Better Living Book Club - March 2015

East Lansing Public Library - Meeting Room

March's title is Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman will be discussed in March.   

Upcoming titles for the Better Living Book Club:

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Week 1 Leaderboard results

The first week leaderboard results are in and our top five Hot Reads for Cold Nights contestants are as follows:

  1. BleachedWhale - 535
  2. Jalan - 425
  3. nana nancy - 355
  4. jj - 350
  5. Robert (Library Staff) - 315

See a full list of all contestants and their Week 1 points here.

If your point total is low don't get discouraged.  There are over 10 more weeks to go and plenty of time to get to the top of the list.  We've indicated which contestants are library staff on the list as staff aren't eligible to win either of the grand prizes.  They are competing solely for the love of the competition, and reading.

Stay tuned for the end of Week 2 when we'll announce the first bonus challenge. 

-The Hot Reads for Cold Nights Team

Library closed on January 19, 2015

ELPL will be closed on Monday, January 19, 2015 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

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Hot Reads for Cold Nights 2015 Begins!

ELPL's popular winter reading contest to promote adult literacy is back! Now in its third year, Hot Reads for Cold Nights 2015 challenges our adult patrons to read, watch and listen more during the coldest months of the year.  The library also offers engaging programs, workshops and maker opportunities to entice you out of the house and keep your brain out of hibernation.

This year contestants will be competing for one of two grand prizes - iPad minis you can use to access and enjoy all the wonderful digital content at the East Lansing Public Library.  On your climb up the points scale to the grand prizes there will be opportunities to win coupons and certificates from local businesses and much coveted ELPL swag.  Many thanks to the local businesses and organizations that donate prizes for Hot Reads for Cold Nights, especially the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library

Please note, to even the playing field this year we've instituted a new rule to prevent previous grand prize winners from taking home the top grand prizes in multiple, consecutive years.  See the complete rules for details but this year, previous grand prize winners will not be eligible to win either of the grand prize iPad minis.  2014 Hot Reads for Cold Nights grand prize winners, you will be eligible again in 2016.

The Martian: a novel by Andy Weir

I would be the first person to admit everyday science is not my thing, but I did grow up during the "space-race", so space travel has always interested me. When my scientist-neighbor recommended The Martian because of its use of everyday science and not fancy tricks like a time/space continuum, I thought I would give it a try. Right from the first pages it is high adventure on Mars as our hero relays his struggle for survival day by day and step by step. I felt like I was there with him through the good and the bad, even with all the science stuff. (The mickey mouse molecule? I remember that! Just how would I grow potatoes on Mars?) It turned out to be the book I have recommended most this year. Check it out and get ready to blast off.



Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising follows Darrow, a Red who, like all Reds, mines various elements on Mars to help terraform the planet’s surface for themselves and all of the other colored classes, including the superior Gold class. Darrow’s world is eventually torn apart when he discovers that his life is a lie and he is recruited by a rebel group that vows to bring the Golds down from within. Now Darrow must pretend to be a Gold in order to achieve the rebellion’s goals. But first, Darrow must survive the command school’s test that all Gold children must face, and that includes surviving the other students.

Red Rising, on the surface, is an obvious futuristic, dystopian novel that looks heavily on issues of class and race. But let’s be honest. So many books have undertones of something that we really shouldn’t roll our eyes and think “here’s another one.” So, looking past that, Red Rising is a fantastic, sci-fi military thriller and Brown does a great job of genre-blending. At its core this is a science-fiction novel. However, the test that the Gold students perform in is set in a medieval-esque landscape. It was a really interesting step in a different direction.

Admittedly Darrow turns out to be quite a bit of a “Larry Stu” character; he is the strongest, smartest, and most cunning. It’s a little hard to believe since everyone else in the test has been raised to do the things he just does naturally.  Some might get very turned off by it, but I was never bothered by it. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy books that read like a video game or action movie where the main character just kicks butt. In essence, that’s what Red Rising kind of is. It reminded me a lot of the Ender’s Game movie (sorry, never read the book), and a little like the Hunger Games trilogy (though a bit better).

Are there better science-fiction-military-thrillers out there? Probably. Is Red Rising still a fun read and interesting story? Definitely. I highly recommend this to action fans that enjoy a lot of fighting in their books. You won’t be disappointed.

ELPL and Friends Gift Certficates

The East Lansing Public Library and the Friends of the ELPL are happy to announce that you can now purchase gift certificates to the Library or to the Friendshop!  


Library gift certificates can be used for non-resident library cards, library fines or payment for lost items. 


Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End


In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortalasserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

Another great read from Willems in the fabulous Pigeon series.


The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon's not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Imagine the most curmudgeonly person you could ever encounter, the biggest rule enforcer, the person who knows every last event that happens in their neighborhood - someone who keeps a notepad on them at all times just so that they can write down license plate numbers to report parking violations later. If you have never in your life come across such a person...well, you're about to meet Ove. Once you have gotten over the shock of his often rude behavior toward innocent tech store employees, or his resolve that anyone owning a car other than a Saab is either inferior or an idiot, you will likely begin to wonder just what caused this man to turn into such a Scrooge in the first place.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman explores the beautiful and tragic past, the determined present, and unwanted future of a man who has altogether given up on his life, a man who wants nothing more than to see the woman he loves again - his recently departed wife, Sonja. But when Ove decides to end his own life rather than deteriorate on his own, his neighborhood just can't seem to get the hint. A family moves in next door, a former friend is in need of his help or it's off to the nursing home for her husband, and a new and rather unexpected friendship awaits him.

This is not a story of a man finding himself (Ove knows exactly who he is, thank you very much), it is a story of a man finding a renewed purpose in life after his sole purpose has been taken from him. If sad stories are not your thing, I will say at once that this book is not for you. Backman's storytelling is almost guaranteed to make you cry (at least once, probably much more...), but witnessing the transformation of this obstinate man, and the profound impact one can have on others will leave you with your own sense of purpose and possibility. 

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

It's the week before Christmas, and Georgie McCool has just gotten the offer of a lifetime. As one half of a successful TV writing duo, Georgie and her writing partner have the opportunity to have their own show - one they have dreamt up for years. But what Georgie doesn't realize when she breaks the news to her husband that Christmas needs to be postponed is that her decision to stay in California may have been the last straw. When Neal leaves with their two children, bound for his parents' house in Nebraska, Georgie is left with a growing concern that her marriage has failed for good - a concern that continues to bloom when Neal refuses to answer his phone.

Taking refuge at her mom's house, Georgie decides to call Neal on the old landline phone in her room, but when Neal answers the call, she quickly realizes that this is not the present day Neal on the line. She is talking to Neal's 19-year-old self. As Christmas approaches, Georgie continues to return to the landline phone, and as she relives the highs and lows of her early days with Neal, she begins to wonder if she is meant to fix what has broken between them, or if Neal was meant to take a different path through life - one without her or their children.

Landline has all of the signature quirks that one would expect from Rowell's work. Known for her teen novels such as Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, Rowell takes an adult audience back to their college years, their first loves (and heartbreaks), and questions the seemingly insignificant decisions we make that might break us in the end. Set during the week of Christmas, this book is highly recommended as a distraction during holiday down time. 

Books on Tap - January 2015

We will start out 2015 reading Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking by Susan Cain. Come to Jimmy's on January 13 at 6:30pm to discuss.

"At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled 'quiet,' it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

End of Year Library Closures

ELPL will be closed on:

Wednesday, December 24
Thursday, December 25
Wednesday, December 31
Thursday, January 1

The library will be open regular hours on any dates not listed above.  Regular hours are:

Monday-Thursday, 10am-9pm
Friday and Saturday, 10am-6pm
Sunday, 1-5pm (Labor Day through Memorial Day only)