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Let’s play literary Jeopardy. The clue is: Making its first appearance in April 1915, this book of poems spoke of life in a fictional Midwestern town and has been the inspiration for numerous theatrical productions, musical compositions in multiple genres and at least one computer game. If you said “What is ‘Spoon River Anthology’ by Edgar Lee Masters?” you won this round.
Masters was a practicing attorney who dabbled in literature on the side. He’d published a few pieces previous to 1915, but “Spoon River Anthology” brought him a level of success that allowed him to quit his law practice and follow his dream of writing full-time.
The fictional village of Spoon River was based on Masters’ hometown of Lewiston, Illinois. Each poem in the book, with the exception of the introductory one, is narrated from the grave by a different deceased town resident. Since there are no consequences to be suffered, the characters can speak with honesty, showing realities of small town life not often acknowledged at the time. People discuss extra-marital affairs, domestic violence, greed, swindling and all manner of pettiness with surprising frankness.
Just as in life, some speak with bitterness and others with contentment. This is true not only of their lives, but also their deaths and graves. A couple of cemetery dwellers quarrel with what’s written on their tombstones. But the town drunk is happy enough with his lot in death, enjoying the prestige of finding himself — through sheer happenstance — the next-door neighbor of a prominent citizen.
Some names come up again and again. The bank president, for instance, affected many lives. By allowing the characters to tell not only their own stories, but also share their memories of family and neighbors, Masters gives readers a more complete view of the life of the town. For instance, the village pharmacist muses on a married couple who have each already had a say about their relationship:
There were Benjamin Pantier and his wife,
Good in themselves, but evil toward each other:
He oxygen, she hydrogen,
Their son, a devastating fire.
Read the book and get to know the late residents of Spoon River. Your life will be richer for it. 100 years later, their voices still resonate.
by James McBride “Station Eleven”
by Emily St. John Mandel Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The One Read reading panel narrowed the list of more than 115 book suggestions for the 2015 program to two top contenders. Between now and April 24, cast your vote for either “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride or “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel.“The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride
“Little Onion,” a 12-year-old slave actually named Henry, is mistaken for a girl and forced to flee the Kansas territory with abolitionist John Brown after an altercation with his master. The adventures that follow, told in Onion’s vibrant and singular voice, take us from Bloody Kansas to New York and Canada, where we meet the likes of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, before returning to Virginia and the doomed raid on Harpers Ferry. Sometimes humorous and irreverent, at other times sad and thoughtful, this character-driven novel makes a well-known and tragic time in our nation’s history feel new.
- Author’s Website
- Publisher’s Page
- New York Times Book Review
- Washington Post Review
- Author Interview With NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday
Twenty years after a deadly flu outbreak kills most of the world’s population, what survives? What matters? This haunting novel begins with the on-stage death of a famous actor during his performance of King Lear, which coincides with the beginning of the pandemic. The narrative moves back and forth between the actor’s younger life and 20 years after his death, weaving the stories of a handful of people connected to him – some closely, like his ex-wife, and some by the smallest thread, like the EMT who attempted to save his life. A lyrically written examination of the importance of art and what it means to be human.
- Author’s Website
- Publisher’s Page
- New York Times Book Review
- Kirkus Review
- Author Interview With The Millions
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2014 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
Lara Jean seems to think her life if pretty perfect with her sisters and her dad. When her older sister leaves for college, her life takes a sudden unexpected turn. She is left to take over as the “mom” of the family, but the biggest surprise she receives is when her secret love letters, kept in a hatbox, are all accidentally mailed out to all the boys she had feelings for in the past. She learns how to deal with it as each one emerges in her life as they receive them. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a great book about a teenage girl learning to navigate her life and new love.
Three words that describe this book: easy read, self-discovery, sweet
You might want to pick this book up if: you like books with a little bit of romance and a high school girl learning how to navigate through life.
A cool surprise awaits young adults in the teen section of each of our three library branches. We recently integrated interactive touchscreens called BookViews into our teen displays. This device shares video previews for some of our most popular YA books. It’s a great way to discover new series and authors, or add to your personal reading list. The BookView is updated monthly to provide new book trailers for our ever-expanding collection of YA fiction. Be sure to check it out the next time you are at our facilities in Columbia, Fulton or Ashland!
