Table.  Child laying under table while adult stands nearby with arm over eyes.

The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin
Star Rating

Rated by Hannah Jane W.
Jun 2, 2022

The Genius Under the Table is bleak but also strangely cozy at times.  It’s hopeful, heartbreaking, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and may stir up tender feelings for your own strange family.

Eugene (Yevgeny) is a child growing up behind the Iron Curtain.  His family shares a kitchen and bathroom with several families, including a spy who’s always lurking in the corner of the kitchen.  Eugene is bursting with questions - Why is his grandfather’s face cut out of all the family pictures? Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about defecting (which is too close to the word defecating?)  And why

May 9, 2022

This is a parenting book.

Yes, the details and particulars are about libraries serving homeless patrons, and for that it is great. I think all librarians and library employees should read it. Even if they have have no homeless patrons. Because the guidance in this book should be applied to all librarian-patron interactions.

And this book's guidance should be applied to all parent-child interactions. So it is a parenting book. And a teacher classroom-management book. It is a management and leadership book. It is a customer service book. I would daresay it is a policing book.

The core

Apr 19, 2022

Hello and welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a quick look at a new release that hits the publishing world this week. Today we're looking at an inspiring true story of a group of women who defied convention, overcame stereotypes, and fought for fairness in the workplace during a time of massive cultural shift. In THE GREAT STEWARDESS REBELLION: HOW WOMEN LAUNCHED A WORKPLACE REVOLUTION AT 30,000 FEET Nell McShane Wulfhart tells a timely and absorbing story of how a profession, belittled and sexualized, became an important labor movement.

Picture the stereotype of the stewardess at

Cover of BOMB SHELTER by Mary Laura Philpott

Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives

By Mary Laura Philpott
Star Rating

Rated by Gregg W.
Apr 12, 2022

For today's #NewTitleTuesday pick, we turn our attention to the nonfiction section with Mary Laura Philpott's BOMB SHELTER: LOVE, TIME AND OTHER EXPLOSIVES. Philpott, an essayist who some critics call a spiritual successor to Nora Ephron or Erma Bombeck and who wrote 2019's I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK, writes a fresh, funny, and insightful collection of new essays that speak to everyday life, motherhood, and the anxiety-ridden moment that many Americans are going through.

I mentioned "anxiety-ridden" - Philpott, a parent with young children, is constantly worried about them, as all mothers are

cover of The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks by Igort

Learning More About Ukraine

By Igort
Star Rating

Rated by Bet M
Mar 16, 2022

What do you do when calamity strikes the world yet again? How do you handle the confusion of trying to unravel the news? As someone who works at a library, perhaps it’s not surprising that I turn to...the library. What book or film can I find that connects me to someone’s story so I can more clearly see and hear the events from those involved. 

In recent years, I've needed the library a lot! To better understand the Black experience in America, some helpful reads for me have been “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi, “A Black Women’s History of the

Cover of SCOUNDREL by Sarah Weinman


By Sarah Weinman
Star Rating

Rated by Gregg W.
Feb 22, 2022

Hello and welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a quick look at a new title that makes its publishing debut this week!

If you take a look at the top ten most downloaded lists of pretty much any podcast app, true crime stories dominate the medium. But if you've been paying attention, true crime has never NOT dominated American media, from podcasts to streaming documentaries to TV shows to Ann Rule books all the way back to the lurid police magazines of the pulp era and the daily broadsheets even before that. There's something about not being able to look away from the darkness that

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Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

By Rutger Bregman
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Feb 16, 2022

Did you know that 50 years ago, during the Nixon administration, the U.S. almost passed a bill creating a universal basic income? Test cases and studies had been done, all evidence supported the idea as feasible and universally beneficial, and it had widespread public and political support. Experts at the time were also predicting vastly reduced workweeks as machines replaced the need for human labor, so it made sense to provide income since there wouldn't be enough work to go around. Then the narrative changed. As predicted, essential work has since become a smaller and smaller part of the

Feb 1, 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a closer look at a new book that's hitting the shelves of bookstores (and libraries) across the nation. Since my bailiwick is fiction, I naturally stick to the fiction side of things in this space - thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, that sort of thing. But today a book caught my eye about a topic that a lot of our patrons are going to love, as it's a title that covers a lot of bases no matter what genre you like.

