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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List

DBRL Next - April 27, 2015

Library Reads Logo April showers bring May flowers and a whole crop of titles you are going to want to add to your holds list. New books from Jane Smiley, Naomi Novik, Kate Atkinson and the late Kent Haruf hit the shelves next month, and there is something here for every type of fiction reader. Whether you want a grown-up fairy tale or historical fiction, sci-fi or a thriller, this month’s list delivers. Here are the top 10 books publishing next month that librarians across the country love.

Book cover for Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted” by Naomi Novik
“A young girl is unexpectedly uprooted from her family and becomes involved in a centuries-old battle with The Wood, a malevolent entity that destroys anyone it touches. Fast-paced, with magic, mystery and romance, Novik’s stand-alone novel is a fairy tale for adults.” – Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library, St. Peters, MO

Book cover for A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas
“The human world is in peril. Feyre, a semi-literate girl, hunts for her family’s survival. After she kills an enormous wolf, a fierce fey shows up at her doorstep seeking retribution. Feyre is led to beautiful eternal springs, but the journey is not without danger. Maas masterfully pulls the reader into this new dark fantasy series which feels like a mix of fairy tales, from Beauty and the Beast to Tam Lin.” – Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH

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

And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog so you can place holds on these books hitting our shelves in May.

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Thank You for Your Votes! One Read Winner Announced Mid-May

One Read - April 27, 2015

Thank You SignVoting for the 2015 One Read book is now closed. We appreciate all of you who cast your vote for either “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride or “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel.

On May 21 we will announce the winning book here at

In the meantime, read more about our finalists!

Photo credit: Avard Woolaver via photopin cc

The post Thank You for Your Votes! One Read Winner Announced Mid-May appeared first on One READ.

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All About Dance

DBRL Next - April 24, 2015

Book cover for Mambo in Chinatown by Jean KwokA little while back three people recommended the same book to me over the span of about a month. These folks thought I’d enjoy the latest book by Jean Kwok, author of the previous bestseller “Girl in Translation.” In fact, I had picked up “Mambo in Chinatown” earlier and put it down as ‘not my type’ and so, after the first recommendation, I just said thanks, without comment. After the second recommendation, I had to share a laugh and explain what was going on, but after the third recommendation, which came via e-mail from a casual acquaintance, I decided I was supposed to read this book, my ‘type’ or not! The novel proved to be an entertaining look at ballroom dance, as well as the conflicts inherent in growing up the child of recent American immigrants.

Book cover for Astonish Me by Maggie ShipsteadEver since I took up ballroom dance as a pastime, I have been on the lookout for good books about dance. I recently found one that fit the bill for me. “Astonish Me” by Maggie Shipstead brings to life the story of Joan, an American woman who, in 1977, falls in love with a Soviet ballet dancer, Arslan Rusakov—who is a clearly a fictional version of Mikhail Baryshnikov. Told in time jumps and multiple points of view, this is a story of unrequited love played out in the highly political, passionate world of professional ballet. Written with complexity of character and an intriguing plot and an ending twist that may or may not come as a surprise, the book is highly readable for dancers and non-dancers alike.

Book cover for Dancer by Colum McCannThe world of ballet apparently offers a lot of fictional fodder. “Dancer” by Colum McCann is a colossal literary work that brings to life the extravagant world of Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian peasant whose genius propelled him to become an international ballet legend. Inspired by biographical facts, the story is told through a wide variety of voices, including Nureyev and his contemporaries, from the celebrated to the unknown. Beginning with Nureyev’s youth in Stalin-era Soviet Union and ending with his days of wild abandon in eighties’ New York, “Dancer” encapsulates the legendary artist in a way that captures his true essence, as well as his dazzling façade.

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2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced

DBRLTeen - April 24, 2015

2015 Gateway and Truman WinnersIt turns out that our predictions for the 2015 Gateway and Truman award winners were pretty close. John Green is the recipient of this year’s Gateway Readers Award for his book, “The Fault in Our Stars.”  Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss and life. The library has this title available in print, eBook and audiobook. In fact, we even carry the feature film with Shailene Woodley  and Ansel Elgort. But, be warned, you will have to supply your own tissues.

