Literary Links: The Atomic Shadow

Posted on Sunday, October 11, 2020 by Seth

On an October day 81 years ago, a momentous letter was delivered to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Penned by Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard and signed by Albert Einstein, it was a stark warning regarding humankind’s future. The contents of the letter spoke of the possibility of a weapon of such immense power, capable of such terrifying destruction, that it must never come into the hands of an evil power. That the Nazis knew of such a weapon and were thought to be in the process of developing it, spurred the Allies into action. That weapon was the atomic bomb and the “action” was  the start of a program of intense research into nuclear fission in the United States. Informally and in secrecy, in the autumn of 1939, the Manhattan Project was born. The world has lived under an atomic shadow ever since.

Much new writing and research has been done in recent years regarding the development and use of the first atomic bomb. After German and Soviet archives were opened in the early 1990s, it was revealed that the Nazis resolutely did not have the capacity for developing nuclear weapons and many among the Allied Fallout book covertop command knew this very early in the war. “Fallout, Conspiracy, Cover-up, and the Deceitful Case for the Atom Bomb” by Peter Watson dismantles the widely held belief that the Manhattan Project was purely a race against the Nazis. Several scientists and army engineers working on the project, including General Leslie Groves, knew that there was another far-reaching objective: to intimidate and eventually beat out the brutal Stalinist Soviet regime in the nuclear arms race. “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World” by Chris Wallace explores not so much the “why” behind the use of the atomic bomb as the “how.” Although covering previously well-trod territory, the book nonetheless reads like a fast-moving piece of historical fiction at times. To this day, it is stunning that the U.S. and its ragtag band of scientists could develop a doomsday machine and utilize it within such a short time frame. Continue reading “Literary Links: The Atomic Shadow”

The One Read List: Part Five

Posted on Friday, October 9, 2020 by Abbey Rimel

Inside the Metropol, a Life is Lived. Inside your Library, a World Awaits.

This series of blog posts explores the rooms of the Hotel Metropol, setting of this year’s One Read title, and recommends books and films related to each scene. For a true admirer of the written word, one book is never the end of the story.

The Written Word

Though he is a “man of devotions” the Count’s best and oldest friend, Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich, often misses their appointments, but sends many missives.  

In Mishka’s Letter

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The Count’s romantic imagination overlooked his friend’s reference to the death by suicide of the poet laureate of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Mayakovsky, but it is later noted that this may have been just as well. However well they loved each other, the Count and his friend may have always seen the world in a starkly different light.

Night Wraps the Sky

Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and About Mayakovsky” edited by Michael Almereyda

Mishka’s Legacy

Upon his death, Mishka arranges to send one final legacy through the enigmatic Katerina Litvinova, his great love. The work is a hand bound catalog of classical works of literature including all passages in which “BREAD” or “SALT” is mentioned, bread and salt being the fundamental ingredients of Russian hospitality.

The IdiotThe Nose” by Nikolai Gogol (Downloadable audiobook on Hoopla)

Oblomov” by Ivan Goncharov

Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy

In the Study with Sofia and the Count

KachkaOn the eve of her journey to Paris, the Count insists that Sofia sit down to a comforting bowl of Okroshka, Russian summer soup, “so that one can recall it [home] fondly should one ever happen to feel a little low.”  

Beyond the North Wind:  Russia in Recipes and Lore” by Darra Goldstein

Kachka:  A Return to Russian Cooking” by Bonnie Frumkin Morales

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking:  A Memoir of Love and Longing” by Anya Von Bremzen

In the Basement with the Baedekers and the Bishop

As he makes his daring escape from 32 years of house arrest at the Hotel Metropol, Count Rostov holds the Manager Leplevsky at gunpoint with an antique dueling pistol. While walking his nemesis to the storage room in the basement, the Count stops stops to pull another Baedeker travel guide, this time for Finland, from the “cabinet of curiosities.” While this guide was intended to misdirect the authorities, the earlier pilfered Baedekers were intended to guide Sofia through the streets of Paris and to the American Embassy. Enjoy a more leisurely stroll through Paris with any of the below guides.

The Streets of ParisParis in Stride:  An Insider’s Walking Guide” by Sarah Moroz

The Streets of Paris:  A Guide to the City of Light Following in the Footsteps of Famous Parisians Throughout History” by Susan Cahill

A Passion for Paris:  Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light” by David Downie


What’s with the 21st of June?

