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On May 26 we will announce the winning book here at oneread.org.
In the meantime, read more about our finalists!
The post Thank You For Voting! One Read Announcement May 26 appeared first on One Read.
A Charm for Spring Flowers
Who sees the first marsh marigold
Shall count more wealth than hands can hold.
Who bends a knee where violets grow
A hundred secret things shall know.
Who finds hepatica’s dim blue
Shall have his dearest wish come true.
Who spies on lady-slippers fair
Shall keep a heart as light as air.
But whosoever toucheth not
One petal, sets no root in pot,
He shall be blessed of earth and sky,
Till under them he, too, shall lie.
Oh, the magical charm of wildflowers, especially the earliest ones, which rise up through the woodland leaf litter to sing, when winter is gone. If you’ve spent any time in the woods hunting down or chancing upon these fleeting beauties (in our local area, bloodroot, wake robin, Dutchman’s breeches, etc.), you know how bewitching they can be. I was 15 years old when I found and identified wild columbine flowers. We were on a spring road trip, my mother and I, headed to Georgia via Skyline Drive to visit my grandmother, when we stopped for a break. I wandered off for a short walk and found columbine growing on a sunny hillside. The blossoms, with their complex structure formed in bright red and yellow, were stunningly beautiful and unlike any flower I had ever seen before. They most certainly cast a spell on me, propelling me on a lifelong quest to find and identify more wildflowers. It is a sweet and happy hobby.
The first week of May is National Wildflower Week, and what a worthy group to showcase and celebrate. In case you didn’t know, native wildflowers are plant species that were growing in specific regions before humans came in and added foreign plants from other countries to the vegetation mix. Besides the obvious beauty wildflowers offer (which may be a human-centric feature) wildflowers are beneficial to all living things and serve many vital and practical roles in the planet’s ecosystems.
First of all, wildflowers attract and support pollinators of all kinds (bees, wasps, butterflies, etc.), which are absolutely key to generating food supplies, for humans and other creatures alike. They provide habitat for myriad smaller critters and also prevent soil erosion. Wildflowers work very hard to keep the whole show of life running. To give you an example, consider the trout lily. This precious woodland beauty grows in colonies of deeply rooted systems of corms that help stabilize the forest floor, and their blossoms provide an early food source to pollinators that farmers depend on for pollination of late spring crops. To read more and understand the complex interrelationships between this flower and other life on earth, read the chapter “Trout Lily” in “The Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast of Little-known Facts, Folklore, and History“ by Jack Sanders. There are many equally fascinating essays in this book on a huge bouquet of other wildflowers.
If you’d like to meet some local wildflowers face to face, there is ample opportunity to make this happen. Right here in town you can take hikes along the MKT trail or in Rock Bridge State Park (RBSP). If you’d like to explore with a group of people, you can avail yourself of the wildflower walks, led by an expert, along RBSP trails. The guide will help you identify the flowers and fill you in on folklore about the ones you find. If you want to venture a little further afield, there is the magical wonderland, Prairie Garden Trust, in New Bloomfield, MO; you need to call them to arrange a visit. To make the most of your venture out, plan to take a wildflower identification guide with you. There are many decent ones, but my favorite is “Missouri Wildflowers: A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Missouri” by Edgar Denison.
Since native plants have adapted over eons to local growing conditions, they are better able to thrive in their original territory. This means, in their natural ranges (or zones), they are easier to establish, need less water and fertilizer, and are more resistant to indigenous pests and diseases. The upshot of all of this is they require less money, physical effort and natural resources to grow and maintain. Since wildflowers of all kinds are endangered due to habitat destruction, competition from invasive species and modern farming practices (heavy use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides), growing wildflowers is a very concrete way to help restore and maintain the healthy ecosystems we need to sustain all life on earth. So, one of the best ways to celebrate National Wildflower Week is to grow native wildflowers. If you are looking for sources for wildflowers, local farmers’ markets are often good places to find them. You can also search the Internet for “Missouri wildflowers” to find other suppliers. Wishing you lots of spellbinding wildflower cheer!
