It turns out that our predictions for the 2014 Gateway and Truman award winners were spot-on. Veronica Roth is the recipient of this year’s Gateway Readers Award for her book, “Divergent.” In a future Chicago, Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomoly who does not fit into any one group. Runners-up for the Gateway Award were “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake and “Ashfall” by Mike Mullin.
Congratulations also goes to Marie Lu who is this year’s Truman Readers Award recipient for her book, “Legend.” In the dark future where North America has split into two warring nations, teenagers Day, a famous criminal, and June, a brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy. Richard Paul Evans was the second place award winner for “Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25,” while Wendelin Van Draanen received the third place honor for “The Running Dream.”
Originally published at 2014 Gateway & Truman Award Winners Announced.
April elections aren’t just about school boards and city councils. Each year the Daniel Boone Regional Library asks area readers to help choose that year’s One Read book. One Read is a community-wide reading program that invites adults in Mid-Missouri to read the same book over the summer and then attend programs based on that book during the month of September.
Between now and May 2, cast your vote for either “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain or “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel Brown.
Learn more about these titles and cast your vote at oneread.org!
Bookmarks are thought to have been used since at least the end of the medieval period, but one of the first references to their use involves the presentation of a silk bookmark to Queen Elizabeth I of England (circa 1584). People use all sorts of different things as bookmarks, everything from old receipts to love letters. Lauren, one of our librarians at the Columbia Public Library, said she attended a conference where four or five librarians admitted to having found bacon in a book! How do you save your place in a book? Let us know in the comments! (And please don’t put bacon in our books.)
I have been using leftover paint chips from a project as bookmarks. This color is “Radiant Orchid.” Currently reading: “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp.
Rob is using his car title at the moment. Currently reading: “The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.” (Editor’s note: This was a patron’s personal book. Using important documents as bookmarks in library books is not a good idea.)
This adorable handmade creature marks Angela’s page. Currently reading: “Every Day” by David Levithan.
Barb had lots of bookmarking to do. Luckily she had plenty of these tiny post-its! Currently reading: “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.
Althea’s beautiful bookmark. Currently reading: “Adé” by Rebecca Walker.
Brandy loves sloths so much that one of her coworkers made her this bookmark.
Rosie the Riveter never stops working, even as a bookmark! Brian is using a gallery guide from a recent trip to Crystal Bridges American Art Museum as his bookmark. Currently reading: “The Upcycle” By William McDonough.
Hilary uses her pets as bookmarks! (Or maybe they use her?) Currently reading: “Adventures in Yarn Farming” by Barbara Parry.
Eric was using his Ha Ha Tonka concert ticket, until he found a postcard from Romania in this used textbook. Currently reading: “Interpersonal Process in Therapy” by Edward Teyber and Faith Holmes McClure.
The Warrior card from a Xultun tarot deck guards Kelsey’s spot in her book. Currently reading: “Perdido Street Station” by China Miéville.
Ida’s daughter made her this cross-stitched Hunger Games bookmark.
And here’s a box of long lost bookmarks in the Columbia Public Library’s Circulation Department.
So, what’s in your book?
If Emily Dickinson never came out of her room, how does everyone know about her? The answer lies in the 1,775 poems the recluse in white left behind when she died in 1886. Only a few were published during her lifetime. But thanks to the efforts of her sister, Lavinia, the world came to know Emily and her verse posthumously.
From around the age of 30 on, Dickinson limited the physical range of her world to the confines of her Amherst, Massachusetts home and a wardrobe of white dresses. But she kept a connection to society through prolific correspondence with a number of people. Many of her letters included poems; more than 100 went to the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. But editors of the day were not ready for the ways in which her poems broke with convention.
