Here is a by-no-means-comprehensive list of things that I have no intention of doing this year: going keto, doing crossfit, reading “War and Peace,” giving up social media. If you have already lapsed with New Year’s resolution, the problem may not be with you. Many typical resolutions are so dry and joyless. The secret to a good resolution is to pick something that will improve your life and that you will actually enjoy doing. Here are some that may spark a bit more joy than, say, dieting or giving up coffee. Continue reading “(Better) New Year’s Resolutions”
While I once enjoyed travel, musical performances, picture shows and communal drinking, I now merely pace the halls of my manor chewing mail-order snacks and raving madly about the widespread inability to discover and interpret facts. When seeking an escape from the labyrinth of despair to which I’d been banished, I’d pick up a novel and read the same passage repeatedly until I’d managed to sufficiently obscure reality and retain what I was reading, and then I could proceed to subsequent passages and enjoy the experience of reading rather than fixating on disaster or listening to my butler’s tales of being berated for kindly asking people to wear a mask nearly a year into a pandemic that has killed over 400,000 people and will kill hundreds of thousands more (and cause long-term damage to countless others) and which could still be curtailed if people would simply wear a mask and not congregate as if there weren’t a pandemic. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Susanna Clarke (Again)”
On first glance, our Comforts of Winter reading program might be perfectly captured by the the word “hygge” — the Scandinavian concept of simple and contented living. It seems hygge (pronounced ‘hue-guh’) is discussed on an annual basis when fall and winter roll around, and one usually finds the idea of a cozy evening surrounded by books, blankets and candles picturesque, but perhaps a bit limiting. Considering we were all cooped up in our homes for most of last year, we’re likely in for a massive case of cabin fever this winter. Friluftsliv to the rescue!
What is friluftsliv (pronounced ‘free-loofts-liv’), you may ask? Well, the word literally translates to “open air living” and refers to the Nordic tendency to spend time in nature regardless of the weather. The term was coined by Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, but the concept has likely been a part of Scandinavian culture long before his time. Norway, Denmark and Sweden all have a long-established tradition of roaming or camping throughout the countryside, whether it be during mid-summer or the dead of winter. In the U.S., if you wander onto someone’s land in any season, you might get yourself into a bit of trouble, but Scandinavian countries actually have laws that protect the wandering nature lover so long as they show respect for flora, fauna and people.
U.S. nature lovers have instead their local city, state and national parks systems. This winter, why not get out and take advantage of the lovely parks in your neck of the woods? Enjoy the spare beauty of a mature Sycamore tree, admire a frosty forest, contemplate the soaring flight of a hawk. Sure it’s a bit chilly, but as they say up North, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing. Bundle up and find yourself amazed at the peaceful delights of nature.
When you get back home, all the comforts of hygge will be there waiting for you. Your first cup of hot chocolate will taste that much better when you’ve earned it with a chilly morning walk! If you decide to investigate further, you’ll likely find that hygge and friluftsliv are really bound up with one another. You cannot have hygge without friluftsliv. Enjoyment of nature is essential to Scandinavian well-being. To help you along on your winter adventure, visit this hygge booklist for more tips and ideas. Happy wandering! While you’re at it, sign up for The Comforts of Winter program, set your own reading goals and get a neat prize!
Website / Reviews
This dark comedy series follows Jen (Christina Applegate), a sardonic widow determined to solve her husband’s recent hit-and-run murder. Judy (Linda Cardellini) is an optimistic free spirit who’s recently suffered her own tragic loss. When the two women meet at a support group, they become unlikely friends despite their polar-opposite personalities. Continue reading “New DVD List: Dead To Me, Tenet, & More”
Editor’s note: This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will be sharing more throughout the rest of the year.
“Less” follows a man named Arthur Less, a divorcee and moderately successful author about to turn 50. To avoid attending the wedding of the man he loves to someone else, Arthur picks up every possible travel opportunity to have an adequate excuse not to attend the wedding. This takes him to Italy, Germany, France, Morocco, India and Japan. Several embarrassments, misadventures, and life lessons ensue. I really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh out loud several times, and the ever-changing scenery keeps it interesting.
Three words that describe this book: Fun, heartfelt, humorous
You might want to pick this book up if: You are looking for a light, fun summer read that still has substance.
