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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List

Next Book Buzz - July 25, 2014

Library Reads logoNeed a thriller or a romping romance to take your mind off of the school year’s approach? How about losing yourself in an imagined world via Sci-fi or historical fiction? This month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the top 10 books being published in August that have librarians buzzing.

Book cover for One Kick by Chelsea CainOne Kick
by Chelsea Cain
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at 21, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
- Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ

Book cover for Lucky Us by Amy BloomLucky Us
by Amy Bloom
“Is a family the people you are born to or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm and believable.”
- Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA

Book cover for Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan PhillipsHeroes Are My Weakness
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
- Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

And here is the rest of the list with links to the catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!

 

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List

DBRL Next - July 25, 2014

Library Reads logoNeed a thriller or a romping romance to take your mind off of the school year’s approach? How about losing yourself in an imagined world via Sci-fi or historical fiction? This month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the top 10 books being published in August that have librarians buzzing.

Book cover for One Kick by Chelsea CainOne Kick
by Chelsea Cain
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at 21, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
- Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ

Book cover for Lucky Us by Amy BloomLucky Us
by Amy Bloom
“Is a family the people you are born to or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm and believable.”
- Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA

Book cover for Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan PhillipsHeroes Are My Weakness
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
- Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

And here is the rest of the list with links to the catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!

 

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Reader Review: The Inheritor’s Powder

DBRL Next - July 24, 2014

Book cover for The Inheritor's PowderThe Inheritor’s Powder” follows the case of the 1833 alleged murder of George Bodle, a wealthy man with a complicated will. Unfortunately, it first had to be proven that he was murdered before his murderer could be sentenced, and forensic science was in its infancy. Interspersing trial details with scientific developments, Sandra Hempel details both the progression of arsenic detection in the nineteenth century and the lives that meanwhile hung in the balance. Though captivating, you might want to take notes to keep track of all the names!

Three words that describe this book: fascinating, concerning, and ominous

You might want to pick this book up if: you like crime drama and forensic history.

-Anonymous

The post Reader Review: The Inheritor’s Powder appeared first on DBRL Next.

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The Great War: One Hundred Years Later

DBRL Next - July 23, 2014

Book cover for Poetry of the First World War“Some die shouting in gas or fire;
Some die silent, by shell and shot.
Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
Some die suddenly.  This will not.”
- Rudyard Kipling

June 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I (also known as the First World War). While dozens of military histories have been written about the Somme, Passchendaele and Verdun, great literature and social histories have also emerged about the war. These books try to answer some of the following questions. What remnants of civilized society did soldiers bring with them to these terrible and unearthly battlefields? What were their thoughts? What happened to the cohort of men who lived through combat (known after the war as the “Lost Generation”)? Where and how did European culture survive during and after the war? Look no further than your library for answers to some of these questions.

Book cover for Paris at the End of the WorldParis at the End of the World:  The City of Light During the Great War” by John Baxter is a good starting point. Paris remained a cultural oasis and respite from the trenches for the thousands of  soldiers who passed through the city during the war. “Few people could have felt more lost, more in need of a friendly word, a loving hand,” writes Baxter.  Although the city was quickly pulled under by the currents of war, with many residents fleeing as the Germans advanced in September 1914, “Once the front stabilized, cafes, cabarets, shops, and brothels reopened to brisk business as soldiers were rotated home on leave and Paris swelled with the bureaucracy of war.” Indeed, even in the face of the privations and terror of those years, Pablo Picasso and Eric Satie staged avant-garde performances in several Paris theatres to large and enthusiastic audiences.

Book cover for Good-Bye to All ThatAfter the war ended, a diaspora of British veterans, many of them from the officer class, scattered across the face of the globe, vowing never to return to their homeland. Robert Grave’s “Goodbye to All That is still the classic exemplar of a WWI memoir, with Grave’s time in the trenches as the centerpiece. Graves despised the British class system almost as much as the army, but the working class men who fought under his command loved him. What makes the book so remarkable today is its first-hand and unflinching examination of trench warfare, coupled with a sly humor. “Cuinchy bred rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly,” he writes of his first, pest-infested billet. Graves left for Majorca in 1929, after years of attempting to come to grips with life in post-war England and the terrible wounds and shell shock he suffered.