Congratulations also goes to S.A. Bodeen who is this year’s Truman Readers Award recipient for her book, “The Raft.” Robbie’s last-minute flight to the Midway Atoll proves to be a nightmare when the plane goes down in shark-infested waters. Fighting for her life, the co-pilot Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. This is another amazing survival story written by one of the best suspense writers in YA lit, but that’s just my humble opinion. :)

Originally published at 2015 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced.

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Spinning Your Wheels: Docs About Cars

DBRL Next - April 22, 2015

revenge of the electric car

Cars can get us to where we need to go, but sometimes they are tied to greater stories that speak to our lives and dreams. Check out these films that take a look at different roles cars play in our society.

speedo1Speedo” (2003)

Trapped in a failing marriage, demolition-derby driver Ed “Speedo” Jager channels life’s frustrations onto the track, hoping to parlay his talents into a “real” racing career. This film captures the collisions and confrontations during one tumultuous year.

bulletproof salesmanBulletproof Salesman” (2008)

Fidelis Cloer is a self-confessed war profiteer who found the perfect war when the US invaded Iraq. It wasn’t about selling a dozen cars, or even a hundred, it was a thousand-car war where security would become the ultimate product.

revenge of the electric carRevenge of the Electric Car” (2011)

A sequel to the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM and the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to chronicle the story of the global resurgence of electric cars.

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Staff Review: The Accidental Highwayman

DBRLTeen - April 22, 2015

"The Accidental Highwayman" by Ben TrippWhy I Checked it Out: The full title of the book is “The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides. ” This sounded pretty humorous to me, so I picked it up and started reading.

What It’s About: “The Accidental Highwayman” is exactly about what its’ full title implies. Kit Bristol is a servant to a wealthy man, and one day after shopping at the market, returns back to his masters’ home to find his master shot and fully dressed in the costume of the famous highwayman, Whistling Jack. Suddenly, Kit has to become Whistling Jack to survive, is tricked by a witch to save a fairy princess, and lead on an adventure involving trolls, pixies, an evil fairy king and a mad fairy duchess.

What I Liked About It (And, What I Didn’t): The narrative style of “The Accidental Highwayman” is funny and clever. Kit is a pretty comical character, and he has entertaining thoughts about his strange circumstances. I enjoyed the characters in the book and their sometimes absurd behavior. I also enjoyed the historical references that author Ben Tripp makes, as well as his footnotes, but I was not a big fan of the story’s pacing.  Although the book has parts that move fast and make it hard to put down, it also has some parts where nothing really happens, and the story drags.

Similar Titles: “The Accidental Highwayman” is written in a similar swash-buckling style as “The Princess Bride,” so if you enjoy the narrative style, you could give it a try. A few other titles worth looking into, with similar adventures, are “Around the World in 100 Days” and “Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle.

Originally published at Staff Review: The Accidental Highwayman.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Tom Rachman

DBRL Next - April 20, 2015

Book cover for The Imperfectionists by Tom RachmanExtra! Extra! Given the size of space, the abundance of ocean and the for-now fictional technology that allows us to shrink humans and put them in a shrunken blood-submarine and send them into a full-size human for reasons of medicine or espionage, there are practically infinite settings for a novel. A great book could be set anywhere: a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a circus, even a pre-apocalyptic wasteland. But a newspaper may be the ultimate setting for a funny and sad novel. The pathos is built in: a building full of people passionate about their work but whose jobs are endangered because their industry is dying, what with the Internet and the world’s growing distaste for paper cuts and things that can’t take pictures of their food. (Proof: while this blog is a runaway success, the copies I write in magic marker on old newspapers and leave scattered about the local reading emporiums along with a note to mail me fifty cents and make a tally mark on a piece of paper and also mail that to me so I can count my readers, have reached, apparently, zero people.)

