On a dark and stormy October night, a group of travelers find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after their van breaks down. Fortunately, they realize they are just down the street from a library. The library surely has a phone they can use to call for help.
Entering the library, they are greeted by its librarian, who introduces herself as Elsie. She welcomes them to make themselves at home, but warns that with the stormy weather the power is out and phones aren’t working. A few lanterns throughout barely light the space. The dark library is spooky and Elsie seems nervous and on edge, but with the storm raging, the travelers decide it will be safer to stay. Continue reading “Escape the Haunted Library!”
“Call me Ishmael.” The first sentence in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” is considered one of the greatest opening lines for a novel. Other classics often cited for their great opening lines include “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” So, what makes an opening line great? Stephen King reflected on this in a 2013 interview with Joe Fassler: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Here are a few contemporary novels whose first lines manage to do just that.
“The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday.” So begins the novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce. Immediately, I found myself wondering what was in the letter, who wrote the letter and to whom it was written. I had to keep reading to find the answers to these questions. In this novel, the author examines the concepts of hope and redemption with a charming tale of a retired husband and father who takes a unique, impulsive and circuitous journey to fulfill a self-imposed quest to aid a dying woman. The story it captures is both poignant and humorous.
Jeanne Ray begins her novel, “Calling Invisible Women,” with “I first noticed I was missing on a Thursday.” This provocative sentence leads into a story about a wife and mother in her fifties who feels invisible to her family and the world around her. Her only worth seems to be in the services she provides — cooking dinner, doing the laundry and keeping the house clean. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up one Thursday to find herself physically invisible, but no one seems to notice. Ray uses a satirical voice to explore middle age, family dynamics and a woman’s role in modern society. Continue reading “Literary Links: Great First Lines”
Book I Listened To: “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill
Why I Checked It Out: I’ve listened to a couple of other books by Hill and enjoyed his storytelling — a blend of fantasy and suspense, with a touch of horror. I also recently listened to his book “The Fireman,” which was also narrated by Kate Mulgrew and I fell in love with the way she reads a story (more on that later!). Continue reading “Staff Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill”
The dog days of summer are upon us, and I can’t think of a better way to spend them than with a good book. Sometimes, though, finding that good read can feel next to impossible. We at the library are always happy to help you solve your “what-to-read-next blues,” and so we are especially excited to invite you to a special Book Buzz event this Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m. in the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library.
Stop by the Book Buzz for a number of ways you can discover your next great read: Continue reading “Book Buzz: Finding Your Next Great Read!”
This July, our northern neighbor celebrates its sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. The Dominion of Canada, formed on July 1, 1867, included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Now 10 provinces and three territories strong, Canada will hold festive events nationwide to celebrate the event known as Canada 150. So how can you celebrate Canada’s rich heritage through literature? Let the library help!
Trip planners headed to Canada will want to check out an excellent pair of guides from National Geographic. Their “Guide to the National Historic Sites of Canada” features the beautiful photography National Geographic is known for, and it details Canada’s 168 national historic sites, which include archaeological sites, battlegrounds, natural features and other heritage sites. Readers can take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America, or head northwest to Dawson City — a town that played a significant role in the late-1800s Yukon Gold Rush. July is also National Parks Month in Canada, so you might want to check out National Geographic’s “Guide to the National Parks of Canada.” Readers can explore the country’s 46 national parks, from the majestic Columbia Mountains of Canada’s Glacier National Park in British Columbia to the breathtaking fjords and oceanic landscapes of Gros Morne in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada’s natural landscapes have something for everyone to enjoy. Continue reading “Literary Links: O Canada! Celebrating 150 Years”
Images and stories of refugees fleeing war-torn nations are haunting and have unfortunately become a fairly regular sight in our news. The journeys these displaced people find themselves on are perilous and traumatic and for some, even deadly. Once they manage to arrive in their sanctuary countries, settling into a place where the language and cultures are different can be tremendously challenging. Continue reading “Center Aisle Cinema and Discussion With Refugee and Immigration Services”
Book I Read: “Company of Liars” by Karen Maitland
Why I Checked It Out: I regularly read from a variety of genres and had a craving for something historical. I hadn’t visited the Middle Ages lately during my literary travels, so it seemed like I was due for a visit. The mix of religion and superstition that were such driving factors in people’s lives during that time period fascinates me, and I’m also intrigued by the day-to-day challenges people faced in a world that lacked the modern day conveniences I take for granted. In my search for a Medieval tale, I stumbled across Karen Maitland’s book, which was billed as a take on Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” It seemed like just the thing to cure my reading craving. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland”
It has been 100 years since his birth, but John F. Kennedy remains a popular historic figure. People are fascinated with his privileged upbringing and the complicated politics of his presidency. His abbreviated life continues to inspire books, televisions series and movies. If you’re interested in reading more about this man who managed to leave a lasting mark on this country despite his short life, the library offers a large selection of interesting titles.
Before he was president, Kennedy showed promise as a leader when PT 109, the torpedo boat he served on, was downed by a Japanese Destroyer in the South Pacific. The ship’s surviving crew was stranded on an island, and Kennedy risked his life several times, swimming miles through the ocean in search of both food and escape from the island. “PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy” by William Doyle explores how Kennedy’s experience shaped him from a spoiled, wealthy youth into his destiny as the inspirational war hero who beat the odds to win the presidency. Continue reading “Remembering Our Fellow American, John F. Kennedy”
Today, April 19, marks the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War. The war was long, lasting over 8 years. Countless lives throughout the colonies were affected by those seemingly endless years of fighting as the new nation came into being. The Revolutionary War years were filled with drama, so it is not surprising how many fiction titles are set during that time. Here are some novels at the library that readers who enjoy historical fiction may want to explore:
“America’s First Daughter” by Stephanie Dray: we’ve heard stories about our Founding Fathers, but what about the rest of their families? Dray’s book offers a fictionalized look into the life of Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. Patsy was close to her father and served as a stand-in First Lady to her widowed father. Dray’s book, which is based on letters and historical documents, follows Patsy’s journey from Monticello to Paris and ultimately to the White House, and offers insight into the personal sacrifices she made in order to help her father achieve the presidency. Continue reading “Revolutionary War Fiction”
In March of 1969 the literary world was changed forever by Mario Puzo’s book “The Godfather.” Gangster stories were not a completely new idea, but Puzo’s take on the story offered a glimpse at life on the inside of a New York City crime family. Readers were enthralled with the drama surrounding the legendary Don Vito Corleone and his sons. The book inspired what many would say is one of the greatest movies of all time, and its influence can be seen more recently in one of the most popular television series of all time. Here are a few mafia-related titles available at the library. Continue reading “Beyond The Godfather: Gangster Fiction at the Library”