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Celebrating the Life and Works of Oliver Sacks

September 2, 2015

Book cover for The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatThere are some writers you wish you could befriend, they seem so warm and endlessly fascinating. You want them at the table during dinner parties. You want to meet up with them for long walks or coffee. Oliver Sacks is one of those writers.

The neurologist and author passed away this weekend of cancer at the age of 82. Sacks was curious – always investigating – and a wonderful storyteller. Even after learning his time on this earth was nearing its end, he continued to write. He became introspective, focusing “on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life – achieving a sense of peace within oneself,” as he states in his final piece for the New York Times.

Sacks’ books about the workings of the brain are full of vivid writing and detailed portraits of his subjects. His delight in scientific discovery runs through all of his books. His enthusiasm is palpable.

If you are new to Sacks, try “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales,” one of his earlier books (and the one with my favorite title). Sacks presents a series of stories about men and women who, representing both medical and literary oddities, raise fundamental questions about the nature of reality.

Book cover for The Mind's Eye by Oliver SacksOther Sacks’ works center on a single theme, like “Musicophilia,” which explores the complex human response to music and how music can affect those suffering from a variety of ailments. Sacks investigated sight in “The Mind’s Eye,” telling the stories of six people whose lives have been profoundly altered by changes to essential senses and abilities, including a pianist who lost the ability to read scores and a novelist whose ability to read was destroyed by a stroke. “Hallucinations” investigates the types, causes and cultural significance of hallucinations generated by everything from intoxication to injury and illness.

Sacks’ most recently published book is an autobiography titled “On the Move,” and he certainly was. Always studying and researching, his mental energy and curiosity defined him until the end. In the February 15, 2015 New York Times piece in which Sacks announced his terminal diagnosis, he ended with the following words. I cannot think of better words to remember him by.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

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Labor Days

August 31, 2015

Book cover for Working by Studs TerkelThe death throes of summer will soon be marked by Labor Day weekend. Many of us will spend that time barbecuing or taking advantage of Great Labor Day Savings! This was not the original purpose of Labor Day. The intended meaning of the day was to honor “the social and economic achievements of American workers.” This purpose has mostly been lost, except most American workers do get a free day off. Unless they are one of the over 4,500,000 employed in retail.  Then they are probably helping people take advantage of those Labor Day sales.

We spend so much time working that it’s surprising there aren’t more more books on the subject. There’s a constant stream books about job interviews, changing careers or finding fulfilling work, but books that evocatively capture this experience that composes so much of our lives are rare. There are some good ones, and even some classics, but the number days we spend laboring isn’t really matched by the books out there.

Book cover for The Jungle by Upton SinclairThe Jungle” is a classic many of us probably had to read in high school. The book tells the story of a poor immigrant family that tries to make a living working in the Chicago stockyards. The  descriptions of the unsafe and unsanitary conditions became a catalyst for the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food Act.

I’m not sure if Studs Terkel’s “Working” is technically considered a classic (who makes these decisions?), but it should be. Terkel conducted interviews with people from all walks of life about their jobs. You don’t just get insight into what the routine tasks of their jobs are, but you also learn how their time spent at work makes them feel.

Harvey Pekar adapted “Working” into a graphic novel. Pekar was a perfect fit for the job. In his long-running series “American Splendor,” Pekar wrote about the mundane details of his life in Cleveland in an unexpectedly compelling way. Many of those stories involve his job as a file clerk at the Cleveland’s Veterans Administration Hospital.

When Philip Levine died earlier this year, exhausted workers looking for breakfast after the late shift lost representation in American poetry. Many of his poems described the prosaic details of the lives of working people. Levine grew up in Detroit, and while working in the auto plants there he decided to give voice to the people with whom he worked.

Book cover for Blue Collar, White Collar, No CollarBlue Collar, White Collar, No Collar” is a collection of short stories about work.  It’s edited by Richard Ford, who also contributes a story. It’s fitting that a writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for a book about a real estate agent should edit such a collection.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” details a man’s struggle with his inane PR job as he tries to provide for his family. It is often cited as an inspiration for the television show “Mad Men” because of their shared themes of a restless veteran trying to adapt to his working world and find his identity.

Then We Came To The End” tells the story of a Chicago advertising firm as a dysfunctional family that is gradually shrinking to nothing due to layoffs. It is a funny, insightful and empathetic examination of workplace culture.

