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Celebrating the Freedom to Read!

September 26, 2016


I love FALL! One of the reasons I love fall is that the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates Banned Books Week the last week of September. This year, the celebration is from September 25 – October 1, and the theme is “Celebrating the Freedom to Read.”

These days when we talk about banned books, we aren’t usually talking about bans by the government; however, there are countries that do still actively ban books, and our government used to be one of them. “Fanny Hill” holds the distinction of being the last book banned by the US government. It was banned in 1821 and again in 1963, and the ban was lifted after the Supreme Court decision of  Memoirs v. Massachusetts in 1966. “The Satanic Verses” continues to be banned in many Islamic countries.

Book cover for The Grapes of WrathIt is amazing to me that some of our most beloved classics have been challenged or banned. I might not have appreciated all of these books when I was in high school, but “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of my all time favorites! I have read about a fourth of the classics on the ALA’s list and loved almost all of them. I will admit that “Ulysses” was not my cup of tea, mainly because following the stream-of-consciousness style was just more work than I wanted to do to read a book — but I heartily support anyone else’s right to put in that much work!

Book cover for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeBooks do continue to face challenges in our libraries and schools. Even universities have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years with the use of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” raising concerns about academic and intellectual freedom. The ALA posts its “most frequently challenged list” every year. This year’s top 10 list contains another one of my favorite books, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It’s a book about a gifted but autistic boy who works to solve a mystery. I can’t count the number of times I have recommended this book! Another book on the list, “Fun Home,” has been on my to-read list for a while now. I think I will bump it to the top in honor of Banned Books Week.

Please enjoy your freedom to read! But remember, not every book is for every person at every time, and that’s okay. I will grab my banned books coffee mug and a book and head outside to enjoy mine!

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Top 10 Books Librarians Love: The October 2016 LibraryReads List

September 23, 2016

Library Reads LogoNot one of these recommended books is pumpkin spice flavored, but any would pair well with your favorite fall beverage. Break out the decorative gourds, and enjoy this list of books publishing in October that librarians across the country love.

Book cover for News of the WorldNews of the World” by Paulette Jiles

“Readers fortunate enough to meet Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an old ex-soldier who makes a living reading the news to townspeople in 1870s Texas, and Joanna, the Indian captive he is charged with returning to her relatives, will not soon forget them. Everything, from the vividly realized Texas frontier setting to the characters, is beautifully crafted, right up to the moving conclusion. Both the Captain and Joanna have very distinctive voices. Wonderful storytelling.”
– Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Book cover for The Trespasser by Tana FrenchThe Trespasser” by Tana French

“Aislinn Murray is beautiful, lives in a picture-perfect cottage, and has a boy she’s crazy about. Antoinette Conway is a tough member of the Dublin Murder Squad who knows no one likes her and says she doesn’t care. When Aislinn is murdered, Conway and her partner Steve Moran take the case and start listening to all the stories about Aislinn. Which ones are true? Was she in love and with whom? Are the stories we tell ourselves and others anywhere near the truth? Great read from Tana French.”
– Kathryn Hassert, Chester County Library, Exton, PA

Book cover for Small Great Things by Jodi PicoultSmall Great Things” by Jodi Picoult

“A black neonatal nurse is charged with causing the death of a white supremacist’s newborn baby. The story is told from the points of view of the nurse, her attorney and the baby’s heartbroken father. As always, Picoult’s attention to legal, organizational and medical details helps the tale ring true. What sets this book apart, though, are the uncomfortable points it makes about racism. The novel is both absorbing and thought-provoking and will surely spark conversations among friends, families and book clubs.”
– Laurie Van Court, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO

And here is the rest of this month’s list. Place your holds today!

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The Gentleman Recommends: Gary Shteyngart

September 19, 2016

Book cover for Super Sad True Love StoryGreat satirists thrive when stuff in the world is goofy or evil. So, given the idyllic nature of the world these days, it’s hard to imagine that there’s much good satire out there or that satirists would manage to earn enough to keep themselves fed and sheltered rather than wasting away in the gutter where they probably belong. But, even with our utopia’s total lack of need for satirists, Gary Shteyngart has managed to keep himself fed, sheltered, gutter-free and, as you’ll see if you google “Shteyngart + vodka,” frequently drunk.

Shteyngart has earned the sustenance and drunkenness. That satire is pointless in our current climate is inarguable, but we still have a few years left before hilarious literature in which nearly every sentence contains a delightful turn of phrase becomes the province only of those who attempt to produce it. He’s a funny guy and a great writer, and I hope he’s able to eat comfortably at least until he’s no longer of any value to our society. (You’ll notice I linked to a picture of him being funny rather than pick from the bountiful text examples of his hilarity. I do this because, as the GlobalTeens social network from his brilliant novel “Super Sad True Love Story” says in one of its many helpful tips, “Switch to Images today! Less words = more fun!”)

