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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2016 List

April 25, 2016

Library Reads LogoSupernatural thrillers, compelling historical fiction and a boatload of mysteries? Summer reading must be coming! Enjoy this month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing next month that librarians across the country recommend.

Britt-Marie Was Here” by Fredrik Backman
“Britt-Marie is a woman who is used to her life being organized. But when she leaves her cheating spouse and takes a temporary job as caretaker of the recreation center in the tiny town of Borg, her life changes in unpredictable ways. With its wonderful cast of oddball characters and sly sense of humor, this novel is sure to capture readers’ hearts. Highly recommended.” – Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA

Book cover for The Fireman by Joe HillThe Fireman” by Joe Hill
“’The Fireman’ is a novel that will keep you up reading all night. No one really knows where the deadly Dragonscale spore originated but many theories abound. The most likely is that as the planet heats up, the spore is released into the atmosphere. Harper Willowes is a young, pregnant nurse who risks her own health to tend to others.This is her story and I loved it! This is one of the most creative takes on apocalyptic literature that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended for all Hill and King fans.” – Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven” by Chris Cleave
“Set during World War II and loosely based on the author’s own grandparents, this was a strikingly honest look at the changes that war creates on a country’s landscape and its people. These changes were so strongly shown by the progressive style of this novel. Bit by bit, we are privy to each character’s transformation. What a great tribute to what they endured. War gives birth to many endings, also to many beginnings. Bittersweet.” – Lori Elliott, Kershaw County Library, SC

Here’s the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure:

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The May 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

400 Years Gone, Shakespeare Continues to Inspire

April 20, 2016

 Verily, A New Hope“Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears.” Thus speaketh Luke Skywalker during a rousing oratory in “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.”

400 years after his death, on April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare continues to inspire new generations of writers. Arguably, everyone writing in English has been influenced by him, as he added so many new words and expressions to the language. Many authors have penned books in direct homage to his work.

Ian Doescher, for instance, has rendered the first six “Star Wars” movies into stories written in Shakespearean style. Iambic pentameter has never been more exciting. Action sequences are narrated by a chorus. Just as in the movies, many of the best lines go to C-3PO. “Fear has put its grip into my wires,” the droid laments. Each volume is a quick read and faithful to the related film’s plot.

Book cover for A Thousand Acres by Jane SmileyA Thousand Acres” by Jane Smiley, is a late twentieth-century retelling of “King Lear.” Smiley’s tale is set on an Iowa farm, where Larry Cook has decided to divide his estate among his three daughters. The story is told from the point of view of Cook’s oldest daughter, Ginny. Unlike Lear’s oldest, Ginny is a sympathetic, mostly non-treacherous character (with the exception of one notable episode.) But much like Lear, Larry seems to be losing his mind, perhaps to dementia, perhaps to long-held guilt. “A Thousand Acres” won multiple awards, including the 1992 Pulitzer Prize.

Any guesses as to which Shakespeare play inspired Matt Haig’s 2007 novel, “The Dead Father’s Club”? 11-year-old Phillip’s father recently died in a car accident. Or was it murder, as his dad’s ghost claims? Phillip is tasked with the job of exacting revenge against his uncle, who appears to be making moves on both Philip’s mom and the family business, a pub called the Castle and Falcon. Sounds a lot like “Hamlet” to me. Except contemporary, funny and — if possible — even more tragic in some ways.

Book cover for The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter PalmerIn “The Dream of Perpetual Motion,” Dexter C. Palmer presents a steampunk version of “The Tempest.” Like Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s play, Harry Winslow finds himself stranded with a character named Miranda. But instead of a desert island, the setting is a perpetually orbiting zeppelin. The zeppelin has been designed by Miranda’s father, Prospero Taligent, who mirrors Shakespeare’s Prospero in his possession of abilities beyond the ordinary, creating mechanical beasts and people to do his bidding.

Shouldst thou further wish to pursue literature inspired by the Bard of Avon, look to the reading list contained in yon catalog.

The post 400 Years Gone, Shakespeare Continues to Inspire appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: John Wray

April 18, 2016

Book cover for The Lost Time Accidents by John WrayJohn Wray’s latest awesome novel, “The Lost Time Accidents,” begins with its narrator declaring that he has been “excused from time.” Most readers will assume that he is waiting on a tardy chauffeur or a pizza delivery, but this statement is quickly clarified: Waldy Tolliver is literally outside of time. It’s 8:47 and he’s stuck in his aunt’s apartment, a shrine to the act of hoarding. Towers of newspapers threaten to crush careless occupants, and there are rooms divided into smaller rooms via walls of books with openings only large enough to barely crawl through. But this is more than a book about a man with a lot of a lack of time on his hands being stuck in a super cool house. It’s about his family, and their obsession with time, and the Holocaust, and a fairy that visits one half of a profoundly eccentric set of twins, and physics, and pickles, and the narrator’s doomed love affair with Mrs. Haven, and his father’s prolific career as a science fiction writer, and the powerful cult that his science fiction inadvertently spawned, and whether time is a sphere and other stuff too.

(While reviews for this novel are positive, some downright glowing, there are also a few that, while admiring Wray’s ambition and skill, don’t love its length (roughly 500 pages), nonlinear structure and tendency to meander. This gentleman enjoys a good meandering, though, and Wray’s meanderings are spectacular. Without them we wouldn’t get several hilarious summaries of Waldy’s father’s science fiction or the section written in the voice of Joan Didion. Besides, Wray’s genius needs the space to unfurl. The fellow writes sentences like someone that loves doing so and also owns a top-notch brain.)

The family’s obsession with time began with Waldy’s great-grandfather, Ottokar, an amateur physicist and proprietor of a thriving pickling business. He’d figured out the nature of time just prior to being killed by an automobile. His sons, amateur physicists and heirs to a thriving pickling business, search for clues to Ottokar’s discovery, but he’s left behind little more than some ambiguous and absolutely absurdly alliterative notes. (“FOOLS FROM FUTURE’S FETID FIEFDOMS FOLLOW FREELY IN MY FOOTSTEPS” — this reader thought maybe his sons should have thought about that a little longer.)

