Jan's Column 2023

If you want to reserve any of these titles, give us a call at 846-5482 and have your library card handy!
Can't make it in when we're open? Call and ask about our electronic locker system.

Past Columns

A couple of weekends ago, during the time when we were still basking in the warmth of a January thaw that seemed like it would last the entire month, my friend and I headed south in search of sandhill cranes. Those of you who know me or are regular readers of this column know that I am what some refer to as a “craniac”. I really love cranes. I love seeing them. I love hearing them calling across the skies and marshes and cornfields. I love watching them dance in their excitement of being around other cranes with a joie de vivre I envy. Are you getting the feeling that I like cranes a whole lot? I like them so much that I want to see them every month of the year. Cranes are hanging out in this part of Wisconsin much longer than they used to and returning sooner too. I had November cranes this year. I had December cranes this year. But the cranes left during that second week of December which means a road trip for me and my fellow craniac. The Jasper Pulaski Wildlife Area near Kouts, Indiana is a staging area for sandhill cranes before they head further south. So off we went. The area where the cranes can usually be found has been taken over by two large solar farms. While there’s still grass to be found between the solar panels, there’s no corn to be gleaned. So we had to drive around looking for cranes a long time without seeing any. Suddenly, there were two in the air and five on the ground (I have pictures!) so we knew they had to be somewhere. Then I remembered that the year Covid struck my fellow craniac and I were on our way to Nashville to the Public Library Association Conference and had swung by this area to see if we could find our January cranes. We didn’t see any at the refuge area, but there were a few thousand cranes as we headed west towards I-65. We tried that and there they were. A few thousand cranes – dancing, calling, feeding on corn fields in the sunshine on snowless fields. Another successful January crane quest!

If you’re searching for some new books, caste your eyes further down the page. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“The Galveston Diet” The Doctor-developed, Patient-proved, Plan to Burn Fat and Tame Your Hormonal Symptoms” by Mary Claire Haver. Providing 40 delicious recipes, six weeks of easy-to-follow meal plans, shopping lists and success stories, a practicing OB/GYN offers a unique plan that will help women in midlife lose weight permanently while enjoying newfound energy, better sleep, less brain fog and fewer hot flashes.

“Flora MacDonald: Pretty Young Rebel: Her Life and Story” by Flora Fraser. The story of the young Scotswoman whose decision to help “Bonnie” Prince Charlie, the Stuart claimant to the British throne, evade capture and flee the country, inspiring countless novels, poems and songs.

“The Matter of Everything: How Curiosity, Physics, and Improbable Experiments Changed the World” by Suzie Sheehy. Celebrating human ingenuity, creativity and curiosity, an accelerator physicist introduces us to the people who, through a combination of genius, persistence and luck, staged the experiments that changed the course of history, giving rise to the technology that ushered us into the modern world.

“What’s Gotten Into You: The Story of Your Body’s Atoms, from the Big Bang Through Last Night’s Dinner” by Dan Levitt. Tells the awe-inspiring story of the elements that make up the human body, and how these building blocks of life travelled billions of miles and across billions of years to make us who we are.

New Fiction:

“How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix. Forced to return to the small Southern town where she grew up to sell her late parents’ house, Louise discovers that her and her brother’s old grudges pale in comparison to the terror that still lurks within its walls.

“The Cabinet of Dr. Leng (Agent Pendergast)” by Douglas Preston & Lee Child. As Constance finds her way back to New York City in the late 1800s to prevent the death of her siblings and stop serial killer, Dr. Enoch Leng, FBI Special Agent Pendergast desperately tries to find a way to reunite with her before it’s too late.

“The Devil’s Ransom (Pike Logan)” by Brad Taylor. When his covert company, along with every other entity in the Taskforce, is hit with a ransomware attack linked to the Taliban, Pike must stop a plot to alter the balance of power on the global stage orchestrated by a former NSA specialist in the U.S. government.

“Don’t Open the Door, No. 2 (Regan Merritt)” by Allison Brennan. Quitting her job and moving in the wake of the shocking murder of her son, Marshal Regan Merritt returns to Virginia to look into her former boss's death in the second novel of the series following “The Sorority Murder”.

“The House at the end of the World” by Dean Koontz. Alone on Jacob’s Ladder Island until two agents arrive in search of someone – or something – they refuse to identify, artist Katie, along with a brave young girl, finds herself in an epic and terrifying battle with a mysterious enemy that could bring about the end of the world

“The Skeleton Key” by Erin Kelly. Nell, driven into seclusion by her father’s obsessed fans, returns home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her father’s book “The Golden Bones,” which is being reissued along with a documentary crew to film what happens after he finally reveals the location of the last hidden bone.

