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Ask the Author: An Interview With Svetlana Grobman

Next Book Buzz - 10 hours 21 min ago

Book cover for The Education of a TraitorFor this edition of Ask the Author, I am excited to introduce the library’s very own Svetlana Grobman! If you’re a regular DBRL Next reader, you may have already heard about some of her travel adventures or teared up while reading her post about how libraries can change lives.

Grobman has just published her first full-length book, “The Education of a Traitor,” a memoir describing her experience as a Jewish child coming of age in Russia during the height of the Cold War. The book has been described as “An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society.”

DBRL: In “The Education of a Traitor” you tell of your fear and painful sense of isolation as a child. How much of this fear and pain do you think arose from the prejudice you felt growing up Jewish in an anti-Semitic country, and how much from a family life that might be considered dysfunctional by present-day American standards?

SG: The sense of isolation came from both sources, but it was the society that did most of the damage. As for my family, growing up I never thought about it as dysfunctional. Even now I believe that we were a very average family for that time and place. On the bright side, feeling lonely made me a voracious reader. :)

DBRL: So much of this memoir is vividly told, with compelling details of touch and smell and taste. Considering how many years have passed and how distant you are now, geographically, from your childhood in Russia, why do you think these sensory memories stayed with you?

SG: I think that children feel more acutely than adults, taste wise especially. That’s why children like bland food, and as we age, we need more and more spices. Also, nothing smells as good as it did when you were a child. For example, I planted a lilac tree in my American yard, but it just is not as fragrant as the lilacs from my childhood – or that’s how I feel. :) 

Another thing about children is that the sense of fairness is ingrained in their psyche. As adults, we no longer expect things to be always fair. We have seen so much unfairness in our lives that we no longer react to it as strongly as we used to. This is not the case with the children. To them, things that are “unfair” really traumatize them. On top of that, children have no power to change things. This by itself is enough to feed your worst memories.

Also, there is this about memory. As we age, things no longer come to us in chronological order. What we remember the most are the things that shocked or pleased us the most. The rest fades into the background.

DBRL: Your book relates the many ways schoolchildren and the public were indoctrinated to believe in Soviet superiority in all matters. When did you first begin to suspect this wasn’t true?

SG:  There’s one story in my book called “The Young Pioneer.” That story is one of the examples of brainwashing school children into believing that nothing is more important than their country and its morals – not even their families. That story stuck in my mind because that was the first time I, then 9 years old, realized this cannot be true, at least not to me. My family was more important to me than my country, although, at that time, I believed that the reason for that was my personal weakness.

Later, I began paying attention to the messages of our mass media, which were strikingly different from my everyday experiences. For example, our agriculture was “the best” in the world, but we had to import wheat and other products from abroad. Our textile industry was doing great, but the only clothes I saw in the stores were dowdy, etc. It happened slowly, but by the time I turned 13, I had no doubt that everything that the Soviet regime told us was a lie.

DBRL: Can you comment on your choice of title for your memoir?

SG: I’ve been called a traitor several times in my life. The first time, it was my school principal. He called me a traitor because I wanted to transfer to another school. Later on, when I finally decided to leave Russia, many people called me that: people at work, neighbors and especially Soviet officials. In this country, a person can decide to live anywhere she wants, but in Russia in those days, it was considered to be a treacherous act. So, this is the origin of my book title.

DBRL: Have you read any good books recently that you would like to recommend to our readers?

SG: I am a non-fiction reader by far. Just recently, I ‘discovered’ Beryl Markham’s “West With the Night,” which, apparently, impressed even Hemingway. When I read fiction, I mostly go for historical fiction, like “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough, “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin, etc. However, I just recently read “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, and I’d definitely recommend it.

Don’t miss Svetlana’s author talk on Thursday, May 7th at 7 p.m. in the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library. There will be copies of her book available at the event for purchase and signing. You can also buy a physical copy or an ebook on Amazon. If you can’t make it to her talk on May 7th, be sure to visit her website to find out about her other events.

The post Ask the Author: An Interview With Svetlana Grobman appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Ask the Author: An Interview With Svetlana Grobman

DBRL Next - 10 hours 21 min ago

Book cover for The Education of a TraitorFor this edition of Ask the Author, I am excited to introduce the library’s very own Svetlana Grobman! If you’re a regular DBRL Next reader, you may have already heard about some of her travel adventures or teared up while reading her post about how libraries can change lives.

