If I were to pick the most famous, talked about, reinvented and loved fictional detective of all time, I’m sure anyone could guess who it would be: Sherlock Holmes. Good old Sherlock has been portrayed so many times over the years, from Basil Rathbone’s performance in the 1930s and 40s to today’s interpretation by the handsome, cold, calculating Benedict Cumberbatch. American producers have even thrown their own versions into the ring with television shows like “House M.D.” and the new series “Elementary.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the world can’t get enough of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s highly functioning sociopath turned consulting detective. And if you’re anything like me, you can’t either.
The library has in its collection fabulous books from the series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Titan Books has gathered some amazing authors to recreate classic Doyle characters in new missions, most you may recognize. “Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula,” “Sherlock Holmes and the Angel of the Opera” and “Sherlock Holmes and the Army of Dr. Moreau” are well-written and stimulating crossovers for all Holmes fans alike!
But maybe Sherlock isn’t exactly your cup of tea? Perhaps you prefer the other side of the coin, and Moriarty is your very reason for putting up with that Sherlock sod and his sidekick Dr. John Watson. In this case, I highly recommend getting to know thief Arsène Lupin, created by Maurice LeBlanc. In 1907 Maurice invented Lupin as a counterpart to Sherlock Holmes. In fact, LeBlanc went so far as to write a crossover where Sherlock meets Lupin for the first time, but because of copyright issues LeBlanc was forced to change the detective’s name to “Herlock Sholmes.” Herlock shows up in a few more of Lupin’s adventures to act as an antagonist. DBRL carries “Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-thief” and “The Crystal-Stopper” (electronic text only) for your reading pleasure.
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!