Super Sad True Love Story” chronicles the relationship between Lenny Abramov, son of Russian immigrants, book lover, and mid-level employee at a firm that aims to sell immortality to the super rich, and Eunice Park, daughter of Korean immigrants, shopping lover, and unemployed. In addition to the ups and downs of their relationship, we get the scoop on the fantastically dark world they live in. People spend all their time using their “apparats,” an unthinkable device that could only spring from the mind of the most deviant of satirists. An apparat keeps you constantly linked to everyone in the world and instantly provides any information the user needs. (Among other superlative features, it keeps you perpetually informed of your attractiveness to others, via an index whose name would be inappropriate to print here. Also inappropriate to print here are the names of the story’s most popular clothing lines.) America is so indebted to “The People’s Bank of China Worldwide” that a dollar has no value unless it’s pegged to the yuan. There are protests being waged by the poor against the rich. Translucent pants (no underwear) are popular. Hardcore pornography is considered mainstream entertainment. Books are relics: everyone hates the smell.

Super Sad True Love Story” obviously is a lying title, but that’s okay because it’s satire. As every other recommender out there has noted, it’s super and sad and a love story, but it’s not true. It’s fiction. Which would become rapidly obvious to the reader as its setting is far from the world of gumdrops, equality and plentiful currency that we currently enjoy.

So why read something so absurdly inapplicable to our current situation? I don’t know. It’s hilarious and brilliant, but so is this picture of a cat. I guess I just want to make sure Mr. Shteyngart is able to procure as much horseradish vodka and organ meat as he requires, at least until he finds a proper and relevant line of work and no longer requires my assistance.

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Upcoming Author Talks

September 16, 2016

One Read is in full swing, but this community reading program is not the only upcoming opportunity to hear from nationally known, award-winning and local authors. Mark your calendars for these not-to-be-missed talks and book signings!

Book cover for Start a Community Food GardenMizzou Botanic Garden Author Reception
Monday, September 19 › 7-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Come meet nationally known author LaManda Joy, the founder of Chicago’s Peterson Garden Project, and hear her speak about the process of starting and maintaining a community garden. Copies of her book “Start a Community Food Garden” will be available for purchase and signing. Co-sponsored by the Mizzou Botanic Garden.

Photo of author Rachel HallMeet the Author of “Heirlooms
Wednesday, September 21 › 7-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Virginia G. Young Room
This collection of linked short stories by Columbia native Rachel Hall won a major award for short fiction and has been lauded as “masterful and devastating.” Based on real-life events and inspired by family stories, it begins in 1939 in coastal France and follows a Jewish family through World War II, to a new country and into a new century where they survive and forge new lives with their only heirlooms being memories. Rachel is a creative writing professor at the State University of New York and returns to her hometown for this special event.

Book cover for Mizzou Sports Through the AgesMizzou Sports Through the Ages
Thursday, October 6 › 7-8:15 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room OR
Thursday, October 20 › 6-7 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Mizzou sports have been thrilling and frustrating Tiger fans since 1890. “Mizzou Sports Through the Ages: An Illustrated Timeline of University of Missouri Athletics” by Brendon Steenbergen is the first comprehensive history of the entire University of Missouri sports program. Brendon will share some little-known stories, explore the ups and downs of various sports and follow the accomplishments of historic Mizzou sports figures. This lavishly photographed book captures the spirit of the Tigers and provides a rich history and a cherished keepsake. Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

Book cover for Haunted MissouriHaunted Columbia With Mary Barile
Monday, October 10 › 7-8 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Columbia has a rich treasure of ghostly lore reaching across the Mizzou Quad and Stephens College to the surrounding countryside. Have you heard about the specter of Broadway legend Maude Adams visiting classes at Stephens College? Or the story of invisible fingers on Blind Boone’s piano? Hear some hair-raising stories from accomplished researcher and storyteller, Mary Collins Barile, many of which are featured in her latest book “Haunted Columbia, Missouri.” Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

Book cover for Snakes in the KitchenLocal Author Carolyn Branch
Monday, October 24, 2016 › 7-8 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library, Friends Room
Join us as local author Carolyn Branch, born and raised in Mokane, shares insights and the history relating to her recently published book “Snakes in the Kitchen: A Memoir.” A book signing follows. Presented in collaboration with the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society.