Grobman has just published her first full-length book, “The Education of a Traitor,” a memoir describing her experience as a Jewish child coming of age in Russia during the height of the Cold War. The book has been described as “An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society.”

DBRL: In “The Education of a Traitor” you tell of your fear and painful sense of isolation as a child. How much of this fear and pain do you think arose from the prejudice you felt growing up Jewish in an anti-Semitic country, and how much from a family life that might be considered dysfunctional by present-day American standards?

SG: The sense of isolation came from both sources, but it was the society that did most of the damage. As for my family, growing up I never thought about it as dysfunctional. Even now I believe that we were a very average family for that time and place. On the bright side, feeling lonely made me a voracious reader. :)

DBRL: So much of this memoir is vividly told, with compelling details of touch and smell and taste. Considering how many years have passed and how distant you are now, geographically, from your childhood in Russia, why do you think these sensory memories stayed with you?

SG: I think that children feel more acutely than adults, taste wise especially. That’s why children like bland food, and as we age, we need more and more spices. Also, nothing smells as good as it did when you were a child. For example, I planted a lilac tree in my American yard, but it just is not as fragrant as the lilacs from my childhood – or that’s how I feel. :) 

Another thing about children is that the sense of fairness is ingrained in their psyche. As adults, we no longer expect things to be always fair. We have seen so much unfairness in our lives that we no longer react to it as strongly as we used to. This is not the case with the children. To them, things that are “unfair” really traumatize them. On top of that, children have no power to change things. This by itself is enough to feed your worst memories.

Also, there is this about memory. As we age, things no longer come to us in chronological order. What we remember the most are the things that shocked or pleased us the most. The rest fades into the background.

DBRL: Your book relates the many ways schoolchildren and the public were indoctrinated to believe in Soviet superiority in all matters. When did you first begin to suspect this wasn’t true?

SG:  There’s one story in my book called “The Young Pioneer.” That story is one of the examples of brainwashing school children into believing that nothing is more important than their country and its morals – not even their families. That story stuck in my mind because that was the first time I, then 9 years old, realized this cannot be true, at least not to me. My family was more important to me than my country, although, at that time, I believed that the reason for that was my personal weakness.

Later, I began paying attention to the messages of our mass media, which were strikingly different from my everyday experiences. For example, our agriculture was “the best” in the world, but we had to import wheat and other products from abroad. Our textile industry was doing great, but the only clothes I saw in the stores were dowdy, etc. It happened slowly, but by the time I turned 13, I had no doubt that everything that the Soviet regime told us was a lie.

DBRL: Can you comment on your choice of title for your memoir?

SG: I’ve been called a traitor several times in my life. The first time, it was my school principal. He called me a traitor because I wanted to transfer to another school. Later on, when I finally decided to leave Russia, many people called me that: people at work, neighbors and especially Soviet officials. In this country, a person can decide to live anywhere she wants, but in Russia in those days, it was considered to be a treacherous act. So, this is the origin of my book title.

DBRL: Have you read any good books recently that you would like to recommend to our readers?

SG: I am a non-fiction reader by far. Just recently, I ‘discovered’ Beryl Markham’s “West With the Night,” which, apparently, impressed even Hemingway. When I read fiction, I mostly go for historical fiction, like “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough, “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin, etc. However, I just recently read “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, and I’d definitely recommend it.

Don’t miss Svetlana’s author talk on Thursday, May 7th at 7 p.m. in the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library. There will be copies of her book available at the event for purchase and signing. You can also buy a physical copy or an ebook on Amazon. If you can’t make it to her talk on May 7th, be sure to visit her website to find out about her other events.

The post Ask the Author: An Interview With Svetlana Grobman appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

2015 Summer Reading Sneak Peek

DBRLTeen - 15 hours 11 min ago

2015 Teen Summer Reading Banner
Our annual teen Summer Reading program  will launch Monday, June 1. Area young adults ages 12-18 will be challenged to read for 20 hours, share three book reviews and do seven of our suggested activities. When you finish, you’ll receive a free book and be entered in a drawing for a free black and white Kindle.

In addition to our popular teen summer reading challenge, the library is planning a wide range of free programs in line with this year’s theme, “Every Hero has a Story.” We’ll invite teens to enjoy crafting over lunch, participate in our annual photography contest and showcase their creativity through our cosplay costume con. To receive email reminders of these and other teen programs, sign up for our blog updates

Where Have All the Superheroes Gone?
Thursday, June 4 • 2-4 p.m. –OR– 6-8 p.m.
Friday, June 5 • 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Superheroes want to see the world, too! Drop in today to decorate your own small traveling superhero. Later, take him or her on a summer adventure, snap a photo and send it to us to display in the library throughout July and August. Send or snapshots to adventures@dbrl.org.