Ottokar’s sons, Kaspar and Waldemar, take very different paths. Waldemar becomes an anti-Semite (it doesn’t help that Albert Einstein, forever referred to by the family only as “the patent clerk,” gathered the glory he felt was meant for their father) and just generally insane and evil. He eventually becomes known as “The Black Timekeeper” for his time travel-related experimentation on prisoners during the Holocaust. Waldemar believes time is a sphere, and that with enough willpower, one can transcend it. He vanishes just prior to the destruction of his concentration camp.

Kaspar’s path is loaded with love and heartbreak, continent swapping, fatherhood and eventually a lucrative career as a watchmaker. He raises a set of eccentric twins, who cultivate their own obsession with time, encouraged by the fairy that visits one of them every so often. Those twin girls raise Kaspar’s next child, Orson. Orson loves writing science fiction, and though it tends to the erotic because that’s what sells, he’s pleased to be free of his family’s obsession with time. So of course, one of his novels becomes the text that inspires a time-obsessed cult. Orson’s son, our narrator, is compelled to write the story of his family, in part to free himself from his evil uncle’s shadow. Then he gets “excused from time” and has all the time to write he could ever want. So he uses it to write a family history in the form of a very long letter to a Mrs. Haven. He begins by informing her that he has been excused from time.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: John Wray appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Memoirs Without the Noir: A Reading List

April 4, 2016

I like reading about real people — what happens to them and how they feel about their experiences. But I don’t want to read harrowing tales of survival. I want something lighter. I’ve read a number of these types of books recently that I recommend.

Book cover for Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlinSome people write about making changes in their lives:

  • In “Hammer Head: the Making of a Carpenter,” journalist Nina MacLaughlen decides she needs a change and answers an advertisement for a carpenter’s apprentice. She discovers she enjoys working with tools like a hammer, a saw and a level.
  • Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek” by Maya Van Wagenen was written for teens, but I think adults could learn from it. A middle school girl makes changes to the way she approaches people and how she presents herself to the world.
  • My Kitchen Year” by Ruth Reichl describes how the writer coped during the year following the loss of her job due to the closing of Gourmet magazine. Reichl includes recipes of the foods she cooked during this time.

Book cover for Pardon My French by Allen JohnsonSome people write about experiencing other cultures:

Then there are memoirs from people who entertain us on television or in the movies:

  • In “Wildflower,” Drew Barrymore tells about her life after she met the mentors and role models who helped her become a responsible adult.
  • In “Melissa Explains It All,” Melissa Joan Hart tells about growing up working in the acting business. She knows a lot of other celebrities and reveals some behind-the-scenes moments from “Clarissa Explains it All” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”
  • In “You’re Never Weird on the Internet,” Felicia Day tells about being homeschooled and having little interaction with her peers. The Internet was one way she could connect with people. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet also led to problems once she got older.
  • In “Bossypants” by Tina Fey and “Yes, Please” by Amy Pohler, both comedy writers use humor to relate some of their experiences.

Do you have a favorite celebrity? Maybe they’ve written a book. Need inspiration to make a change in your life? Read about other people who tried something different. And yes, we even have memoirs about surviving horrible circumstances if that’s your thing. The library has something for everyone.

The post Memoirs Without the Noir: A Reading List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

What to Read if You Have Hamilton Fever

April 1, 2016

Album cover for the Broadway musical HamiltonA hip-hop-inspired Broadway musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton seems as unlikely as Hamilton’s own historic rise. Born out of wedlock and orphaned as a young child, he struggled out of poverty and became one of our nation’s most powerful political leaders. “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” Hamilton sings in “Hamilton: An American Musical,” created by Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer, writer, lyricist, actor and all-around genius). This show is a smash hit, with even terrible seats going for hundreds of dollars. And just a couple of weeks ago President Obama hosted local students and the cast of “Hamilton” for a daylong celebration of the arts in America.

I came a little late to the “Hamilton” party, but once I heard the soundtrack this spring, I couldn’t stop listening. Or singing. Or rapping. I randomly shout “Lafayette!” or “I am not throwing away my shot!” at my kids, and they grin and dance around because, of course, they’ve heard the soundtrack multiple times by now. Mama cannot get enough. If you haven’t listened to “Hamilton” yet, and you live in Boone or Callaway County and have a library card, you can stream or download the whole thing through Hoopla. Right now! So, go ahead and take a listen. I’ll wait.

book cover for Hamilton by Ron ChernowYou back? Amazing, right? If you want to read the book that inspired this phenomenon, check out the biography “Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, which is as much a story of the birth of our nation as it is an in-depth look at George Washington’s right-hand man, author of the majority of The Federalist Papers and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

If an 800-page book is a little more than you want to commit to, how about learning more about Hamilton’s friend and Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette? Miranda has Lafayette rapping at about 100 miles an hour – in a French accent – in his musical, but Sarah Vowell makes him just as entertaining in “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.” With her signature voice and wit, Vowell discusses Lafayette’s nonpartisan influence on a fledgling United States, his relationships with the Founding Fathers and his contributions during the contentious 1824 presidential election.

If your Hamilton fever has given you the history bug, Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph J. Ellis has authored a number of lyrically written books that explore the birth of America. “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” analyzes the intertwined careers of the founders of the American republic and documents the lives of John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. The text doesn’t rhyme, though. Sorry. “American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic,” and “His Excellency: George Washington” (“Here Comes the General!”) are other works by Ellis worth exploring.

If all of this revolutionary reading only has you more excited about the musical, starting in September a travelling company will perform the show in Chicago. Road trip?

The post What to Read if You Have Hamilton Fever appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor

March 25, 2016

Book cover for My Beloved World by Sonia SotomayorAs we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many women trailblazers who changed our country and the world, the name of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, stands prominently in my mind. This is not only because she’s the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest court of the land, but also because to reach such a position, she had to overcome a lot of hardship and prejudice. In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir “My Beloved World,” which quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Born in the South Bronx to a poor Puerto Rican family, little Sonya began showing the strength of her character at the age of nine, when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and had to learn to give herself insulin shots. Despite being raised in a family that hardly spoke English, Sotomayor was an excellent student – she was her high school valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude (the highest of three special honors for grades above the average) from Princeton and, while at Yale, was editor of the Yale Law Review. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice (2009), Sotomayor held a variety of positions: a district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, a partner in a private law firm, a justice of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and, later, of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A large part of Sotomayor’s memoir is dedicated to her family – her alcoholic father, her somewhat distant mother, her domineering but loving grandmother, her brother, aunts, uncles and cousins – as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which she first visited as a child and later as an adult.