Soldiers on the front also wrote poetry. Several classic books of WWI poetry have been released over the years, but the most recent arrival is “The Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology.” Romanticism met head-on by the mechanized warfare of the early 20th century generated a vivid amalgamation of terrifying, moving verse. The works of Siegried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy and Wilfred Owen are included in this compilation.  “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, / Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, / Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs / And towards our distant rest began to trudge,” go the first harrowing lines of  “Dulce et Decorum Est,” written by Owen in 1917, shortly before his death.

Six years ago, near the end of her life, Doris Lessing gave us her very last book, “Alfred and Emily.” The first part of the book is fantasy, imagining what it would have been like if her father, Alfred, had never fought and the war had never existed. In reality, her father, maimed by shrapnel, was among the diaspora of veterans mentioned above, ending up in southern Africa where Lessing lived for a great part of her early life. Lessing says, “Even as a child I knew his obsessive talking about the Trenches was a way of ridding himself of the horrors. So I had the full force of the Trenches, tanks, star-shells, shrapnel, howitzers—the lot—through my childhood, and felt as if the black cloud he talked about was there, pressing down on me.”

Finally, we turn to Richard Rubin’s book “The Last of the Doughboys.” In a long push that started in 2003, Rubin interviewed dozens of American veterans between the ages of 101 and 113. The last WWI veteran, worldwide, passed away in 2012. Near the end of the book, Frank Buckles, the last American survivor and a native of Bethany, Missouri, is asked what had changed most in his lifetime, what events transpired that had had the most impact. Rubin writes: “He (Buckles) didn’t hesitate: ‘That little instrument you have there in your pocket,’ he said. My cell phone. I had forgotten to turn it off, and it had rung while we were talking.”

The post The Great War: One Hundred Years Later appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Summer Reading Ends August 2

DBRLTeen - July 23, 2014

GearsOnly two weeks remain for you to complete your Teen Summer Reading Challenge! Stop by any of our three libraries or bookmobile stops with your completed punch card by Saturday, August 2 for a free book. Finishers’ names will also be entered into a drawing for a black & white Kindle eReader and other surprises! If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment, email us at teen@dbrl.org or call (573) 443-3161. It has been a pleasure for our staff to work with the over 300 teens who participated in this year’s program!

Originally published at Summer Reading Ends August 2.

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Reader Review: Under the Eagle

DBRL Next - July 22, 2014

Book cover for Under the Eagle by Samuel HolidayI was drawn to “Under the Eagle” simply to fulfill an idle curiosity I had about the Navajo culture and the Code Talker program. But this book gave me way more than I bargained for.

“Under the Eagle” is a personal story of a quiet, dignified man. It is also a study of Navajo spiritual and cultural traditions and a US history lesson as well, with gripping first-person accounts of the battles for the Pacific Islands of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and others.

As a reader I was immediately drawn in by the unusual format. The introduction (something I don’t usually read but found invaluable in this case) explains that this book is a written oral history. What you read is Samuel Holiday’s story in his own words with no flowery narration to ease transitions or add extra details. Co-author Robert S. McPherson transcribed and edited many hours of recorded interviews with Mr. Holiday, so that what you read is what he said.

Mr. Holiday credits surviving the war to his strong faith  in the Navajo way. As a result, each chapter begins with a Navajo legend important to a particular stage in Mr. Holiday’s life. The legend is followed by Mr. Holiday’s story. Finally, each chapter concludes with a “commentary,” an overview of world events surrounding the eyewitness accounts.