Originally published at Discover New YA Series and Authors with BookView.
Keija Parssinen, director of the local Quarry Heights Writers’ Workshop and author of the 2013 One Read book, “The Ruins of Us,” just published her second novel, “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis.” Kirkus Reviews described the book as “a modern Southern gothic with a feminist edge and the tense pacing of a thriller.” In anticipation of her talk at the Columbia Public Library this Thursday, Parssinen kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of DBRL Next’s Ask the Author series.
DBRL: Many of our patrons are familiar with your last novel, “The Ruins of Us,” which was the library’s One Read selection in 2013. That book told the story of a wealthy American-Saudi Arabian family living in Saudi Arabia. “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis” focuses on the stories of younger women and is set in a fictional oil refinery town in southern Texas. Can you discuss some of the differences between these books?
KP: While “The Ruins of Us” unfolds slowly, culminating in a violent act that undoes the Baylani family, “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis” opens with a bang — the discovery of a deceased fetus in a dumpster — and hurtles the reader forward, headlong, into the story. It is also narrated by two teenage girls, so it has a slightly narrower scope than Ruins, though I think both the narrators of Mercy are wise and astute in their own way. The books share more in common than appears at surface level, though — both novels are character-driven, with plot used as a device through which to examine individuals and their broader community. Character psychology, or what makes people act the way they do, is the most interesting thing about fiction, to me, so developing complex, fully dimensional characters in both books was important to me.
DBRL: What were some books or events that inspired “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis”?
KP: The spark of the idea came from an article by Susan Dominus in the New York Times Magazine, titled “What Happened to the Girls in LeRoy,” about a curious case of uncontrollable physical and verbal tics among a group of high school girls in upstate New York. The article immediately made me think of the Salem Witch Trials and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” which is one of my favorite plays. Many of the characters’ names in Mercy Louis are borrowed from Salem, including Mercy’s. Some reviewers have also compared Mercy to “The Scarlet Letter,” which I had in mind, peripherally, while I was writing.
DBRL: The story is told partially from the protagonist, Mercy’s, point of view, and partially from Illa’s, an acquaintance at her school. Why did you choose to tell the story this way?
KP: Mercy is in some ways the classic Gothic heroine, naive to a fault. While she’s tough and strong and smart, she’s not very worldly. Illa is far more shrewd and can give the reader insight into Mercy’s world, and the town of Port Sabine, which Mercy herself can’t give. Plus I’m always drawn to narratives of obsession, and wallflower Illa’s obsession with superstar Mercy is a big plot driver in the novel.
DBRL: This book has been described as a coming-of-age story. Do you think that there is a lack of these types of books, at least ones that are told from the female perspective? Are there some particularly good ones that you’ve read?
KP: One reviewer very kindly compared Mercy to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” that classic Southern bildungsroman. I was very flattered by that comparison. Harper Lee aside, there does seem to be a dearth of classic coming-of-age stories from the female perspective, perhaps because until recently, society hasn’t been able to look honestly at what happens as a girl transitions into womanhood — it’s perhaps too messy, or too sexual, or too ugly. Only boys can make mistakes and then afford to write about them; girls had to hide them away like blemishes, I suppose. Lately, I’ve been devouring Elena Ferrante‘s Neapolitan novels, which offer a blazingly brave tale of coming of age in 1960s/70s Naples. In fact, they present the most astonishing, raw, sincere portrait of girlhood, sex, motherhood, marriage and friendship that I’ve ever read! I can’t say enough good things about these books. They have meant so much to me, as a woman and a writer.
DBRL: Have you read any other good books lately that you would like to recommend to our readers?
Don’t miss Keija Parssinen’s author talk this Thursday, April 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Friend’s Room of the Columbia Public Library! Copies of the book will be available for purchase or signing. Also, check out her website to find more events or to learn more about the book.
