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If you don’t like this blog post, blame Librarian Gregg Jackson at Southport

September 5, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Poems and Other WritingsThis year’s Bicentennial Reading Challenge is a mix of Hoosier-related challenges that I made up, and goals borrowed from Rachel Manwill’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge on Book Riot.

One of her hurdles is Read a book originally published in the decade you were born. I’ve decided to be more strict than Rachel, and find a book from the year I was born, not just the decade. I am reading and enjoying a 1947 release.

But when I first posted the challenge, Southport Librarian Gregg Jackson made a suggestion: How ‘bout reading something originally written in the same decade as you were born BUT with a twist – minus 100 years.

Courtesy of Gregg, we are now going to enter the forest primeval.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s novella-length poem Evangeline first appeared in 1847. It is available in the Library of America volume Poems and Other Writings and separately in other editions.

Northern Lights, Southern CrossIf you’ve heard the song “Acadian Driftwood,” on the album Northern Lights, Southern Cross by the rock group The Band, then you have some background. 4/5 of the group’s members were Canadian, so they had an interest in Britain’s 1755 expulsion of the French Acadians from the Nova Scotia region.

A more detailed, less musical account of the expulsion is available on the website Historica Canada. If you’ve ever wondered where the Cajuns in Louisiana came from, you can read up.

The Acadian way of life is captured rather idealistically in the opening passages of Longfellow’s poem. Evangeline is a young Acadian woman who is in love with Gabriel. The two of them are separated at the time of the expulsion, and they wander like the “driftwood” in the Band’s song.

I enjoyed the poem, so you can ignore the grouchy tone I’m taking with Gregg. Reading Longfellow aloud with a thundering voice, allowing his unrhymed lines to cascade around you, is great fun. This isn’t always possible, and I had to be subdued when reading at the Lincoln Square Pancake House across 24th Street from the Library Services Center where I work.

The waiters & waitresses there are always sweet, but they might have spilled my decaf if I’d tried to chant through my mouthful of omelette:


This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea or decaf or anything, but the journeys of the Acadians make up a soulful American story, and Longfellow provided one of its most popular re-tellings.

Back on the subject of this year’s reading challenge: I’m making Hoosier adaptations of some of Rachel Manwill’s hurdles. My book of essays is by an Indiana author, as is my 1947 release. I didn’t go Hoosier with my 1847 read, but there is  a mention of our shores as Evangeline and her company row south.


So there you go. Longfellow, looking back over his shoulder, waves and wishes us a Happy 200th.


Indiana-Inspired Books & Movies

September 1, 2016 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Jessica Lawrence: Indiana, with its natural beauty, prominent history and lush wilderness, has inspired numerous writers and artists, and provides the perfect setting for quite a few books and movies. As we celebrate our great state’s Bicentennial, now is the perfect time to revisit some of our favorite Hoosier-inspired books and movies.

Item descriptions and plot summaries provided below.



Asphalt Moon


Asphalt Moon by Ronald Tierney

The murder rate in Indianapolis is climbing, and someone wants to add 70-year-old private eye Deets Shanahan to the citys crime statistics. Who is it? Why? While the veteran investigator is willing to take on the mysterious stalker, he fears that the love of his life, live-in girlfriend Maureen, is in the killers sights as well…






Barefoot SummerBarefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job, the loss still haunts her. To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill his dream of winning her small Indiana town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast. She’ll even work with the infamous Beckett to reach her goal. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?




The Bright Forever


The Bright Forever by Lee Martin (eBook)

On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books. This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever.





City of the Sun


City of the Sun by David Levien

Jamie Gabriel gets on his bike before dawn to deliver newspapers in his suburban Indianapolis neighborhood. Somewhere en route, he vanishes without a trace. This, haunting and thrilling novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the author explores suburban Indianapolis and the city’s sordid underworld.






A Criminal AppealA Criminal Appeal by D.R. Schanker

Fresh out of law school, Nora Lumsey has just started working for the Indiana Court of Appeals when she finds her passion to do justice at odds with her role for the judge Risking disbarment. Nora sets out to find truth and justice and is drawn into a complex web of inner-city Indy politics, gang warfare, and racial tensions. At once a page-turning thriller, a chilling look at a city in a crisis of violent crime, and a moving, finely drawn portrait of a fiercely independent young woman.