Your Super Immune System
Saturday, June 6 • 2-4 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Who knew that human cells could seems so superhuman in their abilities? The immune system fights biological crime throughout the body to ensure safety of innocent cells. Through this convention, we will explore the immune system in detail and act out a comic of the Cellular Superheroes! Led by Danielle Koerner, MU Pre-Med Student. Grades 5-8. Registration begins Tuesday, May 26. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Project Teen: Every Hero has a Story
Get creative with crafts inspired by your favorite graphic novels and comic books. Enjoy a free pizza lunch. Ages 12-18.

Southern Boone County
Public Library
Tuesday, June 9
at 12:00 p.m.
No registration required. Columbia Public Library
Monday, June 15
at 1:00 p.m.
Registration begins
June 2.
To sign up, call
(573) 443-3161. Callaway County
Public Library
Friday, June 19
at 12:00 p.m.
No registration required.

Wii U Family Game Night
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 2015″ or a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8.” Snacks provided. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome.

Columbia Public Library
Thursday, June 11
at 6:00 p.m.
Registration begins
May 26.
To sign up, call
(573) 443-3161 Southern Boone County
Public Library
Thursday, August 6
at 6:00 p.m.
No registration required. Columbia Public Library
Thursday, August 27
at 6:00 p.m.
Registration begins
August 11.
To sign up, call
(573) 443-3161.

“Every Hero Has a Story” Teen Photography Contest
Begins Monday, June 15
Honor a hero in your life by submitting their portrait by August 15 with a short description of their inspiring deeds. Entries may be headshots or photos of your chosen superhero in action. This contest is open to all teens in Boone and Callaway Counties. Winners receive a gift card to Barnes & Noble and their entries will be posted at teens.dbrl.org. Find contest rules and submission guidelines after June 15 at teens.dbrl.org or at your library. Ages 12-18.

Gamer Eve
Monday, June 22 • 6-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Gamers unite! Drop in and play table-top games like “Gloom,” “Guillotine,” or “Ticket to Ride.” Bring your “Magic: The Gathering” cards to challenge other players. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite game! Ages 10 and older.

The Bronze Age to the Avengers
Wednesday, July 1 •  2-3:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
The very first tales were hero tales. They were written in clay, on papyrus and paper as well as being performed before huge crowds in open theaters. These tales are still told today in many other guises. Discuss how the heroes of ancient myths are still present in the books and movies of today. Then create your own versions using ancient techniques in clay, papyrus and paper. Ages 12 and older. Registration begins Tuesday, June 16. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Project Teen: Mask Making
Friday, July 10 • Noon-1:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library
Create a mask for your super side,  silly side, creative side or whoever you have inside you. Enjoy a free pizza lunch. Ages 12-18.

Project Teen: Tremendous T-shirt Art
Bring your t-shirts and redesign them into something Super! We’ll work with bleach and paint, so dress accordingly! There will be free pizza. Ages 12-18.

Columbia Public Library
Monday, July 20 at 1:00 p.m.
Registration begins July 7.
To sign up, call (573) 443-3161. Southern Boone County Public Library
Thursday, July 23 at 12:00 p.m.
No registration required.

Cosplay Costume Con for All Ages
Come to the library dressed as your favorite character! Whether superhero, anime, sci-fi or your own original design, we want to see you as you usually aren’t! Prizes will be given for costumes in different age categories, and participants can pose for some great photo ops. This program is for all ages! No registration required.

Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, July 22
at 6:00 p.m. Callaway County
Public Library
Thursday, July 30
at 6:30 p.m. Southern Boone County
Public Library
Tuesday, August 4
at 6:30 p.m.

Project Teen: Heroic Journeys
Friday, August 7 •  Noon-1:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library
The very first tales were hero tales. They were written in clay, on papyrus and paper as well as being performed before huge crowds in open theaters. The heroes of ancient myths are still present in the books and movies of today. Join us for activities based on heroes old and new. Free pizza lunch. ages 12-18.

Summer Reading Ends
Saturday, August 15
Your story doesn’t end on this day, but Summer Reading does. August 15 is the final day for participants of all ages to claim rewards and enter into the final drawings for Summer Reading incentives.