The international newspaper in “The Imperfectionists” is reaching more readers than my “Gentleman Recommends” circular, but, given its expenses, it is in much greater danger of closing up shop than I am of running out of old newspapers or magic markers (though those things do only have so much ink; please mail me fifty cents). Each chapter gives voice to a new character, and the book is spliced with interludes from the paper’s early days. This framework gives us a story as old as time: rich old man starts a newspaper in order to give a job to and reestablish contact with an old flame. A young journalist has his taste for the work destroyed by a manipulative industry veteran who commandeers his hotel room, laptop and opportunity to cozy up to a lady he fancies. An elderly reader’s home is mostly occupied by newspapers because she reads every word of each issue and is a slow reader and therefore decades behind in the news. There’s a man that inherits a newspaper he knows little about, preferring to spend his time conversing with his tiny dog and feeding it the sort of extravagant meals that had this gentleman scrambling to his mailbox to check for a pile of cents that might allow me to dine in similar opulence. And many, many more!

Tom Rachman also uses the bounce-around-in-time trick to keep the mystery and intrigue thick in his second outstanding novel, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.” You’ll want to have a taste for quirky characters, the sort that wear mismatched shoes intentionally, own bookshops and engage in some half-hearted scamming. Tooly Zylberberg’s past is mysterious, to the reader and herself, and it’s tremendous fun to unravel it via a structure that jumps chapter by chapter from her adulthood, to her young adulthood, to her childhood. Read all about it!

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Registration Deadlines for Upcoming ACT & SAT Exams

DBRLTeen - April 20, 2015

Standardized TestThe registration deadlines are fast approaching for those planning to take the next round of ACT and SAT exams.

  • Registration for the June 13 ACT exam is due Friday, May 8. Sign-up online.
  • Registration for the June 6 SAT exam is due Friday, May 8. Sign-up online.

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 Registration Deadlines for Upcoming ACT & SAT Exams.

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Read Your Way to Earth Day

DBRL Next - April 17, 2015

Photo of Earth by NASA, used via a Creative Commons licenseI’ve read that “every day is Earth Day.” I believe I read it off a bumper sticker on a vehicle burning fossil fuels in its engine and releasing CO2 through its exhaust. Love the Earth, man. Don’t worry — in reality Earth Day is just one day a year. The other 364 days a year we aren’t required to acknowledge that we live on Earth. We can pretend this is all a magnificent dream (or terrible dream, depending on how your day is going), claim we’re on Mars or try to start snowball fights on the Senate floor. I see that Columbia’s Earth Day celebration is on April 19. In Jefferson City, the Missouri Department of Conservation sponsored celebration will be on April 24. So maybe we have to maintain awareness of our home planet for approximately a week. That’s doable.

Perhaps you’d like to pass the time reading a book or two during that week? Environmental issues have proven inspiring subject matter for excellent works of both fiction and nonfiction. If all this Earth hugging talk is a little too crunchy for you, you can take solace in the fact that these books have been printed on the flesh of dead trees.

OK, strap into your strappiest sandals and check out these books:

Book cover for Oryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodThe possibility of the world as we know it being dramatically upended or gradually changed to something unrecognizable to us is a common trope in speculative fiction. The threat of environmental catastrophe has provided new possible worlds and cautionary tales for writers. Margaret Atwood, a longtime fan of science fiction, wrote the classic work of speculative fiction, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She went back to that genre for her Maddaddam Trilogy, which the New York Times called “an epic not only of an imagined future but of our own past.” The story unfolds both forwards and backwards in the first book, “Oryx And Crake.” The disoriented narrator wanders through a bizarre wasteland populated by bioengineered animals while sorting through his memories of how the world got this way. While the subject matter is dire, Atwood handles it with wit, dark humor and love for the genre in which she’s writing.

Book cover for The MassiveBrian Wood’s comic book series “The Massive,” now up to volume four in the collected editions, asks “What does it mean to be an environmentalist after the world has already ended?” The story follows crew members of The Kapital, half of the fleet for Ninth Wave, an activist group that seems to be modeled after the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. They are searching for their sister ship, The Massive, with which they lost contact after the world fell into chaos. An environmental disaster and the wars that have followed draw into question the mission of Ninth Wave. It’s part seafaring adventure, part post apocalyptic survival story, and an examination of the world we live in.

