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Three Books (and One Film) to Mark World AIDS Day

DBRL Next - November 30, 2015

Book cover for And the Band Played OnWorld AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

This annual event also raises awareness about HIV/AIDS and promotes prevention and the search for a cure. Much misinformation still exists about who has the disease and how it is spread.

The following brief list of books (and one film) is an effort to provide good information about the history and impact of HIV/AIDS on both a personal and a global level.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the Aids Epidemic” by Randy Schilts
Published in 1987, this riveting and important work of investigative journalism details how AIDS was allowed to spread unchecked in the early ’80s, virtually ignored by government institutions. Widely lauded as a “modern classic,” Schilts’ account reads like a medical thriller.

Book cover for The Invisible CureThe Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the fight against AIDS” by Helen Epstein
The majority of HIV-positive people worldwide live in Africa. “The Invisible Cure” is a provocative analysis of the AIDS epidemic that looks at the social, economic and political factors that have caused and exacerbated the situation, its impact on gender relations and the spread of HIV. In addition to presenting the devastating effects of the disease on entire countries on that continent, Epstein offers possible solutions to the crisis.

Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of Aids” by Dale Peck
Part memoir, part extended essay, this book is a foray into what the author calls “the second half of the first half of the AIDS epidemic,” i.e., the period between 1987, when the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded, and 1996, when the advent of combination therapy transformed AIDS from a virtual death sentence into a chronic manageable illness. Gritty, powerful and raw.

How to Survive a Plague,” directed by David France
This documentary, shown at the 2012 True/False Film Festival, tells the story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic, demanded the attention of a fearful nation and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time.

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Suggested One Read: Give Us the Ballot

One Read - November 29, 2015

Book cover for Give Us The Ballot by Ari BermanThe Daniel Boone Regional Library will be accepting nominations for the 2016 One Read book for just one more day! Make your suggestion at any of our branches, on the bookmobile or online.

In January, a reading panel will consider all of the books nominated. In the meantime, we are highlighting some of your suggestions here at

One recent nomination is “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” by Ari Berman. This book is a groundbreaking narrative history of voting rights since 1965, telling the story of what happened after passage of the Voting Rights Act. This act enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. Our nominator writes, “Our country and our community are obviously still struggling with race, representation, political power and the basic concept of democracy. I think it would be great to have a community-wide discussion on these topics.”

What one book tells a story you think the whole community should know and discuss? Make a nomination today!

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The Gift of Inspiration: Books for the Readers on Your List

DBRL Next - November 27, 2015

Book cover for Big Magic by Elizabeth GilbertWhatever your feelings about Black Friday, today kicks off the holiday shopping season. Personally, I like to spend the day after Thanksgiving in my pajamas, reading and recovering from a hefty pie hangover. However, I realize others enjoy that bargain-hunting buzz. Here are some books that can help us all.

For the readers on your list, give them the gift of inspiration and pick up one of these uplifting titles. Or, if you are staying home the Friday after Thanksgiving (or visiting the library – we’re open), check out one of these books for yourself. These moving and motivating books provide stories of perseverance and advice for living – both serious and humorous – and may just inspire you to write that play or start that business. Or at least get up off of the couch. (Book descriptions provided by their publishers.)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us.

Book cover for Find a Way by Diana NyadFind a Way” by Diana Nyad
On September 2, 2013, at the age of 64, Diana Nyad emerged onto the shores of Key West after completing a 110 mile, 53 hour, record-breaking swim through shark-infested waters from Cuba to Florida. Her memoir shows why, at 64, she was able to achieve what she couldn’t at 30 and how her repeated failures contributed to her success.

Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living” by Jason Gay
Little Victories is a life guide for people who hate life guides. Whether the subject is rules for raising the perfect child without infuriating all of your friends, rules for how to be cool (related: Why do you want to be cool?) or rules of thumb to tell the difference between real depression and just eating five cupcakes in a row, Gay’s essays – whimsical, practical and occasionally poignant – will make you laugh and then think, “You know, he’s kind of right.”

Rising Strong” by Brené Brown
The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. The author of the bestsellers “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” tells us what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle, Brown writes, can be our greatest call to courage, and rising strong our clearest path to a wholehearted life.

Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes
In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” and executive producer of “How to Get Away with Murder” reveals how saying “yes” changed her life – and how it can change yours too.

Have inspirational books of your own to recommend? Let us know in the comments.

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Suggested One Read: This Changes Everything

One Read - November 25, 2015

Book cover for This Changes Everything by Naomi KleinAll month Daniel Boone Regional Library is taking your nominations for One Read 2016 and highlighting some of the suggestions we’ve received so far.