The Fault in Our Stars


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Set in Indiana, sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.







A Girl Named Zippy


A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet. Nicknamed “Zippy”, she possessed big eyes and even bigger ears. In this loving memoir, Kimmel takes readers back in time to when small-town America was still in the innocent postwar period and treats readers to an appealing, and knowing, heroine.





A Girl of the Limberlost


A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

Set in Indiana, most of the action takes place either in or around the Limberlost Swamp, or in the nearby town of Onabasha. Deeply wounded by her embittered mother’s lack of sympathy for her aspirations, Elnora finds comfort in the nearby Limberlost Swamp, whose beauty and rich abundance provide her with the means to better her life.





God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater


God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

Set in fictional Rosewater County, Indiana, this novel focuses on Eliot Rosewater—drunk, volunteer fireman, and President of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation—who attempts a noble experiment with human nature. The result is an etched-in-acid portrayal of universal greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh.





Going All the Way


Going All the Way by Dan Wakefield

In this fun coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1954, two friends come of age in Indianapolis at the close of the Korean War.








The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

The lives and changing fortunes of three generations of a once-powerful and socially prominent Indiana family are chronicled in this vivid tale of the corrupting influence of greed and materialism.







Over and Under


Over and Under by Todd Tucker

In the summer of 1979, two fourteen-year-old boys in rural southern Indiana are blissfully unaware of the local labor strife. But in the building summer heat, violence quickly erupts—including an explosion, a murder, and the escape of two fugitives. What began as a season of independence becomes a summer of growth and change, of adventure and misbehavior. Reminiscent of Stand by Me and To Kill a Mockingbird.




So Cold the River


So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

After he is hired to research the life of a 95-year-old billionaire, Eric Shaw visits the small Indiana town of West Baden, where he discovers a restored hotel that has a checkered past–and a newly reawakened evil bent on revenge.







A Son Comes Home

A Son Comes Home by Joseph Bentz

Chris LaRue had fled his Indiana home after the grief and pain surrounding his brother’s death became too much to bear. Now, two summers later, he returns and though the secrets that Chris’ brother took to the grave still linger over the family—especially over Chris’ strained relationship with his perfectionist father—there is still a flicker of hope that leads them forward.






Breaking Away


Breaking Away

The Academy Award winning comedy about an idealistic young man and his friends and their pursuit to find jobs and a purpose to life in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.







By the Light of the Silvery Moon


By the Light of the Silvery Moon

It’s 1918 in Milburn, Indiana. Returning World War I soldier and his fiancée are readjusting to life in the heartland; he wants to postpone their marriage until he is financially secure, and the waiting causes some misunderstandings.






A Christmas Story


A Christmas Story

It’s 1940, in the northern Indiana town of Hohman. 9-year-old Ralph “Ralphie” Parker wants only one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle. Will Ralphie get his Christmas wish or will holiday shenanigans get in the way?






Close Encounters of the Third Kind


Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Roy Neary sets out to investigate a power outage in Muncie, Indiana when his truck stalls and he is bathed in light from above. After this, strange visions and five musical notes keep running through his mind. Will he find the meaning of the visions, and who – or what – placed them in his mind?





Falling From Grace


Falling From Grace

A singer and his wife returns to his Indiana hometown to celebrate his grandfather 80th birthday. But once there he risks his marriage by renewing a love affair with his high school sweetheart and risks his life with the hard drinking and high wire antics that made him famous.





Hard Rain


Hard Rain

Set during a massive flood started by a dam accident in a small Indiana town, Christian Slater is an armored truck guard who gets robbed by Morgan Freeman. In a panic, Slater tells the sheriff about the area he hid the money in and the sheriff locks him up. Now Slater has to get to the money and keep himself alive battling the sheriff, Morgan Freeman and the elements.



A History of Violence


A History of Violence

Tom is a loving, well-respected family man from a small Indiana town. When two criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly he is heralded as a local hero, but all the media attention attracts the likes of the mob, who show up at Tom’s doorstep. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about?






Based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954, this movie chronicles the attempts of a coach with a spotty past, and the town’s basketball-loving drunk to lead their high school team to victory.







