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!

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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.

Sam Adams, Action Hero!

Inspired by this Fourth of July holiday, I thought it might be interesting to watch some of the recently released TV series on the Revolutionary War. First I tried Sons of Liberty, which was billed as "historical fiction" on the History Channel.  The story and acting were ok, but the portrayal of a young, cool, and handsome Samuel Adams as an action hero was a little hard to take. There was just enough fact to revive this History major's interest in what really did happen in Boston that led to our independence.

Next I watched season 1 of Turn: Washington's Spies, which is an AMC series.  This was much better in both production value and acting. There were still some "liberties" (a little 4th of July humor there) with the truth, but the little-known story of the Culper Ring was a great setting for a story. Season 2 is not available on DVD yet, but I'll be placing a hold as soon as it's up on ELPL's Pre-Pub Titles.

For the true story, I recommend the well-respected author David McCullough's 1776. This not only was a great re-introduction to all the names we learned as children (Washington, Knox, Cornwallis), but also included interesting letters and diary entries from ordinary British and American soldiers and citizens.

No matter which you choose, next July 4 will take on a different meaning for you.


Fresh Flowers by Young-Ja Chi

Artist:  Young-Ja Chi
Title:  Fresh Flowers
Medium:  Acrylic
Price:  $525.00

Young-Ja is a multiple award winning local artist.  In an article from 1986 she is quoted as saying "I remember in elementary school we didn't have enough crayons.  Then somehow I got some crayons made in America.  I can't forget the green, how pretty it was."

Books on Tap - August 2015

Come discuss Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson before he comes to speak in East Lansing! Books on Tap will discuss the One Book, One Community 2015 selection on August 11th at 6:30pm at Jimmy's Pub.

"A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

 Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice."

Review from Amazon.

New Music Friday on Hoopla - July 17, 2015







Dropping today:

Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes
Alan Jackson – Angels And Alcohol
Tame Impala – Currents
Finding Neverland Broadway Soundtrack – Various Artists
Iron & Wine/Ben Bridwell – Sing Into My Mouth
Anthony Brown & group therAPy – Everyday Jesus
Memphis May Fire – Unconditional: Deluxe Edition
David Osborne – Laughter In The Rain

Coming Soon to Hoopla

July 24th:

Jill Scott – Woman
Ashley Monroe – The Blade
Southpaw Soundtrack – Various Artists
Warren Haynes – Ashes & Dust
Bea Miller – Not An Apology
Kasey Chambers – Bittersweet
Hopsin – Pound Syndrome

July 31st:

Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines
Descendents Soundtrack – Various Artists
Andrea Bocelli – Puccini: Turandot
Bobs & LoLo – Dirty Feet
Lianne La Havas – Blood
Migos – Yung Rich Nation
Dave Koz – Collaborations: 25th Anniversary
The Maccabees - Marks To Prove It

Books on Tap - July Follow Up

With a majority of the group apparently on summer vacation, we had a small group discussion about The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Overall, this light read with hints of the tale of Forrest Gump, was the perfect summer read for our group. It was interesting to see the history of Allan Karlson and the interesting group of people he encountered through his life (Mao Zedong, Winston Churchill, and Harry S. Truman to name a very few). Jonasson's background in journalism is on full display in this book: even though the idea that Allan led the life in the story is far-fetched; the timeline of his actions was thoroughly researched and lined up accordingly.

We also did our summer book exchange and talked a little about other books we've been reading. See the list and descriptions here.

Come to Jimmy's August 11 when we discuss the One Book, One Community selection Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.