An area reader nominated “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein. In this work of nonfiction, Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Our nominator thinks this would make a great One Read because “climate change is changing every person’s life on this planet, yet a significant number of people have been brainwashed into thinking it is a hoax. This book talks about how we can use this crisis to make a positive change in the world.”

Have a suggestion of your own? You still have a few days to let us know what you think our community should read in 2016 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile, or online at

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Presence of Absence: Docs With Subjects Who Barely Appear on Film

DBRL Next - November 25, 2015

hermans house

Most documentary filmmakers who want to tell a story about an individual try to gather footage of their subject. But what if you don’t have access to the person, or you want to take a different storytelling approach by not showing the individual? Whether by choice or not, documentary filmmakers who barely have their subjects appear on film offer a unique kind of documentary experience that tries to reveal more about a subject by their absence rather than their presence.

herman's houseHerman’s House” (2013)

The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in “Herman’s House,” a feature documentary that follows the story of one of America’s most famous inmates, Herman Wallace, as he collaborates with a New York artist on a unique project.

Kurt Cobain: kurt cobain about a sonAbout a Son” (2008)

A rare and personal portrait of a boy who becomes a musician, a husband, a rock star, a father and a songwriter whose words have touched millions. Cobain’s story unfolds through his own narrative assembled from more than 25 hours of audio-taped conversations, never before made public.

dear mr wattersonDear Mr. Watterson” (2013)

Calvin & Hobbes took center stage when it appeared in comics in 1985. A decade later, when Bill Watterson retired his strip, millions of readers felt the void. Here is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip has made such an impact on so many readers.

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Suggested One Read: Bettyville

One Read - November 24, 2015

Book cover for Bettyville by George HodgmanWe are currently taking your suggestions for our 2016 One Read title, and we’ll be highlighting some of these books here at so you can see what other community members are reading and enjoying. All of these titles will be considered by our reading panel as they begin narrowing the list of suggestions. Let us know what you think our community should read in 2016 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile or online at by November 30.

First up is “Bettyville” by George Hodgman. Our nominator writes, “[Bettyville] is universal and also local. This is the story of the relationship between a son and mother, the inner workings of a family, growing up gay, growing up in a small town, working as an editor in New York, love and commitment, coping with Alzheimer’s – there is something for everyone!”

What one book do you think our community should read together in 2016? Nominate a book today!

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Comedy Club: Memoirs by Female Comedians

DBRL Next - November 23, 2015

Book cover for Tina Fey's BossypantsLike many readers, I was charmed by Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” Though it’s already a cliché, I’ll admit that my favorite part of the memoir was “The Rules of Improvisation that Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat.” Sadly, I have not experienced a reduction in belly fat, but the falsity of that claim was disclosed in the footnote, so the period of jubilant hope was a short one. Fey exhorts us not only to say yes but also to say “Yes, and.” I know that I can always use a reminder to contribute, whether to an improv set, a project at the office or dinner plans.

On that note, yes, “Bossypants” was a delightful read, and here are a few other memoirs by female comedians that I found delightful as well.

Book cover for Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingI am never one to skip a “Mindy Project” episode or a book by Mindy Kaling. “Why Not Me?” is her latest, but I’ll admit to being fonder of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns),” which is a more straightforward memoir (with all the kookiness you’d expect). “Why Not Me?” overall feels less substantial, more joke than the kind of meaty substance I want in a memoir. But it’s a quick, fun read, and Mindy fans would be remiss in skipping it.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee” isn’t for all readers. (Note that the book contains both explicit language and images.) But if you find Sarah Silverman’s provocative variety of funny . . . well, funny, then check out her memoir. Silverman allows readers a glimpse into her childhood, including (as you may have guessed) a propensity to wet the bed far beyond the typical bed-wetting years. She also talks about her struggle with depression during her teen years and her journey to becoming a comedian.

Book cover for Kelly Oxford's Everything is Perfect When You're a LiarTwitter sensation Kelly Oxford proves her writing skills extend past the 140-character limit in “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar.” Be warned that this isn’t a book about Twitter — go there instead for one-liners. If you’re interested in her backstory and a more traditional narrative, you’ll enjoy her tales of the struggles of adolescence and the trials of parenthood.

Last but never least, no list about female comedians would be complete without the incorrigible Joan Rivers. This isn’t a memoir — or even a book — but I can’t recommend the funny and heartfelt documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” highly enough. Rivers’ swank New York City apartment has to be seen to be believed, but her tireless drive to work is the most remarkable reveal.

