Jill's blog

Believe the Hype: George Saunders

Sometimes when you really love something you want to keep it to yourself. Other times you want to shout about it from the rooftops. My love for George Saunders falls in the latter category.  I became instantly smitten with George Saunders' writing after a friend recommended him to me.  And, after meeting him in person and acting like a giddy tween meeting Justin Bieber, I adored him as a person.  My love for his writing remains unwavering. Now, years after being introduced to Saunders, he's back with an amazing collection of stories, Tenth of December.  

Saunders' writing is difficult to describe, but his short stories are hilarious, devastating, poignant and wildly creative. The closest comparison I can come up with is a twisted blend of the writings of Twain, Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon and Aimee Bender and that still doesn't really capture Saunders' work.  
Skeptical?  While it can be argued I am hyperbolic regarding Saunders, check out New York Times, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, just a few places recently singing his praises.  

NPR's Best Music of 2012

Is your iTunes rotation played out? Curious if your new favorite band is one of the best of 2012? If so, check out NPR's Best Music of 2012. NPR covered it all from rap to rock and country to classical.

Image from:  http://piccsy.com/2012/04/mixtapes/ 

ELPL: City Pulse's Eye Candy of the Week

 Thank you City Pulse for selecting The East Lansing Public Library as "Eye Candy of the Week".  Great article!  Also, if you haven't been in the library lately check out our new carpet, thanks to a very generous anonymous donor.  

North Foyer Art Gallery, Meeting Room and Foyer restrooms inaccessible on November 27

Tomorrow, Tuesday November 27, the North Foyer Art Gallery, Meeting Room and Foyer restrooms will be inaccessible due to the carpet installation. But, the installation is ALMOST complete!

Happy National Bundt Day!

Last year I made a ton (ok, around seven) different Bundts to celebrate National Bundt Day and participate in The Food Librarian's "I Like Big Bundts" project.  This year, it snuck up so fast I almost forgot about it.  

While I didn't make any Bundts (yet!), our baking books are filled with great recipes.  Bundts are easy, look good and taste great.  They are also perfect for people who don't like frosting.  

More ELPL Bundts:
Paula Deen Keeps It Real: Coconut Pound Cake Bundt
No Recipe Necessary: Rice Krispies Bundt Cake
The Go and Vote Bundt Cake
Jumping on the I Like Big Bundts Bandwagon: Pumpkin-Pecan Bundt Cake

Be Informed: Voter Guide 2012

Love politics?  Hate 'em?  Either way, it's best to be informed!  Below is a brief list of websites focused on local and national voting information useful to prepare ourselves for the November 6 election.  

Michigan Votes: Voter Information Center : provides infomation on if you're registered to vote, where you're registered and your polling location.  Last day to register to vote for the November 6 election is October 9.

League of Women's Voters of the Lansing Area: voter guides for the Greater Lansing area.  Both the Ingham County and East Lansing School Board guides are useful for the East Lansing community. Also check out Vote411.org, where you can "build your own ballot" to prepare to vote for who and what you support.  

On the Issues:  every politcal leader on every issue.

Project Vote Smart: non-partisan information on U.S federal and state candidates.  Called "heaven for politcal junkies" by USA Today.

Say Nice Things About Detroit

Detroit has been the subject of much discussion over the past few years.  It's a hot topic and not just here in Michigan.  On a recent trip to Los Angeles, people were still talking about Detroit becoming the "new Brooklyn" (read more here and here) and the Santa Monica Public Library had the book featured in this post prominently displayed for check out.  When I walked by 30 minutes later it was checked out.   

While opinions about Detroit vary wildly, one thing is for sure:  people sure like talking and writing about it.  Personally, I love Detroit. Being a huge fan of mid-century architecture, Detroit (Wayne State's campus is one of many places to explore) and the surrounding area (particularly Cranbrook) is amazing. 

If you are at all interested in Detroit, this book is worth checking out: Detroit: a biography by Scott Martelle. While not exactly a jolly read, it does give a good historical glimpse into what Detroit once was and what it can now become.  

Before reading this book, I found these interesting documentary videos about Detroit made by Johnny Knoxville.  It's a three part series that focuses on a variety of aspects of Detroit, including a lot of the positive changes being made.  

Since it's that time of year, I'll end this post by shouting (well, writing) Go Tigers!  

Blog to Book: Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

I have to admit, before picking up this book, I had never really read Lawson's Blog.  I read hundreds of blogs each week and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to limit the time spent on them.  Seriously, it can become an addiction if you let it.

That being said, the cover of the book intrigued me (see: taxidermied rat) and the reviews were good.  I was on vacation, just finished all three Fifty Shades books in one day and needed (wanted!) to read something completely different.  So, enter Lawson's book.  

Verdict:  hilarious and oddly touching.  The underlying theme is that those moments that humiliate us and make us seem "weird" and embarrassed are also the ones that make us who we are and that's a good thing.  While I really enjoyed this book it should probably be avoided if you have an aversion to swearing (because there is a LOT of it), gross out situations and mild oversharing.  

