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Vote for the 2014 One Read Book!

April 14, 2014

logo-web1April elections aren’t just about school boards and city councils. Each year the Daniel Boone Regional Library asks area readers to help choose that year’s One Read book. One Read is a community-wide reading program that invites adults in Mid-Missouri to read the same book over the summer and then attend programs based on that book during the month of September.

Between now and May 2, cast your vote for either “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain or “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel Brown.

Learn more about these titles and cast your vote at!

The post Vote for the 2014 One Read Book! appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Bookmarks: What’s Saving Your Page?

April 9, 2014

Bookmarks are thought to have been used since at least the end of the medieval period, but one of the first references to their use involves the presentation of a silk bookmark to Queen Elizabeth I of England (circa 1584). People use all sorts of different things as bookmarks, everything from old receipts to love letters. Lauren, one of our librarians at the Columbia Public Library, said she attended a conference where four or five librarians admitted to having found bacon in a book! How do you save your place in a book? Let us know in the comments! (And please don’t put bacon in our books.)

I have been using leftover paint chips from a project as bookmarks. This color is “Radiant Orchid.” Currently reading: “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp.

1 Katie

Rob is using his car title at the moment. Currently reading: “The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.” (Editor’s note: This was a patron’s personal book. Using important documents as bookmarks in library books is not a good idea.)

Photo of a book and bookmark

This adorable handmade creature marks Angela’s page. Currently reading: “Every Day” by David Levithan.

Photo of a book and bookmark

Barb had lots of bookmarking to do. Luckily she had plenty of these tiny post-its! Currently reading: “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

Photo of a book and bookmark

Althea’s beautiful bookmark. Currently reading: “Adé” by Rebecca Walker.

Photo of a book and bookmark

Brandy loves sloths so much that one of her coworkers made her this bookmark.

Photo of a book and bookmark

Rosie the Riveter never stops working, even as a bookmark! Brian is using a gallery guide from a recent trip to Crystal Bridges American Art Museum as his bookmark. Currently reading: “The Upcycle” By William McDonough.

Photo of a book and bookmark

Hilary uses her pets as bookmarks! (Or maybe they use her?) Currently reading: “Adventures in Yarn Farming” by Barbara Parry.

Photo of a cat as bookmark

Eric was using his Ha Ha Tonka concert ticket, until he found a postcard from Romania in this used textbook. Currently reading: “Interpersonal Process in Therapy” by Edward Teyber and Faith Holmes McClure.

Photo of a book and bookmark

The Warrior card from a Xultun tarot deck guards Kelsey’s spot in her book. Currently reading: “Perdido Street Station” by China Miéville.

10 Kelsey

Ida’s daughter made her this cross-stitched Hunger Games bookmark.

Hunger Games bookmark

And here’s a box of long lost bookmarks in the Columbia Public Library’s Circulation Department.
box of lost bookmarks

So, what’s in your book?

The post Bookmarks: What’s Saving Your Page? appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Classics for Everyone: Emily Dickinson

April 7, 2014

Book cover for Collected Poems of Emily DickinsonIf Emily Dickinson never came out of her room, how does everyone know about her? The answer lies in the 1,775 poems the recluse in white left behind when she died in 1886. Only a few were published during her lifetime. But thanks to the efforts of her sister, Lavinia, the world came to know Emily and her verse posthumously.

From around the age of 30 on, Dickinson limited the physical range of her world to the confines of her Amherst, Massachusetts home and a wardrobe of white dresses. But she kept a connection to society through prolific correspondence with a number of people. Many of her letters included poems; more than 100 went to the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. But editors of the day were not ready for the ways in which her poems broke with convention.

Though she lived a largely intellectual life, her poetry shows richness, depth and a grounding in concrete realities. She wrote of death heralded not with trumpets but the buzzing of a fly. She describes a snake as “the narrow fellow in the grass” and the feeling you get when you see him as “zero at the bone.” Even hope took on a physical manifestation for her: “Hope is the thing with feathers…”

Dickinson packed acres of meaning into a few square inches of paper. Most of her poems are concise, yet speak profoundly about themes such as death, time, nature, love and immortality. Her work can be found in “Collected Poems” and in the library’s LitFINDER database.

To learn more about the poet’s life, try Gordon Lyndall’s book, “Lives Like Loaded Guns.” Lyndall explores the relationships and feuds among members of the Dickinson family. The conflicts carried on long after Dickinson’s death, with struggles for control over her work and even how the story of her life would be told. Lyndall takes his title from a Dickinson poem, one which allows Emily herself to have the last word:

“My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away.”


The post Classics for Everyone: Emily Dickinson appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Wild and Woody: Two Incredible Tree Stories for Arbor Day

March 31, 2014

Book cover for The Wild Trees by Richard PrestonEven with my deep love for all things tall, green and leafy, I won’t generally pull out a book about trees to read for entertainment.  (Give me a good murder mystery for that.) So I’m pleased to report that I have just read two nonfiction books that were thoroughly entertaining, sometimes even hair-raising – and definitely about trees.

