Thank you East Lansing High School Marching Band!

A big thank you to the East Lansing High School Marching Band for their birthday wishes.  ELPL loves you!


Library Closing Early

The Library will close at 4pm on Friday, October 21 due to the Abbot Road closure for the MSU Homecoming Parade.

The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare's most cotroversial play, set in 16th century Venice, about the businessman Antonio, who goes in debt to a vindictive moneylender named Shylock. When Antonio defaults, Shylock is determined to get his literal "pound of flesh", and Antonio's friends band together to defend him with a wacky scheme of gender bending and legal maneuvers. There is also a subplot of Portia's suitors and the bizarre test they must pass to get her.  It is controversial because of the anti-Semitic stereotypes with regard to Shylock. But while Shakespeare shared the ethnic prejudices of his time, he also transcended them--- his Shylock is mean but clearly human; and  for all their soapboxing about forgiveness, in the end it seems it's the Christians who are the most vindictive.  Themes include  the nature of bigotry and prejudice;  law,  justice and the danger of legalism, which has its own kind of karma; the undervalued talents of women; loyalty and duty to one's friends.  

For those who like their Shakespeare straight and uncluttered, this version will not be a favorite. It includes some weird music and dramatic embellishments which I happened to like but which The Bard probably did not intend, and some may find sentimental or smarmy. As director Michael Radford says in the commentary, it's as much a Radford as a Shakespeare production.  But for an amateur like me this is an excellent introduction to the basic plot and characters, which are too complex and confusing in print.  The Shakespearologists are right that Bill S.  was meant to be seen and not just read.

Versatile Al Pacino does a kick ass Shylock, as does Jeremy Irons for Antonio. Unfortunately both sometimes fail to speak up and their lines are then barely audible, so it may help to use  the caption option on the DVD or follow along with a printed copy.  Lynn Collins is awesome as Portia, especially when playing the male lawyer, and performs just as well as any high-class Brit of the royal theaters, but she is actually from Texas of all places. 

Most famous lines: Shylock's defense "Hath not a Jew eyes, hands, senses, organs, dimensions, passions," delivered brilliantly by Pacino, and  "the quality of mercy is not strained".  Excellent closing theme,  a groovy Renaissance- style ballad actually written for the film.   Rated R (though it's got much youth appeal it may not suitable for those under 16 due to the topless Venetian hookers, another creative feature not in the original. )

William Shakespeare Meets Jo Nesbo

This unlikely scenario will interest fans of both. Nesbo has been signed to write a modern take on Macbeth for the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which will be published in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Other writers in the series will include Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood.
If you are interested in another modern take of a Shakespearean classic, I recommend watching the highly acclaimed 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing by screenwriter, film and television producer, director, comic book author, composer, and actor Joss Whedon. The New York Times film reviewer called it "perhaps the liveliest and most purely delightful movie I have seen so far this year". Filmed in arty black and white, it reminded me a bit of the screw-ball comedies of the 1930s and early Fellini.

And more Nesbo news: I'm pleased to report that you can finally read the missing #2 of Nesbo's Harry Hole series, Cockroaches, just in at ELPL.
Nesbo and Shakespeare - who would have thought it possible?


Hop, computer animation combined with real life action, is the story of the Easter Bunny (voice by English comic Russel Brand)  who decides to be a rock star instead of deliver eggs, which dishonors his family  business. He meets a human named Fred who has been kicked out of his parents' house for chronic slacking. Both characters  must weigh their own individual dreams with loyalty to family and tradition, which is, as special guest star David Hasselhoff observes, "a dilemma as old as time itself."   The best lines are from the conclusion,  when they drive off in the Egg Sleigh driven by zillions of little chicklets "On Cheepers, on Peepers, on Chirpy and Clucky," and exclaim as they drive out of sight,  "Happy Easter to all, and to all a good mid-to late morning".

ELPL is collecting donations for the Capital Area Humane Society

April 28 through May 11 ELPL will be collecting donated wish list items for the Capital Area Humane Society.  A collection bin will be placed in the library's lobby for donated mats, toys or blankets for CAHS dogs and cats.  See the organization's full wish list at:

Books on Tap - May 2014

Join us May 13, 2014 at 6:30pm to discuss When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.

"Esmeralda Santiago's story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby's soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrioto Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard."

Review from Amazon.

April Follow Up

We had a great discussion inspired by Triangles by Ellen Hopkins last night at Jimmy's. We spent a portion of the evening discussing relationships in their various formats: friendships, marriages, parental, as well as passing acquaintances. It was very interesting to see the various points of view and experiences brought to the table. Overall, people seemed to enjoy reading a novel-in-verse, even though there was some initial apprehension. Join us next month when we will discuss When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.

19 Quilts and Counting!

In May 2013, I had a vision of the community coming together to create lap quilts out of their time, talents and donated fabric.  The lap quilts would then be auctioned off at the 2014 Books, Bites and Bids library fundraiser which has been scheduled for April 25, 2014.

A Butterfly is Patient

As I read the April 8, 2014, article in the Lansing State Journal titled, "Butterfly House still a perenial draw at MSU," I was reminded of all the wonderful butterfly books for children that our library has, both fiction and nonfiction.

The Snarky Genius

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought up a fantastic fictitious detective many moons ago who still lives on today!  Sherlock Holmes has been reinvented many times since he first appeared in 1887.  In more recent years director Guy Ritchie created two films casting Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Doctor John Watson. Currently, a television show, Elementary, airs as a modern, American twist to the classic characters. In this version Dr. Watson is a woman, played by Lucy Liu.

Of all of the reinventions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, my favorite version is simply called Sherlock.  This BBC show stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson.  The duo takes on modern crimes while exuding the essence of Doyle's original characters.  Cumberbatch's portrayal of Holmes has the right ratio of snark to genius to make viewers dislike and respect Sherlock at the same time.

One downfall of the series is that each season is only 3 episodes long. Despite the short seasons, each 1.5 hour episode will keep you entertained.

Lexicon by Max Barry

4/5 stars

Emily Ruff is a tough girl living on the streets who ends up at the unique school of the Poets. There she is taught the power of words, persuasion, manipulation, and the dangers of letting anyone get to know the real you. Wil Jamieson is a seemingly normal guy who winds up caught between rival factions of Poets not because of something he has, but because of something he doesn’t: the ability to be persuaded and controlled. Their two stories and lives eventually come together in a way that reveals all of the secrets the Poets tried to keep hidden.