National Poetry Month 2015

April is National Poetry Month and there’s still time to celebrate.  Here’s a few staff favorites we’re sure you’ll enjoy.

Collected Poems  of e.e. cummings  An eminent voice in 20th century literature, e.e. cummings wrote  over 2,000 poems in his career. He wrote poetry in many styles such as sonnets, acrostic, free verse, and blues. He is well-known for experimenting with punctuation and sentence structure.  Since he was also a painter, he often wanted to “paint a picture” with his words.

Love: ten poems by Pablo Neruda Neruda gained notoriety as a poet in his teenage years. While he wrote many styles of poems, he is well-known for his passionate love poems.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

The world will follow joy by Alice Walker Even though Walker is known for her iconic novel The Color Purple, she began by writing poetry. Her works focus on the struggles of racism and sexism. Walker’s writing emphasizes her other role as a human rights activist. She has won many awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Color Purple.

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins Collins is one of the most popular poets in America today because of his accessible style of writing. His poems are witty and quirky, but often turn into something profound by the last verse. He served two terms as the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2006.

Best American Poetry Are you new to poetry and you don’t know where to start? Check out a copy of the Best American Poetry. Every year they compile a list of the newest poems from the best poets writing in a variety of styles. Maybe you’ll find your next favorite poem or poet.

Delights and shadows by Ted Kooser Like Collins, Kooser is another of the more famous, accessible poets writing today. In his writing, he draws inspiration from the beauty of everyday life and observations. He has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Delights and Shadows.

The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur  After his death, this collection of his poetry was published. This collection delves even further into this iconic rapper and poet’s innermost world, revealing a message of hope.

Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson  Dickinson lived a simple ordinary life. It was not until after her death that her poems were found and published. Many of her poems emphasize the metaphysical in the ordinary. Above all, her poetry is wonderfully human.

For these and other great books of poetry, check out the third floor of the Southfield Public Library. For more information about National Poetry month or for names of other great poets, check out What’s your favorite poem/poet?

Fairy Tales for Grown-ups

Spring is a wonderful season.  After a long, dreary winter, the world is new and magical again. As we enjoy the spring season, our thoughts turn to  fairy tales. Here’s a short list of fantastical stories written for adults to bring some magic to your life.

The big over easy by Jasper Fforde  Follow Detective Jack Spratt and his partner, Sergeant Mary Mary, of the Nursery Crime Division, as they investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty. Half mystery and half fantasy, Fforde’s nursery crime books incorporate familiar fairy tale characters into funny stories of mystery and intrigue. The next book in the series, The fourth bear, is a mystery involving Goldilocks, the three bears, and a maniacal gingerbread man.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman  Gaiman is the master of the modern myth. This novel smartly blends fantasy, Americana, and myth into a story that examines the American culture. According to the story, gods and mythological creatures only exist because we believe in them.  As people immigrated to America, they brought the gods of their home countries with them. American culture is changing and the old gods are disappearing to make room for the “new” gods, such as media, technology and celebrity. Join the main character, Shadow, on his fantastical road trip across the country as he helps rally the gods of the past to fight the new American gods.  For more great books by Gaiman, check out The ocean at the end of the lane, Fragile thingsAnansi Boys, Stardust,  or Neverwhere.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman What’s a fairy tale list without a little romance? Read the timeless story that inspired the classic movie. The beautiful Buttercup lives in the country and one day falls in love with a farm hand, Wesley. When Wesley goes off to find his fortune so the two can be married, his ship is taken over by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup abandons hope that Wesley will return to her; but, is their love story over?

The snow child: a novel  by Eowyn Ivey  Jack and Mabel are desperate for a child. One day, they find a young girl wandering around the woods by their home in the Alaskan wilderness. They take the little girl in. As the couple takes care of the girl and falls in love with her, what they learn will change their lives forever.

Confessions of an ugly stepsister by Gregory Maguire  In this beautiful re-imagining of the Cinderella story, Iris, her mother, and her sister,  are cast from their home in England and are forced to take refuge in the Netherlands. Iris’s mother tries to improve her family’s station and marries a painter. As the story begins to transform  into the classic Cinderella story we all know, characters and their motivations are re-examined to tell a sympathetic tale. For more great stories, check out Wicked, the book that inspired the Broadway musical and the rest of the books about the Wicked years (Son of a Witch, A lion among men, and Out of Oz) .

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern In Victorian England, a mysterious circus travels from town-to-town. No one knows when it will arrive. The black and white tent opens at sunset and closes at sunrise before moving onto the next town.  Within this beautiful, mysterious circus, two young magicians, Marco and Celia, are raised to be masters of their craft.  The two fall in love, beginning a series of events that will leave the circus performers and patrons in the balance.