A life-long member of the community, John Englesby died sometime on Thursday, January 5th. He was a long-time member of the library board. I feel I should note his passing since, in a way, it changes the landscape of the community. Finding the words to describe John Englesby is difficult, but “reliable” and “dependable” immediately leap to mind. I first knew something wasn’t right when he failed to respond to an email and when he failed to show up -- without explanation or excuse-- to the first library board meeting of 2023. He also failed to show up to play piano at the Senior Center that morning which sent people to his house. Not showing up was so unlike John. He always did what he said he would do.

John was deeply rooted in the community and a life long resident of Morrisonville. He was a teacher with a Phd from UW Madison. He loved local history and did all he could to collect and preserve it. He was on the library board since 1982. He was on the library board when I was hired. He was the president of the library board for many years including the years that saw the library being built. He and I attended so many construction meetings during the project. He took meticulous notes which I’m sure are preserved somewhere in the library. John was always part of the library landscape. It is hard to believe that I won’t be seeing him walk across the library today or tomorrow or ever again.

He oversaw the preservation of the Lyster House, the Depot, and the Hansen Newell Bennett House. He was tireless in his devotion to not losing any local history. He was at the gallery and DeForest Area Historical Society office in the library at least twice a week and often more. The last time I saw John was on Tuesday, the 3rd of January as he was talking to someone at the circulation desk. The last time I saw him to talk to was at Dick Emerson's funeral on the 13th of December. With both John and Dick gone, a gigantic piece of local history is gone forever. The loss of John’s presence and memories is immeasurable. His legacy is great. He was a kind soul and a gentleman -- in every sense of the word.

Below are some of the books which recently arrived at the library.

New Non-Fiction:

“A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friends, Emmett Till” by Wheeler Parke & Christopher Benson. The last surviving eyewitness to the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till tells the story of the case that ignited the civil rights movement, as well as memories of Till as a boy and insights into the investigation.

“The Anger Toolkit: Quick Tools to Manage Intense Emotions and Keep Your Cool” by Matthew McKay. Written by a team of anger experts, The Anger Toolkit offers evidence-based anger-cooling skills, exercises, and tools drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).This powerfully effective guide has everything you need to stay calm, cool, and in charge of your emotions.

“Outside Looking In: The Seriously Funny Life and Work of George Carlin” by John Corcelli. In this book, the author reveals how Carlin's mother nurtured him as a child performer, his stint in the USAF, his first act with Jack Burns, and how he was able to transition from a clean-cut performer doing the "Hippy Dippy Weatherman" into the counter-culture satirist with a ponytail.

New Fiction:

“Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde Series” by Heather Fawcett. A Cambridge professor, scholar and researcher on the study of faeries visits the hardscrabble village of Hransvik where she gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones and resists her insufferably handsome academic rival.

“Hell Bent, No 2 (Alex Stern)” by Leigh Bardugo. Assembling a team of dubious allies, Galaxy "Alex" Stern is determined to find a gateway to the underworld and rescue Darlington from purgatory in the second novel of the series following “Ninth House”.

“The Mitford Affair” by Marie Benedict. After her sister Diana divorces her wealthy husband to marry a fascist leader and her sister Unity follows Diana to Munich, inciting rumors that she’s become Hitler’s mistress, novelist Nancy Mitford, after uncovering disquieting documents, must make difficult choices as Great Britain goes to war with Germany

“Sleep No More, No. 1 (The Lost Night Files)" by Jayne Ann Krentz. Hoping to connect with others who had a lost night they can’t remember, Pallas, after receiving a tip on her podcast, travels to explore and abandoned asylum where she helps her mysterious tipster investigate a murder that is connected to them both.

“Just the Nicest Couple” by Mary Kubica. When her husband Jack vanishes without a trace Nina Hayes will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, which, unbeknownst to her, is inextricable linked to their close friends, who may have been the last to see Jack before he went missing.

“You Must Remember This” by Kat Rosenfield. When 85-year-old Miriam Caravasios slips through the ice to her death, Delphine, a frightened and insecure young woman who adored her grandmother, falls under scrutiny when it is revealed that Miriam’s will cut off her children, leaving her almost everything and emboldening her to find the truth.