A Brooklyn Memoir by Joseph C. Polacco
Wednesday, October 26 › 7-8:15 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Joe Polacco remembers his youth growing up in Brooklyn, New York in a loving and humorous tribute to his mother. “Vina: Bensonhurst Memories” is a celebration of his wise and generous mother, great Italian food, extended family and others who made up the heart and soul of this old world neighborhood. Polacco is a professor emeritus of biochemistry at the University of Missouri. He has spent most of his life in Missouri, but you can still hear the New York accent from the pages of this memoir. Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

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New DVD List: The Boys of ’36 & More

September 14, 2016

boysof36Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.

boys of 36The Boys of ’36
Website / Reviews / Trailer
This documentary is based on the 2014 One Read book “The Boys in the Boat” and recently played on PBS. In 1936, nine boys from the University of Washington took the rowing world and a nation by storm when their eight-oar crew team captured the gold medal at the Olympics in Berlin. The boys’ victory, and their obstacles, inspired a nation.

oj made in americaO.J.: Made in America
Website / Reviews / Trailer
This five-part 30 for 30 documentary examines the parallels between Simpson’s incredible story with that of race in America. This series reveals how he first became a football star, why America fell in love with him off the field, what happened in the trial for his ex-wife’s murder and, finally, why he is now sitting in jail for another crime 20 years later.

ash vs evil deadAsh Vs Evil Dead
Season 1
Website / Reviews
Ash is the stock boy, who is an aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. With this series Ash is finally forced to face his demons, personal and literal.

orphan black s4Orphan Black
Season 4
Website / Reviews
The sisters have finally settled into some sense of normalcy. But peace and calm seldom lasts long with this lot, and Sarah’s hard won tranquility is disrupted when she receives a call from a mysterious ally tied to Beth. The sisters are united in their mission to end the constant threats to their lives.

the knick s2The Knick
Season 2
Website / Reviews
Steven Soderbergh’s Emmy-nominated series returns. Season 2 of the medical drama, set in the 1900s, that charts the exploits of the staff and patients at Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City, kicks off with the facility readying for a move uptown.

spanish lakeSpanish Lake” 

Website / Reviews / Trailer
A documentary on “white flight” in the area of Spanish Lake, Missouri, a post-World War II suburb five miles from Ferguson, Missouri. Due to racism, housing developments and governmental policies, Spanish Lake experienced a white exodus in the 1990s, resulting in rapid economic decline and population turnover.

Season 1
Website / Reviews
The gripping story is told through four generations, from the capture of Kunta Kinte in Africa and his transport to Colonial America in brutal conditions to successive generations fighting to win their freedom in the Civil War. Based on Alex Haley’s best-selling novel.

Other notable releases:
The Affair” –
Season 2 – Website / Reviews 
Website / Reviews / Trailer
The Bridge” –  Season 1  Website / Reviews
CastleSeason 8 – Website / Reviews
CommunitySeason 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5, Season 6Website / Reviews
11.22.63” –  Season 1  Website /Reviews
Girlfriend Experience” –  Season 1  Website / Reviews
Halt and Catch FireSeason 2Website / Reviews
Hell on WheelsSeason 5 – Website / Reviews
Key and Peele” –  Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5  Website / Reviews
Merchants of Doubt – Website / Reviews / Trailer
Murdoch Mysteries” – Season 9  Website / Reviews
My So-called LifeSeason 1Website / Reviews
NarcosSeason 1Website / Reviews
The Night Manager – Website / Reviews / Trailer
Our Last Tango” –  Website / Reviews / Trailer
Person of Interest – Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5– Website / Reviews
RectifySeason 1, Season 2Website / Reviews
SGU, Stargate UniverseSeason 1 Website / Reviews
Shameless – Season 6 – Website / Reviews
Thirteen – Season 1 – Website / Reviews
Togetherness” –  Season 2  Website / Reviews
The TunnelSeason 1 – Website / Reviews
The Walking DeadSeason 6 – Website / Reviews
Xena, Warrior PrincessSeason 1Website / Reviews

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Getting to Know Agatha Christie

September 12, 2016

 An AutobiographyIf you’re looking for a cozy mystery, you can’t go wrong with any one of Agatha Christie’s books. As the uncontested “queen of the mystery,” Christie helped define a genre with her legendary characters, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. Christie was not afraid to let the dark sides of society show through in the stories she wrote. Readers may find themselves wondering how a seemingly mild-mannered lady came up with these stories, and there are several books at the library that can give insight into the life that inspired these classic mysteries. Here are a few I recommend.

  • Christie’s natural storytelling abilities shine brightly in the telling of her own story in “An Autobiography.” Initially published shortly after her death, the book chronicles Christie’s life, from a rather idyllic childhood, spent mostly in the countryside of Devonshire, to the archaeological trips that took her around the world. Readers will enjoy getting to know the personal side of Christie and her perspective on a life lived out during the turbulent years of the early 1900s.

  •  Around the World With the Queen of MysteryAlthough many of Christie’s novels are set in England, her characters do venture out to other parts of the world. These exotic settings were likely inspired by Christie’s own travels, particularly the world tour that she took in 1922 with her first husband, Archibald. “The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery” gathers the correspondence between Christie and her mother over the 10 months she was away. Colored with vivid descriptions of both the countries she visited and the people who inhabited them, this is a delightful look into an adventure that shaped the great mystery writer.
  •  The Real Life of Agatha ChristieReaders wanting a more whimsical read should check out Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau’s “Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie.” This graphic novel appears quite simple at a glance, but it offers a colorful look into Christie’s life. Fans of her books may enjoy it especially because Poirot and Miss Marple pop up throughout the book, offering insight into the woman who created them.
  • Christie herself starred in what may have been her greatest mystery. In 1926 she disappeared from her home for 11 days. Search parties were gathered, and even some of the other mystery greats of the day — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers — pondered what may have happened. Christie eventually turned up at a hotel spa, seemingly with no memory of the time she was missing. She would not speak about the event, so all that exists of what happened is speculation. Author Jared Cade explores the events of those 11 days and offers his own theory regarding her missing time in “Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days.”