Though she lived a largely intellectual life, her poetry shows richness, depth and a grounding in concrete realities. She wrote of death heralded not with trumpets but the buzzing of a fly. She describes a snake as “the narrow fellow in the grass” and the feeling you get when you see him as “zero at the bone.” Even hope took on a physical manifestation for her: “Hope is the thing with feathers…”
Dickinson packed acres of meaning into a few square inches of paper. Most of her poems are concise, yet speak profoundly about themes such as death, time, nature, love and immortality. Her work can be found in “Collected Poems” and in the library’s LitFINDER database.
To learn more about the poet’s life, try Gordon Lyndall’s book, “Lives Like Loaded Guns.” Lyndall explores the relationships and feuds among members of the Dickinson family. The conflicts carried on long after Dickinson’s death, with struggles for control over her work and even how the story of her life would be told. Lyndall takes his title from a Dickinson poem, one which allows Emily herself to have the last word:
“My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away.”
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 “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver, “Legend” by Marie Lu, 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, the 2014 Champion is….“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Stay tuned to teens.dbrl.org for our sneak peek at this year’s teen summer reading challenge, Spark a Reaction. 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. Stay informed by subscribing to our email updates!
Originally published at 2014 Teen Book Champion Is Chosen!.
Even with my deep love for all things tall, green and leafy, I won’t generally pull out a book about trees to read for entertainment. (Give me a good murder mystery for that.) So I’m pleased to report that I have just read two nonfiction books that were thoroughly entertaining, sometimes even hair-raising – and definitely about trees.
In “The Wild Trees” (Richard Preston, 2007), the author takes us deep into the lives and minds of the original redwood canopy researchers – young men (and a few women) who, starting in the early 1990s, were the first to climb into the tops of the largest trees on earth. There they discovered a fairyland of plant and animal species, many previously unknown to science, and galvanized efforts to protect our remaining redwood forests.
This all sounds like good clean science fun, but in fact it requires both Olympic-level agility and astonishing bravery. The early canopy-climbers faced a gruesome death pretty much every day, and shocking close calls abound in this book. Publication of “The Wild Trees“ rightfully made Steve Sillett, the graduate student (now professor) who is at the center of the story, an international folk hero in the ecological community.
The hero of “The Man Who Planted Trees“ (Jim Robbins, 2012) is just as brave and adventurous – but in his own weird way. In 1991, David Milarch - a fiftyish, bar-fighting Michigan tree farmer – had a near-death experience after quitting alcohol cold-turkey. As he relates it, while in heaven he was given an assignment (by an archangel, no less). He was to save the planet from global warming by cloning the world’s oldest trees, which may provide the best genetic stock for reforestation as the climate changes.
Go ahead, scoff – but the man is doing it. Starting with no money, no college degree and no backers, Milarch has built an internationally respected organization that is advancing the art and science of global reforestation. The name of his organization? Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. (Read a 2013 interview with David Milarch here.)
Finally, if you’re not into adrenaline or angels, here are several more good tree reads for Arbor Day, available at DBRL:
The post Wild and Woody: Two Incredible Tree Stories for Arbor Day appeared first on DBRL Next.
VOTE NOW through March 31 for the tournament champion!
Three months of reading and preparation have led to this moment: the announcement of our teen book tournament finalists! Thank you to all the students who have shared their favorites with us. So far, we’ve collected over 225 ballots from dozens of area teens. With each round of voting, teens’ names have been entered into a drawing for a free Barnes & Noble gift card or an autographed copy of “Legend” by Marie Lu! Prize winners will be announced next Wednesday, April 2 when we announce our tournament champion.March Madness Teen Book Tournament Finalists VOTE for your favorite title by Monday, March 31 at 5 p.m. You may vote online at teens.dbrl.org or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations.
Originally published at 2014 Teen Book Tournament Finalists Announced.
“The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry“
by Gabrielle Zevin
“A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances.”
-Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
by Emma Donoghue
“Donoghue returns to historical fiction in this latest offering, based on the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher with a mysterious past. Set in 1870s San Francisco, this brilliant book includes impeccable historical details, from a smallpox epidemic to period songs.”
-Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, IL
“And the Dark Sacred Night“
by Julia Glass
“Four stars to Julia Glass for this, her best work since ‘Three Junes.’ We become reacquainted with old characters Malachy, Fenno and Walter and learn more about their life stories. The individuals are imperfectly human and perfectly drawn. A wonderful, highly recommended novel.”
-Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN
Here is the rest of the list for your browsing and hold-placing pleasure!
- “Silence for the Dead” by Simone St. James
- “By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery” by Donna Leon
- “The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller” by Shane Kuhn
- “Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home” by Nina Stibbe
- “The Axe Factor” by Colin Cotterill
- “Family Life” by Akhil Sharma
- “On the Rocks” by Erin Duffy
Why does the term Chick Lit rub me the wrong way? Maybe it is because as a friend of mine recently said, “We don’t have Dude Lit.” I found myself asking this question because March is Women’s History Month. Female writers today, and historically, add much to our culture. One of my colleagues pointed out that four of the New York Times top 10 books of 2013 were written by women. These books are: Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life,” Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers” and Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial.”
Chick Lit is a term that caught on in the 1990s and was attributed to books such as Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” However, Chick Lit is a label that can change meanings depending on who is applying the label. For some, it is simply fun, light, fiction by and about females. Others see it more as the single working woman’s fiction. Whatever you want to call them, here are some books written by female authors. These are books any woman can appreciate.
Donald Antrim has been called a genius, and in 2013 (along with one of my most favorite writers), he was given the 625,000-dollar grant the MacArthur Foundation bequeaths to all geniuses. As far as I know (Antrim has yet to respond to my passionate, nearly polite pleas that he take one of those twenty question online IQ tests and forward me the results WITHOUT DOCTORING THEM), he deserves the unfathomable wealth, prestige and groupies such an award bestows. But I hear his fanciful imagination is one of his genius-y strengths, and I wonder, for certainly that isn’t the strength on display in “Elect Mr. Robinson For a Better World.” Said slice of propaganda is little more than an exquisitely written, chilling and accurate glimpse into the muggy, gator-blood pumping heart of present day Florida.
The titular narrator’s community is populated by residents that have taken to digging moats around their houses and filling them with broken glass, sharpened bamboo or water moccasins. Their park is packed with landmines, and taxpayers have voted to close the local school and occupy the building with a factory that turns coral into jewelry. Despite these everyday challenges, Mr. Robinson doesn’t craft the typical political tract. He never beats you over the head with policies or empty rhetoric, instead counting on the reader’s wisdom to deem him fit for office by the time they’ve completed his grim and propulsive tale.
Mr. Robinson is a former teacher who lost his job when the school was closed. He shares the dream of most displaced teachers: to start a school in his basement next to his scale-model medieval torture chamber and have students assist him in crafting political advertisements for his eventual mayoral run. This is a man overflowing with political talents. When the previous mayor made the perhaps hasty decision to launch Stinger missiles into the botanical garden, Mr. Robinson, drawing from his considerable knowledge of the history of torture, suggests he be drawn and quartered, and he has the know-how and follow-through to lead his fellow citizens in dismembering the man with fishing line and automobiles. While this knowledge is obviously a necessary component for holding political office, perhaps some might worry as to the lack of a softer side. Robinson nails that too: he feels the pieces of the former mayor deserve a distinguished burial and so keeps them in his freezer until he can devise the perfect send-off. (Which, of course, involves Egyptian rituals.) But maybe the voter is sympathetic to the arts. When the citizenry decides to use library books to detonate the hidden bombs in their park, Robinson takes the initiative to go in after the intact tomes. Plus, a new-age guru reveals that his inner animal is a buffalo, and although that means he nearly drowns during a spirit commune with his wife’s inner animal, a coelacanth (ancient weird fish), one cannot argue against the buffalo being well-suited to the rigors of modern politics.
