Tag Archives: Book lists

In Case of Emergency

When my kids were little, I used to have fire drills at our house. I would push in the button on the smoke detector and all four kids would race out of the house for the swingset in the park across the street. I talked with the baby sitters about where to go in case of a tornado. One of my daughters filled a Rubbermaid tub with emergency supplies for a 4H project.  

Last week was a huge reminder that we all should have emergency plans. The library website has a lot of community information to help you with yours. You can find links to Panhandle Public Health’s basic family emergency plan and a more comprehensive list of suggested items to include in your emergency supplies.

Gering Library also has several books that might be useful to look through when thinking about what to do in an emergency: 

“The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook” and “The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Travel” both by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why” by Amanda Ripley

“Amazing Stories of Survival: Tales of Hope, Heroism & Astounding Luck” from People Magazine

And some books about past disasters and what we can learn from them:

“A Fire Story” by Brian Fies

“Ruth­less tide: the heroes and vil­lain­s of the John­stown flood­, Amer­i­ca’s as­ton­ish­ing gild­ed age dis­as­ter” by Al Roker 

“The stor­m: what wen­t wrong and why ­dur­ing hur­ri­cane Ka­tri­na : the in­sid­e s­to­ry from one Louisiana ­sci­en­tist” by Ivor van Heerden and Mike Bryan- we have several books on Katrina

 “The last ­men out: life on the edge at Res­cue 2 ­fire­house” by Tom Downey

In addition to these items, you can borrow the firefighter’s exam manual if you are interested in becoming a firefighter. We also have a number of children’s books about all sorts of natural disasters, and we have some great ones specifically on wildfires. 

After reading “A Fire Story” by Brian Fies, I am re-thinking how I store precious things like photos. He and 6,200 other people lost their homes in the 2017 California wildfires. Fies is a cartoonist, so he wrote a graphic novel, “A Fire Story,” describing his experiences at that time. Waking up in the middle of the night, he chose random things to save. He writes about some of his regrets. Fies also describes the aftermath of the fire and how he and his wife put their lives back together, dealing with FEMA, insurance companies and citizens trying to be helpful. It made me ugly cry several times. You should read it.

Fies felt that his community was very helpful in his circumstances. One of the things our community does well is support each other. When something happens to our neighbors, we pitch in, sometimes financially, sometimes with food and water. When we see a need, we do what we can to help. Not only citizens, but local businesses, churches, Firefighters Ministries and the Oregon Trail Community Foundation all roll up their sleeves to pitch in with what they do best.

As my kids got older, I let my emergency planning lapse. This fall, I intend to work with my family to develop plans for what to do in a variety of situations. I also need to review my insurance coverage. It would be a good idea to review emergency plans when we change the smoke alarm batteries and to make that a habit. I also need to peek into that tub and see what my nine-year-old daughter thought we should have in case of an emergency ten years ago.


Have you ever wanted a do-over in life? Played “what if?”

In real-life we seem to be stuck with the consequences of our actions, but book characters often get a second chance at getting it right.

I read two books about alternate lives just this year in my book groups, “The Midnight Library” and “The Starless Sea.”  I searched a little and found several other books where the characters get second (or many) chances at getting it right. 

“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig- A young woman believes her life has been worthless. In the Midnight Library, she has the chance to explore what the results of different choices would be.

“The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern, wherein a young man enters a fantasy world which mixes stories and reality.

“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson is about a woman who was born with a purpose in life. Every time she failed to get to the point of her mission and died, the author orchestrated a reset and she got another chance to get it right.

“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V. E. Schwab explores a girl’s choice to never die, and what becomes of her through the centuries.

“Should We Stay Or Should We Go” by Lionel Shriver tells the story of a married couple who made a pact to not be a burden to their children. What do they do when that time comes? This book explores the ramifications of a variety of choices they can make.

“How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig- The main character is a history teacher…with a lot of history.

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi where customers can travel back in time to meet with loved ones, but they must come back before the coffee gets cold.

“The Book of Two Ways” by Jodi Picoult where a plane crash offers a woman the opportunity to see what her life would look like if she had made a different choice.

“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch is a science fiction thriller about a world with parallel lives

“11/22/65” by Stephen King follows a man who is determined to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before he can kill President Kennedy.

“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell explores a woman’s chance to right some wrongs in her marriage, before they occur.