Happy reading!

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National Day of Service and Remembrance

September 9, 2016

Book cover for VolunteerStarting in 2002, 9/11 family members and support groups wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor the memory of those who were lost, as well as recreate the spirit of unity and coming together to do good works that this tragedy inspired. As a result of their efforts, the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance was established into law by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009.

There are no shortage of worthy causes needing our time and attention. The library’s volunteering subject guide links to many local organizations that could use a helping hand, whether your passion is arts education, literacy, fighting hunger or helping animals. And if you are in the Columbia area, the Columbia Daily Tribune’s “get involved” section lists current opportunities at organizations actively seeking volunteer help.

The library has many books on ideas for volunteering as a family, combining your passion for travel and volunteerism and much more. We hope you’ll be inspired to contribute positively to your community, this day and beyond.

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Star Trek, Boldly Going for 50 Years

September 7, 2016

 The Official Guide to our UniverseI have a great story about this blog post. The same day I started work on it, I began de-cluttering at home, organizing the piles of books my family tends to amass. As I picked up an old paperback Star Trek novel, bought used, a newspaper clipping fell out. The headline read “Roddenberry Fills Heroic Void.” The article discussed a talk given in Jesse Auditorium by Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek television series. I could find no mention of the date or even the name of the newspaper, but with a bit of sleuthing through the library’s collection of University of Missouri yearbooks, I confirmed the event happened on February 17, 1976.

Among quotes from the talk, this one stood out: “Roddenberry predicted giant and efficient telecommunications systems will be available within 12 years that will make TV look primitive.” He was off by only three years, as the World Wide Web went public in 1991. Quite a visionary. His mid-sixties TV series featured communications devices that looked a lot like cell phones, information storage devices that looked a lot like iPads and a starship crew that looked a lot like the entire human race had learned to work together cooperatively.

When “Star Trek” debuted in 1966 (September 6 in Canada and September 8 in the U.S.), the sight of a multi-ethnic, mixed-gender group of people working together as equals represented a giant leap forward in popular entertainment and society. Decades later, the population of devoted Trekkies continues to grow.

Just in time for the show’s 50th anniversary, DBRL has acquired DVD sets of nearly every “Star Trek” series, including the animated one, to fulfill your binge-watching needs. We also have a large selection of Star Trek novels, music CDs of the movie soundtracks and, for those who use Hoopla, Star Trek comics.

A handful of nonfiction books about the Trek universe have been published in the last couple of years:

Star Trek, the Official Guide to Our Universe” explores “the true science behind the starship voyages.” Author Andrew Fazekas, an astronomy educator, provides fascinating facts about the celestial phenomena encountered on the screen.

The Star Trek Book” by Paul Ruditis provides generously illustrated short, encyclopedia-type entries describing characters, planets, technology and alien races encountered in the series.

In “The Fifty Year Mission” Edward Gross and Mark Altman have compiled two volumes worth of quotes from people involved in Star Trek on all aspects of the enterprise. (See what I did there?) The result is a historical overview of the entire franchise from a variety of perspectives.

With the new series “Star Trek: Discovery” set to launch in 2017, we’re not to the end yet. When asked about the enduring appeal of his creation, Roddenberry once said, “The human race is a remarkable creature, one with great potential, and I hope that ‘Star Trek’ has helped to show us what we can be if we believe in ourselves and our abilities.”

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September Is Library Card Sign-up Month!

September 2, 2016

Sally Comic

Truer words have never been spoken (and don’t worry, I’m not biased). I got my own library card in the first grade. I signed it (with my beginner’s cursive), looked at it lovingly and promptly handed it to my dad for safe-keeping in his wallet. Sure, I had been a regular fixture in my local library since I was too young to remember, but the books I took home were always checked out to my mom or dad. That all changed once I got my own library card. It would take a few years for me to fully appreciate what my library card could do for me, though. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, and it’s also a time to consider what brings you “library happiness.”

The Daniel Boone Regional Library has a lot to offer our library card holders! Besides getting the latest bestsellers in traditional and digital formats, library card holders have access to our online resources for free. These include lynda.com, which has self-paced tutorials on a variety of technical skills and business strategies, genealogy sites such as HeritageQuest and even auto repair resources. We also have some fun eBooks for kids through EZTales.com, Fable Learning and TumbleBookLibrary. All you need is your library card to access all of these resources!