As I read the book, I was appalled (once again) by the way our country has treated minorities. But, I was also amazed and humbled by the way Mr. Holiday and his family adapted to the hardships they encountered. I was impressed how the Navajo spiritual and cultural traditions forged Mr. Holiday into a physically fit young man who was eager to defend his country – the very country who did not treat all of her citizens as equals.

Throughout the war and the many years of suffering in silence from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mr. Holiday maintained a quiet dignity. I would be honored to shake this man’s hand and thank him for sharing his story with the world. Books like this remind us that there are quiet heroes all around us. It also keeps us from forgetting the many who didn’t make it back.

Three words that describe this book: Heroic, Historic, Riveting

You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in World War II history and native American mythology.

-Melanie

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New DVD: “Moms Mabley”

Center Aisle Cinema - July 21, 2014

momsmableyWe recently added “Moms Mabley” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown last year on HBO and currently has a rating of 90% from audiences at Rotten Tomatoes . Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

Jackie “Moms” Mabley was an African-American stand-up comic and showbiz pioneer who emerged from the Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American Vaudeville to become a mainstream star on the stage and TV. Mabley pushed the boundaries of comedy by tackling topics such as gender, sex, and racism, making her one of the first taboo-pushing comedians on the comedy circuit. Once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World”, she performed up until her death in 1975. Whoopi Goldberg directs and appears.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Daniel Woodrell

Next Book Buzz - July 21, 2014

Book cover for The Maid's Version by Daniel WoodrellConsecutively devouring ten books by the same author is not without its hazards. That such an undertaking insisted on itself proves it worthy, and surely being squarely in the grip of a master yarn-spinner is nothing to raise a fuss over. But might the immersion in such a distinct style cause a gentleman to subconsciously drift toward a foolish imitation unworthy of the inspiration? Might the constant brutality perpetrated by hill-folk not warp one’s perceptions until they find themselves cowering from anyone with a downhome drawl or countrified attire? Perhaps one would find themselves either desperately craving or spectacularly repulsed by squirrel meat.

Anyhow, at the risk of extending an unkindness to three, I’d venture that seven of Daniel Woodrell’s books are masterpieces. The three I’d omit from this designation make up “The Bayou Trilogy,” his first, third and fourth books. Focusing on the ex-boxer and current detective Rene Shade, these books are fun, fast reads and about as good of a character study as you’ll find filed in the crime section of a place that obsessively segregates their genres. They just don’t pack the wallop of his other works.

I’d judge his second book to pack a mighty punch. “Woe to Live On” is narrated by a Civil War rebel. Despite his allegiance and tendency to murder boys because “pups become hounds,” Woodrell, as great writers do, earns the reader’s empathy.

After completing “The Bayou Trilogy,” Woodrell began writing about the seedier, grislier aspects of his home, the Ozarks. “Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir” is the blood and booze-soaked ride its subtitle implies. “Tomato Red” chronicles the hazards of vandalizing a golf course and a drifting, meth-dabbling lifestyle. “The Death of Sweet Mister” tells of a particularly troubled spell in a 12-year-old boy’s life, offers maybe my second favorite of Woodrell’s voices, and ends with a devastating sentence I’d like to talk about but for my aversion to goose-pimples. His most well-known book, “Winter’s Bone,” is such in large part because of the award-winning film adaptation. But I’d urge you to read it regardless of your familiarity with the movie. I reckon the dread conjured on its pages cannot be replicated by city-folk and their fancy lights and transparent plastics. “The Outlaw Album” is a collection of short, brutal stories.

His most recent book, the one with my favorite of his voices and the one that lead me down Woodrell’s backwater rabbit-hole, is “The Maid’s Version.” A fictionalized recounting of a real dance hall explosion in a small Missouri town, this novel attached me to characters in a matter of sentences before whisking them away and into pieces. If you’re the sort to deface books, there are sentences worthy of a highlighter. The perils of that act would be facing a dried-up highlighter and a thoroughly emphasized text.