In “The Wild Trees” (Richard Preston, 2007), the author takes us deep into the lives and minds of the original redwood canopy researchers – young men (and a few women) who, starting in the early 1990s, were the first to climb into the tops of the largest trees on earth. There they discovered a fairyland of plant and animal species, many previously unknown to science, and galvanized efforts to protect our remaining redwood forests.

This all sounds like good clean science fun, but in fact it requires both Olympic-level agility and astonishing bravery. The early canopy-climbers faced a gruesome death pretty much every day, and shocking close calls abound in this book. Publication of “The Wild Trees rightfully made Steve Sillett, the graduate student (now professor) who is at the center of the story, an international folk hero in the ecological community.

Book cover for The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim RobbinsThe hero of “The Man Who Planted Trees (Jim Robbins, 2012) is just as brave and adventurous – but in his own weird way. In 1991, David Milarch - a fiftyish, bar-fighting Michigan tree farmer – had a near-death experience after quitting alcohol cold-turkey. As he relates it, while in heaven he was given an assignment (by an archangel, no less).  He was to save the planet from global warming by cloning the world’s oldest trees, which may provide the best genetic stock for reforestation as the climate changes.

Go ahead, scoff – but the man is doing it. Starting with no money, no college degree and no backers,  Milarch has built an internationally respected organization that is advancing the art and science of global reforestation. The name of his organization? Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. (Read a 2013 interview with David Milarch here.)

Finally, if you’re not into adrenaline or angels, here are several more good tree reads for Arbor Day, available at DBRL:

Seeds of Hope” (Jane Goodall, 2013)
Between Earth and Sky” (Nalini Nadcarni, 2008)
Wildwood” (Roger Deakin, 2009)
Teaching the Trees” (Joan Maloof, 2005)

The post Wild and Woody: Two Incredible Tree Stories for Arbor Day appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April List

March 24, 2014

LibraryReads logoApril showers bring May flowers, and also a great crop of new books from LibraryReads! Here is the monthly list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend.

Book cover for The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
“A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances.”
-Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Book cover for Frog Music by Emma DonoghueFrog Music
by Emma Donoghue
“Donoghue returns to historical fiction in this latest offering, based on the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher with a mysterious past. Set in 1870s San Francisco, this brilliant book includes impeccable historical details, from a smallpox epidemic to period songs.”
-Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, IL

Book cover for And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia GlassAnd the Dark Sacred Night
by Julia Glass
“Four stars to Julia Glass for this, her best work since ‘Three Junes.’ We become reacquainted with old characters Malachy, Fenno and Walter and learn more about their life stories. The individuals are imperfectly human and perfectly drawn. A wonderful, highly recommended novel.”
-Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

Here is the rest of the list for your browsing and hold-placing pleasure!

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

Categories: Book Buzz

One Woman’s Thoughts About Chick Lit

March 21, 2014

Book cover for Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonWhy does the term Chick Lit rub me the wrong way?  Maybe it is because as a friend of mine recently said, “We don’t have Dude Lit.” I found myself asking this question because March is Women’s History Month. Female writers today, and historically, add much to our culture. One of my colleagues pointed out that four of the New York Times top 10 books of 2013 were written by women. These books are: Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life,” Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers” and Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial.”

Book cover for Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingChick Lit is a term that caught on in the 1990s and was attributed to books such as Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” However, Chick Lit is a label that can change meanings depending on who is applying the label. For some, it is simply fun, light, fiction by and about females. Others see it more as the single working woman’s fiction. Whatever you want to call them, here are some books written by female authors. These are books any woman can appreciate.

Lives of Girls and Women” by Alice Munro
Time Flies” By Claire Cook
Get Lucky”by Katherine Center
Ladies’ Night” By Mary Kay Andrews

The post One Woman’s Thoughts About Chick Lit appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim

March 17, 2014

Book cover for Mr. Robinson for a Better WorldDonald Antrim has been called a genius, and in 2013 (along with one of my most favorite writers), he was given the 625,000-dollar grant the MacArthur Foundation bequeaths to all geniuses. As far as I know (Antrim has yet to respond to my passionate, nearly polite pleas that he take one of those twenty question online IQ tests and forward me the results WITHOUT DOCTORING THEM), he deserves the unfathomable wealth, prestige and groupies such an award bestows. But I hear his fanciful imagination is one of his genius-y strengths, and I wonder, for certainly that isn’t the strength on display in “Elect Mr. Robinson For a Better World.” Said slice of propaganda is little more than an exquisitely written, chilling and accurate glimpse into the muggy, gator-blood pumping heart of present day Florida.

The titular narrator’s community is populated by residents that have taken to digging moats around their houses and filling them with broken glass, sharpened bamboo or water moccasins. Their park is packed with landmines, and taxpayers have voted to close the local school and occupy the building with a factory that turns coral into jewelry. Despite these everyday challenges, Mr. Robinson doesn’t craft the typical political tract. He never beats you over the head with policies or empty rhetoric, instead counting on the reader’s wisdom to deem him fit for office by the time they’ve completed his grim and propulsive tale.