As they say in Florida, two gators with one python, Antrim has convinced me Mr. Robinson would be, for a Florida town, an appropriate mayor; and also Florida is a scary place crammed with shuttered schools, swamps, suburban moats and psychotically over-zealous security guards.
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult book as selected by high school students, while the Truman Readers Award is chosen by junior high students. Even though these awards are administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner. Based on circulation figures throughout our library system, DBRLTeen predicts that the following books will be recognized as this year’s top titles:
Predicted Gateway Readers Award winners
- First Place: “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
- Second Place: “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
- Third Place: “Bitter End” by Jennifer Brown
Predicted Truman Readers Award winners:
- First Place: “Legend” by Marie Lu
- Second Place: “Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25” by Richard Paul Evan
- Third Place: “The Eleventh Plague” by Jeff Hirsch
The actual award winners will be announced at the MASL Spring Conference in mid-April. Subscribe to our email updates to have the results delivered directly to your inbox!
Originally published at 2014 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions.
In the past year, two University of Missouri professors have published biographies of influential men. Steven Watts explores how a Missouri farm boy came to launch the modern self-help movement in “Self-Help Messiah, Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America.” And Jonathan Sperber takes a fresh look at a man who has inspired revolutions around the globe, in his book “Karl Marx, a Nineteenth Century Life.”
By Watts’ account, nothing in Dale Carnegie’s childhood indicated the path he’d take as an adult. Born to an impoverished farm couple in Maryville, Missouri in 1888, his childhood was filled with religious instruction and manual labor. Not until he went to college and became involved in theater did his charisma manifest. The speaking skills he developed helped him in a series of sales jobs, which in turn provided him with insights into human motivation. Eventually he would lead a self-help empire. The franchise of leadership courses he began is still in business today, while his 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” remains a popular-selling title. Opinion over Carnegie’s methods has been divided. Where some see self-improvement and empowerment, others see manipulation and a promotion of personality over character. But nobody can deny he had a large hand in shaping the culture Americans know today.
To a more extreme degree, Karl Marx has also been both revered and reviled throughout the years, a fact that speaks to the level of his influence in the world. With Friedrich Engels, Marx co-authored “The Communist Manifesto.” Sperber places Marx in a historical context, examining what effect the French Revolution, for example, had on his work. But Sperber expands beyond the political lens and provides a view of many other aspects of Marx’s life, which began in 1818 in Trier, Germany. So we see not only a political firebrand, but also a son, husband and father, as well as a man with chronic money troubles.
Each biography shows a man who was a product of his time. As much as both men shaped the culture, the ability to do so came by virtue of having been born in the right epochs. Dale Carnegie, the man, could have lived any time, any place. Dale Carnegie, the phenomenon, could not have existed without the advent of mass communication. And had Karl Marx been born into a society of widespread peace and prosperity, the world would not have had Marxism, the political movement.
After an exciting two months of voting, DBRLTeen is proud to announce the Sweet 16 in our March Madness Teen Book Tournament. However, if you are just joining in the fun, here’s a little background to get you caught up. Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. By supporting your favorite book, you’ll also be entered to win prizes like a gift card to Barnes & Noble!How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:
- Round 1: Voting complete.
- Round 2: VOTE NOW through March 10 for the Elite 8.
- Round 3: Vote March 11-17 for the Final 4.
- Round 4: Vote March 18-24 for the final two contending titles.
- Round 5: Vote March 25-31 for the book tournament champion.
- April 2: The champion is announced!
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite eight titles by Monday, March 10 at 5 p.m. The winners from this round of competition will be announced next Tuesday, March 11.March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Sweet 16
- “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
- “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “Holes” by Louis Sachar
- “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
- “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
- “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner
- “Gone” by Michael Grant
- “Legend” by Marie Lu
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
- “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
- “Girl, Stolen” by April Henry
- “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer
- “The Eleventh Plague” by Jeff Hirsch
- “Out of My Mind” by Sharon M. Draper
- “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
- “Inheritance” by Christopher Paolini
Originally published at 2014 Teen Book Tournament: Sweet 16 Announced.