Woodrell’s characters often behave downright ungentlemanly, what with the murder, spousal abuse, robberies and squirrel eating, but this grisliness is rendered in prose poetry so sharp you’ll have a gamy taste in your mouth, a hankering for mid-morning rum and a healthy suspicion of anyone from down Ozarks way. (I’ve read they’re apt to steal your prescriptions.)

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Daniel Woodrell appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Daniel Woodrell

DBRL Next - July 21, 2014

Book cover for The Maid's Version by Daniel WoodrellConsecutively devouring ten books by the same author is not without its hazards. That such an undertaking insisted on itself proves it worthy, and surely being squarely in the grip of a master yarn-spinner is nothing to raise a fuss over. But might the immersion in such a distinct style cause a gentleman to subconsciously drift toward a foolish imitation unworthy of the inspiration? Might the constant brutality perpetrated by hill-folk not warp one’s perceptions until they find themselves cowering from anyone with a downhome drawl or countrified attire? Perhaps one would find themselves either desperately craving or spectacularly repulsed by squirrel meat.

Anyhow, at the risk of extending an unkindness to three, I’d venture that seven of Daniel Woodrell’s books are masterpieces. The three I’d omit from this designation make up “The Bayou Trilogy,” his first, third and fourth books. Focusing on the ex-boxer and current detective Rene Shade, these books are fun, fast reads and about as good of a character study as you’ll find filed in the crime section of a place that obsessively segregates their genres. They just don’t pack the wallop of his other works.

I’d judge his second book to pack a mighty punch. “Woe to Live On” is narrated by a Civil War rebel. Despite his allegiance and tendency to murder boys because “pups become hounds,” Woodrell, as great writers do, earns the reader’s empathy.

After completing “The Bayou Trilogy,” Woodrell began writing about the seedier, grislier aspects of his home, the Ozarks. “Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir” is the blood and booze-soaked ride its subtitle implies. “Tomato Red” chronicles the hazards of vandalizing a golf course and a drifting, meth-dabbling lifestyle. “The Death of Sweet Mister” tells of a particularly troubled spell in a 12-year-old boy’s life, offers maybe my second favorite of Woodrell’s voices, and ends with a devastating sentence I’d like to talk about but for my aversion to goose-pimples. His most well-known book, “Winter’s Bone,” is such in large part because of the award-winning film adaptation. But I’d urge you to read it regardless of your familiarity with the movie. I reckon the dread conjured on its pages cannot be replicated by city-folk and their fancy lights and transparent plastics. “The Outlaw Album” is a collection of short, brutal stories.

His most recent book, the one with my favorite of his voices and the one that lead me down Woodrell’s backwater rabbit-hole, is “The Maid’s Version.” A fictionalized recounting of a real dance hall explosion in a small Missouri town, this novel attached me to characters in a matter of sentences before whisking them away and into pieces. If you’re the sort to deface books, there are sentences worthy of a highlighter. The perils of that act would be facing a dried-up highlighter and a thoroughly emphasized text.

Woodrell’s characters often behave downright ungentlemanly, what with the murder, spousal abuse, robberies and squirrel eating, but this grisliness is rendered in prose poetry so sharp you’ll have a gamy taste in your mouth, a hankering for mid-morning rum and a healthy suspicion of anyone from down Ozarks way. (I’ve read they’re apt to steal your prescriptions.)

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Daniel Woodrell appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Program Preview: Color Explosion

DBRLTeen - July 21, 2014

Color Art

The Southern Boone County Public Library will be hosting “Color Explosion” on Friday, August 1 from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. Learn about the science of dyes and mixing and matching color while you create your own tie-dyed t-shirt. We’ll supply the shirts. All ages.

If you consider yourself crafty, you might check out these fun and artistic titles the next time you visit the library. They provide great inspiration for your next project.

Originally published at Program Preview: Color Explosion.