- Spicebush Swallowtail and Aphrodite Fritillary via Flickr (license)
- Columbine, open and closed via Flickr (license)
- Trout lily via Flickr (license)
This summer’s lineup includes “The Sin Eater’s Daughter” by Melissa Salisbury, “Bone Gap” by Laura Ruby and “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson. The list of free downloads also includes books by Gregory Maguire, Andrew Smith, David Levithan, Walter Dean Myers and many more!
These audiobooks download directly to your tablet or smartphone using the Overdrive app. View a list of devices compatible with this service. To get started, simply sign up to get notifications of when the free audiobook downloads are available at www.audiobooksync.com. The best part is that these audiobooks are yours to keep forever and ever once you’ve downloaded them!
Originally published at Free Audiobook Downloads From SYNC.
I have vivid memories of sitting by my boom box listening to American Top 40 on the radio, my finger poised over the record button, so I could capture Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on cassette tape. This legendary’s musician’s work was the soundtrack of my adolescence, and I was among the many shocked and saddened by his sudden death on April 21.
If you feel moved to revisit Prince’s music, the library has not only physical CDs for checkout, but also more than 15 albums you can stream or download from Hoopla. If you are new to this service, visit the library’s website for more information. You can be singing along to “Purple Rain” in no time if you have a library card.
If you want to read more about the complicated person Prince was and his enormous impact on music and popular culture, check out “Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks” by Ronin Ro. This is an authoritative portrait that documents his rise from an unknown musician to a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, offering insight into his role in confronting labels and fostering other young talents.
“Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain” by Alan Light celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of Prince’s most popular album and provides delicious insights into the making of the movie and music that launched Prince to superstardom. This enjoyable read not only illuminates Prince’s early career but also the context in which he created and the transformations happening in pop music and entertainment at the time.
Finally, if you need to rock away some of your sorrow, seek out the recording of Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, arguably one of the best there has ever been.
RIP, Prince. You and your music will be missed.
Bringing endangered species back from the brink has long been a concern of scientists and conservationists. Check out these documentaries that not only explore several endangered species, but also explore some of the people interested in preserving them.
“The Chances of the World Changing” (2006)
An artist abandons his life’s work to build an ark filled with hundreds of endangered animals. But his growing “ark” and preservation efforts are threatening to exhaust him, both mentally and financially. A story about time, death, art, love and turtles.
“Ghost Bird” (2009)
Set in a murky swamp full of birders, scientists and reporters, this thrilling eco-noir investigates the strange but true story of a small town in Arkansas overrun by a nation of birders all in search of the Holy Grail with wings, the ivory-billed woodpecker.
“Racing Extinction” (2016)
Academy Award-winning filmmakers expose the forces that are leading our planet to its next mass extinction, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. This film reveals how creatures that have survived for millions of years may be wiped from Earth in our lifetime.
Supernatural thrillers, compelling historical fiction and a boatload of mysteries? Summer reading must be coming! Enjoy this month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing next month that librarians across the country recommend.
