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Suggested One Read: Life on the Mississippi

One Read - December 10, 2015

Book cover for Life on the MississippiEvery year we get a handful of nominations of books widely considered classics: “1984” by George Orwell, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck or “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, for example. This year is no different.

Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” combines history of the great river and the decline of the steamboat era with memoir-like tales of Twain’s life as a young man, before he became a writer. This book showcases Twain’s gift for descriptive prose, keen wit, talent for telling a tall tale and firm grasp of history, economics and politics. Our nominator says, “This sprawling collection of Twain’s memories from apprentice river boat pilot to his later river travels would be an appropriate One Read by perhaps our best known American author.”

Read about the other titles mid-Missouri readers nominated for One Read 2016.

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Human Rights Day 2015

DBRL Next - December 9, 2015

Book cover for Where Do We Go From Here by Martin Luther King, Jr.In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day in order to highlight the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” Now, I think that is a really great idea. Human rights – everyone should have them and they should be protected.

But what exactly is meant by “human rights”? In trying to answer that question I have learned that there are two types of rights: rights that are essential for a dignified and decent human existence, and rights which are essential for adequate development of human personality. Rights under the first category include the right to fulfillment of basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, health and sanitation, and earning one’s livelihood. The second category of human rights includes the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as cultural, religious and educational rights. Whew! I’m glad we’ve gotten that straight! I’m sure the book “The International Human Rights Movement: A History” could help explain the concept a lot more.

Book cover for Active HopeIt would be easy to get hung up on all the small stuff – and all the big stuff! There seems to be so much chaos and turmoil these days, both far away and close to home, and all affecting or having to do in one way or another with human rights. It feels as though the world is coming apart at the seams. But with this blog post, I wanted to focus on the positive because I feel like we could all just use a hug these days, even if it’s only a metaphorical or literary hug. So I went searching for books to give me a me a sense of hope in our communities, both local and global, and in our shared future.

The first book I found was the classic, “Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community” by Martin Luther King, Jr.  I have had this book on my “to-read” list for a very long time, and perhaps it’s time to move it up because his “dream” is still far from reality. Perhaps one way of making that dream a reality would be through forgiveness, and the book “Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World” by Megan Feldman Bettencourt could help in that quest.

Book cover for Keeping Hope Alive by Doctor Hawa AbdiI also found many books about inspiring people in war torn areas, like the book “Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman, 90,000 Lives Changed.” This book tells the story of Dr. Hawa Abdi who has dedicated herself to helping people whose lives have been shattered by violence and poverty by turning her 1,300 acres of farmland into a camp just outside of Mogadishu. There is also the book “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War” about Leymah Gbowee. This remarkable woman founded the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, “a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike.”

Then there were books to give me hope for peace in the world. “Soup for Syria: Building Peace Through Food” sounds very promising. It actually reminds me of a book I read several years ago called “Peace Meals: Candy Wrapped Kalashnikovs and Other War Stories.” And I think we could all use more peace through good food.

But what can I do? Wendell Berry has always been an inspiration for me, and he has a new book called “Our Only World: Ten Essays,” which calls for “clear thinking” and “direct action.” There is also President Carter’s “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” Carter addresses the violence, patriarchy and abuse that can be found in religion without denying his own religion, which I deeply respect. And then there is “The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World,” which promises to show us “how we can become active citizens with the skills and strength to defeat injustice and end all war.” That’s a tall order, but I’m willing to give it a go!

Here are some more books (and some DVDs) for further reading.

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Staff Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

DBRLTeen - December 9, 2015

The Walled City by Ryan GraudinWhy I Checked It Out: I’d never heard of this book before, and honestly, the cover isn’t overly compelling. It’s just black and red text that says “The Walled City.” But, then I opened the front cover and read, “730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped. 18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out,” and I was invested. Done. I had to read it.

What It’s About: The premise for this story is based upon a real place: Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. It is considered the densest human settlement on earth with 33,000 people living within the space of one city block. It was rife with prostitution, gambling and drug trafficking, and was eventually demolished in 1994. Obviously, the author has taken a few liberties, but her story isn’t too far from the truth.

The tale follows three teens. Dai, a drug trafficker, is hunting his own demons. Jin is a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to survive gang life. She is constantly in search of her sister, Mei Yee, who has been sold to a brothel. All three are seeking escape.

