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Hey, y’all! Spring has FINALLY arrived, and this is the perfect time of year for a Mid-Missouri day trip. Get out your light jacket and some good walking shoes and head to one of these outdoor destinations not far from our own backyard!
Foremost Dairy Center
Located just 6.5 miles west of Columbia off old Highway 40 is the University of Missouri’s research and teaching dairy farm. You can arrange for a tour of the facility, which includes plenty of hands-on fun. You might see a baby calf, and you just might get to help milk its mama! You’ll also get to learn how the milk goes from the cows to the bottle factory to your dinner table. Visiting a working dairy farm is a great adventure for young and old alike. To arrange a tour, visit their website.
Dairy Farm Lake No. 1
Located next to the Foremost Dairy Center is Dairy Farm Lake No. 1, owned and maintained by the University of Missouri. Take the family (or escape by yourself!) for a day of fishing, canoeing or bird watching. The lake is 15 acres and has boat access. Don’t forget to purchase a fishing license if you are going to fish. You can buy a permit online through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website. The MDC also has a handy online tool for finding other public fishing areas in Missouri.
Warm Springs Ranch
How about heading just farther west and visiting those beautiful ponies before they become the full-grown Clydesdales you see at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis? Yes, these horses – over 100 of them – are born and trained right here in our own backyard. You can schedule a tour through the Warm Springs Ranch website or call them at 1-888-WS-CLYDE. (Note: there is a fee for touring the ranch.)
Get outdoors while the weather is nice. Then, if you are feeling inspired to learn and explore some more, check out our Travel subject guide, or come to the library and get some good books on dairy farms, fishing or horses. We also have Missouri travel guidebooks aplenty, so get day-trippin’!
Why I liked it: This book is one of those rare gems in which you want to be friends with all the characters (not just the three main characters, but also parents, school staff, etc.). The clever narration is delivered through school papers, e-mails, diary entries, instant messages and class notes. While I was skeptical of the format at first, I soon eagerly followed the three main characters journeys through high school. If you want an intelligent and fun read that covers a variety of seemingly unconnected topics such as love, identity, sign language, high school divas, baseball, Mary Poppins and more, then read this book.
Three words that describe this book: heartwarming, romantic, hilarious.
Shot clandestinely over three years by best-selling novelist and filmmaker Robert H. Lieberman, this film with its stunning footage provides an astonishing and intimate look inside what has been one of the most isolated countries on the planet With an exclusive perspective provided by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, this film brings a human dimension to a country that remains a mystery to much of the world.
My daughter and I learned how to bike in the summer of 1984. She was 7 and I was 32, so I learned first, and then I spent another month pushing her bike and catching her (and her bike) when she lost her balance. My quick biking progress made me sure of my athletic abilities, and despite the fact that I didn’t do any biking between that summer and the time I moved to Columbia in the summer of 1991, I began my new American life by buying a used bike and riding along the MKT trail.
I did a lot of walking, too: for one thing, I never drove a car in my hometown Moscow, Russia, so passing a driver’s exam with very little driving practice – and my broken English – was extremely difficult. Well, it would have been difficult had I actually attempted to listen to my examiner. Instead, I somehow persuaded him that it was not my English that mattered, but my driving ability, so if he just showed me which way to turn, I would be fine. Amazingly, he did just that, and I passed my driver exam on the first try (little did he know that even today I have problems distinguishing right from left ).
In any case, between biking and walking I got myself in pretty good shape, and I even began passing some people on the trail. I did so well that when I began dating my American husband-to-be, the very first time we biked together, I quickly left him behind in the dust. Not for long, mind you, just for five minutes or so. Still, those five minutes impressed him so much that he quickly decided to marry me, and we soon found ourselves biking together along Katy Trail.
I was already working at the library then, so I had a library copy of Brett Dufur’s “The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook,” and, for a while, we spent every weekend biking a different stretch of the trail – from Rocheport to Weldon Spring. This boosted my self-esteem even more, so when one summer we drove to Colorado, I talked my husband into taking our bikes with us and doing some mountain biking there. “How hard can that be?” I said to my husband when he raised objections. Well, I was right. It wasn’t hard. It was absolutely terrifying! Because during those three minutes I spent bouncing on rough mountain terrain before plunging to what could’ve been my imminent death, I felt like I was riding a wild mustang! (Not that I ever rode one, mind you, but it must be very similar, I’m sure of it!)