Book cover for A Friend of the Earth by T.C. BoyleT.C. Boyle’s novel “A Friend of the Earth” similarly follows a hard-line environmentalist coping after the disaster he fought to avoid has come to pass. The biosphere has collapsed. Overpopulation and deforestation have taken their toll. Yet the human race continues on, if in a highly degraded state. Tyrone O’Shaughnessy Tierwater, former member of Earth Forever! and convicted ecoterrorist, now manages a sad collection of endangered animals owned by a rock star. Tyrone unintentionally endangered his family through his Earth Forever! activities and lost them. Now, as he is just trying to survive in a dying world, his ex-wife contacts him after 20 years.

Book cover for The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward AbbeyEarth Forever! is T.C. Boyle’s fictional creation based on the radical environmental group Earth First! One of the Inspirations for their formation was “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey. An ex-Green Beret returns to the United States and is outraged to find his native southwest overrun by developers. He eventually teams up with an eclectic group of activists that becomes known as The Monkey Wrench Gang. They engage in exploits that are anarchic, righteous and at times misguided. The result is a book that acts as a call to arms, cautionary tale and raucous comedy.

Book cover for Encounters With the Archdruid by John McPheeFor “Encounters With the Archdruid,” master of narrative nonfiction John McPhee followed environmentalist David Brower as he engaged in fights over conservation in three areas of the country. The title comes from real estate developer Charles Fraser who refers to environmentalists as druids. He and Brower come into conflict over development on Cumberland Island in Georgia. Brower also battles with a mineral engineer over Glacier Peak Wilderness in Washington, and with the commissioner of the United States Bureau of Reclamation over flooding of Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam (a great source of anger for the aforementioned Monkey Wrench Gang). McPhee’s style puts you there as the events unfold, and the description of each participant is clear-eyed and nuanced.

Book cover for Wilderness Warrior by Douglas BrinkleyJust the size of “Wilderness Warrior” is a testament to the importance the natural world played for President Theodore Roosevelt. That a biography focused on that aspect of Roosevelt’s life and career could add up to such a doorstopper says something about the man’s priorities. Roosevelt preserved approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land during his presidency. In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas Brinkley doesn’t just describe Roosevelt’s well known hobbies in nature. He describes his serious dedication as a naturalist (he trained in Darwinian biology at Harvard) and the political efforts he made to preserve so much land.

Book cover for Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonSilent Spring” by Rachel Carson became a runaway bestseller in 1962, and its publication was a watershed moment in the history of environmentalism in this country. The book alerted the public to the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides for both human beings and the environment at large. It provoked a ruthless assault from the chemical industry and spurred changes in laws regulating our air, land, and water. It is a true classic and testament to the potential influence a book can have.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes From A Catastrophe” manages to take the complicated system of our climate and describe the changes happening to it Book cover for Field Notes From a Catastrophein just over 200 pages.  The concise nature of the book doesn’t come at the expense of the subject but is due to Kolbert’s skill as a writer. Through a series of reports around the globe from the “frontlines of global warming,” she gathers up evidence of climate change and creates a vivid picture of the dangers in clear language. This often abstract subject and the potential human costs are made palpable.

photo credit: NASA Blue Marble 2007 East via photopin (license)

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The Library Can Help You Get Your Driver’s License

DBRLTeen - April 17, 2015

Car KeysThrough our partnership with, the Daniel Boone Regional Library is now able to better assist teens looking to get their Missouri driver’s license. With this new service, all library cardholders now have online access to the Missouri driver’s manual and practice written driver exams.

Simply visit to get started.  You will need to log in using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (573) 443-3161 or 1-800-324-4806. You can also try the library’s chat reference service to visit with a librarian who can help in real time from your computer. Learn more.

Photo by Flickr User Kathryn Decker. Used under creative commons license.

Originally published at The Library Can Help You Get Your Driver’s License.

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Working With the Conundrum of Autism

DBRL Next - April 15, 2015

Autism Awareness RibbonApril is Autism Awareness Month, and the Columbia Public Library is doing its part to help raise awareness and educate the public by hosting a presentation, The Future of Autism Treatment, on April 29 at 7 p.m. Rachel Zamzow — doctoral candidate in neuroscience whose research is supported by Columbia’s Thompson Center — will discuss autism and current treatments, as well as her own research focusing on treatments for the social impairment aspects of this disorder.

