Whether you’re looking to purchase a holiday gift for that special bookworm in your life, or you’re looking to get lost in the pages of a good book over the holiday break, here are some “best of” lists of recommended young adult titles.
The Young Adult Library Services Association produces several lists each year which encompass books from a wide assortment of genres:
- 2013 Teen Book Award Winners (Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz award winners)
- 2013 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks
- 2013 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
- 2013 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
- 2013 Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
- 2013 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Be sure to check out these lists created by the publishing industry’s most renowned book reviewers, many of whom are librarians:
- Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Teen Books of 2013“
- Library Journal’s “YA Lit for Adults”
- NPR’s “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels“
- Publishers Weekly’s “Best Children’s Fiction of 2013“ (This list is a collection of highly-acclaimed children’s AND teen books.)
- School Library Journal’s “2013 Adult Books 4 Teens“
- GoodReads.com’s “2013 Best Young Adult Fiction Books“
With 2014 fast approaching, stay ahead of upcoming trends by subscribing to the library’s YA email newsletter. This monthly publication features reviews on the the most popular new releases in young adult fiction. Best of all, this newsletter is delivered straight to your inbox.
Originally published at Best Teen Books of 2013.
For me, Thanksgiving has always meant dinner with family and friends. When my husband was in the military, we couldn’t always visit our parents for the Thanksgiving feast, but we always spent it with other people either at our house or theirs. There is something comforting about sharing a meal and connecting with the other people gathered at the table, not just at the holidays but at any time of year.
In “Dinner With the Smileys” by Sarah Smiley, a military wife invited numerous people to take the place of her husband at the dinner table while he was deployed for a year. She invited different people each week and documented these dinners with photos and stories. She started out carefully planning everything but eventually realized mealtime didn’t have to be formal or elaborate. She and her children gained friendships, support and awareness of new concepts, activities and ideas from these experiences. The people who attended the dinners not only experienced a good meal but benefited from good company and conversation. A wonderful community support system was built.
I could relate to the dinner where Sarah’s oldest son was looking forward to asking questions and having a debate with one of their guests who had certain political views. He was excited about carrying on an adult conversation. Fortunately, his questions were welcomed by the adult, and both sides benefited from the conversation. When my sons were younger, they looked forward to being able to join in the adult conversations at Sunday dinners at my parents’ home. They enjoyed the talk while we ate, but they were so proud when they were old enough to contribute their thoughts to the discussions that took place after the children left the table to go play and the adults continued to sit at the table. They learned about current events and what their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles thought about different subjects. Sharing thoughts around the dinner table was fun as well as informative.
Get ideas for strengthening your own family’s ties through talk by picking up “Dinner With the Smileys” or one of these other books that discuss the importance of dinnertime conversation.
- “The Family Dinner” by Laurie David
- “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Bruce Feiler
- “Slow Family Living” by Bernadette Noll
- “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon
For more information about Sarah Smiley and her family, visit the website www.sarahsmiley.com
The post Bringing Back the Family Dinner: Books to Inspire Home Cooks and Conversation appeared first on DBRL Next.
When it comes to movies inspired by books, I tend to be something of a purist. I always try to read the book first, but considering the sheer volume of movies that are coming out this year based on books…well…I might have to pick and choose. Here are some of the titles to look for in the next few weeks!
Today, November 27th, “Philomena” opens nationwide. It is the true story, written by Martin Sixsmith, of an Irishwoman who became pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952. After she was sent to a convent, the nuns took her baby and sold him, like thousands of others, to America for adoption. Fifty years later, Philomena decides to find him.
If you want something with a little more bang (and by bang, I mean explosions) for your buck, try “Homefront,” also opening on November 27th. Based on the novel by Chuck Logan, this film follows Nina, Phil and their daughter, Kit, after they relocate to New Mexico. The family is soon in harm’s way when a spat between Kit and a boy at her new school escalates into a vicious scenario of lawlessness and provocation.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” opens on December 6th. It is based on the book “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” by Dave Van Ronk. Van Ronk was one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk revival and offers a unique first-hand account by a major player in the social and musical history of the ’50s and ’60s. It features encounters with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt and Odetta.
You can also check out the soundtrack featuring artists like Oscar Issac, Mumford and Sons, Bob Dylan and The Punch Brothers.
The highlight of my December will definitely be when the second movie based on “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien comes out on the 13th. In “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Bilbo Baggins continues on his journey with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
On December 25th, the movie based on Jordan Belfort’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” opens. Belfort, who founded one of the first chop shop brokerage firms in 1987, was banned from the securities business for life by 1994, and he later went to jail for fraud and money-laundering. His book covers his success and how he and other insiders made large profits while public investors usually lost.