On My To-Read List:

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Get Help With Your Holiday Photo Gifts

DBRL Next - November 20, 2015

Studio CameraFor many, this is the time of year to begin crafting  handmade gifts for the holiday season. Perhaps the easiest, most popular gifts to make are those incorporating personal photos. From quilts to coffee mugs, you can personalize just about anything with a digital photograph.

To help you get ahead of your gift-giving game, the library will be offering several photography-related classes. Because space is limited, registration is required for all our technology classes. To sign-up, simply call (573) 443-3161.

Working With Digital Photos
Thursday, December 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Training Center
Using Google’s free Picasa software, learn to move digital images from your camera to a Windows computer or online album, do basic editing and share pictures. Windows computers only. Registration is already underway.

Photo Story for iPad
Friday, December 4, 2-4 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Studio
Using the Shutterfly Photo Story app, learn how to create photo books in time for the holiday season. This class is for intermediate and advanced technology users. Bring your iPad and your Apple ID. Registration begins Friday, November 20.

Apple OS X Photos for Beginners
Thursday, December 10, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Studio
We’ll discuss how to use Apple Photos for Mac desktops and laptops, including basic photo editing techniques, organization and how to move digital images from your camera to a computer. Bringing a Mac laptop is optional. Registration begins Monday, November 23.

For added inspiration, you might also check out our collection of photo craft books. Some of my personal favorites include “Photojojo! Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas,” “Make & Give: Simple and Modern Crafts to Brighten Every Day” and “Photocraft: Cool Things to Do With the Pictures You Love.”

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Film Adaptation of “Room” by Emma Donoghue

DBRL Next - November 18, 2015

Ragtag CinemaRoom by Emma Donoghue will be debuting the film adaptation of “Room” by Emma Donoghue this Friday, November 20. This movie has been generating a lot of Oscar buzz, so now’s a good time to grab a copy from the library before film awards season begins in earnest.

“Room” is the story of five-year-old Jack who has lived his entire life in a tiny fortified garden shed with his kidnapped mother. I’m not gonna lie; it’s a tough read. It echos the gruesome experiences of real-life abduction victims Jaycee Lee Dugard and Amanda Berry.

However, since the story is told entirely from the child’s perspective, the reader focuses more on the relationship between Jack and his mother and less on their abuser, Old Nick. For some people, Jack’s voice presents an opportunity for some unique and creative storytelling. For others, though, having such a dark tale told from a child’s perspective is a deal-breaker, and they feel compelled to put the book down.

Since Donoghue also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, I’m hopeful that it will remain faithful the major themes of the book. Ultimately, this story is a testament to the bond shared between parent and child.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Patrick deWitt (again)

DBRL Next - November 16, 2015

Book cover for Undermajordomo MinorKeen readers might notice this is the second time I’ve recommended Patrick deWitt’s work. Some will exclaim, “Sir, are there not a practically infinite number of worthy writers to recommend? Why recommend an author twice?” I will respond, “Indeed, there is a seemingly endless sea of writers deserving of my endorsement, but several factors conspire to cause a repeat recommendation of his work. I’m particularly enamored with Mr. deWitt’s writing. His newest novel was published subsequent to my previous recommendation and it is amazing. And while some quick and dubious math tells me I read upwards of 8,000 books a year, I cannot read everything, but I did recently read “Undermajordomo Minor.” Furthermore, as I saunter around town twirling my cane and mustache, my query of, ‘Have you yet mined the depths of Patrick deWitt’s talents?’ is nearly always met with either confusion, averted eyes or a non-sequiturial admonishment to ‘be careful with that cane, you nearly hit my baby.’ (I’ve said this countless times, but I will reiterate here: I never twirl my cane with anything less than utmost precision, and your baby could stand to toughen up.) Clearly, I have not been sufficiently persuasive. So until passersby respond to my deWitt-centric interrogations with a tip of their headgear and an enthusiastic, ‘Yes. And by the way, you are rather precise in the manner with which you twirl both your mustache and your cane,’ I must continue to espouse the virtues of Mr. deWitt’s work.”

So, to espouse, “Undermajordomo Minor” is a dryly hilarious novel containing brilliant sentences, memorable characters, an uncanny setting and a captivating plot. The word choices alone were enough for decorum to dictate that I employ my trusted chuckle hankie to mitigate the unseemly act of laughing. The novel’s other assets mandated that I draw my chuckle curtains.

