Nick Schenkel Book Reviews

West Lafayette Public Library

Purdue currently has a “Dean of Students,” as many colleges do. But in the early part of the 20th Century, it had a “Dean of Women” – a position held, in succession, by several women who shaped both the job and the way female students were seen at the school.

That position is the subject of Angie Klink’s book “The Dean’s Bible,” which itself is the subject of this week’s book review by West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel.

From her first comics published in the Evergreen State College school paper to her influential weekly comic strip, Ernie Pook's Comeek, books, novels, graphic memoirs and plays, Lynda Barry has been part of the North American alternative comics scene for thirty years. In her first book, What It Is: The Formless Thing Which Gives Things Form, Lynda Barry singlehandedly created a literary genre all her own: the graphic-memoir-how-to. West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel has a review.

Seth Godin maintains that a tribe is a group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For thousands of years, humans have joined tribes: religious, ethnic, political, or even musical. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time, allowing for new tribes to emerge.In this week’s book review, West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel discusses Godin’s book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, which encourages people to shake up the status quo and lead these tribes.

Each week, millions of people visit Randall Munroe’s web-comic XKCD. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. And, fans of XKCD ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. Questions you probably would never even think to ask.

Munroe’s answers are clear and witty, and paired with hilarious cartoons and infographics. From The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek through chemistry, geography and physics, Munroe leaves no stone unturned in his quest for knowledge.

Matt Walton /


There are dozens of children’s books that have stood the test of time – that is to say: bedtime.

If you’ve got kids, you can probably name many of the classic works of Robert McCloskey, Dr. Seuss or Sandra Boynton.

But there are also new takes on kiddie lit, by the likes of Mo Willems and BJ Novak – many of which take on a more sardonic tone aimed both at adults and as the children they’re reading to.

Did monkeys cross the wide Atlantic Ocean - long ago - traveling from Africa to South America? The Monkey's Voyage suggests that yes, monkeys and other creatures did make many such journeys.  Delve into the fascinating world of bio-geography – and read why we find so many creatures distributed so widely across the varied landscapes and biomes of the world.

A son of Indiana, Greenburg captures the look, the feel, the sounds of post Civil War Indiana with its characters taking up tumultuous lives right here in Lafayette.  A book that won a deserved place on Library Journal’s “Top Indie Fiction…Beyond the Best Sellers List” this Fall ,  Greenburg’s debut novel is one you’ll be glad you read!

Life and death struggles, bullies and leaders, passionate love and searing hate; it all takes place in a post apocalyptic Illinois where the sun has been hidden for the many, many months and a frozen world of snow and gloom has taken over the US Midwest.  Sunrise is the concluding chapter in Hoosier Mike Mullin’s trilogy of life after the eruption of the Yellowstone super-volcano. It's a concluding read you don’t want to miss!

Jock athletes, jock writers - athletes of Jewish birth and upbringing have a long, award winning history of engagement and success in the sporting world.  Be they pugilists, baseball players, swimmers or essayists surely there is a sportsman/sportswoman among these fifty short biographies for you to enjoy!

Ben Wachs is a fellow whose roots are deeply local.  And a fellow who has traveled the world since growing up in Greater Lafayette. The fruits of his travels blossom forth in this wonder-filled, often fanciful collection of short stories set in often gritty urban environments around the world. This "guide" is a book worthy of frequent detours of reading pleasures.