“But what if I don’t have a library card,” you ask? Well, lucky for you, we can help with that. Adults (18+) can apply for a card online, and we can also get you set up with a card by mail or in-person. For specifics on card eligibility, look here. I should take a moment to note that there is no minimum age requirement for a library card. Minors do need parent or guardian signatures on their applications, but they can get a library card from the day they are born. (We like to start ’em young!)

If you are reading this, however, the chances are good you already have a DBRL library card. Maybe you’re a super user of the library, or perhaps you’re more casual. Either way, I ask you to share what you love about the library. Comment using the speech bubble prompt below, or use the hastag #LibraryHappinessIs, to tell us how the library brings you happiness!

library happiness is bubble

Peanuts comic: copyright Charles Schulz, licensed by the American Library Association

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2016 List

August 31, 2016

The kids are back at school, and maybe that has some readers feeling overwhelmed by the orientations, sports practices, rehearsals and other related events suddenly filling up the family calendar. Or perhaps the back-to-school spirit has you ready to learn something new. Whether you want to read for escape or for self-improvement, this month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the 10 titles publishing in September that librarians across the country recommend.

Book cover for Leave Me by Gayle FormanLeave Me” by Gayle Forman

“Aren’t there days when you just want to leave it all behind? After a life threatening event, that’s exactly what Maribeth Klein does. Maribeth, wife, mom of 4-year old twins, and editor of a glossy magazine is told to rest. Sure! The choice she makes is not the one for most, but following Maribeth on this journey is compelling nonetheless. Fast paced narrative and terrific writing make this one hard to put down. Recommended!” – Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY

The Bookshop on the Corner” by Jenny Colgan

“Despite losing her job as a librarian who liked to put the right book into a patron’s hands, Nina continues her mission by moving to rural Scotland, purchasing a van, converting it into a bookmobile, and taking to the road. The plot revolves around the romance of the road, the romance of books and reading, and just plain old romance. Another marvelous book by Colgan! A gem of a book!” – Virginia Holsten, Vinton Public Library, Vinton, IA

Book cover for Commonwealth by Ann PatchettCommonwealth” by Ann Patchett

“The Cousins and the Keatings are two California families forever intertwined and permanently shattered by infidelity. Bert Cousins leaves his wife for Beverly Keating, leaving her to raise four children on her own. Beverly, with two children of her own, leaves her husband for Bert. The six children involved are forced to forge a childhood bond based on the combined disappointment in their parents. As adults, they find their families’ stories revealed in a way they couldn’t possibly expect. Patchett has written a family drama that perfectly captures both the absurdity and the heartbreak of domestic life.” – Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

Here’s the rest of the best for your holds-placing pleasure!

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Fall Program Preview: One Read and More

August 29, 2016

one-read-logo-newSeptember is almost here! The kids are back in school, and those vacations to the mountains or the lake (or just the hammock in the back yard) are now memories and fodder for the “what I did this summer” English class essays. Your calendars are likely filling up with fall events, and so are ours! At the library, September is One Read month, with four weeks of programs around a single book the community helps select. This year’s book is the memoir “Bettyville” by George Hodgman. You can see the full line-up of discussions, films, art events and more online. And here are other great programs for adults happening soon.

Danny SantosDanny Santos Concert
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 › 7-8 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Taking inspiration from his Chicano heritage, a musical legacy ranging from Hank Williams to the Beatles and his Texas-sized determination, singer-songwriter Danny Santos creates a unique mix of country and folk tinged with bluegrass and the blues. His songs illuminate the joys of true love, the woe of love lost and the weary longing of a heart still searching, and his style is heavily influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and other Texas singer-songwriters. When he’s not appearing solo, he also fronts the acoustic band Los Bluegrass Vatos. Adults and teens.

Affordable Care Act News & Updates
Thursday, September 8, 2016 › 6-7:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library, Friends Room, Or
Thursday, September 15, 2016 › 5-7 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Primaris Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Columbia, will help you better understand what your ACA health insurance options are, where you can go to get free help with using the online system or the call center, how the Health Insurance Marketplace works with other health insurance, and where else to get free and confidential help with your coverage needs.

Genealogy Drop-in
Monday, September 12, 2016 › 9:30 a.m.-Noon
Columbia Public Library, Training Center
Drop in to ask questions about researching your family history.

Game Time for Grown-ups
Monday, September 12, 2016 › 12:30-2 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Bring your friends and join us for Wii bowling, coloring and board games. Adults.

Will They Count Your Vote?
Sunday, September 18, 2016 › 2-3:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
In honor of National Constitution Day, come learn about the Voting Rights Act, the impact of the 2013 Supreme Court Decision on the Act, and subsequent state-level efforts affecting voting rights around the nation. Copies of the U.S. Constitution will be available for for the first 50 attendees. Refreshments will be provided. Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County and the American Association of University Women-Columbia Branch.