In case you didn’t know, the Thompson Center is a premier institution, addressing the challenges of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders via the research it conducts and the training and services it provides to families across Missouri impacted by these spectrum disorders. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), which affect about one in 72 people in Missouri, are characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviors. In addition, anxiety is often a significant component for those on the spectrum. Rates of ASDs have been increasing for the past few decades and now affect approximately one in 88 people, with a four-fold higher rate in males. Though the reasons for its increase are cause for scientific debate, research at this time reveals causative factors to be both genetic and environmental in origin.

Since ASDs derive from complex neurobiological bases, it seems unlikely that a “cure” will be found. However, effective treatments that include behavioral, pharmaceutical and dietary interventions have been developed, and these have improved the lives of those impacted by ASDs. As time unfolds and research continues, it’s likely that other treatment options will emerge.

Photo of protesters at the Walk Now for Autism fundraiser in Portland, ORGetting back to this “cure” idea — many people on the spectrum active in self-advocacy groups, like Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), are not necessarily interested in a cure, but acceptance. They are also interested in making policies that encourage more inclusion in society at large for people with ASDs, as well as enhancing and growing resources for affected individuals and their families. “Citizen Autistic” is an important documentary that gives an inside view of those working on the frontlines of autism advocacy and provides valuable perspective on how they’d like to be supported.

If you’d like to gain a better understanding of the challenges of either living with someone on the spectrum or what it’s like to be on the spectrum yourself, consider looking at this list of memoirs for a book or two to read. “Boy Alone: a Brother’s Memoir,” by Karl Taro Greenfeld, paints a stark and haunting portrait of a family’s desperate and loving struggle to help one of their children, who is severely impacted by autism. The other stories on this list are deeply personal and offer inspiration from hard-earned triumph.

photo credits:
Autism Awareness ribbon via Flickr (license)
Not a puzzle via Flickr (license)

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Program Preview: Wii U Family Game Night

DBRLTeen - April 14, 2015

Super Mario BrosWii U Family Game Night
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, April 29 • 6-7:30 p.m.

Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 2015″ or a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8.” Pizza served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Originally published at Program Preview: Wii U Family Game Night.

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What to Read While You Wait for A Spool of Blue Thread

DBRL Next - April 13, 2015

Book cover for A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne TylerOne highly sought-after title this spring is Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.” This realistic tale chronicles three generations of the Whitshank family of Baltimore.

Things have changed in the Whitshank household. Abby and Red are getting older. Abby is getting forgetful, Red’s health is declining and the adult children have returned to the estate with all their long festering resentments, drama and family secrets to help their aging parents make decisions about their care, as well as the fate of the home Red’s father built decades ago. If you are currently on the list for this book or are looking for something similar to read about families, relationships and aging, you might try one of these titles to get you by.

Book cover for After This by Alic McDermottAfter This” by Alice McDermott

It is the end of World War II in New York. Mary, an Irish Catholic girl leaving church, takes shelter in a diner away from the gusting winds. Little does she realize that the fellow she sits down beside at the counter will someday be her husband. This tale is about Mary and John who live and raise four children during the 1960s. They experience the social changes and events of the decade, from the sexual revolution and abortion to racial segregation and the Vietnam War.

Book cover for Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth BergTapestry of Fortunes” by Elizabeth Berg

Cecilia Ross is a burned out, procrastinating national motivational speaker who won’t follow her own advice “to live your own truth.”  She receives a postcard from an old love she never got over, which gets her thinking about her future. So, she consults several fortune telling devices and decides to sell her house and take a break from her career. She moves into a Victorian home with three other restless women at loose ends themselves. The ladies and their dog go on a road trip, each searching for something: Cecilia seeks her lost lover; Renie, the advice columnist, is looking for the daughter she gave up for adoption; Lisa, a family physician, is hunting  for her ex-husband; and chef Joni is in search of culinary inspiration.

Book cover for Deaf Sentence by David LodgeDeaf Sentence” by David Lodge

Desmond Bates is going deaf. His hearing aids are helpful yet cause him frustration and embarrassment. Recently retired from the university as a linguistics professor, he finds himself bored, just when his wife’s career is beginning to take off. To top things off he is trying to convince his aging father that assisted living might be a worthy option for him, and his daughter is about to give birth. Out of habit and to keep things somewhat normal, he continues to use the university’s library and his former department’s common room. Soon, his routine is upset by an attractive PhD candidate named Alex who uses flattery to draw Desmond closer to her. Alex turns out to be a liar and a plagiarist who tries to use suggestive acts on Desmond to persuade him to help her with her dissertation!