Mr. Robinson is a former teacher who lost his job when the school was closed. He shares the dream of most displaced teachers: to start a school in his basement next to his scale-model medieval torture chamber and have students assist him in crafting political advertisements for his eventual mayoral run. This is a man overflowing with political talents. When the previous mayor made the perhaps hasty decision to launch Stinger missiles into the botanical garden, Mr. Robinson, drawing from his considerable knowledge of the history of torture, suggests he be drawn and quartered, and he has the know-how and follow-through to lead his fellow citizens in dismembering the man with fishing line and automobiles. While this knowledge is obviously a necessary component for holding political office, perhaps some might worry as to the lack of a softer side. Robinson nails that too: he feels the pieces of the former mayor deserve a distinguished burial and so keeps them in his freezer until he can devise the perfect send-off. (Which, of course, involves Egyptian rituals.) But maybe the voter is sympathetic to the arts. When the citizenry decides to use library books to detonate the hidden bombs in their park, Robinson takes the initiative to go in after the intact tomes. Plus, a new-age guru reveals that his inner animal is a buffalo, and although that means he nearly drowns during a spirit commune with his wife’s inner animal, a coelacanth (ancient weird fish), one cannot argue against the buffalo being well-suited to the rigors of modern politics.

As they say in Florida, two gators with one python, Antrim has convinced me Mr. Robinson would be, for a Florida town, an appropriate mayor; and also Florida is a scary place crammed with shuttered schools, swamps, suburban moats and psychotically over-zealous security guards.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies

March 10, 2014

 Dale Carnegie and success in modern America a nineteenth-century lifeIn the past year, two University of Missouri professors have published biographies of influential men. Steven Watts explores how a Missouri farm boy came to launch the modern self-help movement in “Self-Help Messiah, Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America.” And Jonathan Sperber takes a fresh look at a man who has inspired revolutions around the globe, in his book “Karl Marx, a Nineteenth Century Life.”

By Watts’ account, nothing in Dale Carnegie’s childhood indicated the path he’d take as an adult. Born to an impoverished farm couple in Maryville, Missouri in 1888, his childhood was filled with religious instruction and manual labor. Not until he went to college and became involved in theater did his charisma manifest. The speaking skills he developed  helped him in a series of sales jobs, which in turn provided him with insights into human motivation. Eventually he would lead a self-help empire. The franchise of leadership courses he began is still in business today, while his 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” remains a popular-selling title. Opinion over Carnegie’s methods has been divided. Where some see self-improvement and empowerment, others see manipulation and a promotion of personality over character. But nobody can deny he had a large hand in shaping the culture Americans know today.

To a more extreme degree, Karl Marx has also been both revered and reviled throughout the years, a fact that speaks to the level of his influence in the world. With Friedrich Engels, Marx co-authored “The Communist Manifesto.” Sperber places Marx in a historical context, examining what effect the French Revolution, for example, had on his work. But Sperber expands beyond the political lens and provides a view of many other aspects of Marx’s life, which began in 1818 in Trier, Germany. So we see not only a political firebrand, but also a son, husband and father, as well as a man with chronic money troubles.

Each biography shows a man who was a product of his time. As much as both men shaped the culture, the ability to do so came by virtue of having been born in the right epochs. Dale Carnegie, the man, could have lived any time, any place. Dale Carnegie, the phenomenon, could not have existed without the advent of mass communication. And had Karl Marx been born into a society of widespread peace and prosperity, the world would not have had Marxism, the political movement.

The post What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Murder, With a Side of Pasta ‘ncasciata

March 3, 2014

(Review of the Inspector Montalbano mystery series, by Andrea Camilleri)

Book cover for The Shape of Water by Andrea CamilleriSalvo Montalbano is the world-weary but always upstanding Chief Inspector for the police force of Vigata, a smallish (and imaginary) town in Sicily. He’s a sensitive, ethical guy who struggles with the endemic Sicilian political corruption, superiors who can’t be bothered and subordinates who are eager but sometimes inept. Also problematic are the many attractive women who find him molto interessante – causing no end of conflict with Livia, his volatile out-of-town girlfriend.

This sounds like a standard backdrop for a police procedural mystery, international or otherwise. But this series, and Montalbano, rise above the standard. For starters, this is one well-read cop, given to Italian literary and historical references. He’s also a passionate gourmet: a steaming plate of pasta ‘ncasciata will always take precedence over police business.

Montalbano introspects fiercely, and the reader gets to spend quality time inside his head, getting to know this often melancholy and obsessive, but ultimately likable, character. In fact, all of Camilleri’s characters are worth knowing, from Ingrid Sjostrom, the beautiful six-foot-tall Swedish race-car driver (and Montalbano’s greatest temptation) to the creepy, sex-obsessed Judge Tommaseo. Add some dark Sicilian atmosphere and consistently elegant plotting, and you have a series that is just plain delizioso.

