Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

September 28, 2015

Every Day I Fight

Every Day I Fight
by Scott, Stuart
B Scott, Stuart SCO

Every Day I Fight is a resounding biography regarding the Sports Center Anchor Stuart Scott. Scott was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2007 while undergoing an appendectomy and learned that his appendix was cancerous. After going into remission for several years, he was again diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and 2013. The book is an emotional journey through his life with cancer, which took his life a few months before publication. Scott talks about growing up in North Carolina, his early years at ESPN and his battle to fight cancer. Personal setbacks aside, Scott went on to become one of the favorite voices of ESPN with catchphrases such as "Call him butter, 'cause he's on a roll!" "He's as cool as the other side of the pillow!" And so on. Every Day I Fight is a quick read and I highly recommend it.

         — Recommended by Gregory Hill, previously Manager of the Decatur Library, now Manager of the Lawrence Library


September 21, 2015

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir
by Yang, Kao Kalia
B Yang, K.K. YAN

What is Hmong?
Where is your country?
What are you doing here, in America? Are you ever going home again?

These were questions that were asked of the author, Kao Kalia Yang, since she came to the United States when she was six. Have you in your mind at least the curiosity about this people?

This book uniquely tells the story of Hmong people through the journey of the author’s family from escaping genocide in the Lao’s jungle to refugee camp in Thailand to coming to United States and their survivorship in a whole new set of hardships in this new country.

The story comes alive through different angles approached from the author’s experience to her mother’s to her paternal grandmother’s. It is a moving account of a family, a people, their resiliency and triumph. The interwoven Hmong folk tales and customs told through grandma’s story added texture to the Hmong culture.

It also reveals some facts about the Vietnam War unknown to many people, for example, the so-called “Secret War” where CIA recruited the Hmong to fight the communists and attack North Vietnamese supply lines. One third of Hmong men died during the war, another third were killed in the aftermath by the Lao Communist government in collaboration with the Vietnam People's Army during the ensuing Hmong insurgency.

This book gives a new understanding of the Hmong people at the least. It could also provoke thoughts and discussions on wars, politics, ethnic identity, survivorship and pertinent subjects. Reading groups might also find this a good candidate for discussions.

The Latehomecomer is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.

          --Recommended by Sailan Liang, Glendale Library


September 14, 2015

Turtleface and Beyond: Stories

Turtleface and Beyond: Stories
by Bradford, Arthur

Arthur Bradford’s short story collection Dogwalker (2001) featured bizarre, slightly surreal tales told in a straightforward and earnest manner. Bradford’s second short story collection, Turtleface and Beyond (2015), is much the same. The main difference is that this time all of the stories, while technically unrelated, feature a common narrator named Georgie. Georgie is a young man who seemingly does nothing but wander around the world and find himself in a number of strange situations, yet, despite numerous mistakes and errors in judgment, manages to come out emotionally unscathed and able to recount his exploits to the readers. Georgie has an affair with an Israeli woman in Thailand, loses part of his leg in a wood chipper, and watches the NBA Finals in a shack in a remote area of Vermont. Throughout the book he relates these stories in a charming, simple manner that is completely devoid of irony or cynicism.

              --Recommended by Adam Todd, Spades Park Library


September 7, 2015

Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel

Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel
by Marillier, Juliet

Growing up, I loved tales of mystery and magic. A well-crafted fairy tale was a treasure, and Dreamer’s Pool is just such a story. In this first book of her new series “Blackthorn and Grim,” well-established author Juliet Marillier entices the reader with elements of action, romance, vengeance, and morality. Set in the fictional kingdom of Erin, loosely based on medieval Ireland, main characters Blackthorn and Grim aren’t your typical hero and heroine. Both have literally tortured pasts that have left deep scars on their bodies and psyches. At the eleventh hour, Blackthorn is offered a deal by the fey nobleman Conmael. He will free her from prison and imminent execution, in exchange for her promise to use her skills as a healer in a small village, helping any in need who may come to her. She must also put aside her desire for vengeance against her tormentors for seven years. Though skeptical of Conmael’s motives, Blackthorn accepts the deal freeing both herself and Grim to make a new life in a faraway hamlet with more than its share of excitement. Enter a scholarly prince, villainous baker, traumatized lap dog, and an enigmatic giant whose stories are seamlessly woven into the main storyline of Blackthorn’s attempts fulfill her geas. I highly recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, dark fairy tales, historical fiction mystery, suspense, or anyone looking for a good yarn.

Dreamer’s Pool is also available as a downloadable e-book.

                    --Recommended by Katherine McFarland, Lawrence Library


August 31, 2015

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
by Allison, Peter
916.88304 ALL

Allison began working as a safari guide as a teenager. His first job, however, was less than glamorous: it was his job to get alcohol to the camp for the tourists. Like motorists who become complacent with their drive to work, Allison let his guard down, didn’t listen to the warning “Ka-weeeeeee!” of the Grey Lourie. So he stopped to remove a pebble from his shoe, hopped around a bit getting it back on, and then rounded a fallen log, surprising a pair of massive lions. “The time it took for them to get from where they were to where I stood was too short for my life to flash before my eyes.” While he claims no heroic actions on his part, he does admit thinking—of all things—that if he drops the 24-pack of beer he’s carrying, it will get all fizzed up. But what he didn’t do was run. He stood his ground and lived to tell the tale. For me, roughing it is having to use a different brand of shampoo, so it’s a sure thing that I will never sign up for a safari in Botswana. But if I should ever find myself there, I would want Allison at my side—not only as a guide (and, let’s face it, protector), but also with the hope that he would share more of his wonderful stories of life in the Otovango Delta.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

         --Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library