(Review of the Inspector Montalbano mystery series, by Andrea Camilleri)
Salvo Montalbano is the world-weary but always upstanding Chief Inspector for the police force of Vigata, a smallish (and imaginary) town in Sicily. He’s a sensitive, ethical guy who struggles with the endemic Sicilian political corruption, superiors who can’t be bothered and subordinates who are eager but sometimes inept. Also problematic are the many attractive women who find him molto interessante – causing no end of conflict with Livia, his volatile out-of-town girlfriend.
This sounds like a standard backdrop for a police procedural mystery, international or otherwise. But this series, and Montalbano, rise above the standard. For starters, this is one well-read cop, given to Italian literary and historical references. He’s also a passionate gourmet: a steaming plate of pasta ‘ncasciata will always take precedence over police business.
Montalbano introspects fiercely, and the reader gets to spend quality time inside his head, getting to know this often melancholy and obsessive, but ultimately likable, character. In fact, all of Camilleri’s characters are worth knowing, from Ingrid Sjostrom, the beautiful six-foot-tall Swedish race-car driver (and Montalbano’s greatest temptation) to the creepy, sex-obsessed Judge Tommaseo. Add some dark Sicilian atmosphere and consistently elegant plotting, and you have a series that is just plain delizioso.
(Important disclaimer: The first book, “The Shape of Water,” begins with a single, nearly incomprehensible paragraph that goes on for a full five pages. It was so obtuse that I almost gave up. Fortunately I didn’t, because after page five things got much clearer and a whole lot more interesting – and stayed that way for 15 more books.)
For an appetizer, here are the first four books of the Inspector Montalbano series at DBRL:
- “The Shape of Water” (2002)
- “The Terra-cotta Dog” (2002)
- “The Snack Thief” (2003)
- “Voice of the Violin” (2004)
For the complete list of 16 titles, see our book list in the library’s online catalog.
LibraryReads is a monthly list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend. The March list is particularly awesome because local author Laura McHugh’s book (partly written at the Columbia Public Library) is the number one pick!
“The Weight of Blood“
by Laura McHugh
“The Dane family has been keeping secrets in the Ozark town of Henbane for years. An outsider steals the heart of one of the Dane brothers, and the secrets threaten to unravel. When 16-year-old Lucy’s friend is found murdered after being missing for a year, Lucy begins to ask questions–the answers to which may destroy her family. Atmospheric and visceral, McHugh’s story is vividly and effectively told.”
- Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ
by Chris Pavone
“Kudos to Pavone for coming through with another captivating international suspense novel. How ironic that I couldn’t put down a book about Isabel, a literary agent who stays up all night to finish an unsolicited manuscript that’s so explosive, some will kill to keep it from being published. During the 24 hours that Isabel is on the run, readers will be on the edge of their seats. Be prepared to lose some sleep!”
- Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI
“The Divorce Papers“
by Susan Rieger
“When Sophie, a loveable 29-year-old lawyer, gets roped into working on a divorce case, her life takes an unexpected turn. Though this gives her a new perspective on life, it also forces her to confront some unresolved childhood issues. Except for a few tearful, poignant moments, I had a smile on my face for the entire book. Engaging and humorous, this debut epistolary novel has become a favorite read.”
- Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL
Here is the rest of the list for your browsing and hold-placing pleasure!
- “The Outcast Dead” by Elly Griffiths
- “Panic” by Lauren Oliver
- “A Circle of Wives” by Alice LaPlante
- “Gemini” by Carol Cassella
- “Precious Thing” by Colette McBeth
- “Kill Fee: A Stevens and Windermere Novel” by Owen Laukkanen
- “Show Your Work! 10 Things Nobody Told You about Getting Discovered” by Austin Kleon
Library staff have spent the winter reading from a wide assortment of genres: historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. However, mystery and intrigue seems to be a prevailing theme among many of titles. Have you already read one of these books? Submit your own book review or share your thoughts as a blog comment below!What We’re Reading:
“Maid of Secrets” by Jennifer McGowan
A story of intrigue surrounding Queen Elizabeth I.