“Lone Survivor,” based on Markus Luttrell’s book of the same name, comes out nationwide on January 10th. Luttrell, The leader of a team of U.S. Navy SEALs sent to northern Afghanistan to capture a well-known al Qaeda leader, chronicles the events of the battle that killed his teammates and offers insight into the training of this elite group of warriors.
What book-inspired film are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!
I love lists, and I love books, so I adore this time of year. Get ready to add lots of titles to your to-be-read pile, because the web is already awash with “best of 2013″ book lists. The picks are a bit all over the board, with not a whole lot of overlap among the lists so far. Here’s a handful of the books appearing on more than one list (and descriptions from their publishers), as well as links to the full lists themselves. Happy reading!
“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” by Anthony Marra
In a rural village in Chechnya, failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.
“The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride
Fleeing his violent master at the side of abolitionist John Brown at the height of the slavery debate in mid-nineteenth-century Kansas Territory, Henry pretends to be a girl to hide his identity throughout the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. This historical fiction just won a National Book Award.
“The Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon
New York City, 2001. Fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO and discovers there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left of the tech bubble.
“Tenth of December” by George Saunders
A collection of stories which includes “Home,” a wryly whimsical account of a soldier’s return from war; “Victory lap,” a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit. See our own Gentleman’s recommendation of this short story collection.
“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright
Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists – both famous and less well known – and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative skills to uncover the inner workings of the Church of Scientology: its origins in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard; its struggles to find acceptance as a legitimate (and legally acknowledged) religion; its vast, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government; its vindictive treatment of critics; its phenomenal wealth; and its dramatic efforts to grow and prevail after the death of Hubbard.
And now, the lists:
- Amazon.com’s Editor’s Picks for 2013 – Find titles for teens, children and adults, as well as their top picks in categories from art and photography to sports and outdoors.
- Kirkus Reviews: Best Books of 2013 - includes not only fiction and nonfiction for adults, but also lists books for kids and teens.
- Best Books 2013: Top Ten from Library Journal – Keeping it simple, the magazine’s editors provide a top 10 list that includes adult fiction (six titles) and nonfiction (four titles).
- Publisher’s Weekly: Best Books of 2013 - lists for everything from fiction and comics to a category called “lifestyle” (think cookbooks and parenting). Kids’ books are also represented.
What do you think was the best book of 2013? Let us know in the comments!
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His presidency, though short, was one of the most influential of the past century. This coupled with his glamorous lifestyle and the tragic and mysterious circumstances of his death make his life and legacy a topic of endless interest. As one might expect, there is a glut of new titles being published this month, each one professing to reveal new insights into the life of our thirty-fifth President or definitively answer, once and for all, who was behind his murder. Here is a look at a select few that stand out.
“Five Days in November” by Clint Hill
The former Secret Service agent and author of last year’s “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” returns with an intimate look at the days leading up to and immediately following the President’s death.
“The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy” by Larry Sabato
Sabato explains just what makes Kennedy’s presidency so influential and how it has affected the decisions and policies of his successors.
“End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy” by James L. Swanson
Swanson had success with “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer,” and here he uses a similar narrative style to relate the events surrounding the JFK assassination.
“If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History” by Jeff Greenfield
An interesting thought experiment focused on how things might have been different if Kennedy had not been killed in Dallas, including theories on the fate of LBJ, civil rights, the Vietnam War and Kennedy’s own personal life.
Thanking Day is upon us! That wondrous day when we don buckled hats and celebrate our freedom from, and subsequent dominion over, the turkey. We kill them by the millions and eat some of those, letting what isn’t consumed at the Thanking Day dinner rot over the course of days/weeks between sessions of picking at them like smug vultures whose smugness is leavened by the government-mandated shopping excursion just endured and all the getting-rammed-in-the-back-by-a-cart-full-of-big-screen-televisions-pushed-by-a-grandma-in-her-pajamas that that entails. After those beloved traditions, if there’s still time and one’s not too sleepy, people sometimes say thank you to concepts they enjoy. Your typical thanks are given for the obvious: family, suspenders, Kurt Vonnegut, food and our long ago victory on the horrific feather-drenched fields of the great turkey war. I, though, am most thankful for something altogether more tangible, besides suspenders: I’m thankful I’m not being hunted by a time-travelling serial killer. I’ve always said people don’t take enough time to reflect on and appreciate this facet of their existence.
