More From DBRL...
December 24 and 25 our buildings are closed and the bookmobiles are parked in the garage, but the digital branch is always open. Visit dbrl.org and check out an eBook, research a purchase, watch a movie and more. Below are just a few of the ways you can use the library online this holiday or any day. All you need is Internet access and a library card.
- Entertain the kiddos with animated picture and chapter books from Tumblebooks or electronic books from StarWalk Kids Media.
- Watch a movie using Hoopla, including award-winners like “The King’s Speech,” “Billy Elliot” and “The Iron Lady.”
- Download an eBook.
- Spend your gift cards wisely and research your possible purchases using Consumer Reports.
- Browse our digital magazines available through Zino, and get some help with your holiday menu: download “Food Network Magazine,” “Bon Appetit,” “Saveur” and more popular titles.
- If your living relatives are making you crazy, try researching your dead ones.
- Get a book recommendation from our blogs: DBRL Kids, DBRL Teens and DBRL Next.
Works of fiction with real historical settings allow us to explore a past time and place in an intimate way. The nominator of “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty feels that the community would enjoy experiencing 1920s New York.
Our nominator writes, “[This is] a fictional story inspired by a real-life movie star Louise Brooks. This novel follows the life of the woman who chaperoned Brooks from Wichita, KS to New York City at the start of her film career. This book will appeal to the community because it is a fascinating story and written in a manner that pulls you in from the first page. The characters are truly drawn and easy to connect with; I did not want to put this book down when I was reading it. I think it will inspire lots of discussion – about the ’20s in the US, women’s role in the country during that time, old-time movies and much more.”
Read about other books nominated for One Read 2015.
It’s cold and dark outside, so warm up with a recommended book from LibraryReads! The January list is full of thrills and mystery, just the thing to get your blood pumping. Here are the top 10 books librarians love that hit the shelves next month.
“As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust” by Alan Bradley
“After the unexpected recovery of her mother’s body brings the de Luce’s family secrets to light, Flavia’s life is turned upside down. Now on her way to a Canadian boarding school, she must survive her first term – and more importantly, uncover the mystery of a corpse found in her dorm room chimney the night she arrives. A delightful installment in the series!” – Lizzie Gall, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI
“The Rosie Effect” by Graeme Simsion
“Don Tillman and Rosie are back again, and they’ve relocated to New York. Rosie is continuing her studies, while Don is teaching and even adding to his small circle of friends. But when Rosie announces that she is pregnant, Don is once again out of his depth. What follows are crazy situations that could only happen when Don is involved. Funny and heartwarming.” - Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
“The Magician’s Lie” by Greer Macallister
“Arden is a famous illusionist whose show involves sawing a man in half, but one night, she grabs an axe instead of a knife and her husband is found dead under the stage. Can Arden, an expert at deception, get away with murder – or is she really innocent? Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction, strong women characters and surprisingly twisty plots.” - Paula Jones, Brockton Public Library, Brockton, MA
Here’s the rest of the January list with links to these on-order titles in our catalog for your hold-placing pleasure. Enjoy!
- “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
- “Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy” by Pierce Brown
- “The Dress Shop of Dreams” by Menna van Praag
- “The Bishop’s Wife” by Mette Ivie Harrison
- “Vanessa and Her Sister” by Priya Parmar
- “First Frost” by Sarah Addison Allen
- “Full Throttle” by Julie Ann Walker
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The January 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
Family Game Day
Columbia Public Library
Tuesday, December 23 • 9:30-11:30 a.m. –OR– 2-3:30 p.m.
Drop by to play board games. We’ll have favorites, old and new, but feel free to bring your own games, too. For families with children of all ages.
Wii U Family Game Night
Columbia Public Library
Thursday, January 8 • 6-7:30 p.m.
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 4″ or a bowling champion playing “Wii Sports.” Pizza served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration begins Tuesday, December 23. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Originally published at Program Preview: Family Game Days.
At my house, we have quite a few electronic devices: MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and e-readers. It’s a mess, and I can never find the right cord and charger when I need it.
