Next Book Buzz
The 2013 One Read book is “The Ruins of Us” by local author Keija Parssinen! Each year as part of this community-wide reading program, the public helps choose a single book that we then invite everyone to read. Pick up your copy today, and join us in September to explore the novel’s themes through discussions, art, film, presentations and more. Sign up to let the library know you are reading “The Ruins of Us,” and you will be entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of the book.
To learn more about this gripping and well-crafted novel, visit www.oneread.org.
Welcome to the first installment of THE GENTLEMAN RECOMMENDS. This series is intended to get people (especially gentlemen) excited about the books/authors/eating-contests I’m excited about. I’m an ideal person to represent and recommend things to gentlemen and I’ll prove it: in the last hour alone I’ve: 1) removed my trousers and draped them over a puddle so that a particularly well-coiffed golden retriever could avoid soiling her paws, 2) not sneezed into anyone’s face and 3) responded with the gentlemanly phrase “No, thank you” when asked to please put some pants on. Credentials established.
I can think of no better inaugural recommendation than pizza, but, after that, I think George Saunders is pretty spiffy. Not only is he a Great Writer, but reading everything about the fellow I could find convinced me he’s one of this world’s premier gentlemen. Mr. Saunders’ short stories have been sending readers raving since 1996 with the publication of “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” but this year the adoration has skyrocketed, beginning in January with a lengthy profile published in some magazine claiming that Saunders has written the best book you’ll read this year and culminating in May with a much briefer, if more prestigious, post from what may very well be the greatest blog in the world.
Readers love George Saunders because he slakes our thirst for stories in which sword-wielding tortilla chips decapitate the elderly or the corpse of a previously chaste aunt reanimates and advises her nephew that he should be showing more skin at his stripper-waiter job because that’s how you make the big bucks. But he isn’t loved just because he’s a master of stories that make curmudgeons’ eyes roll when they hear a terribly reductive description of them. He does what great writers do: write with huge-hearted empathy and humor about toe-less barbers or theme park exhibits or dystopian-reality-show contestants or tortilla chips, and he does so in voices that describe their perspectives perfectly.
If you’re more in the mood for nonfiction, Saunders writes essays that will make you chuckle and maybe improve your person. His collection, The Braindead Megaphone, is hard to put down and full of beautifully rendered wisdom like the lines that close the profile linked above and which I will reprint here because they should be reprinted everywhere:
“Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
So, after you read some George Saunders and try some pizza, I hope you’ll join the pants-loving cashier at my local gas store in attesting: I’m the perfect gentleman to recommend stuff, and, also, I smell nice.
“The Time Machine“ by H. G. Wells is a classic example of speculative fiction and has led some sci-fi fans to call Wells the father of steampunk. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fast-growing science fiction sub-genre, it is, in short, Victorian alternative history. (Books in this genre also typically contain a lot of clockwork, goggles, airships and advanced technologies based on outdated power sources.) I’d say a scientist who builds a coal-powered bronze machine to fling himself from the 19th century to the year 802,701 A.D. is pretty alternative! This steampunk precursor is a great first step if you are thinking about exploring the genre; it’s short, but it reveals the potential of books written in this vein.
“The Time Machine“ centers around a genius on a quest for answers about the future of mankind. He is a man possessed by his desire to be a legend in his own time, to boldly go where no man has dared to go before, but he winds up experiencing much more than he bargained for.
H. G. Wells is a great plot writer. Every chapter holds something new to develop the characters further and to thrust the reader deeper into the tale of earth’s possible future. From the eerily calm story of the Eloi people to the lurking dangers of the unseen and hungry under-worlders, the Morlocks, Wells’ tale will keep you fascinated with the sickening possibilities of where humanity may be headed.
I highly recommend the album “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” by Darren Hayes as background music for your journey. You may know Hayes from his pop career in the ’90s as front man for Savage Garden. In this album, Hayes explores the time machine as a concept to tell the story of his jaded past, using divine lyrics and super-sonic tones.
