Ice caps have melted and most of the planet is submerged. The majority of the surviving human population has relocated to the Arctic, now a land of more moderate temperatures. In London only the tallest buildings rise out of the water and it is overrun with huge, overgrown plants and giant lizards. This is “The Drowned World” by J.G. Ballard, where a warming climate is either pulling life on Earth backwards into a more primitive state or triggering a new stage in evolution.
This book was written in 1962, before terms like global warming or climate change were commonplace, and the climate change in this book does not appear to be human caused. Regardless, the change has been devastating to humanity. What remains of civilization is primarily relegated to a state of survival. The plot follows Dr. Robert Kerans, part of a scientific and military team that has traveled to London to study the flora and fauna that have overtaken the city. It’s unclear how much progress he has made in studying the life populating the lagoons that were once city streets. When the book begins Kerans no longer resides on the research vessel the team arrived on but is staying by himself in one of the half-submerged skyscrapers. He spends the days there hiding from the oppressive heat and being haunted by strange dreams. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: The Drowned World”
I grew up with a mom who loved horror books and movies. Our bookcase was full of Clive Barker and Stephen King and every anthology she could get her hands on. We would make regular trips to the used bookstore so she would never run out of scary material. She could watch even the most terrifying horror movie alone in the dark. When I was about 11 years old, I read Stephen King’s short story collection, “Night Shift,” and couldn’t sleep until I was 35. So the apple can fall pretty far from the tree.
I have, though, come up with some guidelines to help fellow scaredy-cats who are determined to read horror. Obviously, never read it before bed. Read reviews — they are usually not specific enough to elicit detailed nightmares but can give you an indication of what to expect if you have certain triggers. Continue reading “How to Read Horror When You Are Afraid of Everything”
Check out these creepy creature nonfiction titles at the library today!
“The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein” by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler: One murky night in 1816, on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lord Bryon, famed English poet, challenged his friends to a contest — to write a ghost story. The famous result was Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” a work that has retained its hold on the popular imagination for two centuries. Within a few years of “Frankenstein’s” publication, nearly all of those involved met untimely deaths. Drawing upon letters, rarely tapped archives and their own magisterial rereading of “Frankenstein” itself, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler have crafted a rip-roaring tale of obsession and creation. Continue reading “Monsters and Witches and Ghosts, Oh My!”
The birth of a new child is an exciting event. Documentaries involving births can capture the excitement and drama involved in the process, but they can also offer unique perspectives to future parents and their families. Check out these documentaries focusing on births. Continue reading “Little Kicks: Docs Focusing On Childbirth”
The approach of Halloween always piques my interest in the paranormal. When October rolls around, I can’t get enough of horror movies, paranormal fiction and ghost stories. I also can’t get enough sleep because I’m afraid that if I don’t keep a tight enough grip on my blanket, a demon under my bed will rip it off of me. One of my guiltiest Halloween pleasures is the show Ghost Adventures; I have always wanted to tag along with Zak Bagans and his team as they spend the night in some of America’s most haunted locations. Unfortunately, since that would be kind of tricky logistically, I have to look a little closer to home. In “Haunted Columbia, Missouri,” Mary Barile gives the backstory for several haunted locations right here in town. Drawing from stories in Barile’s collection and the Columbia Daily Tribune (or in the case of the final location, rumors I have heard through the grapevine), I have compiled a short list of possible stops for a self-directed ghost tour.
The historic Stephens College campus is worth the visit for the beautiful architecture alone, but paranormal enthusiasts will find plenty to appreciate as well. According to a 1971 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune (recounted here), a group including students, a teacher, and a newspaper reporter gathered for an amateur ghost hunt in Senior Hall. As soon as the door shut, wind filled the room and blew out the candle. Hearing footsteps, the journalist peeked out into the hall and saw two figures, a woman dressed in a gown and a man. “The man dropped into a low crouch, his left hand outstretched as though to ward something off. Then both figures disappeared down the stairs,” he says. Naturally, the group immediately left. Hours later, another group of students entering Senior Hall and were stopped by a woman in a gown warning them that their teacher (a member of the previous group) was no longer welcome there. Continue reading “Haunted Columbia”
While zombie-story-as-critique-of-capitalism is nothing new, Ling Ma’s “Severance” still manages to earn this gentleman’s recommendation. I’m always a sucker for a good post-apocalypse story, plus it’s Halloween season 2018, and fictional accounts of the end of the world are a particularly welcome respite from nonfictional ones.
“Severance” is the story of Candace Chen, whose parents brought her from China to America when she was a child. As an adult, Candace works for a publisher in New York, but rather than some book related task that brings her fulfillment, she oversees the production of Bibles. (Naturally, to keep costs down, these Bibles are produced in China, where workers are apt to die from the gemstone dust they inhale while affixing said baubles to fashion Bibles.) Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Ling Ma”
From picking a pair of shoes to wear to the office to buying a house, we are constantly faced with the challenge of making decisions. It’s an everyday process that can be surprisingly difficult and may cause feelings ranging from mild irritation to painstaking agony. Humans are also not particularly skilled at making choices; we frequently employ flawed logic that we’re incapable of recognizing. Ironically, we don’t often examine the thought processes that result in our choices. Luckily, there is an abundance of recently published books that do the hard work for us! There are so many titles out now that it was, as you might expect, a challenge to decide which to present here.
In the current era, we have so much information at our disposal. With just a few clicks or taps on a screen, we can usually find answers to any inquiry. Yet our internet searches often yield so many results that they’re difficult to parse. In “A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age,” Daniel J. Levitin examines the tactics most media outlets use to simplify scientific and statistical findings to readers, and how our interpretations of this information are often flawed. The book gives readers a guide to distinguishing reliable information from distortions, lies and misinformation. Continue reading “Literary Links: Critical Thinking and Decision-Making”
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2018 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
“The Hate U Give” is about Starr, a sixteen year old that has to balance two lives: living in her poor black neighborhood, and going to her primarily white suburban high school. She struggles with figuring out how she can be herself at both when something happens: her childhood best friend Khalil is shot by a police officer, and Starr is with him. Being the only witness who knows what really happens, Starr has to decide if she wants to stay quiet and protect herself, or if she should announce the truth. This book opened my eyes to racial discrimination that is happening in today’s society and really challenged me to see events from a perspective I normally wouldn’t.
Three words that describe this book: Empowering, Eye-opening, and Heartbreaking
You might want to pick this book up if: You loved “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Website / Reviews
Playing earlier this year at the True/False Film Fest, this film takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination. Continue reading “New DVD List: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? & More”
Do you still have some unchecked boxes on the 2018 Read Harder Challenge? So do I. If you, like I, feel a deep obligation to fulfill all commitments no matter how minor, you’re probably experiencing a bit of stress at the moment. Never fear. I’m here to help, assuming the help you need consists of some written words about colonial or postcolonial literature.
First published in 1958, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe is widely considered a classic of world literature and appears on the Great American Read list of America’s 100 most-loved books. The first book of a trilogy, it tells the story of a Nigerian man, Okonkwo, tracing his rise to power and subsequent fall during a time of increasing British colonization. Though I know this is not a consideration at all (wink, wink) as we draw nearer the deadline, it’s only 209 pages. Continue reading “Colonial or Post-colonial Literature: Read Harder 2018”