Book Discussion Kits
Any school media center or public library within the Southeast Library System may borrow multiple copies of a book to use for classes, book clubs, or discussion groups. In some cases we are able to send book kits to Nebraska libraries outside of our service area. Due dates are negotiable, but are usually six weeks from the checkout date. To check out a book kit, please contact the SELS office by calling 402-467-6188, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Available Book Kits
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (10 copies – Hardcover)
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?
This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson’s vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (10 copies – Paperback)
Paul Bäumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other — if only he can come out of the war alive.
Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos (8 copies – Hardcover)
In 1950s Manhattan, Nestor and Cesar Castillo play the sumptuous mambo beats of their native Cuba, where their biggest hit, “Beautiful Maria of My Soul,” earns them a spot on “I Love Lucy” –but their hopes for the future are dashed by a tragic accident. Hijuelos returns to the story of his Pulitzer-Prize winning The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, this time telling it from Maria’s perspective. Maria arrives in Havana, one of the great beauties in a city of gorgeous chorus girls, and becomes the true passion of Nestor’s life. Having fled Cuba and her life there, Maria has never forgotten Nestor or the promise of what could have been, her memories set to the song bearing her name.
The Bible Salesman: A Novel by Clyde Edgerton (9 copies – Hardcover)
Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing two chain saws and 1600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the Army during the Second World War. Back on the road in post-war North Carolina, a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up hitch-hiking Henry Dampier, an innocent nineteen-year-old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as just the associate he needs–one who will believe Clearwater is working as an F.B.I. spy; one who will drive the cars Clearwater steals as Clearwater follows along in another car at a safe distance. Henry joyfully sees a chance to lead a dual life as Bible salesman and a G-man.
During his hilarious and scary adventures we learn of Henry’s fundamentalist youth, an upbringing that doesn’t prepare him for his new life. As he falls in love and questions his religious training, Henry begins to see he’s being used–that the fun and games are over, that he is on his own in a way he never imagined.
Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt (15 copies – Paperback)
Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.
Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
This complete edition features a new introduction by historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elk’s story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition.
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (15 copies – Paperback)
In this extraordinary short story collection, human frailty is put to the test by the relentless forces of dark and light, man and beast. Each tale offers glimpses into familiar, shadowy worlds that push the boundaries of the spirit and leave the mind haunted with the knowledge that black juice runs through us all.
Bloody Lies: A CSI Scandal in the Heartland by John Ferak (10 copies – Paperback)
The remote farming community of Murdock, Nebraska, seemed to be the least likely setting for one of the heartland’s most ruthless and bloody double murders in decades. In fact, the little town had gone more than a century without a single homicide. But on the night of Easter 2006, Wayne and Sharmon Stock were brutally murdered in their home. The murders garnered sensational frontpage headlines and drew immediate statewide attention. Practically everybody around Murdock was filled with fear, panic, and outrage. Who killed Wayne and Sharmon Stock? What was the motive? And then the investigation went awry.
Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (15 copies – Paperback)
A 15-year-old girl named Jessie voices typical—and not so typical—teenage concerns in this unique, hilarious collection of poems. Her musings about trying out new makeup and hairstyles, playing volleyball and cello, and dealing with her annoying younger brother are never boring or predictable. Who else do you know who designs her own clothes and writes poetry to her cat? Jessie’s a girl with strong opinions, and she isn’t shy about sharing them. Her funny, sarcastic take on high school life is revealed through concrete poetry: words, ideas, type, and design that combine to make pictures and patterns. The poems are inventive, irreverent, irresistible, and full of surprises—just like Jessie—and the playful layout and ingenious graphics extend the wry humor.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (24 copies – Paperback)
It’s just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids – as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper (15 copies – Paperback)
Amari’s life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present. Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the elusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?
Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Ogalalas by Mari Sandoz (11 copies – Paperback)
Crazy Horse, the military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity set him off as “strange,” fought in many famous battles, including the one at the Little Bighorn. He held out boldly against the government’s efforts to confine the Sioux on reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, one of the last important chiefs to do so, only to meet a violent death. Mari Sandoz, the noted author of Cheyenne Autumn and Old Jules, both available as Bison Books, has captured the spirit of Crazy Horse with a strength and nobility befitting his heroism.
Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting by Beverly Deepe Keever (10 copies – Paperback)
In Death Zones and Darling Spies, Beverly Deepe Keever describes what it was like for a farm girl from Nebraska to find herself halfway around the world, trying to make sense of one of the nation’s bloodiest and bitterest wars. She arrived in Saigon as Vietnam’s war entered a new phase and American helicopter units and provincial advisers were unpacking. She tells of traveling from her Saigon apartment to jungles where Wild West–styled forts first dotted Vietnam’s borders and where, seven years later, they fell like dominoes from communist-led attacks. In 1965 she braved elephant grass with American combat units armed with unparalleled technology to observe their valor—and their inability to distinguish friendly farmers from hide-and-seek guerrillas.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green (10 copies – Hardcover)
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman (15 copies – Paperback)
Sixteen-year-old Blake and his younger brother, Quinn, are exact opposites. Blake is the responsible member of the family. He constantly has to keep an eye on the fearless Quinn, whose thrill-seeking sometimes goes too far. But the stakes get higher when Blake has to chase Quinn into a bizarre phantom carnival that traps its customers forever. In order to escape, Blake must survive seven deadly rides by dawn, each of which represents a deep, personal fear — from a carousel of stampeding animals to a hall of mirrors that changes people into their deformed reflections. Blake ultimately has to face up to a horrible secret from his own past to save himself and his brother — that is, if the carnival doesn’t claim their souls first!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (10 copies – Hardback)
With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility , Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style.
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (12 copies – Paperback)
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (10 copies – Paperback)
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages (14 copies – Paperback)
It is 1943, and 11-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is traveling west on a train to live with her scientist father—but no one, not her father nor the military guardians who accompany her, will tell her exactly where he is. When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why: he’s working on a top secret government program. Over the next few years, Dewey gets to know eminent scientists, starts tinkering with her own mechanical projects, becomes friends with a budding artist who is as much of a misfit as she is—and, all the while, has no idea how the Manhattan Project is about to change the world. This book’s fresh prose and fascinating subject are like nothing you’ve read before.
Heat by Mike Lupica (15 copies – Paperback)
Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat along with aspirations of leading his team all the way to the Little League World Series. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the family’s escape from Cuba, Michael’s only family is his seventeen-yearold brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care system—or worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michael’s secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (10 copies – Paperback)
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.
Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout (10 copies – Paperback)
The Homesman opens in the 1850s, when early pioneers are doing anything they can to survive dreadful conditions. Women especially struggle with broken hearts and minds as they face bitter hardships: One nineteen-year-old mother loses her three children to diphtheria in three days; another woman left alone for two nights is forced to shoot wolves to protect herself.The situation calls for a “homesman”—a person charged with taking these women, driven mad by the conditions of rural life, to asylums in the East. Not exactly a job people are lining up for, it falls to Mary Bee Cuddy, an ex-teacher and spinster, who is indomitable, resourceful, and “plain as an old tin pail.” Brave as she is, Mary Bee knows she can’t make it alone, so she takes along her only available companion: the lowlife and untrustworthy George Briggs.
The Home Place by Wright Morris (12 copies – Paperback)
Reproduced from the 1948 edition of The Home Place , the Bison Book edition brings back into print an important early work by one of the most highly regarded of contemporary American Writers.This account in first-person narrative and photographs of the one-day visit of Clyde Muncy to “the home place” at Lone Tree, Nebraska, has been called “as near to a new fiction form as you could get.” Both prose and pictures are homely: worn linoleum, an old man’s shoes, well-used kitchen utensils, and weathered siding. Muncy’s journey of discovery takes the measure of the man he has become and of what he has left behind.
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby (15 copies – Paperback)
Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis is used to being left out of conversations. Though she’s been deaf since the age of six, Joey’s mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. She strains to read the lips of those around her, but often fails.
Everything changes when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his baby chimpanzee, Sukari. Her new friends use sign language to communicate, and Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. Spending time with Charlie and Sukari, Joey has never been happier. She even starts making friends at school for the first time. But as Joey’s world blooms with possibilities, Charlie’s and Sukari’s choices begin to narrow–until Sukari’s very survival is in doubt.