(Important disclaimer: The first book, “The Shape of Water,” begins with a single, nearly incomprehensible paragraph that goes on for a full five pages. It was so obtuse that I almost gave up. Fortunately I didn’t, because after page five things got much clearer and a whole lot more interesting – and stayed that way for 15 more books.)

For an appetizer, here are the first four books of the Inspector Montalbano series at DBRL:

  1. The Shape of Water”  (2002)
  2. The Terra-cotta Dog”  (2002)
  3. The Snack Thief”  (2003)
  4. Voice of the Violin”  (2004)

For the complete list of 16 titles, see our book list in the library’s online catalog.

The post Murder, With a Side of Pasta ‘ncasciata appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The March List

February 24, 2014
Library Reads Logo

LibraryReads_banner1_MARCHLibraryReads is a monthly list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend. The March list is particularly awesome because local author Laura McHugh’s book (partly written at the Columbia Public Library) is the number one pick!

Book cover for The Weight of Blood by Laura McHughThe Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh
“The Dane family has been keeping secrets in the Ozark town of Henbane for years. An outsider steals the heart of one of the Dane brothers, and the secrets threaten to unravel. When 16-year-old Lucy’s friend is found murdered after being missing for a year, Lucy begins to ask questions–the answers to which may destroy her family. Atmospheric and visceral, McHugh’s story is vividly and effectively told.”
- Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

Book cover for The Accident by Chris PavoneThe Accident
by Chris Pavone
“Kudos to Pavone for coming through with another captivating international suspense novel. How ironic that I couldn’t put down a book about Isabel, a literary agent who stays up all night to finish an unsolicited manuscript that’s so explosive, some will kill to keep it from being published. During the 24 hours that Isabel is on the run, readers will be on the edge of their seats. Be prepared to lose some sleep!”
- Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

Book cover for The Divorce Papers by Susan RiegerThe Divorce Papers
by Susan Rieger
“When Sophie, a loveable 29-year-old lawyer, gets roped into working on a divorce case, her life takes an unexpected turn. Though this gives her a new perspective on life, it also forces her to confront some unresolved childhood issues. Except for a few tearful, poignant moments, I had a smile on my face for the entire book. Engaging and humorous, this debut epistolary novel has become a favorite read.”
- Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL

Here is the rest of the list for your browsing and hold-placing pleasure!

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

Categories: Book Buzz

Books For 20-Somethings

February 19, 2014

Artwork by Allie Brosh, creator of Hyperbole and a HalfI recently stumbled across a BuzzFeed article that offers advice which is even more useful than tips on creative ways to use mason jars! “Twenty-Nine Books To Get  You Through Your Quarter-Life Crisis” is a compilation of books about people in their 20s and issues that people face during this stage of their life. The list includes both fiction and nonfiction books, most of which we have in our collection (and the ones we don’t have you can get through our ILL service). As a 20-something, I enjoy learning about the various directions in which people choose to steer their lives and about the different ways people carve out their identities. Here are a few books I’ve found interesting:

  • Book cover for Wild by Cheryl StrayedWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. The author’s collection of advice columns, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” made it on to the BuzzFeed list instead of this book, but “Wild” also tackles issues people in their 20s face. I’ve never been a fan of memoirs or books about nature, but this book completely won me over. At age 26 Strayed’s life was in shambles from her mother’s death four years earlier. With nothing left to lose, she impulsively decided to hike the entire 1,000+ mile Pacific Crest Trail. Armed with only a giant backpack, paperback books and no wilderness experience, the author treks through physical and emotional pain to ultimately become healed. Heart-wrenching, honest and totally inspiring.
  • Book cover for The Defining Decade by Meg JayThe Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Meg Jay. This is definitely not a feel-good book, but rather a therapist’s argument for what people should be doing while they’re in their 20s. Reading it was frustrating at times, because I disagree with a lot of things Dr. Jay had to say. She assumes the reader has a certain amount of privilege, and also that people in their 20s feel like they have all the time in the world. (I don’t know anyone my age that feels that way!) I could go on and on about the ways this book is problematic, but that being said, I still felt like I was able to glean some valuable information from this book. The author uses real-life examples of her clients’ struggles, which are common issues to people in their 20s. This book also includes some solid advice on moving forward in your career. Check it out and decide for yourself!

If you’d like more advice on what to read to get you through your quarter-life crisis, be sure to take a look at Book Riot’s article on this subject.

Image credit: Artwork copyrighted by Allie Brosh, creator of Hyperbole and a Half, and used according to guidelines outlined on the Hyperbole and a Half website.