In “Looking for A Ship,” John McPhee accompanies a merchant marine on a 42-day trip to South America. The book describes the difficulties of making a living as a merchant marine and is filled with seafaring stories that illustrate the dangers of this job. Might make a nice accompaniment to “Deadliest Catch.”

If you’ve ever been asked to do something at your job and wanted to respond, “I prefer not to,” then I suggest you take a look at Herman Melville’s enigmatic short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener, A Story of Wall Street.” A man who is essentially employed as a human copy machine gets a sort of paper jam in his brain and keeps repeating that phrase.

Finally, whether you’re barbecuing, shopping or (sadly) working this Labor Day weekend, the Smithsonian has some sweet Labor Day jams for you.

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Tim O’Mara Back-to-School Book Giveaway

August 28, 2015

Book cover for Dead Red by Tim O'MaraReturning to school can be murder. Alarm clocks buzzing before dawn, heavy traffic on the roads, homework and assigned books (so rough after a few months of summer leisure reading). But at least we aren’t Raymond Donne, New York City cop turned high school teacher in Tim O’Mara‘s latest mystery, “Dead Red.”

After his friend and fellow former cop is murdered in a shower of bullets, Donne vows to not rest until he discovers who wanted Ricky dead, and why. This fast-paced, character-driven thriller is a great antidote to any dry textbooks or student handbook you are supposed to be reading, and you can win one of two signed copies from your library!

Enter to win a copy of “Dead Red” signed by author Tim O’Mara.

(Contest limited to residents of Boone and Callaway counties. One entry per person, please. Winners will be notified after September 25.)

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Deep Thoughts: Docs That Make You Think

August 26, 2015

nostalgia for the light - header

Who are we? Where did we come from? How should we live? Check out these docs that might get you thinking about these big questions.

nostalgia for the lightNostalgia for the Light” (2011)

Director Patricio Guzman travels to the driest place on earth, Chile’s Atacama Desert, where astronomers examine distant galaxies, archaeologists uncover traces of ancient civilizations, and women dig for the remains of disappeared relatives.

examined lifeExamined Life” (2009)

Examined Life takes philosophy into the hustle and bustle of the everyday. The “rock star” philosophers of our time take “walks” through places that hold special resonance for them and their ideas. These places include crowed city streets, deserted alleyways, Central Park and a garbage dump.

cave of forgotten dreamsCave of Forgotten Dreams” (2011)

Werner Herzog explores the Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. An unforgettable cinematic experience that provides an unique glimpse of pristine artwork dating back to human hands over 30,000 years ago.

amongst white cloudsAmongst White Clouds” (2007)

American director Edward A. Burger documents his journey into the lives of China’s forgotten Zen Buddhist hermit tradition. The Zhongnan Mountains have been home to recluses for some five thousand years; Burger’s experiences demonstrate that the tradition continues to thrive.

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Let’s Learn American History with Sarah Vowell

August 24, 2015

When I was in school, history was not my favorite subject, but Sarah Vowell has convinced me I didn’t give it a fair chance. Vowell’s chatty books about American history relate the stories of our country in a way that brings alive the figures involved and paints a vivid picture of the times in which they lived, with the bonus of showing how past events still affect our lives today.

Book cover for Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah VowellUnfamiliar Fishes,” a volume about Hawaii, opens with these words: “Why is there a glop of macaroni salad next to the Japanese chicken in my plate lunch? Because the ship Thaddeus left Boston Harbor with the first boatload of New England missionaries bound for Hawaii in 1819.” Vowell makes a pretty good case for giving Hawaii the ‘Most Multicultural State’ award. As she explains how this came to be, she examines the effects of 19th century missionaries plus vacationing sailors on the island culture. It wasn’t all roses and butter, we discover. The story of Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, makes for compelling – if heartbreaking – reading.

Book cover for The Wordy ShipmatesIn “The Wordy Shipmates” Vowell shows us the Puritans as interesting, complex human beings with more layers than the earth’s core. Much of the narrative centers on John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, along with his best frenemy, Roger Williams. The ins and outs of their friendship proves junior high drama predates the existence of junior high and can present itself in the cloak of religious disputes. After Winthrop banished him from Massachusetts, Williams founded Rhode Island. He was soon joined there by the remarkable and also exiled upstart, Anne Hutchinson, who had convinced her husband to pack up their 15 children and follow the clergyman John Cotton across the ocean to the colonies.

