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Staff Picks

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

November 3, 2014

 A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings
by Barks, Coleman
891.5511 BAR

As I mentioned in a blog post last week, Coleman Barks is going to participate in this year's Spirit & Place Festival. Though unable to attend the event, I've been inspired to read this book of days.

366 poems, or fragments of poems, by the Sufi mystic. 2015 won't be a leap year, but a February 29th reading has been included, for years when it's necessary.

It's possible that reading a bit by the same poet, every day, even if he's "a planetary poet," will grow tiresome. I might begin to think, Oh this guy is sappy, working the same rooms all the time. That hasn't happened yet. The "planetary poet" description comes from Barks, who isn't a translator--he doesn't know Persian--but has helped to make Rumi popular with his reworkings of other English translations.    

Just back from Michigan, I fixed breakfast for one of my sons this morning, checked my work e-mail, and took a minute while munching raisin bran to read the November 3rd poem, "Ashes, Wanderers." The parts of me to whom advice was being offered thought the advice was pretty good.

                         --Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology


October 27, 2014

Affectionately Yours: The Civil War Home Front: Letters of the Ovid Butler Family

Affectionately Yours: The Civil War Home Front: Letters of the Ovid Butler Family
by Davis, Barbara Butler, editor
973.7477252 A2565d

Affectionately Yours has the uncommon approach of being constructed around 65 letters sent from home to the Civil War soldier. The reader is allowed that rare opportunity to learn the details of family life on the Indiana home front.

The soldier is Irvingtonian Scot Butler (of Butler University fame). We are grateful he had the foresight and ability to protect and preserve those many letters while on the battlefield.

Scot’s great granddaughter Barbara Butler Davis is to be commended for her editorial skills. As you read, it will become obvious that this book is her labor of love. Scot’s transcribed letters carry the book, and Ms. Davis excellent notations compliment and amplify the story throughout. This is a Civil War book unlike most, and belongs in every Civil War library.

                            --Recommended by Mike Hylton, Irvington Library


October 20, 2014

Nowhere Nice

Nowhere Nice
by Gavin, Rick

If you think that Janet Evanovich isn’t turning out the Stephanie Plum books at a fast enough clip, you could do far worse than to take a trip to the Mississippi Delta with Gavin. He’s got a cast and crew that reads like a mash-up of Plum and her crew with the Crowders of TV’s Justified. They’re rowdy and unintentionally funny and Gavin plays the English language like a country fiddle as he relates their adventures. A random paragraph: “There wasn’t a lot for us to be up to after that beyond giving those guns to the Purdys. As pastimes go, we went at it with concerted energy. It helped that we had a gaudy assortment of firearms in the duffel. Those cops would pull out a Steyr or our M1A, our 93R, our Heckler & Koch, and all our regular pistols too, and those Purdys just couldn’t seem indignant when we insisted they owned them.” Plot? Nick and his sidekick Desmond learn that a meth dealer they helped put in Parchman has escaped and is headed their way, his intent being to do them intense amounts of harm. They’re not afraid for themselves, but that Boudrot also means to harm some other folks and they can’t let that happen. What ensues has got to be one of the strangest—and funniest—road trips through the Mississippi backroads yet.

                      --Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


October 13, 2014

Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918

Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918
by Barthas, Louis
940.41244 BAR

Louis Barthas may have been a barrelmaker, but he was well educated and intelligent. That’s one of the main characteristics that makes this book such an important war remembrance. His “common man” experiences are reported in a perceptive and insightful style. Barthas was no officer (he resented even being a corporal) which makes this story almost unique. The notebooks document what happened as it happened. They record the death, mutilation, mud, cold, boredom and absolute futility of trench warfare from the poilu’s (“the hairy ones” – the French nickname for the common soldier) point of view. While they tell of the humane members of the officer corps, Barthas generally had no use for the imbecilic “bosses.”

In this centennial year of the beginning of World War I (the “Great War” – Barthas would have scoffed), Poilu is a most important read – “lest we forget.”

         --Recommended by Gregg Jackson, Southport Library


October 6, 2014

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
by Hanagarne, Josh
362.19683 HAN

Why would a man who has Tourette’s Syndrome choose to work in a library, a place where his involuntary tics and vocalizations would be especially noticeable? In The World’s Strongest Librarian author Josh Hanagarne explains his choice of profession and his journey to get there.

Josh started exhibiting symptoms when he was six years old. Tourette’s afflicts the sufferer with urges to blink, howl, screech, and lash out with arms and legs. But Josh was determined to live his life as normally as he could. He even resorted to drugs which left him lethargic and Botox injections in his throat which left him voiceless.

It was while he was on his mission as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Josh reached a low point in his life. He became depressed and ill and finally had to return home to his family. Although raised as a Mormon, Josh began to question his faith. His father suggested that he try lifting weights, something to give him focus. Soon Josh found that strength training gave him the ability to control his tics somewhat and ultimately, control over the rest of his life.

Through all of his childhood, Josh was an avid reader. He fell in love with Fern after reading Charlotte’s Web. It seemed inevitable that he should ultimately become a librarian. But why? He chose librarianship, he says, not just because of his love of books and knowledge but also because a library was one of the most inhospitable places he could think of for someone with Tourette’s Syndrome. It compelled him to consistently maintain silence and self-control. “Silence and stillness were in short supply in my life,” Josh says. One has to wonder if the title "The World’s Strongest Librarian" is referring to Josh’s physical strength training or the mental and emotional strength that he exhibits on a daily basis.

  The World’s Strongest Librarian is also available as a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD.

                       — Recommended by Kim Vanderwilt, Lawrence Library