Category: Nonfiction

Book review: Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

By , April 10, 2014

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

Compiled by Laura Heyenga


If you have ever wanted to try your hand at the art of paper cutting then this book is for you! Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft complied by Laura Heyenga features 27 artists creating artwork of such ethereal beauty that it is hard to believe that it was created using a simple pair of scissors.

Some of the featured artists are Cindy Ferguson, a graphic designer influenced by traditional German paper cutting, she creates beautiful silhouettes inspired by nature.  Thomas Allen, who describes himself as “an artist, illustrator and gentleman farmer,” he uses images from vintage pulp fiction covers to make his altered books come alive. And Juken Teruya, a Japanese artist who uses everyday objects like toilet paper rolls and fast food paper bags to create delicate and intricate sculptures of distinct beauty.


This book will amaze you!


- Karen


If you like Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft then you may also enjoy:

1   Scherenschnitte- Susanne Schlapfer-Geiser

2   Mexican Papercutting-   Kathleen Trenchard

3.  Paper Cuts: 35 Inventive Projects – Taylor Hagety




Book review: Life in Motion:An Unlikely Ballerina

By , April 1, 2014

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina 
by Misty Copeland, with Charisse Jones

Many young girls aspire to dance like a ballerina. For a good proportion of these girls, the expense of dance class will deter them from the start. Out of those lucky enough to take classes, many will be betrayed by their own bodies, which break down under the demands of ballet or grow curves that alter their straight line. The truth is that out of those many young girls who dreamed of twirling across the stage, an infinitesimal percentage will ever dance professionally.

And then there’s Misty Copeland, who would go on to become the first African American soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in twenty years. As a quiet, anxious little girl, Misty was drawn to movement. At seven, she was able to teach herself Nadia Comanechi floor routines by watching them on VCR. By the time Misty was thirteen, her intuitive understanding of movement and her spectacularly flexible body had captured the attention of Cindy,  a ballet teacher at the local Boys and Girls Club. Within a couple of months, Misty donned her first pair of point shoes. Cindy tells Misty, “The perfect ballerina has a small head, sloping shoulders, long legs, big feet, and a narrow rib cage.”  That was Misty.

But hers is not a fairy tale story. While all of this is going on, Misty is living with her mother and six siblings in a motel room. There is absolutely no money for ballet. And why would a black girl want to participate in what was clearly a white dancer’s art form?

In her autobiography, Misty explains why. She also tells of the hard work and sacrifice that went into realizing her dream ofdancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. For those who have followed her career, the opportunity to read the story behind the legend is alluring. But readers looking for dirt on the infamous custody battle involving young Misty, or on the internal working of ABT, or any other kind of scandal will be disappointed. Misty demonstrates as much grace revealing her personal story as she does when executing a perfect grand jeté; her words uplift and inspire.

Once readers have finished the book, they will certainly want to see Misty Copeland in action. Below is an excerpt from a documentary film, A Ballerina’s Tale, directed by Nelson D. George.

Book review: Wild tales : a rock & roll life by Graham Nash

By , March 20, 2014

Wild Tales: a rock & roll life
by Graham Nash
Those of you who came of age in the sixties and seventies will want to rearrange your calendars Friday to make sure you don’t miss the Nashville Public Library appearance of Graham Nash. The book signing is Friday, March 21st at noon.

Few individuals have had such an influence on the musical direction of a generation as Mr. Nash. Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice, first in 1997 with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and again in 2010 with the Hollies.

He is currently touring to share tales from his memoir, Wild tales : a rock & roll life. The Nashville Public Library collection is rich in materials penned and created by Graham Nash; music spanning five decades, a photography collection, concert performances, politics, work with Musicians United for Safe Energy, celebrating songwriters.  The list goes on and on and wonderfully on.

Graham Nash at the Nashville Public Library event details.

“You know, every year has been fantastic for me, I’m still here, I’m still alive and it’s been fantastic” Graham Nash


Book review: Style Me Pretty Weddings: Inspiration and Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration

By , March 13, 2014

Style Me Pretty Weddings: Inspiration and Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration

By Abby Larson


Some words that come to mind when describing Abby Larson’s new wedding planning book would be marvelous, modern and oh so pretty.

Style Me Pretty Weddings will help you determine your “wedding style,” nail down a venue and select your color palette. This book is overflowing with hundreds of beautiful photographs of cakes, flowers, invitations and table designs.

Abby Larson wrote her book because she wanted to “help brides design weddings that are stunning, meaningful, filled with love and a reflection of the couple.” She more than succeeded.


Style Me Pretty Weddings: Inspiration and Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration is simply lovely.



- Karen




Book review: Don’t Pigeonhole Me!