The post What to Read While You Wait for A Spool of Blue Thread appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Creativity Abounds in Callaway County

DBRLTeen - April 13, 2015

Art Magnetic Poetry 1Callaway Youth Poetry Contest
As part of National Poetry Month in April, we invite Callaway County youth to submit original poems with a chance to win an award and have your work displayed at the Callaway County Public Library and at Awards will be given in three age categories: 5-8, 9-12 and 13-18. Download an entry form, or pick one up at the Callaway County Public Library or any bookmobile stop. Entries are due April 30. An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 at the Callaway County Public Library. Co-sponsored by the Auxvasse Creative Arts Program.

Project Teen: Decorate Your Space
Callaway County Public Library
Saturday, April 25 • Noon-1:30 p.m.
Create a decorative memo board to hold your notes or photos. We’ll have the supplies you need and pizza will be provided. Ages 11 and older. No registration required.

Photo by Flickr User Sarah Reid. Used under creative commons license.

Originally published at Creativity Abounds in Callaway County.

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Stories in Fabric: History of Quilting

DBRL Next - April 10, 2015

When I got married, my grandmother gave me a quilt. Its pattern is simple, but each square contains great meaning. She created this gift using fabric collected from earlier in my life, including pieces of my first sundresses and scraps of my prom dress (both sewn by my mother). The quilt is a story of my growing up.

Book cover for American Quilts by Robert ShawThe history of quilting in this country is itself quite a story. For more than 200 years, women have been sewing quilts  as functional household objects, as means of expression, as historical documentation and as ways to create community. Robert Shaw, in his informative and visually spectacular book, “American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007,” describes quilts as “emblems of hope, infused with a host of meanings – some broad, national and patriotic; others subtle, familial, and personal. Quilts are banners of self-realization and individual creativity, and the best quilts are significant works of visual art – objects of great beauty and expressive power.”

While we often imagine the first quilts being created by thrifty and clever colonialists, fashioning odd scraps into blankets, the truth is that the first American quilts belonged to the very wealthy – fabric had to be imported from England, and all but the very well-off needed what little fabric they had for their clothing. (And nobody but the rich had the number of free hours it took to actually sew a quilt by hand.) Elise Schebler Roberts, in “The Quilt: A History and Celebration of an American Art Form,” explains that it wasn’t until the 1840s that the textile industry was established enough in this country to make fabric widely affordable and quilting a common activity. But once it did become commonplace, what a rich variety of creation occurred!

Book cover for The American Quilt by Roderick KiracofeBlock quilts, strip quilts, applique quilts, Baltimore Album quilts, mourning quilts, crazy quilts, African-American quilts – read about them all in “The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort, 1750-1950” by Roderick Kiracofe. Kiracofe uses quilting as a lens through which to examine the cultural and social attitudes throughout our nation’s history.

Check out these books and more on the history of quilting, at the very least for the incredible images they contain. And through April 14, enjoy a quilt showing at the Columbia Public library, featuring 24 quilts from the mid-Missouri region, as well as programs related to the rich history of quilting.


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Books for Dudes – Norse Code

DBRLTeen - April 10, 2015

Whether it’s due to the increasing visibility of Marvel’s Thor or because of the History Channel’s popular Vikings series (for mature audiences), Norse mythology has definitely had a resurgence in popularity. Check out these great Norse reads for teens.

 Matt Thorsen constantly feels in the shadow of his older brothers in “Loki’s Wolves” by Kelley Armstrong. He knows every Norse myth, because he lives in a South Dakta town where everyone is a decendent of the Norse legends of old. So, of course, Matt knows of Ragnarok, the supposed end of days in the Norse world. What he didn’t know was that Ragnarok is happening now, and, Matt has been chosen to lead against the forces of evil. A very entertaining Norse tale from our juvenile section, Armstrong’s tale is a great update, and I’d highly recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and mythology–especially fan’s of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.