That’s where the handy repurposed book comes in! It’s the perfect place to keep all of those devices out of sight, organized in a lovely, old-fashioned book that looks nice sitting next to your bed or on your bookshelf. You will find complete instructions to make your own at studenthacks.org.
When you are selecting your book to repurpose, make sure it is roomy enough to fit all the things you want to hide with a bit of space to spare for airflow and easy removal. In fact, you may want several books for several devices. Or, you can just find an enormous title that’s big enough for all of them while making you look like a serious reader. (“War and Peace,” anyone?)
These hidden charging stations make a great gift for anyone else you know who might need a bit of help corralling their stuff, too. Bonus: This project can also be modified to fit those ugly remote controls that always seem to make their way into the crack of the couch cushions.
If you enjoy crafting with recycled odd and ends, you should borrow the following titles from your library:
- “Trash to Treasure” by Pam Scheunemann
- “Cool Odds and Ends Projects” by Pam Scheunemann
- “The Art of Forgotten Things” by Melanie Doerman
- “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse” by Garth Johnson
“Make & Give: Simple and Modern Crafts to Brighten Every Day” by Steph Hung
- “The Repurposed Library: 33 Craft Projects That Give Old Books New Life” by Lisa Occhipinti
If you’re an online learner, check out our Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center. You can access this website for free with your library card number; your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). You’ll find many fun project ideas available with instructions and inspiration for all sorts of interests.
Originally published at Homemade Holiday Gifts: Hardback Charging Station.
For me, the mark of an especially good book is how firmly it grabs hold of me. It’s always a pleasure to stumble across a novel that captures my attention so tightly that it has me longing to get back to it during those moments I have to pause in my reading. Here are a few of my favorite thrilling finds from 2014 that I think other readers will also be captivated by:
- “Blood Work” by Michael Connelly. Readers may be familiar with Connelly’s two series featuring detective Harry Bosch and his half-brother, lawyer Mickey Haller. “Blood Work,” a novel set in the same “universe” as the books about Bosch and Haller, follows former FBI agent and recent heart recipient, Terry McCaleb. Upon learning that his heart donor may have been murdered, McCaleb becomes deeply troubled that his own life was saved at the cost of someone else’s. Despite doctor’s orders not to, he sets out to discover just what happened to his donor and soon finds himself in the web of an insidious killer. I could not put down this book and was unprepared for the story’s twist-filled conclusion.
- “Trouble in Mind” by Jeffery Deaver. I am a big fan of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes books, which follow a quadriplegic former NYPD detective who uses logic and science to find the solution to mind-boggling puzzles. This collection of short stories proves that Deaver can venture outside of the world of Rhymes and still produce a whopper of a tale. I enjoyed each of these short stories, but a few stood out for me. Rhymes makes two appearances in the book, including one that begins with the disturbing revelation that he has passed away – or has he? In another tale, a man returns to his hometown where he learns his long dead father was not what he seemed. The book concludes with a fantastic novella that follows a crime statistician who believes a series of deaths are not as random as they appear. Even readers who do not normally read short stories should consider this exciting collection of thrillers.
- “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. This is probably my favorite read of the past year. Brooks’ fabulous novel begins with scholars examining the bits of materials found in between the pages of an illustrated Jewish manuscript called the Haggadah, in the hopes of determining the book’s history. Chapter by chapter the story unfolds in reverse, introducing the book’s previous owners and through this, revealing how the materials found their way into the book’s pages over the centuries. Although not a traditional mystery, this story unwinds in a way that will keep readers guessing as to the exact journey the Haggadah took through the centuries. I know readers will be as enthralled as I was by Brooks’ moving novel.
Nominations for the 2015 One Read program are now closed, and we are highlighting just some of the titles area readers think the community should read together. Next up is “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel.
This novel opens with a famous Hollywood actor dying onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve as a fast-acting and deadly strain of the flu spreads around the world. Our nominator writes, “This is very different take on a well-worn narrative – post-apocalyptic fiction. The topic is timely (pandemic – echoes of Ebola), and the book is beautifully written. It’s about the importance of love and art, the social contract, and what matters when the world we know falls away.”