A TASTE FOR POISON by Neil Bradbury is going to be of interest for classic mystery aficionados

Nov 9, 2021

For those in the (literary) know, Tuesdays are the traditional day where publishers release new titles into the world. Here at the library, we get patrons who always want to know what the new, hot, word-of-mouth books are. They scan the New Releases shelf, they stalk the "new titles" portion of our website, and want to be ahead of the curve and, above all, NOT be number 582 on the waiting list. We completely understand, and would like to take a moment and introduce you to New Title Tuesday, a day where we spotlight a brand new book that is published that week. Even though it might not be

Book cover of Urban Quilting

Urban Quilting

By Wendy Chow
Star Rating

Rated by Elizabeth F
Oct 11, 2021

Appropriate for beginning sewists looking to try quilting, Urban Quilting is a straightforward guide to creating modern quilts for the home.  The first section of the book covers basic techniques like fabric selection, ironing, rotary cutting, seam allowances, quilt construction, and binding.  The second section describes how to make the individual quilts. Each quilt can be made in three sizes and quilts are rated by difficulty from beginner to advanced beginner.  The patterns are modern, featuring bright solids and bold geometric shapes. Recommended.

Oct 7, 2021

An excellent collection of ten workshops and tutorials from popular modern quilters (including Denyse Schmidt, Cheryl Arkison, Heather Jones, and Angela Walters) on a variety of topics. Several workshops explore color, modern quilting methods for using solids and prints, working with circles, and large scale designs. Other workshops focus on specific techniques like paper piecing and improvisation patchwork. The last workshop is a study of modern quilts that shows quilts from many of the influential modern quilters.

All of the workshops are well written and thoroughly illustrated.  Each

The Literature Book by DK Publishing

Referential Treatment

By James Canton (Editor)
Star Rating

Rated by Adam H
Sep 9, 2021

Although admitting this may qualify me as a one-hundred percent board-certified nerd (dweeb, Poindexter, etc.), I’ve loved reference books for as long as I can remember. And they’ve come a long way since three clever Scots dreamed up the first Encyclopædia Brittanica in Edinburgh in 1768. Over the years they’ve become much more accessible, engaging, and, dare I say, delightful, in large part thanks to a company called Dorling Kindersley Limited, better known as DK Publishing. 

I first became aware of DK Publishing through their expansive Eyewitness series. As a grade school student in the

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Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom From Young Children at School

By Carla Shalaby
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Sep 3, 2021

A fascinating and quietly powerful book.

I can't remember for sure, but I believe this was recommended to me by a high school teacher even though the four children at its center are first graders; its wisdom is that widely applicable. I even kept mentally applying its situations to my workplace manager-employee relationships. It's something I recommend for all educators, parents, and managers--to anyone with power over others.

Troublemakers struck me with particular relevance and immediacy because my two children are currently in kindergarten and first grade and have been known to cause

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Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

By Katherine May
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Sep 1, 2021

When you start tuning in to winter, you realise that we live through a thousand winters in our lives--some big, some small.

Sometimes you find yourself reading a book so full of interesting, exciting ideas that the author has found a way to express so clearly and exquisitely that they are both familiar and revelatory, that the book continuously sparks moments of resonant discovery so that you find yourself stopping to have your own related ideas, pondering your own life in light of the new perspectives just gained from the reading, marking passages to revisit, taking notes to develop later

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 Star Trek Cross-Stitch by John Lohman

Star Trek: Cross-Stitch

By John Lohman
Star Rating

Rated by Charles H
May 19, 2021

Cross-stitching: the final frontier. These are the exploits of the librarian Charles. His three-week mission: to explore strange new books. To seek out new crafts and new materials. To boldly make where no man has made before!