One of the things that puzzled me as I read the novel was that so many chapters started with the date, June 21st.  What’s the significance?  Why?  I don’t think I would have pieced it together had I not listened to the author talk with our gracious author, Amor Towles.  About ten minutes into his talk, Mr. Towles mentioned that he had decided to structure the book “accordion” style.  The idea was to start the book with snapshots of the Count’s life in quick succession, starting with the first day (the day of his sentencing), one day later, the second day, 5 days later, 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year later (to the day), 2 years, 4 years, 8 years, accelerating through time until we hit 16 years — and then it reverses, starting another 8 years later, 4 years, 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months and all the way through to the last two days with a very exciting conclusion.

This time structure brings us through 32 years of the Count’s life, showing how he first adapts to his new circumstances and then slowing back down to show how he has matured and his relationships have grown in the intervening years. Mr. Towles likened this set of rules, which he adopted for his creative process, to the time honored structure of the sonnet. With its 14 lines, ten beats per line (in iambic pentameter), the sonnet’s rules have given shape to poetic expression for hundreds of years.

If you go back through the book, you’ll see that the Count was tried and sentenced on June 21st, 1922.  We also see that the first chapter of book one starts on that very day. When we get to the chapter that shows his life one year later, it is one year to the day, thus we are frequently marking time in the Count’s life with June 21st, the longest day of the year, and the day of his sentencing to life in the Metropol Hotel.

During his talk, author Amor Towles shared this and many other wonderful insights into his writing process with the DBRL One Read audience. For myself, I can say that this delightful novel brought me back into literature and the connections that one inevitably feels with the rest of humanity when one truly enjoys the characters and the undeniable warmth and humor of the author.  By the end of the book, I counted Anna, Nina, Sofia, Marina, Emile, Andrey, Abram and Audrius as old friends. How blessed the Count was for their friendship, how blessed we all are for the connections we find, even while trapped in place as we are now.

With warm regards, the staff of Daniel Boone Regional Library hope you enjoyed this year’s One Read program and we’re excited to bring you another version in 2021!

Author Interview: Delia Remington

Posted on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Delia Remington is a Mid-Missouri author who writes books focused on the horror genre. Her latest project is “Dark Conjurings,” an anthology of horror and fantasy stories that she edited and published that includes six tales from various authors, including one story by Remington herself. The book was a Gold Medalist from the 2020 eLit Awards for Anthology ebooks, a Silver Medalist in Fiction: Horror for the 2020 Ben Franklin Awards sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, and a Silver Medalist in Fiction: Anthology for the 2020 Midwest Book Awards sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. I recently emailed some interview questions to her, and she was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to write back some answers. Continue reading “Author Interview: Delia Remington”

Nonfiction Roundup: October 2020

Posted on Monday, October 5, 2020 by Liz

Below I will be sharing some of the new nonfiction titles that will be released in October. All the titles are available to put on hold from our catalog and will also be made available on the library’s Overdrive account on the day of publication. For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month check our online catalog.

Top Picks

Golem Girl: A Memoir” by Riva Lehrer (Oct 6)
What do we sacrifice in the pursuit of normalcy? And what becomes possible when we embrace monstrosity? Can we envision a world that sees impossible creatures? In 1958, amongst the children born with spina bifida is Riva Lehrer. At the time, most such children are not expected to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. That she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. Their work is daring, edgy, funny, and dark — it rejects tropes that define disabled people as pathetic, frightening, or worthless. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits — inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist, and the love and playfulness that defines all of Riva’s work, “Golem Girl” is an extraordinary story of tenacity and creativity. With the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, this memoir invites us to stretch ourselves toward a world where bodies flow between all possible forms of what it is to be human. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: October 2020”

Vote for America!

Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 by Eric

Vote America Banner
If you’re curious about your voting options for this election, go here.

Have you heard about the upcoming election? The one on Tuesday, November 3?

I hope you’re already aware of it, because it’s kind of dominating the news right now. Also, the last day you can register to vote is October 7 — one week from today! If you want to vote absentee or by mail, your last day to request a ballot application is October 21.

Harry Truman casts his vote
Credit: Galloway, Vernon Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Let’s review those dates:

  • October 7 – Last day to register to vote.
  • October 21 – Last day to request an absentee or mail-ballot application.
  • November 3 – General election.

Continue reading “Vote for America!”