Anyway, after my mountain fiasco, we decided to stick to the Katy trail, especially to the part described in another of Brett Dufur’s books – “Exploring Missouri Wine Country.”
From Marthasville to Defiance, the Katy Trail runs very close to several Missouri wineries (not to mention Rocheport and Hermann!), so one can bike along the trail and stop for wine tasting, too .
Of course, wine tasting is not the main reason for bicycling. Many people choose to do it to get around town and even go to work – including some of my colleagues. In fact, during the time I’ve lived in Columbia, bicycling has been gaining popularity, and from what I hear, this has been happening in other U.S. towns, too, not to mention abroad. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? There more bikes there than cars, and when you cross the road, you must watch for bikes more attentively than for cars!
Going back to Columbia, the city’s 12th annual Bike, Walk and Wheel Week is upon us. So, let us join its challenge in becoming more active, less sedentary and more philosophical. After all,
“Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
~ Albert Einstein
With the end of the school year fast approaching, I wanted to share all the ways the library helps you stay connected to the books and services you love most. All you need is an internet connection, an email address and a library card.
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourDBRL.
Download an eBook or audiobook.
Get the most popular teen titles on your iPod Touch, iPhone, Android, Nook, Kindle, or other device. Check out our Quick Start Guides or watch our online video tutorials to get started.
Submit a book rave or rant.
We love to hear about what teens are reading! Using this form, share your thoughts on the the books you love… and loathe. Select reviews will be highlighted on DBRLTeen.
Subscribe to our teen book eNewsletter.
Get a monthly email newsletter focusing on the most popular new releases in young adult fiction.
Join an online book club.
Each weekday you will receive successive five-minute selections from the beginning of a current teen book. By the end of the week, you’ll have read 2-3 chapters.
Register for our monthly teen program update.
Receive an email each month with a listing of our upcoming programs like writing workshops, book giveaways, art contests and teen gaming nights.
Sign up for DBRLTeen’s blog updates.
Get library program reminders, contest announcements, as well as book reviews and recommendations delivered directly to your inbox.
Join Keanu Reeves on a tour of the past and the future of filmmaking in Side by side. Since the invention of cinema, the standard format for recording moving images has been film. Over the past two decades, a new form of digital filmmaking has emerged, creating a groundbreaking evolution in the medium. Reeves explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking via in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters.
Welcome to the first installment of THE GENTLEMAN RECOMMENDS. This series is intended to get people (especially gentlemen) excited about the books/authors/eating-contests I’m excited about. I’m an ideal person to represent and recommend things to gentlemen and I’ll prove it: in the last hour alone I’ve: 1) removed my trousers and draped them over a puddle so that a particularly well-coiffed golden retriever could avoid soiling her paws, 2) not sneezed into anyone’s face and 3) responded with the gentlemanly phrase “No, thank you” when asked to please put some pants on. Credentials established.
I can think of no better inaugural recommendation than pizza, but, after that, I think George Saunders is pretty spiffy. Not only is he a Great Writer, but reading everything about the fellow I could find convinced me he’s one of this world’s premier gentlemen. Mr. Saunders’ short stories have been sending readers raving since 1996 with the publication of “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” but this year the adoration has skyrocketed, beginning in January with a lengthy profile published in some magazine claiming that Saunders has written the best book you’ll read this year and culminating in May with a much briefer, if more prestigious, post from what may very well be the greatest blog in the world.
Readers love George Saunders because he slakes our thirst for stories in which sword-wielding tortilla chips decapitate the elderly or the corpse of a previously chaste aunt reanimates and advises her nephew that he should be showing more skin at his stripper-waiter job because that’s how you make the big bucks. But he isn’t loved just because he’s a master of stories that make curmudgeons’ eyes roll when they hear a terribly reductive description of them. He does what great writers do: write with huge-hearted empathy and humor about toe-less barbers or theme park exhibits or dystopian-reality-show contestants or tortilla chips, and he does so in voices that describe their perspectives perfectly.
