Shakespeare and Modern Culture by Marjorie Garber

"He was not of an age, but for all time!"
Ben Johnson (1573-1637), Preface to the First Folio

Author Marjorie Garber's premise is this:

Shakespeare's plays almost always seem to coincide with the times in which they are read or produced.  They are eternally "modern".  How can that be?  How has each age seen Shakespeare as speaking for that time, right up to today?  And as we change, how can Shakespeare's works continue to change right along with us?

The author chooses 10 plays in which to explore these questions as well as other that specifically pertain to the individual play.  I found the questions raised in race in Othello, the female sensibilities of the character of Hamlet, and the changing and emerging role of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice especially compelling.

Books on Tap - October 2015

Interested in talking about death? Interested in exploring how our society and our beliefs shape the industry of death? Come to Jimmy's on October 13th at 6:30pm to discuss Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Stories from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. We will also have a professional from the field as a guest speaker.

"Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Books on Tap - September Follow Up

I always think it's amazing how our books can be tied together! This month's selection, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, brought up points that we discussed last month with Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy, and found commonality with current events even though it was written in 2008. In the book, Brooks' research truly showed through: while it is still a work of fiction, the way in which facts are presented in-line with her narrative storyline, is very convincing to make you question the possibility that these events actually happened. Our discussion ran through numerous topics, including: religious freedom/persecution, feminism, war, morality, and literary conventions to name a few. Overall, the book appealed to our entire group and kept the reader engaged throughout.

Come to Jimmy's on October 13th at 6:30pm when we will talk about Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty with our special guest!

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

I recently read Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire.  Egg and Spoon is a crazy mash up of a folk/fairy tale involving two girls from very different circumstances who accidentally switch places, Baba Yaga, and Czarist Russia.  There's magic, there's history, there's lots of confusion.

Those who have read Wicked will be familiar with Maguire's writing style.  It works very well here.  You will find it in the library's J Fiction section in the Children's room but don't be put off by that.  Like The Golden Compass, this book will entertain readers of all ages.

Project 60/50 & East Lansing Library Film Series

East Lansing Public Library - Meeting Room

Dead Man Walking.  A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.  1995; Rated R, 122 minutes.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

NBC Hannibal

Hello, Clarice friends. I am still recovering from what may, tragically, be the last episode of NBC's Hannibal, the thriller-horror television adaptation of Thomas Harris's 1981 novel, Red Dragon. But be not afraid: I won't spoil the series season finale (the airing of which just happened to coincide with the year's first supermoon). Just know that I was screaming through the whole thing. I am screaming as I type this. I may just keep screaming forever. 

For the uninitiated: Hannibal follows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a socially awkward FBI Academy lecturer and chronic dog collector, as he is recruited to profile and pursue a series of serial killers, to the increasing detriment of his own soundness of mind. Graham is singularly adept at empathizing with anyone, a talent that allows him to predict the deadly machinations of the criminally insane – and which draws the keen interest of forensic psychiatrist and amateur gourmet chef, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

Hannibal Lecter... How do I begin to explain Hannibal Lecter? Hannibal Lecter is flawless. I hear his perfectly coordinated three-piece suits are insured for $10,000. I hear he does kitchen appliance commercials... in Japan. His favorite musical instrument is the theremin. One time, he met a little kid on a plane and he fed him pieces of a human brain. One time, he ate my face, and it was awesome.

Because, as I daresay you're already aware, Hannibal eats people, and he looks good doing it. But life can get monotonous when you're always the smartest serial killer in the room, and Hannibal sees in Will what we all want, regardless of how ethically we source our food: someone who can truly understand him.

At the show's blood-soaked core is the most convoluted, traumatizing development of a darkly beautiful friendship between the loneliest, most elegantly dressed sociopath in the world and a salt-of-the-earth hyper-empath whose underwear collection consists entirely of duplicates of white boxer briefs: the attraction of opposites, and all that.

Does the dialog have a tendency to get a tad purplish in its prose? Does the soundtrack veer, at times, dangerously close to overwhelming? Has it taken two and a half seasons to dig into the storyline we've been waiting for? Well. Yes. But what a glorious!gruesome journey it's been! Hannibal is a beautifully designed, devilishly clever piece of television that boasts an all-star cast and offers a freshly frightening, updated take on a familiar franchise that manages to delight longtime fans and newcomers alike.

The first two seasons are available on DVD, so give it a try! If nothing else, the experience will add exciting new texture to your nightmares.