Thor has a lot of history, even as a comic character. He first appeared in comics in 1962. He’s been the focus of two movies in the last 10 years in addition to appearing in two Avengers movies (with the second one coming out next month). With all that history, where do you start reading Thor? I recommend Jason Aaron’s newer Thor series, “Thor, God of Thunder.” This series is written as a great-jumping on point, and you don’t need to know a lot about Thor…in fact, this series covers Thor’s past, present, and future! The gods across the universe are being murdered, and Thor is determined to find out what’s happening. The bloody trail leads him on the path of the God Butcher, a great new villain who has deep ties to Thor. Volumes 1 and 2 are part of the God Butcher story line, and Volumes 3 and 4 continue Thor’s adventures.

Welcome to the United States of…Asgard??? In the”The Lost Sun” by Tessa Gratton, seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to prove he falls far from the tree. His famed warrior of a father killed thirteen innocents during a battle frenzy, and Soren has similar symptoms of that warrior rage. He tries to remain calm and detached to avoid his father’s fate, but how do you remain calm when a beautiful seer named Astrid tells him she’s been dreaming about him and their intertwined fates? When a popular Asgardian god disappears, it’s up to Soren and Astrid to find him. Lots of interesting turns in this update to Norse mythology.

More Norse gems are popping up all the time. Many readers are excited for Rick Riordan’s new Magnus Chase series, which has ties to his previous Percy Jackson books. The first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, “Sword of Summer,” comes out this October.

Originally published at Books for Dudes – Norse Code.

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New DVD List: Keep on Keepin’ on & More

DBRL Next - April 8, 2015

keep on keepin on

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction recently added to the library’s collection.

keeponkeepinonKeep on Keepin’ on
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing recently at the Ragtag in conjuction with the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series, this documentary follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.

Season 1
Website / Reviews
TV series based on the book series by author Diana Gabaldon. Claire Randall is a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. When she is forced to marry a Scottish warrior, an affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two men.

girlsinthebandGirls in the Band
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing last year at the Ragtag in conjuction with the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series, this films tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 30s to the present day. The challenges faced by these talented women provide a glimpse into decades of racism and sexism that have existed in America.

silicon valleySilicon Valley
Season 1
Website / Reviews
In the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. A comedy partially inspired by Mike Judge’s own experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the late 1980s.

code blackCode Black
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Physician Ryan McGarry gives an unprecedented access to America’s busiest Emergency Department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic young doctors-in-training as they wrestle with both their ideals and the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system.

Other notable releases:
Sons of Anarchy” – Season 7Website / Reviews
Master of the Universe” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
Longmire” – Season 3Website / Reviews
Girls” – Season 1Website / Reviews
Watchers of the Sky” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
The Sixties” – Website / Reviews
House M.D.” – Season 1Website / Reviews
Trailer Park Boys” – Season 1 & Season 2Website / Reviews
Banshee” – Season 1, Season 2Website / Reviews
The Thin Blue Line” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
Veep” – Season 3Website / Reviews
WKRP in Cincinnati” – Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4Website
Remington Steele” – Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Seasons 4 & 5Website

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2015 Teen Book Champion Is Chosen!

DBRLTeen - April 7, 2015

2015 March Madness Finalist Banner
After two months of nail-biting competition, central Missouri teens have selected their March Madness Teen Book Tournament Champion. We began with a list of 32 finalists which included bestsellers such as “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins, and many Gateway and Truman Award nominees. Many thanks to the teachers and school librarians who have supported this program, and to all the teens who have participated! And now, our 2015 champion is….

The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

Stay tuned to for our sneak peek at this year’s teen summer reading challenge, “Every Hero Has a Story.” Through this program, the library challenges young adults to read for 20 hours, share three book reviews, and do seven of our suggested activities. Complete the challenge, and you will be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes like a black & white Amazon Kindle. Stay informed by subscribing to our email updates!

Originally published at 2015 Teen Book Champion Is Chosen!.

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Classics for Everyone: Spoon River Anthology

DBRL Next - April 6, 2015

Book cover for Spoon River AnthologyLet’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.

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One Read Vote 2015

One Read - April 6, 2015
Vote for the Next One Read Book April 6-24

“The Good Lord Bird”
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.

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