Okay, this book is dark–its pages are saturated with dark themes. This title is definitely for older teens. That being said though, this book is different than anything else I’ve read in 2015, and I found that refreshing.

What I Liked About It: I haven’t read a lot of books with alternating viewpoints, so that was another reason I was interested in “The Walled City.” Each character has a strong voice and I fell in love with their stories, cheering them on. There is a lot of action, and the writing style is set up with short abrupt sentences which help to pull you forward. The world touches on being fantastical by its otherworldly nature, but when you realize a place like this existed, it only makes you more intrigued.

Similar Titles: Of course because I read fantasy, I want to recommend fantasy titles, but I’ll try to mix it up. If you enjoy the sister connection, you might try “Atlantia” by Ally Condie. If you like the dark and gritty nature, look into “The Bodies We Wear” by Jeyn Roberts. And, if you like the fantasy, try “Salt and Storm” by Kendall Kulper.

Originally published at Staff Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin.

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Suggested One Read: Between the World and Me

One Read - December 8, 2015

Book cover for Between the World and MeWhile nominations for the 2016 One Read program are now closed, we are highlighting just some of the titles area readers think the community should read together. Next up is a book that received several nominations: the National Book Award-winner, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Framed as an extended letter to his teen-aged son,  Coates describes in language both lyrical and powerful what it is like to inhabit a black body in this country. One nominator writes, “A thoughtful, well-written book/memoir about race in America by a writer for the Atlantic magazine. It could serve as a foundation for a community discussion on race relations – extremely topical, especially with current issues at MU and nationwide.”

Check out what others in your community are reading and enjoying!

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The Art of Letter Writing

DBRL Next - December 7, 2015

Photo of a letter and pen by Ryan BlandingMy brother Michael and I were born about 16 months apart and have always been very close. When we started our adventures away from home, in the early 1990s, we began a series of correspondence by letter that has continued to this day. Back in the early days, we wrote each other once or even twice a week. We continue to correspond by pen and paper, although less frequently than in our youth, as we still live half a continent apart. Considered a “lost art” by many, both of us uphold the art of letter writing as communication, solace and even therapy. The library has many books about letter writing, and what better time to celebrate than December 7 – National Letter Writing Day!

Book cover for If you Find This LetterFor the author Hannah Brencher, letter writing was found to be an elixir for melancholy, leading her to pen the book “If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.”  The premise is especially captivating: Brencher started a website called “The World Needs More Letters” so that she might reach out beyond herself and connect with others, while attempting to recover from her bouts with serious depression. Thus began a campaign to spread love and well-wishes to strangers throughout the world. Brencher writes, after getting the project off the ground: “The stories kept coming. They keep coming very day. And with each one I read, there is less urgency to tie the thing up with a white bow or look for the happy ending.” You can find her website here:

Uncertainty about engaging in this seemingly lost art might keep some people from writing. For encouragement, look no further than the book “The Art of the Personal Letter” by Margaret Shepherd. In chapters like “The Tools of the Trade,” Shepherd helps guide readers toward rewarding letter writing experiences. “Once you see how much easier it is to write with a roller-ball pen or marker, and how much better the script looks, you might be inspired to go one step further and explore the traditional look and feel of a fountain pen,” she writes. Included in the book are examples of real letters, samples of good penmanship and formats for “better document design.”

Book cover for The Love of LettersFor the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication,” written in 2012 by John O’Connell, is an exuberant celebration of the art. Using historical examples of the form from dozens of famous and not so famous Englishmen (O’Connell is British himself), he goes on to say, “letters shape and define lives. They also encapsulate them much more effectively than biography because they show rather than tell us what a person was like.”  O’Connell also takes a long look at the letters produced during wartime, and how these particular letters often were the “only way to stay in touch with fathers, sons and brothers who had been posted abroad.”

Speaking of war – please see “Conkrite’s War: His World War II Letters Home.” Compiled by Walter Conkrite IV and Maurice Isserman, the book is a collection of correspondence by the then obscure 23-year-old United Press wire service reporter. His grandson, Conkrite IV, says in the introduction to the book, “The effect that World War II had on my grandfather was profound – and provided the foundation for the rest of his illustrious career.” Attached as a reporter to the 8th Air Force, Cronkite’s letters are at times filled with loneliness and longing for his life in America. Cronkite writes in January of 1944: “My precious Betsy,  Here it is Betsymas Eve (referring to his wife’s upcoming birthday) and we are still apart and I am very lonely and unhappy. How much I would like to be with you on your birthday . . .” Interestingly, because of the sensitive nature of many of his assignments, most of his correspondence did not disclose his location or exact whereabouts.