Mother’s Day is nearly here! Flowers and breakfast in bed are nice, but for the ladies in your life who would rather escape with a good read, I have some recommendations. The mother-child relationship provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploring topics like gratitude, trust, love, the ways we communicate (or don’t) and what it means to be a family. Some of these books are funny and irreverent. Others are thoughtful and heartfelt. Some are both. Whatever her taste, I think you’ll find something on this list a mom would be grateful to receive.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Yes, the fact that this book centers around a mom who is dying of pancreatic cancer makes it a tricky gift book. However, the main themes that shine through are ultimately uplifting. Books allowed Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Ann, to talk about difficult issues, big questions and draw closer to one another. The loving portrait Schwalbe paints of his extraordinary mother shows the importance of a well-read life and the ability of books to make us more empathetic people, willing to do good work in the world.
“Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center
Center’s books have a reputation for being populated by characters that feel real, women and circumstances you recognize from your own life. Lanie, a mother of three small boys, moves with her family across the country so her husband can attend graduate school. She begins to feel a bit lost in her own life and launches a campaign to find who she is besides someone’s wife and someone’s mother. Center’s sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, but always spot-on descriptions of managing the chaos that comes with parenting small children will have moms nodding in recognition.
“Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos
Vardalos, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame, suffered through years of fertility treatments before she and her husband adopted a preschooler from the foster care system. Funny and surprisingly informative, the book includes an appendix of questions and answers about adoption.
“Then Again” by Diane Keaton
Confession: I love the movie “Annie Hall,” particularly because of Diane Keaton’s portrayal of the title character. I found her seeking, goofy, naive and insecure self so likable. In Keaton’s memoir “Then Again,” the story of her rise from an everyday girl to a famous actress is coupled with an exploration of her defining relationship with her mother and how their shared and separate dreams influenced their experiences. What emerges is a thoughtful meditation on how the family we come from shapes our relationships with our own children.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
This offbeat work of fiction centers around teenage Bee, daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and architect Bernadette Fox. Bernadette is notorious, volatile, troubled, agoraphobic and suddenly missing. The precocious Bee begins an investigation that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her mother. A witty and completely unique mother-daughter romp.
What books do you think are best bets for mom? Let us know in the comments!
Fiction portraying characters with a mental illness can increase a reader’s understanding of what it might be like to live with depression, anxiety or other disabilities. That understanding can create compassion. For a person living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness, reading about people like themselves can also bring comfort and hope.
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky follows 10th-grader Charlie as he deals with both anxiety and depression in this coming-of-age novel.
- “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” by Juliann Garey portrays Greyson Todd, a high-flying movie executive struggling with bi-polar disorder.
- “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon is an inventive novel told in the voice of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic math genius.
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey is narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, and explores the mistreatment of patients with mental illness.
- “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb explores the conflicted relationship between twin brothers, one of whom suffers from schizophrenia.
- Ron McLarty’s ”The Memory of Running,” a novel of loss and redemption, portrays characters suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia.
- “72 Hour Hold” by Bebe Moore Campbell tells the powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter’s bipolar disorder.
- Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” follows Esther Greenwood as she descends into depression and contemplates suicide while interning at a New York City magazine.
- “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini is a humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.
Have there been books that have helped you gain greater understanding of mental illness? Please share them in the comments.
I don’t know about you, but I can smell summer vacation from here. I’ve already started a “vacation books” list in the library’s catalog where I’m stashing links to all of those titles I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’ll have time to read during my family’s upcoming road trip. Chances are I will actually be spending my hours in the car distributing snacks and breaking up my kids’ backseat squabbles. Hmm. Maybe I should focus on audiobooks…
Most of us read a little differently in the summer. Usually you can find me with my nose in a work of literary fiction, but during the summer I want faster reads. Fun reads. Thrillers often fit this bill.
- Our Staff Picks book lists in the library catalog are great sources for recommended reads. Check out our Suspense & Thriller picks.
- One of the most popular thrillers last year was Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” If you read it and are looking for something similar, try one of our read-alike recommendations.
- Browse one of our databases like Books & Authors or Novelist, both of which have tools for finding books by genre and for generating recommendations based on books or authors you already know and love.
What’s on your reading list for the summer? Let us know in the comments!
Who says Armageddon has to be upsetting? If you have the right set of writers, it can be hilarious! Famous fantasy authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett teamed up to write ”Good Omens,” an intricate and entertaining novel about an angel and a demon that try to prevent the end of the world.