The post Books For 20-Somethings appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Patrick deWitt

February 17, 2014

Book cover for The Sisters BrothersBooks and movies provide the fuel for allowing a gentleman to reminisce of simpler times, even when he’s born long after whatever simpler time about which he wishes to reminisce. So it’s good for some of that fuel to remind the unscrupulous reminiscer that simpler times were terrible. One such time occasionally pined for is the gold-rush era, a time when a forward thinking person might be willing to spare a penny for a toothbrush, but a time when forward thinking people were often hunted for sport. Indeed, for every attractive aspect of the era (horse emissions pale when compared to an automobile, disagreements could be solved by a simple duel), there are significant drawbacks (horses age and poop and get attacked by bears and travel at a fraction of the speed of even the slowest autos, a duel ends in murder). Patrick deWitt’s hilarious, violent and gripping novel, “The Sisters Brothers,” is a potent reminder that even though cowboy hats are awesome and spurs make you sound really cool while you walk, now is a much better time to be alive, what with medicine and civil rights and whatnot. Remember, for every glass of whiskey only costing a penny there’s a gypsy keen to curse you or a little girl poisoning dogs, and both folks have terrible breath. (Because they don’t own a toothbrush.)

The novel is narrated by Eli Sisters, a sensitive and relatively kind-hearted killer with a penchant for giving his excess cash to friendly prostitutes and becoming attached to horses even when they’re unable to meet his robust travel needs. Eli’s voice is hilariously mannered and often poetic, and the book brims with brilliant movie-ready dialogue. One can easily imagine it as the next Coen Brothers masterpiece. The book joins, among others,  ”Deadwood“ (fans of which should love this novel) as evidence that the western isn’t dead.

Eli accompanies his brother, the less sensitive and more cold-blooded killer Charlie Sisters, on a mission to hunt down Hermann Kermit Warm for a man called The Commodore. Until deep into the book the reader must presume the reason for the hunting is The Commodore’s jealousy over Warm’s spectacular name. Which the reader finds weird as it’s pretty neat to be addressed as “The Commodore” and must thus presume The Commodore is a terribly petty man and doesn’t want anyone else to have a cool name. The reveal of the real reason for the hunting leads to some brilliant images and devastating scenes.

“The Sisters Brothers” is even more impressive for being the follow-up to deWitt’s first novel, the also wickedly funny but decidedly less cowboy laden “Ablutions: Notes for a Novel.”  It is told in second-person and concerns a man tending bar in Hollywood. The book is loaded with people getting loaded and all the hijinks and misery that often entails and will serve as a stern reminder to next century’s reminiscers to be satisfied with their cyborg bodies and talking furniture and not pine for a time when one had to drink alcohol rather than simply turn the virtual knob on their intoxicant interface.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Patrick deWitt appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

POTUS: Books and Biographies About Our Presidents

February 12, 2014

“With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined.”
- President Franklin Pierce, 1847

Book cover for Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth DavisFebruary is a month when we often reflect upon our presidents, celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  Washington’s birthday is now a federal holiday and in some areas of the country is referred to as “President’s Day.” The library has many books about the 44 presidents who have occupied the White House since George Washington took office.

First, let’s first turn back the clock thirty years to 1984. The United States legislative and executive branches looked very different than they do today. Democrats had an entrenched hold on both the House and Senate, while a very popular Republican president was running for his second term in office. However, while political ideology was trumpeted throughout Capitol Hill, gridlock was often averted because of the basic pragmatism of two figures: President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked,” written by Chris Matthews of MSNBC fame, investigates their relationship in detail. Matthew’s point is the following: that ultimately the good of the country seemed to be the overwhelming concern for both of them. “Their way of life comprised an ongoing series of alliances and antagonisms, but did not include personal analysis of themselves or others,” Matthews writes. And he continues: “In his own way, each was a true gentleman in a way we don’t ask our leaders to be anymore.” Civility has since vanished from much of our political discourse.

Franklin Pierce, quoted above, is perhaps an obscure president, but he led the country during an important time. The 1850s were perhaps one of the most divisive points in American history, and Pierce’s efficacy as president was questionable. The book “Don’t Know Much about the American Presidents” by Kenneth Davis covers the lives, loves and frailties of American presidents. Speaking of Pierce, Davis says, “He was among a trio of pre-war presidents whose uninspired, shortsighted, and even cowardly administrations did nothing to avert the Civil War.” “Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents” also includes helpful timelines and a research guide.

Book cover for The Kennedy YearsDuring his three years as president, John Kennedy was a familiar figure in the press. “The Kennedy Years: From the Pages of the New York Times” retells the Kennedy story through the pages of the Times. As Richard Reeves points out in the introduction to the chapter about 1962, “An astonishing series of events punctuated the Kennedy years. In 1962 alone, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, Jacqueline Kennedy became a beloved, style-setting public advocate of high culture, and a walled-off, fearful West Berlin was suddenly isolated from the American sector by a Communist regime in East Germany that could no longer face the international embarrassment of a rising river of fleeing refugees.” Sadly, the November 23rd, 1963 issue heralded the end of Kennedy’s presidency and his life.