Finally, one must not forget love letters. An especially touching volume, “The Love Letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning,” is found on our shelves. Browning writes in an early epistle: “Your letter made me so happy, dear Miss Barrett, that I have kept quiet this while: is it too great a shame if I begin to want more good news of you, and to say so?” Their letters are filled with longing but also with practical concerns as they were written in secret, mainly because of her demonstrative and abusive father.  Elizabeth eventually married Browning and was subsequently disinherited.

Write a letter or two this month – to a loved one or even a stranger. You will feel better for it and help uphold this meaningful and very personal form of communication that has survived the centuries.

photo credit: Studio V2 via photopin (license)

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While School is Out…

DBRLTeen - December 7, 2015

School Door
For most area schools, Winter Break will begin on Monday, December 21 and classes will resume shortly after the New Year. During this time, the library has several activities planned for teens and their families.

Holiday Crafternoon
Monday, December 21
Callaway County Public Library, 1-4 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, 2-4 p.m.
Join us for an afternoon of crafting cards and gifts for the holidays. We’ll provide an array of crafting supplies. All ages.

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.

While all DBRL facilities will be closed on December 24 and 25, don’t forget that our digital branch is open 24/7/365. Get free access to hundreds of downloadable and streaming eBooks, audiobooks, music albums, movies, TV shows, comic books and magazines. All you need is your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). 

Overdrive offers access to thousands of downloadable eBook and audiobook titles, including many of the most popular young adult novels.

Hoopla allows you to watch movies and TV shows, listen to music and audiobooks, or read eBooks and comic books with your computer or mobile device for free.

Zinio offers over 100 free digital magazines for you to read on your computer, tablet or smartphone such as Seventeen, ESPN, Girl’s Life, Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, Popular Science, US Weekly and many more.

Freegal allows you to permanently download five free songs per week and listen to five hours of ad-free streaming music daily.

Originally published at While School is Out….

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Remembering John Lennon

DBRL Next - December 4, 2015

 The Life“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope some day you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.” – John Lennon

It’s hard to imagine, but December 8 marks the 35th anniversary of the passing of John Lennon. As a member of the Beatles, his music sent a startling ripple through the music world. Lennon and his bandmates didn’t create rock and roll, but their role in popularizing it and helping to bring about the musical revolution of the 1960s can’t be denied. The music Lennon wrote during his Beatles years can certainly be credited with getting people dancing. As a solo musician, his music, which had evolved to reflect his interest in social activism, got people thinking. 

Lennon’s life has been written about numerous times. “John Lennon: The Life,” by Philip Norman is quite notable for its rich detail and vivid imagery of the Liverpool of Lennon’s youth, as well as its exploration of the darker side of the multi-faceted artist. Cynthia Lennon, the musician’s first wife, presents a very personal look into Lennon’s years with the Beatles in the biography “John.” Their marriage was tumultuous, and her book captures its unraveling as Lennon tried, and ultimately failed, to balance his life as a Beatle with his life as a husband and father. Author Gary Tillery presents yet another side of the singer in “The Cynical Idealist,” which focuses on how Lennon’s spirituality and philosophies ultimately influenced his music.

 In His LIfeSometimes the most interesting part of reading biographies are the pictures they contain. Author John Blaney’s photo-biography “John Lennon: In His Life” contains full page images that capture Lennon and his bandmates through the exciting 1960s, giving way to photos of Lennon during his later years as a solo musician. Mat Snow’s “The Beatles Solo: John Lennon” is a beautifully illustrated guide to Lennon’s life during his solo career. Perhaps the most personal, “Instamatic Karma” by Lennon’s former girlfriend May Pang, contains candid shots of Lennon at work and at play with his family and friends.

Of course, Lennon was a man of words, so perhaps the best way get to know him is through his own writings. “The John Lennon Letters,” edited by Hunter Davies, is a collection of over 300 letters and postcards that Lennon sent during his lifetime. These unguarded writings are enhanced by annotations that tell the stories behind these communications. “Skywriting by Word of Mouth” offers a personal look into Lennon’s life through essays and drawings he created during his transition from Beatle to solo artist. It includes his own mini-autobiography, “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

One can’t help but wonder how much more Lennon would have contributed to the art world had his life been longer. Thankfully, he left behind a body of work that will continue to inspire and entertain for generations to come.

