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Pie Season

DBRL Next - November 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New DVD List: An Honest Liar & More

DBRL Next - November 11, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kindness Makes the World Go Around and Improves Your Health

DBRL Next - November 9, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye

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

Photo credits:

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Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress

DBRL Next - November 6, 2015

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

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

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

You might want to pick this book up if:


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Best Books of 2015: Early Bird Edition

DBRL Next - November 4, 2015

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

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

Back? Okay. Here we go.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy list season!

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We Never Outgrow the Need for Family

DBRL Next - November 2, 2015

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

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

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

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



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Nominate a Book for One Read 2016

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

Thank you for your suggestion!

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Chilling Tales of Terror!

DBRL Next - October 30, 2015

Good evening.

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

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

Oh no, indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Halloween!

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Rhythm is Key: Docs About Cuban Music

DBRL Next - October 28, 2015


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

roots of rhythmRoots of Rhythm” (1989)

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

buena vista social clubBuena Vista Social Club” (1999)

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

la tropical

La Tropical” (2002)

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

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

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

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

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The November 2015 List

DBRL Next - October 26, 2015

In November the nights get longer and colder, which makes this the perfect month to snuggle up with a good novel. The latest LibraryReads list – the top 10 books publishing in November that librarians across the country recommend – is heavy on the historical fiction but still includes a few thrills, mystery and even some fairy tales to keep you warm on cold nights. Happy reading!

Book cover for The Japanese LoverThe Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende
“Irina is a young Moldavian immigrant with a troubled past. She works at an assisted living home where she meets Alma, a Holocaust survivor. Alma falls in love with Ichi, a young Japanese gardener, who survived Topaz, the Japanese internment camp. Despite man’s inhumanity to man, love, art and beauty can exist, as evidenced in their beautiful love story.” – Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY

Book cover for The Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love” by Hannah Rothschild
“The engaging, totally unexpected story of Annie, a lonely young woman who wanders into a junk shop and buys a painting. The painting turns out to have a long and storied past, with powerful people searching high and low for it. Unpredictable and fascinating; I loved the peek into the cutthroat art world and watching Annie blossom as she discovers her true calling.” – Heather Bistyga, Anderson County Library, Anderson, SC

Book cover for Little VictoriesLittle Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living” by Jason Gay
“This was a quick, enjoyable read that offers a refreshing perspective on some of the trivialities we all find ourselves caught up in. I enjoyed the tone and humor throughout. A standout for me was Gay’s list of recommendations for his child’s future baseball team. His open letter to this imagined future team envisions a team that can just let kids be kids. My only disappointment with this book was that there wasn’t more of it – it seemed to end all too soon.” – Lindley Homol, Chesterfield County Public Library, Chesterfield, VA

Here is the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure – enjoy!

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Staff Review: The Vanishing Season

DBRLTeen - October 26, 2015

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn AndersonWhy I Checked It Out: I give the marketing team of HarperTeen mad props. They did a fantastic job of designing the cover of “The Vanishing Season” by Jodi Lynn Anderson to ensnare readers like me. Desolate winter tree reflected in a lake? Creepy etchings of moths, snowflakes, and the silhouettes of two girls facing each other (or facing off?)? Tagline about being haunted? I’m in!

What It’s About: Her senior year of high school, Maggie moves from Chicago to a tiny town on Lake Michigan. Though she finds friends in her neighbors, Pauline and Liam, will their bond to each other always leave Maggie on the outside? Along with the drama in Maggie’s life, there just happens to be an epidemic of teenage girls disappearing on this isolated peninsula. 

Oh, and just one more thing: some chapters are told in the voice of a ghostly presence. Who is this presence and what is its purpose? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Why I Liked It: I sympathized with Maggie right from the beginning and wanted good things to happen for her. Then things got more complicated, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next with the trio–and what was happening to the disappearing girls. Thankfully for me, the paranormal aspect didn’t overwhelm the main story line. 