Sotomayor doesn’t shy away from her difficulties either, as she describes her complicated feelings toward her parents and her unsuccessful marriage. The author’s recollections are clear-eyed and honest, and her American dream story is inspiring not just for women and minorities but for everyone in the country.

The Columbia Public Library will host a book discussion of “My Beloved World” on April 7 at noon, so bring a lunch and join us as we discuss the life of Justice Sotomayor.

The post Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List

March 18, 2016

Library Reads LogoThis month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing in April that librarians across the country recommend includes a nonfiction work that wins the award (an imaginary award bestowed by me) for best title ever: “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.” How could scads of librarians NOT recommend this book? We also have works inspired by Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, so get ready to be entertained and place some holds on these forthcoming books!

Book cover for Eligible by Curtis SittenfeldEligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Love, sex, and relationships in contemporary Cincinnati provide an incisive social commentary set in the framework of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sittenfeld’s inclusion of a Bachelor-like reality show is a brilliant parallel to the scrutiny placed on characters in the neighborhood balls of Jane Austen’s novel, and readers will have no question about the crass nature of the younger Bennets, or the pride – and prejudice – of the heroine.” – Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Book cover for The Obsession by Nora RobertsThe Obsession” by Nora Roberts
“Readers who love romantic thrillers will be mesmerized by the latest Roberts offering. The suspense kept me up all night! Naomi Carson, a successful young photographer, has moved across the country and fallen in love. She thinks she has escaped her past but instead finds that the sins of her father have become an obsession. The serial killer premise makes it a tough read for the faint-hearted, but sticking with it leads to a thrilling conclusion.” – Marilyn Sieb, L. D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI

Book cover for The Murder of Mary RussellThe Murder of Mary Russell” by Laurie R. King
“Worried about Mary Russell? Well, you should be. She’s opened her door to the wrong man and deeply troubling secrets are set to tumble out, rewriting her history and putting herself and the people she loves in a dangerous spot. Once again, King spins a tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for her readers’ delight and scores a direct hit in her latest Russell-Holmes mystery.” – Deborah Walsh, Geneva Public Library District, Geneva, IL

Here’s the rest of this month’s list with links to the library’s catalog for your holds-placing pleasure!

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel

March 16, 2016

CD cover art for The Road to Little DribblingReading while traveling in a car can be difficult. I had a friend who read magazines and books while we drove to bicycle races when I was a teenager. He was the driver.  Audiobooks didn’t exist then, but I wish they had because this would have avoided many hours of extreme anxiety for me. My daughter claims that the “barf monster comes” if she reads in the back seat of our subcompact Toyota. My wife can read for about .03 minutes in the car without feeling queasy. The answer is audiobooks, whether you are traveling this spring break as a family or alone with your phone and a backpack. Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks reviewed below are available on CD and/or downloadable mp3 formats through OverDrive.

I can’t begin to explain my joy in discovering, with my little girls, the Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. (I know, I know, it is totally lame that I have not read/listened to them until now). I relish each book. If you are taking a road trip with your kids this spring break, I would highly recommend listening to the series. Narrated by the sublime Jim Dale, the audiobook version will quickly immerse you in the world of Hogwarts and Hagrid while you ply the dreary Kansas plains (or on that long flight to the East Coast).   Start with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” especially with younger readers in the car.  Perfect for families.

What better way to pass the time while traveling than listening to a travelogue? Bill Bryson’s new book “Road to Little Dribbling” examines the societal and cultural changes in Great Britain during our relatively young century, throwing in his trademark humor and wit.  A must-listen if you are traveling to the British Isles or, indeed, Europe during the upcoming break.

CD cover art for Meditation for BeginnersCar (or plane and bus travel) can be stressful, chaotic and tedious. A calm mind and Zen attitude can help. Jack Kornfield’s classic “Meditation for Beginners” is an excellent introduction to basic meditation practices.  The audiobook is also filled with relaxing music. Exploring breathing techniques and other basic tenets of the practice, Kornfield’s approach is not to overwhelm the listener with theory but to impart basic tips and techniques to make first attempts at meditation easier.

If you are traveling out West this Spring Break, I would highly recommend what some critics argue is the best book written about the American desert and the Southwest: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey. The desert comes alive in Abbey’s prose: “Lavender clouds sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn – each cloud, planed flat on the wind, has a base of fiery gold.”  Abbey also sends a clarion call out to the nascent environmentalist movement (the book was written in 1968), arguing that the protection of our native species and wild lands are in many ways the most pressing issues of our time.

Further, the audio version of this book also gives me a chance to mention another format that we have available here at DBRL. “Desert Solitaire” is only available through Hoopla, which is another great source for downloadable audiobooks as well as other media here at the library.

Cover art for Percy Jackson's Greek HeroesIn addition to the fourth or perhaps fifth rereading/re-listening of the first three Harry Potter books that is going on in my family, we have also started reading the fabulous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Riordan just put out an excellent companion to his books, called “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes.” One of the real attributes of this series of books is that, written in Riordan’s entertaining style, they introduce my family to the wondrous world of Greek mythology. I needed a refresher, and my kids are getting a great education without the drudgery that oftentimes accompanies Greek mythology textbooks. “Greek Heroes” is meant to further our education and fills in the gaps that some of the books might have created. Again, highly recommended for family car trips!

What are your listening plans for this spring break?

The post Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders

March 14, 2016

Book cover for All the Birds in the SkyIt feels like I’ve read millions of stories about smart and awesome children who are bullied by their peers and hated, or at least mistreated, by their parents (or, more likely, their legal guardian(s) or orphan master), but eventually they find the right mentor and/or peers and flourish. But when this template is used by a good writer, it remains satisfying no matter how many times it’s been slipped past my…head windows. And Charlie Jane Anders is, at least in this gentleman’s estimation, a great writer. And “All the Birds in the Sky” is a great novel, a new classic in the genre of “extra-special kid(s) with unfortunate upbringing(s) rise above their station and show the world their greatness.”