“This is not a Drill” by Rebecca McDowell
Tense hostage situation.
“Battle Magic” by Tamora Pierce
The continuing tale of Briar, a plant magician.
“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by April Genevieve Tucholke
Lovely, atmospheric Gothic horror.
“Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell
Heartbreaking, inspiring, and highly quotable.
“I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga
Dark and gruesome, but fun.
“Everybody Sees the Ants” by A.S. King”
Raw and honest with a bit of magical realism thrown in.
“Stardust” by Neil Gaiman
A young man’s quest for love in the world of Faerie.
“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes
Human lab rat.
“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer
Beautifully retold Cinderella cyborg science fiction mash up.
“The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne Valente
Charming and delightfully strange in an Alice-in-Wonderland sort of way.
Originally published at What We’re Reading: February 2014.
I recently stumbled across a BuzzFeed article that offers advice which is even more useful than tips on creative ways to use mason jars! “Twenty-Nine Books To Get You Through Your Quarter-Life Crisis” is a compilation of books about people in their 20s and issues that people face during this stage of their life. The list includes both fiction and nonfiction books, most of which we have in our collection (and the ones we don’t have you can get through our ILL service). As a 20-something, I enjoy learning about the various directions in which people choose to steer their lives and about the different ways people carve out their identities. Here are a few books I’ve found interesting:
- “Hyperbole and A Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened” by Allie Brosh. This collection of webcomics is funny, sometimes sad, and had me yelling, “I totally do that, too!” The book combines crudely drawn pictures with short writings to tell stories of the now 28-year-old’s wild childhood, life-long obsession with dogs, bouts of depression and attempts at becoming a “responsible adult”. If you’re still not sold on this book, check out the Hyperbole and a Half blog to get a taste of Brosh’s style.
- “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. The author’s collection of advice columns, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” made it on to the BuzzFeed list instead of this book, but “Wild” also tackles issues people in their 20s face. I’ve never been a fan of memoirs or books about nature, but this book completely won me over. At age 26 Strayed’s life was in shambles from her mother’s death four years earlier. With nothing left to lose, she impulsively decided to hike the entire 1,000+ mile Pacific Crest Trail. Armed with only a giant backpack, paperback books and no wilderness experience, the author treks through physical and emotional pain to ultimately become healed. Heart-wrenching, honest and totally inspiring.
- “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Meg Jay. This is definitely not a feel-good book, but rather a therapist’s argument for what people should be doing while they’re in their 20s. Reading it was frustrating at times, because I disagree with a lot of things Dr. Jay had to say. She assumes the reader has a certain amount of privilege, and also that people in their 20s feel like they have all the time in the world. (I don’t know anyone my age that feels that way!) I could go on and on about the ways this book is problematic, but that being said, I still felt like I was able to glean some valuable information from this book. The author uses real-life examples of her clients’ struggles, which are common issues to people in their 20s. This book also includes some solid advice on moving forward in your career. Check it out and decide for yourself!
If you’d like more advice on what to read to get you through your quarter-life crisis, be sure to take a look at Book Riot’s article on this subject.
Image credit: Artwork copyrighted by Allie Brosh, creator of Hyperbole and a Half, and used according to guidelines outlined on the Hyperbole and a Half website.
