Author Archive

Race and Identity

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015



Recent events and the ongoing debates around them have forced many of us to face hard questions concerning race relations in the United States.  Many books have been written in recent years which attempt to address those questions, and many classic books that have remained in print for decades address many of these issues as well.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction last month.  Written in the form of a letter to his son, Mr. Coates is firing on all cylinders in this attempt to address the question of our fraught history of race relations, as well as what it means to live as a black man in America today.

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, offers a timely and original framework for understanding mass incarceration, it’s origins, and our modern caste system.

The Warmth of Other Sons, by Isabel Wilkerson, also received the National Book Award in 2010 for her acclaimed historical study of the migration of African Americans out of the Southern United States into the Midwest, Northeast, and West between 1915 and 1970.

The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore, tells the story of two boys from Baltimore who share a name and a similar history, but whose lives turn out very differently.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs, is about a young man from a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, who attends an ivy league school only to return to his familiar life.

Classic books that deal with race and identity include Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison; Native Son, by Richard Wright; and Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin.

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Book Club in a Bag – Check It Out

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Were you aware that the Kent District Library has over 200 Book Club in a Bag titles available for your book group? The bags come with 12 to 14 copies of each title, along with questions specific to each title to help stimulate your group’s discussion. The titles in this collection are hand-picked and are all appropriate for a book discussion, but here are a few of particular interest. Titles may be reserved by contacting Ali Kuchta at 616-784-2016 x2179 or


Spare, luminous, and poetic, Stoner is the story of a man’s lifelong passionate love affair with literature. Readers may take wildly different views of the protagonist, making this overlooked classic a great book for discussion.


One day Harold steps out to take a letter to the postbox, and keeps walking. And walking. What starts out as a simple trip to the postbox turns into a spiritual journey of self-discovery, and the adventures he has along the way and the people he encounters make for a great story.  Groups will find much to discuss in this ultimately redemptive adventure.

Individual readers and groups alike will find much to love in this epistolary novel set on the Isle of Guernsey during the German occupation, when the island was completely cut off from the United Kingdom for duration of the war.


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25th Anniversary Book Discussion

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

war and peace

Join us for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Rockford Friday Afternoon Book Discussion Group by reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

The most famous and perhaps greatest novel of all time, Tolstoy’s War and Peace tells the story of five families struggling for survival during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Both an intimate study of individual passions and an epic history of Russia and its people, War and Peace is nothing more or less than a complete portrait of human existence.

The group will be meeting at the Krause Memorial Branch to discuss the book on Friday, September 19, at 1:30 PM, and all are invited.





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Check Out These Short Story Collections

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Have you ever found yourself hungry for something to read, but are unable or unwilling to commit to something formidable? Short stories are an excellent alternative, and can be read during breaks between summer projects. Books of short stories rarely turn up on lists of best sellers, but many of today’s most popular authors honed their craft on small gems such as these, often while completing their degrees. And although books of short stories are not usually winners of major prizes, Lydia Davis was recently awarded the Man Booker International Prize for her short story collections.

Happy Families                       Vampires in the Lemon Grove                        The Complete Stories of Truman Capote

Karen Russell, a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her debut novel Swamplandia!is a master of the short story, and her St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove are both available at KDL. Also, those who have enjoyed Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory would also like his Complete Stories. Readers who want to take a quick trip to Latin America for the summer might enjoy Happy Families by Carlos Fuentes. Be warned, however, that those families are not all happy.

Many of these short story collections and more are available for download as eBooks.

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