The book plays mainly on a collection of common human errors. The best laid plans can go awry, even if those plans are put in place by Heaven and Hell alike. Prophets get can misdirected, and all the witch hunting training in the world can’t prepare you for love at first sight. Miscommunication can cause mishaps like being pummeled by nuns with paintball guns, and assumptions can cause one to misplace the Antichrist.
But most of all, no matter how powerful you are, you can’t fight the determination of a child’s desire to stay a child. The character Adam represents the idea of nostalgia being unbound by time. Adam is the Antichrist, whether he knows it or not, but instead of doing something boring like bringing about Armageddon, he’d rather just play pretend with his three best friends. The book leaves you with the sense that even though everything may look bleak to you, it looks wonderful to a child. Isn’t that the way we should look at things? With curiosity and the confidence that we can, no matter what, overcome hardship? And with the excitement that anything could happen next? The only thing you should really ever prepare for is to have an adventure.
I picked “The Rock Hole” off the New Mysteries shelf entirely because of the author’s name. I just knew “Reavis Z. Wortham” had to be an old country boy who could tell a good tale.
And by golly, I was right. Wortham’s debut novel is simultaneously a charming portrait of small-town life in rural 1960s Texas and a dark and gruesome murder mystery.
On page one we’re introduced to Top, the 8-year-old narrator, as he steps off a Greyhound bus into the welcoming arms of his grandpa Ned and grandma Becky. Minutes after this heartwarming scene, Top and his grandpa (who also happens to be the constable of Lamar County, Texas), are in a cornfield staring at the body of a sadistically mutilated hunting dog.
And that’s how the book goes. Sometimes the story is pure Mayberry, with Top roaming the East Texas countryside with his hound dog Hootie, eating Miss Becky’s fried peach pies and hanging around his adored Uncle Cody, a Vietnam vet and rodeo rider. Then suddenly, Hell’s portals open wide: a madman known as the Skinner has struck again.
As the Skinner progresses from animal to human prey (and we’re talking children here), I found myself taking refuge in the story’s many lighthearted moments. Wortham is very good at down-home dialect and country characters (he grew up in a small Texas town), and there’s quite a bit of both to lighten the mood—which you will surely appreciate.
So, if you can take the psychological roller-coaster ride and some disturbing violence, “The Rock Hole” makes a solidly entertaining read. Perhaps not at bedtime, though.
Funeral services were held this week for Roger Ebert, journalist, film critic and extraordinary human being. In spite of physical challenges, including a battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer that eventually left him unable to talk or eat, Ebert continued to review and tirelessly promote films, believing that, as his friend Michael Barker put it, “movies can explain the complexity of the world to us AND can also show us who we are as individual human beings.”
Even though he couldn’t physically speak, Ebert’s written voice was strong until the end. His writing was smart, insightful and intellectual without being stuffy. And you can’t help but admire a man who proclaims, “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do…We must try to contribute joy to the world.”
This sentiment comes from Ebert’s 2011 memoir, “Life Itself,” a moving portrait of his childhood, career and those personal relationships that affected him most deeply. Check out this book as well as other collections of this Pulitzer Prize-winner’s writings.
If you have not watched the television show “Supernatural,” then give yourself a treat: get your hands on the first seven seasons, lock yourself away in your room and don’t emerge until you’ve enjoyed all 100+ hours of monster-chasing and ghost-hunting. If you have seen this show and want more, more, more, the library has books filled with new stories.
“Fresh Meat” by Alice Henderson follows brothers Sam and Dean and their fellow monster-hunter Bobby to the Tahoe National Forest to investigate possible zombie attacks. But what will kill them first: the monsters or the approaching blizzard? Also available:
- “Rite of Passage” and “Night Terror” by John Passarella
- “Coyote’s Kiss” by Christa Faust
- “One Year Gone” by Rebecca Dessertine.
Sometimes in television, ideas for episodes end up on the cutting room floor for various reasons, like lack of resources or lack of room in the schedule. But these ideas don’t just go away. Often they’re passed off to other writers who translate the ideas into novel form, creating pages and pages of new episodes of your favorite shows! Writers have created books based on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “The X-Files,” and even “Doctor Who.”
