Hidden gems: Quirky little books of literate fiction

With a few exceptions, I'm not a big reader of huge blockbuster bestsellers. I prefer a quieter novel, one that earns a following simply by the story line and not the name of the author or series title.

Ted Kooser: An American life in poetry, June 21, 2015

By Ted Kooser/U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-06

I love richly detailed descriptive poems, and this one by Barbara Crooker, who lives in Pennsylvania, is a good example of how vivid a picture a poem can offer to us. Her most recent book is "Selected Poems," Future Cycle Press, 2015.


It'd been a long winter, rags of snow hanging on; then, at the end

Author delves into the deep subject of miracles

Why? Why should one person live and another die? And what about miracles? Are they the real thing? And, if miracles are the real deal, then who decides how those get handed out?

These are reasonable questions. I suspect everyone asks them at one time or another. They are the essential questions for Elana K. Arnold's sixth-grade heroine, Iris Abernathy, in "The Question of Miracles."

'The feminine genius in the Catholic Church'

"If Nuns Ruled the World" by Jo Piazza is a glimpse into the lives of 10 nuns who are doing extraordinary work in the world. From fighting human trafficking to working with women inmates to rebuild their lives, these 10 brave nuns shatter the stereotype of the strict school marm and show "the feminine genius in the Catholic Church."

C-U Haiku, June 21, 2015

Edited by Lee Gurga/For The News-Gazette

good drones mate with queen

while worker bees make honey

but bad drones just sting

— Ruth S. Walker, Urbana

Library events, June 21-28, 2015

Selected events coming up at local libraries.

Champaign Public Library

Main library, 200 W. Green St.

Douglass Branch, 504 E. Grove St.

At 3 p.m. Thursday at the main library, learn how jazz music was born in the U.S. Listen, play and learn a little swing dance.

Book 'em: Area libraries put up with plenty

The staff at public libraries often have to do much more than "shush" a noisy patron.

A review of hundreds of incident reports at the Champaign, Urbana and Danville public libraries reveals that, like many public places, libraries aren't sanctuaries from theft, rowdy behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, even sexual misconduct.

Turning the pages: Recent incidents at area libraries

Among the incidents reported at public libraries in Champaign, Danville and Urbana in recent months, after a review from a Freedom of Information Act request:

Ted Kooser: An American life in poetry, June 14, 2015

By Ted Kooser/U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-06

I once knew an artist who seemed to live on those little envelopes of free sugar that one can find on tables in restaurants. And he took the little "watercolor pans" of jelly, too, stuffing his pockets. Here's a poem by Ned Balbo, who lives in Baltimore, about another sugar snatcher.

The Sugar Thief

Margo Dill: Ideas to retire with zest, passion

Summer is here, and this means many people have retired just in time to take a dream vacation, get settled back home and then wonder: now what? In "Refire! Don't Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life," bestselling author Ken Blanchard and professor of psychiatry Morton Shaevitz help answer that question with passion and a battle cry: "Refire!"