If you’re more in the mood for nonfiction, Saunders writes essays that will make you chuckle and maybe improve your person. His collection, The Braindead Megaphone, is hard to put down and full of beautifully rendered wisdom like the lines that close the profile linked above and which I will reprint here because they should be reprinted everywhere:
“Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
So, after you read some George Saunders and try some pizza, I hope you’ll join the pants-loving cashier at my local gas store in attesting: I’m the perfect gentleman to recommend stuff, and, also, I smell nice.
Thanks to all the young poets who submitted entries in the 2013 Callaway County Youth Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Callaway County Public Library and the Auxvasse Creative Arts Program. These organizations honored the winners of the contest on Tuesday, April 25 at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton. This year’s contest was judged by Anne-Marie Thompson, an instructor in the English Department at Westminster College. Garett Ballard, Beth Barnhart, Scott Strough and Bethany Smart were among those teens recognized for their exemplary work.“Dreams” by Garett Ballard (1st place)
I am from the night of jazz swaying, blues playing
Nights in Louisiana.
I am from the world of vibrant colors and streaks of paint
Splashed across the canvas
I am from the twirls and dances of the dancer’s swirls
Around the stage
I am from long nights rehearsing my lines and character
During long hours of the day
I am from the runs tacked on as the ball flies from
I am from the fancy parties and the penthouse
Bathing in my suite
I am from the years of educating and teaching
Young children of reading and math
I am from the laughter erupting from the people
In the crowd, joke by joke
Yes, I am from the goals and dreams made of nothing from
The men and women before me
Yes, I am from those nights of music, art, dance
Drama, sports, riches, teaching, comedy,
And the dreams of men and women, girl and boy
I am from Clint and Wendy, Clayton and Shirley, Don and Janice.
I am from the center of the great red, white and blue, where people are free, the weather often varies, and life is good.
I am from blacktop pavement, busy streets, traffic lights and the roar of passing vehicles.
I am from love, goals, kindness and morals, where hard work, determination and undying respect is as important as breathing.
I am from Saturday morning cartoons and a time where reality shows weren’t a trend and the lives of celebrities weren’t a part of life.
I am from long car rides as music radiates from the stereos, with your cares and worries blowing in the warm summer wind.
I am from laughter, hugs and smiles with a best friend who knows what you’re thinking before you even really know yourself.
I am from a special place and time that I am lucky to call all my own. It could never be duplicated nor imitated.
I am from the woods,
filled with natural life.
I am from the summer,
a kid’s favorite companion.
I am from freedom,
freedom to run and to play.
I am from the hay fields,
where the sun and dust dominates.
I come from a town where squirrels abound,
and the geese feel at home.
I come from a town,
a town were the people are friendly.
I come from a town where friends are made,
and where friends are friends for life.
I come from a town,
a town where families love and prosper.
I live in a world full of hate,
where despair seems king.
I live in a world where home is an idea.
an idea of days gone by.
I live in a world dominated by politics,
instead of dominated by common sense.
I live in a world where people stress about the lives of celebrities,
more than they stress about their won shortcomings.
I am from a family,
a family I love dearly.
I am from a passion,
a passion for doing what is right.
I am from an understanding,
an understanding of happiness and justice.
I am from a hope,
a hope that good will once again prevail.
I am from John and Corrine, Richard and Helen, and Donald and Sharon.
From the rivers, hills, valleys, and towns in the middle-of-no-where-my-GPS-can’t-locate-you Missouri.
From farmers and hard workers where you have to give it all, from herds of cattle that are chocolates in a creamy vanilla snow, from scorching hot days where 98degrees is considered (and called) “a cold front.”
I am from a place where you know you’re in the sticks if entertainment is considered to be watching the highway trucks paint the neon gold median stripes and lines on the road, from another form of entertainment of high school football games where we scream and jump out of our seats at ever touchdown to the final seconds of that basketball game to hear that sweet “swish!” of a perfect nothing-but-net. We put the “determine” in “determination.”
I am from a family of dedication and hard-workers where you take pride in what you do, from where it’s not 100%, but 120% that you give.
I am from a motto that sums me up in 8 simple words, “I don’t need easy; I just need possible!”
I am from a family who sticks together through thick and thin; perseverance is our middle name, from a family of whose get-togethers are as natural as the sun rising in the east; we are a close-knit family.
