with facilities in: Bangor, Campbell,
     Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem
Administration Center
West Salem
    Book Reviews

New Booksw Books
Favorite Authors
General Topics

Most items can be requested. If an item you are interested in is not available at your library, ask your librarian to request it or click on the blue "CATALOG" button above to search the catalog and place your own request.


Young Adult Book Recommendations

Paula Martinmaki

La Crosse County Library - John Bosshard Memorial Library - Bangor

February 16, 2018

Young adult fiction is continuing to grow in the field of literature.  YA books tackle all types of topics – contemporary, dystopian, romance, paranormal, drugs, sex, gender issues, parental divorce, terminal cancer, bullying.  The emotional stakes makes the books appealing to readers of all ages.  Tracy Wholf from PBS asked Aimee Friedman executive editor (and author) at Scholastic Publishing why she thinks YA is so popular with adults.  “You know, YA touches upon really timeless, universal issues that teens go through. First love, first crush, heartache, family issues, challenging authority. And adults remember that. And also, the stories tend to be incredibly gripping and compelling. They sorta grab you from the start. And adults love that, too. Who doesn’t love that?”

One of my favorite YA books is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Hinton wrote this book fifty years ago when she was still a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Witnessing the clashes of two gangs in her high school, the greasers and the Socs, Hinton wrote The Outsiders.  The story is told from the point of view of fourteen-year-old greaser Ponyboy Curtis.  Ponyboy lives with his two older brothers, Darrel and Sodapop.  Darrel the oldest works hard to keep the family together after their parents die in a car crash.   The greasers live on the East Side and the Socs short for the Socials, are rich kids who live on the West Side.  In 1988 S.E. Hinton was awarded the first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, given in honor of “an author whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.”  The novel is still relevant today. 

Ben Mikaelsens’ novels have won many state Reader’s Choice awards.  In Ben’s books his protagonists deal with bullying, violence, and cerebral palsy, among other things.  His stories are full of adventure, adversity and show the power of the human spirit.  In Touching Spirit Bear, the main character Cole attacks another boy and can either go to prison or participate in Circle Justice.  Cole plays along and chooses Circle Justice and is banished for one year to a remote Alaskan Island.  To quote his website, “Ben has a passion for helping kids break out of labels and discover their own special genius.” His series of books especially appeal to boys.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include a wonderful children’s novel that I just read, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate a Newberry Medal winner.  The story is told in first-person narration by Ivan a Silverback Gorilla.  Ivan lives in a domain of glass walls at the Exit 8 Big Top, Mall and Video Arcade.  He spends his days with humans watching him, thinking about his TV shows, creating art and interacting with his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, Bob, a stray dog and Julia, the custodian’s daughter.  Ivan doesn’t dwell much on his life in the jungle.  But things start to change at the Exit 8 Big Top, Mall and Video Arcade when Ruby a baby elephant taken from her family, comes to live at the arcade.  It is up to Ivan to make sure the changes are for the better.


If you are looking to expand your reading selection, why not try checking out a young adult or a children’s novel and read this expansive genre with universal appeal?  We here in Bangor, Campbell, Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem would love to help you find the right book for your reading needs. 




Carol Petrowski

La Crosse County Library - Onalaska Public Library

February 9, 2018

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I am in a torrid love/hate relationship with subtitles.

 Often, I love them.  They give me a quick idea of what a book is really about.  Some Assembly Required tells me nothing. Is it an IKEA handbook?  But Some Assembly Required: a Journal of a Son's First Son, by Anne Lamott lets me know that it is a very personal story, and one in which I might be interested.   And doesn’t The Telling Room: a Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese sound a lot more interesting than just The Telling Room? A final example of a subtitle adding greatly to the lure of a book title is Duel with the Devil: the True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery.

So there’s no doubt about it.  Subtitles can draw in a potential reader or at least explain what a book is about.

But… there is a down side too.  The author or publisher can get so carried away with a lengthy subtitle that there’s almost no need to read the actual book. A terrific example of this is Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,000 Barh Toys Lost at Sea, and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools—Including the Author – Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn. Whew. And adding ":an American Life" or ":a Biography" as a subtitle to any name does not really increase my desire to read that person’s life story.