“The Mitford Secret, No. 6 (The Mitford Murders)” by Jessica Fellowes. In 1941, when the Mitford family gathers at Chatsworth for Christmas, along with society’s most glamourous guests and Louisa Cannon, an old family friend turned private detective, a mystery unfolds after a psychic reveals a long-ago murder in this very house, prompting Louisa to solve this cold case.

“Locust Lane” by Stephen Amidon. When three teenagers – Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable history; Jack, the popular kid with a mean streak; and Christopher – an outsider desperate to fit in – become suspects in the murder of a fellow student, their parents will do anything to protect them

“Hidden in the Pines, No. 2 (Lew Ferris Mysteries)” by Victoria Houston. Sheriff Lew Ferris knows how to land a brook trout—but can she catch a cold-blooded killer in the thrilling second installment in the Lew Ferris mysteries. The fish may be biting in McBride County—but now, Lew is on the line to uncover the long-buried secret that could ensnare a killer once and for all.

This past weekend, a friend of mine who is an avid bird watcher, texted me to say that there was a large, migratory flock of cowbirds and starlings hanging around at the edge of the marsh on their property. Birds flock up to head south, generally speaking, and return north in the spring in smaller bands. So was this a group of birds that had lingered during that cold snap we had a few weeks ago and are now confused about which season they're in? Hard to say. That flock left and a couple of days later there were about 1,000 red-winged blackbirds using that same marsh as a stop over. The weather has certainly been unseasonable. January looks to continue to be mild for the foreseeable forecast. There is a bush on the library grounds with a south facing that looks like it's seriously considering budding. I continue to point out to people that migration and plants beginning to wake from dormancy is a function of not only temperature (which can be a real fooler) but also length of daylight. And while the days have gotten noticeably longer at the sunset end of things -- that stopped way back at the beginning of December when the latest sunset was 4:22 and we have been slowly but steadily gaining minutes until at this publishing sunset is at 4:46-- we only just stopped have sunrise at a later time every day. Way back in December when sunset quit getting later and later --on the 11th or so-- sunrise was at 7:19. Today it is at 7:27 (actually a gain of two minutes of daylight since the 1st of the year). This is a long way of saying that although length of day is moving in the right direction (at last) it shouldn't be triggering early spring behavior -- except in humans who always have hope in their hearts. But I digress from the real reason you are here. Below are the new books which recently arrived at the library --not because of any urges to migrate north to our library brought on by mild temperatures and longer daylight hours, but by the UPS man. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“Koala: A Natural History and an Uncertain Future” by Danielle Clode. An Australian biologist combines evolutionary biology, natural history, and ecology and takes readers on a surprising and delightful journey into the world of koalas, exploring their complex relationship with their modern habitat and their unexpected connections with humans.

“The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness” by Robert Waldinger & Marc Schultz. Looks at what science has to say about what a person needs for a happy, fulfilling life.

New Fiction:

“Dark of Night, No.2 (Annie Pederson)” by Colleen Cobie. Ranger Annie Pederson is preoccupied by another missing hiker in Michigan's Upper Peninsula when a woman claiming to be her long-lost, abducted sister shows up in the second novel of the series following “Edge of Dusk”.

“Moonrise Over New Jessup” by Jamila Minnicks. Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, a debut novel follows a black woman who will do whatever it takes to protect all she loves at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama

“Please Report Your Bug Here” by Josh Riedel. A debut novel about a dating app employee who discovers a glitch that transports him to other worlds.

“Really Good, Actually” by Monica Helsey. Determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcee, 29-year-old Maggie, with the help of her tough-loving academic advisor, her newly divorced friend and her group chat, barrels through her first year of singledom, searching for what truly makes her happy.

“The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre” by Natasha Lester. Tells the tale of an orphan turned World War II spy turned fashion icon in Paris.

“The Game is Afoot, No. 8 (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries)” by Vicki Delany. Asked to look into some strange happenings at Scarlet House, a historical re-enactment museum, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Jayne instead find a dead body and suspect foul play as secrets about the museum come to light

“The Mitford Murders, No. 6 (The Mitford Murders)” by Jessica Fellowes. In 1941, when the Mitford family gathers at Chatsworth for Christmas, along with society’s most glamourous guests and Louisa Cannon, an old family friend turned private detective, a mystery unfolds after a psychic reveals a long-ago murder in this very house, prompting Louisa to solve this cold case.

“The House of Wolves” by James Patterson & Mike Lupica. Jenny Wolf’s murdered father has left her in charge of a multi-billion-dollar empire—a newspaper, a football team, a holding company ... and a dysfunctional family that knows no bounds.

