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Nobel Prize for Literature

“It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you've made, and there's this panic because you don't know yet the scale of disaster you've left yourself open to.”

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Our next read for the SML Book Club is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiquro and what a timely choice because it was recently announced that Mr. Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature. This prestigious prize always raises the profile of a writer and that will make for a more interesting discussion come December. "Never Let Me Go" is a novel about cloning and is set in a dystopia not altogether unrecognizable. The book was adapted for a movie starring Keira Knightley in 2010. Other works from Mr. Ishiguro include The Remains of the Day which also became a well-known movie starring Anthony Hopkins. We are looking forward to reading and discussion "Never Let Me Go" and we invite anyone who is interested in the book and joining the discussion to attend the next book on the 1st Wednesday in December. If you want to place a hold on the book click here. If you want us to reserve a copy for you give us a call at 920-596-2252. We extend our congratulations and best wishes to Kazuo Ishiguro and look forward to the discussion in December.

Join our Book Club!


We're having our October book discussion this week (Wednesday at 4pm) and we'll be discussing Meet Halfway: Milwaukee Stories by Jennifer Morales. This is one of many interesting books the Library's Book Club has read and discussed through the years and there promises to be many more. The fun of reading a book and then getting together to discuss it with others cannot be overstated. Reading is such a personal experience and we all take in a writer's work in different ways and to listen to others talk about the same book you just read and compare how it made them feel with how it made you feel is sometimes a great experience. We always welcome new members - there is no leader for this group - you aren't required to say anything at all during the discussions if you don't feel like it and we pick our books by consensus based on recommendations from the members. If you're looking for a way to spend a pleasant hour in the company of others and you like to read, consider attending Book Club. We meet every other month on the first Wednesday of the month at 4pm. Sometimes we even have treats.

Wisconsin 2016

Our adult reading program, Biblio Bingo, is off and running and as always we are having a blast with those participating. We love getting people signed up, talking to them about the categories, helping them plot their strategies and recommending books for them to read. The added bonus is listening to our readers talk excitedly about a book they enjoyed or a new author they found. The program has been popular for over a decade now and we hope it continues.

One category that we repeat every year is books published by Wisconsin authors in the previous year. Having this category as a constant in the game helps staff keep up with what's getting published by the diverse pool of talent we have here in Wisconsin and it reinforces the idea with readers that great authors aren't always "from somewhere else". The books published in 2016 that are featured in this year's program represent a wide variety of genres and topics. Favorite authors Patricia Houston (Loon Lake Mysteries) and Jane Hamilton published books in 2016. Patricia Skalka, who spends her summers in Door County, added another title to her Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries series. Historical Fiction writer Jennifer Chiaverini's Fates and Traitors focuses on four women who had a connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. A new intriguing fiction title by former Madison resident Ashley Ream involves the mysterious powers of tiny sea creatures that live in a bay off of a small Washington state island and the people who are drawn to the island for that reason. Ream states that she wrote most of the book in her car on her lunch breaks from her job at Wisconsin Public Television. Read more »

November is Picture Book Month!

November is Picture Book month and around here we love celebrating any kind of book but picture books hold a special place in our hearts. For most children, picture books are an introduction to the world of reading and the love of books. The tradition of parents reading to their children each day is one that has endured for a long time. There is no reason to believe that this tradition won’t continue to be a big part of the day for families all around the world. Picture books not only provide an introduction to the sounds of letters and words but they also provide great visual experiences for young children and develops their sense of wonder for the world. Picture books aren’t just for very young children either. Today there are picture books written for audiences all the way up to high school. And for parents who are reading to their children every day, (let’s face it, it is sometimes a tedious task) there are plenty of picture books that provide a twist or a turn to keep the adult readers entertained.

One thing we like to point out here is that reading picture books to your children doesn’t have to end when your child learns to read on their own. As a matter of fact, continuing to read picture books to your independently reading child reinforces engagement with story, continues to introduce new words and concepts to your child and keeps boredom from reading the very simple “I can read” books over and over from setting in. Plus, reading with your children is a fine way to spend time together. Read more »


I just finished reading this book, Smile, by Raina Telgemier. It is the story of the author's middle school years and includes all the usual angst that goes with that time in a person's life as well as her ordeal (and I mean ordeal) dealing with the after affects of an accident that left her missing her two front teeth. This book is a graphic novel - in other words it is written in comics form. The author has written two other books in this format and they are very popular with tweens and teens. I've read them all and have loved each one. I read quite a few graphic novels and gratefully I'm seeing more books published in this format targeted for adults. What is the appeal? Read more »