As Lauren Beukes‘ unputdownable new novel makes abundantly clear, it would be terrible to be hunted by a time-travelling serial killer. Before I go further, I rescind my recommendation if you’re squeamish (guts get spilled, and the book is perpetually tense and intermittently gruesome). So for those that don’t care to be horrified in the process of reading a rip-roaring tale, I give you this for this month’s recommendation. Now, for those twisted folk thirsting for a horrifying yarn, I recommend “The Shining Girls.” The premise is ripped from the headlines: a monstrous lunatic named Harper finds a house that spits him into a different year between 1931 and 1993 every time he exits it to find a lady suitable for murder, though as is typical with these houses, inside it remains 1931. After murdering a girl he takes a souvenir (comb, Jackie Robinson rookie card, etc.) and leaves a previously acquired memento behind. Kirby, the heroine, first meets him as a young girl when the killer arrives to demonstrate his ability to pull the wings off of a bee. To her disappointment, the man tells her he’ll see her again “when she’s all grow up.” Though some reviews disagree, Beukes does a tremendous job investing us in each “shining girl” before brutally tearing them away from us via Harper’s murdery hands. I’ve also seen a complaint or two about Harper’s characterization (“He’s just a crazy murdering monster – where’s the humanity?” they wail), but as anyone with a couple of days work in the restaurant industry will attest, monsters exist. Regardless, does featuring a heartless, irredeemable monster remove all worth from “Jaws” or “Martha Stewart: Just Desserts“? In addition to all the murdering, Beukes uses one disturbing scene from his childhood to let us know Harper is simply an abomination rather than a human molded by cruelty into a purveyor of violence.
So, if chewing flesh and watching men concuss each other during their watered-down war games don’t sate your thirst for violence, or if you prefer to believe that you don’t have such a primal and distasteful thirst but do need a serious quenching in the thrilling read department, try “The Shining Girls.”
A house of cards, noted for its instability, is an appropriate symbol for political intrigue. And as the Netflix series “House of Cards” showed us, a fictional representation of politics can trigger almost as much attention as real events. Not as much as shutting down the U.S. government, mind you, but enough to win three Emmy Awards.
Now, as we await the release of the second season of this series starring and co-produced by Kevin Spacey, let me tell you what the library has to offer to ease your wait. The first thing I would recommend to every “House of Cards” fan is the excellent Masterpiece Theater production called “The House of Cards.” Yes, you read that correctly. Wonder if these “houses” are related? Sure they are. In fact, the American “House of Cards” is based on the British TV mini-series, which, in its turn, is based on the book by British writer Michael Dobbs. (Kevin Spacey living in London may have something to do with this connection.) Of course, the events that take place in London are somewhat different from those happening in Washington D.C., but the motivations and the tactics of the characters are the same. And, if you watch the British version, you’ll have a glimpse into what will happen to Kevin Spacey’s character in the second season .
Want to stay closer to home? Watch “Recount: The Story of the 2000 Presidential Election,” dedicated to one of the most controversial events in recent U.S. election history. Not only will it make you rethink the American election model, it will also give you another chance to enjoy an excellent performance by Kevin Spacey.
Those who want to learn more about British politics should not miss another BBC political drama, “The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher,” which provides insight into the life of one of the most formidable political figures in British history. Also, whether you’re interested in politics or not, don’t forget that the library has many Masterpiece Theater productions, as well as the books on which they are based.
Speaking of the books, fans of another Netflix series, “Orange Is the New Black,” may not know that this popular show is also based on a book whose author, Piper Kerman, was sentenced to 15 months for drug smuggling and money laundering. The book is titled – no surprise here – “Orange Is the New Black,” and it is available in your library in a variety of formats. Season one of its Netflix counterpart is likely to make a splash at the next Emmy Awards, so if you postpone reading Kerman’s book for too long, we may have a substantial waiting list for it!
Other Netflix original series based on books include “Hemlock Grove,” a takeoff on Brian McGreevy’s horror novel named – by now you know that Netflix likes to keep original titles, right? – “Hemlock Grove.” This book (as well as the show) examines the strange happenings in a fictional town in Pennsylvania.
“John Hodgman: Ragnarok” features material from Hodgman’s last book “That Is All.” And “Arrested Development,” the fourth season of which was aired by Netflix last May, has direct connections to your library, too, for we own the first three seasons of this show .
All in all, whatever your favorite shows are, don’t forget to check with your library. Chances are we’ll be able to increase your enjoyment of them.
Happy watching and reading!
What is a classic? Is it a book you had to read for school, with a confusing number of Greek deities, and there was a test later? Or is it set in a 19th century English drawing room furnished with fainting couches? Italo Calvino gave fourteen possible definitions of a classic.
Here’s my personal take: a classic is a book that sticks. It holds interest for readers decades later. Also, it can include time travel and alien abduction. Witness Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five.”
“Slaughterhouse Five,” published in 1969, grew out of Vonnegut’s own experiences as a POW in Germany during World War II. Like Vonnegut, the book’s main character, Billy Pilgrim, survives the fire-bombing of Dresden in the basement of a slaughterhouse. Unlike Vonnegut (I assume), Billy is “unstuck in time.”
After the war, Billy becomes a successful optometrist, but his life is complicated when he’s abducted by aliens called Tralfamadorians, who see all of time all at once. Billy is flung backward and forward through time, not always living his life in the right order, but again and again returning to the slaughterhouse in Dresden. It’s left to the reader to decide if the aliens exist outside of Billy’s traumatized mind.