In & Out

In & Out

All of Greenleaf, Indiana is watching this year’s Oscars as Hollywood heartthrob and local Indiana-boy made good Cameron Drake has been nominated for his first ever Best Actor Oscar. Cameron’s high school English teacher Howard Brackett is overjoyed when Cameron wins the award and mentions Howard’s contribution in his acting life, but what he says next wreaks havoc in Howard’s world.





The Judge


The Judge

Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home in Indiana where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.








A portrait of Indiana University professor Alfred Kinsey, who was driven to uncover the most private secrets of the nation, and journey into the mystery of human behavior.










The independent feature film Madison is a father-son action/drama based on the inspiring true story of the tiny river town of Madison, Indiana and its legendary efforts during the hydroplane racing season of 1971.







The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons

Lavish new production made from Orson Welles’ original shooting script, allowing audiences to finally see his epic vision of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Booth Tarkington novel fully realized. The haunting story of a wealthy Indiana family’s struggle to adapt to the rapidly changing world at the dawn of the 20th century.








Although people have told Rudy all his life he’s not good enough, smart enough or big enough, nothing can stop his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame.







Some Came Running


Some Came Running

Dave Hirsch, a writer and army veteran, returns to 1948 Parkman, Indiana, his hometown. His prosperous brother introduces him to Gwen French, a local teacher. But the more flamboyant Ginny has followed him to Parkton, where he also meets gambler Bama Dillert. Dave must come to terms with his roots and with his future.





The Winning Season


The Winning Season

A comedy centered on a has-been coach in a Hoosier town who is given a shot at redemption when he’s asked to run his local high school’s girls basketball team.






Discover all of these titles and more at the Indianapolis Public Library!


Butler Announces its Fall Visiting Writers Series

August 29, 2016 by Reader's Connection

The Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series at Butler University will begin its fall sequence on September 13th.

All events in the series are free and open to the public, but tickets are required to see Elizabeth Strout. Free tickets will be available beginning September 15 by calling 317-940-9861, and you can call that number for other information about the Visiting Writers Series.

You can click the authors’ names to see which of their titles are at IndyPL, though Elizabeth Strout wasn’t really involved with the writing of A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters.

Click here for information about parking at Butler.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Tuesday, September 13, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

The Emperor of Water Clocks

The Emperor of Water Clocks

The personae encountered in Pulitzer Prize winner Komunyakaa’s latest collection span the length and breadth of the human enterprise, from Cleopatra to President Obama, from 19th-century whalers to contemporary protesters in Russia and Ferguson. Always aware of how history (“a tyranny of frescoes”) is perceived and understood through the individual’s consciousness (“our dream-headed, separate eternities”), Komunyakaa deftly maintains a personal focus no matter how ancient or distant his triggering subjects, resisting the sprawl of narrative exposition in favor of the lyric form’s concision and compression, its capacity to contain “seasons of blossoms in a single seed.” And scattered throughout, the poet’s signature invocations of jazz masters–Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and others–provide resonant touchstones with his own life and times. Though ambitious in scope, Komunyakaa’s globe- and time-traveling lyrics are disarmingly subtle and soft-spoken, intimate and candid, repaying multiple readings. — Library Journal



Hanya Yanagihara

Tuesday, September 27, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Art Center

A Little Life

A Little LifeYanagihara follows her debut novel, The People in the Trees, with a deceptively simple tale of four male friends, Jude, Willem, Malcolm, and JB, who meet during their college years at Ivy League institutions. The men choose to continue their journeys into adulthood together by relocating jointly to New York. As they sustain their friendships into their fifties, the author delivers tales of their loyalty, love, and support for one another. However, lying beneath the surface is an emotionally disturbing story line about Jude, a highly successful lawyer and the brightest of the four men. The horrors of Jude’s victimization during his youth by the brothers of a monastery and his eventual abduction by Brother Luke, a pedophile and pimp, force him to struggle relentlessly with inner demons and a deep-seated distrust of others, with his pain manifested in constant acts of cutting. VERDICT As in her previous novel, Yanagihara fearlessly broaches difficult topics while simultaneously creating an environment that her audience will find caring and sensitive. Not all readers will embrace this work, given its intense subject. However, for those strong of stomach or bold enough to follow the characters’ road of friendship, this heartbreaking story certainly won’t be easily forgotten. — Library Journal