Paula Deen Keeps It Real: Coconut Pound Cake Bundt

Spending the past week in North Carolina made me want to make a Southern bundt cake.  When I think of Southern cooking/baking, I think Paula Deen.  As a coconut lover I chose the coconut pound cake recipe from Paula's book Paula Deen Celebrates!  This recipe was serious business:  4 sticks of butter and 6 eggs!  If you hate coconut do not get near this cake.  And, if you're dieting you can probably gain weight just by looking at this cake.  

All that being said, it's a great cake.  Easy to make, rich, and can be topped with frosting (as Paula herself suggests).  

P.S. Tomorrow is the big day:  National Bundt Day. Check out one (or more) of our many baking books to find some new recipes.

No Recipe Necessary: Rice Krispies Bundt Cake

This might be the world's easiest "cake."  Most people love it and it takes very little time to make.  It's pretty much foolproof and looks great.   Unfortunately, circumstances beyond my control have severely limited my bundt cake making time.  So, when I saw this bundt I knew I had to make it. 

Check out tomorrow's post for new cakes celebrating National Bundt Day (Nov 15).  And, if inspired, please share your favorite bundt cakes with us in the comments section. 

The Go and Vote Bundt Cake

I am not a natural baker.  I often like the idea more than actually baking anything.  That being said, sometimes I find great satisfaction in baking and other times... Well, they're like today.

For my second bundt (leading up to National Bundt Day, Nov 15) I chose to make "The Naughty Senator" (yes, I planned this to coincide with voting today) from the book All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray.  Each recipe in the book was made by Melissa and tested by NPR's All Things Considered staff.  Very cool.

The Naughty Senator is a peppermint and chocolate rum marble cake.  To me it sounded... kind of good and kind of weird.  Well, it's both!  However, here's where my lack of baking satisfaction comes into play:  I did everything exactly according to the recipe.  I did, I swear!  But, instead of having a pastel green and chocolate swirled artful design my cake had color blobs.  And, it was really puffy.  And, unfortunately, it was slightly overcooked.  So... what to do?  Consider it a complete failure?  Nope, I frosted it to respectability.  Or at least to making it look a little better.    

Taste? Not bad. But, definitely not for mint haters.  The rum flavoring?  I couldn't really taste it, but I just used a non-alcoholic extract. Maybe that makes a difference.

Wouldn I make it again?  Probably not.  But, the name alone made it the perfect cake for today. 

Jumping on the I Like Big Bundts Bandwagon: Pumpkin-Pecan Bundt Cake

I Like Big Bundts (yes, you're reading that correctly) is one clever turn of phrase!  Created by the very cool Los Angeles librarian-blogger, The Food Librarian, her website offers up delicious baked goods (and Jello!) and the most incredible 30 days of bundt cakes leading up to National Bundt Day on November 15.  

This year she has inspired me to bake along.  While I can't compete with 30 bundts in 30 days, I will try my best to make 8 bundts in 15 days using only books available in our library's collection.

Today, Halloween, I have decided to make a simple pumpkin-pecan bundt cake.  This recipe comes from local author Kathleen Cannata Hanna's  Good-to-Go Cookbook. Easy and tasty, I'll say it was win-win.  


New This Winter: "Out of This World" Book Group

Out of This World is a new book group featuring speculative fiction.  Each month will feature a new book exploring the different genres in what is commonly known as science fiction/fantasy. 



January 19:  Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, explores supernatural fantasy with the crime-fighting, butt-kicking antihero James Stark who recently crawled up from Hell and is looking for revenge against those who sent him down in the first place.  




February 16:  Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is a dystopian novel based in a society where the world’s natural resources have been stripped bare: fossil fuels have all been consumed, the seas have risen and destroyed cities and now scavengers comb through the wreckage looking for scrap metals.  For one boy, Nailer, this is all life is for him, until he meets a girl among the wreckage, the daughter of a shipping-company holder who can show them a world of privilege and fortune, if they will only trust her and help find her way home.


If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy please join us starting in January!  

Miss Domino(magazine)? Try Lonny!

Domino ceasing publication was a sad day for many shelter magazine lovers everywhere.  Sure, we can still look at the book and there are plenty of great home design magazines and blogs out there but something was missing... until now.  Enter Michelle Adams. A former Domino employee, fabric designer, and Michigan State University graduate, Adams is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Lonny.  

fifth issue is now online.  I suggest you take some time to explore it and the other four issues.  While not available in print, Lonny provides readers with the cool option of direct links to the stores and merchandise it features.  



Books on Tap-- Books for January and February

Books have just been selected for our January and February meetings!

January 12 @ 6:30pmAwait Your Reply by Dan Chaon

February 9 @ 6:30pm: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind : creating currents of electricity and hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Please join us for drinks and discussion!  We meet at Dublin Square Irish Pub in downtown East Lansing.