 Gentleman Warrior by Stephen BrumwellMost of us know George Washington as one of the country’s founding fathers and as a diplomat; less is known about his military service, which prepared him for those greater roles. Stephen Brumwell’s book “George Washington: Gentleman Warrior” describes in rich detail his beginnings as a military commander and his ultimate triumph as Commander in Chief during the Revolutionary War. His career did not begin auspiciously. Washington was a commander for British forces during the French and Indian War, and his initial foray (called Braddock’s Defeat) ended terribly. Of his first time as a commander, Brumwell reports that the mission “had failed at all levels” and that “Washington himself bore a large share of responsibility.” However, as history shows, Washington was a quick study. Despite this inauspicious start, Washington’s early history did mold his future. Brumwell says, “Without his youthful hankering after military fame, kindled by his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon and the Fairfaxes at Belvoir, Washington would, in all probability, have remained a footnote in history; a respectable, if unremarkable, surveyor and planter.”

No current review of books about American presidents would be complete without a title about President Obama. Dozens of books have been printed about our 44th president since he came into office in 2008. Last year, Jonathan Alter, a correspondent for NBC news, sketched Obama’s incumbency in the book “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.” A book ostensibly about the run-up to the 2012 election, it is also about how the embrace of social media might have won the election for Obama. “While Romney lumbered through his convention, Obama was on Reddit, a crowdsourced social news site known by few of the Tampa delegates, though popular with many of their children . . . The Reddit appearance was another sign that Obama’s dominance of the digital campaign was not only not bad, it was a pretty good indicator that he was on the winning track.”

Find these books about American presidents (and many more!) here at the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

The post POTUS: Books and Biographies About Our Presidents appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Monuments Men – Art in Fiction and Cinema

February 7, 2014

Book cover for Monuments MenDid you ever wonder how priceless art objects survived World War II in devastated Europe? Frankly, I never did – not until I came across Robert Edsel’s book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.” Obviously, I wasn’t the only one struck by this subject. So was George Clooney, and as a result, a new movie, “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney (no surprise here :) ), Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon is coming to the big screen starting February 7. (The author, Robert Edsel, is also given a movie credit – at the end of the screenwriters list :) ).

So, what made this book worth turning into a movie? Lots of books (and movies) take place during WWII, right? Well, for one thing, the main characters are not soldiers, generals or suffering civilians, but middle-aged people from art-related backgrounds: architects, sculptors, museum curators, archivists and others. For another, these people, drawn from 13 nations (most of them from the U.S. and UK), were not assigned any military duties. Their tasks were first to advise on how to limit combat damage to the historic structures of northwest Europe (thus the name: the monuments men) and later to recover cultural treasures that had been looted by top Nazis, especially Hitler and Göring. This wasn’t an easy assignment by any means. As the Allied armies moved deeper inside Europe, the monuments men (there were women, too, but, apparently, only one appears in the movie :) ) moved onto the front lines, working fiercely and tirelessly, often at personal risk, to protect and restore art damaged by the ravages of war.

Book cover for The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. NicholasReaders who want to learn more about that period may consider checking out “The Rape of Europa” by Lynn Nicholas, too. This book covers largely the same territory, and its cast of characters includes Hitler, Göring, Marc Chagall and Gertrude Stein.

If straight history is not your thing, consider reading the novel “Shadowed by Grace: A Story of Monuments Men“ by Cara Putman. Here destruction, art and whodunit are combined into a war-time love story.

And last but not least, don’t miss Robert Edsel’s latest book: “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” which is devoted to saving European artistic treasure in Italy.

Also, remember that you don’t have to wait for George Clooney to turn these books into movies. All you need to do to learn fascinating facts about WWII (or any other subject, for that matter) is check out library books :) .

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Categories: Book Buzz

Prison Reform and Zombie Pandemics: This Week in Community Events

February 3, 2014

I moved to Columbia to attend university and never left. I love the trails, and living in a college town affords me opportunities that might not be present in a city of similar size. This week, I have two such opportunities. Columbia will be visited by two popular authors: Piper Kerman and Colson Whitehead. Both events are free and open to the public.

Book cover for Orange Is the New Black by Piper KermanEditor’s note: due to weather, Piper Kerman’s talk is being rescheduled. She will not appear at the Missouri Theatre on February 5 as previously advertised. We will provide an update when we have one. 

Piper Kerman, author of the memoir “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,” will speak at the Missouri Theatre on Wednesday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. Kerman served time in federal prison for a crime she had committed a decade prior to incarceration. As viewers of the Netflix series based on her memoir can attest, Kerman’s experience ranges from funny to tragic. Kerman will talk about both her experience specifically and the prison system in general.

Book cover for Zone One by Colson WhiteheadThe following night, Colson Whitehead, author of the New York Times bestselling zombie survival tale “Zone One,” will be the latest speaker in the Department of English Creative Writing Visiting Writers Series. The event will take place Thursday, February 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Reynolds Alumni Center on the University of Missouri campus. Whitehead writes everything from autobiographical essays to post-apocalyptic novels and has won loads of awards. His latest book, “The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death,” is about the World Series of Poker and will be published in May.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The February List

January 27, 2014


Last year I encouraged you to read like a librarian and use the newly launched Library Reads list to find out what about-to-be-published books we library folks across the country are most abuzz about. Well, get ready to add more titles to your holds list – the February edition of Library Reads is here.