If you’re anything like me, it’s tragic when you lose a television show, and all you want to do is curl up in a ball and weep for the loss of your fallen characters. But these books provide a sense of promise, a tiny comfort that whispers, “Wait! There’s more!” DBRL carries:
Books based on “The X-files”
Books based on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”
- “The Book of Fours” and “Heat” by Nancy Holder
- “Pretty Maids All In A Row” by Christopher Golden
- “Coyote Moon” by John Vornholt
Books based on “Doctor Who”
- “The Jade Prymaid: The Gemini Contagion” by Martin Day
- “The Wheel Of Ice” by Stephen Baxter
- “Shada: The Lost Adventure” by Douglas Adams (that’s right – THE Douglas Adams)
- “Dead Of Winter” by James Goss
- “The Coming Of The Terraphiles, Or, Pirates Of The Second Aether” by Michael Moorcock
And don’t forget about books that have inspired television shows, like Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series on which the show “Bones” is based.
80 years ago this March, the original 1933 film “King Kong” debuted at Radio City in New York. I’ve recently had the pleasure of checking out and listening to the audiobook “Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong” by Joe Devito and Brad Strickland, an expansion of Cooper’s original story. This audiobook is different from many others in that each character is voiced by a different actor. Instead of hearing a single reader throughout the adventure, you have a soft, gentle voice of a woman speaking Ann Darrow’s lines (and screaming them) and a rough, no-nonsense sailor as Jack Driscoll. There’s even music and sound added for effect! Listening to this audiobook is like experiencing an old-fashioned radio drama.
And man! Talk about a story! There have been not one, not two, but three movies based on this fantastic adventure tale, retold through the lens of the times. From the original by Merian C. Cooper himself in 1933 to Peter Jackson’s period piece in 2005, each retelling has everything from love and terror to, finally, destruction.
Here are a few things you might not know about King Kong. Kong is often depicted as a huge gorilla, but in the original story (as adapted by authors Joe Devito and Brad Strickland in this audiobook), Kong is really a primal giant! He is described as something beyond beast but before man and just as vulnerable to beauty as any creature. The descriptions in the book lend themselves to paint Kong as something of a missing link between man and ape, which is probably why the movie producers took the particular liberties that they did. Also, Kong can be read as a metaphor for slavery. White men come to a remote island, capture Kong and bring him to America chained at the bottom of the boat.
Not all mystery-lovers want blood and gore, thank you very much. Some of us prefer to follow amateur detectives relying more on wits than weapons and look for books written in the style of Agatha Christie. An organization called Malice Domestic bestows Agatha Awards each year to the best mysteries published in the United States that contain no explicit sex or gratuitous violence. If you are looking for a good traditional mystery, each year’s list of nominations is a great place to start. Below are this year’s nominees for best novel. The 2012 winners will be announced at an awards banquet on May 4, 2013.
- “The Diva Digs up the Dirt” by Krista Davis
- “A Fatal Winter” by G.M. Malliet
- “The Buzzard Table” by Margaret Maron
- “The Beautiful Mystery” by Louise Penny
- “The Other Woman” by Hank Phillippi Ryan
March is Women’s History Month, and this year we are honoring the generations of female scientists, mathematicians, and engineers whose passion for the advancement of human knowledge changed the way we understand the natural world. Whatever your gifts, the stories of these intrepid women are certain to make you appreciate living in a world that allows you to develop them in ways your great-grandmother might never have thought possible.
In my nerdier moments, I’ve often dreamed of hobnobbing with the great minds of the twentieth century, instigating feuds and ruffling feathers (“Pardon me, Lord Russell, but there appears to be a slight problem with your Principles of Mathematics…”). So I was excited to discover “I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science,” the story of a woman who, in many ways, lived just that dream, studying at Cambridge and Oxford and making significant contributions to fields from philosophy to protein structure. Marjorie Senechal paints a compelling portrait of this fascinating and influential woman whose “life was her work, [and] her work her life.”