“Britt-Marie Was Here” by Fredrik Backman
“Britt-Marie is a woman who is used to her life being organized. But when she leaves her cheating spouse and takes a temporary job as caretaker of the recreation center in the tiny town of Borg, her life changes in unpredictable ways. With its wonderful cast of oddball characters and sly sense of humor, this novel is sure to capture readers’ hearts. Highly recommended.” – Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA
“The Fireman” by Joe Hill
“’The Fireman’ is a novel that will keep you up reading all night. No one really knows where the deadly Dragonscale spore originated but many theories abound. The most likely is that as the planet heats up, the spore is released into the atmosphere. Harper Willowes is a young, pregnant nurse who risks her own health to tend to others.This is her story and I loved it! This is one of the most creative takes on apocalyptic literature that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended for all Hill and King fans.” – Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX
“Everyone Brave Is Forgiven” by Chris Cleave
“Set during World War II and loosely based on the author’s own grandparents, this was a strikingly honest look at the changes that war creates on a country’s landscape and its people. These changes were so strongly shown by the progressive style of this novel. Bit by bit, we are privy to each character’s transformation. What a great tribute to what they endured. War gives birth to many endings, also to many beginnings. Bittersweet.” – Lori Elliott, Kershaw County Library, SC
Here’s the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure:
- “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler
- “I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh
- “Smoke” by Dan Vyleta
- “Redemption Road” by John Hart
- “City of the Lost” by Kelley Armstrong
- “Wilde Lake” by Laura Lippman
- “Sweet Lamb of Heaven” by Lydia Millet
Many here in Missouri don’t know, but I used to be an environmental microbiologist in another lifetime. It seems so long ago! Consequently, I am always very excited when Earth Day approaches. I usually try to read new environmental books as soon as they hit the shelves, but they seem to come faster and faster these days. One that slipped by me is “The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation” by Adam Rome, published in 2013, so I picked it up this year to get me in the spirit. There’s so much I didn’t know!
Rome reports that before the first Earth Day in 1970, there was not an official environmental movement. Climate change was not yet a popularly known concept (scientists already knew but they were being cautious). The environment was actually considered “women’s work” as a part of housekeeping and was championed primarily by housewives and groups like the League of Women Voters. Other groups, like the Sierra Club and The National Audubon Society, came at the environment from a different perspective — conservation for the purposes of outdoor recreation. There were individual groups in different cities working on issues like smog and different polluted sites. Rome writes, “Earth Day did not just mobilize activists to demonstrate the growing power of their cause. In several ways, Earth Day helped to create the movement. Earth Day gave environmental activism a name. Earth Day also convinced many Americans that pollution, sprawl, nuclear fallout, pesticide use, wilderness preservation, waste disposal, and population growth were not separate issues.”
Events of the late 1960s made the time right for a cohesive movement to form. The war in Vietnam was raging on with all of the environmental destruction that went with it. Rachel Carson’s iconic book “Silent Spring” came out in 1962 and sent shock waves. The Civil Rights movement was heating up, many facets of which involved environmental issues. But the idea of Earth Day grew out of the interest and passion of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson decided to bring the environment, overall, to the public’s attention with a “teach in.” He wisely decided to not go with a top-down approach and began involving different groups on campuses and in various cities. From there, it exploded. From the very first Earth Day, there was not just one event, but somewhere between 12,000-13,000 events! Although many colleges were included in some of the initial planning, it wasn’t long before high schools and elementary schools began to request information and ask to be included. Some of the most successful events (not all of them were successful) were in New York, Cleveland, Miami, Birmingham and Salina. Yes, you read that correctly. Salina, Kansas.
I find it incredible that Earth Day has become so huge, so expected, considering where it began. Columbia’s Earth Day celebration is this weekend, Sunday, April 24. (The event will be moved to May 1 if it’s raining – but the weather looks clear so far!) I love that it’s in Peace Park. On a related note, you can pick up a free tree seedling from the Missouri Department of Conservation for Arbor Day on Saturday, April 23, if you stop by the Columbia Public library from 10 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. or the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton from 9 a.m.- noon.
As usual, I have made a list of all my favorite environmental books (and a couple of DVDs) from the last several years. Happy Earth Day!!!!
Image credit: Designed by Freepik
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. See map below.What are some other resources for teens in need?
National Hopeline Network: 800-442-4673 or 800-784-2432 (en español). Help and hope 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255). No matter what problems you are dealing with, they want to help you find a reason to keep living.
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860. A line primarily for transgender people experiencing a crisis. This includes people who may be struggling with their gender identity and are not sure that they are transgender.
Teen Line – Teens Helping Teens: Call 800-852-8336 or text “TEEN” to 839863. If you have a problem or just want to talk with another teen who understands, then this is the right place for you.
