March 2017 LibraryReads: Books Librarians Love

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2017 by Kat

LibraryReads logoHere is the March 2017 LibraryReads list! From science fiction to historical fiction, boy scouts to hermits, this month’s selection is sure to have something for everyone. Take a look at the favorite books from librarians across the country, and get ready to place holds on these new releases.

The Wanderers Book CoverThe Wanderers” by Meg Howrey

“A private space exploration company is mounting a manned mission to Mars. To prepare for the actual event, the company plans an elaborate training program to match the conditions and potential problems the team might face. The ordeal, though simulated, is no less dramatic for the astronauts, their families, and the crew. The lines cross between fiction and reality, and none of the participants are left unchanged. Part literary fiction, part sci-fi, all amazing.”
-Marie Byars, Sno-Isle Libraries, Oak Harbor, WA Continue reading “March 2017 LibraryReads: Books Librarians Love”

In Appreciation of African-American Artists

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2017 by The Biblio-Buckeroo

Photo of mural on staircase
Event Horizon, Kara Walker, 2005

The magic of visual art lies in its ability to communicate in ways not possible through words. Much like music, art is a universal language that can rise above cultural barriers. African-American art, specifically, is full of examples of this transcendence. Art in the black community has been used to exorcise pain, to rejoice and to record life. From artists like the silhouette artist, Kara Walker, or the painter, Jacob Lawrence, we can learn history not always taught in our schools. Art gives us a window into lives that may be different from our own or reveal how similar we all are when preconceived notions are stripped away.

Aesthetically, I gravitate towards art that is full of rich colors, bold shapes and dynamic compositions. There is a bounty of African-American art, in a variety of media, that fits this bill.

The Quilts of Gee's Bend book coverAfrican-American women, like so many women in history, expressed themselves through beautiful textile arts. One difference is explored in “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad“; Jacqueline Tobin tells how quilt patterns were used to give encoded messages to men and women traveling on the Underground Railroad. Another selection, “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” displays the talent of the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who have upheld a tradition of lively quilt-making through the generations going back two hundred years. I love these! Continue reading “In Appreciation of African-American Artists”

Previous Docs From True/False 2017 Directors

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by Dewey Decimal Diver

True/False image with neonWe’ve compiled a list of previous documentaries available at DBRL from the directors who are presenting films at the upcoming True/False Film Fest. Check out their old films before you attend the fest for their new films!

Alma Har’el
True/False 2017 film: “LoveTrue
Past film as director: “Bombay Beach

Amir Bar-Lev
True/False 2017 film: “Long Strange Trip
Past film as director: “Happy Valley,” “The Tillman Story,” “My Kid Could Paint That

Andreas Dalsgaard
True/False 2017 film (co-director): “The War Show
Past film as director: “The Human Scale

Peter Nicks
True/False 2017 film:  “The Force
Past films as directors: “The Waiting Room

Steve James
True/False 2017 film: “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Past films as director: “Life Itself,” “The Interrupters,” “No Crossover,” “At the Death House Door,” “Reel Paradise,” “Hoop Dreams

To see more about the films showing at True/False 2017, check out the list of films on the True/False website. Be sure to check out our True/False Film Fest films at DBRL to see lists of past True/False films available from your library.

Presidential Biographies, Presidential Confidantes

Posted on Monday, February 20, 2017 by Seth

Presidential biography is a popular form of nonfiction. There are some true classics out there; I consider Carl Sandburg’s lyrical tribute to Abraham Lincoln one example of biography as fine literature. What about the biographies and stories of those who influenced the president — advisers and friends, even family? Where do these lie in the pantheon? As it turns out, there are a lot of them, and we carry many in our collection here at the library.  (Although I do not believe a biography currently exists about Steve Bannon, one day soon there may be many.)