I am a Man by Joe Starita (10 copies – Paperback)
In 1877, Chief Standing Bear’s Ponca Indian tribe was forcibly removed from their Nebraska homeland and marched to what was then known as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), in what became the tribe’s own Trail of Tears. “I Am a Man” chronicles what happened when Standing Bear set off on a six-hundred-mile walk to return the body of his only son to their traditional burial ground. Along the way, it examines the complex relationship between the United States government and the small, peaceful tribe and the legal consequences of land swaps and broken treaties, while never losing sight of the heartbreaking journey the Ponca endured. It is a story of survival—of a people left for dead who arose from the ashes of injustice, disease, neglect, starvation, humiliation, and termination. On another level, it is a story of life and death, despair and fortitude, freedom and patriotism. A story of Christian kindness and bureaucratic evil. And it is a story of hope—of a people still among us today, painstakingly preserving a cultural identity that had sustained them for centuries before their encounter with Lewis and Clark in the fall of 1804.Before it ends, Standing Bear’s long journey home also explores fundamental issues of citizenship, constitutional protection, cultural identity, and the nature of democracy—issues that continue to resonate loudly in twenty-first-century America. It is a story that questions whether native sovereignty, tribal-based societies, and cultural survival are compatible with American democracy. Standing Bear successfully used habeas corpus, the only liberty included in the original text of the Constitution, to gain access to a federal court and ultimately his freedom. This account aptly illuminates how the nation’s delicate system of checks and balances worked almost exactly as the Founding Fathers envisioned, a system arguably out of whack and under siege today.Joe Starita’s well-researched and insightful account reads like historical fiction as his careful characterizations and vivid descriptions bring this piece of American history brilliantly to life.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln: A Novel by Stephen L. Carter (10 copies – Paperback)
Stephen L. Carter’s thrilling novel takes as its starting point an alternate history: President Abraham Lincoln survives the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Two years later he is charged with overstepping his constitutional authority, both during and after the Civil War, and faces an impeachment trial . . .
Twenty-one-year-old Abigail Canner is a young black woman with a degree from Oberlin, a letter of employment from the law firm that has undertaken Lincoln’s defense, and the iron-strong conviction, learned from her late mother, that “whatever limitations society might place on ordinary negroes, they would never apply to her.” And so Abigail embarks on a life that defies the norms of every stratum of Washington society: working side by side with a white clerk, meeting the great and powerful of the nation, including the president himself. But when Lincoln’s lead counsel is found brutally murdered on the eve of the trial, Abigail is plunged into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the divided government.
Impossible by Nancy Werlin (10 copies – Paperback)
Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?
A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin. Inspired by the classic folk ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy.
The Influence Game: 50 Insider Tactics from the Washington, D.C., Lobbying World that Will Get You to Yes by Stephanie Vance (9 copies – Hardcover)
Get what you want, every time!Imagine a world where you are offered every job you seek; every business venture you undertake is successful; and every potential customer you approach buys your product. Now imagine that all of this can be achieved–ethically and honestly. All you need is the help of one battle-tested guide, “The Influence Game.” Former Washington, D.C. lobbyist Stephanie Vance dispenses everything she’s learned about effective (and, believe it or not, honest) persuasion. Learn how to apply this power to any situation by using D.C. insider influence strategies and applying a step-by-step, easy-to-understand process for success.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (10 copies – Hardcover)
Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.
Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich (19 copies – Paperback)
When A Lantern in Her Hand came out in 1928, critics took little notice, but people everywhere soon discovered it. By the end of 1919, even as the Great Depression set in, Bess Streeter Aldrich’s novel was in its twenty-first printing. Now translated into over twenty languages, A Lantern in Her Hand has outlasted literary fashions to touch generations of readers. It is the classic story of a pioneer woman. Bess Streeter Aldrich knew what she was writing about. Her protagonist, a strong-minded pioneer woman named Abbie Deal, was modeled on her own mother, who in 1854 had traveled by covered wagon to the Midwest. In A Lantern in Her Hand, Abbie accompanies her family to the soon-to-be state of Nebraska. There, in 1865, she marries and settles into a sod house of her own. The novel describes Abbie’s years of child-raising, of making a frontier home able to withstand every adversity. A disciplined writer knowledgeable about true stories of pioneer days in Nebraska, Bess Streeter Aldrich conveys the strength of everyday things, the surprise of familiar faces, and the look of the unspoiled landscape during different seasons. Refusing to be broken by hard experience, Abbie sets a joyful example for her family – and for her readers. This Bison Book edition includes Bess Streeter Aldrich’s own story of how she came to write A Lantern in Her Hand.
The Last Newspaper Boy in America by Sue Corbett (10 copies – Paperback)
Big Heart + Big Brain = Funny, Feel Good Fiction! Wil’s sidearm throw can land a paper on your porch from twenty yards out. But he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to put his unusual talent to use because the big newspaper company has canceled delivery to Wil’s small town.