Who Will Like It: Ever felt on the outside? Even within your own friendships? This book is for you. Despite the ghostly presence, I wouldn’t say it’s a traditional ghost story, so if that’s your bag, try “The Girl from the Well” by Rin Chupeco.

Other Books by Jodi Lynn Anderson: Peaches,” “Love and Peaches” and “Tiger Lily.” 

Originally published at Staff Review: The Vanishing Season.

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Staff Book Review: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

DBRL Next - October 23, 2015

Book cover for An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United StatesI love reading about history, especially histories with unique perspectives! Traditional histories omit so much, and what we know has been carefully shaped by what schools usually teach and promote. The myths these texts create often overshadow the realities.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” is a book that dispels many of the myths surrounding indigenous people, such as the myth that the “New World” was sparsely populated at the time of first contact by Europeans or that their cultures were unsophisticated.  The indigenous populations were actually much denser than European societies at the time, and they were “supportable because the people had created a relatively disease-free paradise. There certainly were diseases and health problems, but the practice of herbal medicine and even surgery and dentistry, and most importantly both hygienic and ritual bathing, kept diseases at bay. “

We tend to ignore the centuries-long genocidal campaign of the indigenous peoples by US settlers even while we deliberate on genocides perpetrated by others. Here, the author shows that many famous authors, such as Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper, helped champion and advocate for drastic policies and helped shape the national narrative related to native populations. Even thinking of indigenous people as a monolithic culture is a myth, as there were hundreds of distinct nations.

I was particularly fascinated by this book because my own family has an oral history of Cherokee ancestors who tried to hide their heritage by claiming to be “Black Dutch.” They fled the Carolinas for Texas during Andrew Jackson’s campaign after the Civil War.  They hid so well in fact that part of our heritage is all but lost.

“An Indigenous Peoples’ History” is a very thought-provoking and well-documented book that connects Europeans’ first contact with native populations to modern conflicts of “settler colonialism” by, as the author puts it, “a thin red line.” She asks us to face the reality of the past, “…not to make an accusation but rather to face historical reality, without which consideration not much in US history makes sense, unless indigenous peoples are erased.”

For other recent books that offer history with a unique perspective, you can try some of these titles.

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Safe Place: A Resource for Teens in Need

DBRLTeen - October 23, 2015

On average, 2.8 million teens runaway from home each year. Rainbow House, a local emergency shelter for youth, receives 10-15 calls each month from teens who have either been abused or kicked out of their homes. To help combat this serious widespread problem, the Youth Community Coalition partnered with Rainbow House to launch the Safe Place Program.

How does Safe Place work?

Youth can stop by one of 20 Safe Place sites, including the Columbia Public Library. Then, they simply find the first available employee and let them know they are in need of a safe place. Young adults will be connected to emergency shelter and other supportive resources available through Rainbow House.

If you’re in trouble and can’t make it to a Safe Place site, you can call (573) 818-8288, or text “SAFE” and your current location (address/city/state) to 69866.

Where are Columbia’s Safe Place sites?

Columbia Fire Stations No. 1-9; Blind Boone Community Center; Columbia Housing Authority; Columbia Public Library; Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services; Activity & Recreation Center; Stephens Lake Activity Center; The Armory; Family Counseling Center; Rainbow House; Voluntary Action Center; Youth Empowerment Zone; and, QuikTrip Gas Station.

View Columbia Safe Place Sites in a larger map

Originally published at Safe Place: A Resource for Teens in Need.

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Let’s Travel: Oregon 101

DBRL Next - October 21, 2015

Photo of Multnomah FallsThe first thing my husband and I noticed while landing in Portland was how smoggy the city was. With the hottest summer on record and wild fires raging in Oregon, Washington and California, that was hardly surprising. Yet we had no time to dwell on it. We rented a car and drove to Multnomah Falls, located 30 miles away from Portland.