Vonnegut’s writing is full of satire, helping us laugh at the tragedy of existence. In “Slaughterhouse Five” he shatters some writing rules. His main character knows in advance everything that will happen to him, and Vonnegut inserts himself, the author, into the story. He uses these absurdities to emphasize his views on the absurdity of war. Life and war do not follow neat narrative arcs, and neither does this book.
“Cat’s Cradle” is another Vonnegut classic, published in 1963. Employing his familiar tools of irony and wit, he provides such a thorough look at human nature in this science fiction novel that the University of Chicago awarded him a Master’s degree in anthropology for the work.
An author named John is writing a book about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. But his plans go off-track in a major way when he discovers the existence of a potentially more lethal threat than nuclear weapons. At the behest of a general who wanted something done about the problem of mud, one of the co-creators of the atomic bomb developed ice-nine, a substance capable of solidifying a field of oozy muck with the deployment of one tiny grain. John instantly realizes such a material would also be capable of freezing the world’s entire water supply. Vonnegut uses this premise to explore all of the weighty topics you’re supposed to avoid at dinner parties – religion, politics, family relationships, scientific ethics and consumer culture.
To browse other classics of American literature, take a look at our catalog list. Enjoy your reading. I promise there won’t be a test.
I have always had a weakness for books that take a minor character in a familiar work and create an entire novel around that character’s life. A fantastic example of this is Geraldine Brooks’ “March,” which tells the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Jo Baker, in her well-reviewed novel “Longbourn,” performs a similarly pleasing feat. She recreates the world of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” by shifting the focus from the Bennet family to the lives of the servants below stairs. Considering both Austen’s enduring appeal for readers and the current Downton Abbey mania, it is no surprise that there is a waiting list for “Longbourn” at your library. Place a hold on this title and then pick up one of the following books to read while you wait.
“Below Stairs” by Margaret Powell
The subtitle of this memoir pretty much says it all: “The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and ‘Downton Abbey.’” Powell’s frank, sometimes funny and often angry insights into the lives of servants employed by the great houses in 1920s England will make the modern day reader, at the very least, extremely grateful for washing machines and the fact that no one is asking her to iron his boot laces.
“The Dressmaker” by Kate Alcott
Like Baker, Alcott takes a situation we think we know inside and out – the sinking of the Titanic – and makes it new by shining the spotlight into the event’s less explored corners. In this novel, Tess, the titular maid and seamstress whose last-minute hiring by fashion designer Lucile Duff Gordon lands her a place on the doomed ship, takes center stage. The majority of her story happens after the tragedy, with Senate hearings and investigations into the Titanic’s sinking (as well as a bit of romance) highlighting issues of class and politics in the early 1900s.
“The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s award-winning novel tells the story of an aging butler who has spent his life in service to Lord Darlington, upholding and believing in a class system that is crumbling around him in post-war England. A compelling look at both the servant’s mindset and a social order that has all but vanished.
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
An obvious recommendation, perhaps, is the original work by Austen herself. Whether you need to re-familiarize yourself with the Bennet sisters and their hunt for husbands or will be picking up the novel for the first time, Austen’s book will immerse you in the lives of the upper classes in Regency England.
The post What to Read While You Wait for Longbourn (or the Return of Downton Abbey) appeared first on DBRL Next.
Voting for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten took place from August 15 through Teen Read Week, Oct. 13- 19, with more than 32,000 votes cast. There were 28 nominees that competed for the “top ten” list. Below are this year’s winning titles.
The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, with teens nominating and choosing their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in 16 school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day during National Library Week and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles between August and October.
“Crewel” by Gennifer Albin
In a futuristic world, Spinsters are women with the power to weave everything into form, whether it be food, buildings, or peoples’ very lives. Adelice Lewys has this talent, and she is whisked away into a world of luxury and elegance because of it. Although it is often advertised at the perfect life, it is far from it as things are never how they seem.
“Poison Princess” by Kresley Cole
What really happens at the end of the world? Cannibals, Baggers, people try to sell you — and in this world, sixteen-year-old Evie is one of the few healthy teen girls. Evie sets out on a quest to find herself, all while things heat up between her and Jackson, the troubled bad boy from across the tracks. She knows life will get even worse as she comes to realize that she isn’t like other people. Luckily, or maybe unluckily for her, Jackson is the only one that can help her survive.
“Kill Me Softly” by Sarah Cross
After being raised her whole life by her fairy godmothers, Mirabelle runs away to the town where they said her parents died. But when she gets there, she starts to notice that it isn’t any ordinary town and that the teens who live there are fated to play out the Grimms’ fairy tales. So when Mira finds out that she, too, has a role to play, it’s only a matter of time before her story could lose its happy ending.