Well, that was the paper’s first mistake. Underestimating Wil was the second. With physics, his clueless brother, and a neighbor girl on his side, Wil fights to save his route. Along the way he just might unravel a carnival mystery, expose a con artist, rescue his little town, and become a big hero. Sue Corbett’s hilarious dialogue, nonstop action, and one-of-a-kind family story herald a rising star of middle-grade fiction.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (10 copies – Paperback)
Marcus aka “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself.
Local Wonders by Ted Kooser (13 copies – Paperback)
Ted Kooser describes with exquisite detail and humor the place he calls home in the rolling hills of southeastern Nebraska—an area known as the Bohemian Alps. Nothing is too big or too small for his attention. Memories of his grandmother’s cooking are juxtaposed with reflections about the old-fashioned outhouse on his property. When casting his eye on social progress, Kooser reminds us that the closing of local schools, thoughtless county weed control, and irresponsible housing development destroy more than just the view.In the end, what makes life meaningful for Kooser are the ways in which his neighbors care for one another and how an afternoon walking with an old dog, or baking a pie, or decorating the house for Christmas can summon memories of his Iowa childhood. This writer is a seer in the truest sense of the word, discovering the extraordinary within the ordinary, the deep beneath the shallow, the abiding wisdom in the pithy Bohemian proverbs that are woven into his essays.
The Meaning of Names by Karen Gettert Shoemaker (15 copies – Paperback)
Stuart, Nebraska is a long way from the battlefields of Western Europe, but it is not immune to the horrors of the first Great War for Peace. Like all communities, it has lost sons and daughters to the fighting, with many more giving themselves over to the hatred only war can engender.
Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatens to consume the whole world.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (10 copies – Hardcover)
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
Mosquitoland by David Arnold (9 copies – Hardcover)
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking
Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Greg Kosmicki and Mary K. Stillwell. (10 copies – Paperback)
Poems by more than 80 contemporary Nebraska poets, including Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser, Nebraska State Poet William Kloefkorn, several poets who have had their poems read on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac including Greg Kuzma, Marjorie Saiser, Twyla Hansen, Grace Bauer, and Greg Kosmicki, as well as widely noted poets Hilda Raz, Roy Scheele, Steve Langan, and many others.
Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner (15 copies – Paperback)
She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more out of life. Not one to count on the gods—or her looks—to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. That same attitude makes Helen a few enemies—such as the self-proclaimed “son of Zeus” Theseus—but it also intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi.
In Nobody’s Princess, author Esther Friesner deftly weaves together history and myth as she takes a new look at the girl who will become Helen of Troy. The resulting story offers up adventure, humor, and a fresh and engaging heroine you cannot help but root for.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley (10 copies – Hardcover)
Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.
The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.
Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.
Oh well, you only live twice.
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (10 copies – Paperback)
One of America’s greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel, the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America’s Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather’s novel is a uniquely American epic.
Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father’s farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather’s great heroines, all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather’s books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: “The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”
Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.
On the Rocks: A Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery by Sue Hallgarth (13 copies – Paperback)
This book is the first title of a smart new literary mystery series by Corrales, New Mexico author Sue Hallgarth. The year is 1929 and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Willa Cather and her partner Edith Lewis are summering on Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy. In their cottage’s sparsely-furnished attic room, Cather is at work writing Shadows on the Rock, her tenth novel. Edith is painting watercolors from the cliffs two hundred feet above the rising tides of Whale Cove. Out of the corner of her eye, Edith sees a body plunge from the edge of a cliff to the rocks below…. Solving the mystery, first-time novelist Sue Hallgarth’s intimate view of village politics and the goings-on of two women’s communities long lost to history is also a suspenseful and surprising crime novel. Hallgarth draws the reader into a unique retreat and an inside glimpse of the lives of a great American novelist and her talented life partner.
Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene (10 copies – Paperback)
In search of “the best America there ever was,” bestselling author and award-winning journalist Bob Greene finds it in a small Nebraska town few people pass through today—a town where Greene discovers the echoes of the most touching love story imaginable: a love story between a country and its sons.
During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte, Nebraska, on troop trains en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town, wanting to offer the servicemen warmth and support, transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen.
Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen—staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers—was open from five a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only 12,000 people provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended.
In this poignant and heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the soldiers who once passed through, Bob Greene tells a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.