We humans are hardwired to be drawn to water, but waterfalls seem especially magical. Is it the sheer force of falling water? The cool glimmering beads that gently spray your face? The fresh smells and the haunting monotony of the sound? Who knows? All I know is that no picture can do justice to Multnomah Falls (at least not my picture :) ). The falls are immense – the drop from the upper falls is 542 feet and from the lower 69 feet – and they attract two million visitors every year.

We spent hours admiring the scenery, had lunch at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, and headed to our next destination – Mt. Hood. To my disappointment, the Columbia River Scenic Highway appeared hazy – the smoke of nearby fires washed out the dark greenery of Douglas firs and the rocky cliffs on the other side of the river. Even a bigger disappointment awaited us at Mt. Hood. The mountain, so photogenic on a clear day, was obscured by smoke. I gave up my idea of taking pictures, and we headed to Timberline Lodge, set at the tree line of the mountain.

Photograph of Timberline LodgeNext day, though, the wind changed, and, as if in a theater, the smoke receded, the sky turned velvety blue and the mountain appeared in all its glory. Well, in as much glory as the diminished amount of snow on its top allowed. To give you an idea, the first time we visited Mt. Hood together was April, 2010. Deep snow lay on the ground when we arrived, and when we woke up next morning, 33 inches (!) of fresh snow puffed up the already wintry scene, deep snowdrifts reached the windows of the third floor and the chairlift (we came to ski) was hardly visible in the whiteout of falling snow.

This time, we spent our days admiring distant views of Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters, hiking on Mt. Hood and walking in the deep Northern woods, where stately Douglas firs stand guard over cool mountain lakes that provide fun for kayakers, fishermen and sunbathers. Then we continued to Bagby Hot Springs, highly recommended to me by a library friend.

After an hour of driving, we stopped at a Forest Service office and asked for directions. A female staff member gave us a funny look and said, “Who told you about Bagby?”

“A colleague of mine,” I answered. “He said it’s a great place to visit.”

“If you’re into that kind of things, yes.” The woman said. “Where are you from?”

Missouri,” I said, feeling somewhat uneasy.

“Missouri?!” The woman said. Then she hollered to someone in the other side of the office,

“Look, Mary, people from Missouri are asking about Bagby!”

Another woman got up and looked us up and down.

“Nudity is limited these days,” She finally said and sat down.

“Nudity!? He didn’t say anything about nudity!” I started, but the first woman interrupted me.

“And you’ll have to bring several buckets of water from the creek to cool off the spring water.”

“We’re renting a car,” I said. “It didn’t come with a bucket!”

“Exactly,” the second woman said. “And the baths aren’t in good shape. They’re made of wood. Deteriorated.”

Hiker in the treesAt that point, I pulled my husband to the exit, and we headed to Silver Falls State Park instead. The park, a nine-mile-loop that begins with the 177-foot-high South Falls and snakes through a densely wooded landscape connecting 10 waterfalls, is an example of park-design-ingenuity. Of course, the unusually dry summer affected it, too, turning several waterfalls into trickles. Yet we enjoyed the park anyway, especially since two waterfalls allowed visitors to walk behind the cascading water and see the other side of the fluid curtain.

Next day we drove to the Oregon coast. The famous Pacific Northwest coastline was smoggy, and, once again, I put away my camera and waited for a food stop. The small town of Tillamook proved to be just that. A busy restaurant /gift shop offered local cheeses and wine/dips/spices-and-you-name-it tasting, while a next-door art gallery provided food for the visual sense.

Having fulfilled our tourist duties, we continued to the town of Seaside. A fancier place to stay would’ve been Canon Beach, but a librarian (me) and a retired professor (my husband) cannot afford to be fancy :) . We had no regrets, though. Seaside is a cute town with a grand, 1.5 mile-long promenade, wide sandy beaches, an aquarium and the best pancake restaurant I’ve encountered – Pig ‘N Pancake. (Tip: sourdough pancakes are to die for!)