Homeschooling and Distance Learning Resources: Books

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2020 by Liz

This is the first blog post in a series that will focus on resources the library and community have to help out parents with distance learning and homeschooling. The first resource I’ll be sharing are books from the library on various topics related to parents as teachers and learning for children of all ages.


The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education” by Ainsley Arment
Inspired by the spirit of Henry David Thoreau — ”All good things are wild and free” — mother of five Ainsley Arment founded Wild + Free. This growing online community of mothers and families want their children to receive a quality education at home by challenging their intellectual abilities and nurturing their sense of curiosity, joy and awe — the essence of a positive childhood. The homeschool approach of past generations is gone — including the stigma of socially awkward kids, conservative clothes and a classroom setting replicated in the home. The Wild + Free movement is focused on a love of nature, reading great books, pursuing interests and hobbies, making the entire world a classroom, and prolonging the wonder of childhood, an appealing philosophy that is unpacked in the pages of this book. “The Call of the Wild and Free” offers advice, information, and positive encouragement for parents considering homeschooling, those currently in the trenches looking for inspiration, as well as parents, educators and caregivers who want supplementary resources to enhance their kids’ traditional educations. Continue reading “Homeschooling and Distance Learning Resources: Books”

The One Read List: Part Four

Posted on Friday, September 25, 2020 by Abbey Rimel

Inside the Metropol, a Life is Lived. Inside your Library, a World Awaits.

This series of blog posts explores the rooms of the Hotel Metropol, setting of this year’s One Read title, and recommends books and films related to each scene. For a true admirer of the written word, one book is never the end of the story.

Music in the Air

Throughout the Metropol, you will find all manner of music, from the band in the Piazza to the jazz ensemble in the Shalyapin. Below are some samplings.

A gift from Richard Vanderwhile

Symphony no. 6At the end of a very distressing day, the count returns to his quarters in the belfry and sheds “the tears of the luckiest man in all of Russia.” He finds a portable phonograph, compliments of his new American friend, Richard Vanderwhile. Among the records included, he finds and plays Vladimir Horowitz’ performance of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto.

The Best of Tchaikovsky

Symphony no.6 Continue reading “The One Read List: Part Four”

The One Read List: Part Three

Posted on Monday, September 21, 2020 by Abbey Rimel

Inside the Metropol, a Life is Lived.  Inside your Library, a World Awaits.

This series of blog posts explores the rooms of the Hotel Metropol, setting of this year’s One Read title, and recommends books and films related to each scene. For a true admirer of the written word, one book is never the end of the story.

At the Shalyapin with Audrius

When a German patron at the bar asks the Count to name other Russian contributions to Western culture besides vodka, he has the perfect response … Chekhov and Tolstoy, “the alpha and omega of narrative.”

The Essential Tales of Chekhov

The Essential Tales of Chekhov” by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Continue reading “The One Read List: Part Three”

The One Read List: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Part Two

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2020 by Abbey Rimel

Inside the Metropol, a Life is Lived.  Inside your Library, a World Awaits.

This series of blog posts explores the rooms of the Hotel Metropol, setting of this year’s One Read title, and recommends books and films related to each scene. For a true admirer of the written word, one book is never the end of the story.

At the Piazza with Nina

Metropol, Russia 2019

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings: McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez: 8601400989791: BooksIn which the Count enjoys lunch and an engaging conversation with a certain young lady who has a penchant for the color yellow. They discuss mustaches, princesses and duels “with pistols at thirty-two paces.” (Just as an aside, his excellent marksmanship, knowledge of duels and more specifically, the location of dueling pistols hidden somewhere within the walls of the Hotel Metropol, will later serve the Count well.) Continue reading “The One Read List: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Part Two”

Virtual Travels with UNESCO

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by JessB

File:Mammoth Cave tour.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Mammoth Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site


With travel restricted, sometimes the best way to explore is through the pages of a book! There are a lot of exciting places that you can explore without leaving World Heritage Sitesthe comfort of your home. Around the world, there are a seemingly endless number of locations valued for their beautiful landscapes, cultural traditions and rich history. Some of these places are recognized for their natural and cultural value, and are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This organization is a world-wide group that is devoted to promoting [cultural diversity, safeguarding natural resources, and protecting culturally meaningful sites around the globe.

Did you know there are over 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world? That means a lot of beautiful and richly diverse places to explore — and some of those places are closer than you might think! 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. Continue reading “Virtual Travels with UNESCO”