View Columbia Safe Place Sites in a larger map
Originally published at Resources for Teens in Need.
“Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears.” Thus speaketh Luke Skywalker during a rousing oratory in “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.”
400 years after his death, on April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare continues to inspire new generations of writers. Arguably, everyone writing in English has been influenced by him, as he added so many new words and expressions to the language. Many authors have penned books in direct homage to his work.
Ian Doescher, for instance, has rendered the first six “Star Wars” movies into stories written in Shakespearean style. Iambic pentameter has never been more exciting. Action sequences are narrated by a chorus. Just as in the movies, many of the best lines go to C-3PO. “Fear has put its grip into my wires,” the droid laments. Each volume is a quick read and faithful to the related film’s plot.
“A Thousand Acres” by Jane Smiley, is a late twentieth-century retelling of “King Lear.” Smiley’s tale is set on an Iowa farm, where Larry Cook has decided to divide his estate among his three daughters. The story is told from the point of view of Cook’s oldest daughter, Ginny. Unlike Lear’s oldest, Ginny is a sympathetic, mostly non-treacherous character (with the exception of one notable episode.) But much like Lear, Larry seems to be losing his mind, perhaps to dementia, perhaps to long-held guilt. “A Thousand Acres” won multiple awards, including the 1992 Pulitzer Prize.
Any guesses as to which Shakespeare play inspired Matt Haig’s 2007 novel, “The Dead Father’s Club”? 11-year-old Phillip’s father recently died in a car accident. Or was it murder, as his dad’s ghost claims? Phillip is tasked with the job of exacting revenge against his uncle, who appears to be making moves on both Philip’s mom and the family business, a pub called the Castle and Falcon. Sounds a lot like “Hamlet” to me. Except contemporary, funny and — if possible — even more tragic in some ways.
In “The Dream of Perpetual Motion,” Dexter C. Palmer presents a steampunk version of “The Tempest.” Like Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s play, Harry Winslow finds himself stranded with a character named Miranda. But instead of a desert island, the setting is a perpetually orbiting zeppelin. The zeppelin has been designed by Miranda’s father, Prospero Taligent, who mirrors Shakespeare’s Prospero in his possession of abilities beyond the ordinary, creating mechanical beasts and people to do his bidding.
Shouldst thou further wish to pursue literature inspired by the Bard of Avon, look to the reading list contained in yon catalog.
The registration deadlines are fast approaching for those planning to take the next round of ACT and SAT exams.
- Registration for the June 11 ACT exam is due Friday, May 6. Sign-up online.
- Registration for the June 4 SAT exam is due Thursday, May 5. 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.
John Wray’s latest awesome novel, “The Lost Time Accidents,” begins with its narrator declaring that he has been “excused from time.” Most readers will assume that he is waiting on a tardy chauffeur or a pizza delivery, but this statement is quickly clarified: Waldy Tolliver is literally outside of time. It’s 8:47 and he’s stuck in his aunt’s apartment, a shrine to the act of hoarding. Towers of newspapers threaten to crush careless occupants, and there are rooms divided into smaller rooms via walls of books with openings only large enough to barely crawl through. But this is more than a book about a man with a lot of a lack of time on his hands being stuck in a super cool house. It’s about his family, and their obsession with time, and the Holocaust, and a fairy that visits one half of a profoundly eccentric set of twins, and physics, and pickles, and the narrator’s doomed love affair with Mrs. Haven, and his father’s prolific career as a science fiction writer, and the powerful cult that his science fiction inadvertently spawned, and whether time is a sphere and other stuff too.
(While reviews for this novel are positive, some downright glowing, there are also a few that, while admiring Wray’s ambition and skill, don’t love its length (roughly 500 pages), nonlinear structure and tendency to meander. This gentleman enjoys a good meandering, though, and Wray’s meanderings are spectacular. Without them we wouldn’t get several hilarious summaries of Waldy’s father’s science fiction or the section written in the voice of Joan Didion. Besides, Wray’s genius needs the space to unfurl. The fellow writes sentences like someone that loves doing so and also owns a top-notch brain.)