Bestseller “All the Light We cannot See” by Anthony Doerr has a long waiting list at the library. This is a tale of two young people – blind Marie-Laure, living with her father in France, and Werner, a teenage orphan who as a child in Germany had great tenacity to learn all he could about radios and transmitting. Their paths cross when he, now a soldier in the the Nazi army, intercepts Marie-Laure’s innocent (but forbidden) reading of Jules Verne over the radio. If you find yourself on the waiting list for this work of historical fiction, here are a few other choices you might find enjoyable.
“Jacob’s Oath” by Martin Fletcher
World War II has come to an end. Europe’s roads are clogged with homeless holocaust survivors. One survivor, Jacob, is consumed with hatred for the concentration camp guard nicknamed “The Rat” for killing his brother as well as many others. He meets Sarah on his journey home and falls in love. Now, he must choose to avenge the past or let it go and build a new life with Sarah.
“In the Wolf’s Mouth” by Adam Foulds
In this work of literary fiction set in Sicily at the end of World War II, as the allies chase the Nazis out into the Italian mainland, two parallel stories unfold. One focuses on two service men – Will Walker, English field security officer, and Ray Marifione, an Italian-American infantry man. The second story explores the presence of the mafia through the eyes of a young shepherd named Angilu and Ciro Albanese, a local Mafioso. The war is portrayed as just a temporary distraction from what is really going on in Sicily.
“The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer
In 1937 Budapest three brothers leave home to find their calling. Andras-Levi, architectural student, heads to Paris with a letter he promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern, with whom he ends up having a complicated relationship. His older brother heads to Modena to medical school as his younger brother leaves school for the stage. At the end of Andras’ second year in Paris, the Germans occupy the city, thrusting the brothers into the erupting war.
The post What to Read While You Wait for All the Light We Cannot See appeared first on DBRL Next.
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult book as selected by high school students, while the Truman Readers Award is chosen by junior high students. Even though these awards are administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner. Based on circulation figures throughout our library system, DBRLTeen predicts that the following books will be recognized as this year’s top titles:
Predicted Gateway Readers Award winners:
- First Place: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
- Second Place: “Every Day” by David Levithan
- Third Place: “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons
Predicted Truman Readers Award winners:
- First Place: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer
- Second Place: “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
- Third Place: “The Raft” by S.A. Bodeen
The actual award winners will be announced at the MASL Spring Conference in mid-April. Subscribe to our email updates to have the results delivered directly to your inbox!
Originally published at 2015 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions.
Spring has sprung! And with spring arrives a new crop of LibraryReads books, the top ten titles publishing in April and recommended by librarians across the country. With new books from old favorites like Sara Gruen and Elizabeth Berg, this month’s list contains nothing but novels and is heavy on the historical fiction. A little romance and some twisty thrillers round out the list. Enjoy!
“At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen
“Set in Loch Ness, right in the middle of WWII, a foolish group of rich Americans arrive in search of the famous monster. Narrator Maddie must make sense of the circumstances that have brought her to this wild locale. Only then can she discover the strength she needs to make her own decisions. Enjoy a delightfully intriguing cast of characters and the engaging style of storytelling that has made Gruen so popular.” - Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI
“A Desperate Fortune” by Susanna Kearsley
“While transcribing an old manuscript of a young girl’s diary, Sara decodes an account of Jacobite spies. Long before, Mary Dundas gets involved in a mission which makes her confidante to the King of Scotland in exile. And along the way, both women fall for men they know little about. Kearsley is a master at seamlessly blending stories from two time periods. Readers who enjoy a little puzzle solving with their historical fiction will be rewarded.” - Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
“The Dream Lover” by Elizabeth Berg
“George Sand leaves her estranged husband and children to embark on a life of art in bohemian Paris. A talented writer who finds monetary and critical success, Sand adopts a man’s name, often dresses as a gentleman and smokes cigars. Through her writing, politics, sexual complexities and views on feminism, Sand is always seeking love. This novel has spurred me to learn more about George Sand, a woman truly ahead of her time.” - Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog so you can place holds on these forthcoming books.