First, let’s go back in time about 80 years. A little known figure and private secretary in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inner circle, Missy Lehand, was one of the few very close advisers to the The Gatekeeper book coverpresident. In “The Gatekeeper” by Kathryn Smith, this relationship is explored in depth. Indeed, Missy Lehand was the first person in the White House to learn about World War II: “The ringing of Missy’s bedside phone jarred her awake sometime after two on the morning of Friday, September 1, 1939. Could she authorize the switchboard operator to wake him?” Smith argues that not only did Lehand have unfettered access to the president, she was also extremely influential in the construction of the myriad government services needed for the New Deal. Continue reading “Presidential Biographies, Presidential Confidantes”

Ghost Towns: Escaping Into the Past

Posted on Friday, February 17, 2017 by cs

photo of ghost townIf you have ever made the drive to St. Louis from Columbia, you might have noticed a house that has been deteriorating for at least the last 30 years. I have watched it over the years as I drive back and forth; each time it is a little more dilapidated. It used to have a porch. That is gone now. The roof, windows and door frame sag; vines and bushes have grown around and throughout the house. Yet, you can tell it was a good, solid house at one point. I hope that it had a time of being cherished and a place people lovingly called home. Continue reading “Ghost Towns: Escaping Into the Past”

Exploring the Underground Railroad

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by Anne

map of Underground RailroadLiving in a world that is so connected through the internet and social media, it is difficult to imagine how in a world connected mostly by pen, paper and telegraph, the Underground Railroad, a collaboration of somewhat random individuals across the country, managed to connect and bring so many people to safety. Around 30,000 slaves managed to escape the binds of slavery on the railroad. Here are a few titles you can find in the library that explore the Underground Railroad, the people who found safe passage through it and the individuals whose courageous efforts made it possible. Continue reading “Exploring the Underground Railroad”

The Gentleman Recommends: George Saunders (Again)

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2017 by Chris

If you’re reading this on the day it is posted or on the anniversary of the day it is posted (a safe bet as, delusions of grandeur aside, there can be little doubt that reading this post will join the pantheon of Valentine’s Day traditions), then tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and you will agree it is an appropriate time to prattle on about love. I’ll commence the prattling by saying this post is about the sweet, tender love a gentleman feels for one of our greatest writers. Rabid fans (are there any other kind?) of this series of blog posts will remember as clearly as their first kiss that the first author this gentleman recommended was George Saunders.

Lincoln in the Bardo book coverMy massive army of admirers may wonder: why recommend him again? Well, such is my passion for Saunders’ humane, hilarious and one-of-a-kind storytelling that I’ve been making passionate pitches to re-recommend him nearly every month. The editorial board has gently rejected my heartfelt pleas and pathetic attempts at bribery (“no one wants another chapbook of your excruciating poetry,” they say, lying), encouraging me to shine my blinding, career-boosting light on authors I haven’t previously spotlighted. But Saunders has a new book, and so I was able to convince them that it’s time to let this gentleman’s light shine on him again. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: George Saunders (Again)”

Books on the Big Screen in 2017

Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017 by Reading Addict

Hidden Figures book to movie coverI’m sure you’ve already heard a lot about “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. It’s the true story of the female African-American mathematicians who worked for NASA to help get John Glenn into space, among many other achievements. The movie starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and Dorothy Vaughan just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast, and it’s been nominated for three Oscars and two Golden Globes. I read the book before I saw the movie, and I loved it. I have to admit that this is one of the fewThe Zookeeper's Wife book cover movies that I love just as much as the book, if not more! I hope it wins every award.

Also coming out soon is “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman, with an expected release date of March 31. It’s the true story of how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from the Nazis by smuggling them in empty cages. The movie will star Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl. It looks like it’s The Circle book covergoing to be incredible, and if we hurry, we just might have enough time to read it before the movie comes out. Continue reading “Books on the Big Screen in 2017”

New DVD List: The JT LeRoy Story, Zero Days, & More

Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 by Dewey Decimal Diver

JT Leory Story film still

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.

Author DVD coverAuthor: The JT LeRoy Story

Website / Reviews / Trailer
Presented at the True/False Film Fest in 2016, this film tells the story behind literary persona JT LeRoy, the fictional writer created by American author Laura Albert. This epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a sensation. As she recounts her odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by her irrepressible creative forces. Continue reading “New DVD List: The JT LeRoy Story, Zero Days, & More”

Nonfiction Roundup: February 2017

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2017 by Kirk

Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released in February. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.


Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari book coverHomo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari

The author of the best-selling “Sapiens” examines humanity’s triumphs over famine, plague and war during the twentieth century and looks to the issues, such as artificial intelligence and overcoming death, that will shape the human agenda in the twenty-first century. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: February 2017”