Life After Death by Damien Echols

In 1993 three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley Jr were arrested and charged with the murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The ensuing trial was rife with inconsistencies, false testimony and superstition. Echols was accused of, among other things, practicing witchcraft and satanic rituals – a result of the “satanic panic” prevalent in the media at the time. Baldwin and Miskelley were sentenced to life in prison. Echols, deemed the ringleader, was sentenced to death. He was eighteen years old.

In a shocking reversal of events, all three were suddenly released in August 2011. This is Damien Echols' story in full: from abuses by prison guards and wardens, to descriptions of inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane for nearly two decades. Echols also writes about his complicated and painful childhood. Like Dead Man Walking, Life After Death is destined to be a classic. 

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The Innocent Man by John Grisham

In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the big leagues, Ron stumbled, his dream broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron's home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death--in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man's already broken life...and let a true killer go free.

Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham's first work of non-fiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller. It is a book that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence--a book that no American can afford to miss.

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Death and Justice: An Expose of Oklahoma's Death Row Machine by Mark Fuhrman

Controversy rages about capital punishment as innocent men and women are being released from death rows all over the country. Are innocent people being executed? Is capital punishment justice or is it revenge? 

Into the debate steps Mark Fuhrman, America's most famous detective, and no stranger to controversy himself. Fuhrman seeks to answer these questions by investigating the death penalty in Oklahoma, where a "hang 'em high" attitude of cowboy justice resulted in twenty–one executions in 2001, more than any other state. Most of these cases came from one jurisdiction, Oklahoma County, where legendary DA Bob Macy bragged of sending more people to death row than any other prosecutor, and police chemist Joyce Gilchrist was eventually fired for mismanaging the crime lab. Examining police records, trial transcripts, appellate decisions and conducting hundreds of interviews, Fuhrman focuses his considerable investigative skills on more than a dozen of the most controversial Oklahoma death penalty cases.

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The Work: My Search For a Life That Matters by Wes Moore

The acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore continues his inspirational quest for a meaningful life and shares the powerful lessons—about self-discovery, service, and risk-taking—that led him to a new definition of success for our times.

The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way—from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.

Moore also tells the stories of other twenty-first-century change-makers who’ve inspired him in his search, from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND, to Esther Benjamin, a Sri Lankan immigrant who rose to help lead the Peace Corps. What their lives—and his own misadventures and moments of illumination—reveal is that our truest work happens when we serve others, at the intersection between our gifts and our broken world. That’s where we find the work that lasts.

An intimate narrative about finding meaning in a volatile age, The Work will inspire readers to see how we can each find our own path to purpose and help create a better world.

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60/50 Film Series: The House I Live In

East Lansing Public Library - Meeting Room

Join us for a viewing of The House I Live In, one of the works selected for the One Book, One Community 2015 program. Directed by Eugene Jarecki, this 2012 film explores the true cost of America's losing war on drugs. Not Rated, 108 minutes. Panel discussion to follow the film. This film will also be screened on September 14 at the library, at 1pm and 7pm.

More One Book, One Community events

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Muy Caliente Musica

Latin music will forever remind me of my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.  Recently, I took a Zumba class at the Hannah Community Center and now latin music reminds me of zumba!  Whatever the reason, I love latin music!  It puts me in a good mood, provides a boost of energy and makes me smile - even though I know very little of the Spanish language!  Luckily, ELPL has many awesome latin music choices both on CD and with Hoopla.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Last Don II by Don Omar
La Historia de el Duo by Wisin & Yandel ("The Duo of History")
Double Vision by Prince Royce  (with appearances by Snoop Dogg and J Lo!)  
A Quien Quiera Escuchar by Ricky Martin ("To Those Who Want to Listen")
Dale by Pitbull


To see all of ELPL's latin music cd's, click here

To see all of ELPL's latin music Hoopla downloads, click here

Books on Tap - September 2015

On September 8 at 6:30, Books on Tap will discuss People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. See you at Jimmy's!

"In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author."

Review from Goodreads.

Books on Tap - August Follow Up

What an amazing discussion about such an important issue. Our discussion of the One Book, One Community 2015 selection Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson revealed that there is much more to the prison institution that guity people being sentenced and life moving on. Along with the OBOC selection we discovered ties to many other works: The House I Live InThe New Jim CrowAnnie's Ghosts, and The True American to name a few. This book is not just about being sentenced to death - whether that be the death penalty or serving life without parole - but a much broader range of issues. It encompasses socio-economic issues, poverty, drug use, emotional and physical trauma, mental disorders and how we treat them, race, and so many other concerns we as a nation should look at with a more critical eye. We ended the night with some overwhelming questions: how can this cycle change? And how can we, as individuals and groups, make a change? As one member put it, this book makes you think. It forces you think about everything you want to bury your head in the sand about. But something needs to give, and we the people need to lead that charge. Please join the East Lansing community as they welcome Bryan Stevenson to the Hannah Center on Sunday August 30 at 7pm.

ELPL Downtown Maker Studio to Remain Open through May 2016

The East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) is excited to announce that the 2.0 Maker Studio, located in downtown East Lansing on the second floor of the East Lansing Marriott at University Place, will remain open for an additional 10 months, through May 2016. 

Hammer Head: The making of a carpenter by Nina MacLaughlin

Like many young professionals in their twenties, Nina MacLaughlin spent most of her days at a desk, honing her career skills at a Boston newspaper in order to climb the ladder in her profession. In the midst of her career climb, as she approached her late twenties, MacLaughlin realized that she had hit a wall. The route she walked to and from work each day began to lose its luster, and she questioned whether the  slow and steady draining of her mind into the screen before her (another daily occurence) meant anything in the end. Her daily routines, which at one time had brought comfort and a sense of purpose to her life, had gone stale. After examining this unexpected change of heart for some time, MacLaughlin did what many in her position only dream of. One morning she walked to work, crossing the bridge that she had so many times before, and promptly quite her job.  

MacLaughlin's story is one of personal and professional growth, and proves that there are times when going with your gut can truly pay off. As she takes a leap into a new profession as a carpenter's assistant, we are invited along for the little known frustrations and setbacks experienced by professional carpenters, the grit and grime of remodeling basements, the joy of working with freshly cut two by fours and mastering the art and accuracy required for finish work.  But it is the unexpected love of the job, and the satisfaction she receives from fixing, restoring, and creating lasting pieces that ultimately make this title worth a look. Highly recommended for twenty somethings, and anyone seeking to reinvent their career path. 

North Art Gallery August 2015

Our August artist in the North Gallery is D. Eric Johnson.  His Visions of Wildlife "shares the beauty of it was meant to be".

Join the Friends as we celebrate Eric's work with a Gallery Reception on Saturday, August 15, from 2-4pm in the library's North Foyer Art Gallery.

Or stop by sometime in August to enjoy his work, and check out his website with more beautiful art at

Eric Johnson’s love of photography dates back to the early 60’s, when he spent the very first money he earned from a paper route to purchase a Kodak Instamatic camera as a young teenager; a few months later he purchased his first “real” camera, a 35mm SLR.   He joined the Michigan State police in 1978, but paralleled his time in law enforcement by owning and operating full-time portrait studios in two separate locations starting in 1983, winning numerous state, local, and national awards.  After a 30-year career in law enforcement, he went-on to specialize in forensic photography, and now teaches forensic photography to law enforcement personnel in Michigan and across the country.  Eric is recognized throughout the United States as an expert in forensic photography; he is currently the only Certified Evidence Photographer in Michigan, as well as the only Certified Forensic Photographer in Michigan – sharing both of these designations with only 5 other photographers worldwide.

For more than 35 years Eric has also pursued his passion of wildlife and landscape photography, and has amassed an extensive library with tens-of-thousands of images.  Eric’s images have been published by the National Eagle Center, the Michigan Audubon Society, Get Lost travel magazine (Australia), and used by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in various publications and promotional literature.
After years of being urged by his family and friends, he has decided to share his Visions of Wildlife with those that otherwise may not have the opportunity to view the beauty of nature – as it was meant to be seen.

Better Living Book Club

Meeting Room

Better Living Book Club's August selection:  Being Mortal by Atul Gawande 

Armada: The Story of IronBeagle

I've been waiting four years for a new book from Ernest ClineReady Player One was such a fantastic combination of pop culture and science fiction that my little nerd heart almost exploded! And the best part of all: Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook! Armada, Cline's newest title, made the four year wait worth it.

Zack Lightman, a teen from the suburbs of Portland, grows up absorbed by playing video games and attempting to understand the life of his father who passed before Zack was even one year old. Zack's game of choice is Armada: a first-person, flight simulation, shooter game where a player must defend Earth from invading aliens. While going through his father's belongings, Zack uncovers his dad's journals which detail a conspiracy theory connecting the following: video games, military training, movies, and aliens. While questioning whether his father was right and there was a conspiracy, or if his father suffered from a mental illness, Zack sees a spaceship flying outside of his high school. And it's not just any spaceship - it's a Glaive Fighter plane from Armada!

While the story has similar themes to Ender's Game, the references Cline inserts and the humor truly set it apart from Ender. Heck - Cline even acknowledges in the text that Zack's mission is very similar to that of Ender! This book is for those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, spending time in arcades and picking up cultural references through osmosis (music, movies, tv shows). This was a quick read and had the same smooth flow that Cline put forth in Ready Player One. And super bonus: Wil Wheaton reads the book AGAIN!!!

Tim Busfield's Performing Arts Warm-Up!

East Lansing Public Library - Meeting Room

Do you dream about one day acting, singing or dancing in a High School play, college play, Broadway play, movie or television show? 

Do you dream about one day writing, directing, producing or working on the crew of a High School play, college play, Broadway play, movie or television show?

Do you dream about someday being a part of something the whole world might see? 

This is your chance to start working toward that dream!

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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This isn't your usual Fantasy read: think adult Harry Potter meets Charles Dickens. For those of you who missed its debut in 2004, now is a good time to give Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a try. This was my second time through, and I still loved the author's Dickens/Austen-style of writing, the slow measured pace, and yes, even the multitude of footnotes.  And no character has scared me quite like the Man With the Thistledown Hair.  While it might not appeal to every reader, especially those looking for fast-paced action in a Fantasy read, if you let yourself settle into this strange fantastical version of the past, you may find yourself as hooked as I have been.  

Special note:  BBC America has produced a mini-series of the novel which will be available on DVD soon.  ELPL has a copy on order.