- “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
- “Still the One” by Jill Shalvis
- “Inside the O’Briens” by Lisa Genova
- “House of Echoes” by Brendan Duffy
- “The Precious One” by Marisa de los Santos
- “The Bone Tree” by Greg Iles
- “Where They Found Her” by Kimberly McCreight
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
VOTE NOW through April 1 for the tournament champion!
Three months of reading and preparation have led to this moment: the announcement of our teen book tournament finalists! Thank you to all the students who have shared their favorites with us. So far, we’ve collected over 200 ballots from dozens of area teens. With each round of voting, teens’ names have been entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like free book sets or a Barnes & Noble gift card. Prize winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 7 when we announce our tournament champion.
March Madness Teen Book Tournament Finalists
Originally published at 2015 Teen Book Tournament Finalists Announced.
“The closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. Knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place.” – Albert Maysles
Documentary film director Albert Maysles passed away earlier this month at the age of 88. Albert, who often collaborated with his brother David (1931-1987), was a pioneer of the “direct cinema” genre and created several influential films that helped form the documentary film world we know today. The library has many films that Albert was involved with during his lifetime, but I’ve decided to highlight a few notable ones in this blog post:
Captures in vivid detail the bygone era of the door-to-door salesman. While laboring to sell gold-embossed bibles, Paul Brennan and his colleagues target the beleaguered masses, then face the demands of quotas and the frustrations of life on the road.
“Gimme Shelter” (1970)
A documentary on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour of the United States, including a performance at Madison Square Garden and a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in California where violence broke out between fans and Hell’s Angels who were providing security.
“Grey Gardens” (1975)
A portrait of the relationship between Edith Bouvier Beale and her grown daughter, Little Edie, once an aspiring actress in New York who left her career to care for her aging mother in their East Hampton home and never left again. This influential film inspired various works over the years.
On March 24 we celebrate the birthday of one of the world’s most famous magicians — Harry Houdini. As a young Hungarian immigrant growing up in Appleton, WI, Houdini (then known as Ehrich Weiss) loved to entertain, and so he spent his days practicing acrobatics and circus tricks. Houdini became fascinated with magic and spectacle after seeing traveling conjurers perform seemingly impossible acts. At age 12 he left home to study magic, eventually becoming quite adept with feats of escape. No set of handcuffs or straitjacket existed that he could not not escape from! Houdini’s death-defying acts eventually drew huge crowds who wanted to see him complete the impossible. One of his most famous acts involved escaping in less than three minutes from a locked, water-filled tank he was suspended upside down in — and he did this all with his hands tied together. How exciting it must have been to see him at work!
It’s too late for us to witness his magic in person, but the library has several interesting offerings if you’d like to learn a bit more about Houdini:
- “Houdini! The Career of Ehrich Weiss” by Kenneth Silverman is probably one of the most thorough Houdini biographies available. Drawing extensively from diaries, letters and other personal documents, Silverman’s book illustrates Houdini’s captivating rise to great fame ending with his tragic death at age 52. (Houdini was sucker-punched and died days later from complications of a burst appendix; Don Bell’s, “The Man Who Killed Houdini,” explores the strange events that lead up to this devastating event.)
- What drives a man to put himself in situations that could potentially cost his life? Author Ruth Brandon’s “The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini” examines Houdini from a psychological perspective, offering insightful glimpses into what pushed him to attempt the impossible.
- Houdini was a man of his times, and his art was very much shaped by the world around him. Brooke Kamin Rapaport’s “Houdini: Art and Magic,” is a non-traditional biography about Houdini’s place in history and the effect he had on the art and performance worlds. This book is quite beautiful with photos of Houdini and artifacts from his time, including images of his own diary entries. If photos and images are appealing to you, you may also want to check out “Houdini: His Legend and His Magic” by Doug Henning. This entertaining read is full of imagery, including illustrations of some of Houdini’s most famous escapes.
- Houdini’s life was recently recreated in the television movie, “Houdini.” Although it is not completely historically accurate, it does provide an engaging (and entertaining) look into his life and magic.
After reading up on Houdini, you may be inspired to try a little magic of your own. Escaping from a water-filled box might not be a trick you’re capable of replicating, so thankfully the library has several resources that offer plenty of magic tricks you can learn to impress your friends and family. Happy reading!