Handmade gifts are not just for people. Here is a fun and easy gift to make for your cat; or, skip the catnip and make it for a special puppy. I made this in a single evening after dinner. It took me about an hour and a half, but I had all the materials on hand.
- Sewing Machine or sewing needles
- Fabric batting
- Catnip (I got mine at Clover’s Natural Market)
Make a pattern.
Cut out the pattern pieces and choose your fabric. I chose a scrap of colored cotton and some felt from an old sweater I washed/shrank.
Trace the pattern on the cloth with a pencil. Double the cloth and pin it so it won’t move while you cut it. Cut two pieces at once; one for each side of the fish. I used pinking shears so the fabric wouldn’t unravel.
When you are ready, sew with the right sides out. Pin the felt fins so that they are well inside your fish and will be securely caught by your sewing.
Sew around the fish about 5/8 of an inch inside the cut edges, catching the felt fins with either a sewing machine or by hand. Backstitching works best for hand sewing. Check out this YouTube tutorial for a live demonstration. Make sure to leave a gap so that you can fill the fish with a combination of batting and catnip. A funnel or chopsticks can be helpful when stuffing your fish.
Sew up the gap and sew around again if you think it needs to be extra secure. Now it’s ready to be presented to your special pet. If you’re interested in making other kinds of pet toys check out “Pet Crafts: 28 Great Toys, Gifts and Accessories for Pet Lovers” by Heidi Boyd at the library!
Originally published at Homemade Holiday Gifts: Catnip Fish.
It’s hard to find a good subject for a book column in December. It’s not a good time for serious subjects. (Who has the time to concentrate at the height of a shopping season?) It’s too early for books about reinventing yourself (wait till January) or humor (better for April ). So, after contemplating my options, I decided to write about books that revolve around food. (We do eat a lot this time of the year .) These are not plain cookbooks, mind you, but books that describe places many of us would love to travel to and lives that have been marked by memories of food.
The first book I’d like to feature (also my personal favorite) is “The Language of Baklava” by Diana Abu-Jaber. It is a touching memoir of a girl coming of age in two worlds: the American world of her mother and the Jordanian world of her father. Growing up without a clear sense of belonging is very disorienting for Diana, but she is not the only one who feels disoriented. So does her immigrant father, who doesn’t seem to be able to decide where he – and his family – should live. He tries to hold on to his identity by cooking his native dishes, and for his daughter, that food becomes a trail she can follow down memory lane. With recipes for all occasions – festive and sorrowful – Abu-Jaber’s book is a joy to read and a joy to use in the kitchen.
“There is something to be done at this season,” begins Nina Mukerjee Furstenau in her book “Biting Through the Skin,” as she contemplates which holiday or festival she – a person born into a family of Bengali immigrants and a raised in the American Midwest – should celebrate. Like Diana Abu-Jaber, Furstenau struggles to define her identity and her culture and to bring order to her life. She solves her longing by cooking, and – later in her life – by embracing the faith and traditions of her ancestral country. Filled with the flavors and aromas of India and peppered with recipes, Furstenau’s book is a pure sensory pleasure, as well as an eloquent meditation on one person’s life.
Would you like to go to dinner with a New York Times food critic? If you said, “Yes,” then let me introduce “Garlic and Sapphires,” by Ruth Reichl. Reichl, a Los Angeles restaurant critic, takes a similar job at the New York Times. Now in New York, she finds herself in a position that can make or break a restaurant reputation, which means that many fashionable restaurants try to prepare for her visit. To make sure that she is not recognized, Reichl decides to wear disguises: wigs, fake jewelry, etc. This allows her to see restaurants through the eyes of their average customers. Unobserved, she witnesses the rudeness of the staff, notices different portion sizes (higher-status customers get bigger portions) and even different menus (unimportant customers are offered fewer dishes). Sincere and entertaining, Reichl’s book is an eye-opener on the world of New York restaurateurs.