Robert Wrigley

Tuesday, October 25, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems

Earthly Meditations: New and Selected PoemsWrigley has been offering up well-crafted, articulate and largely autobiographical free verse since the 1970s, often reflecting his Great Plains roots or his longtime residence among the woods of northern Idaho. This ample career-spanning selection shows how little the essence of his carefully wrought poems appears to have changed: the notion that “the body’s one life, constant, expansive, simultaneous” informs all his observations and invocations, cast, often, into sinuously subordinated, easy-to-follow sentences. Wrigley’s personality remains a granite constant even as his attention wanders from the distant past to the near future, from his parents to cottonmouth snakes, from a confident mare in spring to a “Sad Moose”: “Each day for a week I’ve watched him,/ the ribs defined into claws.” Wrigley’s quiet respect for nonhuman nature and his consistent interest in the meaning of sex, paternity and literary inheritance unify his detailed and trustworthy, if rarely pyrotechnic, work, in which “Living is a slow dance you know/ you’re dreaming, but the chill at your neck/ is real.” — Publishers Weekly



Brenda Shaughnessy

Tuesday, November 1, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

So Much Synth

So Much SynthShaughnessy finds ever new ways to rend the heart in this biting and poignant anthropological study of girlhood and adolescence. The opening poem, “I Have a Time Machine,” sets the tone for the four-part collection, simmering in the obsessive nature of regrets and paths not taken. Her lush snapshots of youth portray triumph, anger, and agony, the poet unashamed to explore the abscesses of adolescence. “Dress Form,” a first-person confessional of self-esteem and body issues, pinpoints the rationale behind such self-inflicted wounds: “Like I learned: no dress could ever be// beautiful or best if it had me in it.” Shaughnessy uses language in a way that honors the power of imagery. This depiction of girlhood is not meant to serve as a unifier of personal experiences, but as the nuanced experience of growing up as a woman of color in a world dominated by white men. This is apparent in powerhouse poems such as “Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992” and “Is There Something I Should Know?” The latter, a long poem that forms the collection’s fierce core, is a sweeping love letter to the poet’s young daughter as well as a powerful indictment of rape culture and the white and/or male gaze. “This is not a book anyone wants to read,” Shaughnessy writes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. — Publishers Weekly



Elizabeth Strout

Wednesday, November 9, 7:30 PM
Indianapolis Spirit and Place Celebration Signature Event
Free tickets required. Call 317-940-9861 beginning September 15.
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy BartonLucy Barton recalls her months-long stay in the hospital after suffering complications during a routine appendectomy. Her husband, overwhelmed with job and child-care responsibilities, summons Lucy’s mother to stay with her, though they have long been estranged. Within the confines of her hospital room, Lucy and her mother seek to find common ground, gossiping about the neighbors in the small, rural town of Amgash, Illinois, where Lucy was raised. In this way, they avoid talking about the central event of Lucy’s life, her impoverished childhood. Obliquely, the harsh details are revealed: Lucy was frequently hungry, dirty, and terrorized by her abusive father. She felt isolated, ashamed, and fearful, feelings that still surface in adulthood. It seems a small miracle that she escaped to college, got married, had children, and became a writer while her siblings remained mired in dysfunction. She never confronts her mother about the fact that she failed to protect Lucy; indeed, though they seem incapable of expressing it, their love for each other is palpable. In a compact novel brimming with insight and emotion, Strout relays with great tenderness and sadness the way family relationships can both make and break us. — Booklist



Meghan Daum

Tuesday, November 29, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of DiscussionDaum opens this collection of personal essays with the scene at her mother’s deathbed and confesses that she wishes her mother would hurry up and die, setting the honest tone for the pieces that follow. The author proceeds to examine her attitudes about children, dogs, food, lesbianism, Joni Mitchell, etc., often expressing offbeat views counter to those of her friends–she prefers animals to children and devotes one essay to over-the-top love for her dog, Rex, while feeling relieved after having a miscarriage. Daum’s fearlessness is to be admired, as is her writing ability. She’s a skilled stylist who leavens serious topics with a smidgen of humor, such as attributing her dislike of food preparation to an overall laziness that arises from deep insecurities about not being able to master math, Middle English, and team sports. In the closing essay, the author recounts her close brush with death from a flea-borne bacterial infection with amazing detail and insight, bookending her memoir with her mother’s and her medical experiences. This book will appeal to memoir enthusiasts seeking an insightful reading experience that will entertain as well as challenge. — Library Journal


Book Discussions September 2016

August 25, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Once again this month, some of our book discussions are shifted due to a holiday early in the month–in this case, the library is closed for Labor Day on September 4th and 5th.

