Nick Schenkel


Nick Schenkel is the director of the West Lafayette Public Library, and reviews books from all walks of literature.

Ways to Connect

April is National Poetry Month and The Pushcart Prize: The Best of the Small Presses is a great way to keep abreast of contemporary poetry (and short stories and essays).  The poetry we find in this year’s 36th edition is direct, clear and beautifully stated; any one of these gems is more than capable of taking us on the wild ride we anticipate from poetry well versed.  This year’s collection brings us poets who are familiar and poets whose work may be new to us –Stephen Dobyns, Kathleen Flennigen, Richard Cecil, Kathleen Graber and Steve Meyers – to name a few!

“In Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education author Michael Pollan regales us with his characteristic self deprecating humor and gentle insight.  Second Nature is not your regular gardening book. There aren't a lot of "how to" instructions here for planting, nurturing and harvesting. Rather, Pollan engages us in a philosophical exploration of what he calls the "garden of the mind and the garden in real life.”

Remember that plain-looking home that many of us grew-up in “back in the day”?  That old ranch house that you and I couldn’t wait to move away from is now seen as a “mid century modern” home – and it’s a hot commodity for young, discerning families looking for something ultra-American, something our authors have labeled Atomic Ranch.  Those  ranch houses of the last century have many of the “must have” contemporary house buyers look for: open concept rooms, ceiling to floor windows, outdoor patios framed with walls of glass that bring the outdoors in and the indoors out….Who’d have

A collection of funny, charming, relatable tales of life’s small errors of judgment and happy surprises that can get us to laugh and cry.  Sara Jane Coffman shares more than one sly wink as she relates these tales based on everyday life; clearly she has chosen to see the mirth in life - and as a result, so do we!

Milk Eggs Vodka

Mar 23, 2012

Milk, Eggs, Vodka is a hoot of a book to read and an interesting commentary on contemporary American life. The book is what its subtitle states– a compilation of  “…grocery lists lost and found”, reproduced in full, real-life color, with running commentary from the bemused author.  Certainly this is a book to enjoy in small doses or in large swallows.  And maybe it will even motivate us to start our own collection of marginalia to share with others someday too?!


Mar 16, 2012

The unthinkable has happened – the ancient volcano at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming has erupted, kick starting a modern day horror story as massive rains of ash and pitch black darkness envelope much of the US.  This is the story of one teenage survivor, Alex, who journeys across ash-stricken Iowa to re-unite with his family in Illinois.  Along the way Alex comes across big-hearted Midwesterners and runs as best he can from farmers who point shotguns from darkened windows.  Then, just when despair is closing in on him , Alex is rescued by a tough willed young woman, Darla, who like Mike, is l

Sailing the Dream

Mar 12, 2012

Join Mike Perham as he sails the seven seas – alone – as a sixteen year old.  It’s an adventure tale filled with moments of quiet beauty, of nail biting terror and of loneliness.  But most of all, Sailing The Dream is the true story of a young man coming of age as he lives his dream, a voyage we can all embrace with fervor.

Science Fair Season

Mar 2, 2012

Science Fair takes us behind the scenes of one of the best science fairs in the nation – the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair - where our author is flabbergasted by the science work of people not yet out of high school. Taking us into the lives of twelve science fair competitors Judy Dutton offers us a closer look at these dazzling science fair projects and into the minds and motivations of these young scientists.

What is big and green and unexpectedly the hero of today’s book? It’s WalMart! Award winning journalist Edward Humes takes us into the small town Arkansas WalMart boardroom and into the wilds of white water rafting in northern California in this exciting – nonfiction – look at why the world’s largest retailer has embraced the philosophy of green business practices.

Strange Brew

Feb 17, 2012

Strange Brew is not a typical mystery novel.  Featuring Callahan Garrity, former cop and current owner of the “House Mouse” cleaning service in Atlanta, the novel is punctuated by the deaths of two ne’er-do-well denizens of the Little Five Points neighborhood just blocks from Callahan’s home. Strange Brew drips with droll southern charm and intrigue as Callahan and her cleaning crew investigate the deaths of the craft brew entrepreneur and the estranged stepmother he pushed out of her home .