A moving Memoir

What is it about reading a book that takes place in a location with which your're familiar? We all love reading a book that aptly describes a place we know, or has a cast of characters that we can vaguely recognize. The book My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby is such a book. But it is so much more than that too. The Melby's lived in Iowa, almost five hours away from the Chain O' Lakes here in Waupaca County. Melby's mother had family in Waupaca and so they made frequent visits to the area. That is how the Tom Thumb Mini-Golf got on their radar and it's why, when it went up for sale in the 70s, they purchased it. For the next 30 years the Melby's ran Tom Thumb in the summers while continuing to live in Iowa the rest of the year. The author, June, and her sisters LeAnn and Carla were young girls when the family purchased the mini golf course. They spent all of their summers and many of their spring and fall week-ends up in Waupaca working alongside their parents to keep Tom Thumb running. It took an extraordinary amount of work, with little financial reward, to keep the business afloat. The title of the book has a kind of double meaning, for surely every family has its hazards and Melby shines a light on her family's in an honest and sometimes amusing way. Read more »


Biblio Bingo 2015


It's snowing outside so we know winter is far from over but the Library has a way you can beat those winter blues. Come on in and sign up for the adult reading program Biblio Bingo. The program runs for eight weeks and in that time participants must read at least four books from four different categories on a bingo card. Those who get a Bingo get to pick out a small prize and enter a drawing for prize baskets but more about that later.

Everyone who participates in this program will tell you that they don't do it for the prizes. They do it for the reading - they do it because it introduces them to new authors, genres and subjects. They participate because all of the categories and booklists are generated by staff and are books that we have in the Library. (Each year we do purchase a few new books for the categories and this makes the overall collection stronger). A library's identity is wrapped up solidly in the books that live on the shelves and it's a give and take relationship between the books and readers. This program breathes new life into some of those books and makes them near and dear once again.

The next few blog posts will highlight each of the categories for this year's Biblio Bingo - how we came up with the names and some of the books that made it on to the lists. We truly have fun creating this program from scratch every year and if you will allow us a small pat on the back, sometimes we consider ourselves quite clever for some of the names we give the categories. The categories highlighted in this post are GREAT LAKES and MEADOW MUFFINS & GUNPOWDER. Read more »

Another good one from Michael Perry


Five reasons why you should read The Scavengers by Michael Perry

1)    It takes place in Wisconsin

2)    It has a protagonist who fights for her place in the world

3)    It has good detail about scavenging for food and junk

4)    It leaves you feeling that, above all else, there are good people in the world

5)    You can learn a new language. Wait, what?

Here is an excerpt from the novel where the protagonist, Ford Falcon, and her neighbor and life-saver, Toad, are having a conversation:

"Then why not get a horse?"

"A hay-burner?" he snorted. "Too jumpy, too spendy". Then he said, "Lottom bine? Peam stower or porse-hower, you'll wear yerself opposite-of-in keeping either one hed and fappy. He paused and pointed at Frank and Spank. "Dem dos oxiis all the horsepower I like dough-knead. Plus any knucklehead can traise and rain an ox"

When you get to the point where you can translate Toad's language all by yourself you really feel like you've reached a milestone. This dysopian novel with a decidedly Wisconsin flair is for younger people, but adults will certainly enjoy it too. Call the Library to reserve a copy or reserve a copy online here.

The Chef Life

Husband has been on a "food memoir" kick lately, reading quite a few books written by chefs, foodies or people who come from families where food is another beloved member. He enjoys these books and tells me bits and pieces of the things he has read to the point that my interest in reading a "food memoir" was piqued. I remembered that the Library had one such book and that it had received good reviews so I brought it home for Husband to read earlier this spring. He read the book in two days and gave it the big thumbs up so I decided to read it too and I'm glad I did. Blood, Bones & Butter is by Gabrielle Hamilton and not only can she cook, but she can write too. Hamilton owns a restaurant in New York City called Prune (there is a reason for this name) and has become a celebrity chef in her own right. She knows food and she can write it about it in a way that keeps the pages turning. Admittedly, if descriptions of food bore you, this is not the book for you. But if you like reading about food, how it is grown, how it is cooked, how it is eaten and what it does for a body and soul then you will enjoy this book. It's not all Hamilton writes about either. She has lived an interesting life albeit a sometimes desperate and lonely one. Read more »

A book about Books


Getting lost in a good book is a reader's dream. Getting lost in a good book that revolves around other good books (and short stories) is a reader's dream multiplied. Every time I read a book about books I wonder why I can't be so clever as to write something similar. So it was with the latest books book I read, "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry", by Gabrielle Zevin. When this book arrived on the van delivery one look at the cover told me that it was going to have quirky characters. And indeed it did, starting with the titular character himself. A. J. Fikry owns a bookstore on a remote (fictional) island off the coast of Massachusetts. He is a curmudgeonly bookstore operator, not real fond of children and most other annoying customers. His bookstore isn't doing so well because it's not stocked with anything people really like to read; only books that pass muster with A.J., who is a bit of a literary snob, grace the bookstores shelves.  A.J. is only in his late 30s but is already a widower, having lost his beloved wife Nic in a car accident a couple years previous. This is indeed a huge loss because while there is someone out there for everyone as they say, there might not be two people out there for A.J. and soon the reader starts to fear that A.J. will spend the rest of his days and nights alone. A.J. is doing everything he can to make sure those days and nights are numbered by staring down the bottom of a bottle of something almost every night. Read more »