This sort of fairy tale concerns a young man named Lucien (Lucy) Minor. Lucy isn’t sure what to make of his life, and so when that time comes, as it does in every young man’s life I assume, when a man draped in burlap asks, “What do you want from life?” Lucy responds, “Something to happen.” And so something does. The man in burlap seemingly transfers Lucy’s life-threatening illness to Lucy’s cruel father. Lucy secures work in a majordomo’s castle and buys a pipe. The pipe makes him cough. On the train ride to the castle seeds are planted for a relationship with a father and son pickpocket team. Lucy’s new pipe is pickpocketted. Once arriving at the castle grounds, Lucy finds himself in the midst of a very small war. A handful of men fire rifles at each other and ask for Lucy’s nonexistent valuables. Once he manages to secure entry to the castle, he is entreated to always lock his door at night. He is made aware of the “Very Large Hole.” Eventually, having disregarded his curfew, he comes across a ghastly sight in the castle halls — rarely does a scene manage to be so horrifying and hilarious. Also, he falls in love.

If this blog post and my street-side hectoring are not enough to convince you to read “Undermajordomo Minor,” then perhaps Daniel (Lemony Snicket) Handler’s unprecedented act of writing an amusing book review will convince you. I warn you, more informative and insightful though he may be, I doubt Handler capable of twirling a cane with even a modicum of the grace and majesty I employ.

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2015 Winter Program Preview

DBRLTeen - November 13, 2015

ScrabbleHoliday Crafting
Southern Boone County Public Library
Saturday, December 5, 9-11:30 a.m.

Drop by to create ornaments, cards and other holiday items at this annual event for all ages.

Wii Game Time
Southern Boone County Public Library

Think you have the best dance moves? Prove it! Can you drive like Mario? Bring it! Come play a variety of games on the Wii U. Treats served. Teens.

Wednesday, December 16, 2:45-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2:45-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 10, 2:45-4:30 p.m.

Holiday Crafternoon
Join us for an afternoon of crafting cards and gifts for the holidays. We’ll provide an array of crafting supplies. All ages.

Callaway County Public Library
Monday, December 21, 1-4 p.m. Columbia Public Library
Monday, December 21, 2-4 p.m.

Family Game Day
Columbia Public Library
Tuesday, December 29, 9:30-11:30 a.m. -OR- 2-4 p.m. -OR- 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Drop by to play board games. We’ll have favorites, old and new, but feel free to bring your own games, too. Families with children of all ages.

March Madness Teen Book Tournament
Thursday, January 7
At the library, March Madness begins in January when you can start voting for this year’s teen book champion. Beginning January 7, check out our list of the 32 most popular teen books at You’ll vote for your favorites in each round until you narrow the list to one Mid-Missouri teen book champion. Each time you vote, your name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like free book sets or a Barnes & Noble gift card. You have until February 21 to vote for the Sweet Sixteen at your library or at Starting in March, you can vote each week to pick the Elite Eight, the Final Four, the Top Two and the champion! Ages 12 and older.

Southern Boone County Public Library

Join us for basic chess instruction and a chance to play one of the world’s oldest games. Drop-in anytime between 3:30-4:30 p.m. Ages 11 and older.

Thurs., January 7 Thurs., January 28 Thurs., February 4 Thurs., February 11

Wii U Family Game Time
Columbia Public Library
Become a dancing superstar in Just Dance 2015, a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8” or a party animal in “Mario Party 10.” Snacks provided. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration begins two weeks before each program. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Thursday, January 14, 5:30-7 p.m.
Registration begins
Tuesday, January 5. Friday, February 12, 4-5:30 p.m.
Registration begins
Tuesday, February 2.

Project Teen: Zines
Columbia Public Library
Monday, January 18, 1-2:30 p.m.

Do you have a message you’re ready to share with the world? Tell it all in your own unique and personal homemade maga(zine). This pre-digital creative medium mixes storytelling, scrapbooking, collage and more. Ages 12-18. Registration begins Tuesday, January 5. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Bobby Norfolk: Poetry and Prose of the Harlem Renaissance
Columbia Public Library
Monday, January 18, 6:30-7:15 p.m.

This evening, we jump on the “A Train” with award-winning storyteller Bobby Norfolk for his third show today, celebrating the Harlem Renaissance with a program called “Dreams Deferred: The Poetry and Prose of the Harlem Renaissance.” All aboard, for this exploration of the amazing African-American art, music and poetry that exploded out of Harlem in the early 20th century. Ages 10 and older.

Ology World
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, January 20, 6-7 p.m.

Join us for an adventure as we dive into the different fantastic worlds created by the popular Ology book series. Come prepared to test your knowledge of Dragonology, Pirateology, Alienology, Vampireology and more! Choose from fun activities and craft projects in your favorite Ology. Ages 8-12. Registration begins Tuesday, January 5. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

The Book vs. the Movie
Wednesday, January 20, 2:45-4 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library

Have you read “Holes” by Louis Sachar and seen the movie based on the book? (If not, check them out from the library.) If so, come share your opinions about which was better and why. Snacks served. Ages 10 and older.

