As a reader and a writer, I find a thoughtfully crafted message, handwritten in a card, more moving than a bouquet of flowers. My spouse of many years knows better than to let Hallmark do his writing for him. Are you struggling for the right words to write or say to your Valentine this year? How about a little inspiration from the library’s poetry collection?
“Blushing: Expressions of Love in Poems & Letters“ collected by Paul B. Janeczko
Classic poets and writers, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, write about love from all of its angles, from all-consuming new love to remembering love after its flame has ceased to burn. Take a tip from Rumi, who wrote, “In your light I learn how to love. / In your beauty, how to make poems.”
“Here Is My Heart” compiled by William Jay Smith
The illustrations in this slim little volume lend it a picture-book quality, but this isn’t verse just for kids. Most of the poems in this collection are short enough to be copied onto a card or paper heart, and their moods vary, from playful (Jack Pretlutsky declaring, “I love you more than applesauce”) to serious (Kenneth Koch writing, “As the adjective is lost in the sentence, / So I am lost in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat — / You have enchanted me with a single kiss / Which can never be undone / Until the destruction of language”).
“Love Poetry Out Loud” edited by Robert Alden Rubin
A fantastic collection of words to woo by, including works by both famous and lesser-known poets. In “Resignation,” Nikki Giovanni describes the helpless wonder of being in love: “I love you / because the Earth turns round the sun / because the North wind blows north” and “because only my love for you / despite the charms of gravity / keeps me from falling off this Earth / into another dimension.” Swoon-worthy sentiments, no?
Find even more inspiration in our catalog list of romantic poetry. Happy Valentine’s Day!
One late summer day, when I was 19 and home from college, I picked up the first volume of Carl Sandburg’s sweeping biography of Abraham Lincoln. Day became evening, and, dismissing dinner, I continued to read into the night. Upon discovering it was 2 a.m., I quickly realized that I had finished the first volume, and I then commenced reading the second into the morning hours. I finished all six in a matter of days. Sandburg’s lyrical rendering of Lincoln’s early days, the unvarnished Illinois countryside and the simpler political milieu of the time made for compelling reading.
I, among millions across the globe, remain fascinated by the man. Given the inspiring nature of Lincoln’s character and the continued appeal of the Civil War years, a raft of biographies have been published about Lincoln, his early life and his presidency. Sandburg’s was not the first–and surely not the last–biography published, but it has stood the test of time. DBRL has plenty of great Lincoln biographies in its collection.
Clearly, the most famous recent biography about the Lincoln years is “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Kearn’s biography, published in 2005, was eventually adapted into the extremely popular 2012 movie, “Lincoln.” Focusing on some of the key members in his presidential cabinet, men who initially held Lincoln in low regard, the book continues to find wide readership.
Lincoln famously said, “Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.” Mario Cuomo suggests that perhaps we should apply these kinds of ideals to our current political environment. In his book “Why Lincoln Matters: Today More than Ever,” published in 2004, Cuomo discusses how Lincoln’s political philosophy could be very useful in today’s world, and also examines how destructive much of our political discourse currently is to both the body-politic and the American citizenry.
There are also numerous shorter biographies of Lincoln in the canon, including Thomas Keneally’s “Abraham Lincoln.” Although a little over 170 pages long, this readable book contains a fairly precise character sketch of the man, from birth until death. As Keneally so aptly puts it near the end, through his assassination Lincoln had “become the bloodied nation incarnate.”
I would also recommend an even shorter history of the man (again titled “Abraham Lincoln”), written in 2009 by James M. Mcpherson. Only 65 pages long, this biography is but a thumbnail sketch, and also is appropriate for school-age readers. Speaking of Lincoln’s impact, Mcpherson states, “With the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln started the United States on the road to living up to its professed belief that all men are truly created equal.” In closing, Mcpherson writes: “More than any other American, Lincoln’s name has gone into history. He gave all Americans, indeed all people everywhere, reason to remember that he had lived.”
Finally, Fred Kaplan in his book “Lincoln, the Biography of a Writer,” published in 2008, fleshes out Lincoln’s remarkable facility for writing. “For Lincoln, words mattered immensely. His increasing skill in their use during his lifetime, and his high valuation of their power, mark him as the one president who was both a national leader and a genius with language . . .” Kaplan argues that without these great writing skills, as well as the strength of his oratorical skills (for the speeches he worked from were tightly woven works of writing, whose transcripts stand alone in their power), Lincoln’s efficacy as public figure and politician would have been greatly diminished. Indeed, without inspired orations such as the Emancipation Proclamation, the long struggle that was the Civil War may not have ended as quickly, or perhaps not even ended at all.
Lonely? Feeling a bit adventurous? Then try a blind date with a book!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, starting Monday, February 11, visit the second floor of the Columbia Public Library to choose your mystery book. Books of various genres will be wrapped in paper, and each will be labeled with a personal ad of sorts that hints at the topic or genre (“Book seeks science geek with sense of humor,” for example). A duplicate bar code on the outside of the wrapper will allow these to be checked out without removing that wrapper. So, grab your date, check it out, take it home and unwrap it. See if you hit it off. Who knows, maybe there’s a future for the two of you?