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi  Mr. Fox is a writer with a problem: he can’t stop killing off the heroines in his stories. One day his muse, Mary, comes to life and confronts him for his creative choices.  Fantasy, reality, literature, and love are all examined in this inventive novel.  For other whimsical stories by Oyememi, try  Boy, snow, bird : a novel , White is for witching, and The Icarus girl.

Now that you have a magical story to read, enjoy it outside or in your garden. Be sure to keep an eye open for fairies!

Everything Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and we’re excited to celebrate all things Irish. From food to fiction, here are 7 great books to make you feel a little more Irish.

Kevin Dundon’s modern Irish food : more than 100 recipes for easy comfort food by Kevin Dundon This book contains great traditional Irish recipes as well as twists on old favorites.  Dundon offers a variety of recipes that are perfect for a family dinner or a quick-lunch. With this book, you’ll be ready for an Irish celebration of any size.

In search of Ireland’s heroes : the story of the Irish from the English invasion to the present day by Carmel McCaffrey This book provides a great overview of Irish history. Well-researched and written, it’s great for anyone who wants to learn a little more of the country’s rich history and its struggle to independence.

Ireland Eyewitness Travel Whether you’re planning a trip to Ireland or only traveling using your imagination, this book provides beautiful pictures and descriptions of the Emerald Isle. From touring castles in the countryside to visiting the Guinness factory, this guide will lead you to the most interesting places and events Ireland has to offer.

St. Patrick of Ireland : a biography by  Philip Freeman Have you ever wondered about the real St. Patrick? Check out this great book about the life and legacy of the saint that inspired the holiday we know today. This book is packed with historical information but easy for anyone to read.

In the Woods by Tana French French is a master of Irish mystery. In the Woods is the first book in her series, the Dublin Murder Squad. As a child, Rob Ryan is the lone survivor of a terrible murder that takes place in nearby woods.  Twenty years later, Ryan is a detective and finds himself investigating an eerily similar murder in the same woods. Can Ryan uncover the key to the murders of the past and present?

The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly After the death of his mother, twelve-year-old David takes comfort in his imagination and books. Reality and fantasy mix together to create an enduring coming of age tale by a contemporary Irish author.

A Long Long Way by Sebastian Berry  Willie Dunne leaves his family and girlfriend in  Dublin  to fight with the Allied Forces in World War I. While he’s away, political tensions are growing back home.  This vivid and honest book gives insight into the struggle of war and wonders if it’s possible to go home again.

Stop by the Southfield Public Library for these and other great books about Irish life and heritage.

Stranded on a Desert Island


February is winding down, and it is freezing cold! If you’re like us, dear reader, you might be thinking about escaping from the mountains of snow that are covering everything right now. Suddenly, situations that wouldn’t normally be appealing are starting to look a little better, like being stranded on a desert island! Just think, you might have to scavenge for food, build a shelter, and find a clever way to make fire, but at least you won’t have to shovel for an hour just to get to work on time! Suppose you were stuck on a desert island right now. Since this is escapism, maybe it isn’t such a dire situation. Maybe food and shelter washed up on the beach, so you can just relax and enjoy the alone time in a climate where it’s sunny and 78. Maybe a box of books washed up on the beach also, which ones would you like to find when you opened it? You’ve got all the time in the world now, and it’s such a nice day…

The old favorites

A lot of the SPL staff were hoping to find some personal favorite books in their desert island book box. Something they loved, and can enjoy again for the second (or third, or fourth) time. Some of these favorite titles include:

The Catcher in the Rye – by J.D. Salinger

Ishmael – by Daniel Quinn

The Stand – by Steven King

Summer Sisters – by Judy Blume

Life Expectancy – by Dean Koontz

Harry Potter – by J.K. Rowling

The Dragonlance Chronicles – by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Time Enough at Last

Some of our staff members thought about the books that they have always wanted to read, but just haven’t had the chance to do it yet. Whether the book is very long, or very complex, if you are stuck on a desert island then you don’t have to worry about it! Some of the books we would tackle are:

Don Quixote – by Miguel de Cervantes

The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Shogun – by James Clavell

The complete works of William Shakespeare

The Dune series – by Frank Herbert

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – by Stephen R. Donaldson

Those books should last us a good long time. Hopefully by the time we’re done, a rescue ship will have found us. Until then, what would you be reading if you were laying on a warm sunny beach with all the time in the world?

Black History Month 2015

February is Black History Month and we’re excited to celebrate some of our favorite African-American authors.  Here are some great books to discover or enjoy for a second read.

I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou This autobiography  covers the poet’s  life and struggles through her formative years. Despite her troubles, the book emphasizes the power of the human spirit. I know why the caged bird sings is also the topic for February’s Creecy Book Discussion group.