The Portrait of a Lady
Having taken a break for a couple weeks in August, the Shared Reading Group at the East 38th Street Branch is back at it.

On every Friday morning in September–the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th–from 10:00 to 11:30, attendees will read aloud from and discuss Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady .






J. M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, September 6th at 6:00 p.m.


[Coetzee’s] latest book is a searing evocation of post-apartheid South Africa; it earned him an unprecedented second Booker Prize. An uninspired teacher and twice divorced, David Lurie is a 52-year-old poetry scholar-cum-“adjunct professor of communications” at Cape Technical University . . . When he seduces Melanie Isaacs, a lithe student from his poetry elective . . . he believes her to represent the final object of his desire, his last act of lush, Romantic desperation. And then he is found out. This not uncommon outrage earns him a dismissal and censure from the university committee he refuses to cooperate with in hopes of saving his job. He immediately shoves off for Salem in the Eastern Cape where his daughter, Lucy, manages a dog kennel and works her smallholding, harvesting a modest crop. Here David hopes to cleanse himself with time-honored toil. But his new life in the country offers scarce refuge. Instead, he is flummoxed to discover an unfamiliar Lucy-principled, land-devoted, with a heroic resignation to the social and political developments of modern South Africa. He also memorably encounters Petrus, Lucy’s ambitious colored neighbor and sometime assistant. Petrus embodies the shifting, tangled vicissitudes of a new national schematic, and forces David to relate to the broad segment of society previously shrouded by the mists of his self-absorption. But a violent attack on the estate irrevocably alters how the book’s central figure perceives many things: his daughter and her bewildering (to him) courage, the rights of South Africa’s grossly aggrieved majority . . . In Coetzee’s tale, not a single note is false; every sentence is perfectly calibrated and essential. — Publishers Weekly

Disgrace is also available as an audiobook on CD



Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics will be discussed at the Fountain Square Branch on Thursday, September 8th at 1:30 p.m.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsIf Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler’s heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. — Booklist

The Boys in the Boat is also available as an eBook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.



The Irvington Library will host a discussion of Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from Skye at the Irvington Branch on Thursday, September 8th at 1:30 p.m.-

Letters from SkyeBrockmole uses letters to tell a remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars, cutting to the important matters that letter writers struggle to put into just the right words. In 1912, young poet Mrs. Elspeth Dunn, who has never left Scotland’s Isle of Skye because of her fear of boats, receives her first fan letter from David Graham, a college student in Urbana, Ill. They begin a long correspondence. After Elspeth’s husband goes off to war, she overcomes her fear and crosses to London to meet briefly with David, who is on his way to France to serve in the American Ambulance Field Service. Interspersed with Elspeth and David’s letters are 1940 missives from Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, to her uncle and her fiancé as she tries to find out about her father, since Elspeth will not talk about her past. The beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination. — Publishers Weekly

Letters from Skye is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, and an audiobook on CD.



Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Age of Innocence will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, September 12th at 6:30 p.m.

The Age of Innocence

Edith Wharton’s masterpiece, The Age of Innocence, presents the reader with two haunting questions. First, how can a novel with “innocence” in its title be so filled with feverish longing and smoldering desire? Second, how can a love story this passionate express itself with such respectable restraint? The answer to these questions can only be Wharton’s particular genius for portraying the mysterious contradictions of the human heart. — The Big Read

(The Age of Innocence is no longer featured on The Big Read’s website, but IndyPL and Holy Angels School still have copies of the Big Read’s CD treatment of Wharton’s novel.)