Project Teen: Anti-Valentine’s Day Party
If you think love is okay, but fat babies carrying bows and arrows seem kind of creepy, then join us to forget about cupid. Snacks and music with your friends is better, anyway. Join us for utterly unromantic crafts and fun activities. Ages 12-18.

Columbia Public Library
Monday, February 1, 6-7:30 p.m.
Registration begins Tuesday, January 19.
To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161. Callaway County Public Library
Thursday, February 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
No registration required.

Paper and Digital Stories With Kamishibai
Columbia Public Library
Thursday, February 4, 6-7 p.m.

Learn about Kamishibai, a form of storytelling featuring with illustrated cards that originated in Japan. Create your own Kamishibai story cards on paper or digitally. Ages 7-12. Parents welcome. Registration begins Tuesday, January 19. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Stop-Motion Animation Workshop
Columbia Public Library
Saturday, February 6, 2-4 p.m.
Using LEGO bricks and other materials, create your own mini-movie at this hands-on workshop. The library will provide instruction and all tools necessary for you to photograph and edit your film. Feel free to bring your own props, camera or other recording device. Children and teens, ages 8 and older. Registration begins Tuesday, January 19. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Make a Valentine
Tuesday, February 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library

Drop by to make a Valentine’s Day card for someone special. We’ll provide the materials. You provide the inspiration and love. All ages.

Valentine’s Crafts
Callaway County Public Library
Friday, February 12, 1-4 p.m.

Join us for an afternoon of Valentine’s Day crafting. We will offer an array of supplies to create cards and gifts. We’ll also have plenty of craft books on hand to give you ideas. All ages.

Random Acts of Kindness
Monday, February 15, 2-4 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Bring more happiness into the world by helping us celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 14-20. Come learn about this national event, make plans for how you’ll participate and create cards and other handmade items to give to others. Ages 4-18.

Poetry Out Loud Competition
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, February 17, 10 a.m.

Local high school students will be competing for a spot on the Missouri state championship team at this recitation competition. Missouri’s winner progresses to the national Poetry Out Loud championship held in Washington, D.C. Come observe and encourage the students as they perform poems. This program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation is coordinated locally by the City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Missouri Arts Council. For more information, go to (Alternate weather date: February 24.)

Bookmark It
Southern Boone County Public Library
Tuesday, February 23, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Bookmarks don’t have to be a flat piece of paper. We’ll show some interesting alternatives. Then you can create a unique bookmark for yourself or as a gift. Ages 8-14.

Photo by Flickr User peddhapati. Used under creative commons license.

Originally published at 2015 Winter Program Preview.

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Pie Season

DBRL Next - November 13, 2015

Book cover for A Year of PiesCrisp weather and turning the calendar’s page to November means it’s pie season. This time of year my extended family begins discussions about who will bring what dish to our Thanksgiving meal, but the question of who should bake the pies is never up for debate. My mother will bake one pumpkin and one pecan pie, and the crust will be made with lard – no butter or (shudder) shortening. The pastry will be flaky and perfect, and I, unable to decide between the two flavors, will end up having a slice of each. And then I’ll ask for another piece of pumpkin to take home and have the next morning for breakfast.

I love pie. “Pie or cake?” is something my husband might ask a new acquaintance, trying to suss out his or her character. He’s a skilled baker himself, and I often request his coconut cream pie on my birthday. After a lot of trial and error, he now prefers to make his crusts using a combination of lard and butter (don’t tell my mother).

If the scent of cinnamon and sugar in the air has you hungry for warm fruit tucked between blankets of flaky pastry, check out one of these books from the library.

A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables taste better when they are in season, so fall is the perfect time for rosemary bourbon sweet potato pie or gingersnap pumpkin pie. This cookbook is organized into spring, summer, fall and winter pies and serves up both traditional recipes and some uniquely mouth-watering flavor combinations.

Book cover for Pie SchoolPie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter” by Kate Lebo
As the title indicates, this book is good for students of baking and focuses mainly on fruit pies. More than just recipes, this book also ponders pie as metaphor and investigates its social history. Newbie bakers will appreciate her step-by-step instructions – accompanied by photographs – for making crust and other techniques that appear at the book’s beginning.

Teeny’s Tour of Pie, a Cookbook: Mastering the Art of Pie in 67 Recipes” by Teeny Lamothe
A good book for beginners and those who like cookbooks that are just as fun to read as they are tasty to bake from. Lamothe traveled around the country to learn first-hand from some of the best bakers. She shares tips and techniques that take the mystery and fear out of pie baking, and she shares some gorgeous recipes. (One I’ve got marked to try: peanut butter brownie pie with a pretzel crust – yum!)