“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty focuses on a woman who recovers from a coma, and has forgotten the past ten years with her husband.

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyesi- not so much of a do over, as a book that shows two sisters that end up on two entirely different paths.

“Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography” was a fun read, you can read it straight through, or see where his choices might have taken him.

I haven’t read all of these books, but I have read most of them. All of these books are on the shelf at the Gering Library, and probably some more that I missed in making this list. Let me know what I should have included. If I missed too many choices, maybe this list will get a do over!

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. According to the US Census around 4% of Scotts Bluff County residents are “Native American alone.” This does not count the many folks who have a Native American parent or grandparent. 

I find one of the nice things about being a reader is the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and learn about their life in a personal way. A study published in the “Harvard Business Review” says reading fiction improves your critical thinking and makes you more empathetic. 

As readers, we use books as mirrors to show us ourselves, but we also use books as windows to show us other people, other countries and other cultures. These books are written by native folks, which is one of the best ways to learn about another culture- from someone who belongs to it.

The following are some of the more recent books by Native American authors you can find in the Gering Library. As I compiled this list, I noticed that we need to add more books for school-aged children. I was also not able to find any recent books in our collection by Lakota authors. If you happen to know of any, please let us know. You are always welcome to let us know what you would like to see at the library.


“Fry Bread” picture book by Kevin Noble Malillard (Seminole).

“Thunder Boy Junior” picture book by Sherman Alexie (Spokane-Coeur d’Alene).

“The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses” picture book by Paul Goble (non-native) set in Lakota country.

“The Forever Sky” picture book by Thomas Peacock (Anishinaabe Ojibwe).

“The Used-to-be Best Friend” Jo Jo Makoons grade school fiction series by Dawn Quigley (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe).

“Mary and the Trail of Tears” grade school fiction by Andrea L Rogers (Cherokee).


“The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfoot) a horror novel about elk hunting which has won multiple awards

“Calling for a Blanket Dance” by Oscar Hokeah (Cherokee/Kiowa) about a Cherokee/Mexican family trying to hold onto their heritage

“Shutter” by Ramona Emerson (Dine) the main character is a forensic photographer with a secret that helps her solve crimes.

“The Sentence” by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) an ex-convict sets out to solve a bookstore murder.

“There, There” by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapahoe) set at a California Powwow, it explores the complicated ties people have to each other.


“Path Lit by Lightning: the life of Jim Thorpe” by David Maraniss, a 570 page biography of the athlete.

“Trickster: Native American Tales- a graphic collection” compiled by Matt Dembecki. This is a collection of trickster tales from across North America.

“Spirits of the Earth: a guide to Native American nature symbols, stories, and ceremonies” by Bobby Lake-Thom (Karuk and Seneca).

“Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the present” by David Treuer (Ojibwe).

“The Lakota Way of Strength and Courage: Lessons in resilience from the bow and arrow” by Joseph M. Marshall III (Lakota) is available on Overdrive.

2022 in Review

It’s the end of the year again, time to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months. Which author’s books were most often checked out by Gering Library patrons in 2022? Will someone finally overcome C.J. Box’s multi-year streak? The results are in, and some of them require an explanation. 

To start with, Gering Library patrons saved a combined $474,804 by using the library in 2022 instead of buying their own books. That’s close to half a million dollars! Now on to the most popular books.

 “Run, Rose, Run” by James Patterson and Dolly Parton was checked out 20 times if you add large print and regular print together. C.J. Box’s “Shadows Reel” tied with Delia Owens’ 2018 book “Where the Crawdads Sing” with 16 checkouts.

Tied at 12 checkouts are “Maybe Someday” by Colleen Hoover, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” by Alan Dean Foster and “The Four Winds,” by Kristin Hannah- which coincidentally tied for first with C. J Box’s  “Dark Sky,” last year. Tied at 11 checkouts are “Maybe Not,” “Reminders of Him,” “Maybe Now,” and “Without Merit,” all by Colleen Hoover,  and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. “Lessons in Chemistry,” by Bonnie Garmus was checked out 10 times.

So who is this Colleen Hoover? Hoover writes romance and maintains a lively social media presence. Her self-published books dominated the New York Times Bestseller list this year making up six of the top ten selling books of the year. She only published two books this year, so many of her readers have just discovered her and are catching up on her older books. James Patterson, by contrast, published an astonishing 22 books this year (we do not have all of them in our collection). He writes fiction and nonfiction as well as teen and children’s books.

