Autumn’s Equinox

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 by Larkspur

The autumnal equinox marks the debut of the autumn (or fall, if you prefer) season. This astronomical event occurs quietly and without much fanfare in the sky (unlike the total solar eclipse back in August!). But at this moment, the “solar terminator” (the ring circling the earth, where day meets night), is perpendicular to the planet as it crosses the equator, thus illuminating the northern and southern hemispheres in equal amounts. In other words, on the equinox, the day and night periods are of roughly equal duration (12 hours). After the equinox, daylight hours in the northern hemisphere continue to decrease until the winter solstice — the shortest day and longest night of the year, after which the days begin to lengthen once again.

photo of basket of apples

This year the equinox is on Friday, September 22 at 3:02 PM, Central Time. But even in the ebbing summer heat of early September, portends of autumn’s pending entrance are evident. We see the sun set noticeably earlier and find spent garden plants to uproot and pitch in the compost heap. Black walnuts fall with a thud, littering the ground and perfuming the air with their acrid, peppery aroma. And if you feed hummingbirds, you see them fattening up (like little Vienna sausages!) with frequent trips to the nectar dispenser, in preparation for their arduous, their non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico, to winter quarters. Continue reading “Autumn’s Equinox”

The Gentleman Recommends: Ottessa Moshfegh

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by Chris

Homesick For Another World” is a brilliant collection of short stories by Ottessa Moshfegh and a common affliction. It is certainly an affliction suffered by the characters that populate her stories. Some might describe her characters as losers and find themselves unable to understand how anyone but a loser or an aficionado or losers would enjoy these stories about drug users, sexual deviants, bulimics, body modifiers, bad actors, crooked Catholic school teachers, and one young girl who longs to murder the specific person whose death she believes will open up a portal to “a better place,” the place she’s always known she belongs. Well rest assured, having achieved the status of runner-up in dozens of eating contests, this gentleman is no loser, and this gentleman found these stories, despite the relative scantness of their plot, fascinating and absorbing. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Ottessa Moshfegh”

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Eighty Year Anniversary

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 by Ida

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale HurstonOn September 18, 1937, the world was introduced to Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The world didn’t pay adequate attention, and the title went out of print for years. A 1978 reprinting brought the book recognition as an American classic. Alice Walker and Zadie Smith both cite Hurston as an influence.

Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, a town established and run by African Americans. It serves as setting for much of her novel. She went to New York for an anthropology degree from Barnard College and stayed for the Harlem Renaissance, with trips back to the south for story collection and research.

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston, courtesy of Library of Congress

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” was groundbreaking for its time — written by an African American woman and portraying African Americans interacting primarily with each other. Janie Crawford is one of the most fully realized characters you could wish for in under 200 pages. Continue reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God: Eighty Year Anniversary”

Bonsai Bonanza

Posted on Friday, September 15, 2017 by The Biblio-Buckeroo

On Sunday, September 17, the Columbia Public Library is hosting a bonsai show courtesy of the Mid-Missouri Bonsai Society. What more perfect excuse could there be to write about bonsai?

For those who might not know, bonsai is an art form that originated in China in which small trees are manipulated into desirable shapes using wires, pruning and a variety of tools. It translates into the Chinese words bon (or poon) meaning “pot” and sai (or sue) meaning “tree.” The amount of variation possible in the results of this process is amazing, taking into account all of the various tree species, geographical styles, pottery and compositions. It is a very personal expression of art and horticulture. Some people enjoy it chiefly for the meditative aspects of the work. Continue reading “Bonsai Bonanza”

New DVD List: Big Little Lies & More

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Dewey Decimal Diver

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

Big Little Lies
Season 1
Website / Reviews
Based on the New York Times best-seller of the same name by Liane Moriarty, this seven-part limited series is a subversive, darkly comedic drama that weaves a tale of murder and mischief as it explores society’s myth of perfection and the contradictions that exist beneath our idealized façade of marriage, sex, parenting and friendship. Continue reading “New DVD List: Big Little Lies & More”