No food column can be complete without mentioning French cuisine, and Ann Mah’s “Mastering the Art of French Eating” is just the book to show it off. Food writer Mah comes to France with her American diplomat husband, but she soon finds herself in Paris alone, for her husband is called to Iraq. To quell her loneliness, Mah travels around the country researching its iconic dishes like cassoulet, steak, andouillette sausage and crepes – ten in all. Mah talks to butchers, restaurant owners, chefs and other food aficionados, and she learns how the history of different regions of France is reflected in the evolution of their food. Liberally peppered with French expressions and recipes (I tried her steak recipe and it worked very well!), Mah’s book is a true ode to French food.
If you like spicing your food with stories, try “Secrets of the Tsil Café” by Thomas Fox Averill or “Cinnamon and Gunpowder” by Eli Brown. And, if you want to add a little mystery to your plate, don’t forget about experienced literary chefs like Diane Mott Davidson, Joanne Fluke and Tamar Myers. Whatever your food preference, you can always find a taste of it at your public library. As they say in the restaurants, “We’re here to serve you!”
Well-reviewed and popular when first published in 2010, Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in A Women’s Prison” gained even more attention after Netflix launched a series based on the book. The narrative follows the author’s incarceration for drug trafficking, during which she gained a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and met a varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances.
The reader who nominated “Orange Is the new Black” for One Read writes, “This book is a very accurate and eye-opening description of life in a women’s prison. Discussion topics include: the war on drugs, the overpopulation of American prisons, women’s issues, prisoners’ rights, mental illness, incarceration and opportunities to volunteer in prisons. As a women’s prison volunteer myself, I highly recommend this book.”
Thank you to everyone who suggested books to be considered for the 2015 One Read program. As the reading panel begins its work, we will continue to highlight nominated titles so you can learn what others in the community are reading and discussing.
The best way to read a book is to read it without knowing anything about it. But of course there’s only so much time to read, so it’s nice that there are gentlemen out there recommending awesome books. A gentleman doesn’t review a book, he merely recommends it and maybe adds some details about the book so his posts aren’t just absurd rambles or thinly veiled political rants or pointless introductions. But the book review industry is, in large part, in the business of summarizing works and spoiling as much fun as possible. And the book review industry is an unstoppable behemoth that eats books and poops cash and then doubles back to grab some of the cash. Yes, I’ve got a finger or two clasping at the beast’s tail. How else would I be able to afford the tremendous amount of pancakes a gentleman requires to start and end his day?
I’m going to tell you some stuff about a great book, but really you should just close this page, then open and close it several more times, electronically mail the link to all your friends (encourage them to open and close it several times), regular mail it to all your enemies, post the link on your social medias, shave the URL into your hair and read “The Book of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber. Really, one of the most satisfying things about this novel is the way details and plot are slowly released. If you prefer blog posts to novels or you like to know more about a book before you read it or you’re my mom, then keep reading. Might as well grab a snack. The gentleman recommends pancakes.
Michel Faber wrote this book, about a man and wife separated by immense distance, while his wife was dying of cancer. Pretty intense. Here’s a nice article if you want more details about Mr. Faber and the creation of his book.
“The Book of Strange New Things” begins with a husband and wife on the way to an airport. The husband will be whisked away for a substantial time, and though both parties see it as a necessary (glorious even) whisking, they are terribly sad to be separated. Then, matter of factly, we learn the man is going away because he’s to do some missionary work on a distant planet. Peter gets into one of those moist bed things that helps science fiction characters sleep whenever they must travel incredible distances. Bea goes home to their cat and their church. Peter arrives on Oasis (named by a contest held by the corporation that owns it) to minister to the aliens. Turns out he’s the third pastor they’ve had.
Since I didn’t read a bunch of reviews I had no idea whether the aliens were friendly or disturbingly hungry or basically just a bunch of pasta that some corporate bigwig thought it would be funny to have a pastor talk at. I also didn’t know what happened back on earth while Peter was ministering to the Jesus-loving aliens (whose faces resemble something like a walnut crossed with a couple of fetuses). I also didn’t know how Peter would acclimate to his new planet while natural disasters and human cruelty made a devastating mess of life on earth. The book is haunting and sad, but not hopeless. Kinda like eating a pancake without an absurd amount of toppings, except much more fun to consume.
