Author Archives: Tony

The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy

“Does for mental clutter what Marie Kondo has done for household clutter.”

Publishers Weekly

This sounds like a pretty heavy book, in length and depth. It is the latter. But it is “simple” heavy in its depth. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be reading it. I have a great interest in Zen, but most books are beyond my ken. I am 55 years old, and I have endured a great amount of suffering, physically and emotionally (lesson 76). Thus, I often feel that I have a lot of the Buddha within me without learning terminology, sutras, and koans. I’ve learned a little of Zen and Taoism via other authors such as Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Hanshan.

The author here, Shunmyo Masuno, breaks down 100 practices into small segments that are easy to digest and also, easy to put down and pick right back up without losing a beat. Because of chronic pain, my life has become a very cluttered existence. Both in the brain and all around me physically. So I saw this new book laying on a cart and with its sky blue cover, I was drawn it. And like a Satori, I realized that I need this book. And so I picked it up.

We are born with nothing. NOTHING! But along the way, we pick up attachment after attachment and we don’t realize the weight we are carrying within and without. And until they weight us down so much that we live in fear and anxiety, we are not mindful of how big a burden we carry with everything from ideas to cars and houses.

After reading half of this book, I realized that WOW, I KNOW all these lessons. And it is true that these lessons are simple to understand and if you have lived long enough, you may know them as well. So, for me, these lessons are a reminder to put to use what I already know. Be mindful of your life. Every second of it.

America, Louisville, and often your workplace are full of anxiety. Learning to be calm has been helping me with all three. I tune out the world and all its trivial news and problems. I now worry only about what is in front of me. I cannot change the past, and can only change the future by being calm and seeking within. The best way to calm yourself is to be in Nature. Go take a hike. If you cannot hike, lay on a blanket in the park. Stare at flowers.  But you need to find time alone and away from the cares of the world. Empty the Mind of all the woes and worries that the world puts in it. Let go of attachments. But when you buy something, treat it with love. Respect it.

This small book can help you on your journey to finding ENLIGHTENMENT. All the answers are within you. Seeking them outwardly is not the solution. I personally have trouble with ‘being positive.’ I usually hate people when they point this out. But after reading this book, I am trying hard to be POSITIVE without advertising it to anyone. Work hard to be happy in the moment. And BE IN THE MOMENT! Or as Ram Dass put it: BE HERE NOW. This book will make you think about how you spend/waste your time. And in the end, that is what life is.

We have this book both in Hardcover and in eBook. Reserve it here!

Reviewed by Tom, Main Library

In Conversation with Alanna Nash and Will Oldham

Main Library, Thursday, November 14, 7 PM

Renowned songwriter and performer Will Oldham and celebrated music journalist Alanna Nash share a hometown (Louisville, of course), a love of Kentucky music, and a penchant for insightful observation.

In this on-stage conversation, Oldham and Nash will delve into their long careers and reflect on growing up in love with music in Louisville.

This program is free. To register, visit the online form or call the ticket line at (502) 574-1623

Correct Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People

Happy Hangul Day!

Today is the officially recognized 573rd anniversary of the publication of the Hunminjeongeum (translated into English as The Correct Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People) by one of Korea’s greatest Joseon kings, Sejong. He is, in fact, often given the honorific of “the Great” (as in “Sejong the Great“). His book gave us the modern Korean alphabet, known as Hangul (sometimes spelled Hangeul).

King Sejong the Great, fourth ruler of the Joseon dynasty, ruled Korea from 1418-1450 C.E. He is one of but only two of Korea’s kings given the honorific “the Great.”

Prior to the invention of Hangul, Koreans used the complex system of Classical Chinese characters, along with Hanja (certain Chinese characters that were assimilated into the Korean language). It was very complicated and only a small elite at any one time would master it. With the invention of Hangul, literacy was able to spread rapidly throughout the lower classes.

It’s usage eventually paved the way for both of the Koreas to be two of the most literate countries in the world. Literacy rates in North Korea are difficult to establish independently but the CIA World Factbook listed it as 100% as of 2015. That same year, South Korea’s rate was estimated to be approximately 99%.

The Hunminjeongeum has been listed as one of South Korea’s National Treasures since 1962 and on UNESCO‘s Memory of the World register since 1997. There is even a National Hangul Museum located in Seoul. So important to the Korean culture, Hangul Day is not only the recognized anniversary but is also a national holiday in South Korea

The holiday is celebrated on January 15th in North Korea, where it is known as Chosongul Day. This is in order to commemorate an earlier announcement of the creation of Hangul (prior to its publication). The differences in the name of the holiday derive from what names the two countries use for Korea (“Hanguk” in the South and “Choson” in the North). In both cases, the name translates into English as “Korean script.”