In order to judge the novel outside of the shadow of novels with similar conceits, I took the groundbreaking and head-breaking measure of attempting to induce amnesia. I tapped my noggin vigorously with all manner of mallets and took a number of tumbles down staircases, and in one regrettably memorable experience, sent myself plunging down my dumbwaiter, only to find that not only had my butler not been removing the now very rotten food scraps, but also one can earn a nasty infection from moldy silverware, and I don’t have a butler, and my dumbwaiter is just a second story window. Alas, the amnesia did not take. My mind, unfortunately, is still as sharp as…one of those, uh, sharp stabby things, the ones you use to affix pictures of your favorite monarchs to your dormitory walls…wallstabbers? Yes, wallstabbers.

Anyway, with my memory still as simultaneously boundless and confining as a prairie town, I am unable to judge “All the Birds in the Sky” without the knowledge of somewhat similar works coloring my perception. But, after further consideration, in what is a cruel twist given all I went through in order to provide a recommendation that would shatter all notions of what a recommendation could be and also my orbital bones, “All the Birds in the Sky” is a singular work.

For one, there are two protagonists. And the melding of science fiction, fantasy, comedy and action is so smooth, one would be forgiven for forgetting, even without a freshly battered head, to comment on its smoothness. Anders’ delivery and gift for jump-cutting to punchlines induce bountiful mirth.  Also, I can’t think of another novel that features a school for witches. The school, Eltisley Maze, is fantastically imagined, and I doubt another author could, even with, like, seven whole volumes, create as fascinating a setting as Anders has here in just a few pages. It’s so cool. Go read the book, which describes the school, which I will not do.

The story begins with a girl saving a bird and learning she can talk to it. Soon she meets a boy who has followed cryptic instructions from the Internet to build a time machine capable of propelling the wearer two seconds into the future. This is a small aid in his quest to avoid bully fists, but using it too much will give the user a tremendous headache, as will wrapping your entire body save for your head in blankets and rolling down the steps of an amphitheater.

Difficulties abound. In order to get witchy again, Patricia must resort to taking unheard of amounts of spice in her food. Laurence’s parents insist he must go outside more. The guidance counselor at their school is actually an assassin (from an ancient order, naturally) plotting the pair’s demise. (To his credit, he’s only doing so because of a vision of apocalyptic catastrophe that featured the two children as adults at its center.) The children drift apart, though Patricia still converses with the artificial intelligence that is devouring Laurence’s closet space.

The novel really hits its highest…springy wheel thing with teeth that attaches to its wheel siblings to produce movement…when it jumps ahead to their early adulthood. Patricia is a witch who spends her time fixing wrongs, from turning a very bad man into a turtle, to making a heroin addict’s skin impervious to needles. Laurence is working as part of a billionaire’s think tank to create a wormhole that will transport a portion of the earth’s population to a fresh planet before this one is irrevocably torched. Also, this portion of the novel is home to the coolest tablet computer anyone has ever imagined, even if it is shaped like a…thing you use to scrape sounds out of a guitar.

With the duo at the height of their powers, and Patricia and her coven keen to save the world, and Laurence and his think tank keen to save some of the people on the world, even if the wormhole ray blows this one up in the process, one sees how the assassin’s apocalyptic vision may come to pass. Read the book and see if it does. Now I’m going to see a…person that puts cold metal on you to check for sickness.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Sound of Gravel: Memoirs of Survival

March 7, 2016

Book cover for The Sound of GravelWhen asked about the best early training for a writer, Ernest Hemingway reportedly answered, “An unhappy childhood.” This snappy reply may hold more than a bit of truth if we take as evidence the number of captivating memoirs written about growing up in (and surviving) extraordinary circumstances.

The Sound of Gravel” by Ruth Wariner is one such memoir. In this intense and moving account of the author’s coming-of-age in a polygamist Mormon colony-bordering-on-cult, Wariner describes living on a rural Mexican farm as one of her father’s more than 40 welfare-dependent children. She recounts the extreme religious beliefs that haunted her daily life, the abuse she and her siblings suffered and her escape after a devastating tragedy.

At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 19,  Wariner will talk about her book at the Columbia Public Library. Copies of “The Sound of Gravel” will be available for purchase and signing.

Want more memoirs of survival? Read on!

Book cover for Look Me in the Eye by John Elder RobisonLook Me in the Eye” by John Robison details an abusive childhood made more complicated by undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. This memoir describes Robison’s difficulties communicating and the resulting social isolation, his discovery of his mechanical aptitude, his struggle to live a “normal” life, his diagnosis at the age of 40 with Asperger’s and the dramatic changes that have occurred since that diagnosis. Robison’s understated humor and fascinating journey (he designed flaming guitars for the band Kiss and founded a successful high-end car repair business) make this an enjoyable, moving and memorable read.

Book cover for A House in the SkyTo mentally escape abuse, young Amanda Lindhout lost herself in the pages of National Geographic magazine. When she turned 18, she left home, determined to see the world. Lindhout became an experienced backpacker, and her memoir “A House in the Sky” (co-written by Sara Corbett) details a harrowing story centered around Lindhout’s kidnapping, along with an Australian photographer, by Somali Islamist rebels. The two were held prisoner for more than 15 months, and Lindhout’s account of the ordeal is compelling, dramatic, disturbing and ultimately an incredible testament to her will to survive and how the worst imaginable circumstances can inspire something good.

Book cover for The Tender Bar by J.R. MoehringerThe Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer details his relationships with the father stand-ins he found at Publicans, a local bar and his uncle’s favorite haunt. Poor, and living with his single mother, he bonds with the bar’s regulars who form “one enormous male eye looking over my shoulder” as Moehringer grows up, taking him on outings, teaching life lessons and providing a refuge when relationships fail. This reflective, heart-warming book reminds us that home can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

For even more memoirs about survival and resilience, check out our book list in the library’s catalog.