United States of Pie: Regional Favorites From East to West and North to South” by Adrienne Kane
If you enjoy the stories behind regional cuisines, pick up “United States of Pie.” While short on pictures, this narrative cookbook makes up for that lack with its mouth-watering descriptions of southern peach pie, concord grape pie, shoofly pie and more.

Enjoy these and many more baking books available from your library. Ready your rolling pin, and check out a few!

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New DVD List: An Honest Liar & More

DBRL Next - November 11, 2015

honest liar poster 3Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.

an honest liarAn Honest Liar
Playing at last year’s Boone Dawdle, this film tells the story of the world-famous magician, escape artist and enemy of deception, James ‘The Amazing’ Randi. He devised intricate investigations exposing the ‘miracles’ of psychics, faith healers and con-artists. When a shocking revelation is discovered, is Randi is still the deceiver — or the deceived?

penny dreadful s3Penny Dreadful
Season 2
Website / Reviews
Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler are forming a deeper bond as the group, including Sir Malcolm, Dr. Frankenstein and Sembene, unite to banish the evil forces that threaten to destroy them. Meanwhile, Dorian Gray, the Creature and Brona are all waging battles of their own.

home firesHome Fires” 
Season 1
Website / Reviews
Bitter rivals fight for control of the Women’s Institute in a rural English town as it struggles with the onset of World War II. Separated from husbands, fathers, sons and brothers for years at a time, some permanently, they face extraordinary pressures in a rapidly fragmenting world.

vikings s31Vikings
Season 3
Website / Reviews
Now king of his people, Ragnar remains a restless wanderer, leading his band of Norse warriors on epic adventures from the shores of Essex to the mythical city of Paris. But stunning betrayals and hidden dangers will test Ragnar’s courage and strength like never before.

american horror story s4American Horror Story
Season 4
Elsa Mars is the proprietor of a troupe of human “curiosities” on a desperate journey of survival in the sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida, in 1952. But the strange emergence of an entity will savagely threaten the lives of the townsfolk and freaks alike.

Other notable releases:
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” –
Season 3 – Website 
Happy Valley” –
Season 1Website / Reviews
Murder in the Park
 –  Website / Reviews / Trailer
The 100” – Season 2 – Website / Reviews
Bates Motel” – Season 3 – Website / Reviews
The Leftovers” Season 1Website / Reviews

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Kindness Makes the World Go Around and Improves Your Health

DBRL Next - November 9, 2015

Photo of a kindness mosaicYou’ve probably realized from your own experience that being kind brings you positive effect. We all know that warm, fuzzy feeling (known as “helper’s high” or “giver’s glow”) evoked from selfless acts of kindness and generosity extended to others. Well, it turns out that the benefits of being kind go way beyond that “feel good” feeling. Scientific research indicates significant physical and mental health benefits come from offering kindness to others. And interestingly, the bundle of benefits comes not only to those offering the kindness, but also to those receiving it and even to third party witnesses of kind acts.

The documented benefits of being involved in a circuit of kindness are many. They include: reductions in stress levels (and conditions associated with stress such as high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma); a decrease in feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation and/or hostility; a decrease in physical pain; an increase in feelings of contentment and/or joy; and emotional calm, stability and resilience.

Photograph of man giving a warm drink to a homeless personBiochemically, there is a lot going on inside us during exchanges of kindness. During these exchanges, emotional warmth is created and this causes the hormone oxytocin to be released. Oxytocin causes blood vessels to dilate and relax which results in lowered blood pressure. Oxytocin also acts to slow the aging process by counteracting the effect of free radicals and inflammation, which are also major contributors to heart disease and cancer.

Kindness is a highly valued virtue in many cultures and religions. It is a gift that makes living life much sweeter and more meaningful. In fact, it seems to me that kindness is what makes the world go around (not money, as the song in the musical Cabaret claims). The World Kindness Movement has designated a day to focus attention on this virtue and to encourage people to celebrate it by offering acts of altruism to our fellow humans (and other animals, too)!  This year World Kindness Day falls on Friday, November 13.

If you are wondering about ways to add more kindness to the world, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website has a wide-ranging list of ideas.  And here at DBRL we have lots and lots of books on this topic from which to pick and choose. Kindness is like a muscle; the more you exercise it as a practice, the stronger it gets and the easier it becomes to extend your generosity. I’ll end here with a poem on kindness that alludes to the many trials we suffer as humans and how these hardships make being kind the thing that makes the most sense.

Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Photo credits:

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Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress

DBRL Next - November 6, 2015

Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2015 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.

in the shadow of the cypressThe son of John Steinbeck delivers a captivating novel similarly set in Montgomery, California (same as “Cannery Row“). “In the Shadow of the Cypress” explores the roles and culture of the Chinese throughout the history of the American West Coast. A potentially mind blowing archeological discovery is found pertaining to Chinese American history in the 1900’s. Narrators change in the story as the setting shifts from early 20th century to present day while the facts continue to unfold. Thomas Steinbeck’s voice has traces of his father but maintains a distinct difference. Almost a mystery novel, but not quite, it walks an interesting line of suspense, being gripping without any threat of mortal peril to any characters. It can be read and enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the former Steinbeck’s work.

Three words that describe this book: Intriguing, captivating, interesting.

You might want to pick this book up if:


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Best Books of 2015: Early Bird Edition

DBRL Next - November 4, 2015

I know, I know. We just turned the calendar page to November, and bookish types are already making pronouncements about the best books of 2015. We can’t help it. As a book person and a list-maker, this time of year makes me positively giddy.

Before sharing some of the year’s best titles, we want to hear what you think was the best book of 2015. Specifically, what book did you read this past year that you think would make an excellent selection for next year’s One READ program? Our reading panel is looking for books that will appeal to adults of different ages and backgrounds and that have numerous topics for discussion. Pop on over to, nominate a book, and then come on back to this list. I’ll wait.

Back? Okay. Here we go.

 A Surfing LifePublisher’s Weekly is one of the first out of the gate with its best books of 2015 list. The lyrical and important “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coats, previously reviewed here on the blog, tops their list. Other stand-outs (and their publishers’ descriptions):

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan
This memoir describes the author’s experiences as a lifelong surfer, from his early years in Honolulu through his culturally sophisticated pursuits of perfect waves in some of the world’s most exotic locales.

Book cover for Black Earth by Timothy SnyderBlack Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” by Timothy Snyder
It comforts us to believe that the Holocaust was a unique event. But, as Timothy Snyder shows, we have missed basic lessons of the history of the Holocaust, and some of our beliefs are frighteningly close to the ecological panic that Hitler expressed in the 1920s. As ideological and environmental challenges to the world order mount, our societies might be more vulnerable than we would like to think.

Delicious Foods” by James Hannaham
Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor. The desperate circumstances that test the unshakable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion.

Book cover for A little LifeA Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome — but that will define his life forever.

Happy list season!

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We Never Outgrow the Need for Family

DBRL Next - November 2, 2015

National Adoption Month logoMore than 100,000 children in the U.S. are waiting for permanent homes and families.* November is National Adoption Month, and the motto for 2015 is “We never outgrow the need for family.” The focus this year is on older youth in foster care.

In keeping with this theme, here is a list of resources for those interested in expanding their families by adding some big kids:

  • AdoptUSKids provides information on almost every conceivable topic related to domestic adoption and foster care. They link to resources for families and professionals.
  • The DBRL adoption subject guide links to informational sites and support groups for families hoping to adopt, those who already have adopted and for birth parents.
  • In the book “Adopting Older Children,” Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero writes about the logistics and needs involved in adopting school-aged children – ages four and older. She includes stories of real-life families and adds an appendix of resources at the end of the book.
  • Parenting Adopted Adolescents” by Gregory C. Keck addresses concerns of parents and kids. Some issues are typical of most teens and some are specific to adoption.
  • Michael Orlans’ book, “Healing Parents,” is subtitled “Helping Wounded Children Learn to Trust and Love.” Though this is for any family with a child who has experienced trauma, there are chapters about adoption and foster care.
  • The Foster Parenting Manual” is a guide for those who provide interim care to children in transition, whether those kids are only temporarily unable to be with their birth parents or are awaiting adoption.

For those who need any of the above resources, I have one word: congratulations!



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Nominate a Book for One Read 2016

One Read - November 1, 2015
// What one book should our community read next? We would like your suggestions for next year's community-wide reading program. The One Read reading panel is looking for books that have a broad-based appeal to readers of different backgrounds and reading levels, that are available in paperback and other formats, and that address themes and issues that will encourage and sustain spirited discussion. (See the full list of general criteria here.) Nominate a title by November 30. Book Suggestion Title
Why would this be a good choice for a community-wide read?

Thank you for your suggestion!

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Chilling Tales of Terror!

DBRL Next - October 30, 2015

Good evening.

Before we begin, I would like to set the mood with some music. Here is the first verse of a song called “Black Sabbath” by the band Black Sabbath from their album titled . . . “Black Sabbath“:

Zombie book display at the Columbia Public Library“What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me.
Turn around quick, and start to run.
Find out I’m the chosen one.
Oh no!”

Oh no, indeed.