The post Exploring the Magic and Spectacle of Harry Houdini appeared first on DBRL Next.
The registration deadline for the May 2 SAT exam is Monday, April 6. Sign-up online. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our online guide to SAT/ACT preparation.
The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow. Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (800) 324-4806.
Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!
Originally published at April 6 Registration Deadline for May SAT Exam.
If you’re like me, basketball is your favorite sport. You like the way they dribble up and down the court. Perhaps unlike me, you actually have skills on this court. My basketball career ended when I tried out for the team in the seventh grade and didn’t make the cut. What’s that? Oh, no, no — I just have something in my eye. . .
Yet I still play, and display mad skills, on the basketball courts of my mind! I’m the Michael Jordan of these imaginary courts. (Actually more of a Dr. J/Pistol Pete hybrid, but with the dominance of Jordan — I’ve put some thought into this.) See, long ago I was consumed by the madness — March Madness. I grew up in a relatively sports-free household, except for this strange time of year when my father, not much of a TV watcher, camped out in front of the TV for hours at a time. He was watching college basketball. Would a weekend of early spring weather get my father, a fan of the outdoors, to stop watching? No. He just opened one of the windows and propped the TV on the sill so he could watch from our back patio. Curious, I watched too. Inevitably the madness consumed my young mind. The transformation was complete in 1981 when I won a bet with my father that Indiana would beat North Carolina for the championship. It was a gentleman’s bet, bragging rights only. In your face, Dad!
Since then, every March has been a blur of clutch three-pointers, tragicomic brackets, Cinderellas and John Calipari. He’s inescapable. Sadly, the tournament games are only Thursday through Sunday for the first two weeks. The Final Four play on a Saturday, and the Championship is on a Monday. That leaves a lot of basketball-less days when all your fevered mind will be thinking is, “swish, swish, swish!” (What are you going to do with that time? Bathe? Go to work?)
Never fear, the library has the fix to soothe you until the next round starts. You can feed your insatiable hunger with books and DVDs on the great sport of basketball. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Fittingly, we shall start on the playground.
“Heaven Is a Playground” was the first book on Urban Basketball. Photojournalist Rick Telander spent the summers of 1973 and 1974 with his subjects in Brooklyn, even sleeping on the apartment floor belonging to one of them. It’s about their lives and the hopes for better ones that they attach to the sport.
The DVD “Fathers of the Sport” follows the lineage of playground basketball to stars like Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain.
“Gunnin for That #1 Spot” was filmed by the late, great Adam Yauch (MCA of The Beastie Boys). It covers the first annual Elite 24 Hoops Classic in Rucker Park where the top 24 high school basketball players in the nation compete.
Some people actually get picked for a team, unlike me (but I’m not bitter!), and end up playing in High School.
“Nimrod Nation” follows The Nimrods, a high school basketball team in a rural, basketball-obsessed town in Michigan.
One of the classic sports documentaries, “Hoop Dreams” followed two high school kids from inner-city Chicago for five years as they pursued their aspirations to make it into the NBA.
Of course the participants in March Madness are collegiate athletes. They have worked hard to graduate from high school basketball to college basketball.
Compared the huge sporting event it is today, the first NCAA tournament was considered a risky experiment. “March 1939” tells the story of the first tournament and the first champions against the backdrop of a looming world war.
There are so many good books about “The Big Dance.” You could go behind the scenes of the Final Four in “Last Dance,” learn about “How March Became Madness,” or “When March Went Mad.” That last book is written by Seth Davis, whom you will see a lot of on TV if you’re watching the tournament. It tells the story of the 1979 championship where Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played against each other, raising the profile of the tournament to a whole new level and starting a rivalry that continued into the NBA.
“The Fab 5” is about the five freshmen who started for Michigan in the early ‘90s. They were considered one of the greatest classes ever recruited and made it to the championship two years in a row, but controversy followed the team. The scene where Chris Webber talks about trying to collect enough change to buy a pizza and seeing his jersey for sale in a shop window speaks to the current controversy about the status of collegiate athletes today.