The time is right to find a long book and a cozy spot: it’s dark and cold outside, it’s unsafe to congregate inside and, if we all stay home and read, we’ll slow the viral spread while transporting and soothing (or at least distracting) our overworked brains. Here are a few doozies to help you while away the COVID winter.
Perhaps the absence of live music in real life added to the thrills of reading David Mitchell’s “Utopia Avenue,” but even if the ecstatic guitar solos, beautiful harmonies and thundering drums lovingly rendered on its pages could currently be recreated in front of an audience and with sound rather than prose, the book would still be a gift. Although many novels have charted the course of a fictional band, few feature a guitarist with a malevolent spirit lodged in his head. As a bonus, if you haven’t read the rest of Mitchell’s novels, doing so will illuminate aspects of this one, and also be tremendous fun. Continue reading “Literary Links: Long Reads”
Welcome back to the next installment of Virtual Travel with UNESCO! It can be fun to explore new places — even without leaving the comfort of your own home. Previously, we talked about the UNESCO organization and their list of World Heritage sites. Part I focused on the sites closest to Mid-Missouri and a few more in the central and eastern United States. If you have not had the chance to read the first part of this series, UNESCO is a worldwide organization that promotes cultural diversity, safeguarding natural resources, and protecting culturally meaningful sites around the globe. UNESCO has over a thousand sites that are protected by the organization and considered valuable cultural and natural resources. Today, I will be highlighting UNESCO World Heritage sites in the west and southwestern United States. To see the entire list of natural and cultural World Heritage Sites check out World Heritage Sites: A Complete Guide to 1,031 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Let’s explore! Continue reading “Virtual Travels With UNESCO – The American West and Southwest”
Welcome in the new year with one of these new novels by debut authors. For a longer list of titles, please visit our catalog.
“A Deadly Fortune” by Stacie Murphy
Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity. Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: January 2021”
A new year and more new nonfiction books coming out for you to read! All of the mentioned titles are available to put on hold in our catalog and will also be made available via the library’s Overdrive website on the day of publication in eBook and eAudiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.
“Keep Sharp: Build A Better Brain At Any Age” by Sanjay Gupta (Jan 5)
Throughout our life, we look for ways to keep our mind sharp and effortlessly productive. Now, globetrotting neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta offers insights from top scientists all over the world, whose cutting-edge research can help you heighten and protect brain function and maintain cognitive health at any age. “Keep Sharp” debunks common myths about aging and cognitive decline, explores whether there’s a “best” diet or exercise regimen for the brain, and explains whether it’s healthier to play video games that test memory and processing speed, or to engage in more social interaction. Discover what we can learn from “super-brained” people who are in their eighties and nineties with no signs of slowing down — and whether there are truly any benefits to drugs, supplements, and vitamins. Dr. Gupta also addresses brain disease, particularly Alzheimer’s, answers all your questions about the signs and symptoms, and shows how to ward against it and stay healthy while caring for a partner in cognitive decline. He likewise provides readers with a personalized 12-week program featuring practical strategies to strengthen your brain every day. “Keep Sharp” is the only owner’s manual you’ll need to keep your brain young and healthy regardless of your age! Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: January 2021”
What a year this was! Am I right? Between the global pandemic, raging fires on the west coast, a cancelled Olympics, and an election that just wouldn’t stop, I found it difficult to read. Well, I shouldn’t say that because I did read plenty, but the nature of what I read and how I read certainly changed this year. I listened to a lot more audiobooks this year, and I followed obsessions.
I took part in a couple of book challenges. I blew away my Goodreads goal of 100 books by reading over 150. And, once again, I took part in the Read Harder Challenge. I have to be honest — I didn’t finish this challenge this year. My mantra throughout the entire year was “but we’re ALREADY reading harder just because it’s 2020!” I’m still proud of myself for reading all but two of the tasks, and the challenge introduced me to some of my favorites for the year. I absolutely loved “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” written by Grace Lin, which I read as a “retelling of a classic fairy tale or myth by an author of color.” This book has hints of “The Wizard of Oz” while also telling a very unique story centered in Chinese fairy tales and folklore. I’m always stunned by how much I can love books intended for middle-graders even though I’m in a vastly different “middle” age group myself. Continue reading “2020 Was a Dumpster Fire, But I Read Some Good Books!”