Check It Out, a Normal Public Library Podcast
Check It Out is the Normal Public Library’s podcast that features book, audio, and movie recommendations, timely info about the library’s programs and services, and fun discussions with talented people. Listen to individual episodes below, or subscribe in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts to download the latest episode automatically!
It's our 40th episode! Co-hosts Kristi Cates and Mari McKeeth celebrate the return of Check It Out! by highlighting staff favorites from 2018. Some of our library staff have provided an eclectic list of books, music, and films—and all are available for checkout or streaming from Normal Public Library.
Some of the items discussed in this podcast:
- Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Sweetener by Ariana Grande
- Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
- Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
- Juliet, Naked
- Broadchurch: Season 1
Check It Out host Mari McKeeth examines Normal Public Library's science fiction offerings with Kristi Cates, our Teen Librarian and resident SciFi reader and advisor. She also buys all of our SciFi, by the way! Pretty cool job, huh?
Titles that our host and guest discuss include:
- All Systems Red by Martha Wells
- Space Opera by Catherynne Valente
- The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
- Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
- Lock In and Head On by John Scalzi
- An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Check It Out host Mari McKeeth examines Normal Public Library music offerings with four guests: Amy, Kristi, Cedric, and John. John talks folk and trombones, Kristi talks some film, and more! Tim Burton soundtracks? You'll find out all this, about Make Music at Normal Public Library (June 22-23), and what Mari likes in music when you Check It Out with Mari!
Check It Out host Mari McKeeth examines all things tea with our resident barista and tea sommelier, Ben Mills. Ben's favorite tea is revealed, he talks tea, tea geography, tea books, and he advises on tea sipping be it local or afar. Melons and tea? Who knows? Give it a listen and give it a read:
- Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties
- The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Uhl
- Tea Bliss by Theresa Fancis-Cheung
- The Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura
Check It Out host Mari McKeeth takes time out to speak with Children's Librarian Lyndsey Carney as she discusses reading and visiting with Margaret Peterson Haddix coming up soon on April 28, 2018. Our visiting author series is sponsored by the Normal Public Library Foundation and other wonderful local sponsors.
Some Haddix titles mentioned are:
Check It Out welcomes new host Mari McKeeth. Kathleen Kirk (1:02) speaks about upcoming WWI Centennial events at the library, including our gallery display, Poetry is Normal Series, our WWI Film Festival, and more about the WWI speaker series; Kristi Cates talks about author Gene Luen Yang and his visit on March 7 (7:04).
Books by Gene Luen Yang:
Ben Mills recommends a cookbook full of year-round farm-fresh recipes (11:12); Silvia Schuh talks October and November arts and crafts (7:57); and Mari McKeeth recommends some epistolary novels, with the help of the host (19:07). Ben recommends:
Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
- Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
- World War Z by Max Brooks
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Giliad by Marilynne Robinson
Possession by A.S. Byatt
In this episode, Tori Lieggi introduces us to a unique and quirky travel book (9:31), and Kristi Cates recommends a stack of young adult historical fiction (17:16). Plus, we interview visiting antique and fine art appraiser Mark Moran (11:17). Mark Moran's website is here. Tori recommends:
Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foehr, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton
- The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
- The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats
- Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
- Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
In this back-to-school-themed episode, Laura Rocco gives us one last school-themed recommendation before heading back to school herself (17:43); Silvia Schuh ushers in the fall semester with September arts and crafts (6:51); and Mari McKeeth takes us all to school with some quirky and educational nonfiction (15:10). Laura recommends:
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
- Away With Words by Joe Berkowitz
- The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack
- The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios
- How to Hygge by Signe Johansen
- The Photo Ark by Joel Sartore
Register for Mark Moran's What's It Worth? session by calling NPL on the old-fashioned (but classic!) telephone at (309) 452-1757 (registration opens on August 30th). Email Mark to schedule a private session at email@example.com. (A portion of his fee benefits NPL.) Email us! firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet at us on Twitter! @NPLTweets Download Episode 31
In this, our thirtieth episode, Kathleen Kirk recommends an especially literary cookbook (7:29); Ally Byerly puts out the call for submissions to our Normal Library Extraordinary Stories project (6:11); and Kristi Cates sorts some YA novels into their appropriate wizarding houses (23:20). Kathleen recommends:
Feast: Poetry and Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner, edited by Diane Goettel and Anneli Matheson
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Have an NPL memory you'd like to share? Normal Library Extraordinary Stories wants to hear from you! Have a podcast-related opinion? Hit us up! Email: email@example.com Twitter: @NPLTweets Download Episode 30
In this episode, Kathleen Kirk previews a very special visiting poets event (11:31), and Mari McKeeth recommends a pile of novels based on the works of Shakespeare (14:57). Plus, we reveal the name of the new recurring cookbook segment (spoiler alert: it's a really geeky librarian in-joke). Kathleen recommends:
- Via Negativa (Purveyors of fine poetry since 2003.)