The most popular magazines this year were “People,” “Prevention,” “Taste of Home,” and “Reader’s Digest.” All of these magazines were checked out more times than any of the top ranked books. Magazines are published several times per year, giving them an advantage over books.

Classics led the teen checkout list this year. “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton tied with “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins, and “Me (Moth)” by Amber McBride. Following closely were “The Selection” by Kiera Cass and “Loveless” by Alice Oseman. The most popular graphic novel with 11 checkouts this year was “Spiral into Horror” by Junji Ito.

The most popular children’s books this year were “The Way I Feel” by Janan Cain, “Clumsy Crab” by Ruth Galloway, “Crocodiles Need Kisses Too” by Rebecca Colby, “Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues” by Kimberly and James Dean, “Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa” by Anna Dewdney, “Delightfully Different Dilly” by Elizabeth Dale, and three books by Dav Pilkey, “Dog Man: Grime and Punishment,” “Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties” and “Dog Man Unleashed.” 

The most popular movies included “Black Panther” followed by “Star Wars: Episode I the Phantom Menace,” Star Wars: the Force Awakens” and “Black Snake Moan.”

I keep track of the books I read on Goodreads. According to these records, I read around 90 books this year (some were children’s books). The only books I read this year that made the list of most popular books in our library were “Dog Man: A Tail of Two Kitties” and “Lessons in Chemistry.”

Grandpa Reg and the Library

March 14, 2023

It’s the general understanding in my family that my Great Grandpa Reg’s schooling ended after second grade. When he was a child, his father needed him on the ranch, and as a result, working took priority over his education. As an adult, he was busy making a living. He lived 30 miles from Scottsbluff and didn’t make it to town very often. 

Somewhere along the line Grandpa Reg took up reading for pleasure. He liked reading westerns and was buying paperbacks from the store. In the 1950s or early 1960s he mentioned to my dad, his grandson, that he was running out of westerns to buy. Dad asked him, “Have you ever been to the library?” Grandpa Reg said, “No, I haven’t.” So Dad took him to the library to see if they have any westerns. Grandpa Reg signed up for a card and started checking out books. As he made his way through the large western section, he found he couldn’t remember what he had read. He started penciling his initials in the inside corner of the cover to keep track.

I did some research and found that western author Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) published around 100 books. Most of which I’ve read. Zane Grey (1872-1939) published 85 books. Grey’s book “Riders of the Purple Sage” is on my to-read list for this year. You can see how a person might lose track of what they’d read, just between these two authors.

Grandpa isn’t the only one to mark in books. When I was a patron at the Mullen, Nebraska library, I found lots of western books with tiny penciled-in brands on the front and back covers. Note: librarians are not fond of this particular method of keeping track of your reading. Nowadays, patrons can use sortable spreadsheets and word documents to record which books they’ve read. There are also several websites like Goodreads.com and Storygraph.com designed for this purpose. Readers can use them to record which books they have read, which books they want to read and what they think of the books they’ve read. Spiral notebooks are also readily available if you aren’t computer savvy. If you absolutely must write your initials in library books, (and remember, we prefer you don’t) please use a pencil.

Reading trends change, and mysteries have taken over the shelves that once bulged with westerns. Some mystery authors write about the west though, and that is almost as good as a Louis L’Amour book. If Grandpa Reg came into the library today, I could recommend several authors. I would start with Craig Johnson, C.J. Box, Margaret Coel, William Kent Krueger, Tony and Anne Hillerman, C.M. Wendelboe, Paul Doiron, and Keith McCafferty.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many westerns being written these days. Gering Library has western titles by Jeff Guinn, William W. Johnstone, Lauran Paine, C.M.Curtis, Johnny D. Boggs, Loren D. Estelman, Kevin McCarthy, J.D. Arnold and John Nesbitt among others. Most of these authors are in their 70s (or have passed away), and their writing style is not always as family friendly as westerns once were.

Grandpa Reg was born in 1887 and died in 1972, so we didn’t overlap much. When I worked at the Scottsbluff Library from 2010-2015 there were still some hardback Zane Grey novels that had been published in the mid-1960s. If you were to open them up, sure enough, you could find RP penciled in the front covers.