Books and movies provide the fuel for allowing a gentleman to reminisce of simpler times, even when he’s born long after whatever simpler time about which he wishes to reminisce. So it’s good for some of that fuel to remind the unscrupulous reminiscer that simpler times were terrible. One such time occasionally pined for is the gold-rush era, a time when a forward thinking person might be willing to spare a penny for a toothbrush, but a time when forward thinking people were often hunted for sport. Indeed, for every attractive aspect of the era (horse emissions pale when compared to an automobile, disagreements could be solved by a simple duel), there are significant drawbacks (horses age and poop and get attacked by bears and travel at a fraction of the speed of even the slowest autos, a duel ends in murder). Patrick deWitt’s hilarious, violent and gripping novel, “The Sisters Brothers,” is a potent reminder that even though cowboy hats are awesome and spurs make you sound really cool while you walk, now is a much better time to be alive, what with medicine and civil rights and whatnot. Remember, for every glass of whiskey only costing a penny there’s a gypsy keen to curse you or a little girl poisoning dogs, and both folks have terrible breath. (Because they don’t own a toothbrush.)
The novel is narrated by Eli Sisters, a sensitive and relatively kind-hearted killer with a penchant for giving his excess cash to friendly prostitutes and becoming attached to horses even when they’re unable to meet his robust travel needs. Eli’s voice is hilariously mannered and often poetic, and the book brims with brilliant movie-ready dialogue. One can easily imagine it as the next Coen Brothers masterpiece. The book joins, among others, ”Deadwood“ (fans of which should love this novel) as evidence that the western isn’t dead.
Eli accompanies his brother, the less sensitive and more cold-blooded killer Charlie Sisters, on a mission to hunt down Hermann Kermit Warm for a man called The Commodore. Until deep into the book the reader must presume the reason for the hunting is The Commodore’s jealousy over Warm’s spectacular name. Which the reader finds weird as it’s pretty neat to be addressed as “The Commodore” and must thus presume The Commodore is a terribly petty man and doesn’t want anyone else to have a cool name. The reveal of the real reason for the hunting leads to some brilliant images and devastating scenes.
“The Sisters Brothers” is even more impressive for being the follow-up to deWitt’s first novel, the also wickedly funny but decidedly less cowboy laden “Ablutions: Notes for a Novel.” It is told in second-person and concerns a man tending bar in Hollywood. The book is loaded with people getting loaded and all the hijinks and misery that often entails and will serve as a stern reminder to next century’s reminiscers to be satisfied with their cyborg bodies and talking furniture and not pine for a time when one had to drink alcohol rather than simply turn the virtual knob on their intoxicant interface.
“With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined.”
- President Franklin Pierce, 1847
February is a month when we often reflect upon our presidents, celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Washington’s birthday is now a federal holiday and in some areas of the country is referred to as “President’s Day.” The library has many books about the 44 presidents who have occupied the White House since George Washington took office.
First, let’s first turn back the clock thirty years to 1984. The United States legislative and executive branches looked very different than they do today. Democrats had an entrenched hold on both the House and Senate, while a very popular Republican president was running for his second term in office. However, while political ideology was trumpeted throughout Capitol Hill, gridlock was often averted because of the basic pragmatism of two figures: President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked,” written by Chris Matthews of MSNBC fame, investigates their relationship in detail. Matthew’s point is the following: that ultimately the good of the country seemed to be the overwhelming concern for both of them. “Their way of life comprised an ongoing series of alliances and antagonisms, but did not include personal analysis of themselves or others,” Matthews writes. And he continues: “In his own way, each was a true gentleman in a way we don’t ask our leaders to be anymore.” Civility has since vanished from much of our political discourse.
Franklin Pierce, quoted above, is perhaps an obscure president, but he led the country during an important time. The 1850s were perhaps one of the most divisive points in American history, and Pierce’s efficacy as president was questionable. The book “Don’t Know Much about the American Presidents” by Kenneth Davis covers the lives, loves and frailties of American presidents. Speaking of Pierce, Davis says, “He was among a trio of pre-war presidents whose uninspired, shortsighted, and even cowardly administrations did nothing to avert the Civil War.” “Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents” also includes helpful timelines and a research guide.