“The Last Amateurs” is about John Feinstein’s search for basketball played away from the influence of the vast sums of money associated with “big conference” college basketball and the temptations of the NBA.
Sports and social issues often intersect, and basketball in no exception.
“The Game of Change” is about a game in the 1963 NCAA tournament when the all-white Mississippi State Bulldogs played the Loyola Ramblers, who had four African-Americans starting for the team. The Bulldogs had been kept out of the tournament due to an unwritten Mississippi law prohibiting competition between white and non-white players. The book tells the story of the players in this game and puts it in context with the broader struggle for equality.
“And The Walls Came Tumbling Down” is about the 1966 NCAA championship when the all-white starting five of the Kentucky Wildcats, coached by the overtly racist Adolph Rupp, lost to Texas Western’s all African-American starting five. This game has been credited for having a profound social effect and delivered a major blow to segregated college sports.
“The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central” is about a high school basketball team that made history and drew unwanted attention from segregationist George Wallace with their all African-American starting lineup.
“Full Court Press” uses a close look at the University of Oregon women’s basketball team as a way to explore what it means to be a female athlete in America.
The memoir “She’s Got Next” is about how Arkansas transplant Melissa King finds herself playing pickup basketball in inner-city Chicago.
“Training Rules” follows Penn State basketball champ Jennifer Harris as she challenges the homophobia of coach Rene Portland and takes a look at how homophobia has hurt the careers of other athletes.
In 1904 the most prominent women’s basketball team was from an Indian boarding school in Montana. The girls from Fort Shaw played at the St. Louis World’s Fair to introduce the world to the sport and returned with a trophy declaring them world champions. “Full-court Quest” tells the story of this team and offers a look at American Indian life and the early days of women’s basketball.
If you’ve read Sherman Alexie’s great short story collection, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” you have an idea the passion for basketball that can be found on Indian Reservations. In “Counting Coup,” Larry Colton travels into the world of Montana’s Crow Indians. He follows a talented young basketball player who is a descendant of one of Custer’s Indian scouts. Colton uses basketball as a window into a part of our society long excluded from the American Dream.
If you’ve ever wondered about basketball above the Arctic Circle (who hasn’t?) “Eagle Blue” is the book for you. The population of basketball-crazed Fort Yukon is almost entirely composed of Athabascan Gwich’in Natives. It’s home to the Fort Yukon Eagles, winner of six regional championships in a row. This book follows the team through another Winter of near round-the-clock darkness and fifty-below-zero temperatures.
When March Madness ends do you feel an emptiness that can’t be filled? Did this very long list of books just leave you hungry for more? Then let me point out that the NBA Finals will start April 18th. Perhaps “The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History” or Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball” will help you prepare for that.
The post Let the Library Contribute to Your (March) Madness appeared first on DBRL Next.
VOTE NOW through March 25 for the final two contending titles!
During the months of February and March, area young adults have eliminated 28 books to determine their top four favorite titles in the March Madness Teen Book Tournament. Below is a list of contenders chosen from these preliminary rounds of voting. If you are just joining us, here’s a recap of how you can participate for a chance to win cool prizes like free book sets or a Barnes & Noble gift card.How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:
Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. Prize winners will be announced on April 7 when we announce our book tournament champion.
- Round 1: Voting complete for the Sweet 16.
- Round 2: Voting complete for the Elite 8.
- Round 3: Voting complete for the Final 4.
- Round 4: VOTE NOW through March 25 for the final two contending titles.
- Round 5: Vote March 26-April 1 for the book tournament champion.
- April 7: The champion is announced!
All votes must be in by Wednesday, March 25 at 3 p.m. You may vote online at teens.dbrl.org or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations. Limit one ballot per person, per round. Winning titles from this round of competition will be announced next Thursday, March 26.March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Final Four
- “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner
- “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
- “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
- “Legend” by Marie Lu
Originally published at 2015 Teen Book Tournament: Final Four Announced.
I’m not actually recommending that you read while driving. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. However, you can keep your ears occupied and make the time fly with an audiobook. If the approaching spring break (hooray!) means that a road trip is in your future, here are some audiobooks to keep you and your fellow passengers entertained.