We can’t guarantee that you’ll love the book you choose, but we do promise that none of these dates will reach across the table, pluck a hair from your head and floss his teeth with it. If you don’t like the book, simply bring it back—no awkward questions asked (unlike on actual blind dates).
We invite all who take home one of these mystery books to let us know how the date went. Disaster? Love at first sight? We want the juicy details to share with our readers. Rate your date here at DBRL Next!(A tip of the hat to librarian Mollie Kay for inspiring this display and sharing resources for its creation!)
The 600s could be my favorite area of nonfiction. Traditional descriptions of the Dewey Decimal System identify the 600s as ”applied sciences” or “medicine and technology.” Basically, this is where you find information on how people make use of science and nature. Books on gardening, parenting, exercise, health, car repair, business management, pets, cooking and more all make their home in the 600s. As a foodie, I love to browse the cookbooks and food memoirs, and here are a few gems I found in a recent stroll through the stacks.
- “Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys” by David Tanis.
“Time at the table is time well spent,” writes Tanis, chef at the critically-acclaimed restaurant Chez Panisse. Tanis does not give you thirty-minute meals or short cuts. Instead, he encourages you to enjoy the journey of cooking, of using seasonal and local ingredients and treating them with care. His techniques are simple, and his recipes are wrapped in eloquently written personal anecdotes. The first section of the book, in fact, deals entirely with his own intimate kitchen rituals, small bites or meals he makes for himself or how the act of peeling an apple can be like meditation. The meat of the book offers up menus to share with a family or gathering of friends. I personally cannot wait for spring to get here so I can try my hand at asparagus scrambled eggs and fennel soup.
- “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer” by Novella Carpenter.
With a name like Novella, you’re kind of destined to be a writer. And as the child of a couple of back-to-the-land hippies, growing vegetables and raising pigs in the abandoned lot next to your inner-city Oakland home might also seem the natural thing to do. Carpenter describes her adventures in ghetto farming in a rollicking, wry style, making this food memoir stand out from the pack of recent books about local food movement experiments.
- “The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food” by Judith Jones.
If the name Judith Jones sounds familiar to you, chances are you’re a fan of Julia Child (or have at least read and/or watched “Julie and Julia,” the story of Julie Powell spending a year tackling every recipe in “The Art of French Cooking“). Jones is the editor who championed and published Child’s cookbook, and in this memoir, she details her life-long relationship with cuisine and the major role she played in this country’s food revolution.
Found any treasures while browsing the bottom shelves? Let us know in the comments!
Every January the American Library Association hosts its annual Youth Media Awards Press Conference. At this time, authors of children’s and young adult literature are recognized for the amazing works they have published in the last year. We as YA lit lovers consider this the Academy Awards of teen books. And this year’s winners are…
- Award Winner: “In Darkness” by Nick Lake
- Honor Book: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Honor Book: “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein
- Honor Book: “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett
- Honor Book: “The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens.
- Award Winner: “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman
- Honor Book: “Wonder Show” by Hannah Barnaby
- Honor Book: “Love and Other Perishable Items” by Laura Buzo
- Honor Book: “After the Snow” by S. D. Crockett
- Honor Book: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily M. Danforth
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults.
- Award Winner: “Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin
- Honor Book: “Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different” by Karen Blumenthal
- Honor Book: “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95” by Phillip Hoose
- Honor Book: “Titanic: Voices From the Disaster” by Deborah Hopkinson
- Honor Book: “We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March” by Cynthia Levinson
Alex Award Winners are the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.
- “Caring Is Creepy” by David Zimmerman
- “Girlchild” by Tupelo Hassman
- “Juvenile in Justice” by Richard Ross
- “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
- “My Friend Dahmer” by Derf Backderf
- “One Shot at Forever” by Chris Ballard
- “Pure” by Julianna Baggott
- “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich
- “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt
- “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple
Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adult.
- Award Winner: “The Fault in Our Stars” written by John Green and narrated by Kate Rudd
- Honor Book: “Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian” written by Eoin Colfer and narrated by Nathaniel Parker
- Honor Book: “Ghost Knight” written by Cornelia Funke and narrated by Elliot Hill
- Honor Book: “Monstrous Beauty” written by Elizabeth Fama and narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Pura Belpré (Author) Award honors a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
- Award Winner: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Honor Book: “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” by Sonia Manzano
Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.
- Award Winner: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Honor Book: “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier
- Honor Book: “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Hannah Moskowitz
- Honor Book: “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” by Lesléa Newman
- Honor Book: “Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie” by S. J. Adams
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.
- Middle School Award Winner: “A Dog Called Homeless” by Sarah Lean
- High School Award Winner: “Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am” by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States.
- Award Winner: “My Family for the War” by Anne C. Voorhoeve, translated by Tammi Reichel. Originally published in Germany in 2007 as “Liverpool Street.”
- Honor Book: “A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return” written and illustrated by Zeina Abirached, translated by Edward Gauvin
- Honor Book: “Son of a Gun” written and translated by Anne de Graaf
Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. Tamora Pierce is the 2013 Edwards Award winner. Pierce was born in rural Western Pennsylvania in 1954. She knew from a young age she liked stories and writing, and in 1983, she published her first series, Song of the Lioness. She continues to write and even record her own audiobooks. She currently lives with her husband (spouse-creature) and a myriad of animals in Syracuse, New York.