Another interesting fact about Korea related to literacy is that the first known movable metal type occurred during the Koryo (or Goreyo) dynasty. The Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun (translated into English as The Prescribed Ritual Text of the Past and Present) was completed in 1250 C.E. Credit for this innovation is traditionally given to Choe Yun-ui (a civil minister for King Gojong), who invented the process in 1234 C.E.

— Article by Tony, Main Library

Today in Hip Hop History:


Black Thought (a.k.a. Tariq Luqmaan Trotter) of The Roots was born October 3, 1971

Talib Kweli (a.k.a. Talib Kweli Greene) of Reflection Eternal and Black Star was born October 3, 1975

Talib Kweli has an interview in this collection:
Reach : 40 black men speak on living, leading, and succeeding. Edited by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters

Make sure you check out the library’s catalog for these exciting artists’ works, both solo and with others!

Did You Know?

Did you know that the Main Library has four adult book discussion groups? Three are held at 301 York Street and one is held off-site.

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The Mayor’s Book Club meets at the Main Library on the third Wednesday of the month, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Brown-bag lunches are welcome.

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Do you like reading Mysteries? Do enjoy discussing what you’ve read but can’t find anyone to discuss them with? Then come to the Mystery Book Discussion Group at the Main Library where we discuss a different mystery every month.

We meet on the third Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:00 pm in the Boardroom on the second floor of the North Building.

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Did you love comics as a kid and do you still? Or are you new to the magic of graphic literature?

No matter when you started, the Graphic Novel Discussion Group is the place for you!

The Group meets at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month from 7 – 8 pm.

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Last but not least, our newest book discussion group meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Falls City Taproom from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

Fiction Books Written By Scientists

In 2019 two scientists wrote novels. Even more interesting is the fact that they were written by women scientists. While scientists are known for collecting data and writing informative and research-based papers, it isn’t often that you find one that takes that data and uses it to speak so powerfully about the human condition. Both stories are a fascinating look at the way human nature emulates the nature of our environment through the lives of insects and birds. Both books beg the question of our humanity and our connection to the micro-relationships of the natural world.

It is noteworthy that while experts in their field, these women authors are not defined by only their expertise but use their knowledge to cross literary genres. They each move from the often cold and clinical scientific realm to a prose that sometimes lacks scientific authentication to create a unique voice. Merging scientific fact with fiction creates a refreshing genuine voice for the reader that speaks a truth about our basic instincts.   

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens takes place in a cove on the North Carolina coast. It is a study of the nature of humans and isolation as well as a stunning look at the ecosystem of a marsh.

Kya Clark, often known as Marsh Girl, has lived in the swamp all her life alone and often lonely until a murder in the swamp brings the eyes of the whole community. When Chase Andrews is found dead, people start questioning Kya’s connection and whether this wild beautiful girl is to blame. Even Kya knows that she has been changed by the seclusion and remoteness of the swamp.

 “She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn’t her fault she’d been alone. Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”

— Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

Owens explores the dynamics of families and relationships through Kya and the marsh. Kya’s family has abandoned her one by one. Her mother is the hardest and most unexplained loss. Kya spends many years mourning this loss and trying to understand it. The reader will feel Kya’s desperation and determination in her wary attempts to connect and be part of a human relationship; experiencing hurt and returning time and time again back to the comfort of the marsh.

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

–Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

This isn’t just a haunting tale of love and murder but a story of our natural instincts and how we become not just human but how that humanity informs our ideas of right and wrong. It explores the notions of survival versus life and living. Kya has few teachers in this and yet there are those that look beyond the wild to see her heart. Kya’s teacher is the marsh and Owen uses her knowledge to show us how both science and art create the most complete and beautiful picture.

“Her collections matured, categorized methodically by order, genus, and species; by age according to bone wear; by size in millimeters of feathers; or by the fragile hues of greens. The science and art entwined in each other’s strengths; the colors, the light, the species, the life; weaving a masterpiece of knowledge and beauty that filled every corner of her shack. Her world, She grew with them–the trunk of the vine–alone, but holding all the wonders together.”

–Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

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Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah is set in rural Illinois and makes comparisons about nesting birds and the relationships between an ornithologist, a recluse egg salesman and a young mysterious girl. 