Book cover for Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising
by Pierce Brown
“The next great read for those who loved The Hunger Games. This story has so much action, intrigue, social commentary and character development that the reader who never reads science fiction will happily overlook the fact that the story takes place on Mars far in the future. The characters are perfectly flawed, causing the reader to feel compassion and revulsion for both sides. Can’t wait for the next installment!”
- Cindy Stevens, Pioneer Library System, Norman, OK

Book cover for The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew QuickThe Good Luck of Right Now
by Matthew Quick
“Socially-awkward 40-year-old Bartholomew has lived with his mother all his life and has never held a job. When she succumbs to cancer, he channels her favorite actor, Richard Gere, to make her happy during her last days. Funny and sad, with moving, unsentimental prose and a quick, satisfying pace. Highly recommended.”
- Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

Book cover for This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley CashThis Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel
by Wiley Cash
“Cash’s second novel is as good as his first. In this story, we meet Easter and her sister Ruby, who have been shuffled around the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina. Then their ne’er-do-well father whisks them away in the middle of the night. I was on the edge of my seat as I followed the girls’ tale and hoping for a safe outcome. Fans of ‘A Land More Kind Than Home’ will enjoy this book as well.”
- Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Here are the remaining titles on February’s list that are on order and ready for you to place on hold. Be the first among your friends to get your hands on these great reads!

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Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Susanna Clarke

January 20, 2014

Book cover for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna ClarkeIf what we read is awesome enough it will contribute to who we are. “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” is exceedingly awesome and about magic and magicians and an era when gentlemen were commonplace. So it will not surprise the reader to learn of my affinity for the novel and that I was both drawn to it by what I already was and shaped by it into what I currently am: a wearer of tophats and caster of the occasional spell. One cannot spend 850 often breathtaking pages in the company of gentlemen and gentlewomen without absorbing their delightful (and, increasingly in my view, mandatory) manners. The book’s influence extended beyond making suits and kerchiefs compulsory and replacing ibuprofen with laudanum as the tonic for headaches and chills*; it also provided much of the origin for my immense fear of faeries.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” is overflowing with ideas. There are footnotes throughout relaying stories other writers would have been thrilled to settle on for the course of a book but that Susanna Clarke uses as spice to deepen the flavor of a work so savory and rich that if it were food it would be impolite to serve to the book’s characters and their stiff English palates without stern warnings of its decidedly un-pudding like flavors.

Clarke created a history so persuasive that one is given to wonder if she did not simply unearth England’s true history and that the country was shaped by magic, both literally in the sense of magically altered coastlines, and figuratively in the sense of magicians aiding them in their wars and inspiring their limericks. She tells, with a voice made to illicit chuckles and wry appreciative nods, the story of the titular magicians and their plight to reassert magic to its lofty and rightful heights. At the book’s onset magic is studied by a society of gentleman but never performed as they are unable. Soon Mr Norrell emerges,** desiring to disband the “theoretical magicians” and succeeding by showing that magic can be done. His spell provides the first of hundreds of the book’s mind-searing images: he causes the statues of a great church to come alive for a short while. Magic begins its ascent in esteem. Jonathan Strange, a career-less young man, accidentally discovers his aptitude for it. The two magicians join forces. Mr Norrell brings a young woman back to life with the aid of a faerie.*** The faerie, referred to only as “the man with the thistle-down hair,” has rather disagreeable terms. In addition to taking one of Lady Pole’s fingers, he bargains for domain over half her life. Mr Norrell accepts the terms, foolishly believing the faerie will take the last half of the lady’s life. Instead the resurrected finds her nights occupied by a perpetual ball taking place in the eerie bone-strewn semi-ruins of the faerie’s castle, a place called Lost-Hope. Lady Pole and her butler, Stephen Black, to whom the faerie has taken an unfortunate liking, find when trying to speak of their predicament and thereby exercise themselves from it they can only relate arcane bits of faerie history.

The novel builds to a climax worthy of its bulk. Readers will be sad to leave it and find themselves tempted to summon a faerie that might enchant them into the book’s pages permanently. Take heed though – a reread is a better idea; unlike a faerie’s bargain it won’t leave you missing a digit and with your house, which you can never leave, made from  the pages of a novel. Great novel though it may be, weather will not do it any favors.


*Also contributed to my fondness for footnotes.

**Figuratively. Norrell much prefers to remain cloistered in his library where he’s hoarded every book of magic, thereby effectively preventing anyone from practicing.

***A creature he detests but needs for such lofty magic.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Looking for a New Project to Start 2014? Take on The Rosie Project!