One False Move by Alex Kava (10 copies – Paperback)
Melanie Starks and her son, Charlie, have been running petty con jobs for as long as either can remember. Now, just as Melanie is ready to pull out and settle down, her brother, Jared Barnett, reenters their lives with a ballsy plan for the ultimate heist. Recently released after serving live years of a life sentence for murder, Jared is frighteningly high on the feeling of invincibility that comes from getting away with murder. Melanie and Charlie agree to Jared’s plot to rob a local Nebraska bank, but during the holdup, everything goes terribly wrong and innocent people end up dead. Suddenly Melanie, Charlie and Jared are on the run, and more lives are at stake–now that the threesome have nothing left to lose.
Our White House: Looking In Looking Out featuring 108 Renowned Authors (10 copies – Hardcover)
Conceived and co-created by the National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted look at America’s history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers to plan a presidential mansion and continuing through the present day, Our White House takes in everything from the amusing antics of presidents’ children and pets to the drama of the White House ablaze and the specter of war; from the role of immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans to the thoughts and actions of many presidents themselves. These highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family sharing and classroom use — and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.
Potato Soup by Twyla Hansen (15 copies – Paperback)
Twyla is Nebraska’s State Poet for the period 2013-2018. This book is the winner of the Nebraska Book Award in Poetry for 2004. “POTATO SOUP is rich with climate, place, color, detail and life, capturing within the covers of a single engaging and lovely collection so much of our part of the planet.” Ted Kooser
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (15 copies – Paperback)
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan (15 copies – Paperback)
From one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers – inspired by true events, a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War. In his award-winning work on Y The Last Man and Ex Machina (one of Entertainment Weekly’s 2005 Ten Best Fiction titles), writer Brian K. Vaughan has displayed an understanding of both the cost of survival and the political nuances of the modern world. Now, in this provocative graphic novel, Vaughan examines life on the streets of war-torn Iraq. In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, Pride of Baghdad raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity? Based on a true story, Vaughan and artist Niko Henrichon (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can.
Red Cell by John Kalkowski (15 copies – Paperback)
Will Conlan is an unconventional thinker. After winning a baseball game with an innovative toss of a rosin bag, he catches the interest of a chief operative of the Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell. Employing the creative problem solving of philosophers, futurists, and Hollywood movie writers, this intelligence unit is seeking any original ideas about anticipating terrorist plots.
As a recent surge of terrorist activity undermines these fresh insights, the operative banks on the notion that Will’s youthful imagination, unclouded by the premise of it can’t be done, may provide the key insight they need and seeks to secretly exploit Will’s unhindered out of the box thinking. Unaware of the magnitude of danger surrounding him, Will uncovers something he wasn’t supposed to discover: a connection between a television advertisement and a master terrorist plot. Narrowly surviving, he alone foils a bombing at Wrigley Field. Uncertain about the knowledge he now holds, he has to figure out the terrorist’s next target. Will just doesn’t realize it’s him.
Rescue Josh McGuire by Ben Mikaelsen (15 copies – Paperback)
A daring rescue…or a deadly risk? Ever since Josh’s older brother died, his father has been drinking too much and taking his anger out on Josh. But when he orphans a bear cub on a hunting trip, it’s more than Josh can stand. Josh insists on bringing the defenseless cub home – only to find out he must surrender it to game officials. Knowing the cub will be given to researchers, Josh makes a defiant choice. Taking only his brother’s motorcycle, the cub, and his dog, Josh runs away to the mountains, vowing to stay until the hunting laws are changed. But the mountains hold unexpected menace, and Josh’s bid for justice soon becomes a battle to survive.
Restoring the Burnt Child by William Kloefkorn (10 copies – Paperback)
Negotiating the no man’s land between ages nine and thirteen, this memoir of a small-town boy’s life in 1940s Kansas continues the story William Kloefkorn began in his much-loved volume This Death by Drowning . With characteristic humor and in prose as lyrical as his best poetry, Kloefkorn describes the unsentimental education he received at the hands of the denizens of Urie’s Barber Shop and the Rexall Drugstore and at the knees of the true characters who made up his family. From the “firefly” stunt that nearly burns down his home to the distant firestorms of World War II, fire holds an endless range of subtle and surprising lessons for the boy, whose impressions Kloefkorn conveys with the immediacy, naiveté, and poignancy of youth—and reconsiders with the wisdom and distance of age. By turns charming and resolute, funny and moving, Restoring the Burnt Child powerfully brings to life the lost, unforgettable world of a boy, and a poet, coming of age in midcentury middle America.