I never wanted the book to end, but great things must. Also, as much as I’d like to mention pancakes again, this post must end. Have a great day, Mom!
One extremely popular title on the New York Times best seller list this fall is the legal thriller “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham. Like in all great thrillers, there is a hero pitted against a villain. Grisham’s hero is Samantha Kofer, third year associate with the prestigious Lehman Brothers law firm in New York until the financial crisis of 2008 upends her life and transplants her to the Appalachian coal country of Brandy, Virginia. There she works as an intern for the Mountain Legal Aid Clinic. While defending the citizens of the county and meeting the handsome litigator, Donovan Gary, she stumbles onto deadly secrets surrounding Big Coal mining!
This highly sought after title has created a rather lengthy waiting list at the library. So, if you are currently on this list, you might like to try these titles! (Publisher’s descriptions included)
“Raylan” by Elmore Leonard
When Federal Marshall Raylan Givens squares off against a known offender, he will warn the man, “If I have to pull my gun I’ll shoot to kill.” Except this time he finds the offender naked in a bathtub, doped up and missing his kidneys. Raylan knows there’s big money in body parts, but by the time he finds out who is making the cuts, he is lying naked in a bathtub himself, Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys. It turns out all the bad guys Raylan is after are girls this time.
“Stand Up that Mountain” by Jay Erskine Leutze
This is the true story of an outdoorsman living alone in Western North Carolina who teams up with his neighbors and environmental lawyers to save a treasured mountain peak from the mining company. One day the author got a call from a young woman, Ashley, and her Aunt Ollie. Ashley and Ollie said they had evidence that Clark Stone Company was violating the Mining Act of 1971 up on Belview Mountain, one of the most remote and wildest places in the eastern United States. They wanted Jay, a non-practicing attorney, to sue the company to put a stop to their mining operation. This is an underdog David vs. Goliath story with lots of good guys you love, and bad guys you love to hate. Not only did the case against the Clark Stone Company set groundbreaking legal precedent, but also the good guys won a complete victory. How they did it is chronicled in this book.
“The Perfect Witness” by Iris Johansen
She had the perfect life. She had the perfect cover. She was the perfect witness, until they found her. From the blockbuster bestselling author of the Eve Duncan novels comes a new, stand-alone thriller about a woman with a photographic memory who has lived her life in the Witness Protection Program. What she once saw put her entire family in jeopardy and now, years later, her cover is blown. She’s on the run, and the lives of those she holds dear hang in the balance.
We continue our review of just some of the more than 100 books local readers nominated for next year’s One Read program. Next up is “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” by Jacob Mira. In this emotional and atmospheric debut, decades after an interrupted visit to his mother’s home in India triggers a haunting series of events, brain surgeon Thomas Eapen begins having conversations with his dead relatives, prompting his career-beleaguered wife to investigate a painful family history.
The nominator of this book describes it as “a book about about the uneasy generational divide among Indians in America and about family in all its permutations … Similar issues haunt immigrant families from everywhere.”
Want to know what others in the community are reading and enjoying? See other books nominated for One Read 2015.
The post Suggested One Read: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing appeared first on One READ.
“The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses” by Kevin Birmingham tells the story of how one of the great novels of the 20th century almost didn’t come to be. Birmingham provides a look at Joyce’s life and work in the larger social context of the early 1900s. Though the contents of “Ulysses” would hardly cause an eye to bat in the present day, during the time the Irish author was writing the book censorship was thriving in the United States and Europe. In the U.S., the Comstock Act prohibited the circulation of obscene materials through the mail. Only a small handful of men were charged with defining obscenity, and their definitions tended to be broad. In addition, “Ulysses” was challenged under the Sedition Act, with the accusation that it promoted anarchy.