Originally published at 2015 Summer Reading Sneak Peek.

Categories: More From DBRL...

While the Library is Closed…

DBRL Next - May 1, 2015

Photo of a sign reading open 24 hoursToday, May 1, the library is closed for staff training, and on Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25 we’ll be closed in observance of Memorial Day. While our buildings are closed and the bookmobiles are parked in the garage, don’t forget that the digital branch is always open. Below are just a few of the ways you can use the library this holiday or any day.

photo credit: Tallent Show via photopin cc

The post While the Library is Closed… appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

Free Audiobook Downloads From SYNC

Teen Book Buzz - May 1, 2015

SYNC Free Audiobook Downloads SYNC, a service of AudioFile Magazine, offers free young adult and classic audiobook downloads during the summer months. Through this program, you can download two free audiobook titles each week from May 7 through August 13.

This summer’s lineup includes “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers and “Rose Under Fire” by Elizabeth Wein. The classics available for download include works by Daphne Du Maurier, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Louisa May Alcott and many more!

These audiobooks download directly to your tablet or smartphone using the Overdrive app. View a list of devices compatible with this service. To get started, simply sign up to get notifications of when the free audiobook downloads are available at www.audiobooksync.com. The best part is that these audiobooks are yours to keep forever and ever once you’ve downloaded them!

Originally published at Free Audiobook Downloads From SYNC.

Categories: Book Buzz

Free Audiobook Downloads From SYNC

DBRLTeen - May 1, 2015

SYNC Free Audiobook Downloads SYNC, a service of AudioFile Magazine, offers free young adult and classic audiobook downloads during the summer months. Through this program, you can download two free audiobook titles each week from May 7 through August 13.

This summer’s lineup includes “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers and “Rose Under Fire” by Elizabeth Wein. The classics available for download include works by Daphne Du Maurier, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Louisa May Alcott and many more!

These audiobooks download directly to your tablet or smartphone using the Overdrive app. View a list of devices compatible with this service. To get started, simply sign up to get notifications of when the free audiobook downloads are available at www.audiobooksync.com. The best part is that these audiobooks are yours to keep forever and ever once you’ve downloaded them!

Originally published at Free Audiobook Downloads From SYNC.

Categories: More From DBRL...

A Poem in Your Pocket

Next Book Buzz - April 29, 2015

Poem in Your Pocket Day logoApril 30, the final day of National Poetry Month, is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Unlike most novels, a poem fits neatly in a wallet or pocket and can be easily shared with a coworker, friend, family member, grocery clerk, barista or anyone else you encounter during your day. A few well-chosen words can shine like crystal or feel like sharp truth. Verse can lift you up and make you see your world with new eyes. Poems can make you laugh or weep. They can make you feel less alone.

Observe Poem in Your Pocket Day by choosing your favorite lines and carrying them with you to read and share. Or post them on your Facebook page. Tweet them 140 characters at a time (don’t forget the hashtag #pocketpoem). How you celebrate is up to you.

What? You DON’T HAVE a favorite poem? Well, your friendly neighborhood library can help you out with that.

You can go old school and romantic with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/ Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” You can celebrate nature with Mary Oliver. “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is./ I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,/ how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,/ which is what I have been doing all day.” Visit the surreal with Mark Strand. “There is no happiness like mine./ I have been eating poetry.”

Want more? Check out any of these poetry collections from DBRL:

The post A Poem in Your Pocket appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

A Poem in Your Pocket

DBRL Next - April 29, 2015

Poem in Your Pocket Day logoApril 30, the final day of National Poetry Month, is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Unlike most novels, a poem fits neatly in a wallet or pocket and can be easily shared with a coworker, friend, family member, grocery clerk, barista or anyone else you encounter during your day. A few well-chosen words can shine like crystal or feel like sharp truth. Verse can lift you up and make you see your world with new eyes. Poems can make you laugh or weep. They can make you feel less alone.

Observe Poem in Your Pocket Day by choosing your favorite lines and carrying them with you to read and share. Or post them on your Facebook page. Tweet them 140 characters at a time (don’t forget the hashtag #pocketpoem). How you celebrate is up to you.

What? You DON’T HAVE a favorite poem? Well, your friendly neighborhood library can help you out with that.

You can go old school and romantic with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/ Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” You can celebrate nature with Mary Oliver. “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is./ I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,/ how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,/ which is what I have been doing all day.” Visit the surreal with Mark Strand. “There is no happiness like mine./ I have been eating poetry.”