January 15, 2014

Book cover for The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionWhat happens when a 39-year-old brilliant genetics professor with Asperger’s and, therefore, few social skills sets out to find a wife? He approaches that task the way he approaches all his tasks, i.e. like a scientific project. First, Don Tillman develops a double-sided, 16-page questionnaire, whose purpose is to screen out unsuitable candidates: smokers, the mathematically illiterate, those with body mass index over 26, vegetarians, the perpetually tardy, etc. He then pursues his task with robotic precision (and, not surprisingly, very little luck) – until the most unsuitable candidate walks into his life and turns it upside down. This candidate, sent to Don as a joke, is Rosie, a volatile bartender and a graduate student of psychology. Rosie has a project of her own – she’s trying to find her biological father.

As the story unfolds, Don, a guy who cannot stand being touched, who can barely read social clues or understand people’s reactions, puts his project on the back burner and begins helping Rosie with hers. In the process, an unpredictable thing happens (kind of unpredictable, mind you, it is a romantic comedy after all :) ) – Don’s Asperger’s gradually gives way to affection and, ultimately, love. And these newly awakened emotions help Don learn how to sympathize with people around him and discover the things that really make him happy.

Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Project,” a clever and laugh-out-loud celebration of our individual differences, is a great read for those who like happy endings and also for those who want to start their New Year on an optimistic note. Readers who enjoyed Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and Toni Jordan’s “Addition” (as well as fans of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”) will enjoy it, too.

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Categories: Book Buzz

Classics for Everyone: A Brief History of Time

January 13, 2014

Book cover for The Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingThe changing of the year always prompts me to note the swift passage of time. And the realization that we now have fewer than 50 years to wait until first contact with an alien species, as established in the Star Trek canon, makes me think of space. So what better book to highlight this month than Stephen Hawking’s non-fiction classic, “A Brief History of Time”?

In his acknowledgments for the book, first published in 1988, Hawking writes: “…the basic ideas about the origin and fate of the universe can be stated without mathematics in a form that people without a scientific education can understand. This is what I have attempted to do in this book.” More than almost any other modern-day scientist, Hawking helped the average person get a grasp on what physicists mean when they discuss the big bang or quantum mechanics or black holes, and why they now refer to space-time as one single term rather than two separate things. In “A Brief History of Time” he provides an historical overview of beliefs about the workings of the universe, beginning with Aristotle. Then he moves into current (at the time) knowledge and theories.

In 2005, Hawking published “A Briefer History of Time,” an updated and even more simplified version of his earlier work, for those of us whose brains move at a pace considerably slower than the speed of light. He followed this in 2010 with “The Grand Design,” co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow, which discusses further recent developments in cosmology, including something called M-theory.

Hawking’s life is as interesting as the subjects he explores, and he shares some of the details in his new autobiography, “My Brief History.” He just celebrated his 72nd birthday on January 8, over 50 years after being diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21 and told he didn’t have many years to live. But he spends more time discussing his research and education than his physical condition. Late bloomers take heart – he did not learn to read until he was 8 years old.

For those who can’t get enough Stephen Hawking in their lives, he maintains a website with up-to-date information about himself and his work:

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Categories: Book Buzz

Top DBRL Next Posts from 2013

January 3, 2014

Images from top blog posts of 2013We’ve had a great year of reviewing and recommending books, community events and library programs here at DBRL Next, and we thank you for your readership and contributing to our success. To ring in the New Year, here is a recap of our most popular posts from 2013. Read on for some great book recommendations from staff, patrons and around the Web.

  1. As part of this year’s Summer Reading program, we asked our readers to share books they had found personally groundbreaking. Read the comments at the end of this post to see the results.
  2. Celebrate strong women and check out these titles with not one damsel in distress.
  3. If you haven’t been following the recommendations of the library’s resident gentleman, you are missing out on some great books as well as some pretty hilarious writing from the gentleman himself. His profile of Lauren Beukes, thanks in part to a tweet from that author about his review, was his most-read piece this year.
  4. 2013 saw the launch of LibraryReads, a monthly top ten book list identifying those titles librarians nationwide identify as their favorites publishing that month. You, too, can read like a librarian!
  5. Read about the book one of our writers considers the most beautiful novel he has ever read.
  6. There are many reasons to pick up a book – to escape, to be entertained, to explore new topics, to expand our understanding of other people and places. Another popular post this year was this list of fiction for understanding mental illness.
  7. The crafting and upcycling craze of recent years continues, and we shared one librarian’s list of ideas for transforming your stacks of t-shirts into something new.
  8. It’s cold outside, but you can warm up by revisiting this list of recommended summer vacation reads.
  9. If your New Year’s resolutions include a radical reduction of your carbon footprint or a commitment to living with less, read this post about “living tiny.”
  10. Finally, at DBRL Next we enjoy digging up overlooked gems from the bottom shelves of nonfiction. Here are some bottom shelf books from the 600s that are sure to make your mouth water.

Happy New Year to all of our readers!

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Categories: Book Buzz
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