I am a maker. I love exploring new ways to express my creativity through the things I create. I am often at my happiest when I am trying a new craft or project, anticipating the learning and challenges ahead of me.

I am also a Star Trek fan. My dad introduced me to the series through Star Trek: Voyager, and I enjoy the show’s focus on using science and logic to

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook

Banned Book Club

By Kim Hyun Sook
Star Rating

Rated by Josh N.
Apr 28, 2021

About halfway through reading this biographical graphic novel, it struck me just how little I knew about the history of the Republic of Korea. I'm not a fan of not knowing things. This led me on a dive into at least a surface reading on South Korea’s political and cultural history, fascinating and sometimes turbulent. Imagine living in a country where the leader of the nation wages a war on intellectual thought, educational inquiry, and popular culture; where citizens are beaten and gassed by the police for protesting peacefully; where corrupt politicians are only arrested and imprisoned after

Apr 6, 2021

This is unlike any other book I've read on racism, and it's a good, refreshing thing.

Menakem is a therapist, and his perspective starts with the body. He sees the trauma induced by racism as a physical thing and posits that we need to address as such. Specifically, in the vagus nerve, "which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers."*

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

Book Cover of The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

The Biggest Bluff

By Maria Konnikova
Star Rating

Rated by Jack V.
Aug 11, 2020

Maria Konnikova's family was going through a rough patch. Her grandmother passed away, her mother lost her job, and Konnikova herself was diagnosed with an unknown immune disorder that left her in constant pain. Chance had reared its ugly head, in a way that couldn't be mitigated by professional success or personal resolve. What does that say about individual agency? Can any of us actually take our fate into our own hands?

The Biggest Bluff is Konnikova's attempt to come to grips with this dilemma. The book chronicles her project: one year devoted entirely to the study of poker. It's not a

Why Graphic Books Are for All Readers of All Ages

Star Rating

Rated by Bet M
Jul 8, 2020

I say "graphic books" because not all are novels, and the ones I am most often drawn to are the graphic nonfiction--bios, memoirs, history lessons. I am not an expert on graphic books; I do not have boxes of comic collections accumulated since childhood (though I do fondly remember reading some of my older brother's X-Men comics as a kid--intrigued by smart, strong females like Storm, Jubilee, Rogue); but perhaps because I approach graphic books from a more literary view, I can translate their value to those who might otherwise relegate "comics" to their not-to-be-read shelf.

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

By Anne Tennant, Baroness Glenconner
Star Rating

Rated by Matt I.
Jul 2, 2020

British aristocracy has an interesting hold on many people around the world, the closer to the Royal Family and the more intense this interest and scrutiny becomes. 

Lady Glenconner served as a maid of honor at the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, and was Extra Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, from 1971 until the Princess died in 2002.

Life among the titled is not all high teas and hunting parties; as this book will show, titles and privilege do not always guarantee a happy life, although more often than not, it is an interesting

Atomic Habits

By James Clear
Star Rating

Rated by Josh N.
May 21, 2020

There are a lot of things I start but never finish. I have a lot of good intentions that never really get going. On the flip side, I have some bad habits I have a difficult time breaking myself of. It's easy to feel discouraged and lazy when I can't get myself to follow through and stick with something or to quit something that hinders your life.

And then along comes James Clear to make keeping and losing habits more understandable and more attainable. Atomic Habits grew from posts on his blog and having them all in one book is easier to digest and refer back to than jumping around his blog

Oh My, Don't Burn The Pie!: Celebrating Great American Pie Month

By Various
Star Rating

Rated by Meghan F
Apr 29, 2020

I'm going to start off with a confession: I have absolutely no talent as a baker or cook of any kind. At best I can boil water and at worst... well. Let's just say I have a bad habit of leaving out key ingredients and forgetting that I left food in the oven until the smoke alarm goes off. My completely inedible, rock-hard Rice Krispie treats are still something of a legend among my family.

One of my New Year's resolutions, however, is to get more comfortable in the kitchen. So this week I decided to try something that terrifies me (and my entire family) - baking my very first pie. When I