Beloved by Toni Morrison Sethe was born a slave but escaped to Ohio. She is still haunted by the horror of her former life and the baby she was forced to kill in order to prevent being recaptured. Beloved is a hauntingly beautiful read that is full of suspense.

The girl who fell from the sky by Heidi W. Durrow After a family tragedy, Rachel is sent to live with her African-American  grandmother. As the daughter of Danish mother and African-American father, Rachel is forced to confront her racial identity for the first time. As she grieves, she must also piece together the mystery surrounding her parent’s death. The girl who fell from the sky is a beautiful coming of age story as well as a thoughtful commentary on racism and identity.

Pym by Mat Johnson Chris Jaynes is the only African-American English professor at a small liberal arts college. Much to the college’s dismay, he has chosen to study Edgar Allan Poe instead of African-American literature.  When he comes across a 19th-century manuscript that suggests Poe’s novel about an African diaspora colony in the South Pole may be real, he goes on an expedition to Antarctica to find out for himself.  This satirical fantasy explores race relations in America.

Twelve years a slave by Solomon Northrup Read the powerful memoir that inspired the Oscar-winning movie.  Northrup was born a free man in New York but was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  His account provides extensive detail about his experience as a slave and his quest to freedom.

The twelve tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis At fifteen-years old, Hattie flees Georgia and heads north to Philadelphia in the hope of a better life. She marries a man; but, their marriage is far from a fairy tale. Together they have eleven children, two of which die not long after birth. She decides to prepare her children for the world of struggle she has come to know. Twelve stories weave together to form a testament of a mother’s love and courage.

Let America be America again by Langston Hughes This collection of Hughes’s poems is powerful and provocative. They paint a beautiful picture of what he hopes America could be.  These iconic poems help summarize the beauty and the passion of the Harlem Renaissance.

You can find these great stories and more on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Southfield Public  Library. For more information about these authors and other influential African Americans,  stop by the Reference desk or visit our website.

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a new year and there is so much we want to accomplish in 2015. We picked a few New Year’s resolutions and compiled a list of books to help you complete your goals.

Get Organized

Clutter rehab : 101 tips and tricks to become an organization junkie and love it!  By Laura Wittmann This book gives quick and easy tips for decluttering and reorganizing your bathroom, closet, kitchen, and more. The chapters are short and the ideas are easy to implement. After reading this book, you might actually enjoy organizing.

A mom’s guide to home organization: simple solutions to control clutter, schedules, and stress by Debbie Lillard When you have young children, keeping your home organized isn’t easy. Lillard gives great practical advice to help any mom cut the clutter and keep their family organized.

Smart office organizing: simple strategies for bringing order to your workspace by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims Organize your work or home office space with this handy guide. Learn how to “assess the mess” and keep your desk and drawer space under control. This book gives helpful and humorous real-life examples to set you on the right path.

Organizing from the inside out: the foolproof system for organizing your home, your office, and your life by Julie Morgenstern  Morgenstern understands that real organization happens from the inside out. You must be mentally prepared before you can dive in to any organization project. Not all organization methods are the same; and, this book helps you find an organizational method that works for you.

Healthy Living

*Note: Be sure to consult a doctor to find a diet and exercise plan that is right for you!

The everything DASH diet cookbook: lower your blood pressure and lose weight–with 300 quick and easy recipes! by Christy Ellingsworth and Murdoc Khaleghi This popular diet is great for decreasing hypertension. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. This book contains 300 recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.

The healing power of exercise: your guide to preventing and treating diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and more by Linn Goldberg and Diane L. Elliot This book has exercises to help improve and prevent symptoms from ten common health problems. Photos and helpful descriptions are given for each exercise.

Making the cut : the 30-day diet and fitness plan for the strongest, sexiest you by Jillian Michaels Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels provides a 30 day program to identify your metabolic make-up so you can find a diet and exercise plan that works for you. This book gives tips to increase your strength, flexibility, coordination, and self-confidence.

Feed your family right: how to make smart food and fitness choices for a healthy lifestyle by Elisa Zied Make healthy living a family affair with this healthy lifestyles guide. This book gives great tips for healthy eating whether it is at home or on the go. A nutritional plan can be developed for each family member based on age and metabolism. Set and achieve fitness goals as a family.


Find a Better Job

The job search solution: the ultimate system for finding a great job now! by Tony Beshara This book discusses the most common problems that job-seekers face today and how to navigate those pitfalls to find a job that’s right for them. This book features real-life examples, interactive exercises and practical “dos” and “don’ts” to get yourself noticed by an employer.

Knock ’em dead: the ultimate job search guide by Martin Yate This book helps readers craft their resume and build their social media branding. It is packed with advice that will help you stand out from the writing your resume to interviewing for a position. “Knock ‘em dead” is a great series to help in your job searching process.