- Night Willow and Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser by Luisa A. Gloria
The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
From the Hogarth Shakespeare Project:
- The Gap of Time by Jeannette Winterson
- Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
- Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood
- New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
In this episode, Silvia Schuh talks summer arts, crafts, and events (11:29); Laura Rocco recommends a cookbook in an as-yet-unnamed recurring segment (9:12); and Kristi Cates recommends some books she loves that are great for Teen Summer Reading (19:03).
Will It Waffle? by Daniel Shumski
- You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
- Exo by Fonda Lee
- The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
- A Face Like Glass by Francis Harding
In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a classic narrative that blends fiction and nonfiction (9:52); Kristi Cates gives us the rundown of the library’s summer programs for teens (15:06); and Mari McKeeth talks about some 2016 books that won Major Awards (15:30).
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Some of Kristi’s Summer Programs For Teens™:
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Evicted by Matthew Desmond
- Lab Girl by Hope Jahron
- A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
In this episode, Silvia Schuh talks May arts and crafts (7:41); Julia Cozad-Callighan explains the library’s Lunchtime Yoga program (2:49); and Kristi Cates recommends some YA novels full of murder and mayhem (18:14).
In this special episode, Bloomington-Normal artist Rashod Taylor talks about his work as a photographer specializing in the wet plate collodion process. Taylor’s work is on display at the Normal Public Library through July 2017. An artist reception will be held on April 7th, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 in the gallery.
You can find Rashod’s work here: rashodtaylor.com
Email us and tell us what you think!
In this episode, Julia Cozad-Callaghan gives us an update on her Read Harder 2017 reading challenge (12:26); Silvia Schuh updates us on March and April crafts, and puts out a call for some charitable knitting (9:07); and Mari McKeeth talks 2017 Oscar Nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (22:05). Plus, we ask for your feedback!
- The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
- Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
- Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley
- Arrival: screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on “Story of Your Life” in Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang
- Fences: screenplay by August Wilson, based on his play Fences
- Hidden Figures: screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Lion: screenplay by Luke Davies, based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly
- Moonlight: screenplay by Barry Jenkins, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney
In this very special episode, we present a two part interview with local author and educator Scott William Foley. First, Scott recommends a novel that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction (11:41); and then he talks about the rewards and pitfalls of balancing the roles of working writer, high school English teacher, and family man (23.03).
Some books Scott talks about:
- Moonglow by Michael Chabon
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
- Andropia by Scott William Foley
- Scott’s website is scottwilliamfoley.com.
Thanks for listening!
In this episode, Tori Lieggi recommends a memoir that comes to terms with family and mental illness with sharp wit and a lot of heart (8:02); Silvia Schuh gives us the lowdown on February (and some March) arts and crafts (6:43); and Kristi Cates recommends a handful of books for teens and adults that serve as funny diversions during the doldrums of February (14:55). Plus, we invite young writers to the Teen Writer’s Workshop.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
- No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
- Going Bovine by Libba Bray
- Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
As always, we’d love to hear from you!
In this first episode of 2017, Julia Cozad-Callaghan recommends a unique reading challenge to start off the new year (9:55); Randi Sutter talks up the Children’s Department’s new S.T.E.A.M. Club (6:14); and Mari McKeeth recommends a couple of 2016 books that stood out from the rest (14:55).
- The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- Swygert by Jeffrey Harold Utterback
Find the details of the challenge here at BookRiot.com.
In this final episode of 2016, Laura Rocco recommends an unusual fantasy perfect for reading at night (12:18); Silvia Schuh explains why January is Scarf Month at NPL (4:53); and Kristi Cates recommends an assorted trio of adventure books and explains the library’s local schools “book talk” programs (17:00).