These books are for a younger audience, but they are plenty entertaining for adults as well.
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart. Brainy orphans, an eccentric benefactor and a puzzle to solve – what’s not to love?
“The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy” by Jeanne Birdsall. While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother, in this smart and funny story.
“Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry. Young adventurers will love this Peter Pan prequel, and I can’t make an audiobook list without including something narrated by the fantastic Jim Dale, the voice artist who also read the Harry Potter series.
“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. The grown-ups in the car will enjoy revisiting this story from their childhoods, and young listeners will be transported by the tale of Meg and Charles Wallace travelling through space and time to find their father, a physicist working for the government in secret, who has disappeared.
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Listeners will fall in love with Auggie, a 5th grader entering school for the first time. Born with extreme facial abnormalities, he has been home-schooled his entire life, making starting middle school an even more daunting prospect. At its conclusion, don’t be surprised if you and your car-mates end up having a discussion about kindness, overcoming obstacles and the acceptance of difference.
Adult (but not too adult)
These books are written for adults, but they have elements older children will enjoy and little in the way of language/themes you don’t want little ears to hear.
“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown. This 2014 One Read selection is a Cinderella story of sorts that describes the journey of nine working class young men from the University of Washington as they row their way out of obscurity and into the gold-medal race at the 1936 Olympic Games in Hitler’s Berlin.
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. This off-beat (and very British) work of science fiction follows Arthur Dent, the last surviving person from Earth, and tour-guide writer Ford Prefect on their intergalactic journeys and extraterrestrial encounters. This most recent audiobook version is narrated by the very talented, very funny Stephen Fry.
These are crowd-pleasing audiobooks because of good writing, engaging storytelling and – most of all – terrific narration.
“Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. The “Parks and Rec” star dispenses life advice, cautionary tales, and plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at her life on the improv stage and as a member of the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Guest appearances from Seth Meyers, Carol Burnett and even Poehler’s parents make listening to this book even more fun than reading it (which is already pretty fun). If our copies are all checked out, Tina Fey’s hilarious”Bossypants,” read by Fey herself, is a great second choice.
“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion. Narrator Dan O’Grady nails the voice of Australian Don Tillman, a socially challenged, possibly autistic, definitely brilliant geneticist as he uses logic to pursue love. A funny and smart romantic comedy.
“The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene. One online review said something like, “This is actor Colin Firth talking in your ear about love. Enough said.”
Any audiobooks you’ve enjoyed to make the miles fly? Let us know in the comments.
Sir Terry Pratchett died on March 12, 2015. Prior to that he lived for 66 years. I’m not proud that it took his death to motivate me to recommend him. (It seems there is a clear formula to getting this gentleman’s recommendation: either author a book or three that I’ve read and loved in the last few months, or write dozens of books that I’ve loved at some point in my life and die.) Forgive me if I seem crass or irreverent, but the combination of grief and the tears it’s causing to ooze past my monocles and into my now watered-down brandy leave me shy of my customary humours. I think Sir Pratchett would have appreciated irreverence in the face of death.
I’ve been reading a lot of Sir Pratchett’s obituaries and tributes today, and I’m astounded each time at the reminder that he wrote over 70 books, both because that’s an astonishing amount of work from anyone that isn’t several centuries old (and even in that scenario involving some sort of immortal writing machine (or maybe a bookish vampire?) it would still be impressive) and because no one has specified the exact number. So, I scampered off to the Internet and counted, and if my counting hasn’t gotten too rusty, Sir Pratchett wrote 78 books. Only at snacking and lounging and referencing my fondness for snacking and lounging can I manage to be more prolific.
This era of constantly increasing celebrities brings about constantly increasing celebrity death, which causes the awkward situation of periodically grieving for someone you’ve never met. And while I can’t grieve Sir Pratchett the person, I can grieve the author and the absence of the 40 plus books he’d have written given a few more decades on earth, the man who combined hilarious/cutting/insightful satire, wordplay, remarkably imaginative world-building and immense compassion to create a stunning combo of quantity and quality fiction the likes of which I doubt the world, going forward, will ever see matched. Also, Sir Terry Pratchett was a knight, and while I’m sure there are others, I worry they won’t have the imagination needed to slay the more vicious dragons or keep the queen safe.