“Just the Nicest Couple” by Mary Kubica. When her husband Jack vanishes without a trace, Nina Hayes will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, which, unbeknownst to her, is inextricably linked to their close friends, who may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing.

“Locust Lane” by Stephen Amidon. When three teenagers – Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable history; Jack, the popular kid with a mean streak; and Christopher – an outsider desperate to fit in – become suspects in the murder of a fellow student, their parents will do anything to protect them, even at the others’ expense.

“What Lies in the Woods” by Kate Alice Marshall. Twenty-two years after her best friend was attacked in the woods, surviving seventeen stab wounds, Naomi Shaw, who has a secret worth killing for, returns home when the man responsible dies in prison to find out what really happened, no matter how dangerous the truth may be.

“You Must Remember This” by Kat Rosenfield. When 85-year-old Miriam Caravasios slips through the ice to her death, Delphine, a frightened and insecure young woman who adored her grandmother, falls under scrutiny when it is revealed that Miriam’s will cut off her children, leaving her almost everything and emboldening her to find the truth.

I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration. What about those Packers, eh?! A great way to start a new year. Here’s hoping they can carry on as they have begun. Now that a great many of the winter holidays are past and the post-holiday sales have petered out, it is time to get serious about the Winter Reading Program. This year we are outfoxing winter by reading, so now is the time to dig in and read. Below you will find some new titles to whet your appetite. Pickings in the new book realm are a little slim these past few weeks due to shipping congestion undoubtedly brought on by the holidays and also by the fact that our major book jobber was hijacked and is still recovering from that incident. While waiting for the hottest bestsellers to arrive, why not read a classic? Isn’t there a book you’ve always been meaning to read? “War and Peace”, “Madame Bovary”, “ David Copperfield” , “ Les Miserable”, or “The Count of Monte Cristo” to name just a few rather large, rather cumbersome tomes. If you check out one of these books and it still seems too overwhelming, well, there’s a app for that. Serialreader.org offers over 600 classic book titles in bite-size chunks of about 20 minutes of the book each day for free (with ads). I made it through “War and Peace” on this app (My there was a lot of riding back and forth in that war). You can count any books you read on whatever platform or format you read it on for the Winter Reading Program. Below are some of the most recent arrivals. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed” by Jim Popkin. Describes the true crime story of Ana Montes, a superstar of the US Intelligence community who had recently won a prestigious fellowship at the CIA was arrested and publicly exposed as a secret agent for Cuba.

“The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill” by Brad Metzler & Josh Mensch. In this gripping true story of daring rescues, body doubles and political intrigue, the “New York Times” best-selling authors of “The First Conspiracy” and “The Lincoln Conspiracy”  reveal the Nazi’s plans to kill FDR, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill – an assassination plot that would’ve changed history.

New Fiction:

“A Streetcar Named Murder, No.1 (New Orleans Mysteries)” by T.G. Herren. Blackmail in the Big Easy turns to cold-blooded murder in this debut cozy mystery.

“Love Clancy: Diary of a Good Dog” by W. Bruce Cameron. Told from the viewpoint of Clancy, a very good dog who keeps a diary, this deeply moving story follows an unforgettable cast of characters as they jointly and separately navigate the challenges of life, of love and of other pets, including Clancy’s worst enemy.

“Night Wherever We Go” by Tracey Rose Peyton. A debut novel about a group of enslaved women staging a covert rebellion against their owners.

“City Under One Roof” by Iris Yamashita. A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone winters in the same high-rise building, in this gripping debut by an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.

“All the Dangerous Things” by Stacy Willingham. After her son is kidnapped while sleeping in his crib, a mother agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster with ulterior motives in the new novel from the best-selling author of “A Flicker in the Dark”.

“Code 6” by James Grippando. A screenwriter working on a script about the dark side of Big Data is pulled into a far-reaching conspiracy and cover-up after a childhood friend is kidnapped while under investigation by the Justice Department.

“Eden’s Children, No. 1 (Eden)” by V. C. Andrews. A former teacher adopts and homeschools two siblings, but when one, Faith, becomes attracted to a handsome young out-of-town visitor her brother will do anything to keep her safe in the first novel of a new series.

“The Villa” by Rachel Hawkins. While on a girls trip to Italy with her best friend Chess, Emily discovers their high-end villa was once the scene of a brutal murder, and, digging into the past, finds the truth seeping into the present as dangerous betrayals emerge.