The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman (15 copies – Paperback)
They say his clothes blend into the background, no matter where he stands. They say a lot of things about the Schwa, but one thing’s for sure: no one ever noticed him. Except me. My name is Antsy Bonano, and I was the one who realized the Schwa was “functionally invisible” and used him to make some big bucks. But I was also the one who caused him more grief than a friend should. So if you all just shut up and listen, I’ll tell you everything there is to know about the Schwa, from how he got his name, to what really happened with his mom. I’ll spill everything. Unless, of course, “the Schwa Effect” wipes him out of my brain before I’m done…
The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher (15 copies – Paperback)
Eddie hasn’t had an easy year. First his father dies. Then his best friend Billy accidentally kicks a stack of Sheetrock over on himself, breaking his neck and effectively hitting tilt on his Earthgame. Eddie and Billy were inseparable. Still are. Billy isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop him from hanging in there with his friend. And when Eddie faces an epic struggle with the powers that be, Billy will remain right there beside him.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (15 copies – Pbk)
An oddly compelling, often hilarious forensic exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers – some willingly, some unwittingly – have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They’ve tested France’s first guillotines, ridden the NASA space shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way. In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors’ conference on human composting. In her droll, imitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman (10 copies – Paperback)
Shawn McDaniel is an enigma and a miracle except no one knows it, least of all his father. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like. In this extraordinary and powerful first novel, the reader learns to look beyond the obvious and finds a character whose spirit is rich beyond imagining and whose story is unforgettable. “My life is like one of those “good news-bad news” jokes. Like, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news – which do you want first?” I could go on about my good news for hours, but you probably want to hear the punch line, my bad news, right? Well, there isn’t that much, really, but what’s here is pretty wild. First off, my parents got divorced ten years ago because of me. My being born changed everything for all of us, in every way. My dad didn’t divorce my mom, or my sister, Cindy, or my brother, Paul; he divorced me. He couldn’t handle my condition, so he had to leave. My condition? Well, that brings us to the guts of my bad news.”
The Taker by J.M. Steele (14 copies – Paperback)
High school senior Carly Biels is a shoo-in for acceptance into Princeton, her dream school. (Dad’s an alum – love that legacy status!) As long as she does decently on the SAT, she’s good as gold. When Carly gets her scores, she has to face facts: she tanked. Really tanked. Now she has only one more chance to take the test, and she’s going to have to buckle down and get some help. Unfortunately, her boyfriend Brad seems to have other, less academic things on his mind. Her geeky neighbor Ronald turns out to be surprisingly helpful (and sweet), but will his tutoring be enough to get her the scores she needs? Desperate, she turns to the mysterious Taker, who will take the exam for her. But that decision will have consequences that affect every aspect of her life.
A Tale of Two Cities / Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (9 copies – Paperback)
A Tale of Two Cities:
After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of the two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of the guillotine.
A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor- these form a series of events that changes the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens’s haunting late novel depicts Pip’s education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his “great expectations.”
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (15 copies – Paperback)
Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.
The choice Tally makes changes her world forever…
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (10 copies – Hardcover)
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (17 copies – Paperback)
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (10 copies – Paperback)
Murder and intrigue surround a girl in this mystery set in American in the aftermath of WWII. When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (10 copies – Hardback)
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
The World’s Largest Man: a Memoir by Harrison Scott Key (10 copies – Paperback)
Harrison Scott Key was born in Memphis, but he grew up in Mississippi, among pious Bible-reading women and men who either shot things or got women pregnant. At the center of his world was his larger-than-life father—a hunter, a fighter, a football coach, “a man better suited to living in a remote frontier wilderness of the nineteenth century than contemporary America, with all its progressive ideas and paved roads and lack of armed duels. He was a great man, and he taught me many things: how to fight and work and cheat and how to pray to Jesus about it, how to kill things with guns and knives and, if necessary, with hammers.”
Harrison, with his love of books and excessive interest in hugging, couldn’t have been less like Pop, and when it became clear that he was not able to kill anything very well, or otherwise make his father happy, he resolved to become everything his father was not: an actor, a Presbyterian, and a doctor of philosophy. But when it was time to settle down and start a family of his own, Harrison began to view his father in a new light and realized—for better and for worse—how much like his old man he’d become.
Sly, heartfelt, and tirelessly hilarious, The World’s Largest Man is an unforgettable memoir—the story of a boy’s struggle to reconcile himself with an impossibly outsize role model, and a grown man’s reckoning with the father it took him a lifetime to understand.
Book synopses courtesy of GoodReads.com.