Portions of “Ulysses” first appeared in a Chicago-based literary magazine, The Little Review. The periodical was publishing the book in installments, right up until the editors were arrested for doing so. Fortunately for literature, Joyce had many supporters who were determined to make his novel available to the world. Ezra Pound, who called Joyce “probably the most significant prose writer of my generation,” coordinated efforts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Your Classics Maven admits that “Ulysses” can be a difficult work of literature. But she urges interested parties not to shy away from the book without at least trying. She herself has enjoyed it in the way you might enjoy being around an eccentric relative you don’t always understand, yet who supplies enough golden moments to make the occasional confusion worthwhile.
Everyone who reads fiction should know why “Ulysses” is considered important. Birmingham says the book “changed people’s ideas about what a novel is and what it can do.” The title is taken from the main character in Homer’s ancient Greek classic “The Odyssey,” and different sections of the story mirror bits of that epic. But instead of taking place over a period of decades, all of the action happens in one day. This was a new idea at the time, although it’s a familiar framing device today. Also new was Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness narration, reflecting the way people actually think, instead of tidy summations. Some passages aren’t intended to be understood so much as experienced; the Sirens’ song from Homer is represented by a string of words chosen for sound rather than meaning.
Even if you only read about Joyce’s “Ulysses” instead of working your way through its text, you’ll see its influence in other novels. Some contemporary authors dispense with quotations marks. Joyce has been there, done that. David Mitchell experiments with structure in a Joycean way. Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation” changes format several times as scenes shift, which we completely accept because Joyce first showed it could be done. So even if you haven’t read “Ulysses,” by reading contemporary fiction, you’ve read “Ulysses.”
The post Classics for Everyone: Starring “Ulysses” as “The Most Dangerous Book” appeared first on DBRL Next.
Each year we receive many nominations for One Read that fall into the category of historical fiction. Being set during different time periods, these books inspire rich discussion and offer up plenty of possibilities for educational programs. This year a local reader nominated David Benioff’s “City of Thieves,” a novel set in Russia during World War II. Documenting his grandparents’ experiences during the siege of Leningrad, a young writer learns his grandfather’s story about how a military deserter and he tried to secure pardons by gathering hard-to-find ingredients for a powerful colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake.
Our nominator describes this book as a “really fantastic coming of age story. I could not put it down when I was reading it and was sad to see this moving story come to a close. It’s great historical fiction, but the writing will appeal to readers who don’t normally pick up that genre because it is full of compelling characters and moves at a thrilling pace. I think this is a book that will appeal to readers of all ages and backgrounds.”
Read about other books nominated for One Read 2015.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a holiday gift for that special bookworm in your life, or you’re looking to get lost in the pages of a good book over the winter break, here are some “best of” lists of recommended young adult titles.
The Young Adult Library Services Association produces several lists each year which encompass books from a wide assortment of genres:
- 2014 Teen Book Award Winners (Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz award winners)
- 2014 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks
- 2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
- 2014 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
- 2014 Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
- 2014 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Be sure to check out these lists created by the publishing industry’s most renowned book reviewers, many of whom are librarians:
- Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Teen Books of 2014“
- School Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2014: Young Adult“
- GoodReads.com’s “Best Young Adult Fiction of 2014“
- Publishers Weekly’s “Best Children’s Fiction of 2014” (This list is a collection of highly-acclaimed children’s AND teen books.)
- Bank Street College’s “Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition” (Much like the Publisher’s Weekly list, this list features titles for both children and teens, however this list is conveniently sorted by age.)
With 2015 fast approaching, stay ahead of upcoming trends by subscribing to the library’s YA email newsletter. This monthly publication features reviews on the the most popular new releases in young adult fiction. Best of all, this newsletter is delivered straight to your inbox.
It’s also a good idea to monitor Good Reads’ lists of the “Most Exciting Upcoming YA Books” and “Upcoming YA Novels of 2015.” With your library card, you can reserve many upcoming titles before they are even published! Be sure to check out our online catalog, or give us a call at (800) 324-4806 to check on a book’s availability.
Originally published at Best Teen Books of 2014.
In 2002, the Daniel Boone Regional Library decided to start the community-wide reading program we now know as One Read. I was excited when it was announced that the first book selection was “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf. Kent Haruf was a former teacher of mine. This connection allowed me the opportunity to interview him for the library and to chauffeur him between readings and other events. Essentially, I was paid to spend time with the man. It was the best job I’ve been given in my time working for the library.