Unfortunately, the town was veiled in smoke, too, but our luck held – the wind soon changed and the Pacific Ocean appeared before our eyes, mighty and austere. We spent our time walking along the promenade, hiking in the woods and watching windsurfers at Ecola State Park (surfing there is not for the faint of heart – the peak temperature is 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit).

Photo of Haystack RockEven if you don’t stay in Canon Beach, you owe it to yourself to see its shoreline. The 235-foot-high Haystack Rock rises from the bottom of the ocean as a reminder of prehistoric times. (At low tide, visitors can walk up to it and see starfish and other tide-pool creatures.) Several other large monoliths next to Haystack courageously defy the crashing of ocean waves. And wide beaches offer enough space for sunbathers (swimmers are rare, but they can be easily pinpointed by their loud screams when they splash in the cold water), sandcastle builders, windsurfers, tricyclists, dog walkers and kite runners. (Tip: bring some warm clothes, preferably a hoodie – the wind there is strong and cool).

Time flew, and soon we were driving back to Portland to take a plane home. The return, always anticlimactic, was also marked by low visibility, and I began to pay more attention to the scenery close to the highway: small, rundown houses and glaring spots in the forests covered the nearby rocky landscape – a result of merciless logging. On the radio, the announcers were talking about the alarming air quality in Portland.

In the airport, while waiting for our flight, I scrolled through my photos – a barely-covered-with-snow Mt. Hood, hazy landscapes along the Columbia River, diminished waterfalls, and my thoughts turned to the environment. We, the older generation, are lucky to have seen amazing landscapes and jungle-like forests, to have skied in deep snow and enjoyed clear horizons. But what about our grandchildren? Will they ski on Mt. Hood, walk in the deep woods or swim in the lakes and rivers? Will they inhale clean air and observe clear views?

It’s about time we understood that we cannot afford to be careless and oblivious to the changes that are happening in our time. Otherwise, we’ll go the way of Easter Islanders who deforested their island, ruined its ecosystem and, eventually, caused their civilization to collapse. Let’s do something to prevent this, and do it soon – despite the inertia and political squabbles that poison our souls and our environment. If not now, when?

The post Let’s Travel: Oregon 101 appeared first on DBRL Next.

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November 6 Deadline for December ACT Exam

DBRLTeen - October 21, 2015

Cracking the ACTBe sure to register online by Friday, November 6 if you plan to take the December 12 ACT exam. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our  online guide to ACT/SAT 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 November 6 Deadline for December ACT Exam.

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NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Favorite Short Novels

DBRL Next - October 19, 2015

photo of the words story boardNovember will be year 17 of National Novel Writing Month. (I promise “NaNoWriMo” has a certain ring to it after you say it enough times!) Those who finish the challenge write rough drafts of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Whether you’re NaNoWriMo-curious or a seasoned finisher, be sure to check the calendar for events at both the Columbia and the Callaway County Public Libraries, including starter sessions later this month and write-ins in November.

The thought of writers across the nation sharpening their pencils (okay, double-clicking on the shortcut for their word-processing program of choice) makes me want to read short novels. Here are a few I have loved.

Book cover for The Great GatsbyA longstanding high school assignment, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s  “The Great Gatsby,” deserves a read post-adolescence.  Forget Gatsby and Daisy — this tale of the excesses of the 1920s and the enduring truths of human nature owes its charm to the stunning narration of Midwestern outsider Nick Carraway.

Recounting the events of only a few days in the 1940s-era South, Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding” is a masterful portrait of the ignoble experiences of adolescence. At 12, Frankie’s only companions are Berenice, the maid, and John Henry, her 6-year-old cousin, but her brother’s upcoming nuptials bring a desperate agitation to an otherwise tedious summer.