The family’s obsession with time began with Waldy’s great-grandfather, Ottokar, an amateur physicist and proprietor of a thriving pickling business. He’d figured out the nature of time just prior to being killed by an automobile. His sons, amateur physicists and heirs to a thriving pickling business, search for clues to Ottokar’s discovery, but he’s left behind little more than some ambiguous and absolutely absurdly alliterative notes. (“FOOLS FROM FUTURE’S FETID FIEFDOMS FOLLOW FREELY IN MY FOOTSTEPS” — this reader thought maybe his sons should have thought about that a little longer.)
Ottokar’s sons, Kaspar and Waldemar, take very different paths. Waldemar becomes an anti-Semite (it doesn’t help that Albert Einstein, forever referred to by the family only as “the patent clerk,” gathered the glory he felt was meant for their father) and just generally insane and evil. He eventually becomes known as “The Black Timekeeper” for his time travel-related experimentation on prisoners during the Holocaust. Waldemar believes time is a sphere, and that with enough willpower, one can transcend it. He vanishes just prior to the destruction of his concentration camp.
Kaspar’s path is loaded with love and heartbreak, continent swapping, fatherhood and eventually a lucrative career as a watchmaker. He raises a set of eccentric twins, who cultivate their own obsession with time, encouraged by the fairy that visits one of them every so often. Those twin girls raise Kaspar’s next child, Orson. Orson loves writing science fiction, and though it tends to the erotic because that’s what sells, he’s pleased to be free of his family’s obsession with time. So of course, one of his novels becomes the text that inspires a time-obsessed cult. Orson’s son, our narrator, is compelled to write the story of his family, in part to free himself from his evil uncle’s shadow. Then he gets “excused from time” and has all the time to write he could ever want. So he uses it to write a family history in the form of a very long letter to a Mrs. Haven. He begins by informing her that he has been excused from time.
Project Teen: Pop-up Art Book
Saturday, May 7 › 1-2:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library
Project Teen is a regular program hosted by the Daniel Boone Regional Library. For our next session at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton, we’ll show you some incredible pop-up books, then teach you how to make your own. Ages 12 and older.
Photo from “Dinosaur Stomp: A Monster Pop-Up” by Paul Stickland
Originally published at Project Teen: Pop-up Art Book.
Who among us couldn’t use a little more calm in our lives? With the release and spectacular success of Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden,” the adult coloring book craze has taken off. And they are EVERYWHERE! There have even been TED Talks on the benefits of coloring and doodling.
Of course, art therapy has been touted by professionals for decades, but the trend has really exploded over the last several years. And, while it may not really be “magic,” coloring is kind of magical. According to Psychology Today, doodling and coloring help with self-soothing, problem solving, memory retention and concentration. Doodlers aren’t just daydreaming! According to the book “Doodle Revolution” by Sunni Brown, doodling can even help us to think differently.
My kids got me an adult coloring book last year for Mother’s Day, and I love it! I have to admit that I prefer coloring books with nature, city scenes and gardens over the geometric designs. But don’t discount the designs! They can have a entrancing effect. I also have to be careful to not get designs that are too tight and intricate. I just don’t have that much skill. But coloring and doodling are things that you don’t have to have skill to enjoy.
And now you can enjoy coloring at the library. Our libraries in Ashland and Fulton offer a Coloring for Adults program that lets you relax and socialize with all materials provided. You might also want to check out our collection of Zentangle books for relaxation through doodling, drawing and coloring. Zentangles are a more structured form of doodling using lines, curves and dots on 3.5-inch squares of paper or card stock.
Here’s to a calming and productive spring!
