Criss Library – This is an opportunity to have real conversations with real people. Individuals with diverse life experiences act as human books. Readers will “check out” the human books for 20-30 minutes to learn and ask questions about the human book’s personal experiences.
How It Works
Readers can come any time during the event
- Browse the list of titles, select a human book.
- Check out the book at the registration table.
- Have a one-on-one conversation with that book. Conversations can be up to 30 minutes long.
Reserve a Book
Want to make sure a human book is available? Book reservations will become available on March 9th.
2017 Book Descriptions
Auditing Enron: The Company That Stole My 401K by Shari Thompson
Shari worked as an internal auditor for Enron and several of its subsidiaries from the BO's through Enron's bankruptcy in 2001. She saw and reported internal control weaknesses to management and the board of directors. Her reports, however, were ignored. This book describes some of the most egregious control weaknesses Shari encountered while working in Internal Audit at Enron's Omaha and Houston offices.
After Enron, Shari developed an internal audit department at a local company—a winner of "best place to work" for several years in the 2000's. Unfortunately, a new board of directors' desire for greater profits while—like Enron—ignoring internal control weaknesses set the company on a path to sink into bankruptcy in 2010.
Breathing Out: A Love Story (Tales of Getting Shit Done While Hugging the World) by Niki Jordan
Growing up a second generation blond-haired, blue-eyed Nichiren Buddhist in Omaha, Nikola Halcyone Jordan was raised to handle the stresses of being ostracized by both schoolmates and family through her faith, and to fight for the rights of all. She found relief from years of depression and anxiety through a dedicated yoga practice. Nikola's newest challenge, after being diagnosed with a painful medical condition, is continuing her work in social justice advocacy while on wheels.
Electric Girl by Stacy Cook
The story of a young mom who turned to drugs after battling postpartum depression and manic depression, aka bipolar disorder. Running out of options to control her mental illness she turned to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) and turned her life around. Now sober, stable and even happy she is here to tell the story of how mental illness changed her life.
Foul Ball by Brent Crampton
On May Day, 2011, a father attending a baseball game in downtown Omaha caught a foul ball. This catch prompted a phone call to his son. The phone call would connect the dots of the son’s adoption in 1984 to the opening of a nightclub, House of Loom, that would go on to change the cultural landscape of Omaha. This is the story of finding place and purpose in a seemingly random world, showing that even foul balls can fall in line.
Growing Up Transgender by Brooke McGrorty
I am a 29 year old transwoman. I grew up in a very small farm town 45 minutes south of Omaha. Growing up was a very confusing time because I was always teased. I always knew that I wanted to be a girl, and viewed myself as a woman but I had no idea that Transgender was who I was. When I was 16 my mom took me to my first encounter with the LGBT community. I saw my first drag queen perform that day and my eyes lit up Afterwards, I applied and got accepted to perform. When I performed I never felt more alive and comfortable in my own skin. I moved to Omaha when I was 22 and became more involved in the LGBT community, and dressing like a woman at night. When I was 26, I started working as a server; Brooke.
Know Your Farmer by Brent Lubbert
Suburban kid experiences a three month road trip documenting urban agriculturalists. Transformed with passion, he comes back home and helps start an urban farm that has turned into a Farmer Residency educational nonprofit. Time to grow some food and relationships.
Just Say Yes by Kenny Oyer
As a musician and teacher, I’ve spent a lifetime saying yes. My story is about connections, positive affirmations, new experiences. I said yes to a U.S. State Department cultural exchange tour in the 60s that brought me to Soviet Union, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Poland. Yes to service in the Air Force and yes to teaching in elementary schools and working with libraries. I’ve continued teaching, learning, and making music into my 70s. Let’s make a connection and talk about music, travel, teaching, learning, and saying yes.