“Butter” by Erin Jade Lange
Butter is a morbidly obese teenager who is sick of being invisible but who doesn’t really want to make a splash either. One day, he’s finally pushed over the edge, and he posts a blog about his last meal, the one that he plans will kill him. This blog post brings him instant popularity, making Butter happy for once in his life. But Butter knows that his life is still far from perfect, and he must struggle with himself to determine who he will be and what course his life will take.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
A wakes up in a different body every day. It has always been that way for A, and A has rules to live by, like not getting too involved in the person’s life. Then A meets Rhiannon, the girlfriend of Justin, the boy whose body A is inhabiting. Suddenly, none of the rules apply because A is falling for Rhiannon and she won’t leave A’s mind even after A has left Justin’s body…
“Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry
Echo is a high school girl with “freaky” scars on her arms and no memory of how it happened. Noah is the high school stoner who uses girls and has no future. Over the course of their senior year, their lives will intersect in a way they never could have imagined, going through a journey that will prove to themselves and each other that they are more than what their reputations demand.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer Nielsen
To unify his kingdom’s divided people, a nobleman named Conner devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him on the throne. Four orphans are forced to compete for the role, including a defiant and clever boy named Sage. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of lies unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that may very well prove more dangerous than all the lies taken together.
“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth
Tris Prior is safe at the Amity compounds with her fellow survivors. With the whole city at war with itself and Jeannine looking for all the Divergent, Tris must learn to embrace her own divergence and understand it, though it might prove a dangerous task. Check out our staff review for the first book in this series, “Divergent.”
“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater
This book is a thrilling adventure that captures you and takes you down the supernatural path with a daring girl named Blue, four complicated guys, and one life-altering quest and mystery of finding the Glendower King. Check out our staff review of this title!
“Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein
Verity is held captive by the Gestapo in 1943. She is told to reveal the secrets of the pilot who brought her to France or face the brutal consequences. As she does this, she weaves a story of an unlikely friendship and the bonds formed by it. Their tales intertwined form a suspenseful, breathtaking narrative of espionage — hope — horror — and friendship that spans untold secrets! Check out our staff review of this title!
Originally published at 2013 “Teens’ Top Ten” Winners Announced.
I enjoy reading about food – cooking, what someone else enjoys eating or the science behind food and cooking. I recently finished “Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took over the American Meal” by Melanie Warner.
Warner takes us behind the scenes of Subway, Kraft, Kellogg and other processors of food. In an entertaining as well as informative manner, she writes about how processed cheese product came to exist, how some cereals are created using guns, how the nutrients are taken out of foods in order to increase their shelf life and how chemicals are added to increase shelf life and restore some nutrients. The book was fascinating and quite scary. The FDA does not regulate everything that goes into American foods – loopholes allow many things to be used without rigorous testing. Substances that may not be good for our health are added so foods can sit in the grocery stores and our pantries longer. I am going to be reading all food labels from now on.
But there is also an upside to all this processing of foods. In an article in the August issue of Atlantic Monthly, David H. Freedman describes “How Junk Food Can End Obesity.” He takes issue with some of Warner’s ideas. Freedman feels that food science could be used to make junk food and fast food healthier since people are going to eat these products anyway. Junk food and fast food are easy to obtain and usually taste good. This article was an interesting counterpoint to Warner’s book.
It’s a safe bet that a lot of people who spend time in libraries have dreamed of someday writing the Great American Novel themselves. I know from personal experience that novel writing is not a task for the faint of heart, but with the help of a free online interactive event known as “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month), today’s wanna-be authors have a better chance of reaching “The End” than ever before.
A group of twenty-one friends in the San Francisco Bay area originated the writing challenge that proved to be “half literary marathon and half block party” in 1999. This year, NaNoWriMo expects to sign up about 500,000 writers who will commit to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. Participants get daily support and advice from other writers and then upload their words to the website for word count validation. Those who reach 50,000 words or greater are declared winners, despite the fact that most of the novels written during the event are not exactly print-ready. However, many NaNoWriMo submissions have later been published, among them DBRL’s 2007 One Read Selection, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen.
If you want to join the online writing fun this year, the library offers plenty of computers on a first-come, first-served basis for word processing and Internet use. Those with their own laptops will find a myriad of cozy nooks with comfy seating and Wi-Fi access for extended writing and web interaction at all of our branches. At the Columbia Public Library, you also have the option to re-fuel at The Perk Desk in the lobby. The check-out desks at each location also sell USB flash drives on which to back up those daily word counts—and while you’re there, you can purchase a set of ear buds to listen to Stephen King’s classic “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” from our downloadable audiobook collection. Or, without ever leaving your chair, check out the e-Book version of “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” Anne Lamott’s insightful look at the writing process. For some timely articles on writing, be sure to peruse The Writer magazine from our new Zinio digital magazine collection. For a little break from your extended library writing session, take a walk through our nonfiction collection and browse our shelves for countless books full of writing inspiration and advice.