Want more? Check out any of these poetry collections from DBRL:

The post A Poem in Your Pocket appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

Pizza & Gaming at Columbia Public Library

DBRLTeen - April 28, 2015

PizzaWii U Family Game Night
Columbia Public Library
Thursday, May 14 • 6-7:30 p.m.

Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 2015″ or a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8.” Pizza served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Originally published at Pizza & Gaming at Columbia Public Library.

Categories: More From DBRL...

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List

Next Book Buzz - April 27, 2015

Library Reads Logo April showers bring May flowers and a whole crop of titles you are going to want to add to your holds list. New books from Jane Smiley, Naomi Novik, Kate Atkinson and the late Kent Haruf hit the shelves next month, and there is something here for every type of fiction reader. Whether you want a grown-up fairy tale or historical fiction, sci-fi or a thriller, this month’s list delivers. Here are the top 10 books publishing next month that librarians across the country love.

Book cover for Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted” by Naomi Novik
“A young girl is unexpectedly uprooted from her family and becomes involved in a centuries-old battle with The Wood, a malevolent entity that destroys anyone it touches. Fast-paced, with magic, mystery and romance, Novik’s stand-alone novel is a fairy tale for adults.” – Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library, St. Peters, MO

Book cover for A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas
“The human world is in peril. Feyre, a semi-literate girl, hunts for her family’s survival. After she kills an enormous wolf, a fierce fey shows up at her doorstep seeking retribution. Feyre is led to beautiful eternal springs, but the journey is not without danger. Maas masterfully pulls the reader into this new dark fantasy series which feels like a mix of fairy tales, from Beauty and the Beast to Tam Lin.” – Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH

Book cover for A God in Ruins by Kate AtkinsonA God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson
“In ‘A God in Ruins,’ we become reacquainted with Teddy Todd, the beloved little brother of Ursula from Atkinson’s last book. As with ‘Life After Life,’ this novel skims back and forth in time, and we see the last half of the 20th century through Ted’s eyes and the eyes of his loved ones. At times funny and at others heartbreaking, Atkinson revels in the beauty and horror of life in all its messiness.” – Jennifer Dayton, Darien Library, Darien, CT

And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog so you can place holds on these books hitting our shelves in May.

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List

DBRL Next - April 27, 2015

Library Reads Logo April showers bring May flowers and a whole crop of titles you are going to want to add to your holds list. New books from Jane Smiley, Naomi Novik, Kate Atkinson and the late Kent Haruf hit the shelves next month, and there is something here for every type of fiction reader. Whether you want a grown-up fairy tale or historical fiction, sci-fi or a thriller, this month’s list delivers. Here are the top 10 books publishing next month that librarians across the country love.

Book cover for Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted” by Naomi Novik
“A young girl is unexpectedly uprooted from her family and becomes involved in a centuries-old battle with The Wood, a malevolent entity that destroys anyone it touches. Fast-paced, with magic, mystery and romance, Novik’s stand-alone novel is a fairy tale for adults.” – Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library, St. Peters, MO

Book cover for A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas
“The human world is in peril. Feyre, a semi-literate girl, hunts for her family’s survival. After she kills an enormous wolf, a fierce fey shows up at her doorstep seeking retribution. Feyre is led to beautiful eternal springs, but the journey is not without danger. Maas masterfully pulls the reader into this new dark fantasy series which feels like a mix of fairy tales, from Beauty and the Beast to Tam Lin.” – Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH

Book cover for A God in Ruins by Kate AtkinsonA God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson
“In ‘A God in Ruins,’ we become reacquainted with Teddy Todd, the beloved little brother of Ursula from Atkinson’s last book. As with ‘Life After Life,’ this novel skims back and forth in time, and we see the last half of the 20th century through Ted’s eyes and the eyes of his loved ones. At times funny and at others heartbreaking, Atkinson revels in the beauty and horror of life in all its messiness.” – Jennifer Dayton, Darien Library, Darien, CT

And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog so you can place holds on these books hitting our shelves in May.

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

Thank You for Your Votes! One Read Winner Announced Mid-May

One Read - April 27, 2015

Thank You SignVoting for the 2015 One Read book is now closed. We appreciate all of you who cast your vote for either “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride or “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel.

On May 21 we plan to announce the winning book here at oneread.org.

In the meantime, read more about our finalists!

