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Luaka Bop and the world’s psychedelic classics

Almost 30 years ago, David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) founded a record label “to turn people onto stuff [he] liked.” Because he’s David Byrne, and because he’s eminently cooler than you or me, the stuff he liked was Brazilian pop music. In January of ‘89, Byrne ... Continue reading

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From coal to Thoreau: the essays of “Practice Resurrection”

Not long ago I took a trip across the High Plains, and in addition to seeing more pronghorns and prairie dogs than I’ve ever seen, I also witnessed the landscape of Wyoming’s Thunder Basin for the first time. While much of it is drop-dead beautiful, one gets ... Continue reading

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Discover a made-up menagerie in children’s books

As an animal lover growing up in Kansas, I thought our annual grade school field trip to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum was always a high point. I adored the famous panorama of taxidermy, and the working, cutaway beehive, but what I looked forward to ... Continue reading

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Two books to celebrate the season of the witch

Magician, wizard, practitioner of magic, whatever you want to call that person, I'll bet some of the first examples that pop into your head are male: Harry Potter, Merlin, Gandalf. The greats of the fantasy genre are usually males with women in supporting roles. Women are the ... Continue reading

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Five-star young adult books published this year

Liked it, really liked it, it was amazing — if you’re a GoodReads user, you’ll recognize these as the three, four, and five star ratings on the site. I admit, I’m probably a little over-generous with my stars. Looking back at this year’s reads, I’ve given no ... Continue reading

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“The Man from the Train”: a midwest murder case for the history books

Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James' nonfiction "[The Man from the Train][1]" opens with the brutal murder of 8 people in the quiet town of Villisca, Iowa during the summer of 1912. The murders rocked the tiny town and fed the newly burgeoning press scene with half-truths ... Continue reading

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October Look Play Listen Round Up

*Look Play Listen is the Lawrence Public Library’s team of audio and video appreciators.* *Each month we’ll round up some of our favorite music, film/TV, and video game reviews from our staff and put them in one easy-to-read, easy-to-locate blog post.* Look ---- "[The Last Kingdom][1]" (Season ... Continue reading

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Four fall finds

Publishing, like everything, goes in cycles; spring and summer are prime time for book publications, and things tend to wane as the months get colder. However, every year there are gems that get released after the rush, and I want to highlight a few books that are ... Continue reading

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Scary and smart: “The Hole” is horror and more

I don’t typically read books out of the horror section, but then again, categorizing the sprawling bundle of thoughts that make up a novel into just one of a handful of neat genres is not an easy task. Of course, my latest impulse read—Hye-Young Pyun’s "[The Hole][1]"— ... Continue reading

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STEM isn’t just for him: an interview with Meghan McCarthy

One of the biggest stories in children’s publishing this year has been the success of books empowering young women. Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s "[Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls][1]," a set of 100 brief biographies of unstoppable women, is among the highest circulating children’s books at ... Continue reading

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To-Be-Read: A Story of Shame & Neglect

I have a theory that everyone is shamefully hiding the stack of books they’ve neglected to read this year from the world. “It’s not my fault!” one might say, “Some were incredibly thoughtful gifts; some were found while innocently scouring the [Friends][1]’ collection; and some were impulse ... Continue reading

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Three on a Theme: Bookish Podcasts

The Lawrence Public Library’s "Book Squad Podcast" just celebrated its eleventh episode, and let me tell you: it has been on fire lately. Recent episodes feature discussions of classics like "[The Catcher in the Rye][1]" and "[Their Eyes Were Watching God][2]," shout-outs to great events like the ... Continue reading

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5 books to read for LGBT History Month

In 1994, a group of teachers and community leaders in Missouri, led by high school teacher Rodney Wilson, sought to designate a month for the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history (per [http://lgbthistorymonth.com/background][1]). With endorsements from GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and other national organizations, ... Continue reading

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Look Play Listen roundup

*Hi Lawrence!* *Look Play Listen is the library’s brand new media team.* *Each month we’ll round up some of our favorite music, film/TV, and video game reviews from our staff and put them in one easy-to-read, easy-to-locate blog post.* *Keep an eye out.* - - - - ... Continue reading

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Case Studies in Solitary Refinement

Although I am, in many ways, a Luddite at heart, I’ve become aware recently that I spend altogether too much time hopscotching across the internet, searching for news. I am also a news junkie, you see, and the interesting times we live in have had me riveted ... Continue reading

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There Can Only Be One: A Biography of Everyone’s Favorite Device

“Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products … The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch control. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.” It’s 2007, only ten years ago. On stage, Steve Jobs continues: “Are you getting it? ... Continue reading

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2017’s Best New Picture Books (So Far)

I’m lucky enough to do storytime here at the Lawrence Public Library, and while there are some challenging days of herding toddlers, it is a joy and a privilege to introduce children to literature and catch a small slice of their innocence and wonder. When we started ... Continue reading

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Renaissance Woman: Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston wrote during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, contributing novels and short stories, as well as literary anthropology. She was a bold woman surrounded by male peers and unparalleled in both talent and ideas. She died alone and impoverished, buried in an unmarked grave, ... Continue reading

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Peanuts, A Great American Novel After All

The DNA of four-panel funnies, well-respected graphic novels, and highfalutin literary novels might not be so different as they seem. Obviously, a strip like "Family Circus" isn’t even remotely in the same realm as, say, Toni Morrison, to be clear, but each tradition shares some surprising hallmarks ... Continue reading

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“Relatively Wild”— inspired intersections of ecological and social justice

I live within a mile of the Kansas River. In spite of the Bowersock Dam and other infrastructure, this is a good place to connect with wildness. Walking on the levee beside the river offers a chance to watch birds soaring and fishing — great blue herons ... Continue reading

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