One author recently utilized the library for her first writing endeavor, with good results. Missourian Laura McHugh, who was living in Columbia while writing her mystery thriller, said that she established a daily routine of dropping her children off at school and then heading to the Columbia Public Library. In an article in the Columbia Missourian, McHugh said she usually checked into Study Room 7, which she considered her lucky room. She was evidently right—less than two weeks after her initial queries she scored a major book deal for her debut novel, “The Weight of Blood,” due out in March 2014.
*National Novel Writing Month image used courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
The post NaNoWriMo to Create ‘Title-wave’ of Online Manuscripts appeared first on DBRL Next.
Boo! One of my good friends* brought to my attention that the current month is October and that during this month we have a tradition of celebrating scary things, pretending we’re popular television characters or scantily clad healthcare professionals/coal-miners/zoologists and giving money to conglomerates whose main objective is to fatten and sweeten us so that should their monstrous rulers decide that human meat is preferable to veal, which I presume is an ongoing debate at their board meetings, we will be delicious and easily harvested. This month’s recommendation is typical in that she’s a brilliant writer and tends to write things that could be described as “weird” but less typical in that some of what she writes might frighten or unsettle you, thereby really putting you in the mood to dress like Seinfeld or a zombie with a large bra budget.
So, assuming you want more “weird” writing or are understandably addicted to the thrilling prose-eggs I lay like some sort of strange creature whose monthly cycle of creation culminates in a cursory inspection and a grimace, allow me to recommend Kelly Link.
Kelly Link has three collections of super-duper short stories. “Magic For Beginners“, which includes one of my favorite short stories ever, the anthologized-by-the-Best-Short-Stories-in-America-series, ”Stone Animals.” It’s one of those unsettling stories I mentioned: a family moves into a new house and is disturbed to find that items keep becoming “haunted.” A toothbrush has to be tossed. A cat starts to hate the alarm clock. The office is off-limits. They paint the walls so often that the rooms become smaller. There’s a bunch of rabbits on the lawn. It’s one of those stories you wish could be stretched to novel-length, but then the ending comes in with a menacing whisper and it’s all like, “Boom, I guess that’s perfect.”
Also from that collection is a story in which a scrabble-mad grandmother’s handbag contains a faery kingdom to which she loses her husband for years at a time, while inside the handbag he’s only losing hours or days between visits to our realm to say hi to his (to him rapidly aging) wife and gather massive amounts of candy for his comrades. ”Some Zombie Contingency Plans” is also a good story to read as you ramp up for this month’s monster worship, though I don’t think it’s going to be much help when the dead do rise.
The library doesn’t have her first collection, probably because it was carried off by werewolves or it disappeared when the light hit it at an ominous angle on a magical April morn, but I’ll still link you a taste of the awesome “Stranger Things Happen.”
Her third collection is “Pretty Monsters.” It’s the sort of crass capitalistic repackaging of mostly previously published stories with the intent of attracting a YA audience that you can expect from someone that routinely gives away stories and PDF files of entire collections on her website and has devoted her life to milking that most bountiful and creamy of cash cows, the short story. As the dust jacket says, it features “possibly carnivorous sofas,” “dueling librarians” and, horrifyingly, “a nationally ranked soccer player.”
Kelly Link gets lots of good reviews and even kindly gathers some on her website so that I can easily demonstrate how foolish of you it is not to be reading Kelly Link right now. Literally this instant, you’re reading this word right now when right above this word are links to some nifty stories. Bye already.
*yes, the friend was a calendar.
Matthew Goodman, author of “Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-making Race around the World,” arrives in Mid-Missouri today. Inspired by the adventurous journalists he profiles, here is a list of books (and their publishers’ descriptions) featuring other brave, pioneering and bold women in history.
“The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe” by Cassandra Pybus
In a deeply researched and engagingly written narrative of science, adventure, love and an unprecedented voyage of discovery, Ridley reveals the true story of Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Baret posed as a man to secure the position of assistant to the naturalist aboard France’s first global seafaring expedition in the 1760s.
“Living with Cannibals and Other Women’s Adventures” by Michele Slung
The spirit of adventure sweeps through the chapters of this exciting volume as we encounter the inspiring, sometimes tragic, often humorous tales of adventurous women – from the 18th century to the 21st century. Selected from National Geographic’s rich archives, this colorful group portrait pairs female adventurers of the past with their contemporary counterparts – in a “then and now” approach. You’ll meet Arctic explorers – an American heiress who crisscrossed ice fields seven decades ago, along with a celebrated New Zealander who skied alone to both North and South Poles in the 1990s. You’ll also join in the atmospheric exploits of Shannon Lucid and Amelia Earhart as they take off on those daring flights that wrote a new pages in the annals of aviation. Tour the world with women who defied Victorian convention to venture alone among the headhunters of Borneo or to see first hand the hidden corners of Africa, India and Japan.
“Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor” by Hali Felt
A compelling portrait of one of the most interesting “forgotten” women of the twentieth century, the scientist who mapped, for the first time, the ocean floor. Until Marie Tharp’s groundbreaking work in the 1950s, the floor of the ocean was a mystery – then, as now, we knew less about the ocean than we did about outer space. In a time when women in the scientific community were routinely dismissed, Tharp’s work changed our understanding of the earth’s geologic evolution.
“The Woman Who Walked to Russia: A Writer’s Search for A Lost Legend” by Cassandra Pybus
From the moment Cassandra Pybus first heard about Lillian Alling’s trek across North America, she couldn’t get the story out of her mind. This is how it went: Desperate with homesickness, Lillian Alling, a recent immigrant to the United States from the Soviet Union, haunted the New York Public Library, studying the atlas to establish the most direct route home to her native Russia. In the spring of 1927, aided only by a hand-drawn map, she started to walk home. Pybus searched for clues about this enigmatic pedestrian. When her historical sleuthing yielded little, she set out on her own trek to trace Lillian’s route through the wilderness of northwestern Canada and subarctic Alaska and Siberia. The result is an entertaining travel narrative that pieces together Alling’s journey through the natural beauty and rich history of northwestern North America – a story never before told.
Want to hear from some local, modern-day adventurous women? Join us for Daring and Adventurous Journeys, a panel presentation moderated by Matthew Goodman himself at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 17 at the Columbia Public Library.
It’s that time of year where I get to cheer for my favorites! And I’m not talking about baseball teams (sorry, Cardinals fans). I love literary fiction, so every autumn I am giddy with anticipation (and go a little crazy placing books on hold in the library catalog – my nightstand might fall down from the weight of unread books piled on top of it) as book award winners are announced.
Alice Munro, fantastically skilled crafter of the short story, has just won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013. If you aren’t familiar with Munro’s work or simply want to revisit her skillful examining of the profound in everyday relationships and events, your library has a number of her short story collections available for check out.
On October 15, the Man Booker Prize winner will be announced. This award goes to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The shortlist of finalists is an incredibly diverse one that includes NoViolet Bulawayo’s character-driven ”We Need New Names,” which has an African immigrant at its center, and the lyrical “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri, set in Calcutta.
Finally, the National Book Awards Committee is poised to announce its shortlist for the year on October 16. Personally, I’m pulling for “Tenth of December” by George Saunders, but the whole list of finalists is fantastic.
For whom are you rooting this literary awards season?
The post An Embarrassment of Riches: It’s Literary Awards Season appeared first on DBRL Next.
In 1889, two female journalists set off in a dramatic race to travel around the world in record time. Historian Matthew Goodman tells this captivating tale in his book “Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-making Race Around the World.” Goodman immerses us in the history of the places they visit, the steamship lines, the Thomas Cook Company, competition between newspaper empires and turn-of-the-century obsession with travel. Goodman will be in Columbia October 15-17, and the library is offering two programs as part of his visit to Mid-Missouri.
Daring and Adventurous Journeys
Thursday, October 17 › 10:30 a.m.-Noon
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Inspired by Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world, we present a panel of intrepid modern-day women whose journeys, voluntary and involuntary, have tested their determination, courage and endurance. Author Matthew Goodman will lead this discussion and explore some of the challenges faced by women today. Refreshments will be served.
Meet Author Matthew Goodman
Thursday, October 17 › 7-8:15 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Matthew Goodman will talk about writing the historical narrative “80 Days” and the remarkable lives of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and signing.
The post Meet “Eighty Days” Author Matthew Goodman and Celebrate Adventuring Women appeared first on DBRL Next.
You know what they say: keep your authors close and their books closer. Or maybe that’s not actually a thing people say. But it could be a motto in Mid-Missouri, considering the number of accomplished writers in the area. Following are some new books of note by local authors.
Carolyn Mulford’s “Show Me the Murder” is set in the fictional town of Laycock, Missouri. Recovering from a recent shooting, retired CIA operative Phoenix Smith comes back to her hometown after years away. Shortly before her arrival, her best friend’s husband, the county sheriff, is found dead, along with a young woman rumored to be his mistress. The deaths have been ruled a murder-suicide, but the grieving widow refuses to believe her husband was cheating. Smith employs her knowledge of sleuthing to help her friend suss out the truth.
“Trouble Behind Glass Doors” is the latest title from prolific poet Walter Bargen. Many of the poems are rooted in the Midwest. Locals will recognize some details (mayor on a bicycle), but the meaning is not narrowed to a home-town audience. The juxtaposition of outdoors and institutional settings is a repeated element. In the poem “Poet in Prison,” Bargen speaks of “Space between airlock doors/space between opening and closing.” Much of the book examines this space, where parts of the universe meet or fail to.