P.S. I watched almost every single episode while eating dinner and I may have to reassess my life choices.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I am the least qualified person to write a review for Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I am not a professional critic, nor a scholar of Black Americana, history or literature. Scores of amazing authors and critics, including Toni Morrison, Isabel Wilkerson, Michiko Kakutani, and Michael Chabon, have written elegantly passionate reviews, praising the triumph of Coates book and imploring people to read it. And as one would expect, and hope, people are listening and reading. ELPL has five print copies of this book (as well as several eBook copies available from the 3M Cloud Library) and all are checked out with hold lists. Obviously, those folks who have already placed their holds do not need to hear from me.

I am addressing this review to the people that have decided not to read this book. Maybe you are afraid that the book would be too upsetting. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the media coverage on the topic of race in America and when you pick up a book you want to escape reality, not dive in deeper.

Please reconsider.

This will be a difficult read. No matter who you are this book will cause you distress and there is no point in me trying to convince you that your fears are false. But even during the most painful sections of the book, Coates prose is so beautifully real that it feels more like a soliloquy than an essay.

If you did avoid this because of media fatigue you can, of course, read this book in one, two, five or ten years from today, and still have a transformative experience. But imagine reading it now, when the everyday dangers that Coates and his son face are being discussed and debated across a wide cross section of American society. 

Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean (OBOC)

In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana's Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier's death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. At the same time, she came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute him--men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing.

Out of that dreadful intimacy comes a profoundly moving spiritual journey through our system of capital punishment. Confronting both the plight of the condemned and the rage of the bereaved, the needs of a crime-ridden society and the Christian imperative of love, Dead Man Walking is an unprecedented look at the human consequences of the death penalty, a book that is both enlightening and devastating. 

Review from

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver (OBOC)

An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive. 
Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date. 
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.

Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception. 

North Art Gallery September and October 2015

In Septmeber and October the gallery will be featuring:

Artistic Explorations

Featuring the artwork of Award winning artists Lily LaFollette and Kim McKerracher, including paintings featuring landscapes, floral figures and animals.

Lily and Kim are avid en plein air (in the open air) painters, traveling the countryside for inspiration. 

This show will be hung in the North Gallery on September 11, and a reception for the artists will take place on Thursday, September 24 from 6-8pm.


Lily LaFollette – Earthy Visions LLC
Mediums:  Oils, Acrylic and Watercolor
Genre:  Landscapes, Still Life, Animal, Florals

After a career in motherhood and business administration, Lily followed her dream to travel and paint in plein air.  For the past 10 years, she has regularly traveled to paint and has been studying with nationally known artists.

Lily loves the dramatic and diverse landscape of the Great Lakes Region.  Her favorite spots include Glen Arbor, Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks.  Living in Mid-Michigan gives her access to an abundance of farms, wildlife, and forest while providing a short trip to visit the majesty of the Great Lakes. 

Currently, Lily’s work includes the dramatic Great Lakes Coastline, the quiet rustic countryside, traditional still life, florals and commissioned artwork including animal and house portraits.  Her work is available at shows, in her studio and online at 

Lily is an award winning artist, participating in many shows:  Saginaw Art Museum, Flint Art Museum, Glen Arbor Art, Lansing Art Gallery, Kaleidoscope, Mid Michigan Historical Museum, Huron Valley Arts.  

She has been featured in The Detroit News and Free Press in an article featuring her donated artwork to the Livingston County Senior Meals on Wheels program, netting over $4000 for their fundraising efforts.  She also supports the LACASA (battered women and children program) by painting and donating during the Garden Tours.  


Kim "Kwaz" McKerracher RN BSN
City:   Goodrich, Michigan
Mediums:  Oils, Soft Pastels, and Charcoals
Genre: Portrait/Pets, Landscapes, and Florals

Kim has been a practicing nurse for over 35 years.   She has been a Director of Nursing, a Professional Beach Volleyball Champion, A National Walleyball Champion, and a HS/Club Volleyball coach.  She has been drawing and painting off and on since 1999.
The first time Kim exhibited her art work, she won Best of Show.  Since then, she has won numerous cash art awards at various exhibits and galleries around Michigan, including a People's Choice Award. 
Carving out time to paint has been a challenge for Kim.  She enters and sells her work at various Michigan Plein Air Paint outs, galleries, and cafes.  To see more of Kim's art work and her upcoming art shows go to her website:


Fourteenth Year of One Book, One Community

It is time, once again, for one of my favorite community events, the One Book, One Community (OBOC) kickoff. OBOC is in its fourteenth year! No small feat.  As a librarian, I love that the community and Michigan State University students come together centered around a book, and this year a film too, to discuss hard topics like justice and inequality in our country.

Slavery to Mass Incarceration Presented by the Equal Justice Initiative

Before you attend the One Book, One Community 2015 Kickoff event featuring Bryan Stevenson, take a few minutes to watch this powerful video, titled Slavery to Mass Incarceration, part of the Equal Justice Initiative's Race and Poverty project.