Photo credit: Avard Woolaver via photopin cc

The post Thank You for Your Votes! One Read Winner Announced Mid-May appeared first on One READ.

Categories: More From DBRL...

All About Dance

DBRL Next - April 24, 2015

Book cover for Mambo in Chinatown by Jean KwokA little while back three people recommended the same book to me over the span of about a month. These folks thought I’d enjoy the latest book by Jean Kwok, author of the previous bestseller “Girl in Translation.” In fact, I had picked up “Mambo in Chinatown” earlier and put it down as ‘not my type’ and so, after the first recommendation, I just said thanks, without comment. After the second recommendation, I had to share a laugh and explain what was going on, but after the third recommendation, which came via e-mail from a casual acquaintance, I decided I was supposed to read this book, my ‘type’ or not! The novel proved to be an entertaining look at ballroom dance, as well as the conflicts inherent in growing up the child of recent American immigrants.

Book cover for Astonish Me by Maggie ShipsteadEver since I took up ballroom dance as a pastime, I have been on the lookout for good books about dance. I recently found one that fit the bill for me. “Astonish Me” by Maggie Shipstead brings to life the story of Joan, an American woman who, in 1977, falls in love with a Soviet ballet dancer, Arslan Rusakov—who is a clearly a fictional version of Mikhail Baryshnikov. Told in time jumps and multiple points of view, this is a story of unrequited love played out in the highly political, passionate world of professional ballet. Written with complexity of character and an intriguing plot and an ending twist that may or may not come as a surprise, the book is highly readable for dancers and non-dancers alike.

Book cover for Dancer by Colum McCannThe world of ballet apparently offers a lot of fictional fodder. “Dancer” by Colum McCann is a colossal literary work that brings to life the extravagant world of Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian peasant whose genius propelled him to become an international ballet legend. Inspired by biographical facts, the story is told through a wide variety of voices, including Nureyev and his contemporaries, from the celebrated to the unknown. Beginning with Nureyev’s youth in Stalin-era Soviet Union and ending with his days of wild abandon in eighties’ New York, “Dancer” encapsulates the legendary artist in a way that captures his true essence, as well as his dazzling façade.

The post All About Dance appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

All About Dance

Next Book Buzz - April 24, 2015

Book cover for Mambo in Chinatown by Jean KwokA little while back three people recommended the same book to me over the span of about a month. These folks thought I’d enjoy the latest book by Jean Kwok, author of the previous bestseller “Girl in Translation.” In fact, I had picked up “Mambo in Chinatown” earlier and put it down as ‘not my type’ and so, after the first recommendation, I just said thanks, without comment. After the second recommendation, I had to share a laugh and explain what was going on, but after the third recommendation, which came via e-mail from a casual acquaintance, I decided I was supposed to read this book, my ‘type’ or not! The novel proved to be an entertaining look at ballroom dance, as well as the conflicts inherent in growing up the child of recent American immigrants.

Book cover for Astonish Me by Maggie ShipsteadEver since I took up ballroom dance as a pastime, I have been on the lookout for good books about dance. I recently found one that fit the bill for me. “Astonish Me” by Maggie Shipstead brings to life the story of Joan, an American woman who, in 1977, falls in love with a Soviet ballet dancer, Arslan Rusakov—who is a clearly a fictional version of Mikhail Baryshnikov. Told in time jumps and multiple points of view, this is a story of unrequited love played out in the highly political, passionate world of professional ballet. Written with complexity of character and an intriguing plot and an ending twist that may or may not come as a surprise, the book is highly readable for dancers and non-dancers alike.

Book cover for Dancer by Colum McCannThe world of ballet apparently offers a lot of fictional fodder. “Dancer” by Colum McCann is a colossal literary work that brings to life the extravagant world of Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian peasant whose genius propelled him to become an international ballet legend. Inspired by biographical facts, the story is told through a wide variety of voices, including Nureyev and his contemporaries, from the celebrated to the unknown. Beginning with Nureyev’s youth in Stalin-era Soviet Union and ending with his days of wild abandon in eighties’ New York, “Dancer” encapsulates the legendary artist in a way that captures his true essence, as well as his dazzling façade.

The post All About Dance appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced

Teen Book Buzz - April 24, 2015

2015 Gateway and Truman WinnersIt turns out that our predictions for the 2015 Gateway and Truman award winners were pretty close. John Green is the recipient of this year’s Gateway Readers Award for his book, “The Fault in Our Stars.”  Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss and life. The library has this title available in print, eBook and audiobook. In fact, we even carry the feature film with Shailene Woodley  and Ansel Elgort. But, be warned, you will have to supply your own tissues.