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
- Surrounded By Sharks by Michael Northrop
- Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Tell us what you think!
In this episode, we hear a selection of poems from the RHINO 40th Anniversary Poetry Reading at the library, organized by Kathleen Kirk; Silvia Schuh talks December arts and crafts; and Alec Gramm recommends some books that open up the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.
Our RHINO poets were:
- Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt
- Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook
- Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual
We know you have opinions about the podcast, and we’d love to hear them!
In this bonus segment of Check It Out, Marketing Assistant Nakia Worrell talks about the library’s past and present Giving Tuesday campaigns.
We’re thankful to have so many enthusiastic community patrons to serve! Please contact us if you have questions or feedback of any kind. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can reach us on Twitter at NPLTweets.
In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a chilly gothic novel for long cold nights (8:30); Kathleen Kirk previews the RHINO Magazine 40th Anniversary poetry reading (10:53); and Mari McKeeth recommends a range of holiday-themed genre fiction (15:17).
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt
- Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
- Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins and Carol Higgins Clark
Tell us what you think!
In this Halloween Pumpkin-spice-infused episode, Silvia Schuh previews upcoming arts and crafts programs (7:24); Julia Cozad-Callaghan and Kristi Cates introduce NPLay, a new recurring library event for cosplay enthusiasts (4:28); and Kristi recommends a few delightfully creepy novels for young (and old) adults (14:50).
- The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
- Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake
- Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark
In this episode, Laura Rocco recommends a serial graphic novel with a childlike premise but an adult sensibility (9:30); Kristi Cates talks with Teen Advisory Council member Isabel about a couple of young adult novels (5:17); and Mari McKeeth and Jared recommend a classic dystopian novel in honor of Banned Books Week (15:56).
Mari and Jared recommend:
In each episode of this new spinoff podcast, Normal Public Library staff discuss a novel they’ve never read before, but should have. In this inaugural episode, Alec Gramm, Jared Johnson, Holli Kober, Ben Mills, Laura Rocco, and Pam Schuett discuss Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 1864 novel, Crime and Punishment.
In this episode, Pam Schuett and I geek out over the films of Hiyao Miyazaki (14:04); Kristi Cates recommends some books for middle school kids who are starting to outgrow middle school books (15:32); and we preview the library’s latest podcast, It’s Novel (To Me).
- The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
- I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora
- Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
In this episode, Kristi Cates talks about the library’s Anime Clubs for Teens and for Adults (7:12); Silvia Schuh is back to talk about August arts and crafts programs (3:41); and Mari McKeeth highlights a few of the many magazines the library carries, and explains how patrons can use Zinio to download magazines to read on a digital device (12:47). Plus, I invite listeners to join us for a rousing discussion of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which will be featured in the first episode of our spinoff podcast, It’s Novel (To Me).
After a bit of a hiatus, Check It Out is back! In this episode, Mari McKeeth explains how the library chooses items to add to its adult print collection (10:59); Laura Rocco recommends a funny book about a Depressing topic (8:59); and Kristi C. talks up two YA sports novels with universal themes (12:05). Plus, we invite you to read along with us in preparation for our upcoming spinoff podcast.
- Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
The library’s new podcast stars will discuss:
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In this episode, Kristen Bauder and host Jared Johnson talk about what a “library assistant” does, Silvia Schuh gives the rundown of May arts and crafts and previews the plans for summer, and Mari McKeeth recommends two very different books that both have a Muslim protagonist.
In this episode, Rachel Weishar talks about Poetry Is Normal, a new semi-regular poetry reading event held in the library’s cafe (6:34); Amy Kubica explains the Staff Picks and Patron Picks programs (5:06); and Kristi Cates recommends three recent prize-winning young adult novels (12:05). Plus, we inaugurate a new segment in which we talk to a kid about the library. (This week, it’s Montana’s turn. Thanks, Montana!)
- The Princess and the Pig, by Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene
- Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby (Printz Award)
- Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (Morris Award)
- Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman (National Book Award for YA Lit)
In this episode, Kristi Cates explains how the Teen Advisory Council contributes to the library’s mission (4:33), Silvia Schuh talks up April’s arts and crafts programs and fills us in on National Library Week activities (6:19), and Mari McKeeth makes some recommendations to fill the Downton-Abbey-shaped gap in patrons’ lives (13:46). Plus, there’s a new classic first line challenge!