Book cover for Assassination VacationSpeaking of travel, what’s a dedicated historian’s dream vacation? Visiting landmarks associated with assassinations, of course. “Assassination Vacation” is a road trip book like no other, focusing on sites important in the lives and mostly the deaths of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Vowell speaks not only of the facts of the events, but explores how legends surrounding these political murders have been used to shape and sometimes exploit culture and politics. Also, a fascinating bit of trivia about Robert Todd Lincoln.

The future of history includes Vowell’s forthcoming book, “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States,” due out in October. I can’t wait to find out everything I don’t know about the French general who played such a large role in the American Revolution.

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Fall Program Preview: One READ

August 21, 2015

OR-logo-2015-light-backgroundSeptember is coming, and here at DBRL, that means One READ month! One READ is a community-wide reading program coordinated by the library and supported (and planned and promoted) by an incredible group of area organizations, media and educational institutions. Each year area readers help select a single book for exploration and discussion with the goal of creating community around this common reading experience.

This year’s selection, “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, provides ample opportunity to investigate topics as diverse as Shakespeare, comic books, the nature of fame and how to survive an apocalypse. Here are just a few of the programs happening in Columbia and Fulton at the beginning of the month. See the full line-up at oneread.org.

“Station Eleven” Audiobook Broadcast
August 31 – September 30, 1-1:30 p.m.
89.5FM/KOPN
Listen to the audiobook version of this year’s One Read selection and hear announcements on additional One Read programming every weekday August 31-September 30 (except Sept. 7, Labor Day).

AJ GaitherRambler’s Club Unplugged
Tuesday, September 1 › 7 p.m.
Columbia, Rose Music Hall (formerly Mojo’s), 1013 Park Ave
89.5 KOPN and DBRL present an evening of free music to kick off this year’s One Read program. The world of “Station Eleven” is postapocalyptic, unplugged and off the grid. Join local musicians as they play short sets with no amplification for this One Read edition of the Ramblers’ Club. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)

First Wednesday Book Discussion
Wednesday, September 2 › Noon-1 p.m.
Fulton, Callaway County Public Library
Join us as we discuss this year’s One Read selection, “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel. Twenty years after a deadly flu outbreak kills most of the world’s population, what survives? What matters? This haunting novel threads together the connected stories of people living before and after the end of the world into a lyrical examination of the importance of art and what it means to be human.

George HodgmanOne Read Discussion With George Hodgman
Wednesday, September 2 › 7-8 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
We’ll kick off our month of One Read programs by discussing “Station Eleven” with George Hodgman, the author of “Bettyville.” Mr. Hodgman, a former book editor, will share his insights about this year’s One Read novel and lead an informal discussion.

First Thursday One Read Discussion
Thursday, September 3, 2015 › Noon-1 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Join us as Daniel Regional Library Board member Julie Baka leads us in a discussion of “Station Eleven.” Bring a sack lunch if you wish!

One Read Film: “The Giver”
Thursday, September 3, 2015 › 6 p.m.
Fulton, William Woods University Library Auditorium
Based on Lois Lowry’s iconic and influential Newbery Award-winning science fiction novel, visionary director Phillip Noyce’s 2014 film explores weighty and provocative themes similar to those in “Station Eleven.” Dr. Greg Smith, WWU associate professor of English and film, will lead a discussion following the film. (Rated PG-13)

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2015 List

August 19, 2015

Library Reads LogoThe kids are back in school, and the September LibraryReads list is here! Time to brew a cup of tea and enjoy a freshly published book. Here are the books hitting shelves next month that librarians across the country recommend, including the latest from the hilarious, refreshingly honest, irreverent, library-loving Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” has gone immediately on to my personal holds list. Add a few of these forthcoming titles to your list, and enjoy!

