The Gentleman Recommends: Ben Loory

Posted on Monday, February 12, 2018 by Chris

Given the current limits of technology, the best way to escape this reality is to get lost in a great book. And while there’s no greater reading pleasure than getting lost in a novel massive enough to accompany you through the course of several sleepless nights and a charity gala or two, it’s also rather grand to gently pummel one’s imagination with 40 very short and strange stories one after another until you’re a little dizzy from the off-kilter sweetness humanity is capable of.

These stories will bring a variety of smiles to your face. You’ll do a happy smile, a wry smile, a sad smile, you may even get to display the smile of the nonplussed. These stories are magic.
Tales of Falling and Flying book cover

But where does one find 40 great, very short, strange, sweet (if also sometimes menacing) stories? I, too, wondered this, until I found “Tales of Falling and Flying” by Ben Loory, the second such collection of exactly 40 great, short, strange, sweet stories he’s written. Loory has compared his writing to “an animated version of The Twilight Zone,” and I think it’s a fair comparison. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Ben Loory”

Literary Links: The Spanish Flu of 1918

Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2018 by Reading Addict

Pale Rider book coverIt has been 100 years since the Spanish Flu pandemic. The flu, which was first recorded in March 1918, killed 50 to 100 million people by March 1920.  It coincided with the First World War, which often overshadows the pandemic in our collective memory. Despite the fact far more people worldwide died of the flu, the two may be inextricable. Laura Spinney examines that connection in the recently published “Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.” Spinney writes, “Conflict makes people hungry and anxious; it uproots them, packs them into insanitary camps and requisitions their doctors. It makes them vulnerable to infection, and then it sets large numbers of them in motion so that they can carry that infection to new places. In every conflict of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, more lives were lost to disease than to battlefield injuries.” Spinney also suggests that memory for a pandemic simply takes time to develop because “… it’s not so easy to count the dead. They don’t wear uniforms, display exit wounds or fall down in a circumscribed arena. They die in large numbers in a short space of time over a vast expanse of space, and many of them disappear into mass graves, not only before their disease has been diagnosed, but often before their lives have been recorded.” Continue reading “Literary Links: The Spanish Flu of 1918”

The Scoop on the Coop: Raising Urban Chickens

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2018 by Reading Addict

photo of white chicken taken from outside fence

Many years ago, just before my family left the suburbs of Dallas to move to Columbia, we felt the need to take on City Hall in the attempt to legalize backyard chickens. I will be honest with you– our chickens were outlaws. It was legal to have them in Dallas, but the suburbs were a different story. Anyway … that is how I earned the moniker of “The Crazy Chicken Lady.” My notoriety followed me to the gas station, library, grocery store and pretty much anywhere else we went. I’m still a little crazy about chickens. We were so excited that we could have our chickens here in Columbia guilt-free.

I’m not sure if I can even tell you how we, otherwise normal urban/suburbanites, fell in with the likes of chickens but when we fell, we fell madly in love. It could have been the wonderful Dallas Earth Day celebrations that featured a local backyard chicken group (and their chickens.) On second thought, it could have been from reading books like “My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big City Backyard into a Farm: A Cautionary Tale” by Manny Howard. By the way, that “cautionary” part is no lie, but I was intrigued.  I would like to think that we didn’t dive right off the deep end like Mr. Howard obviously and hilariously did, but we did end up with a backyard full of chickens with names like Ingrid Birdman, Gwyneth Poultry and Madame Curry. They are the best garden help! Continue reading “The Scoop on the Coop: Raising Urban Chickens”

Comics Written or Illustrated by a Person of Color: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Dana S

Descender panel

In case you missed it, the library is getting into the spirit of Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder challenge, and there’s plenty of time to join. The year-long challenge consists of 24 tasks to help you to read more broadly. I’m back with you this time to highlight another comics-specific task: #8 A comic written or illustrated by a person of color.