In every class I had with him he’d start the semester with a short speech to give the class an idea of the kind of writing he did. He told us about the town of Holt, Colorado, which existed only in his books. He said Holt was the kind of small town where everyone knew each other, “from the town drunk to the town mayor.” When he said that before a One Read event in Columbia, he got a little flustered. Columbia’s mayor at the time, Darwin Hindman, was there. Kent said he realized this was the first time he’d delivered that line with an actual mayor in the audience. Before a reading in Fulton, an elderly farmer and his wife approached Kent to tell him how much they liked his book. The farmer could especially relate to a scene where a cow gallops into the character Bobby and knocks the wind out of him. He’d had that exact experience many times himself.
Now I understand the true feat Kent accomplished in the classroom. We’re talking about short stories written by people in their late teens and early twenties. (I hope I’ve burned all evidence of mine.) Class after class. And he never seemed tired of us. He never made us feel like we didn’t have the potential, and he never made us think it could be easy.
For one of his classes we read Melville’s “Bartleby The Scrivener.” After we had all shared our impressions, he told us his. He told us about a former student at another college who was very isolated. The character Bartleby reminded him of that student. The last time he had heard about the student he was working at a bakery, living in an apartment above it, and spending very little time outside of those two places. I don’t know how many years it had been since he’d had that student in class, but you could hear the concern in his voice. You could tell he felt some regret that he wasn’t able to help the young man more.
That capacity for empathy made him such a good teacher, and a great writer. He cared about all his characters deeply, and he worked hard to bring them to life. Holt was based on the different small towns in Eastern Colorado he’d grown up in. Reading his books you can tell he had a real affection for the people in those towns. His writing focused on the small moments, the ordinary. His prose was spare but illuminated the moments he described. I think reading one of his novels makes our ordinary lives feel as significant as the lives in an epic or fantastic story. Maybe more so, for their being so familiar to us.
I was a little surprised by my reaction when I found out he had died. I admire him. I value the time I got to be around him, but I had only been in touch a handful of times since I graduated, and the last time was almost seven years ago. I haven’t become a published writer. I don’t teach English. I thought he was a part of my life that had passed. But the news was a real gut punch. Despite the lack of contact, I felt this sudden hole where he used to be. I realized the lasting impression he made. Then I felt sadder for not being able to tell him that. These kinds of common experiences – unexpected loss, small regrets – are what he wrote about so eloquently. I can’t help thinking as I try to put them into words, “Kent could have said it better.”
Kent Haruf wrote his seventh novel, “Our Souls At Night” before he passed away. It’s scheduled to be published in June.
As the holiday quickly approaches, the perfect gift to give is on the minds of many. My favorite tactic is giving the gift of food. It’s always a hit.
Like socks, sweaters and dish towels, if the recipient doesn’t like your gift, eventually it will disappear. But, if they love the food you gifted, they will have the delicious memory lingering on their taste buds and the recipe to make more and gift forward. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Below is a super yummy recipe for Spicy Ranch Pretzels. This my friends, is a CROWD PLEASER. At first glance they look like ordinary pretzels, but trust me when I say your friends and family will think you are a kitchen genius.
You can package this yummy treat in glass jars, decorate it with bow and attach a cute homemade gift tag along with the recipe. Boom! Holiday shopping, done!
- 16 oz bag miniature pretzels
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Mix dry ranch dressing mix, cayenne pepper and garlic powder with the oil in a medium bowl.
- Place pretzels in a larger bowl and top with oil mixture. Stir well to coat.
- Let sit in bowl for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes.
- Spread pretzels on a large cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool before packaging.
Don’t forget to check out these great cookbooks with gift ideas for all the foodies in your life. You can borrow them for free with your DBRL library card!
- Salty Snacks by Cynthia C. Nims
- The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook by Laura Trice
- Treat Yourself: 70 Classic Snacks You Loved as a Kid (and Still Love Today) by Jennifer Steinhauer
- Classic Snacks Made From Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of your Favorite Brands-name Treats by Casey Barber
Originally published at Homemade Holiday Gifts: Spicy Ranch Pretzels.