Book cover for The Art of Crash LandingThe Art of Crash Landing” by Melissa DeCarlo
“At once tragic and hilarious, this book is a roller coaster of a read. You’ll find yourself rooting for the snarky and impulsive but ultimately lovable Mattie. At the heart of this tale is a beautifully unraveled mystery that has led Mattie to her current circumstances, ultimately bringing her to her first real home.” – Patricia Kline-Millard, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH

Make Me” by Lee Child
“Jack Reacher is back. Jack gets off a train at an isolated town. Soon, he is learning much more about the town, and its residents are learning not to mess around with Jack Reacher. Readers new to this series will find this book a good starting point, and fans will be pleased to see Jack again.” – Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA

House of Thieves” by Charles Belfoure
“Belfoure’s intriguing novel is set in Gilded Age New York City. John Cross, head of the family, finds an unexpected talent for planning robberies, while his wife and children also discover their inner criminals. The historical details and setting evoke old New York. I enjoyed every minute of their escapades.” – Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton Public Library, Groton, CT

And here is the rest of this list with links to the catalog for your holds-placing pleasure.

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Final Gift Card Winner Announced

August 19, 2015

TrophyCongratulations to Michelle from Columbia on winning our ninth and final Adult Summer Reading 2015 prize drawing. She is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

That wraps up our Adult Summer Reading program for this year. If you didn’t win a prize, we hope you will try again next year. A big thank you to everyone who signed up and submitted book reviews. Make sure to come back to DBRL Next to see what other patrons have recommended. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming One Read program. This year’s selection is “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Jesse Ball

August 17, 2015

Book cover for a Cure for Suicide by Jesse BallWhile making for the nearest suitable reading cubby, I hold my chosen novel aloft as a means of recommending it without the need for electricity or wires (though, to be fair, I often employ a complicated series of large wires and pulleys to ease the burden of its weight upon my musculature and indeed have been researching the possibility of adding an electric motor to my contraption). This month’s recommendation did cause me some consternation, though. Fine book though it is, “A Cure for Suicide” is a title apt to raise eyebrows among those that don’t wish to see you dead. I bypassed this conundrum by merely regularly exclaiming, “Fear not for my well-being – this is a novel. I do not intend to curtail my glorious traversal through this magnificent existence!” My calls, in addition to allaying concerns and dispelling confusion as to why such a distinguished gentleman might consider cutting short his glorious traversals, earned me wide, respectful berths, providing me expedited arrival to the nearest cozy chair or nest of pillows and wigs (wigs are soft) that I’ve secreted around town so that I might recline comfortably with my reading material.

Onlookers’ dismay aside, reading Jesse Ball’s newest novel was a pleasure. Not only was it a fancy book, indicated clearly by the significant amount of blank space between most of the paragraphs, but it was also good. And that blank space wasn’t just indicative of fanciness and the author’s and publisher’s contempt for trees but was actually a useful style choice that emphasized the elegiac tone of the work and its fable-like qualities.  And, as time passes, this novel continues to provide fodder for my mind monkeys to vigorously pull their various levers and add coal to their various furnaces. (Editor’s note: this book made the gentleman think.)

The premise is: a man, known initially only as the “claimant,” awakens with no memories. His “examiner” is at his side. Her task: to teach him the names of objects, how to interact with people and generally how to exist. We watch the claimant improve and regress and some twisty psychological drama enters the stage: there are injections, creepily idyllic villages and villagers, the claimant goes to sleep in one house and village and wakes up in a different house and village, etc. There is a great deal of discussion about the “whys” of things, sure to please the philosophy buffs that, as I understand it, make up much of our modern civilization. Then we come to perhaps the novel’s best section, the one that explains why our claimant is here, why he was driven to spoiler alert seek a cure for suicide. This relatively lengthy chapter foregoes the lovely blank space that dominates the rest of the novel, the better with which to gently bludgeon you with heartbreak. Later we return to the previous format and tone and are left with a doozy of a closing section and a complex query that might have the reader lingering in their nest of pillows and wigs, contemplating several facets of existence while they conceal the title from onlookers (as the reader is too deep in thought to be capable of calling out an explanation for the title of the work they hold, and so must hide it to ensure no one is concerned for their well-being).