The Age of Innocence is also available as an eBook and an audiobook on CD



Eric Jerome Dickey’s novel The Blackbirds will be discussed at the Flanner House Branch on Monday, September 12th at 6:30 p.m. The Blackbirds

Destiny, Indigo, Kwanzaa, and Erica are L.A. besties, celebrating birthdays by crossing off bucket-list items and searching for a nickname for their tight support group. They shudder at the b-word, c-word and “bimbos,” but a chance hearing of Nina Simone’s song “Blackbirds” gives them their identity. The four women–all sizzling hot–alternate trash talk with firm emotional support as they deal with relationships gone bad, cancer, and the question if dinner has to be included to qualify as a date in Los Angeles. At times their repartee is reminiscent of an adolescent truth-or-dare game (e.g., when quizzed about the oldest guy they hooked up with or if they have ever had a lesbian encounter). It takes some time, but the novel’s focus eventually comes back to men who cheat. The mother of one of the Blackbirds offers sage advice: “There are two kinds of men. Those who cheat and get caught, and those who don’t get caught.” Little do the Blackbirds realize, but unfaithful acts are happening way too close to home. Dickey once again stirs a juicy mix of steamy sexuality with soap-opera drama. . . . This story will please fans who will recognize characters from the author’s previous novels. — Library Journal

The Blackbirds is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.



On Monday, September 12th at 6:30 p.m., the Poetry & Lyric Discussion Group at the Beech Grove Branch will discuss “The Names” by Billy Collins (click the above picture to hear Collins read the poem 10 years after the 9/11 attacks) and the song “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.

The Essential Billy Joel


Unichef: Top Chefs Unite in Support of the World's Children

On Monday, September 19th at 6:00 p.m., the theme for the Cookbook Discussion Program at the Nora Branch will be “Books About Cooking or Chefs.”

Attendees can read a cookbook that fits the month’s theme, sample a few of its recipes, and offer a review at the meeting. They can also opt to make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to share.

Special guests will be Chef Brad Nehrt and Chef Karen Williams, culinary arts instructors at the J. Everett Light Career Center.

Celebrity Chefs: Delicious Recipes / Sparkling Cocktails / Expert Wine PairingsRegistration is required for this program. Please call 317-275-4470




Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston will be discussed at the Pike Branch on Monday, September 19th at 6:30 p.m.

Their Eyes Were Watching GodTheir Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is a luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern black woman in the 1930s whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to seventy years. This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates, boldly and brilliantly, African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a black woman, who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard. Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God met significant commercial but divided critical acclaim. Somewhat forgotten after her death, Zora Neale Hurston was rediscovered by a number of black authors in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and reintroduced to a greater readership by Alice Walker in her 1972 essay “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” written for Ms. magazine. Long out of print, the book was reissued after a petition was circulated at the Modern Language Association Convention in 1975, and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel of American fiction. — Harper Collins

Their Eyes Were Watching God is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, and an audiobook on CD.



Ray Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine will be discussed at the Lawrence Branch on Tuesday, September 20th at 10:15 a.m.

Dandelion WineThe summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding–remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury. — Random House

And back in 2013, our (now retired) librarian Steve Bridge wrote: I have read Dandelion Wine at least 6 times and it is, like all great literature, a different book every time I read it. The sequel, Farewell Summer, was finally completed and published in 2006. These two books are not science fiction. They are primarily realistic novels about the conflict between youth and age, about the desire to be both grown-up and forever young. There is the “flavor” of fantasy about them, but you can read them completely as about growing up in a small Midwestern town.

Dandelion Wine is also available as an eAudiobook and an audiobook on CD.



On Monday, September 26th at 6:00 p.m., as a selection of Indiana Humanities Next IN Bookshelf, there will be a discussion at Central Library of Letters/Kurt Vonnegut. The collection was edited by author Dan Wakefield, and Wakefield will be on hand to lead the discussion.


Compiled for the first time, by his close friend and fellow author [Dan] Wakefield, Vonnegut’s correspondence spans 60 years, from a 1945 letter he wrote to his parents upon being released from a German POW camp to a final declining, at 84, shortly before his death, of an invitation to deliver a lecture at Cornell, his alma mater. In between, bearing all the canny observations and sardonic witticisms that distinguished his most famous works, are dozens of letters to relatives, friends, and sometimes foes, many revealing fascinating insights into Vonnegut’s private thoughts and inspirations. Highlights include reflective letters on his sudden rise to fame, supportive notes to such colleagues as Bernard Malamud and Norman Mailer, and a scathing missive to a school board threatening censorship. Arranged in chronological order and including Wakefield’s insightful background information on Vonnegut’s life, this is a volume fans will treasure. — Booklist

Letters/Kurt Vonnegut is also available as an eBook.