During his three years as president, John Kennedy was a familiar figure in the press. “The Kennedy Years: From the Pages of the New York Times” retells the Kennedy story through the pages of the Times. As Richard Reeves points out in the introduction to the chapter about 1962, “An astonishing series of events punctuated the Kennedy years. In 1962 alone, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, Jacqueline Kennedy became a beloved, style-setting public advocate of high culture, and a walled-off, fearful West Berlin was suddenly isolated from the American sector by a Communist regime in East Germany that could no longer face the international embarrassment of a rising river of fleeing refugees.” Sadly, the November 23rd, 1963 issue heralded the end of Kennedy’s presidency and his life.
Most of us know George Washington as one of the country’s founding fathers and as a diplomat; less is known about his military service, which prepared him for those greater roles. Stephen Brumwell’s book “George Washington: Gentleman Warrior” describes in rich detail his beginnings as a military commander and his ultimate triumph as Commander in Chief during the Revolutionary War. His career did not begin auspiciously. Washington was a commander for British forces during the French and Indian War, and his initial foray (called Braddock’s Defeat) ended terribly. Of his first time as a commander, Brumwell reports that the mission “had failed at all levels” and that “Washington himself bore a large share of responsibility.” However, as history shows, Washington was a quick study. Despite this inauspicious start, Washington’s early history did mold his future. Brumwell says, “Without his youthful hankering after military fame, kindled by his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon and the Fairfaxes at Belvoir, Washington would, in all probability, have remained a footnote in history; a respectable, if unremarkable, surveyor and planter.”
No current review of books about American presidents would be complete without a title about President Obama. Dozens of books have been printed about our 44th president since he came into office in 2008. Last year, Jonathan Alter, a correspondent for NBC news, sketched Obama’s incumbency in the book “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.” A book ostensibly about the run-up to the 2012 election, it is also about how the embrace of social media might have won the election for Obama. “While Romney lumbered through his convention, Obama was on Reddit, a crowdsourced social news site known by few of the Tampa delegates, though popular with many of their children . . . The Reddit appearance was another sign that Obama’s dominance of the digital campaign was not only not bad, it was a pretty good indicator that he was on the winning track.”
Find these books about American presidents (and many more!) here at the Daniel Boone Regional Library.
Did you ever wonder how priceless art objects survived World War II in devastated Europe? Frankly, I never did – not until I came across Robert Edsel’s book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.” Obviously, I wasn’t the only one struck by this subject. So was George Clooney, and as a result, a new movie, “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney (no surprise here ), Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon is coming to the big screen starting February 7. (The author, Robert Edsel, is also given a movie credit – at the end of the screenwriters list ).
So, what made this book worth turning into a movie? Lots of books (and movies) take place during WWII, right? Well, for one thing, the main characters are not soldiers, generals or suffering civilians, but middle-aged people from art-related backgrounds: architects, sculptors, museum curators, archivists and others. For another, these people, drawn from 13 nations (most of them from the U.S. and UK), were not assigned any military duties. Their tasks were first to advise on how to limit combat damage to the historic structures of northwest Europe (thus the name: the monuments men) and later to recover cultural treasures that had been looted by top Nazis, especially Hitler and Göring. This wasn’t an easy assignment by any means. As the Allied armies moved deeper inside Europe, the monuments men (there were women, too, but, apparently, only one appears in the movie ) moved onto the front lines, working fiercely and tirelessly, often at personal risk, to protect and restore art damaged by the ravages of war.
Readers who want to learn more about that period may consider checking out “The Rape of Europa” by Lynn Nicholas, too. This book covers largely the same territory, and its cast of characters includes Hitler, Göring, Marc Chagall and Gertrude Stein.
If straight history is not your thing, consider reading the novel “Shadowed by Grace: A Story of Monuments Men“ by Cara Putman. Here destruction, art and whodunit are combined into a war-time love story.
And last but not least, don’t miss Robert Edsel’s latest book: “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” which is devoted to saving European artistic treasure in Italy.
Also, remember that you don’t have to wait for George Clooney to turn these books into movies. All you need to do to learn fascinating facts about WWII (or any other subject, for that matter) is check out library books .