Mizzou Botanic Garden Author Reception
Monday, September 19 › 7-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Come meet nationally known author LaManda Joy, the founder of Chicago’s Peterson Garden Project, and hear her speak about the process of starting and maintaining a community garden. Copies of her book “Start a Community Food Garden” will be available for purchase and signing. Co-sponsored by the Mizzou Botanic Garden.

See all of our upcoming programs at dbrl.org.

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Reader Review: Red Rising

August 26, 2016

Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2016 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.

red risingIn his debut novel (and the first in the Red Rising trilogy), Pierce Brown introduces a dystopian story that should appeal to readers who enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy. Teenaged Darrow lives in an under-earth colony on Mars that toils to make the surface livable for future inhabitants. Oppressive rule is all he’s known, but a dramatic turn of events soon forces Darrow to fight for a better life for his community. If that sounds a bit cliche, I suppose it’s because I didn’t find much new to keep my interest in this story. Other than the setting and the sex of the main character, it feels very much like “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Whereas that was the second book in a trilogy (with the benefit of the slow-build to revolutionary action and character development from the first book), this book seems to move the reader quickly down Darrow’s (stealth) revolutionary path. I found it difficult to feel empathy for the main character’s motivations without experiencing more of his world before he took steps toward revolution. I think I’m in the minority in not caring for this book, though, so if you like dystopian novels, give it a try!

Three words that describe this book: dystopian, quick-read, Hunger-Games-like

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy dystopian novels with teenage protagonists, especially if you are a fan of the Hunger Games novels.


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Against the Grain: Docs About Outlaws

August 24, 2016

wild and wonderful whites of west virginia 1

The rules of society are sometimes flaunted by criminals. Who are these people, and what makes them tick? Check out these documentaries that feature various outlaws.

wile and wonderful whites of west virginiaThe Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” (2010)

A shocking and outlandish year-in-the-life documentary about the White Family of Boone County, West Virginia’s most notorious extended family. The film includes shoot-outs, robberies, gas-huffing, drug dealing and using, pill popping, murders and tap dancing.

smash and grabSmash and Grab” (2013)

This film is an exclusive all-access pass into the mysterious world of international jewel thieves.  Dubbed ‘The Pink Panthers,’ the formidable Balkan gang has stolen nearly a billion dollars worth of jewels from boutiques in the world’s most opulent cities.

if a tree fallsIf a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (2011)

The remarkable story of the rise and fall of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s ‘number one domestic terrorist threat, ‘ told through the transformation and radicalization of one of its members, Daniel McGowan.

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Staff Review: The Grownup

August 22, 2016

Grownup bookc coverAs a young adult, I sometimes feel like a fraud — a kid just playing pretend at being a grownup. I think most people have feelings like this occasionally, but the unnamed narrator in Gillian Flynn’s latest is a fraud and has made a living at it her entire life. Growing up poor, she and her mother would beg on the streets, and they had an intricate system: they knew who to ask, how to ask, when to embellish and which specific embellishment to use on a particular mark.

As “The Grownup” opens, the narrator makes ends meet by a rather unsavory profession, which she simply calls working in “customer service.” When she gets the chance to work as (read: pretend to be) a psychic, she jumps on it, knowing that her ability to manipulate people would make for easy money. She takes on Susan as a client, a housewife with a rocky relationship with her seemingly evil stepson and a house that appears haunted. Is the narrator finally in over her head? One thing is certain: something malicious exists, but where it originates and what can be done to stop it will keep you guessing.

This book, clocking in at 64 pages, is an incredibly short yet satisfying read. It was originally published as part of a collection of short stories — “Rogues,” edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Flynn acknowledges Martin at the end of the book, thanking him for asking her to write him a story, but this reader would like to thank Flynn for providing us with this intriguing little tale.

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Book and Tea Pairings

August 19, 2016

tea and book

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Last year I broke my foot and had to have surgery. That meant recovery time, which actually meant reading time. During the week following my surgery, between bouts of nausea and fatigue, I read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I also exclusively drank Harney & Sons Green Tea with Coconut Blend. Now anytime I drink that coconut green tea, the scent bombards me with reminders of magic, time travel, alchemy and romance.

While my magical fantasy + coconut green tea pairing happened organically, it inspired me to think up some other tea and book pairings.

Old Man and the Sea book coverClassics like “Jane Eyre,” an enduring romance centered around a strong, non-traditional heroine, or Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” in which a fisherman battles with a marlin, need a classic tea, no? I suggest an English Breakfast tea (decaf, if you’re reading past your bedtime).

Seveneves book coverIf you’re interested in books with a more elaborate storyline, perhaps “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield is for you. A famous reclusive author commissions a biographer, and both women must confront family secrets. Or try “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. This story follows the progeny of the few survivors from Earth who have lived in space for five thousand years, and now they must return to the drastically changed planet. Whichever book you choose, pair it with the complex and sophisticated Earl Grey to make a great duo.