So, Subtitles: Good or Bad? That is the question


Now for the Big Bang Theory fans among us, and as an homage to Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s “Fun with flags,” here is my recently invented “Fun with Subtitles” game.

See if you can match these 13 juicy subtitles with their corresponding, and usually less tantalizing, titles.  For extra credit, match up the authors too.  It’s just for fun, but if you get all of them correct, you are a true bibliophile and we bow in your general direction.


1. A pure woman  

2. The legend, the truth, the final chapter

3. What fresh hell is this?

4. How I lost the Mormons and found my faith

5. How to get rich

6. America’s first power couple

7. An army of one

8. Inside the Trump white house

9. Reflections on the upper crust

10. The case for American greatness

11. Saint of the poor

12. The politics of the personal

13. Competitive crafters, drop-off despots and other suburban scourges



A. Dorothy Parker

B. Leaving the Saints

C. People I want to punch in the throat

D. Trump

E. Lizzie Borden

F. Bill and Hillary

G. Rush Limbaugh

H. James and Dolley Madison

I. Fire and Fury

J. Mother Teresa

K. Tess of the D’Ubervilles

L. No apology

M. Billionaires



i. Mitt Romney 

ii. Nina Morgan 

iii. Darrell M. West 

iv. Donald J. Trump 

v. Bruce Chadwick

vi. Zev Chafets 

vii. Thomas Hardy 

viii. William H. Chafe

ix. Michael Wolff

x. Arnold R. Brown 

xi. Marion Meade 

xii. Jen Mann 

xiii. Martha Beck 

1-K-vii, 2-E-x, 3-A-xi, 4-B-xiii, 5-D-iv, 6-H-v, 7-G-vi, 8-I-ix, 9-M-iii, 10-L-I, 11-J-ii, 12-F-viii, 13-C-xii

All of these books are available via any of the La Crosse County Libraries: Bangor, Campbell, Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem.



I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza

Leslie Duesenberg

La Crosse County Library - Holmen Area Library

January 5, 2018

At our La Crosse County Library branches we are privileged to have wonderful partnerships with our local schools. Many teachers make it a priority to regularly schedule library visits with their students. The author of the book I’m writing about readily admits to being one of those students who made such outings and all other things related to the classroom a challenge. Thus the title.

Shortly after his TV show was canceled and his marriage fumbled, well known actor Tony Danza embarked on a new direction in his life. With a degree in history and memories of a college dream to become a teacher, a dream he never quite lost, he embarked on what he called a “third act career” and contacted Teach for America. TFA concentrates on preparing qualified candidates for rural and urban teaching posts. Little did the folks at TFA know but Tony Danza was about to fulfill a long lost passion AND bring along an A & E television crew. It was because of his insistence on not injecting drama into the reality show that the show was short lived. However I am happy to report that Danza fulfilled his one year teaching commitment as a high school English teacher in the inner city of Philadelphia – a job he describes as the toughest he has ever had.

Danza’s mentor on the job was very helpful at alleviating his early jitters. An especially interesting revelation for him was how he viewed silence. As he tells it, silence for an entertainer indicates that the material has bombed. But in the classroom silence can be an indication of thinking, or working. Engaging the student became his new approach.
Danza was especially attracted to problem students, ones who acted just as he once did as a student in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn. Soon he was challenged to see that kids of today have a set of different problems than he had experienced. In Danza’s day a troubled young man might have had his share of fistfights but no one had to worry about getting shot. He was a professional fighter after college, so it isn’t long before a punching bag is delivered to the school and impromptu boxing lessons begin. From boxing to Shakespeare, from the football field to a field trip to Washington, Danza is constantly on the lookout for ways to engage his students.

As a library worker, I hate to admit that I have never listened to an audiobook. But I did enjoy listening to Tony Danza read his own material. With his characteristic gravelly voice and New York accent, it was entertaining to hear his stories and observations. I think Tony Danza used every bit of passion and creativity (and let’s face it, some resources not typically available to the average public school teacher) to try to make a difference at Northeast High. Come to your local La Crosse county library branch and let us try to make a difference in your reading, viewing or listening habits.




©Copyright, La Crosse County Library, Inc., All Rights Reserved. The web page of La Crosse County Library disclaimer.