Congratulations also goes to S.A. Bodeen who is this year’s Truman Readers Award recipient for her book, “The Raft.” Robbie’s last-minute flight to the Midway Atoll proves to be a nightmare when the plane goes down in shark-infested waters. Fighting for her life, the co-pilot Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. This is another amazing survival story written by one of the best suspense writers in YA lit, but that’s just my humble opinion. :)

Originally published at 2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced.

Categories: Book Buzz

2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced

DBRLTeen - April 24, 2015

2015 Gateway and Truman WinnersIt turns out that our predictions for the 2015 Gateway and Truman award winners were pretty close. John Green is the recipient of this year’s Gateway Readers Award for his book, “The Fault in Our Stars.”  Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss and life. The library has this title available in print, eBook and audiobook. In fact, we even carry the feature film with Shailene Woodley  and Ansel Elgort. But, be warned, you will have to supply your own tissues.

Congratulations also goes to S.A. Bodeen who is this year’s Truman Readers Award recipient for her book, “The Raft.” Robbie’s last-minute flight to the Midway Atoll proves to be a nightmare when the plane goes down in shark-infested waters. Fighting for her life, the co-pilot Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. This is another amazing survival story written by one of the best suspense writers in YA lit, but that’s just my humble opinion. :)

Originally published at 2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced.

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Spinning Your Wheels: Docs About Cars

DBRL Next - April 22, 2015

revenge of the electric car

Cars can get us to where we need to go, but sometimes they are tied to greater stories that speak to our lives and dreams. Check out these films that take a look at different roles cars play in our society.

speedo1Speedo” (2003)

Trapped in a failing marriage, demolition-derby driver Ed “Speedo” Jager channels life’s frustrations onto the track, hoping to parlay his talents into a “real” racing career. This film captures the collisions and confrontations during one tumultuous year.

bulletproof salesmanBulletproof Salesman” (2008)

Fidelis Cloer is a self-confessed war profiteer who found the perfect war when the US invaded Iraq. It wasn’t about selling a dozen cars, or even a hundred, it was a thousand-car war where security would become the ultimate product.

revenge of the electric carRevenge of the Electric Car” (2011)

A sequel to the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM and the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to chronicle the story of the global resurgence of electric cars.

The post Spinning Your Wheels: Docs About Cars appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Staff Review: The Accidental Highwayman

DBRLTeen - April 22, 2015

"The Accidental Highwayman" by Ben TrippWhy I Checked it Out: The full title of the book is “The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides. ” This sounded pretty humorous to me, so I picked it up and started reading.

What It’s About: “The Accidental Highwayman” is exactly about what its’ full title implies. Kit Bristol is a servant to a wealthy man, and one day after shopping at the market, returns back to his masters’ home to find his master shot and fully dressed in the costume of the famous highwayman, Whistling Jack. Suddenly, Kit has to become Whistling Jack to survive, is tricked by a witch to save a fairy princess, and lead on an adventure involving trolls, pixies, an evil fairy king and a mad fairy duchess.

What I Liked About It (And, What I Didn’t): The narrative style of “The Accidental Highwayman” is funny and clever. Kit is a pretty comical character, and he has entertaining thoughts about his strange circumstances. I enjoyed the characters in the book and their sometimes absurd behavior. I also enjoyed the historical references that author Ben Tripp makes, as well as his footnotes, but I was not a big fan of the story’s pacing.  Although the book has parts that move fast and make it hard to put down, it also has some parts where nothing really happens, and the story drags.

Similar Titles: “The Accidental Highwayman” is written in a similar swash-buckling style as “The Princess Bride,” so if you enjoy the narrative style, you could give it a try. A few other titles worth looking into, with similar adventures, are “Around the World in 100 Days” and “Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle.