This is a spooky time of year. It gets dark earlier, trees look like they’re dying, and people stand outside in the cold with crazed looks saying it’s “good football weather.” Then there’s that eerie orange hue to their eyes from starting the day with pumpkin lattes and ending it with pumpkin beers. Also, Halloween is coming!

Twilight Zone DVD cover artAs a kid, the scariest TV shows were “Tales From The Darkside” (just the opening credits are terrifying), “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone.” Many of the episodes of those shows were based on short stories. I think there is something claustrophobic about short stories, which makes them such a good medium for tales of horror and suspense. You’re always expecting something to happen, something to be around the corner, because you know the end is near. So here are some collections of suspenseful stories and a short novel to make sure you spend this season properly terrified.

Charles Beaumont is credited with writing several classic “Twilight Zone” episodes. “The Howling Man,” “Miniature,” “Printer’s Devil” and “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You” are a few of the episodes he gets credit for. “Perchance to Dream” is a collection of his short stories that play with the same variety of genres that appeared in “The Twilight Zone.” Vampires, magicians, monsters, aliens and more populate these well-crafted stories.

Book cover for Haunted Castles by Ray RussellHaunted Castles,” a collection of Ray Russel stories, contains the story “Sardonicus,” which Stephen King has called “perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written.” Do you need to know more than that? This book is also part of the Penguin Horror series, which is curated by director, writer and all around fan of horrors and monsters, Guillermo del Toro. Also, the book is titled “Haunted Castles” and contains creepy castles, monsters and grotesques.

The Haunting of Hill House” is another book in the Penguin Horror series by master of the Gothic, Shirley Jackson. The setup is classic: four people staying in an old house looking for proof it’s haunted. But this ain’t Scooby-Doo, and neither is it Amityville.  Something weirder – and deeply psychological – might be going on in Hill House.

One more from Penguin Horror is “Book cover for The Thing on the DoorstepThe Thing on The Doorstep,” a collection of a dozen tales spanning the career of H.P. Lovecraft. Besides skillfully creating a weird mythos combined with classic horror tropes, Lovecraft was a master of dread. You can feel it descend on you a little more page by page. This book contains one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, “At The Mountains of Madness.” If the story’s awesome title isn’t enough of a hook, it contains giant penguins.

Speaking of dread, how about some influenced by the works of Lovecraft, philosophical pessimism and existential nihilism? Sounds like a recipe for fun! Thomas Ligotti is a writer of experimental works of “cosmic horror.” “Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe” is a collection of his first two books of short stories. Relatively free of gore, these stories are meant to frighten readers on a deeper level.

McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories” is the second pulp-inspired collection from McSweeney’s and Michael Chabon. Although not all the stories strictly fall into the horror category, they are intended to keep you on the edge of your seat with contributions from Stephen King, David MitchellChina Miéville and Mike Mignola.

Happy Halloween!

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Rhythm is Key: Docs About Cuban Music

DBRL Next - October 28, 2015


The album and documentary Buena Vista Social Club was released to much praise in the late 1990s, piquing America’s interest in Cuban music. The band released a live album in 2008 and a collection of previously unreleased tracks earlier this year, reigniting interest in the island to the south. If you’re craving the sound of Old Havana and the beat of the clave, check out these documentaries that explore Cuban music.

roots of rhythmRoots of Rhythm” (1989)

Cuban music plays heavily into this three-part historical survey of the African musical roots of Latin music. Harry Belafonte takes you to Africa’s steamy jungles, Cuba’s wild carnivals and the packed dance floors of New York’s hottest nightspots for an exhilarating musical odyssey.

buena vista social clubBuena Vista Social Club” (1999)

While in Cuba in 1996, Ry Cooder re-discovered the talents of some of Cuba’s foremost folk musicians. His recording with the musicians sold millions and earned a Grammy Award. Cooder returned to Cuba with film maker Wim Wenders to reveal the stories and personalities behind the music.

la tropical

La Tropical” (2002)

Playing at the True False Film Fest in 2004, this film showcases the club La Tropical, located in Havana where generations of working-class Cubans have always gathered to dance, sing, and let loose. This documentary explores the positive affects the club has had on Cuban culture since opening in the 1950s.

cuba island of musicCuba: Island of Music” (2004)

Behind the scenes documentary of the presence of Afro-Cuban music in the daily life and cultural identity of Cubans. Brings the viewer into the heart and soul of Havana through a vibrant mosaic of street musicians, big bands, dancers, religious rituals and classic cars.

For additional perspectives on Latin American culture, join us for upcoming events in our “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History” series, sharing how the rich and varied experiences of Latinos have contributed to American culture.

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