I am from a group of friends who are closer than 4 sisters could ever be.
I am from a place called home, where the sun sets and rises over clover-colored trees and casts every color in a Crayola box onto the crisp sky, from breathtaking beauty and laughs that occur each moment, or in simpler words, a place we call the country… home.
“The Time Machine“ by H. G. Wells is a classic example of speculative fiction and has led some sci-fi fans to call Wells the father of steampunk. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fast-growing science fiction sub-genre, it is, in short, Victorian alternative history. (Books in this genre also typically contain a lot of clockwork, goggles, airships and advanced technologies based on outdated power sources.) I’d say a scientist who builds a coal-powered bronze machine to fling himself from the 19th century to the year 802,701 A.D. is pretty alternative! This steampunk precursor is a great first step if you are thinking about exploring the genre; it’s short, but it reveals the potential of books written in this vein.
“The Time Machine“ centers around a genius on a quest for answers about the future of mankind. He is a man possessed by his desire to be a legend in his own time, to boldly go where no man has dared to go before, but he winds up experiencing much more than he bargained for.
H. G. Wells is a great plot writer. Every chapter holds something new to develop the characters further and to thrust the reader deeper into the tale of earth’s possible future. From the eerily calm story of the Eloi people to the lurking dangers of the unseen and hungry under-worlders, the Morlocks, Wells’ tale will keep you fascinated with the sickening possibilities of where humanity may be headed.
I highly recommend the album “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” by Darren Hayes as background music for your journey. You may know Hayes from his pop career in the ’90s as front man for Savage Garden. In this album, Hayes explores the time machine as a concept to tell the story of his jaded past, using divine lyrics and super-sonic tones.
Why I liked it: ”Abandon” was very loosely based on the Greek myth of Persephone which I’ve always found interesting. Also, the main character, Pierce Oliviera, was very likeable. Despite her dad being super-rich, she didn’t act spoiled, and her sense of humor helped her get through the very weird things that happened after her near-death experience.
What I didn’t like: The plot jumps around a lot, and sometimes I like that, but in this book it was a little too much. The narrator kept referring to things which hadn’t been explained yet, and that frustrating. Now that the scene is set, I hope this will happen less in the remaining books of the “Abandon” trilogy.
Three words that describe this book: complicated, foreboding, funny.
Our annual teen summer reading program will launch Friday, May 31. 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. Get your card punched as you go, and when you finish, you’ll receive a summer reading bag and be entered in a drawing for a free Kindle eReader.
In addition, the library is planning a wide range of free programs to help you delve “Beneath the Surface.” We’ll invite teens to enjoy crafting over lunch, test drive our new Wii U gaming console, showcase their knowledge at Trivia Night, and take a creepy guided tour of the Columbia Cemetery. To receive email reminders of these and other teen programs, sign up for our blog updates!“Beneath the Surface” Teen Photography Contest
Use your camera to explore beneath the surface of your environment. Submit your photos in one of three categories by July 26 for a chance to win a Barnes & Noble gift card. This contest is open to all teens in Boone and Callaway Counties. Find contest rules and submission guidelines at teens.dbrl.org after June 1. Ages 12-18.Teen Game Night
Test drive the library’s new Wii U game console. Become a ghost hunter in “Luigi’s Ghost Mansion,” defeat evil aliens in your own “Metroid” spaceship, or team up with your friends to conquer Bowser in the new “Super Mario Bros.” We’ll also have snacks and a selection of the library’s newest teen fiction, music and DVDs for you to check out.Columbia Public Library
Wed., June 12 at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, June 4.
To sign-up, please call
(573) 443-3161. SoBoCo Public Library
Fri., June 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, June 7.
To sign-up, please call
(573) 657-7378. Callaway County
Fri., Aug 9 at 12 p.m.
No registration required. Project Lunch in June
Create a keychain or jewelry out of washers, nuts, wire, buttons and beads. We’ll provide pizza and supplies. Ages 11-16.SoBoCo Public Library
Tue., June 25 at 12 p.m.
No registration required. Columbia Public Library
Thurs., June 27 at 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, June 18.
To sign-up, please call
(573) 443-3161. Callaway County
Fri., June 28 at 12 p.m.