Author William Claassen

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2017 by Seth

Risks book coverAuthor William Claassen will be speaking about his new book “Risks” on September 14 at the Columbia Public Library. One of Columbia’s many nationally recognized authors, Claassen has authored four books and one play in the last two decades, along with numerous articles.  “Risks” is Claassen’s first true memoir, recounting a life spent traveling, learning and performing humanitarian works across the globe. Among many common themes that stand out in these books is the initial influence of Thomas Merton’s classic autobiography “The Seven Story Mountain” on Claassen’s life and how it led him to take a different path. Continue reading “Author William Claassen”

Literary Links: Great First Lines

Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2017 by Anne

“Call me Ishmael.” The first sentence in Herman Melville’sMoby Dick” is considered one of the greatest opening lines for a novel. Other classics often cited for their great opening lines include “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and Jane Austen’sPride and Prejudice.” So, what makes an opening line great? Stephen King reflected on this in a 2013 interview with Joe Fassler: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Here are a few contemporary novels whose first lines manage to do just that.

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry book cover“The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday.” So begins the novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce. Immediately, I found myself wondering what was in the letter, who wrote the letter and to whom it was written. I had to keep reading to find the answers to these questions. In this novel, the author examines the concepts of hope and redemption with a charming tale of a retired husband and father who takes a unique, impulsive and circuitous journey to fulfill a self-imposed quest to aid a dying woman. The story it captures is both poignant and humorous.

Jeanne Ray begins her novel, “Calling Invisible Women,” with “I first noticed I was missing on a Thursday.” This provocative sentence leads into a story about a wife and mother in her fifties who feels invisible to her family and the world around her. Her only worth seems to be in the services she provides — cooking dinner, doing the laundry and keeping the house clean. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up one Thursday to find herself physically invisible, but no one seems to notice. Ray uses a satirical voice to explore middle age, family dynamics and a woman’s role in modern society. Continue reading “Literary Links: Great First Lines”

Debut Author Spotlight: September

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2017 by Katherine

As we head into fall why not check out one of these books by brand-new authors? There’s something here for every reader.

Good me Bad me book cover

Good Me Bad Me” by Ali Land

After Annie Thompson turns in her own mother — a serial killer who preys on children — to the police, she creates a new identity for herself as Milly. But despite her name change, Milly struggles to leave her old life behind. As her mother’s trial draws nearer Milly tries to be the good person she wants to be, but is tormented by the voice of her mother in her head, urging her to give in to her dark side.

 

A Secret History of Witches” by Louisa MorganSecret History of Witches book cover

The gift of magic has been passed down from mother to daughter for centuries, but when Grand-mère Ursule dies magic seems to die with her. Still, her family continues to recite the spells and rituals that once contained power in an effort to preserve their craft and in the hope that one day the magic will return. Following five generations of Ursule’s family — from Brittany in 1821 to London in the middle of World War II — “A Secret History of Witches chronicles the family’s struggles to recover magic and change the course of history.

Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: September”

Staff Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Posted on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 by Anne

NOS4A2 book cover

Book I Listened To: NOS4A2” by Joe Hill

Why I Checked It Out: I’ve listened to a couple of other books by Hill and enjoyed his storytelling — a blend of fantasy and suspense, with a touch of horror. I also recently listened to his book “The Fireman,” which was also narrated by Kate Mulgrew and I fell in love with the way she reads a story (more on that later!). Continue reading “Staff Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill”

Nonfiction Roundup: September 2017

Posted on Monday, September 4, 2017 by Kirk

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

TOP PICKS

What Happened book cover

What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

This book is a reflection on the former first lady’s unsuccessful bid to become president, examining the trials and tribulations she faced during the campaign, the lessons that can be learned from the election and how she has bounced back following her loss.

 

Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: September 2017”