Sir Terry Pratchett taught me that you could write about wizards, dwarves, vampires, Igors, witches, zombies, politics, the grim reaper, war and the post office and be hilarious while having a great deal to say about ye old human condition. I wish I could apply the lesson half as well as it was taught.
I will close this post the way most of the articles about his death have closed: with a reprinting of the three tweets that came from his twitter account shortly after his death. It is helpful to know that among the hundreds of his characters was Death, who spoke in all caps and sometimes sarcastically, appears in nearly every book, is the star of a few, and occasionally takes a holiday from his grim duties.
“AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”
“Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.”
What It’s About: Set on a futuristic Earth, Cinder is a girl stuck with a horrible stepmother who doesn’t appreciate her, and two sisters who really can’t relate. They look down on Cinder because she isn’t normal-she’s a cyborg. Although her life feels like it can’t get any more complicated, the emperor’s son, Prince Kai, picks Cinder to fix his robot. As a talented mechanic, Cinder is excited to help, but helping the Prince means getting involved in a whirlwind of political intrigue, all while trying to hide the fact that she’s not completely human.
Why I Liked It: This is the first really unique Cinderella remake I’ve read. A sci-fi fairy tale mash-up? Cyborgs, robots, androids, spaceships and evil moon people? Yes, please. On top of that, Marissa Meyer is a talented writer. She balances the action in Cinder perfectly, so you can’t be bothered to put the book down. Her characters are enduring yet not overly dramatic, and all the while, she twists up your heart with a good old fashioned fairy tale love story. And the best part? There’s two more books in the series, and one more to arrive in late 2015.
Originally published at Staff Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Late last year I noticed a new question cropping up at the library: “Can I listen to ‘Serial’ on your computers?” For those who haven’t heard of “Serial,” it’s a podcast that began last October and became a cultural phenomenon, gaining millions of listeners.
For those who aren’t sure what a podcast is, here’s an explanation from dictionary.com: “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer.”
No matter what your interest, someone’s created a podcast about it. I conducted a brief survey amongst my family and friends that yielded recommendations for dozens of titles and brought me a renewed appreciation for the diversity of my acquaintances. The list included humor, history, true crime, memoirs, relationships, dharma talks, cooking, music, literature, finance and several other topics.
Here are a few other things to know:
How much do podcasts cost and where does one find them?
Most podcasts are free, and there are many places to find them. Some of the more popular browsing sites are: iTunes (you need an account), NPR, Podcast Alley, and my favorite discovery – Stitcher.
How does one listen to a podcast?
Most podcasts can be listened to via streaming, with no need to download. And yes, you can listen on our library computers as long as you use earbuds or headphones. Please be aware of the length of the podcast compared to time limits on computer use. The advantage of downloading to a mobile device is that you can take it with you and listen even when you don’t have Internet access. Many podcasts offer subscriptions, through which the newest episode will automatically download for you as soon as it’s available.
Does the library offer resources related to podcasting?
So glad you asked! Through Lynda.com you can find tutorials to help you download and listen, as well as lessons on producing your own podcast. We also offer an in-person class, “Downloading Made Easy,” in our Columbia building. The next session is April 22. Registration begins April 8. (Call 573-443-3161 to register.) For old-fashioned book learning about this new-fangled technology, check out “Content Rules, How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more).”
For those who are curious, the top podcast recommendations from this blogger’s family and friends are:
“Serial” – The first season focused on a 1999 murder and the subsequent investigation and trial.
The Moth – Storytelling
Welcome to Nightvale – Humor in the vein of the Addams family
Invisibilia – Explores “the intangible forces that shape human behavior…ideas, beliefs, emotions…”
Slate Audio Book Club – Book discussions
Hardcore History – History
Consequence of Sound’s Relevant Content – Pop culture, music and modern life
photo credit: podcaster_logo via photopin (license)