The career coward’s guide to resumes: sensible strategies for overcoming job search fears by Katy Piotrowski Looking for a job can be intimidating. This book helps readers assess their strengths and weaknesses  so they can better promote themselves. This books motivates people to make small risks that can translate into big career changes. See the other books in the Career Coward series for additional tips for each step of the searching process.

Do what you are: discover the perfect career for you through the secrets of personality type by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger If you’re looking to change career paths but do not know what to do next, this book may be great for you. This book has a step-by-step guide to identifying your personality type, so you can determine what careers are the best fit for you. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, it is easier to focus-in on the type of work that will be the most fulfilling to you.

Take a trip

Four seasons of travel: 400 of the world’s best destinations in winter, spring, summer, and fall Get the most out of your traveling experience by knowing the best time to visit a location. This book contains beautiful pictures and unique seasonal activities that take place around the world. This book is packed with great ideas on where to plan a vacation for any season.

Michigan day trips by theme by Mike Link Do you need to get out of town but you don’t have time for a vacation? Check out this book and explore somewhere new in our great state. Day trips are organized by areas of interest. String together a couple of trips to craft your own weekend getaway.

Eyewitness Travel Do know where you want to go but you don’t know what to do when you get there? Try one of our Eyewitness Travel books! They are packed with great travel tips, maps, and attractions. These guidebooks are broken down by country, major region, or major city. Also try the Fordor travel guidebooks.

The best American travel writing If financial and time constraints are preventing you from traveling, indulge in some great writing. Let one of these talented writers take you around the world and introduce you to many cultures and experiences. Other great books that mix travel with life are Eat, Pray, Love and The Geography of Bliss.

For these titles and many more, visit the third floor of the Southfield Public Library and browse our New Year’s Resolution display!

Sci-Fi/Fantasy 2014 Roundup!


The year is almost over, and the time has come to look back on our favorite books of 2014. This list focuses on the worlds of imagination; visions of the future, and different realms where anything is possible. Here they are, my favorite science fiction and fantasy books of the year! (This list is in the order of release date.)

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley is the first book in a new fantasy series. The Emperor of the Annurian Empire has been murdered, and his three (adult) children must unravel the conspiracy behind his death. Hearing the news in separate corners of the land, they must face their own intrigues and challenges to avenge their father and inherit the throne.

The Martian by Andy Weir is the near-future, hard science fiction tale of an astronaut left stranded on Mars. As NASA astronauts carry out the second manned mission to the red planet, a sandstorm separates Mark Watney from the rest of his crew. Forced to survive alone in a completely inhospitable environment, Watney’s tale is told through his harrowing, yet hilarious, journal entries.

Influx by Daniel Suarez asks the question, “Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings?” A powerful shadow organization is keeping the world in an artificial dark age, in order to prevent the societal upheaval that new advanced technology could bring. When one scientist is imprisoned for inventing a gravity device, he must try to find a way to defeat this organization and help bring humanity to the future.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is the massive sequel to the equally enormous first book, The Way of Kings. Describing this story in a paragraph is impossible. It is set on the world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. The story of this war and the characters embroiled in it continues in this amazing book.

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence is the start of a new series by the author who brought you the Broken Empire Trilogy. Through a series of fantastical events of courtly intrigue, a cursed minor royal, tenth in line for the throne, must go on a journey with a Norse warrior. On the way, they encounter grave dangers, willing women, and the eventual realization that they are nothing but pawns in a game that is leading to war.

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb starts at the end, or what should have been the end. After many years of peaceful “retirement”, a former assassin must leave his cozy life when his past comes erupting back into the picture. A messenger comes seeking the assassin, but dies violently before he can reach him. Who killed the messenger? What was the message? These questions lead to a new adventure for an old adventurer.

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley steamrolls through from chapter one, promising to become one of the best fantasy series in years. A war is raging on the eve of a cataclysmic event that is known to change entire worlds. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Lock In by John Scalzi tells the story of a virus pandemic, taking place fifteen years from today. The virus causes approximately 1% of the world to become “locked in”, fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. As society adapts to the fact that millions of people are locked in, a virtual reality world is created for these victims to interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. It is also discovered that certain people have brains that are receptive to control, and the locked-in can “ride” them, controlling their bodies for a time.

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie continues the story that began in 2013’s Ancillary Justice. The story follows a soldier known as Breq. Breq was once Justice of Toren – a spaceship artificial intelligence, but an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin brings the award-winning writing of China’s most beloved science fiction author to English readers for the first time. A secret Chinese military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

Stop by the Southfield Public Library to inquire about these titles, and many more  in our science fiction section!