By , March 8, 2014

Don’t Pigeonhole Me!: Two Decades of the Mo Willems Sketchbook
By Mo Willems

If I let the Pigeon stay up late and drive the bus and have a hot dog – do you think I could keep him?

Did you know the Pigeon has all sorts of crazy brothers and sisters to enjoy – beside just Piggie and Gerald?

Do you want me to keep asking you silly questions instead of telling you why this book is so awesome?

Good. Me neither.

All I know is that I think the Pigeon is the best young children’s book character to emerge since Dr. Seuss. He’s hilarious. He’s snarky. And sometimes he needs a spanking. But you still have to love the Pigeon.

Mo Willems has just published a large collection of his sketchbooks – which include Pigeon ponderings, as well as other doodles here and there. Not everything is a winner, but it’s interesting to see what made the cut and what didn’t. The super best part of the book is where the Pigeon retells “The Little Engine that Could” but with an explosive new ending. I also enjoyed the first draft of “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.” This one’s not quite as good as the final product, but it’s fun to see the genesis of the project.

Mo Willems might be known for being a children’s author, but this book is definitely not for the minors among us. Especially not the Belligerent Bunny (shhh…he’s a little shloshed.)

I almost hate to check my copy back in, but since I want to share it with all of you, I’ll make the sacrifice. If you’ve enjoyed any books by Mo Willems, you have to READ THIS ONE! (Sorry, that was the Pigeon talking. Told you he gets rowdy.)

Happy reading…

:) Amanda (aka #1 Pigeon fan)


In Memoriam: The Incandescent Light Bulb

By , February 28, 2014

2014 will bring many changes – one of these changes, if lawmakers and manufacturers get their way, will be the final phase-out of the traditional incandescent light bulb.  I don’t intend to argue the merits of the old-fashioned incandescent bulb over the new-fangled options.

Ad for GE lighting, Good Housekeeping, August 1924.

In fact, the incandescent light bulb has been in an almost constant state of improvement since it was invented, from changes in the material used for the filament to the type of gas placed in the bulb after removing the air.

This does seem like an appropriate time, however, to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing achievement that was the incandescent light bulb.  One could argue it was one of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern world.  It’s pretty much synonymous in our minds with a good idea – doesn’t the image of a light bulb appear when any cartoon character has one?  Don’t we say “the light bulb came on” when a person grasps a new concept?

This invention entered homes, lit up streets, and changed the way people lived. Details we take for granted today were labored over as people incorporated artificial light into their homes.  In the October 1924 issue of Good Housekeeping, an article titled “ABC of Electricity for the Housekeeper: The Incandescent Lamp” explained to women the history, technology, and manufacture of the light bulb, noting that in modern light bulb factories, the assembly was done almost exclusively by machines, except for the placing of the filament, which was “done by skilful [sic] women operators.”

The article goes on to instruct housewives in choosing the correct type of bulb for the intended use, emphasizing the need to shade or diffuse the light and to recognize the difference in the perception of colors between the artificial light of an incandescent bulb and natural light.

The availability of the light bulb in the home even led to the consideration of how to use electric light for decorative purposes in addition to its functional use.  The July 1906 issue of Craftsman magazine discusses the creation of fixtures that would  simultaneously address the utilitarian function of the light produced as well as the “character of the the light.” The design of these “shower light” fixtures (pictured) treats the light “so simply and freely that its true decorative value may be felt in the arrangement of the room.”

As these historic articles and advertisements (all of which can be found in the periodicals collection on the 3rd floor at the Main library)  demonstrate, the light bulb’s invention greatly influenced Americans’ daily lives – habits, home design and decoration, and even safety.  If you’re interested in reading more about  the history of the light bulb and electric lighting, check out these titles from our collection:


Book review: Welcome to Paradise…

By , February 25, 2014

Welcome to Paradise…
By Chas Smith

Surfing is cool. If you don’t believe me, just read what I wrote about Ghost Wave or The Wave. See, I told you. Cool. You know who else thinks he’s cool – that’s right, Chas Smith, author of this fine piece of surfing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure he’s the only one who thinks he’s cool, but if he gets too far out of line, I have faith that the guys on the North Shore will choke him out for the rest of us.

Having been a fan of surfing for a few years now, I am well aware of Hawaii’s epic and heavily-storied waves – especially The Bonzai Pipeline. Situated on Oahu’s infamous North Shore, Pipeline is one wave that if you haven’t surfed it, you haven’t surfed (btw – for those of you keeping score at home, I fall into the later contingent, like most sane people).