Book cover for Play it as it LaysPublished in 1970, “Play It As It Lays” by Joan Didion is a quintessential Los Angeles novel. Separated from her husband and her institutionalized daughter, Maria Wyeth drives the freeways methodically and yet without hope of arriving anywhere or escaping the void that is her life. Maria’s journey is told in extremely short chapters, the white space on the page mirroring her emotional landscape.

Remember the first Mrs. Rochester in “Jane Eyre“? Jean Rhys reimagines her story in “Wide Sargasso Sea.” With language as lush as the Caribbean setting, Rhys gives a voice not only to Antoinette (Bertha’s birth name) but also to Mr. Rochester. This alternate literary history proffers the blossoming — and withering — romance that inevitably led to the tragedy at the Rochester mansion.

Book cover for Ask the DustIt seems appropriate to include an autobiographical novel about a young writer. Set against 1930s Los Angeles, John Fante’s “Ask the Dust” is the story of Arturo Bandini’s struggles to write, to find love and, frankly, to be able to afford enough to eat. (Charles Bukowski considered Fante his principal literary influence; his short introduction to “Ask the Dust” is not be skipped.)

What are your favorite short novels? Leave a comment below if you’d like to share a recommendation or two!

photo credit: PICT1441.JPG via photopin (license)

The post NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Favorite Short Novels appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Teen Short Story Contest Begins!

DBRLTeen - October 19, 2015

Short Story Contest 2In celebration of Teen Read Week, submit an original short story around the theme “Get Away” from October 19- December 6. Write about a grand adventure, a secret hideaway, how folks escape their day-to-day routine or whatever you think fits the theme.

Winners will receive a Barnes & Nobles gift card and their stories will be published on the library’s teen blog. This contest is open to all teens in Boone and Callaway counties ages 12-18.

Contest Deadline:
Online entries will be accepted through December 6, 2015.


  • The contest is open to ages 12 to 18.
  • You must live in either Boone or Callaway County, Missouri.

Contest Rules:

  • One entry per individual.
  • Stories must be written by only one writer.
  • Entries must be 2000 words or less.
  • Each participant must be the sole author and exclusive owner of all right, title and interest in and to his or her submission. (In plain English: You must submit your own original story — no plagiarism.)


All entries will judged on the following criteria:

  • Theme: Does your entry reflect the theme of Teen Read Week, “Get Away?”
  • Content: Does your story have a distinct beginning, middle, and end?
  • Creativity: Does your story have an interesting main character, captivating plot and descriptive language?
  • Writing: Have you used correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation throughout your story?

Questions? You may contact a librarian for answers
at or (800) 324-4806.

Originally published at Teen Short Story Contest Begins!.

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New DVDs: “The Roosevelts”

Center Aisle Cinema - December 1, 2014


We recently added “The Roosevelts” to the DBRL collection. The seven episode series played on PBS earlier this year, and is the latest from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns who has done other series such as “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The War,” “The National Parks,” and “Prohibition.” Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

Profiles Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. This seven-part, 14 hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Over the course of these years, Theodore would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd President of the United States. Together, these three individuals not only redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, but also redefined the role of the United States within the wider world. The series encompasses the history the Roosevelts helped to shape: the creation of the National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. It is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage, and the conquest of fear.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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Docs Around Town: Nov. 28– Dec. 4

Center Aisle Cinema - November 26, 2014

wattstaxDecember 3: Troublemakers” 6:00 p.m. at Ragtag, free. (via)
December 4: Wattstax” 6:00 p.m. at Ragtag, free. (via)

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New DVD: “Six by Sondheim”

Center Aisle Cinema - November 24, 2014


We recently added “Six by Sondheim” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown last year on HBO and currently has a rating of 100% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

An intimate and candid look at the life and art of legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, as revealed through the creation and performance of six of his songs, and remembered by the man himself. The six songs featured in the film are: Something’s coming, Opening doors, Send in the clowns, I’m still here, Being alive and Sunday. Art and life are intertwined for Sondheim, and it is a story of both.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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