Take a look at the Teen Advisory Council schedule and sign up for April arts and crafts using our Activity Calendar.
Check out Mari McKeeth’s Downton-Abbey-style recommendations:
- Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell
- Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman
- The Remains of the Day (novel), by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Remains of the Day (film), directed by James Ivory
In this episode, Rebecca Gopinath invites us to attend a screening of the hit Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijaan (5:38); Jennifer Williams gives the rundown of kids’ spring break activities that we’re calling Spy Training (6:01); and Kristi Cates recommends two great but often overlooked young adult novels (8:30).
Check out our activity calendar to register for Spring Break programs.
Check out Kristi’s recommendations:
- The Year of Secret Assignments* (print) by Jaclyn Moriarty
- The Year of Secret Assignments* (audiobook)
- The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White
Jennifer Williams talks about Mo Willems’ new chapter book, The Story of Diva and Flea (5:45); Silvia Schuh gives us the lowdown on March arts and crafts programs (3:50); and Mari McKeeth recommends Val McDermid’s latest mystery, Splinter the Silence (12:33). Plus, Mari talks about two services for finding great books: Novelist and eSequels.
Please tell us what you think by emailing us at email@example.com, or tweeting us @NPLTweets!
In this episode, Perry Kaufman explains the difference between “hard” and “soft” science fiction and makes a couple recommendations (13:21), and Kristi Cates talks about books that readers of The Martian might also like (13:39). Plus, there’s a new prize challenge.
- The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars)
- Packing For Mars by Mary Roach
- Alone In Antarctica by Felicity Aston
- Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan
In this episode, Meghan Rogers explains the Adult Winter Reading Program, and Mari McKeeth talks about all the great books that were turned into movie scripts and nominated for this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar:
- Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín (screenplay by Nick Hornby)
- The Martian, by Andy Weir (screenplay by Drew Goddard)
- The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith (adapted as Carol, screenplay by Phyllis Nagy)
- The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (screenplay by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph)
- Room, by Emma Donoghue (screenplay by Emma Donoghue herself)
In our first episode of 2016, Silvia Schuh recommends the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, starting with the first novel in the series, A Discovery of Witches. Holli Kober recommendsSuicide Squad, a series of comics that patrons can access through Hoopla. Plus, we talk February arts and crafts (register here), and we bring our first literary interpretation challenge to a close.
The translation of Dante’s Inferno by Mark Musa referenced in this episode is excellent, by the way.
Comments, questions, suggestions, and random thoughts are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In the final episode of 2015, Amy Kubica recommends the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop, Laura Rocco recommends The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Noble (which is based on a popular Youtube series), and I have some thoughts about libraries as we bring 2015 to a close. Plus, we check in on last episode’s literary challenge.
To respond to the literary challenge or to give us feedback, please contact us at email@example.com.
In this week’s episode, we explore the wonders of the library’s 3D printer, eLearning programs you can access through our website, and January’s arts and crafts programs (register now!). Also, we talk about some books that Star Wars fans might have a good feeling about. Plus, a new and better way to win the episode’s weekly prize.
Books we recommend in this episode:
- Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher
- The Pluto Files by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold
- A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber
- Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
This episode features the “Sunrise” opening to Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, performed by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Barbara Schubert, available at the Internet Archive. For over one hundred different performances of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, why not check out Naxos Music Library? It’s free, and all that’s required is a Normal Public Library card (which is also free). Plus, Naxos Music Library offers streaming access to more than 109,960 CDs with more than 1,609,000 tracks of many musical genres including classical, jazz, world and pop/rock.
In this episode, we talk about The Black House by Peter May, the first in a trilogy of mysteries set on a remote Scottish island. Also, we talk about the library’s arts and crafts programs coming up in December, how to download audio and video content using the internet and your trusty Normal Public Library card, and our Giving Tuesday fundraiser, which aims to raise enough money to fund a mobile maker space for our teen patrons. Plus, another chance for our loyal podcast listeners to snag a prize!
In this inaugural episode, we talk about the young adult novel The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the library’s collection of James Bond films, November’s arts and crafts programs, and how to download ebooks using your Normal Public Library card. Plus, our brilliant listeners get their first chance to win a prize.