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Reader Review: Saga

August 14, 2015

Book cover for Saga, Volume IA fun, sprawling sci-fi comic book series about a forbidden love between children of two warring factions. The story is told using the humorous voice of the two lovers’ (not yet born) daughter. A heavy dose of humor, fantasy, violence and a little more nudity than necessary makes up this series. The universe in which the story is set contains some very imaginative characters, alien races, technologies and socio-political structure. It is probably the most entertaining fictional universe I have encountered since Star Wars. The story itself is ok, but the characters that fit into the story are the best part. My favorite pair of characters is a bounty hunter and his pet that looks like a lion, hired to track down these forbidden lovers. The cat has a special power where it is compelled to purr the word “lyyyyying” whenever someone is not telling the truth. This, among other quirks, keeps the reader on their toes while the story takes tremendous twists and turns. Note, the story is not finished yet, but at least the first four volumes are available from the DBRL.

Three words that describe this book: Cosmic, imaginitive, humorous

You might want to pick this book up if:

  • You are ok with HBO-type mature themes.
  • You enjoy large space operas with fun new universes.
  • You want to see one of the most exciting new comics currently out there.
  • You are ok with not having the complete story available yet, as new issues are still being created.

-Kevin

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Cooking With Kids

August 13, 2015

Photo of child's hands mixing doughSmall children are naturally curious about what goes on around them, and this extends to what is going on in their kitchens at home. After all, they see their parents make what may seem mysterious efforts to prepare meals and snacks, as they orchestrate over counters, the stove and in the oven. Most wee ones get started in the kitchen when they crawl to a lower cabinet door and pull out pots and pans with which to play. (I believe this is where their first music lessons happen as well – bang, bang, bang!) I know my two boys spent plenty of happy time on the kitchen floor with pots, wooden spoons and measuring cups, to name a few of the culinary tools they got to try early on.

Book cover for Pretend Soup by Mollie KatzenFour or five years of age is not too young to allow children into the kitchen to help out in some capacity, even if it’s just mixing pancake batter in a bowl or adding sugar to hot chocolate. There are benefits to children helping in the kitchen, beyond the reward of preparing and eating their own meals. My mother gifted us “Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes, delightfully written and illustrated by Molly Katzen, when my boys were early elementary school age. It provided a pleasant entrée into the world of cooking together as a family. Favorite recipes were: Green Spaghetti (can you guess what makes it green?), Carrot Pennies and Hide and Seek Muffins. Here at your library there is a wide assortment of cookbooks calibrated for young chefs at various age levels with adult supervision factored in, so check them out if you’re in the need of a little inspiration. And there’s even a cookbook that lines up with our summer reading theme of superheroes: “The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook” by Matthew Mead.

As kids grow up they can take on more complicated cooking tasks. When my boys were in junior high they began planning dinner menus (yes, with prodding from me but they seemed very interested) so they could have more say-so in what appeared on the dinner table. It was gratifying to see them ratchet up their culinary skill levels. Planning to be relaxed and not in a hurry while supervising their efforts made for better family-time experiences. Their recipe choices certainly livened up our eating prospects (as in this recipe for Sweet Corn Cheddar Pancakes – so delish!).

If you struggle with picky eaters, take heart. That challenge has been addressed, and here are some cookbooks to help. We want our children to enjoy their food and to be well-nourished by it and then, once they are on their own, to be inspired to provide well-prepared and nutritious foods for themselves.

Bon appetit!

 

Photos used via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Reader Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

August 11, 2015

Book cover for the Little Paris BookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop” is about the book seller, Jean Perdu, who sells only the correct books to his customers at his literary pharmacy. (This is a book shop on a barge on the Seine River in Paris.) Monsieur Perdu is able to “transperceive” each of his customers (and others) to prescribe the correct book to fix what ails them. He generously gives books away, but he is equally stern in refusing to sell the wrong book to a particular client. Success in his work life is juxtaposed against the anguish, loneliness and pain in his private life resulting from a severely unmendable broken heart. The mood is magical, the characters profound, the sensual presentation of the story causes one’s heart to move along the story line as if it were on a roller coaster. To accompany Jean Perdu on his life journey is a sublime experience.

Being a translation from French, I want to brush up on my French and read it in the original language because I cannot imagine how it could possibly be better than this marvelous translation. I am not sure how to do it, but this book would be a perfect candidate to nominate for a future One Read! Yes, I liked it!

Three words that describe this book: patient, tragic, literature

You might want to pick this book up if: you want to read an amazing book, you like books set in France or foreign countries, or you have known the power of a certain book on your life.

-Pam

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Staff Book Review: Traitor’s Blade

August 10, 2015

Book cover for Traitor's BladeTraitor’s Bladeby Sebastien De Castell

Why I Checked It Out: Three best friends, roaming the kingdom, looking for justice and purpose? With swords? I’m in.