Mike Trial has published two books in the past year. “Things Were Never the Same Afterward” is a collection of short stories centered on the theme of life-changing decisions. Many of Trial’s characters struggle with issues of identity – finding it, changing it, embracing it. A few of the stories have a supernatural element.
“Distant Horizons, From Midwest to Middle East” is Trial’s non-fiction account of his parents’ sojourn in Saudi Arabia in the 1940s and 50s. His father, George, grew up on a Kansas farm, while his mother, Ruth, began her life in Nevada, Missouri. The two met while teaching school in Kansas City. After George’s service in World War II, he remained in the military for a time and was assigned to Dhahran. Soon enough, he sent for his wife and toddler son (the author) to join him. George and his family remained in the Middle East for a number of years, familiarizing themselves with an entirely different culture.
For more titles, click on the “New and Local” link on our “Books and More” page.
Author Max Brooks is coming to the University of Missouri Campus on Saturday.
You don’t know who that is? Unacceptable.
He wrote “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.” It is awesome.
I feel like any attempt I make to describe the sheer awesomeness of “World War Z” is going to fall short, but stick with me as I try.
“World War Z” is a collection of eyewitness accounts of a years-long war against the walking undead that brought humanity to the edge of extinction. It reads like nonfiction and is a striking re-imagining of the zombie genre. It is not a core group of characters struggling to figure out that getting bitten is bad and shots to the head are good and how to survive until the end of the movie/book.
This book depicts a diverse cross section of characters giving their snapshots of their experiences. The scope is amazing; Brooks brings together separate and real voices of men, women and children from all over the world and every walk of life: military, scientific, religious, young, old, rich, poor and everything in-between.
It takes place over years, detailing the beginning of the spread and the eventual curtailing of the zombies through land and water, failed battles and strategies, new technologies and old standby weapons. Humanity doesn’t figure it out in a neat and tidy time frame. It’s messy and filled with losses and triumphs, and it’s beautifully, beautifully human.
If audiobooks are your thing, “World War Z: The Complete Edition” audiobook features a stellar cast with stars like Nathan Fillion, Martin Scorsese, Simon Pegg, Masi Oka and Jeri Ryan.
Max Brooks is also the author of “The Zombie Survival Guide,” a complete and comprehensive non-fiction guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse. It contains such lessons as, “They feel no fear, why should you?” and my personal favorite, “Blades don’t need reloading.”
Am I aware that I sound like an adoring fangirl? Quite. Because I know the sound I made when I found out Max Brooks was coming to town was most decidedly a squeal of joy and in no way demonstrating restraint, and I am 100% okay with that.
The post Is a Personal Zombie-Killing Tutorial From Max Brooks Too Much to Ask for? appeared first on DBRL Next.
Ender is Earth’s only hope against an aggressive alien species referred to as “Buggers.” Ender is sent to Battle School, where the best and brightest are trained to take out these aggressive aliens once and for all. Ender is…only six years old.
People have been buzzing about “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card, due to the movie coming out on November 1st. The truth is, this story has been around since 1985 (and even before that as a short story) and is still rising in popularity! And while Ender is only six, his genius level makes him talk, act, and think like a teen or adult throughout the story. Don’t expect these characters to be treated like kids—the anti-gravity battles, the strategy games, and the team organizations are all in preparation for a potentially brutal battle against the Buggers.
While this book has all the benchmarks of a standard sci-fi novel, it contains a lot of real issues for today’s teens, too. The author examines Ender’s struggle of isolation, his attempts to control his aggression, and how he copes with the resentment others feel at his perfection. Other in-depth themes include what makes a monster and how politics can be easily manipulated (in this case, by a couple of super-genius children).
“Ender’s Game” lets all of us—children, teens, and adults—dream of what it might be like to battle aliens in space. And while the premise may seem over the top, the subject matter is as deep as space itself. At the heart of it is a story about how society uses special children, and what the end result of that means for Earth. As one character points out in the novel, “They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.” Read this book and find out what happens when small children are tasked with saving the human race.
Originally published at Books for Dudes – Ender’s Game.
Cool, crispy air. Beautiful fall colors. Your favorite sweater. A cup of warm tea or hot chocolate. Sound like a recipe for a great afternoon read? Well, your library has just the activity to make that afternoon even more special. Starting October 3rd, grab a mystery from our special display on the second floor by the reference desk at the Columbia Public Library, and you will not only have a great book for your afternoon read, but you will also have a chance to play Sherlock Holmes and solve a mini mystery included in all of the books on display. Solve the mystery, submit your answer online or at the library by October 24 and you could win a signed mystery by Tim O’Mara or a Barnes and Noble gift card. This would also be a great activity for an October book club meeting.
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