Wii U Family Game Time
Wednesday, April 27 › 3-4:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance,” a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8” or a party animal in “Mario Party 10.” Snacks provided. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration required. To sign up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Originally published at Program Preview: Wii U Family Gaming.
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“Killing Them Safely”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Shown at the Missouri Theatre last year, this documentary directed by Columbia filmmaker Nick Berardini examines Taser International, the company responsible for the worldwide sale of Tasers to law enforcement, and explores whether the device’s safety record is at odds with its reputation as a nonlethal tool for the police.
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing at Ragtag Cinema earlier this year, this documentary examines events that happened in Columbia, Missouri. In 2005, a resident named Ryan Ferguson was controversially convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The film is told through the eyes of Ryan’s father, whose persistent amateur sleuthing saved his son from a lifetime in prison.
“Off the Menu: Asian America”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
The latest from Columbia-native director Grace Lee (American Revolutionary), this film grapples with how family, tradition, faith and geography shape our relationship to food. A road trip into the kitchens, factories, temples and farms of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving community.
“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing at Ragtag Cinema last year, this film is a provocative, rousing and often humorous account of the birth of the modern women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s through to its contemporary manifestations, direct from the women who lived it. The film dramatizes the movement in its exhilarating, quarrelsome, sometimes heart-wrenching glory.
“Game of Thrones”
Website / Reviews
This season begins with a power vacuum that protagonists across Westeros and Essos look to fill. This season features some of the most explosive scenes yet, as the promise that “Winter is Coming” becomes more ominous than ever before.
Other notable releases:
“Medium Cool” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Manhattan” – Season 2 – Website / Reviews
“Peaky Blinders” – Season 2 – Website / Reviews
“The Fall” – Season 2 – Website / Reviews
“The Americans” – Season 1 – Website / Reviews
“The Bridge” – Season 1 – Website / Reviews
“Night Will Fall” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Becoming Bulletproof” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
Where I came from (Moscow, Russia), we never volunteered, at least not in the American way. The thing was that we didn’t have to – authorities “volunteered” us when and where they desired. The “without getting paid” part (see definition above) worked the same way as it does in America. As for the willingness, nobody ever cared to ask.
The most common cases of Russian “volunteering” during my time there included sending citizens to express their fake enthusiasm at state parades and sending city dwellers to collective farms to help with harvesting. I still remember spending long weeks (even months) picking cabbages and potatoes, hours away from my home in Moscow – living in military-style barracks, wearing oversized black rain boots and ugly telogreikas (black, shapeless quilted jackets) and drinking vodka – the only entertainment available in the provinces.
I also remember “voluntarily” greeting foreign dignitaries, including Gerald Ford, who visited Russia (then The Soviet Union) in November 1974. My whole college was positioned along Moscow’s wide Leninsky Prospect (Lenin’s Avenue) for about two hours, bored and cold, waiting for the black limousines and leather-clad motorcyclists to drive quickly past us, while we waved at them and smiled forced smiles under the command of our superiors.
This is not to say that nobody in Russia would take to the streets voluntarily. There were a few – some protesting against the injustice of the regime and some trying to force the authorities to allow them to leave the country. Yet they were called “dissidents,” and the country had appropriate places for them – mostly the state prisons. All in all, “altruism” was not a common word in our vocabulary – “mandate” was.
Of course, I haven’t been in the country of my birth for a very long time, and things are different there now. These days Russia, too, has volunteers. One example is Russian soldiers – sorry, I meant to say “volunteers” – who fought against the Ukrainian Army in 2014-15 (in Ukrainian territory, mind you). Unlike my days of digging in the mud in Russian potato/cabbage/carrots/ etc. fields, those guys weren’t wearing telograikas and rain boots, but military style clothing. They were better equipped, too. Instead of sacks for gathering veggies, they carried automatic rifles, drove tanks and used Russian-made rockets. Yet small differences aside, it’s clear that volunteering has finally made its way to Russia. In fact, some Russian volunteers are fighting in Syria right now.
