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9 new libraries in Indianapolis, all of them quite unusual. Here’s an interview about them, and an invitation to the grand opening.

August 14, 2015 by Reader's Connection




There’s a new library going up at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. It’s going to look like this.









The one at White River State Park will look like this.









There will be one at Eskenazi Health . . .

















. . . two at the Indianapolis Museum of Art . . .














. . . one at the City Market .


. .










. . . one at Horizon House . . .










. . . one at the southeast corner of the Cultural Trail . . .






. . . and one on Monument Circle.

Are you confused? Do these libraries not look like libraries?

Click on that last picture, of the library/artwork called Monument on Monument Circle, to hear an interview with Mindy Taylor Ross (of Art Strategies, LLC) about these 9 works of art that actually function as lending libraries.

The books at these installations aren’t regular Indianapolis Public Library books. The library is donating them, but they’re part of something called The Public Collection. You’ll be able to borrow them on the “good old honor system” as Mindy says; and you can donate books–though if you’d like to make a large donation, you should contact us, the Indy Public Library.

At noon on Thursday, August 27th, the official opening of these Public Collection installations will be be celebrated on Monument Circle. Come see a new artwork, and maybe borrow a book, or donate one.

I had a lot of fun, a few years back, photographing the installation of Tom Torluemke’s mural at Central Library; and I’m delighted to see that he designed one of the Public Collection libraries (Cool Books, Food for Thought at the art museum). But really, I’m intrigued by all of them.


3 Rock to Read Concerts!

August 12, 2015 by Reader's Connection

r2r Since 2006, the Rock to Read concerts have raised more than $100,000 for children’s summer reading programs at the Library.

In the autumn of 2015 there will be three concerts.


IU Auditorium
1211 East 7th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
Friday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m.
Individual tickets may be purchased online from IU Auditorium website, as well as through, or at the IU Auditorium box office which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

John Hiatt & Lyle Lovett

Old National Centre
502 North New Jersey St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be ordered through Live Nation or Ticketmaster (which takes you to Live Nation, but there may be some reason to go this way) or at the Old National Centre box office, which is open Monday – Thursday 11am-6pm and Friday 10am-6pm, and which can be reached at 1-800-745-3000.


Old National Centre
502 North New Jersey St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Friday, November 13 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets can be ordered through Live Nation or Ticketmaster  or at the Old National Centre box office, which is open Monday – Thursday 11am-6pm and Friday 10am-6pm, and which can be reached at 1-800-745-3000.

Rock to Read is a partnership between 92.3 WTTS, Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, and the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.


Read Around Central: Sir Francis Bacon

August 10, 2015 by Reader's Connection


Hey, I’m sorry. I tried to visually capture some of Sherry’s excitement about Sir Francis, and it just hasn’t worked out.



Librarian Sherry Utterback makes her fifth stop on Read Around Central–her tour of the names engraved at Central Library.

Let me get this out at the start: I do not like Sir Francis Bacon’s writing! Really and truly, I tried. First, I listened to part his essay “Of Truth” on the downloadable audiobook Favourite Essays, which is an anthology of essays by different authors, read by Neville Jason. When I woke up (just kidding), after listening to a few minutes, I was making no sense of the essay, so I went up and pulled The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, of Francis Ld. Verulam, Viscount St. Albans (Francis Bacon), new edition by The Peter Pauper Press, and started to read “Of Truth.” A paragraph later, I turned to “Of Friendship,” then “Of Gardens,” followed quickly by “Of Adversity, Of Love, Of Boldness…”

Favourite EssaysIn short, I did not finish one essay! The writing seemed to me very convoluted, as in you start at the beginning of the sentence, about the middle you lose track of what Bacon is talking about, so you go back to the beginning, read on, lose track, go back, and repeat. Maybe my tiny little mind can’t grasp the ideas being expressed by this great thinker and writer I concluded, so I moved on to his poetry. He only wrote six, so how hard can this be? Well, to me, Sir Francis’ poetry is as ponderous as his essays. In desperation, I found The Quotation Page, and finally found that I like something he wrote! Maybe the quotations are short enough to keep my attention. At least I appreciate the ideas that I think he is trying to convey.


The essays or counsels, civil and moral, of Francis Ld. Verulam, Viscount St. Albans / Francis BaconWho was Sir Francis Bacon, and what did he write that earned him a place engraved in limestone? He was a very accomplished man, philosopher, poet, essayist, biographer, playwright, lawyer and statesman. He was born into a well-connected London family on January 22, 1561. He was educated at Trinity College, and eventually began to pursue the study of law. His education was suspended by the unexpected death of his father, and since Francis was the second son, his inheritance was “meager”. In 1581, he got a position in the House of Commons for Cornwall, thereby beginning his political career. Through this endeavor and his eventual marriage to an heiress, Bacon’s finances improved significantly. He continued to advance in politics, eventually gaining the office of Lord Chancellor, the second highest position in the Great Officers of State, the British cabinet. He also continued his scientific work, embracing the school that depended upon proving theories by experimentation, rather than building upon the ideas of past scientists. Francis Bacon died on April 9, 1626 from bronchitis which he contracted after he conducted an experiment on the effects of cold on the preservation of meat by stuffing a chicken with snow.