The post The Sound of Gravel: Memoirs of Survival appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Columbia’s Unbound Book Festival: A Reading List (Part Two)

March 4, 2016

Unbound book fest logoOn April 23, Columbia will welcome an impressive list of writers to the inaugural Unbound Book Festival. We’ve already highlighted the writers of fiction and nonfiction appearing at various venues on the Stephen’s College campus, and here are the poets who will be sharing their work. (Author information courtesy of Unbound Book Festival.)

  • book cover for Elegy by Mary Jo BangMary Jo Bang is known as a poet of “gorgeous phrasing and imaginative leaps” (Washington Post) and as “an ingenious phrase maker, startling English out of its idiomatic slumber” (New York Times Book Review). Her poems are products and portrayals of our fractured twenty-first century world, yet timeless, whether concerning silent movie star Louise Brooks or of the tragic death of her son. She is the author of six poetry collections, including “The Last Two Seconds” and “Elegy,” which won the 2009 Nation Book Critics Circle Award, and the translator of a groundbreaking rendition of “Dante’s Inferno.”
  • David Clewell is the author of 10 collections of poems and two book-length poems. His work has appeared regularly in a wide variety of national magazines and journals – including Harper’s, Poetry, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review and New Letters – and is represented in more than fifty anthologies. Among his honors are several book awards: two Four Lakes Poetry Prizes (for “Taken Somehow By Surprise” and “Almost Nothing to Be Scared Of”), the Felix Pollak Poetry Prize (for “Now We’re Getting Somewhere”), and a National Poetry Series selection (“Blessings in Disguise“). He served as Poet Laureate of Missouri from 2010-2012.
  • Book cover for Trouble by Walter BargenWalter Bargen has published 18 books of poetry. Some of his most recent books are: “Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems” (2009), “Endearing Ruins” (2012), “Trouble Behind Glass Doors” (2013) and “Gone West” (2014). He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). His awards include a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship (1991), Prose Award from Quarter After Eight (1996), the Hanks Prize (1996), the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize (1997), the William Rockhill Nelson Award (2005) and the Short Fiction Award – A cappella Zoo (2011).

  • Mark Doty is one of America’s most acclaimed and beloved poets. His gorgeous, colloquial verse touches movingly on matters personal, natural and political, oftentimes weaving together these realms with wisdom and grace. Doty is the author of nine poetry collections, including “Deep Lane,” recently published, and “Fire to Fire: New & Selected Poems,” which won the 2010 National Book Award. Doty’s additional honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize.
  • book cover for Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille RankineCamille Rankine has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, New York Daily News and American Poet as one of the country’s most impressive emerging poets. Her debut collection, “Incorrect Merciful Impulses,” is among the most anticipated first books of 2015; incisive, lyrical and intimate, it establishes her instantly as a literary force to be reckoned with.
  • Patrick Rosal is one of America’s most dynamic poets of the immigrant experience, his poems ringing with the music of a multicultural existence. A writer of fierce conscience and big heart, Rosal is known internationally for his captivating recitations, his poems written to be performed and heard as much as read. He is the author of four poetry collections, including “Boneshepherds” and “My American Kundiman,” which won the 2006 Book Award in Poetry from the Association of Asian American Studies and the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award.
  • William Trowbridge is currently Poet Laureate of Missouri. His latest collection is “Put This On, Please: New and Selected Poems” (Red Hen Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in more than 35 anthologies and textbooks, as well as on The Writer’s Almanac and in such periodicals as Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, The Georgia Review, Boulevard, The Southern Review, Columbia, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Epoch and New Letters. He teaches in the University of Nebraska Low-residency MFA in Writing Program.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The March 2016 List

February 22, 2016

The March LibraryReads list is here! This month we have historical fiction, a smart thriller, an urban fantasy and even Jane Eyre re-imagined as a gutsy serial killer. Place your holds now on these 10 titles recommended by librarians across the country.

Book cover for The Summer Before the WarThe Summer Before the War” by Helen Simonson
“Fans of Simonson’s ‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand‘ have reason to rejoice. She has created another engaging novel full of winsome characters, this time set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I. Follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. Make a cup of tea, and prepare to savor every page!” – Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

Book cover for Jane Steele by Lyndsay FayeJane Steele” by Lyndsay Faye
“Jane Steele is a great read for lovers of Victorian literature who especially love their characters to have a lot of pluck! Jane Steele is the adventurous, irreverent, foul-mouthed broad that I so often loved about Jane Eyre, but in more wily circumstances. Remember that fabulous scene in Jane Eyre when she stands up to her aunt for the first time, and how you wanted to stand up from your comfy reading chair and cheer for her? Imagine an entire book just of those sorts of scenes. Absolutely fabulous fun!” – Abbey Stroop, Herrick District Library, Holland, MI

Book cover for The Passenger by Lisa LutzThe Passenger” by Lisa Lutz
“This is a compulsively readable story of a young woman who has to keep switching identities and stay on the run. Is she a reliable narrator or not? What was the original event that sent her on the run? There is a lot of action and suspense as she tries to survive and evade the law while trying to keep her moral center intact. Unlike Lutz’s Spellman books, this reads more like a Charles Portis road novel, though considerably more serious and dangerous. Highly recommended.” – Beth DeGeer, Bartlesville Public Library, Bartlesville, OK

And the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure:

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Categories: Book Buzz

Columbia’s Unbound Book Festival: A Reading List (Part One)

February 19, 2016

Unbound book fest logoBook lovers and festival goers! Please mark your calendars immediately because Saturday, April 23 will be a celebration of books and writing not to be missed. The Unbound Book Festival is a brand-new event in Columbia, celebrating literature of all kinds. Nationally-recognized and bestselling authors across many different genres will be on hand to discuss their work and participate in a variety of stimulating events and environments. The inaugural event will take place on the campus of Stephens College, and all of the events are FREE! Here are just some of the writers who will be at the fest along with links to their works here at the library. Look for another post in two weeks for the poets who will be a part of Unbound. (Author information courtesy of Unbound Book Festival.)

