Jan's Column 2022
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April 29, 2022 - Trees are Budding
While the temperatures (after that one day that hit 80 degrees (or more according to the thermometer on my porch) have not been particularly spring like, the flora seems to be ignoring the chilly days and nights and just carrying on. The trees are budding out, the grass is growing, the flowers are peeping out of the ground and some have been so rash as to actually bloom. Birds are not only singing as they look for partners, many have begun building nests. Why some are even sitting on nests even as I write. Grouse and turkeys, blue jays and crows, pigeons and mourning doves are all about to beginning nesting (if they haven’t already started). May is the month – which is only a day away from today’s public day—is the month when all the songbirds settle down and start raising families. I hope we are done with the snow at least. I don’t think there is a sadder sight than a robin walking around in the snow looking puzzled as he lifts his tiny shoulders and sings “What the heck?” instead of his usual “Cheer up!” song. If you need some cheering up while waiting for spring to definitively arrive, stop by the library and check out some of these new titles. There’s lots to choose from in this latest batch of books. Enjoy!
Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis. A noted actress's memoir, in her own words, spans her incredible, inspiring life, from her coming-of-age in Rhode Island to her present day
The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria by Edmund Richardson. Recounting one of history’s most extraordinary stories, this book transports readers back to 19th-century India and Afghanistan where Charles Masson – deserter, pilgrim, doctor, archaeologist, spy and one of the most respected scholars in Asia – searched for the Lost City of Alexandria during the age of empires, kings and spies.
Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War by Deborah Cohen. A prize-winning historian’s revelatory account of a close-knit band of American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on the world’s dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism.
The Puzzler: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life by A.J. Jacobs. A master of immersion journalism unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik’s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw
Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith. From a noted cultural critic comes a combination of memoir, criticism, and biography that tells the story of black women in music—from the Dixie Cups to Gladys Knight to Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey—as the foundational story of American pop,
Fevered Star, No. 2 (Between Earth and Sky) by Rebecca Roanhorse. Living avatars, Serapio and Naranpa, fight to stay human in the face of changes that will transform the great city of Tova as tense alliances form and far-away enemies gather in the second novel of the series.
The Baxters by Karen Kingsbury. On Kari Baxter’s wedding day, a building storm brings conflict and doubt to the family until a moment of danger reveals important truths, which could bring them back together or tear them apart.
Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson. Spanning time and multiple points of view, a new voice in indigenous fiction introduces us to Ruby, a bold, complex and unapologetic woman who, adopted by white parents, goes in search of her identity as her life spins wildly out of control.
A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Lianos-Figueroa. A novel illuminates a little discussed aspect of history—the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade—witnessed through the experiences of Pola, an African captive used as a breeder to bear more slaves.
Little Souls by Sandra Dallas. In 1918 Colorado, as the Spanish Influenza run rampant, sisters Helen and Lutie, after their tenant dies, must care for her daughter, which leads murder, placing them both in danger from the ensuing investigation and the flu.
Take My Hand by Dolen Berins-Valdez. In 1973 Montgomery, Alabama, Civil Townsend, a young Black nurse working for the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, grapples with her role when she takes two young girls into her heart and the unthinkable happens, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Summer at the Cape by Rae Anne Thayne. Over the course of the summer, the sisters must make peace with each other and also individually with their free-spirited, outspoken, activist mother who left their father two decades earlier.
Dream Town, No. 3 (Archer) by David Baldacci. World War II veteran and private investigator Aloysius Archer becomes enmeshed in a lethal, extended web of murder and deceit in 1953 Los Angeles in the third novel of the series following “A Gambling Man”.
The Investigator by John Sanford. Working with Homeland Security in Texas to investigate the thefts of crude oil, Letty Davenport, the brilliant and tenacious daughter of Lucas Davenport, is pitted against a militia group as the case quickly turns deadly.