Coming to America in 1990 was disorienting for me in a number of ways – mentally, linguistically and culturally. One of things that amazed me was this American “volunteering streak.” I remember asking people, “Do you mean that nobody forces (or pays) volunteers to travel to different states to help victims of natural disasters or to support a cause?! That some people would spend their time and money to feed the poor or organize and attend fundraisers?” And when I heard, “yes,” I just shook my head in disbelief.
I’m not saying everybody in this country is an altruist. Of course not. I am saying, though, that I know many people here who have done – and will do again – all of the above and more. And let me tell you, volunteering is contagious. These days, I am volunteering, too. I’ve participated in a number of fundraisers, and I’ve donated things to my congregation and my library. It’s not much, but it’s a beginning. For I finally understood that John Donne’s famous quote is not just poetic. It is a truth of the human condition:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
P.S. By the way, Unbound Book Festival is just around the corner. Would you like to volunteer?
by George Hodgman “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”
by Jamie Ford 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 2016 program to two top contenders. Between now and April 29, cast your vote for either “Bettyville” by George Hodgman or “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.“Bettyville” by George Hodgman
Hodgman, after working for years as an editor in New York City, returns to Paris, Missouri, and finds that his hometown and his aging mother Betty are both in extreme decline. The two share a fierce love, but a deep silence, as Betty has never been able to understand or accept his homosexuality. Hodgman reflects on his recovery from addiction, losing loved ones to the AIDS epidemic and his struggles to care for the still feisty but failing Betty. Funny, honest and tenderhearted, this memoir illuminates how a person is shaped by a family and community that are at once loving and damaging, flawed and beautiful.
- Author’s Website
- Publisher’s Page
- New York Times Book Review
- Kirkus Review
- Author Interview on NPR’s Fresh Air
When the renovation of a historic Seattle hotel unearths artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II, it also sparks memories in old Henry Lee. This historical fiction follows Henry as he remembers the racial tensions of the 1940s and his forbidden friendship with a Japanese schoolmate. Jamie Ford’s moving debut novel examines the gulf between immigrant parents and their American-born children, the innocence of first love and the dangers of blind patriotism.
- Author’s Website
- Publisher’s Page
- Seattle Times Book Review
- Kirkus Review
- Author Interview With NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday
“Ahora soy: Sólo hoy tenemos y creamos.
Now I am: Only today do we have and create.”
These are the words of Nancy Morejón, one of the most distinguished poets of Cuba after the Revolution. They come from her poem “Mujer Negra,” or “Black Woman.” Born in 1944, Nancy Morejón grew up and developed her talent as a writer during the tumultuous Cold War era. Her work draws from her African heritage and her life in modern Cuba.
The Columbia Public Library has the great honor of welcoming Nancy Morejón on Tuesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. She will read from some of her most well-known poems and talk about the cultural milieu of her homeland. If you would like to explore more of her work, the library has two bilingual anthologies for you to check out: “Black Woman and Other Poems” and “Looking Within.”
We will also be displaying a selection of handcrafted books by artisanal Cuban publisher Ediciones Vigía. You’ll find them in the library’s lobby from April 18-29. Among those exhibited will be Nancy Morejón’s poem “Ana Mendieta.” During her April 19 program, there will be a short documentary about the making of one of her poems into a stunning, one-of-a-kind piece of visual art.
Nancy Morejón’s presentation is part of a much larger conference, “Afro-Cuban Artists: A Renaissance,” being hosted by the MU Afro-Romance Institute and the MU Department of Romance Languages and Literature. Be sure to review the complete listing of free community events available online. There are art exhibits, screenings, children’s workshops and more!
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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, “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare, “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and several 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 2016 champion is….“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
Stay tuned to teens.dbrl.org for our sneak peek at this year’s teen summer reading program, “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read.” 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 Amazon Kindle Fire. Stay informed by subscribing to our email updates!
Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Champion Is Chosen!.