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Sixth Summer Reading Gift Card Winner Announced

DBRL Next - July 18, 2014

TrophyCongratulations to Xander, a Columbia patron, for winning our sixth Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer.  He is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

You can still register for Adult Summer Reading at any of our branch locations or Bookmobile stops or register online.  Also, don’t forget that submitting book reviews increases your chances of winning the prize drawings.  We have two drawings left this summer, so keep your fingers crossed.

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Dracula, and Other Literary Pet Names

DBRL Next - July 18, 2014

Photo of a dog with a bookAs you may already be aware, we have a lot of books here at the library. The number of books the library has on different niche subjects always amazes me. We have books on topics that I didn’t even know existed! For example, I recently discovered that we have a few books dedicated to naming one’s pets. Inspired by these books, as well as a recent post on the literary blog BookRiot, I decided to come up with some literary names for pets (with the help of some coworkers and friends). Here is the resulting list of book-inspired animal names. Feel free to steal them.

Literary names for dogs (Bonus game: if you don’t already know, guess which books these names came from. Click on the links to see the answers.)

  • Rooster - Mattie, the protagonist of this book would also work, or even Portis, the author’s last name.
  • Primrose - if I ever get a tiny terrier, I volunteer as tribute to use this name!
  • Snowy - another good name for a (white) terrier.
  • Oliver - a pet name with a literary Twist!
  • Daisy - a classic pet name that could also be a reference to a classic book.
  • Atticus, or, of course, Scout.
  • Charley - for the French poodle.
  • Hank - perfect for a cowdog!

Literary names for cats

  • Photo of a cat on a bookshelfCrookshanks - Hermoine Granger’s cat, which is part Kneazle. (Kneazle wouldn’t be a bad name either.)
  • Pete - an obvious one, but still pretty cute.
  • Seuss or Hat, though that might get confusing.
  • Jane - for classic book lovers.
  • Dracula! I am definitely using this one if I ever get another cat.
  • Langston - a great writer with a great name.
  • Franny or Zooey.
  • Ramona or Beezus.

Literary names for fish

  • Coraline, but really, what Neil Gaiman character doesn’t make a good pet name? Shadow, Mazikeen, Thorn - if you’re a Gaiman fan, then you’ve got lots of options.
  • Babel -  just don’t try to stick it in your ear!
  • Walden - you know, like the pond.
  • Kilgore Trout - the disgruntled prolific science-fiction author.
  • Dorian - for your Wilde little pet!
  • Captain Ahab - or you could call it Ishmael.

Do you have a perfect literary pet name? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credits
Dog photo: betta design via photopin cc
Cat photo: Mandee Carter via photopin cc

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Reader Review: What Should We Be Worried About?

DBRL Next - July 17, 2014

whatshouldwebeworriedaboutIf you think you’ve already got plenty of things to worry about, think again. The “worries” presented in this book will give you a whole new flock of ideas that never crossed your mind before. A compilation of mini-essays by scientists, professors, journalists and other great minds, this book poses the question, “what should we be worried about?” and shares answers – sometimes enlightening, sometimes nearly ridiculous.

The topics in this book cover everything - artificial intelligence, space exploration, technological innovation, human interactions, global warming, and the list goes on. Yet even those subjects which may seem dry and worn out are presented with a fresh perspective, and for every potential item of worry that one contributor may find especially concerning, it is often countered with an opposing opinion.

This broad array of opinions and ideas makes for a fascinating read, but overall, I think this book could have been about half the length. You can only cover the topic of worry and of why we should or shouldn’t be worried about this or that so many times before it starts to feel old and worn out. I enjoyed it, but I was ready to put it down quite a few pages before it was over.

Three words that describe this book: science, ideas, problems

You might want to pick this book up if: You like picking the brains of other great thinkers and stretching your mind with hypothetical situations, and if you don’t mind a bit of redundancy in thematic material.