FICTION

  • Book cover for The Weird Sisters by Eleanor BrownEleanor Brown is the New York Times and international bestselling author of “The Weird Sisters,” which was an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Barnes and Noble Discover Selection, Indie Next pick and winner of the Colorado Book Award.
  • Laura McBride is the author of the 2014 debut novel “We Are Called to Rise,” which was a #1 Indie Next pick and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer’s choice in the United States, and both a Simon Mayo BBCRadio2 Book Club selection and a Waterstones Book Club pick in the UK.
  • Laura McHugh is the bestselling author of “The Weight of Blood,” winner of an International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. “The Weight of Blood” was named a best book of the year by BookPage, the Kansas City Star and the Sunday Times (UK), and has been nominated for a Barry Award, Alex Award, Silver Falchion Award and GoodReads Choice Award.
  • Book cover for American Copper by Shann RayShann Ray is the author of the debut novel “American Copper,” an Indie Next Pick that has garnered acclaim from Esquire, Kirkus Reviews and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. His collection of short stories, “American Masculine,” received the American Book Award and the Bakeless Prize.
  • Bob Shacochis is a novelist, essayist, journalist and educator. His work has received a National Book Award for First Fiction, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He graduated from the University of Missouri Journalism School in 1973 and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1982. “The Immaculate Invasion,” about the 1994 military intervention in Haiti, was a finalist for the New Yorker Magazine Literary Awards for best nonfiction book of the year and was named a Notable Book of 1999 by the New York Times. His most recent work, the novel “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul,” was published in 2013.

NONFICTION

  • Book cover for The River of Doubt by Candice MillardCandice Millard is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Her first book, “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” was a New York Times bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by, among others, the New York Times, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor. Millard’s second book, “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President,” rose to number five on the New York Times bestseller list and was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, Washington Post, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. “Destiny of the Republic” won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, the PEN Center USA award for Research Nonfiction, the One Book-One Lincoln Award, the Ohioana Award and the Kansas Notable Book Award.
  • Nina Mukerjee Furstenau’s writing is “lush and lyrical” (Kansas City Star) and her memoir, “Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland,” won the Grand Prize as well as the 2014 MFK Fisher Book Award from Les Dames d’Esscoffier International for food and culture writing.
  • Book cover for Blue Highways by William Least Heat-MoonWilliam Least Heat-Moon was born of English-Irish-Osage ancestry in Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism and a doctorate in English from the University of Missouri. Among his writing credits, he is the author of “Blue Highways,” which spent 42 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1982-83.
  • George Hodgman is a veteran magazine and book editor who has worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair and Talk magazine. His writing has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications. His memoir, “Bettyville,” is a New York Times bestseller, the Amazon spotlight pick for March 2015 and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
  • Kayt Sukel is passionate traveler and science writer, and she has no problem tackling interesting (and often taboo) subjects spanning love, sex, neuroscience, travel and politics. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Scientist, USA Today, Pacific Standard, the Washington Post, ISLANDS and National Geographic Traveler. Her first book, “Dirty Minds/This is Your Brain on Sex,” is an irreverent and funny tome that takes on the age-old question, “What is love?” from a neurobiological perspective.

Check out Unbound Book Festival’s website for more information on these and other writers coming to mid-Missouri in April.

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Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Austin Grossman

February 15, 2016

Book cover for Crooked by Austin GrossmanAs Valentine’s Day approached, I, like most red-blooded Americans probably, found my thoughts turning to Richard Nixon. Coincidentally, I was absorbed by Austin Grossman’s latest novel, “Crooked.” “Crooked” is the first-person account of Richard Nixon’s rise to power and fall from power, and subsequent rise to power and fall from power. While others have chronicled Nixon’s life, none before have touched on the terrifying truth: Nixon was one of the few that knew the U.S. and U.S.S.R. had moved beyond the mutually assured destruction via mundane nuclear weaponry and were onto mutually assured destruction via weaponized monsters and pacts made with the elder gods that walked the earth before being banished below the surface.

It’s no surprise that Henry Kissinger was a thousand-year-old sorcerer, but the reader won’t expect to learn that Dwight Eisenhower could stop a bullet with magic, or that the British had long been allies with a miles-long krakken, and that the monster had plucked German planes out of the sky during World War II. These sorts of treats are abundant in the novel, as are fantastic sentences such as follows:

I had, I realized, lost track of whether I was a centrist Republican stalwart, a right-wing anti-Communist demagogue, a mole for Soviet intelligence, the proxy candidate for a Bavarian sorcerer, or the West’s last hope against an onrushing tide of insane chthonic forces.

Near the beginning of the novel we get a glimpse of Nixon’s fabled romantic streak and a taste of what is to come:

This is a tale of espionage and betrayal and the dark secrets of a decades-long cold war. It is a story of otherworldly horror, of strange nameless forces that lie beneath the reality we know. In other words, it is the story of a marriage.

 

Also, the reader learns why Nixon sweated so much during that one debate, and what was up with that Watergate debacle.

Book cover for You by Austin GrossmanGrossman’s experiences as a video game designer provided fodder for his previous novel, “You.” The tale of a successful video game studio whose co-founder died and left behind a bug that threatened to break their gaming engine, much of the novel is spent watching the narrator play video games as he searches for the bug, which is more exciting than it sounds, unless you love watching people play video games, in which case it is approximately as exciting as it sounds.

Those weary of superheroes being confined to movie theaters, televisions, comics, Halloweens, lunchboxes and underwear will devour Grossman’s first novel, “Soon I Will Be Invincible.” A story of superheroes and a super-villain, it alternates chapters between their perspectives, and while it is funny, it’s an homage to the genre rather than a spoof. Even those who don’t wish for constant immersion in comic book universes should find the novel to be a well-written romp with a big heart. The reader will learn that sometimes superheroes have tremendous trouble in their personal lives, that they often rely on painkillers and sometimes super-villains are reduced to stealing away into the night with an entire ATM in order to pay the rent.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Getting to Know Thomas Edison

February 8, 2016

Book cove for Edison and the Rise of InnovationFebruary 11 marks the 169th birthday of Thomas Edison. Known for holding over 1,000 patents, Edison’s work left a huge impact on the world. He helped usher in the era of electric light and gave the world a way to capture both sound and motion pictures. There are those who believe that Edison was a ruthless businessman, his iconic image more myth than reality, and that many of his great ideas should in fact be attributed to others. So what is the truth? The library offers several interesting items that explore different perspectives on Edison and the stories behind his many creations.