Hamilton book coverMaybe you’ve managed to get your hands on a copy of “Alexander Hamilton,” the biography by Ron Chernow on which the Tony-winning musical, Hamilton, is based. Or perhaps you’re perusing “Hamilton, the Revolution,” the complete libretto itself, including photos and cast interviews. You’ll want something a little more patriotic, a little less sophisticated (like young and scrappy Hamilton himself): freshly brewed iced tea — sweetened if you’re more of a Southerner like Thomas Jefferson.

Modern Lovers book coverPerhaps some fun and easygoing books are more your cup of tea (ha!). “Not Working” follows the life of Claire, who spontaneously quits her job and loses all semblance of a routine. With her new free time she is forced down a path of self discovery. Emma Straub’s newest, “Modern Lovers,” is about a close bunch of college friends who have grown up and have college-aged children of their own. When their children start having relationships with each other, the parents’ lives begin to unravel. Both of these recently published books are sure to leave you happy and content, and what could go better with a fun story than a refreshing cup of fruity tea? Wild berry would pair excellently with either literary pick.

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Is Summer Over Already?!

August 17, 2016

Back to School WPA Poster from the Library of Congress CollectionWhen the summer began, I had all sorts of plans. One of my plans was to add variety to my reading by reading more fiction. Yes, you read that right — more fiction. This was sparked by a conversation with my husband.

Husband: Why don’t you read something for fun for a change?

Me: I am reading something fun!

Husband: But all you read is nonfiction.

Yes, that’s me. I like nonfiction. This summer was going to be different, but here it is, time for school to start up again. Those lazy days of summer have led to me reading mostly… nonfiction. In my defense, there are a lot of really good nonfiction books that have been published this year! I won’t mention all of them, but I will tell you about three that I really loved.

Book cover for Lab GirlLab Girl” by Jahren Hope
“Because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along.” Jahren is a botanist who is passionate about her field. She weaves the insights she discovers in the lab and in the field seamlessly with her personal day-to-day life. “Lab Girl” is one of those odd books that is part science book, part memoir, with a bit of philosophy thrown in, and it reads more like poetry at times. “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.”

Book cover for TribeTribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” by Sebastian Junger
This is another memoir-ish book combined with journalism and science. At only 192 pages, Junger has written a very concise book about post-traumatic stress disorder in our society, including the Native American population and returning war veterans, as well as our society as a whole. “Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.”  I really connected with the longing for community that this book invokes.

 An Intimate HistoryThe Gene: An Intimate History” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Once again, this is a memoir mixed with science, or maybe it’s science mixed with memoir. (I think I’m sensing a pattern here.) Mukherjee traces the history of the gene from Aristotle, Mendel and Darwin, on through the German and American eugenics programs, to Watson and Crick and modern gene therapy. This is a very personal odyssey for Mukherjee because of mental illness that runs in his family. He delves into the factual science of genes and our understanding of them and examines the ethics of genetic manipulation. This is a very moving account of a very complex topic, and at times it borders on the poetic: “History repeats itself, in part because the genome repeats itself. And the genome repeats itself, in part because history does. The impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires that drive human history are, at least in part, encoded in the human genome. And human history has, in turn, selected genomes that carry these impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires. This self-fulfilling circle of logic is responsible for some of the most magnificent and evocative qualities in our species, but also some of the most reprehensible. It is far too much to ask ourselves to escape the orbit of this logic, but recognizing its inherent circularity, and being skeptical of its overreach, might protect the week from the will of the strong, and the ‘mutant’ from being annihilated by the ‘normal’.”

I will keep trying to add more fiction to my reading list, but when there is nonfiction this interesting, how can I resist?

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The Gentleman Recommends: Noah Hawley

August 15, 2016

Book cover for Before the FallNoah Hawley is a great example of a writer who does not need this gentleman’s boost. In addition to the thousands of projects he has in the works (including a television adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’sCat’s Cradle“), Hawley is the showrunner of “Fargo,” one of my favorite television shows ever. He’s also a novelist, because apparently brilliant, hard-working people get to experience all manner of professional satisfaction. (Join me, won’t you, in declaring it’s high time some of this good fortune is distributed to all the frequently recumbent and mostly slovenly gentlemen out there just trying to peaceably make their way through the world’s bakeries without having their various flasks constantly confiscated.)

Before the Fall” is Hawley’s latest novel, and anyone who has experienced the rich tapestry of detailed characterization, deft and often hilarious dialogue, and rapid-fire plotting of “Fargo” will not be surprised to learn that is a delightful piece of entertainment. It tells the tale of a plane crash and the lives it ended or, in the case of two passengers, the lives it upended. The crash and the surviving passengers’ harrowing journey to safety occur in the first several pages, then the novel gives us a mix of flashbacks (fleshing out the characters and the possible reasons for the plane crash) and post-crash scenes largely concerned with one of the surviving passengers and government efforts to determine why the plane crashed. In reading the dead’s stories, the reader will learn some theories about the how the plane crashed (with one seeming particularly likely).