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Suggested One Read: A Wilder Rose

One Read - December 3, 2015

Book cover for A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig AlbertWe 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 “A Wilder Rose” by Susan Wittig Albert. This novel fictionalizes the real-life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter’s role in the creation of the Little House books, shedding light on the lives of both of these writers.

The nominator of this book suggests that there would be “local interest since Rose Wilder Lane lived in Columbia for a time.”  Our nominator also quoted the book’s October 2013 write-up in Kirkus Reviews: “Albert has written a nuanced, moving and resonant novel about fraught mother-daughter relationships, family obligation and the ways we both inherit and reject the values of our parents. The book also offers insightful, timely commentary on what it means to be a career writer. With all of the charm of the Little House series – and the benefit of a sophisticated, adult worldview – Albert’s novel is an absolute pleasure.”

Want to know what others in the community are reading and enjoying? See other books nominated for One Read 2016.

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2015 “Teens’ Top Ten” Winners Announced

DBRLTeen - December 3, 2015

Teens' Top TenVoting for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten took place from mid-August through Teen Read Week, Oct. 18-24, with more than 27,000 votes cast. There were 24 nominees that competed for the “top ten” list. Below are this year’s winning titles.

The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, with teens nominating and choosing their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in 16 school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on “Celebrate Teen Literature Day” during “National Library Week” and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles between August and October.

The Shadow Throne” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
War is on the horizon in Carthya, and Jaron needs to protect his country. However, the ruler of Avenia has also captured Jaron’s best friend and love, Imogen. Jaron needs to save both his friend and his country, but everything that possibly could go wrong, does go wrong.

I Become Shadow” by Joe Shine
Ren Sharpe was abducted at fourteen, chosen by the mysterious F.A.T.E. Center to become a Shadow: an unstoppable guardian of a future leader/world changer. After four years of training, she is assigned to protect Gareth Young, one of these future beings, an easy assignment, until a team of trained and armed professionals attempt to abduct him in broad daylight. With nowhere else to turn, Ren breaks F.A.T.E. rules and tracks down the only person she can trust; a fellow Shadow named Junie Miller, and decides that her kidnappers may be able to see the future, but they are unprepared for the killing machines they’ve created.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han
Lara Jean has a teal hatbox under her bed filled with all her precious things, old feelings, and memories that should be buried forever. In that box, there are letters Lara has written to all the boys she has ever loved with no intention of ever sending them. One day, the hat box goes missing, marking the beginning of a series of confrontations she never thought she’d have to face.

My Life with the Walter Boys” by Ali Novak
As the perfect girl who had everything scheduled, always looked nice and studied hard, Jackie couldn’t predict her parents’ accident. She also didn’t see her future consisting of moving from New York to Colorado and living with twelve boys. How can she cope with her parents’ death, a dramatic change in lifestyle while still being the perfect girl she was?

Heir of Fire” by Sarah J. Maas
Celaena, the King’s Champion, has faced many challenges throughout her life, but none compare to what she must now face. As the King of Adarlan seeks to destroy all that she cares about, Celaena must learn to control her powers while deciding who should fight back: Celaena the assassin or Aelin the Fae princess.

The Bane Chronicles” by Cassandra Clare
Magnus Bane, the mysterious High Warlock of New York, has been alive for a long time and has a mysterious past unknown to most of his companions. In this thrilling novel, secrets and stories are revealed, of lovers, of adventures, and of friendships.

The Young Elites” by Marie Lu
Adelina Amounteru is a survivor of the plague, a Malfetto, a freak to the rest of society. The treatment of abuse over the years has caused a darkness to brew inside her. She believes there is hope for her yet as there is a group of other Malfettos, called the Young Elites. The Young Elites have not only survived the plague, but have developed unexplainable abilities. Is refuge with these people what Adelina always wanted, or are they just going to end up using her like everyone else?

The Kiss of Deception” by Mary E. Pearson
As Lia tries to run from her bounty hunters, she begins uncovering one of her kingdoms deceptive secrets, hidden by the years passed. Meanwhile, she begins falling in love with two men who are not who they seem to be…

Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Matson
Emily and Sloane are the bestest friends having an amazing summer, until one day Sloane disappears. Sloane leaves behind a to-do list of 13 tasks Emily would normally never try without Sloane by her side. With the help of Frank Porter, and a few other friends, will Emily finish the list?