No registration required. Groundbreaking Trivia
Friday, July 19, 6:30-8:45 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Come inside from the summer heat for a night of “groundbreaking” trivia. Gather a team of three to six people and come answer one hundred questions about important people and events in a variety of categories. You are also welcome to register individually and we will create a team for you. Prizes will go to the winning teams and refreshments are provided. Adults and teens. Registration begins Monday, July 1.Project Lunch in July
Create an “I AM” poster that shows what interests you, what words describe you and what is beneath YOUR surface. Library will provide pizza or sandwiches, and craft supplies. Ages 11-16.Callaway County
Fri., July 19 at 12 p.m.
No registration required Columbia Public Library
Thurs., July 22 at 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, July 9.
To sign-up, please call
(573) 443-3161. SoBoCo Public Library
Tue., July 30 at 12 p.m.
No registration required. Cemetery Walking Tour
Monday, July 29, 7-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Meet in Library Lobby
Join us on an atmospheric evening walking tour to learn about the history and art of the Columbia Cemetery. We’ll visit the graves of famous Columbians and examine the customs and symbols used in cemeteries. We’ll meet in the lobby of the Columbia Public Library and walk a block down to the cemetery. Please wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight. All ages.Book Lounge
Wednesday, August 7, 6-7 p.m.
Join us for an informal happy hour book discussion. We’ll be discussing “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a post-apocalyptic novel in which a 17-year-old boy named Nailer scavenges from wrecked ships on the Gulf Coast. When he discovers a rich survivor alive in one ship, he faces a tough decision: should he help her and trust her to provide the promised reward or kill her and benefit from her death? Adults and teens.
Presents a chilling exploration of the Somali pirate phenomenon and forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about pirates.
Mother’s Day is nearly here! Flowers and breakfast in bed are nice, but for the ladies in your life who would rather escape with a good read, I have some recommendations. The mother-child relationship provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploring topics like gratitude, trust, love, the ways we communicate (or don’t) and what it means to be a family. Some of these books are funny and irreverent. Others are thoughtful and heartfelt. Some are both. Whatever her taste, I think you’ll find something on this list a mom would be grateful to receive.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Yes, the fact that this book centers around a mom who is dying of pancreatic cancer makes it a tricky gift book. However, the main themes that shine through are ultimately uplifting. Books allowed Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Ann, to talk about difficult issues, big questions and draw closer to one another. The loving portrait Schwalbe paints of his extraordinary mother shows the importance of a well-read life and the ability of books to make us more empathetic people, willing to do good work in the world.
“Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center
Center’s books have a reputation for being populated by characters that feel real, women and circumstances you recognize from your own life. Lanie, a mother of three small boys, moves with her family across the country so her husband can attend graduate school. She begins to feel a bit lost in her own life and launches a campaign to find who she is besides someone’s wife and someone’s mother. Center’s sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, but always spot-on descriptions of managing the chaos that comes with parenting small children will have moms nodding in recognition.
“Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos
Vardalos, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame, suffered through years of fertility treatments before she and her husband adopted a preschooler from the foster care system. Funny and surprisingly informative, the book includes an appendix of questions and answers about adoption.
“Then Again” by Diane Keaton
Confession: I love the movie “Annie Hall,” particularly because of Diane Keaton’s portrayal of the title character. I found her seeking, goofy, naive and insecure self so likable. In Keaton’s memoir “Then Again,” the story of her rise from an everyday girl to a famous actress is coupled with an exploration of her defining relationship with her mother and how their shared and separate dreams influenced their experiences. What emerges is a thoughtful meditation on how the family we come from shapes our relationships with our own children.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
This offbeat work of fiction centers around teenage Bee, daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and architect Bernadette Fox. Bernadette is notorious, volatile, troubled, agoraphobic and suddenly missing. The precocious Bee begins an investigation that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her mother. A witty and completely unique mother-daughter romp.
What books do you think are best bets for mom? Let us know in the comments!
We recently added “My Reincarnation” to the DBRL collection. The film played on the PBS series POV in 2012, and currently has a rating of 71% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Tibetan Buddhist master Choogyal Namkhai Norbu watches as his western-born son, Yeshi, who was recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, considers departing from tradition to embrace the modern world.