Among the dead are the owner of a fictional news network, a bodyguard, a guy that makes lots of money by doing things to money (including laundering money for terrorists), some spouses, a child, two pilots and a flight attendant. This is how the rich travel. (Join me, won’t you, in declaring it’s high time some of this luxurious travel, minus the crashing part, is shared with those of us who generally get around by balancing on our only functional rolling skate and tossing a grappling hook at passing automobiles or bikes pedaled by people whose strength is readily apparent.)

One of the survivors, a 47-year-old painter who was just finally beginning to experience a taste of potential success before the crash, is judged a hero by most, but a villain by some, including a host of a right-wing “news” show. The reader may join the blowhard host in finding it curious that the painter has recently produced a series of paintings of disasters, the descriptions of which indicate that Hawley may also be a gifted painter, which would be another of his gifts that I do not envy.

Before the Fall” is a mystery, a satire and an outstanding read. It doesn’t need the sales surge that a gentleman’s recommendation inevitably causes, but it merits it. You have my blessing to continue thriving and producing things that thoroughly entertain me, Mr. Hawley.

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Final Summer Reading Gift Card Winner!

August 15, 2016

TrophyCongratulations to Barb, a Columbia Public Library patron, for winning our tenth and final Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble.

That is it for this year. Thanks to all of you who submitted book reviews this time around. We hope you enjoyed your summer or reading!

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Read-a-Romance Month: Romance for Newbies

August 12, 2016

There once was a time that I scoffed at romance books, and I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead reading one. “They’re not literary,” I would say, high on my horse. Maybe my mind started to change when I read the genre-defying “Outlander,” or maybe I matured a little and realized I was being judgmental. I just know that at some point I found myself checking out “The Duchess War” by Courtney Milan, complete with a young woman in a poofy ball gown on the cover. And, guys? I loved it! The book was smart, well-written, had great dialogue and believable development of the romantic relationship — basically all the things I like in any book. And it’s not alone; there are a ton of great romances out there! In honor of August being Read-a-Romance Month, here’s a short list of books to help ease you into the waters of romance novels.

Knight in Shining Armor coverA Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux

A distraught, modern woman, abandoned by her lover, suddenly meets a real knight, complete with clanking armor, in a cemetery. Also, according to the gravestone next to her, he died in 1564. This classic romance, by the legendary Jude Deveraux, includes time travel, grand adventure and, of course, excellent romance.

For My Lady's Heart coverFor My Lady’s Heart” by Laura Kinsale

A medieval romance with a complex heroine and dashing English knight (I promise not all romance novels feature knights . . .). Dialogue is written in Middle English and it has an intricate plot. “For My Lady’s Heart” has been compared, by some readers, to literary giants George R.R. Martin and Tolkien in terms of its world building.

The Grand Sophy coverThe Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer

Many romance readers consider this book to be one of the best Regency romances by one of the greatest Regency authors. Sophy is the independent heroine of this story, which is lighter on the romance scenes. “The Grand Sophy” is sure to appeal to fans of Jane Austen.

Iron Duke coverThe Iron Duke” by Meljean Brook

Zombies, airships, kraken, pirates — oh, and romance, too. This steampunk romance follows Rhys, who finds a dead body dumped from an airship at his front door. He and Detective Mina Wentworth uncover a conspiracy that threatens the whole of England. This adventurous, fast-paced and very steamy novel is great for those readers who want to get lost in another world.

Natrual Born Charmer coverNatural Born Charmer” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The story starts with Blue (our heroine) walking on the side of the road in a beaver costume. Hunky quarterback, Dean, spots her and pulls his car over. What comes next is a hilarious and sweet romance. This book is great for rom-com lovers.

Secret History of the Pink Carnation coverThe Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig

This one has a story within a story. Eloise is working on her dissertation on English spies (the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian) and learns of the Pink Carnation: a spy who nearly single-handedly saved England from Napoleon. The story of the Pink Carnation is full of adventure and sensual romance.

If none of these titles tickle your fancy, check out the full Romance for Newbies list in our catalog.

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Reader Review: Cutting for Stone

August 11, 2016

book cover for cutting for stoneCutting for Stone” is about doctors of mostly Indian heritage working in a mission hospital in Africa. The main characters are endearing, though sometimes we become saddened or frustrated with them. Most of the doctors are surgeons, and we are privy to the intricate details of some of the surgeries. I liked this book because I found the characters heart-warming, and I learned quite a bit of what goes on in the operating room. Interesting surgical details, without disturbing the story line.

Three words that describe this book: heartbreaking, bittersweet, medical

You might want to pick this book up if:

…you wish to spend some book time in Africa or India
…you would like to know exactly how to transplant a liver, sewing up the veins, and all
…you can take having your heart broken and put together again.


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