The Geography of You and Me” by Jennifer E. Smith
Lucy and Owen get stuck in an elevator in a New York City blackout. When they finally get out of the elevator, they spend the night looking at the stars. Soon after the blackout, Lucy moves away to Scotland while Owen heads out west. With that night in-grained into their minds, they try to stay in touch with each other while trying to figure out what that night truly meant for both of them.

Originally published at 2015 “Teens’ Top Ten” Winners Announced.

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Librarian Favorites of 2015

DBRL Next - December 2, 2015

Book cover for Girl on the TrainLibraryReads is a monthly top-ten list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend. This December, the organizers compiled a “favorite of favorites” list, asking librarians to vote on their top picks from the more than 100 titles appearing on LibraryReads lists over the past year. If you didn’t read these books the first time they were recommended, now is your chance! Check them out to read over the holidays, or use the list for gift ideas when shopping for the readers among your friends and family.

Topping the list is “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins – no surprise there. The holds list at the library for this book was miles long, and everyone seems to be seeking the next “Gone Girl.” This dark, psychological thriller fits the bill.

Here’s the rest of the best – happy reading!

Book cover for Dead WakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson
“In cinematic terms, this dramatic page-turner is Das Boot meets Titanic. Larson has a wonderful way of creating a very readable, accessible story of a time, place and event. We get three sides of the global story – the U-boat commander, British Admiralty and President Wilson – but what really elevates this book are the affecting stories of individual crew and passengers.” – Robert Schnell, Queens Library, Jamaica, NY

Book cover for The Rosie EffectThe 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

Book cover for The Nature of the BeastThe Nature of the Beast” (A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) by Louise Penny 
“Louise Penny set the bar high with her last two books, but she had no trouble clearing it with this one. All our old friends are back in Three Pines where a young boy with a compulsion to tell tall tales tells one true story with disastrous results. But which story is the truth and why is it so threatening? Exquisitely suspenseful, emotionally wrenching and thoroughly satisfying.” – Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Book cover for A Spool of Blue ThreadA Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler
“In this book, we come to know three generations of Whitshanks – a family with secrets and memories that are sometimes different than what others observe. The book’s timeline moves back and forth with overlapping stories, just like thread on a spool. Most readers will find themselves in the story. Once again, Tyler has written an enchanting tale.” – Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Book cover for Circling the SunCircling the Sun” by Paula McLain
“I couldn’t stop reading this fascinating portrayal of Beryl Markham, a complex and strong-willed woman who fought to make her way in the world on her terms. McLain paints a captivating portrait of Africa in the 1920s and the life of expats making their home there. Highly, highly recommended.” – Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC

Book cover for Furiously HappyFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson
“Lawson’s hilarious memoir is a romp between absurdity and despondency. Passages alternate from ridiculously funny stories of her life to episodes of her sometimes debilitating depression. Lawson embraces living life, rather than merely surviving it. Why be just happy when you can be furiously so? Recommended to fans of David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley.” – PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Book cover for The Little Paris BookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George
“Quirky and delightful, Nina George’s book focuses on Jean Perdu, owner of the Literary Apothecary, a floating bookshop. When a new tenant in his apartment building sets in motion events that force Jean to re-evaluate his past, he finds himself floating off down the rivers of France in search of lost love, new love and friends he didn’t know he needed.” – Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Book cover for Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal
“This novel is quirky and colorful. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, Kitchens of the Great Midwest will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will also enjoy this delicious tale.” – Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

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

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Suggested One Read: All the Light We Cannot See

One Read - December 1, 2015

Book cover for All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrNominations for our 2016 One Read book are now closed, but we will be highlighting some of the more than 100 suggested titles throughout the month so you can check out what your fellow mid-Missourians are reading and recommending.

Next up is “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this ambitious and beautiful novel weaves the stories of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths finally collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

This work of fiction received more than one nomination. One reader says, “This historical novel humanizes the experience of those who lived through WWII in Europe and speaks to the power of technology and the strength of the human spirit.” Another nominator writes, “[The book] is luminously written. And it is about the goodness that is in us at times when all around us there is hate and pain.”

See some of the other titles that have been nominated for One Read 2016.

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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 Shilts
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,” Shilts’ 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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