An erratic start to 2018

One month into 2018 and I find myself in a very erratic reading mode, so much so that I couldn’t settle on trying to feature one book in depth, so I thought I’d take you, dear reader, on a stroll through some books I’m really enjoying — but haven’t finished yet!

I challenged myself to dive into the new biography of Ulysses S. Grant by Ron Chernow. Why? I guess I don’t really know a lot about Grant, so why not read 1,100 pages about him? This book is pretty easy to read in fragments given its traditional, chronological biography style.

I’m a bit over a third of the way in, and Grant has just become lieutenant general and commander of all Union armies. Chernow does a great job challenging a lot of misunderstandings about who Grant really was. Compelling reading!

Alongside the Grant biography, I have been reading “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us,” a collection of essays by Hanif Abdurraqib. The essays are wide ranging, concentrating mostly on his experience growing up black among lots of white emo and punk rock kids. I find his explorations of race most appealing, but there is also some really great music writing. I’m definitely excited about his visit to Lawrence on February 27. Thank you, KU Commons and Raven Book Store!

In addition, I have been reading essays from two soon-to-be-published books by Sloane Crosley (“Look Alive Out There”) and Zadie Smith (“Feel Free“). Both books are shaping up to be pretty fantastic collections and come out in early April. Fun fact: Sloane Crosley will be here at the Lawrence Public Library on April 14 on her spring book tour.

Lastly, I decided to go back and read another in the fantastic series of Dave Brandstetter mysteries written by Joseph Hansen. I stumbled across a mass market copy of one of the books in this series in a bookstore in Vancouver and was intrigued. Little did I know that I had discovered a ground-breaking series of crime novels featuring Dave Brandstetter. He was one of the first openly gay protagonists in hard-boiled crime fiction. Every book is this series is a quick, gripping read. Pick one in the series at random and have fun.

– Brad Allen is the Executive Director of Lawrence Public Library.