-Mary Beth

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Program Preview: Doctor Who Celebration

DBRLTeen - July 17, 2014

TardisCalling all Doctor Who fans! Jump in your TARDIS and visit the library circa 2014 to join us for games, trivia and activities based on the British science fiction TV series. A sonic screwdriver may be involved. Costumes optional.

Teens and adults can celebrate at the Southern Boone County Public Library on Tuesday, July 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fans of all ages, including children, are invited to celebrate at the Callaway County Public Library on Thursday, July 31 from 6:30-8 p.m.

Originally published at Program Preview: Doctor Who Celebration.

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Docs Around Town: July 18 – July 24

Center Aisle Cinema - July 17, 2014

lifeitself

July 18: Life Itself” starts at Ragtag. (via)
July 19: The Case of the Three Sided Dream” starts at Ragtag. (via)
July 21: The Underground History of Science” 5:30 p.m. at  Ragtag. (via)

 

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“My Way to Olympia” on August 13th

Center Aisle Cinema - July 16, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 • 6:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room

My Way to Olympia” (60 min.) is an insightful and funny documentary about the Paralympics. Who better to cover the Paralympics, the international sporting event for athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, than Niko von Glasow, the world’s best-known disabled filmmaker? Even though the filmmaker dislikes sports and thinks the games are “a stupid idea,” von Glasgow serves as an endearing guide to London’s Paralympics competition. The screening is a collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.

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The Sixth Extinction: Are We Engineering Our Own Demise?

DBRL Next - July 16, 2014

Book cover for The Sixth ExtinctionIt all started with “Titans of the Ice Age.” This past winter my son and I watched this Imax film at the St. Louis Science Center. It depicts life on earth approximately 14,000 years ago, when giant mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and other ferocious creatures roamed frozen North America. Though the reasons are still speculative, these and other megafauna were extinguished when this most recent ice age ended and the glaciers retreated. Toward the end of the film, the narrator ponders whether the megafauna of our present times (elephants, bison and tigers) will go the way of their ancient cousins due to human-induced climate change and habitat destruction.

This film set me to wondering about extinction and its causes, and since I lean toward worry about the state of our planet and whether it can sustain all of our human habits, I started rooting around for information. I discovered that extinctions have occurred many times over the course of the last four billion years, including five massive events. It brought me odd comfort to know that the causes of these massive die-offs couldn’t have been prevented and were caused by external forces (e.g., a meteorite hitting earth and intensive and prolonged volcanic activity). Amazingly, each time life was virtually wiped from the face of the earth, new and different forms were born and proliferated.

Now we are presented with the possibility of another mass extinction event. This time though, the cataclysmic force is not external but brought on by humankind’s extreme alteration of the planet. In her book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” Elizabeth Kolbert’s research tracks the disappearance of species millions of years ago. And she documents what is currently taking place – the loss of specific life forms, at alarming rates – by visiting research stations around the world and querying scientists who are carefully monitoring these vanishing animals.

Book cover for The Fate of The SpeciesIn “The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It,” Fred Guterl addresses a number of circumstances that could lead to human demise, including superviruses and climate change. He explains how our success with technology brought us to this precipice, and how using technology will be our best chance of saving ourselves.

If you need a visual aid to demonstrate the profound human-induced planet change that has occurred, watch “Manufactured Landscapes,” a documentary on the art of Edward Burtynsky. His photographs are exquisitely beautiful compositions of devastation done to Mother Earth in the name of economic progress. His range covers oil fields and refineries, quarries, dam building, mounds of trash and so on. Although he makes a point not to politicize his work, leaving it up to the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions, to me the message is clear: humankind has and continues to drastically alter the earth in harmful and unsustainable ways.