The College Avenue Library will host a discussion of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close on Monday, September 26th at 6:00 p.m.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseThis follow-up to Foer’s extremely good and incredibly successful Everything Is Illuminated (2002) stars one Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old amateur inventor and Shakespearean actor. But Oskar’s boots, as he likes to say, are very heavy–his father, whom he worshiped, perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11. In his dad’s closet a year later, Oskar finds a key in a vase mysteriously labeled “Black.” So he goes searching after the lock it opens, visiting (alphabetically) everyone listed in the phone book with the surname Black. Oskar, who’s a cross between The Tin Drum’s Oskar Matzerath and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’s Christopher Boone, doesn’t always sound like he’s nine, but his first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won’t soon forget him. A subplot about Oskar’s mute grandfather, who survived the bombing of Dresden, isn’t as compelling as Oskar’s quest for the lock, but when the stories finally come together, the result is an emotionally devastating climax. No spoilers here, but we will say that the book–which includes a number of photographs and some eccentric typography–ends with what is undoubtedly the most beautiful and heartbreaking flip book in all of literature. — Booklist

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook.



What This River Keeps, a novel by Greg Schwipps, will be discussed at the Beech Grove Branch on Monday, September 26th at 6:30 p.m.

What This River Keeps

In the rolling hills of southern Indiana, an elderly couple copes with the fear that their river bottom farm—the only home they’ve ever known—will be taken from them through an act of eminent domain. The river flowing through their land, where the old man has fished nearly every day of his life, may be dammed to form a reservoir. Their son, meanwhile, sinks deeper into troubles of his own, struggling to determine his place in a new romantic relationship and the duty he owes to his family’s legacy. What This River Keeps is a beautiful and heartfelt novel that reflects upon what it means to love a place and a family, and the sometimes staggering cost of that love. — Publisher’s note

What This River Keeps is also available as an eBook.



Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go will be discussed at the Spades Park Branch on Wednesday, September 28th at 6:00 p.m.

Never Let Me GoThe elegance of Ishiguro’s prose and the pitch-perfect voice of his narrator conspire to usher readers convincingly into the remembered world of Hailsham, a British boarding school for “special students.” The reminiscence is told from the point of view of Kathy H., now 31, whose evocation of the sheltered estate’s sunlit rolling hills, guardians, dormitories, and sports pavilions is imbued with undercurrents of muted tension and foreboding that presage a darker reality. As an adult, Kathy re-engages in lapsed friendships with classmates Ruth and Tommy, examining the details of their shared youth and revisiting with growing awareness the clues and anecdotal evidence apparent to them even as youngsters that they were “different” from everyone outside. — School Library Journal
Blogger’s note: All the reviews available in our catalog, including the one I’ve excerpted here, give away too much of the story.

Never Let Me Go is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, and an audiobook on CD.


LibraryReads for September. I apologize about this month’s map.

August 22, 2016 by Reader's Connection

I was trying to combine a back-to-school theme with the usual nod to the states who sent in the month’s reviews.

But it’s really too much. Makes me want to chew on erasers.

Just scroll down and read about these ten new books.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me


Aren’t there days when you just want to leave it all behind? After a life threatening event, that’s exactly what Maribeth Klein does. Maribeth, wife, mom of 4-year old twins, and editor of a glossy magazine is told to rest. Sure! The choice she makes is not the one for most, but following Maribeth on this journey is compelling nonetheless. Fast paced narrative and terrific writing make this one hard to put down. Recommended! — Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY




The Bookshop on the Corner
by Jenny Colgan

 The Bookshop on the Corner


Despite losing her job as a librarian who liked to put the right book into a patron’s hands, Nina continues her mission by moving to rural Scotland, purchasing a van, converting it into a bookmobile,and taking to the road. The plot revolves around the romance of the road, the romance of books and reading, and just plain old romance. Another marvelous book by Colgan! A gem of a book! — Virginia Holsten, Vinton Public Library, Vinton, IA





Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


The Cousins and the Keatings are two California families forever intertwined and permanently shattered by infidelity. Bert Cousins leaves his wife for Beverly Keating, leaving her to raise four children on her own. Beverly, with two children of her own, leaves her husband for Bert. The six children involved are forced to forge a childhood bond based on the combined disappointment in their parents. As adults, they find their families’ stories revealed in a way they couldn’t possibly expect. Patchett has written a family drama that perfectly captures both the absurdity and the heartbreak of domestic life. — Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA




The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter’s Wife


When Gwendolyn Hooper comes to Ceylon as a young bride, she has no idea that she’s entering a region on the cusp of political upheaval or that she’s living with a widower and his secret-filled past. The Tea Planter’s Wife has all of the elements that I’m looking for in historical fiction: compelling characters, an evocative setting, a leisurely pace, and a plot that unfolds like the petals of a flower, or, in this case, the tea plant. — Amy Lapointe, Amherst Town Library, Amherst, NH






Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains


Another great book from Bolton! Convicted serial killer Hamish Wolfe has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning and has solicited the help of lawyer Maggie Rose who is known for her ability to get convictions overturned. The story unfolds in alternating chapters from the past to the present and keeps readers on the edge of their seats with a twist you won’t see coming! Highly recommended! — Karen Zeibak, Wilton Library Association, Wilton, CT





Darktown by Thomas Mullen


In Atlanta in the late 1940s, the integration of black police officers into the force is proving to be challenging. White civilians don’t respect their authority, and black civilians don’t trust that they can protect them. Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith are men with heavy burdens on their shoulders. Every move they make is examined. When the body of a young black woman is found, they will put everything on the line to gain justice for a woman who turns into a symbol of all that is wrong with their town. Despite its historical setting, so many elements of this tale seem timely, and readers will have much to think about after turning the last page. — Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, South Huntington, NY



The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City

A mysterious new Fae couple is causing Irene and crew major grief in this second installment of the Invisible Library series. After getting a book, Irene and Kai get attacked by a group of werewolves. Irene plans to go to the Library, turn in the book, and find information on the newcomers while Kai will go to Vale’s house. Kai is attacked and taken away. To get to the chaos filled world where Kai is held, Irene has to get help from Silver and fight to not be overrun by chaos and the Fae. I like this series because Irene is a smart, tough, stubborn, and loyal librarian who has survived many crazy, dangerous, and interesting worlds and people. — Julie Horton, Greenwood County Library, Greenwood, SC



Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia DeLuce Novel by Alan Bradley

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia DeLuce Novel

Flavia deLuce has returned from Canada to find her father in the hospital and her sisters distant. When she is sent to deliver a message for the vicar’s wife, she steps into another mystery – one she is determined to solve, preferably before Inspector Hewitt can do the same. Flavia is once again a fun, science-loving protagonist. Flavia arrives at a turning point in her life and how she handles what happens next will tell much about the path that she will take into adulthood.This series entry ends on a note that begs for the next story. — Chris Andersen, Stow Munroe Falls Public Library, Stow, OH



Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

Phillips digs into the history of a series of events in his hometown in Georgia. After a series of crimes were blamed on some of the area’s young black men, the citizens of the town saw fit to run off the entire African American population. Phillips researches the crimes and the mob mentality that followed, and shows how certain citizens of Forsyth County continued to intimidate and assault African Americans who wandered across their border for almost eighty years.This is the type of history that is far too important ever to forget. — Amy Hall, Jefferson County Public Library, Wheat Ridge, CO



The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

The Secrets of Wishtide

A charming mystery introduces Laetitia Rodd, a widow who moonlights as a sleuth in 1850s London. She’s tapped to help uncover the mysterious past of a prospective bride, but the more Laetitia digs, the more certain individuals want to keep their secrets buried. And when those secrets turn deadly, Laetitia may be in danger herself. Saunders nails the raucous world of Victorian London, capturing the Dickens-like characters from the lowest of society to the lofty ranks of the wealthy. A fine read for those who love vivid settings and memorable characters. — Katie Hanson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI