Driving the King by Ravi Howard

A daring and brilliant new novel that explores race and class in 1950s America, witnessed through the experiences of Nat King Cole and his driver, Nat Weary.

The war is over, the soldiers are returning, and Nat King cole is back in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, for a rare performance. His childhood friend, Nat Weary, plans to propose to his sweetheart, and the singer will honor their moment with a special song. But while the world has changed, segregated Jim Crow Montgomery remains the same. When a white man attacks Cole with a pipe, Weary leaps from the audience to defend him -- an act that will lead to a 10-year prison sentence.

But the singer will not forget his friend and the sacrifice he made. Six months before Weary is released, he receives a remarkable offer: will he be Nat King Cole's driver and bodyguard in L.A. It is the promise of a new life removed from the terror, violence, and degradation of Jim Crow Alabama.

An indelible portrait of prejudice and promise, friendship and loyalty, Driving the King is a daring look at race and class in pre-Civil Rights America, played out in the lives of two remarkable men.

(review from

Winter School Art Exhibit

East Lansing Public Library - North Foyer Art Gallery

Art from East Lansing school age artists will be on display at the East Lansing Public Library's North Foyer Art Gallery until March 4.  A reception for the artists will be held on February 21 from 1-3pm.


Books on Tap - March 2015

We will discuss Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida on March 10th. Come to Jimmy's Pub at 6:30pm to join our conversation.

"On the day of her father's funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iver­ton discovers that he wasn't her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and her fiancé has just revealed a life-changing secret to her. Alone and adrift, Clarissa travels to mystical Lapland, where she believes she'll meet her real father. There, at a hotel made of ice, Clarissa is confronted with the truth about her mother's his­tory, and must make a decision about how—and where—to live the rest of her life."

Review from Amazon.

Books on Tap - February Follow Up

Good news - everyone had agreeing opinions on 10:04 by Ben Lerner! Bad news - we all agreed that it was not a favorite by a long shot. His work seemed to leave many questions unanswered for the reader and many of our group questioned the point of this novel. It was interesting to have such a lively conversation about a book that sounded great in reviews and on the book jacket, but didn't quite seem to match up to that in reality. Since people were in attendance this month that had missed out on January's meeting, we then spent time discussing Quiet again. I believe that it says a lot for a book that we had two separate and in-depth conversations over a two-month period.

Our next meeting will be March 10 @ 6:30 pm when we will discuss Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida.

Friends Board Meeting Highlights January 2015

Meeting date:  January 20, 2015

It is a new year and the Friends are off and running with plans for the 2015 year.  The total capital asset is $55,694.92 reports Treasurer, Lanette Van Wagenen.  The library is preparing a request for funds and the board allocated $1,200 for a new Snapshot service for the library – matching readers with books they might like.

ELPL received an award at the MSU 60/50 celebration – “Crossroads of the Community Award.”

Maker Studios Workshop - Knitting and Crochet Group

East Lansing Public Library

This group meets every two weeks and welcomes all ages and all skill levels.  Bring supplies if you have a project already started.  If you haven't yet begun a project you can start one with the basic supplies available in the maker studio.  The group meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.  No registration is necessary.

Upcoming sessions of the Knitting and Crochet group:

  • May 27

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Rainbow in the Cloud by Maya Angelou

"Words mean more than what is set down on paper," Maya Angelou wrote in her groundbreaking memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Indeed, Angelou's words have traveled the world and transformed lives--inspiring, strengthening, healing. Through a long and prolific career in letters, she became one of the most celebrated voices of our time.

Now, in this collection of sage advice, humorous quips, and pointed observations culled from the author's great works, including The Heart of a Woman, On the Pulse of Morning, Gather Together in My Name, and Letter to My DaughterMaya Angelou's spirit endures. Rainbow in the Cloud offers resonant and rewarding quotes on such topics as creativity and culture, family and community, equality and race, values and spirituality, parenting and relationships. Perhaps most special, Maya Angelou's only son, Guy Johnson, has contributed some of his mother's most powerful sayings, shared directly with him and the members of their family.

A treasured keepsake as well as a beautiful tribute to a woman who touched so many, Rainbow in the Cloud reminds us that "If one has courage, nothing can dim the light which shines from within."

(review from

Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

The New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club Pick, Cane River, brings us the evocative story of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars, and his granddaughter, who sustains his legacy of courage.

Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money--but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward?

Cow Tom's legacy lives on--especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter, Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility, intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather's indelible mark of courage inspires her--in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies.

Written in two parts portraying the parallel lives of Cow Tom and Rose, Citizens Creek is a beautifully rendered novel that takes the reader deep into a little known chapter of American history. It is a breathtaking tale of identity, community, family--and above all, the power of an individual's will to make a difference. 

Books, Bags and Biscotti Fundraising Event and Purse Drive






FOELPL (Friends of the East Lansing Public Library) will host a sale of "gently used" purses on May 9.  But, first we have to collect the purses!  Back packs, messenger and tote bags, etc. are also welcome.  

Here is what you can do to help the library and your closet:

1.  Check your closets and drawers!
2.  Select "gently used" purses and bags you no longer use.  Make sure they are empty.
3.  Bring your purses and bags to the library and place in the oversized PURSE box* near the checkouts desk at the library.
4.  Watch for the date on our sale so you can replenish your stock with bargains!

We look forward to your participation and the shopping, socializing & snacking fun.

Week 4 Leaderboard results

The fourth week leaderboard results have just been compiled.  Click here to see the full list.  Did you know that you can quickly get to your personalized points tally from the leaderboard list?  Just click your username (it is highlighted in blue) and you will be taken to your personal points page.  Here's how it works:

Step 1:









Step 2:












Drop In Writer's Workshop

East Lansing Public Library - Meeting Room

Ready to write that book, poem, short story? Join us for 30 minutes of writing, followed by discussion and critique. 

Upcoming Drop-In Writer's Workshop sessions:

  • Wednesday, April 1

Spanish Conversation Group

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
East Lansing Public Library - Staff Conference Room

An intercambio/exchange group, both English and Spanish are spoken equally.

Upcoming Spanish Conversation Group sessions:

Waking From the Dream by David L. Chappell

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 left the civil rights movement in search of a strong leader and lively debate about how his legacy would be remembered. Civil rights scholar Chappell chronicles the fits and starts of continued efforts at civil rights that are uncelebrated but nonetheless pushed forward King's agenda. Among those efforts are the campaign for a national holiday to honor King, fair housing legislation and the Humphrey-Hawkings full employment bill (though the original intentions of both were watered down), and Jesse Jackson's two presidential campaigns. Chappell details the contentious debates on nationalism verses integration and the value of a single leader verses institutional viability, which led to the short-lived National Black Political Convention and the more enduring Congressional Black Caucus. Chappell details the failed efforts as much as the successes, highlighting the valuable lessons learned as groups and individuals renewed their strategies and determination to move forward. Emphasizing the rarity of such history-changing acts as the civil rights legislation, he notes that the struggle for equality is incremental and eternal. 

(excerpt from Booklist, 2013)