Readers interested in Edison’s many inventions may want to check out Leonard DeGraaf’s book, “Edison and the Rise of Innovation.” DeGraaf serves as the archivist for the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and draws from the collection he oversees to give readers an image-filled guide to Edison’s life and work. From photos of Edison’s workplace in Menlo Park, to drawings and diagrams of his many creations, DeGraaf illustrates the broad scope of Edison’s creativity.

book cover for The Wizard of Menlo ParkOf all of his creations, Edison’s fame may have been his most incredible undertaking. Randall Stross’ book, “The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World” examines the fame Edison experienced during his lifetime and how he built his larger-than-life image. Stross’ book focuses more on Edison’s celebrity than his technical achievements, even downplaying them as less impressive than the public persona he created. By the end of his life, Edison held not only multiple patents, but also the title of the most well-known American in the world.

Book cover for Empires of LightEdison not only seemed to crave fame, but he also was highly competitive. As the idea of electric power became a reality, Edison found himself drawn into the race to capture it for public consumption. “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World” by Jill Jonnes explores the exciting race between Edison (who was pushing for DC power) and the eccentric Nikola Tesla and businessman George Westinghouse (who both were pushing for AC power). Jonnes’ book illustrates the challenges they faced as they worked to take their ideas from the drawing board to reality, as well as the somewhat ruthless methods Edison employed to ensure he would win the race.

Audiobook cover art for Camping With Henry and TomOne thing that is certain of Edison is that a big part of his success came from his ability to work with the other great minds of his day, particularly those in the financial and political worlds. Mark St. Germain’s play, “Camping with Henry and Tom: A Comedy,” offers a funny and entertaining take on a real-life meeting between Edison, President Harding and Henry Ford. Imagine the discussions the three may have had! The library offers both the print edition and the audiobook version of St. Germain’s play. (It is a great listen for a road trip!)

Whatever his exact role in shaping the technology of the 20th century, Edison certainly was an unforgettable character. Happy reading!

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Categories: Book Buzz

Books for Black History Month

February 5, 2016

In honor of Black History Month, here are some newer titles that explore the varied experience of being black in America, some from historical perspectives and others from a contemporary point of view.

Book cover for Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth” by Karen Branan
A provocative true account of the hanging of four black people by a white lynch mob in 1912 is written by a descendant of the sheriff charged with protecting them and draws on diaries and letters to piece together the events and motives that led up to the tragedy.

Book cover for Jam on the VineJam on the Vine” by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
A poor, African-American Muslim girl in rural, racially segregated turn-of-the-century Texas, Ivoe Williams discovers a passion for journalism while pilfering old newspapers from her mother’s white employer. Ivoe, together with her former teacher and lover, Ona, starts Jam! On the Vine, the nation’s first female-run African American newspaper. Loosely based on pioneering journalist Ida B. Wells and Charlotta Bass, this is a dramatic debut novel.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae
These essays on the challenges of being black and introverted in a world that glorifies “cool” behavior, drawn from the author’s award-winning social media series, share self-deprecating perspectives on such topics as cybersexing, weight and self-acceptance.

Book cover for The SelloutThe Sellout” by Paul Beatty
In this satirical take on race, politics and culture in the U.S., a young black man grows up determined to resegregate a portion of an inner city, aided by a former Little Rascals star who volunteers to be his slave. This illegal activity brings him to the attention of the Supreme Court, who must consider the ramifications of this (and other) race-related cases. A provocative novel.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace” by Jeff Hobbs
This work of nonfiction presents the life of Robert Peace, an African American who became a brilliant biochemistry student at Yale University but after graduation lived as drug dealer and was brutally murdered at the age of thirty.

Book cover for The Turner HouseThe Turner House” by Angela Flournoy
Learning after a half-century of family life that their house on Detroit’s East Side is worth only a fraction of its mortgage, the members of the Turner family gather to reckon with their pasts and decide the house’s fate. A powerful portrait of an American family.

For local events, history and research tools, visit our Black Culture and History subject guide.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

February 3, 2016

Book cover for Little WomenMy daughter, Samantha, and I joined a mother-daughter book club when she was in fourth grade. The club consisted of the two of us and Samantha’s best friend and her mother. That club lasted until we had to move just before the start of sixth grade. And even though we are now just a club of two, Samantha and I have continued reading books together. We are currently reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. (Samantha chooses the books even if I offer suggestions.)

When I ran across the title “Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More” by Lori Day, I couldn’t resist and requested that it be purchased for the library. I think we did fine with our book club, but now that I have read this one, I really wish we had had the benefit of its recommendations and insights from the beginning. The first part of the book gives tips on how and why to begin a mother-daughter book club and how to keep it running smoothly. Part two delves into topics such as gender stereotypes and sexism, the sexualization of childhood (and how to bypass it), body image, bullying and how to be allies, encouraging healthy relationships, how to be inclusive, female leadership and the welfare of girls and women around the world. Each topic chapter highlights one or two books, provides discussion questions, suggests activities and finishes with a list of recommended books, including some kid appropriate, adult level books, movies/TV and media with suggested age ranges.

Our club read books such as  “The Giver,” “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” that led us into discussions about utopias/dystopias and how those societies reflect our own. We also had some deep discussions about race and racial violence when we read “Number the Stars,” and “If We Must Die: A Novel of Tulsa’s 1921 Greenwood Riot.” We even had discussions about about — shhhhh — s-e-x when we read “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Speak,” and “Fangirl.” And, of course, once you have read the books, who can resist seeing and comparing the movies?