The first was a crash in the middle of a Saturday night as my husband and I were sleeping. He got up to investigate and discovered he couldn’t open the closet door. Had the ceiling collapsed? No, the 11-foot wire shelf/hanging rod on my side of the walk-in closet had disconnected from the wall, dropping boxes and clothes onto the floor. My husband “suggested” that once he reattached the shelf, I should not place more than one level of boxes on it. I had managed to get three levels on it – there was all that wonderful space, so why not use it? Okay, now I know why not.
Sunday I spent the day moving clothes and boxes into my sewing room. Time to decide what to keep and what to toss. And if I kept things, what other space could be reallocated for their storage?
The next event occurred at work. Someone returned the book “The Clutter Cure“ by Judi Culbertson while I was working the circulation desk. It seemed appropriate, so I checked it out. It was the right book at the right time. Culbertson doesn’t just tell you to review your possessions and get rid of anything you haven’t used in x amount of time. She wants you to think about your goals, dreams and expectations for a room. Now remove anything that does not contribute to these goals. “But I received it as a gift,” you say. Take a photo of it. A photo takes up less space than the object. “But I might need this.” Will you be able to acquire something similar at a later date when you really do need it? Is it worth taking up space now that could be used some other way? Culbertson helped me rethink why I was keeping certain things. Friends’ daughters were happy to take some dolls off my hands, and I donated other items to my favorite charities.
The biggest event that motivated some cleaning: my son and his wife have decided to visit once a month, bringing my wonderful grandson along. I want space to play. So my sewing/storage/doll room is being turned into a sewing/doll display/playroom. I’m not completely finished sorting and cleaning, but things are looking so much better. It is fun to have actual floor space instead of piles of boxes.
Hopefully it won’t take wondering if your ceiling has collapsed to motivate you to clean. Pick up “The Clutter Cure“ and see how you can make your home a place where you want to spend time, not just a place to store your stuff. Other books I found helpful include “Happier at Home“ by Gretchen Rubin and “Soulspace“ by Xorin Balbes.
By the way, my husband got the shelf back up after work the following Monday. It took me a lot longer to sort boxes.
Fiction portraying characters with a mental illness can increase a reader’s understanding of what it might be like to live with depression, anxiety or other disabilities. That understanding can create compassion. For a person living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness, reading about people like themselves can also bring comfort and hope.
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky follows 10th-grader Charlie as he deals with both anxiety and depression in this coming-of-age novel.
- “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” by Juliann Garey portrays Greyson Todd, a high-flying movie executive struggling with bi-polar disorder.
- “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon is an inventive novel told in the voice of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic math genius.
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey is narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, and explores the mistreatment of patients with mental illness.
- “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb explores the conflicted relationship between twin brothers, one of whom suffers from schizophrenia.
- Ron McLarty’s ”The Memory of Running,” a novel of loss and redemption, portrays characters suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia.
- “72 Hour Hold” by Bebe Moore Campbell tells the powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter’s bipolar disorder.
- Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” follows Esther Greenwood as she descends into depression and contemplates suicide while interning at a New York City magazine.
- “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini is a humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.
Have there been books that have helped you gain greater understanding of mental illness? Please share them in the comments.
Hector, the protagonist of Anthony McGowan’s humorous “Jack Tumor,“ is your typical teenage nerd. He is good at math, unpopular with the girls and he gets picked on by the school bullies. To make matters worse, he starts getting headaches and dizzy spells. And then, to top it all off, he begins hearing a voice in his head. It turns out he has a brain tumor with a mind of its own. The tumor, which names itself “Jack,” is everything Hector is not and quickly attempts to influence his actions.
Before long, Hector is standing up to the bullies, kissing a girl he never would have had a shot at before and alienating his friends. As Jack begins making suggestions that make Hector more and more uncomfortable, Hector realizes that he cannot listen anymore and vows to get rid of Jack. But, it’s hard to get rid of someone who knows your every thought.
I recommend this title to mature teen readers. Brain tumors are no laughing matter, but the book does a good job of being humorous without downplaying the importance of Hector’s situation. There is also the fact that the author is British, so you will run across things like “telly” or “bum” every now and then. Hopefully this isn’t a big deal.