April 22, 2022 - Winter Reading Numbers
Even though there was snow on the ground this past Monday morning and the robins were walking around in a daze singing “What’s up?” What’s up” instead of their usual “Cheer up!” song, the Winter Reading Program is truly over. All the numbers are in which I shall begin to reveal to you in the next sentence. This year we had 139 participants compared to the 123 in 2021. There were 2,736 badges earned compared to the 1,542 earned last year. This intrepid band of readers managed to plow through an astonishing 9,969 books. This is a 25.5 % increase over the 7,942 books read last year. That’s over 2000 more books read. And reading all those books earned lots and lots of dragon dollars many of which were turned in to support local charities (I donate U.S. dollars in the amount of dragon dollars our readers have put towards their choice of four charities). This year the DeForest Area Public Library Endowment was the big winner earning $361( compared to $293 last year) ; Dane County Humane Society received $282 ( compared to $155 last year); DeForest Area Needs Network got $135 and the National Eagle Center received $147 (our Winter theme featured eagles this year, hence this dragon dollar donation option). Thanks to all the participants for reading and donating. Now there are a few weeks for you to relax before you start training for the Summer Reading Program which isn’t that far away – even if there was snow on the ground this week! Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Deaf Utopia: A Memoir and a Love Letter to a Way of Life by Nyle Dimarco & Robert Siebert. A heartfelt and inspiring memoir and Deaf culture anthem by Nyle DiMarco, actor, producer, two-time reality show winner, and cultural icon of the international Deaf community.
Growing up Biden: A Memoir by Valerie Biden Owens. The younger sister of Joe Biden looks back on her childhood in Delaware as the only daughter of a close-knit Irish Catholic family as well as her decades-long career in politics.
Incomparable Grace: JFK in the Presidency by Mark Updegrove. Looks at the brief but transformative presidency of John F. Kennedy, and how he grew in the role after a tumultuous beginning to calmly manage a series of both domestic and international crises.
Playing With Myself by Randy Rainbow. Setting the record straight, the man who conquered YouTube with a stylish pair of pink glasses shares the journey that led to Randy Rainbow, from his childhood as an often-misunderstood little boy to the creation of his trademark comedy character.
Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir by Wil Wheaton. Actor, personality, and all-around nerd, Wil Wheaton updates his memoir of collected blog posts with all new material and annotations as he reexamines a life in Hollywood and fandom.
In on the Joke: The Original Queens of Standup Comedy by Shawn Levy. This account of the trailblazing women comics who forged a path for today’s female comics looks at the obstacles faced by pioneers such as Moms Mabley, Belaine May, John Rivers and Phyllis Diller.
Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close. When Bud, the founder of JP Sullivan’s, drops dead, everyone in the Sullivan family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear, in this unputdownable comedy of manners about three generations of a Chicago restaurant family and the deep-fried love that feeds them.
Memphis (Family Tree) by Tara Stringfellow. Told over the course of 70 years, this spellbinding debut novel traces three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter, who, channeling her rage into art, discovers with the power of her paint brush, she can change her family’s legacy.
Search by Michelle Huneven. Secretly using her place on the church search committee to write a memoir, with recipes, about the experience, restaurant critic, food writer and longtime member of a progressive Unitarian Universalist congregation, Dana Potowski gets some good material until she realizes that she cares deeply about this institution.
Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Zhang. A Chinese girl struggles to find her place in the 1880s American West after being kidnapped and smuggled, working at a calligraphy school and a San Francisco brothel as anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country.
The Burning Pages, No. 7 (A Scottish Bookshop Mystery) by Paige Shelton. While attending a traditional Scottish celebration of the poet Robert Burns, bookseller Delaney Nichols finds everything going up in smoke when Burns House is burned to the ground, leaving a body in its ashes, and her coworker stands accused of the crime.
Three Debts Paid, No. 5 (Daniel Pitt) by Anne Perry. While defending his former university professor charged with assault, young barrister Daniel Pitt works with pathologist Miriam Croft investigating a serial killer who only seems to kill on rainy days – a case that makes question everything.
Beautiful by Danielle Steel. A famous, young model has her appearance forever altered and loses the people she loves most in a terrorist attack and changes the course and purpose of her life after reading a revealing letter that accompanied her mother's will.
Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild. Although she did kill three people, an animal-loving Miami therapist with a successful practice is accused of murdering her husband, who she actually did not kill in a new novel from an Emmy-nominated screenwriter of “GLOW and The Bold Type”.
Death of a Black Widow by James Patterson & J.D. Barker. A case from his very first night on the job, where a woman bludgeoned her kidnapper and then vanished, still haunts a Detroit detective years later and he discovers he is not alone in his search.