I can’t overstate what our mother-daughter book club has meant to me. I’m sure that it would have meant a lot to us even if we had not moved, but it became so much more important because of the move. I miss having other members in our club if for no other reason than to help us narrow down book club selections!  I also miss the camaraderie and support that we gained from our other mother-daughter pair, and I would love for our club to expand again someday. But I’m so glad that we had this partnership developed ahead of our move to help support us through the loss of friends, family, pets, our place in the world and, at times, our sanity. I hope we continue for a long, long time.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Cooking With eBooks

January 29, 2016

My iPad rarely leaves the kitchen. I use it to play podcasts or audiobooks while I do the dishes. I check Facebook while I’m waiting for the pasta water to boil. But the thing I use the device for the most is my daily meal preparation. No, I’m not like that German dad using the tablet as a cutting board in the YouTube video that made the rounds a few years ago. Through the library’s OverDrive eBook collection, I can download new cookbooks from some of my favorite foodies and make meal planning and cooking that much easier. Whether I want to consult the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten,  New York Times columnist Mark Bittman or the Food Network’s Rachael Ray, the library’s eBook collection has me covered. Here are just some of the new and popular cookbooks you can have at your fingertips in almost no time.

book cover for NOPI cookbook

NOPI: The Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

Yotam Ottolenghi is beloved in the food world for his beautiful, inspirational cookbooks, as well as his Ottolenghi delis and his fine-dining restaurant, NOPI. In the NOPI cookbook, head chef Ramael Scully’s Asian-inspired pantry meets Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern influences and brings the restaurant’s favorite dishes within reach of the home cook.

 DinnertimeThe Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime” by Ree Drummond

The #1 bestselling author and Food Network personality at last answers that age-old question –“What’s for Dinner?”– bringing together more than 125 simple, scrumptious, step-by-step recipes for delicious dinners for the whole family. She includes her family’s favorites, like  tomato soup with Parmesan croutons, buffalo chicken salad, baked ziti and shrimp scampi. 

Book cover for The Food LabThe Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” by J. Kenji López-Alt

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it and more. In this book, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new — but simple — techniques

Book cover for 100 Days of Real Food100 Days of Real Food” by Lisa Leake

The creator of the 100 Days of Real Food blog draws from her hugely popular website to offer simple, affordable, family-friendly recipes and practical advice for eliminating processed foods from your family’s diet.

Here are more popular eBooks for cooks!

OverDrive has a sizable selection of books on food and cooking, including food memoirs and cookbooks for kids – look for the “Cooking and Food” category under eBook nonfiction.  Finally, if keeping your tablet in the kitchen has the screen greasy and food-spattered, see tips for screen cleaning from Tablet PC Review. Happy cooking and eating!

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Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The February 2016 List

January 22, 2016

Library Reads LogoMy library coworkers’ reading tastes vary widely. Some are graphic novel and comics experts, others are sci-fi and fantasy aficionados and some kill it at every trivia night because they are voracious nonfiction readers. Many best-of lists in book-ish publications (both in print and online) offer recommendations that lean towards what you might call literary, which I personally love (I read a lot of contemporary fiction and memoirs). The LibraryReads monthly list, however, often offers up a list as diverse as the reading tastes of our patrons. The list of books publishing in February that librarians across the country recommend clearly reflects this diversity. What other list has a stunningly written historical fiction sharing space with a steamy romance? Enjoy this month’s picks!

Book cover for Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys
“Titanic. Lusitania. Wilhelm Gustloff. All major maritime disasters, yet the last is virtually unknown. Ruta Sepetys changes that in her gripping historical novel. Told in short snippets, “Salt to the Sea” rotates among four narrators attempting to escape various tragedies in 1945 Europe. Powerful and haunting, heartbreaking and hopeful–a must read.” – Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL

Book cover for Black Rabbit HallBlack Rabbit Hall” by Eve Chase
“Young Amber Alton and her family adore Black Rabbit Hall and the joy and peace it brings to them all. That is, until a tragic accident changes everything. Three decades later, Lorna decides her wedding must be celebrated at the crumbling hall. As the book moves between these two time periods, secrets slowly unfold. Perfectly twisty with interesting characters and a compelling story that kept me up too late.” – Deborah Margeson, Douglas County Libraries, Parker, CO

Book cover for A Girl's Guide to Moving OnA Girl’s Guide to Moving On” by Debbie Macomber
“Leanne and her daughter-in-law Nichole both leave cheating husbands to start over. They learn that it is never easy and that hardships abound, but they meet many wonderful people on their way to happily-ever-after. Believable characters and an enjoyable story made this perfect for relaxing reading—definitely one of Macomber’s best. An excellent choice both for long-time fans of the author and for those who have never read her novels.” – Linda Tilden, Cherry Hill Public Library, Cherry Hill, NJ

And here is the rest of the February list for your hold-placing pleasure. 

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Categories: Book Buzz

Oscar Buzz for Book Adaptations

January 20, 2016

The Best Picture nominations for the 2016 Oscar’s were announced last week, and films based on books make up the majority of the list. If you are a read-it-before-you-watch-it kind of person, then your to-read pile just got much bigger.

Book cover for The Big Short by Michael LewisThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis
This nonfiction work investigates the 2008 stock market crash and economic crisis, citing such factors as expanded home ownership and risky derivative elections in the face of increasing shareholder demands, and profiles responsible parties in government, financial and private sectors. An unlikely basis for the plot of a riveting drama, but there you go.

The film is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Adam McKay), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for Brooklyn by Colm ToibinBrooklyn” by Colm Tóibín
Leaving her home in post-World War II Ireland to work as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn, Eilis Lacey discovers a new romance in America with a charming blond Italian man before devastating news threatens her happiness.

The film adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for The MartianThe Martian” by Andy Weir
After a bad storm cuts his team’s Mars mission short, injured astronaut Mark Watley is stranded. Now he’s got to figure out how to survive without air, shelter, food or water on the harsh Martian landscape until the next manned mission in four years.

The film adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Matt Damon) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for The Revenant by Michael PunkeThe Revenant: A Novel of Revenge” by Michael Punke
A story of survival on the American frontier chronicles the exploits of fur trapper Hugh Glass. Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his fellow trappers but survives and treks through the wilderness to seek justice.

The movie adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy).

Book cover for Room by Emma DonoghueRoom” by Emma Donoghue
A five-year-old narrates a story about his life growing up in a single room where his mother aims to protect him from the man who kidnapped her when she was a teenager and has held her prisoner for seven years.

The film is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Actress (Brie Larson) and Adapted Screenplay.

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Categories: Book Buzz
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