A Life of Many Colors by Denise Morton
I’ve been a factory worker, legal assistant, correctional officer, and now I’m Library Director for a correctional center library. My life has had several ups and downs, several slips and slides, and I am grateful for each event. I overcame codependency, was blessed with a daughter, and found the courage later in life to accept that I am gay. I have learned to deeply, deeply appreciate the day I am in, and often times, just the moment. This story could be about the everyday challenges of building and maintaining a library in a correctional center, but deep down it’s about the more difficult challenge of "paying forward" ALL of the many kindnesses from family, friends and strangers during the toughest of times in one colorful life.
A “Lost Boy” Who Found His Way by Randy Beagley
I was born in a small town on the southern border of Utah and Arizona. From the time I can remember, I was just a normal kid with strange parents. When I was ten years old, my father decided to take me for a car ride. We drove for an hour to a home just south of Salt Lake City. As I walked in with my dad, he started to introduce me to all of these people. I was thinking this is strange and even stranger is a boy almost my same age who looks just like me. I was talking to him when I saw a picture of my dad on the wall, and I said, "That's my dad!" and the boy said "No, that is my dad!" After a small fight, we realized our dad had two wives, and I now had a very large family of 29. That is when I began to learn I was born into the largest polygamist religion in North America.
Made in Canada by Michele Desmarais, Bill Arab, Jane Franklin, Jessica Urban, Lynette Leeseberg Stamler
What do a Métis poet/Sanskritist, a musician, the Dean of Social Sciences (MCC), a restaurateur (Block 16!!), and the Associate Dean of Academic Programs at UNMC’s College of Nursing all have in common? Being Canadian! Our stories explore Canadian culture, including what brought us to Omaha and how we maintain our sense of Canadian identity/identities here. We’ll talk about food, literature, multiculturalism, music, hockey, our prolific use of “eh,” toques, Stompin’ Tom, Louis Riel, Frederick Banting, the Tragically Hip, Justin Trudeau, how to pronounce ‘Saskatchewan,’ and so much more. The loud and proud Canadians are in the library. Join us, eh!
Making Things Better When It Seems They Couldn’t Get Worse by Brian Maass
My wife died by suicide 10 years ago, making me a solo parent to 3-year old and 18-month old sons. To properly care for my sons, I left a successful career that required me to travel (and took a 90% pay cut). To properly care for myself, I co-founded a local young widows and widowers group that grew to over 150 members, and I went back to school to pursue my dream career.
Modern Politics: How Things Really Work by Eric Aspengren
I've got 12 years of campaigns, lobbying and other work behind me, plus a serious knowledge of the political science literature. I think I'm well qualified to explain these things. In fact, I'm writing a book! My father told me to, so I have to. I'd really like to help explain modern politics and dispel some myths.
One Plus One Equals One by Carol Mitchell
Identical twins born, raised, and shared absolutely everything while living the double whammy of being "colored" and "girls" and then the sum is no longer TWO but ONE! I'll share my experiences – some funny, some sad, many unforgettable -- of one sister who became a science researcher, writer, international speaker, and educator, and another who became a mathematician, financial planner, preacher, teacher, and the third female Bishop elected in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. One Plus One Equals ONE!
Putting the Heart in Heartland: Omaha Restaurateur Follows His Passion by Paul Kulik
Paul Kulik, born in Berlin but raised in Omaha, began working in kitchens at the age of 15. While he would later earn degrees in Engineering Physics and French, he knew his true love lay in the creative and fast-paced culinary world. Now a successful entrepreneur with several successful Omaha restaurants, Paul is dedicated to using the best ingredients to create memorable dishes, as well as giving back to the community he loves.
Warrior Woman: Know One, Be One by Sakura L Yodogawa-Campbell
I am a trauma survivor (child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, sex trafficking, stalking, strangulation) and I speak out about my healing and recovery experience in hopes of preventing others from knowing this experience, connect with other survivors and ensure offenders are held accountable for these crimes. I use my voice to change a culture that accepts violence against women and children. I teach women about healing and recovery and help them discover their own flame within to light their path. And I work to bring women together to do some major ass kicking.
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