Originally published at Staff Review: The Accidental Highwayman.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Tom Rachman

Next Book Buzz - April 20, 2015

Book cover for The Imperfectionists by Tom RachmanExtra! Extra! Given the size of space, the abundance of ocean and the for-now fictional technology that allows us to shrink humans and put them in a shrunken blood-submarine and send them into a full-size human for reasons of medicine or espionage, there are practically infinite settings for a novel. A great book could be set anywhere: a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a circus, even a pre-apocalyptic wasteland. But a newspaper may be the ultimate setting for a funny and sad novel. The pathos is built in: a building full of people passionate about their work but whose jobs are endangered because their industry is dying, what with the Internet and the world’s growing distaste for paper cuts and things that can’t take pictures of their food. (Proof: while this blog is a runaway success, the copies I write in magic marker on old newspapers and leave scattered about the local reading emporiums along with a note to mail me fifty cents and make a tally mark on a piece of paper and also mail that to me so I can count my readers, have reached, apparently, zero people.)

The international newspaper in “The Imperfectionists” is reaching more readers than my “Gentleman Recommends” circular, but, given its expenses, it is in much greater danger of closing up shop than I am of running out of old newspapers or magic markers (though those things do only have so much ink; please mail me fifty cents). Each chapter gives voice to a new character, and the book is spliced with interludes from the paper’s early days. This framework gives us a story as old as time: rich old man starts a newspaper in order to give a job to and reestablish contact with an old flame. A young journalist has his taste for the work destroyed by a manipulative industry veteran who commandeers his hotel room, laptop and opportunity to cozy up to a lady he fancies. An elderly reader’s home is mostly occupied by newspapers because she reads every word of each issue and is a slow reader and therefore decades behind in the news. There’s a man that inherits a newspaper he knows little about, preferring to spend his time conversing with his tiny dog and feeding it the sort of extravagant meals that had this gentleman scrambling to his mailbox to check for a pile of cents that might allow me to dine in similar opulence. And many, many more!

Tom Rachman also uses the bounce-around-in-time trick to keep the mystery and intrigue thick in his second outstanding novel, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.” You’ll want to have a taste for quirky characters, the sort that wear mismatched shoes intentionally, own bookshops and engage in some half-hearted scamming. Tooly Zylberberg’s past is mysterious, to the reader and herself, and it’s tremendous fun to unravel it via a structure that jumps chapter by chapter from her adulthood, to her young adulthood, to her childhood. Read all about it!

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Tom Rachman appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Tom Rachman

DBRL Next - April 20, 2015

Book cover for The Imperfectionists by Tom RachmanExtra! Extra! Given the size of space, the abundance of ocean and the for-now fictional technology that allows us to shrink humans and put them in a shrunken blood-submarine and send them into a full-size human for reasons of medicine or espionage, there are practically infinite settings for a novel. A great book could be set anywhere: a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a circus, even a pre-apocalyptic wasteland. But a newspaper may be the ultimate setting for a funny and sad novel. The pathos is built in: a building full of people passionate about their work but whose jobs are endangered because their industry is dying, what with the Internet and the world’s growing distaste for paper cuts and things that can’t take pictures of their food. (Proof: while this blog is a runaway success, the copies I write in magic marker on old newspapers and leave scattered about the local reading emporiums along with a note to mail me fifty cents and make a tally mark on a piece of paper and also mail that to me so I can count my readers, have reached, apparently, zero people.)

The international newspaper in “The Imperfectionists” is reaching more readers than my “Gentleman Recommends” circular, but, given its expenses, it is in much greater danger of closing up shop than I am of running out of old newspapers or magic markers (though those things do only have so much ink; please mail me fifty cents). Each chapter gives voice to a new character, and the book is spliced with interludes from the paper’s early days. This framework gives us a story as old as time: rich old man starts a newspaper in order to give a job to and reestablish contact with an old flame. A young journalist has his taste for the work destroyed by a manipulative industry veteran who commandeers his hotel room, laptop and opportunity to cozy up to a lady he fancies. An elderly reader’s home is mostly occupied by newspapers because she reads every word of each issue and is a slow reader and therefore decades behind in the news. There’s a man that inherits a newspaper he knows little about, preferring to spend his time conversing with his tiny dog and feeding it the sort of extravagant meals that had this gentleman scrambling to his mailbox to check for a pile of cents that might allow me to dine in similar opulence. And many, many more!

Tom Rachman also uses the bounce-around-in-time trick to keep the mystery and intrigue thick in his second outstanding novel, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.” You’ll want to have a taste for quirky characters, the sort that wear mismatched shoes intentionally, own bookshops and engage in some half-hearted scamming. Tooly Zylberberg’s past is mysterious, to the reader and herself, and it’s tremendous fun to unravel it via a structure that jumps chapter by chapter from her adulthood, to her young adulthood, to her childhood. Read all about it!

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Tom Rachman appeared first on DBRL Next.

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