Oxford Authors: Francis Bacon, edited by Brian VickersIn his writing, Bacon was very diverse, as noted above. In spite of all that he wrote under his own name, what attracts much attention is the theory that Francis Bacon authored the works of William Shakespeare. I looked over a description of the “Baconian Theory of Shakespeare Authorship” and it goes like this: Bacon was a politician who had climbed high in his career. Among his writings, he had authored several plays that he wanted to see performed without having his (real) name attached to them. What’s a titled gentleman to do? After all, you can’t sully your reputation by writing for the theater (egad and forsooth)! So Sir Francis chose an actor named William Shakespeare to be his front for authoring the plays, and everybody lived happily ever after.

As hard as I tried, I never could fall into step with Sir Francis, so I will take my bacon on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.


The Opposite of Loneliness

August 6, 2015 by Reader's Connection

The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina Keegan, the author of The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, was killed in an auto accident when she was 22 years old. Her early death is mentioned several times in the paperback blurbs, and I wondered, as I opened the book, whether I’d be overly kind about her writing.

I needn’t have worried. Keegan would have grown into a world-class author, but she was wonderful in her youth; and her youth is part of the fun when you read her. Anne Fadiman, one of Keegan’s teachers at Yale, writes in the introduction:

Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one; a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there are few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful.

Keegan’s youth shines in the wonderfully entitled essay “Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in Eschatology,” wherein she expresses the hope that humans can rove out into other solar systems before our sun fizzles out.

Humans alone could be winning the race against our giant gas time bomb and running with the universal Olympic torch. What an honor. What a responsibility. What a gift we have been given to be born in an atmosphere with oxygen and carbon dioxide and millions of years and phenotypes cheering us on with recycles of energy.

The thing is, I think we can make it. I think we can shove ourselves into spaceships before things get too cold.

I only hope we don’t ____ things up before that. Because millions of years is a long time and I don’t want to let the universe down.

Her early death doesn’t haunt the book for me. It just jumps out at me now and then. She suffered from celiac disease before so many foodstuffs on supermarket shelves were labelled non-gluten, and her essay about the disease–and her mother’s extraordinary care of her–is called “Against the Grain.” It starts like this:

On my deathbed, I will instruct the nurse to bring me the following: a box of Oreos, a bag of Goldfish, a McDonald’s hamburger, an assortment of Dunkin’ Donuts, a chicken pot pie, a Hot Pocket, a large pepperoni pizza, a French crepe, and an ice-cold beer. In my final moments, I will consume this food slowly and and delicately as I fade into oblivion. I’ll start with the donuts, lemon-glazed and Boston Kreme, biting at each collapsible calorie as my relatives sigh and sign condolence cards. Next, I’ll sample the pizza and beer, happily slurping both as the doctors sew me up and take sad notes. “Oh,” they’ll say in deep baritones, “I think it’s too late. I think it’s the end.”

I laughed out loud when I read that, and then I remembered and thought, Oh, Christ.

As for the fiction: I can honestly say, with almost no grading curve employed, that I enjoyed every story. Some are stories of college life, of being home from college, but then they roam. One is made up of e-mails from the Green Zone in Iraq, and another is set on a doomed submarine. The one-two punch at the end of “The Ingenue” is so bizarre. (He did that? But she still did that?) And the next time someone puts together an anthology of Christmas fiction written by unbelievers but nonetheless inspiring, “Hail, Full of Grace” will be included.

The Opposite of Loneliness on CD

I wish Marina Keegan were here to help me write an uncorny finish for this review. I keep wanting to repeat that earlier bit: She would have gotten better, but she was already splendid. When teacher Anne Fadiman asked her students to compose a list of things to work on as writers, Keegan’s list included “THERE CAN ALWAYS BE A BETTER THING!” No kidding.

The Opposite of Loneliness is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.


The Girl Who Slept with God

August 3, 2015 by Reader's Connection

The Girl Who Slept With God

Val Brelinski, according to an author note, was raised in Idaho by “devout evangelical Christians.” Her first novel, due for publication on August 4th, tells the story of Jory Quanbeck, who has been raised in Idaho by devout Christians. Jory’s older sister Grace enjoys “witnessing” to anyone at hand, and is sent to Mexico as part of a young missionary team. She is pregnant when she returns.

This is embarrassing enough for her parents, but to make things worse, Grace won’t say who the father is. Worse yet, she says of herself, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done unto me according to thy word, which is what the Virgin Mary said when told of her divine pregnancy.

The year is 1970. Grace and Jory are taken by their father to an abandoned house on the edge of town, where 13-year-old Jory, to her disgust, has to attend a different high school while Grace lives through her pregnancy. Things do not go well.

The Girl Who Slept With God has a host of interesting characters, including the old woman who lives next door to Jory and Grace’s “hidden” home, and the ice cream man with a mysterious past, about whom another character says,

“He’s hiding out here. We all are. It’s the boonies and nobody knows us, okay?” He spread his arms out wide. “It’s Idaho, man.”

At the center of all the action, all the characters, is Jory’s attempt to navigate her confusing world: a new school, a changing body, a split-up family, a crush on the ice cream man, and some drugs out there that she’s never heard of.

It’s Idaho, man, and it’s a really good novel.

The Girl Who Slept with God is also available as a downloadable e-book.