We’ve all heard of Marie Curie, the pioneering physicist whose research on radioactivity remains relevant to this day. What you may not have known was that Curie had two daughters, Eve and Irene, who followed in their mother’s iconoclastic footsteps. (Eve became a foreign correspondent and humanitarian, and Irene played an important role in the discovery of nuclear fission.) In “Marie Curie and Her Daughters,” Shelley Emling tells the story of this extraordinary family, especially Curie’s struggles against sexism and xenophobia and the aftereffects of her long-term exposure to radiation. Inspiring and moving, this book is sure to secure Curie’s place in your pantheon of personal heroes.
In “Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists about Race, Gender, and Their Passion for Science,” Diann Jordan, a scientist herself, interviews 18 prominent black women scientists to learn about their experiences. Some of the women include Shirley Ann Jackson, the first black woman to earn a doctorate in theoretical physics and the first black woman to head the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Lynda M. Jordan, who rose from a housing project outside of Boston to become a professor of chemistry; and Jennie R. Patrick, one of the first students to integrate her Alabama high school, who was the first black woman to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering in the United States.
Reading their stories, and those of the Curie family and Dorothy Wrinch, I was struck by how important it is to use our gifts and abilities in order to become who we were meant to be. Through hard work, the women in these books found their place in the scientific community and in the world. We would be much the worse if not for their courage and dedication to the pursuit of knowledge.
Read more about Women’s History Month and local events celebrating the achievements of women in science by visiting the library’s subject guide.
The lives of the rich and famous hold great fascination for us regular folks. Yes, I love to watch the movie stars on the red carpet and critique gowns and suits. When it comes to books, I sometimes take similar pleasure in learning about the lives of celebrities. However, I’m not looking for a gossipy tell-all or dishy memoir. (Real Housewife Brandi Glanville’s “Drinking and Tweeting” is not on my to-read list.) I lean toward fictional portraits of past greats – writers, artists, scientists – and the lives of people around them. Apparently I am not alone, as books like “The Aviator’s Wife” shoot up the bestseller lists. In this historical fiction, author Melanie Benjamin portrays Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of pilot Charles Lindbergh, who was also a talented pilot in her own right. Place a hold on this book, and then make your wait more enjoyable by picking up one of these other fictional works based on intriguing and extraordinary women in history.
“Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb” by Melanie Benjamin (2011)
Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump, the nineteenth century little person and wife of Gen. Tom Thumb, tells her life story in this spirited fictionalized autobiography. Vinnie comes of age in the antebellum south before being invited to join the P. T. Barnum circus. This is an entertaining book, full of Americana and offering up plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at show business.
“Girl in a Blue Dress” by Gaynor Arnold (2008)
Subtitled, “A Novel Inspired by the Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens,” Arnold’s book begins with the widowed Dorthea reflecting on her marriage to and separation from author husband Alfred Gibson (read: Charles Dickens). ”From very early on in our marriage it seemed as though I could possess only what the world had left behind—the cuffs and coattails of his existence.” Told in a series of flashbacks, her tale explores motherhood, marriage and the effects of celebrity in Victorian England.
“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan (2007)
The Frank of the title is Frank Lloyd Wright, who in 1904 designs a house for Edwin and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, an upstanding young couple in Oakpark, Illinois. The public is scandalized when Wright and Mamah then leave their families to live together in Europe. There Mamah is exposed to feminist ideas about the confining role of women and marriage, and Frank eventually convinces her to return with him to the US to tragic end. Flawed characters, romance, and discussions of feminism and architecture make this a compelling read.
“Marrying Mozart” by Stephanie Cowell (2004)
In this literary romance, the lives of the four Weber sisters are changed by the arrival of 21-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, a young man struggling to find his place in the eighteenth-century musical world. A richly textured portrayal of this passionate musician and the women who inspired his art and captured his heart.
“The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain (2011)
Hadley Richardson meets the brash “beautiful boy” Ernest Hemingway in 1920s Chicago, and after a brief courtship, they marry and take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband’s career. Details of Jazz Age Paris and elbow-rubbing with cultural icons like Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein make an entertaining backdrop, but the focus of this well-crafted tale is the sympathetic Hadley.
What are your favorite works of historical fiction based on the lives of famous (or infamous) people? Share with us in the comments!
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!