Best We Could Do book cover

The Best We Could Do” is an impressive debut effort for author/artist Thi Bui. In this graphic memoir, she documents her family’s experiences in war-torn Vietnam. Her parents ultimately fled in the 1970s, bringing Bui and her siblings to the United States as refugees. This moving graphic memoir is equal parts historical and personal tracing the effects of war, tragedy, parent-child relationships and the immigrant experience. Continue reading “Comics Written or Illustrated by a Person of Color: Read Harder 2018”

Nonfiction Roundup: February 2018

Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018 by Kirk

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


Feel Free book coverFrom Zadie Smith, the celebrated novelist and social commentator, comes a collection of new and previously uncollected essays. In “Feel Free,” she shows off her range of knowledge, addressing such wide ranging topics as social media, libraries and global warming. This one should be popular as Smith is scheduled to be the featured speaker at this year’s Unbound Book Festival. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: February 2018”

Exploring Alzheimer’s Disease Through Fiction

Posted on Friday, February 2, 2018 by Anne

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is utterly devastating. It takes away the most fundamental parts of a person — his or her memories. Families must watch their loved ones slowly disappear, even while they remain physically present. Coping with these changes can be challenging, and often leaves caregivers feeling isolated. Many authors have used fiction to explore the experience of losing someone to Alzheimer’s. The library has several books that provide insight into the Alzheimer’s experience, both from the perspective of those who suffer from it and those who take care of them.

Elizabeth is Missing book coverElizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey is told from the perspective of an elderly woman named Maud who is gradually losing her memory. Maud becomes more and more flustered when she can’t find her friend, Elizabeth, or remember any reason why Elizabeth should no longer be in her house. As Maud’s memory degenerates further, she begins to confuse the disappearance of Elizabeth with the disappearance of her older sister Susan,which occurred right after WWII when Maud was a young teenager and was never solved. Healey’s novel is full of suspense that will pull readers in, while also enlightening them on the challenging experiences of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Continue reading “Exploring Alzheimer’s Disease Through Fiction”

Escape Room: Trapped in the 1980s!

Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Ida

1980s collage

Dr. Viola Figueroa, a brilliant scientist and avid history buff, has gone missing. She had just taken over as chair of the local history club’s Committee on the 1980s when she vanished. She’d spoken of a secret project, one she said would “make history something we can experience first-hand.” Her nephew, Alfredo, has convinced a few club members to investigate. They begin at the library where Dr. Figueroa conducted much of her research. Continue reading “Escape Room: Trapped in the 1980s!”

Debut Author Spotlight: January

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 by Katherine

January is a very busy time for publishing, so this month’s list of debut authors is a long one. If you’re interested in seeing a more comprehensive list please visit our catalog.


Green book coverGreen” by Sam Graham-Felsen

Based on Graham-Felsen’s own childhood growing up in Boston in the 1990s, comes this novel of friendship between David Greenfield and Marlon Wellings. David lives in a gentrified neighborhood and is one of the few white kids in his middle school. Marlon lives in public housing and challenges David’s assumptions about black culture. But as their friendship develops, David becomes increasingly aware of how little he actually knows about Marlon’s life, and he learns to recognize his own privilege.


The Chalk Man” by C. J. TudorChalk Man book cover

In the summer of 1986 childhood friends Eddie, Fat Gav, Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky entertained themselves by leaving each other messages—written with chalk stick-figures—around in their sleepy English village. Events take a grim turn when chalk figures appear which lead them to the body of Mickey’s drowned brother and, later, to the body of a teenage girl. A teacher is accused despite a lack of evidence, and when he commits suicide the case is closed. But 30 years later, Mikey returns home to recruit Eddie’s help with a documentary about that summer which will reveal the true killer. The next day, Eddie discovers chalk figures in his home and Mickey’s body is found, sending Eddie on a mission to uncover the truth of that summer.

Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: January”

Single-Creator Comics: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2018 by Dana S

panel from Royal City comic

Hoping to read more broadly in 2018? The library is hosting a version of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and there’s plenty of time to hop on board! If you know me, you know I read tons of comics, so imagine my excitement to see that of 24 challenge tasks, three of them are comics-specific! Some of my favorites are single-creator, meaning the writing and illustrations result from a single person rather than from several collaborators. This is the subject of task #4: Read a book written and illustrated by the same person. Here are a few recommendations. Continue reading “Single-Creator Comics: Read Harder 2018”

Being a Wallflower: Docs About Banksy

Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Still From Exit Through the Gift Shop documentaryThe art of British graffiti artist Bansky has always raised more questions than answers. This mystique is probably why the artist has been a popular topic for documentaries this past decade. Check out these documentaries about Banksy.

Exit Through the Gift Shop DVD coverExit Through the Gift Shop” (2010)

This film tells the story of how an eccentric French documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. The film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the worlds most infamous graffiti artists at work. Continue reading “Being a Wallflower: Docs About Banksy”