Smith’s book focuses on the North Shore. I always knew that surfing was an insular community – and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the Aloha state on it’s Seven Mile Miracle full of dangerous, thrilling waves. At no small risk to himself, Smith takes us inside this always-changing microcosm and gives us a front row seat to the insanity.

Sometimes you find books you “should” read and sometimes you look up and you’ve already read half of the one in front of you. Thankfully, this is one of the latter – if you can get past the pomposity of the writer. It’s been a while since I read a good surfing book, and I’m glad this one jumped off the shelf at me.

Happy reading, brah…

:) Amanda

Book review: The Death class and Knocking on heaven’s door

By , February 21, 2014

Death rate holds steady at 100%” – The Onion

If the subject of considering your own mortality is a bit unsettling, here are two titles that provide fresh looks at an old subject.

The Death class: a true story about life
by Erika Hayasaki looks at how a college course focusing on the end of life provides its students a guide to living.  Former L.A. Times journalist Hayasaki follows Norma Bowe, a psychiatric nurse and teacher whose “Death in Perspective” class has a three year waiting list. The author enrolled in the class where students are asked to prepare for their own demise by writing their own eulogy, tour crematories and make final plans. It turns out that taking a look at the end of life enriches the living.

Knocking on heaven’s door : the path to a better way of death  by Katy Butler provides a different vantage point, showing the reader how the best laid plans often go awry. The author shares two very different experiences as she navigated the death of each of her parents. Options in health care choices prove difficult and easily domino over and into the next crisis. The emotional, spiritual, medical, financial, social, historical and even political decisions can be overwhelming.  Luckily, the author allows us to watch as she makes her way through the maze of modern medical advances.

Advance directive? Durable power of attorney? Hospice care? Cremation? For many folks, discussing these final wishes is uncomfortable. Many prefer to put the discussion off “till later”. But, as these two authors highlight, later could be too late. Here is a source to help you start the process: offers a free kit, The Wise Conversations Starter Kit, which includes the American Bar Association’s Advance Directive, a written statement of your wishes regarding medical treatment that is honored in 45 states.


“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure” – Clarence Darrow


Book Review: The Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay

By , February 15, 2014

The Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay
By Hooman Majd

Like most folks, I would say that I am a pretty open person. I’m fairly informed about world events and international politics. But when it comes to the Middle East, I am also aware that I have been completely Americanized by the media. When we have been told, repeatedly, that Iran is evil and might nuke us out of existence if we let them, it’s hard to have warm, fuzzy feelings for the country.

So when I read this book jacket, I was immediately curious and fascinated. An Iranian-born, Western-raised journalist took his American wife and less-than-one year old son to live in Iran for a year. My first thought: What?!?!?! Why would any sane person want to do that? My second thought: You know he got arrested. Hello – he’s a journalist. (I didn’t think through it far enough to realize that if he had been arrested and never released that I wouldn’t be reading this book.)

Majd is a good storyteller, and this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. It really showed me a personal side to Iran that the American media conveniently skips over. Granted, Majd has some pretty high connections within the government, and none of his friends or family members would be considered anything other than upper middle class. But they still have parties, drink alcohol (when they can get it) and go on vacations.

The government did hassle Majd once or twice. He was monitored the whole time he was there and in order to be allowed entrance, he had to promise not to write about Iran. His wife, Karri, was harrassed a few times by the morality police because she wasn’t dressed according to Muslim standards – even though she made every effort to fit in while not a practicing Muslim. Upon returning home, Majd learned that he had been on Iran’s watchlist as a US spy, so it was good his family left when it did or in all likelihood he would have been arrested.

I wish, however, that he would have covered more about his life once he got home. The Iranian government can’t be happy about this book – even if Majd wasn’t superly critical of them in it. He didn’t say if he’s been back to Iran since it’s publication. Maybe that’s what he’ll write about in his next book.

Did this book make me want to visit Iran? Not in the least bit. However, it did make me a little curious about the country and it’s people, which is something I can say I never was before. Definitely worth the time with this one. Plus…how can you not read a book with such a friendly title?

Happy reading…

:) Amanda

Book Review: Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed

By , February 13, 2014

Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed

Compiled by Laura Heyenga


Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed, this book is so much fun, I loved everything about it!

Author Laura Heyenga, has pulled together a fascinating group of 27 artists who use books as their medium to create. This book will introduce you to Mike Stilkey, an American installation artist who uses stacks of books as his canvas to paint whimsical characters upon, British artist, Su Blackwell brings fairy tales to life with her intricate designs and Cara Barer who uses discarded books to create sculptures that are manipulated by water, strings and clamps, transforming the book into something new and beautifully unique.

Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed is filled with 176 pages of beautiful and inspiring artwork.  Don’t miss it!


Books aren’t simply for reading anymore!



- Karen






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