What It’s About: In the European-esque, medieval setting, the Greatcoats greatly resemble Jedi Knights. These men and women are skilled warriors, but they are more concerned with upholding the King’s Law and keeping peace among all the ambitious dukes and duchesses of the land. Or at least they were, until the death of the King and the end of his enlightened law.

Now Falcio, Kest, Brasti and the rest of the Greatcoats are disgraced and scattered, taking what work they can and struggling to finish the enigmatic final tasks left to them by the King.

Why I Recommend It: I read this book in a day. And then I could not start another book because I was convinced nothing would be as good.

The story begins by launching the reader directly into the action and never really lets up.  The reader learns of the rise of the King, the formation of the Greatcoats and their subsequent fall, all through flashbacks that span the entirely of the book. These flashbacks are well-timed and an excellent device. By the time you learn how the King died, you care for him as much as Falcio did, and his loss is all the more heartbreaking.

While there is plenty of death and loss in “Traitor’s Blade,” and Falcio and the others have definitely been shaped by tragedy, the book is not dark. De Castell has crafted a fun read, filled with smart humor and likeable characters. There are intricate political intrigues and swashbuckling adventures. The action scenes are incredibly descriptive, owing to the author’s training as a fight choreographer.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure with well-rounded characters and hint of magic, I cannot recommend this book enough.

Warning:  This is the first book in a quartet, but luckily for us all, the second book is already out.

What To Read Next:

Theft of Swords” by Michael J. Sullivan

The Three Musketeers” by Alexander Dumas

Storm Front” by Jim Butcher

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Eighth Summer Reading Gift Card Winner!

August 8, 2015

TrophyCongratulations to Jessica C., a Columbia patron, for winning our eighth Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble.

There is only one more drawing left this summer, so keep your fingers crossed. You can still submit book reviews  to increase your chances of winning.

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Take a Hike: Books About Long Walks

August 7, 2015

Book cover for A Walk in the Woods by Billy BrysonIn 2014, Reese Witherspoon starred in the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” her memoir of self-discovery and survival as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. This September, another movie about a long walk – this time along the Appalachian Trail – hits the big screen. “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson is a laugh-out-loud misadventure but also manages to share the trail’s history and argue eloquently for the preservation of our undeveloped forests, trails and parks. Read this funny travelogue before seeing the film this fall.

Want more books about long walks? Read on.

Book cover for Happiness for BeginnersHappiness for Beginners” by Katherine Center
This fast-paced charmer follows newly divorced 32-year-old Helen who signs up for a wilderness survival course, thinking it will propel her out of her rut. Never mind that she isn’t really athletic or outdoorsy. Then she learns that her younger brother’s best friend Jake will also be a part of this group spending three weeks in the mountains of Wyoming, and her hopes of finding herself by herself evaporate. Snappy dialogue, an entertaining cast of characters and sparks of romance make the hike through this book a quick and enjoyable one.

Book cover for Grandma Gatewood's WalkGrandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail” by Ben Montgomery
Think all grandmas spend their time baking cookies, golfing or playing bridge? Think again. Emma Gatewood, at the age of 67, hiked the Appalachian Trail. And then she did it twice more. Journalist Montgomery creates a detailed portrait of of Gatewood, her difficult and abusive marriage, and the attention her hikes brought to a system of trails in great need of care and maintenance.

Book cover for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce
Harold Fry receives a letter from a former coworker and friend named Queenie, informing him that she is dying of cancer. Harold writes Queenie a response and begins walking to the mailbox to send his letter. But then he passes up the first mailbox and walks toward the next. He keeps walking. He reflects on his troubled past and the shaky state of his marriage, and falls into a bit of magical thinking – perhaps if he delivers this letter to Queenie in person he can save her. Thus begins his journey of nearly 600 miles and this quirky, moving novel.

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Reader Review: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas

August 6, 2015

Book cover for 2 am at the cats pajamas2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” follows several characters over the course of 24 hours. As the night ends they all end up at a local Jazz club called The Cats Pajamas! This is one of those books that I might have to go back and read closer to pick up things I have missed. It followed several characters in the course of a day/night and how all their lives connect. A quick read and interesting story. I am still not sure about one part of the ending, but I liked the book overall.