Remember those good old childhood days of playing card games in a pretty old house while drinking hot chocolate and looking out the window at the limestone wall of a prison? Well, that might not be a typical childhood memory, but it gave local author Marlene Lee plenty of inspiration for her latest book, aptly titled “Limestone Wall.” The house that overlooked the prison, which happens to be the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, belonged to one of Lee’s father’s patients, and he would take her with him to visit the woman who lived there. In “Limestone Wall,” the main character, Evelyn Grant, moves into this very house in Jefferson City.
DBRL: Your most recent book, “Limestone Wall,” is about a recently widowed woman who goes to find her estranged mother, who is in jail for murdering twin babies. It seems like there are some pretty heavy themes in this book. Could you talk about your inspiration? I know that before becoming a full-time writer you worked as a court room reporter. Did that influence your work?
ML: I should make clear that my mother never killed anyone or went to prison! When I was a girl in Jefferson City, however, she died, and I’ve always wished I could see her again. This novel was a fictional way to think about what it is like to remember the past and to bring someone back to life and then to find firm footing between reality and wish-fulfillment.
My 30 years as a court reporter no doubt influenced the novel. The scene with Evelyn in the courtroom was easy to write because I’ve been in so many courtrooms. I also sat in that empty courtroom in the Cole County Courthouse so that I could describe it accurately and better imagine what it felt like for Evelyn to sit there, lost in thought about her mother’s trial.
DBRL: The excerpt from the book on your website describes a prison waiting room in vivid detail. Did you visit any prisons as research?
ML: The prison waiting room is not based on a real waiting room. I took a private tour of the Missouri State Prison with two people who are knowledgeable about the old penitentiary and life behind the walls. At the time it was being emptied out because the prison was moving to its new site; thus, the prison in “Limestone Wall” is nearly empty of inmates because that was its condition when I saw it. I’ve visited several other prisons in other locations. Once in the state of Washington I reported the deposition of a prisoner who was going through an appeal process. I don’t pretend to know very much about prisons. I used the setting of the Missouri State Penitentiary to help build my story rather than to inform readers about the prison.
DBRL: I heard that you’re a regular at Lakota Coffee. Do you have a favorite drink there?
ML: My drink at the Lakota is the same every morning: a single-shot, skim-milk latte. It never fails to satisfy!
DBRL: Have you read any good books recently which you would like to recommend to our readers?
ML: I love the writing of Edward St. Aubyn. His semi-autobiographical novels about the character Patrick Melrose are magnificent. He has mastered the ability to make the reader feel as if she or he is living the life of the main character, both in the small details and the large events. Patrick’s life is troubled, courageous, and he fights the good fight for self-control and self-knowledge. I love Marilynne Robinson‘s wise and compassionate novels. William Styron has always been a favorite of mine. All three of these writers have a sensitive, insightful writing style that I admire. There are too many wonderful writers to include in one short list!
Marlene Lee, along with other local authors, will be speaking on a panel at the Columbia Public Library on December 13th at 1 p.m. in the Friends Room. These authors (including David Collins, Ida Fogle, Elaine Stewart, Lori Younker, Nidhi Khosla, William A. Wolff and Wayne Anderson) will be talking about their contributions to the recently published anthology of fiction and non-fiction, “Uncertain Promise.” To check out Marlene’s other events and to keep up-to-date on her writing, please visit her website.
Two weeks remain to register for the “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” audiobook giveaway! This title is co-authored by award-winning YA writers John Green and David Levithan. They have each autographed the copy that we will be giving away to one lucky winner on Friday, December 19.
The narrators of this audiobook, MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl, take turns reading alternate chapters, helping you understand the very complex personalities of two boys who happen to share the same name. This book was selected as an expert pick for LGBTQ Fiction for Adults and Teens. You can listen to a five-minute sample at AudioFileMagazine.com.
Originally published at Register by 12/19 for John Green’s Autograph.