If you’re less inclined to read about the earth’s mass extinctions you could learn about them by watching the television series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the second episode (“Some of the Things That Molecules Do”), he takes the viewer on a visit to the Halls of Extinction and explains the cause of the “Great Dying” (or “Permian Holocaust”) that occurred 251 million years ago. This was the whopper of the five mass extinctions with nine out of 10 animals being erased from the planet and was likely the result of massive and sustained (over thousands of years) volcanic activity in Siberia. This activity generated heat and toxic fumes so intense that the seas dried up and most land animals suffocated. Tyson covers a lot of material in this episode, and I was hoping for information on the other mass extinctions, but he alludes to these being covered in future episodes.  I’ll have to check out the rest of the series over the course of the summer–the computer-generated graphics and animation are amazing!  And I can peruse DBRL’s collection for other DVDs on extinction, and you can, too.

The post The Sixth Extinction: Are We Engineering Our Own Demise? appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Reader Review: Oryx and Crake

DBRL Next - July 15, 2014

Book cover for Oryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodIn a terrifying future world, Jimmy (“Snowman”) tells the story of the downfall of mankind and his part in that fall. I enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s narrative style and lush imagination. “Oryx and Crake” reads as a cautionary tale. The world she imagines could come to fruition if humanity stays the present course. Word of warning: this book contains significant profanity and adult themes. No children please!

Three words that describe this book: evocative cautionary tale

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy post-apocalyptic imaginings and dark humor. Also, if you don’t mind some rather prolific profanity.

-Jennifer

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New DVD: “Narco Cultura”

Center Aisle Cinema - July 14, 2014

narcocultura

We recently added “Narco Cultura” to the DBRL collection. The film currently has a rating of 89% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

To a growing number of Mexicans and Latinos in the Americas, narco-traffickers have become icons, glorified by musicians who praise their fame and success. In this new constituency, they represent a pathway out of the ghetto, nurturing a new American dream fueled by money, drugs, and violence. The film is an explosive look at the drug cartels’ pop culture influence on both sides of the border as seen through the eyes of an LA narcocorrido singer and a Juarez crime scene investigator.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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What’s New and Local at Your Library: Into the Dark Places

Next Book Buzz - July 14, 2014

Book cover for Everyone Dies in the EndBook cover for The Weight of BloodI could call this post “What’s New and Sinister at Your Library,” as I’ll discuss two Mid-Missouri authors who have decided to lead us on journeys through the dark side.

If you missed Laura McHugh’s author talk in June, you’ll have a chance to catch her at the Columbia Public Library on September 18, when she’ll be leading a book discussion of this year’s One Read selection, “The Boys in the Boat.”  Her own book, “The Weight of Blood” is hyper-local, much of it having been written in the Quiet Reading Room at the Columbia Public Library. The novel centers around two cases of missing persons, a generation apart.

Lucy Dane’s mother disappeared when Lucy was a small child. Rumors about Lila Dane, a mysterious outsider who married a local, have swirled around the tiny Ozarks town of Henbane ever since. Years later, when Lucy is in high school, her friend Cheri vanishes, as well. Unlike Lila, Cheri turns up eventually – dead. In a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, nobody has answers for Lucy about what happened to either young woman. But she is determined to find out.

McHugh looks at parts of American life that many of us would be happy to ignore. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, both present and past. The tension builds as the two timelines draw together to reveal the scope of what has been, and still is, happening.

Everyone Dies in the End” by Brian Katcher is equal parts dark and funny. Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft wrote a romantic comedy. This young adult novel relates what a student journalist finds when he digs too deep. And by deep, I mean think about undead creatures that dwell underground.

Sherman Andrews has goals, dreams, ambitions. And he packs them all along with him to the Missouri Scholars’ Academy the summer before his senior year of high school. There he becomes involved with an ace library assistant (the love interest) who helps him investigate a series of unsolved deaths and disappearances from the 1930s. There are obstacles, of course – threats from people who don’t want the truth uncovered, a source who might or might not be delusional, the occasional supernatural manifestation…

Both books contain a scare factor as the characters encounter evil in different forms, but both also have characters who stand up to the evil and shine a light into the darkness.

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