Joanna Teale spends long and tiring days studying the nesting birds of rural Illinois. She works herself weary so as not to dwell on the recent death of her mother from cancer. She has little time for anything else and thus finds herself in a sticky situation when a young girl, Ursa, appears at her cabin claiming to be an alien who has come to earth to study humans. Joanna enlists the help of her neighbor and recluse, Gabriel Nash. Together they fall in love with this strange little girl while trying to find out where she came from and how to help her.

Vanderah uses nesting birds and their habits to help explore the dynamics of Joanna’s grief and Gabriel’s anxiety. Both characters are afraid of leaving the protective nests they have built for themselves. It is only when Ursa, a girl with her own mysterious past, makes them choose comfort or a chance of something bigger than themselves. Like Owens, Vanderah emphasizes the connection to the natural world.

“Maybe it has something to do with how they can turn their backs on the comforts of society for long periods of time. But it’s not just that they can forgo society, it’s more like they need to. For people like that, the natural world is vital, a spiritual experience.”

— Glendy Vanderah, Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Ursa speaks of coming from the stars and viewing the earth as a being, not of the earth. It is interesting how Vanderah uses this analogy to speak to issues of grief, anxiety, and trauma that both her characters and we, as human beings, face,

Ursa hiding in the stars, Jo and Gabriel separating themselves from human contact; each character creating a way to be in the world but not of it. They are all viewing life and their natural surroundings like scientists, disconnected. It is only when they are forced together that they themselves become part of the living.

Like Owens, Vanderah speaks to the connection of our natural world and the art we make. In her book, she writes, “Art is supposed to represent how you see the world, not exactly copy it,” inspiring us all to find the beauty and our place in the complex weaving of nature and life itself.

– Review by Catherine, Main Library

Randall Munroe at the Library

WRandall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers What If? and Thing Explainer:
Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
, the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular
web-comic xkcd.

A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the internet full-time.

His new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems (available in
September) is billed as “the world’s most entertaining and useless self-help guide.”

Date: Wednesday, September 18, 7 PM

This program is free, but tickets are requested. Click here to order.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon

Comics, horror, noir crime, sword and sorcery, and YA lit are all brought to the fore in Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands. This collection of short essays riffs on the gamut of genre fiction, finding interesting ways to defend genre fiction and to connect it to “high” literature. Chabon brings his own insights on writing – a process often obscured by one’s experiences as a reader – as he alchemically unites diverse and disparate topics from Norse epics to Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!  Not just dry literary theory here, no sir. 

In the essay from which the book derives its name, Chabon regales readers with a childhood tale of his family’s move to an unfinished subdivision. Rather than the typical narrative of being stifled by suburban newness and sterility, Chabon imparts a feeling of awe at such open opportunity. It is an awe that motivates him to fill a sketchy map of the subdivision with wonders, as if drawing out secrets from the air. Readers are able to vicariously feel that rush of power inherent in the creative process, one which leaves you in its afterglow wondering how you have gotten from start to finish.

Filling in the map is – to the author – part of a more general aesthetic of writing from the vantage point of exile. As he sees it, both Jews and lovers of genre fiction are vibrant communities often excluded from the mainstream of society and literature respectively. It is this position of exile which tethers Chabon to his Jewish roots and to genre fiction as a collective whole.

Other pieces are, in some ways, meditations on loss of youth and its closely-associated sense of adventure. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is characterized in such a manner. The only criticism in this laudatory essay is that the heroine of the trilogy, Lyra Belacqua, becomes a much flatter, less interesting character as she moves from unbounded agency to dutiful fulfillment of destiny. In essence, Chabon views Pullman as much greater at exploring the map of his richly developed tale than in reaching the story’s destination.

Maps and Legends is for fans of genre fiction, particularly those who do not mind blending and blurring of genre’s boundaries, or of writing about writing. 

Formats Available: Book

Review by Tony, Main Library

AnimeCon 16 is coming!

AnimeCon, LFLP’s annual celebration of all things anime and manga, descends on the Main Library this Friday, August 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.!

Teens ages 12-19 are invited to join us for a fun-filled day of anime, cosplay, manga, and Asian culture as we close out Teen Summer Reading. They can enjoy tea the Japanese way along with a screening of Yuri on Ice, learn about the art of Shibori, compete in the 16th annual Ramen Noodle Eating Contest, dance, enjoy some K-Pop, make stuff, and hit the ice on our indoor ice rink! We’ll end the day with a costume contest with prizes!

Registration for this event is requested. 

Register online at http://www.lfpl.org/tickets/animecon-registration.asp