Three words that describe this book: charming, hope, loss

You might want to pick this book up if: If you enjoy the movie, “Love Actually,” you will like this book. If you like characters that are flawed and believable, you will like this book.

-Michelle

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Genealogy Tips, Programs and How-to Books at Your Library

August 5, 2015

Book cover for Finding Your RootsNew to researching your family’s history? The Daniel Boone Regional Library is a great place to start, especially if you would like some in-person guidance. If you pick up one of our current program guides, check the index for our genealogy classes, or check the schedule online. You’ll find current programs and drop-in help sessions to make your family tree grow! Besides programs, we have two online databases we’ve previously recommended on this blog – Heritage Quest and Ancestry Library Edition. And we have a reference collection containing all kinds of local history as well as genealogy how-to books.

If your ancestors were local to this area, we have lots of great books of interest, from county and city histories and maps to extractions of marriage records and cemetery records. We also have a complete run of the Columbia Daily Tribune on microfilm at our Columbia location that you can access to get an obituary, marriage announcement or even a family reunion article.

In our circulating collection we have several how-to books you can check out and take home. Two of my favorite genealogy handbooks are: “The Source” and “The Handybook for Genealogists.” “The Source” provides excellent information about the types of records that you will find in your genealogical research of your American ancestry. Besides showing examples of these documents, the back of the book is loaded with names of libraries, archives and repositories that hold all kinds of records you might use to document the lives of your ancestors! “The Handybook for Genealogists” is a great guide that will help you learn about the various counties, their boundaries and when their records begin and how to access them. A whole section on maps – including migration patterns, trails and boundary lines – is also a part of this great reference book.

If you like to do your research online, or if you need to find documents and records from other states, see our genealogy subject guide – it has links to beginners’ guides, sources for vital records, cemetery records, immigration records and more.

So whether you want to come browse our reference collection and check out some how-to books or learn about online resources, we’ve got you covered! Who knows, maybe you will find the hero in your family tree!

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Reader Review: Still Life

August 4, 2015

Book cover for Still Life by Louise PennyStill Life” by Louise Penny introduces Chief Inspector Gamache. There is a death in the small rural village of Three Pines near Montreal in Canada. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate what was originally thought to be a hunting accident resulting in the death of an elderly school teacher who was loved by all of the villagers. The plot unfolds to actually be a murder investigation with many twists and turns. The key appears to be in the painting done by the victim, and Inspector Gamache has to figure it out.

Three words that describe this book: Intriguing, captivating, interesting.

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy mysteries and like to try to figure it out as you read!

-Linda

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Seventh Summer Reading Gift Card Winner!

August 3, 2015

TrophyCongratulations to Monielle, a Fulton patron, for winning our seventh Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Well Read books.

We have just two more drawings left this summer, so keep your fingers crossed. You can still submit book reviews  to increase your chances of winning.

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Tech for Teachers, Free @ DBRL

July 31, 2015

My librarian pal Hilary and I just had the pleasure of presenting to groups of area teachers, letting them know all about the free online learning tools for the kids they teach, as well as for their own professional development. The boatload of incredible information available to you if you have a library card and Internet access is pretty amazing. Here is just a handful of the online tools you should be using.

Lynda.com logoEducation and Elearning tools from Lynda.com
Want to take a course in deploying 1:1 iPads in the classroom? How about project-based learning or flipped classrooms? Need to get up to speed on a certain software, like Blackboard, Excel, Keynote or PowerPoint? These and so, so many more courses are available from Lynda.com. Your students can take courses, too, on topics like basic code-writing skills, time management, information literacy and research paper writing.

Learning Express Library logoTest preparation with LearningExpress Library
SAT, ACT, TOEFL, AP Exams, GRE, HiSET – prepare for these tests and more with up-to-date courses and practice tests. LearningExpress has career help as well, with prep for occupational exams (Praxis, Civil Service, EMT Certification) and skills building courses (business writing, popular Microsoft software). 

Transparent Language OnlineLanguage learning and ESL help from Transparent Language Online
Transparent Language Online provides an effective experience for learners of all levels looking to build their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in a foreign language. This learning program provides courses and supplemental resources for over 95 languages, including English as a Second Language (ESL) materials for native speakers of 26 languages.

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