Before I say anything else, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to those essential workers who are still showing up every day and keeping life going during this global crisis. I hope in the near future, when the rest of us are back at work, you will get a turn to rest and read.
For those of us hunkering down at home for the foreseeable future, here’s our chance to knock out the most formidable Read Harder Challenge of 2020: task number 16, a doorstopper (over 500 pages) published after 1950, written by a woman. If you are intimidated by lengthy books, ebooks can remove some of the anxiety because they don’t put any extra weight in your hands as a reminder of how large the task is. Continue reading “Read Harder 2020: Digital Doorstoppers”
As our communities join metaphorical hands and rally around the mutually beneficial and necessary acts of isolation, social distancing and hand washing, one realizes that without books many among us will go mad and begin to cast our cats in plays that are far too complex for the cats to even remotely begin to stage, even as they are far too simplistic (given the parts were expressly crafted for the limited range of a cat) to entertain humans for more than the length of a gif (even with the cats being super cute). Fortunately, you can always access books through the internet, until the internet goes down, which then of course leads to far darker scenarios than what is conjured when avid book readers are denied their fix. There is not enough toilet paper or hand sanitizer in anyone’s weird and selfish makeshift bunker to stave off the dire consequences of a society going through world wide web withdrawal. But the internet is not down! So books are unlimited! Stay home and read!
Given that with every keystroke my horrifically dry digits crack and bleed (washed to the point of madness, claims my butler through the door of the pantry I’ve benevolently isolated him in), I would like to briefly present a few of entertainment resources you can access for free (with your library card, which you can obtain through our website) through Daniel Boone Regional Library’s website. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Our Digital Branch”
Here’s a look at some of the exciting debuts novels hitting our shelves in March. Place your holds now! For a more complete list, please visit our catalog.
“Conjure Women” by Afia Atakora
Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom. Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: March 2020”
This year marks 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, which opened up the right to vote to women throughout the country. Women spent many years working for suffrage, enduring the taunts and occasional threats from those who did not believe they should step foot in the voting booth. As we celebrate this anniversary, here are a few books that explore the people who made universal suffrage possible and the challenges they faced in bringing the vote to all people. Continue reading “Literary Links: Marking 100 Years of Votes for Women”
Read on below to learn more about a few popular titles coming out in March! For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month check out our catalog. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: March 2020”
I like to think of Maya Angelou as a Missourian, although she spent only a small part of her life in the state. She was born in St. Louis in 1928 with the name Marguerite Anne Johnson. Upon the break-up of her parents’ marriage when she was three years old, she and her older brother Bailey were sent to live with their paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Continue reading “Classics for Everyone: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”
Our lives are so carefully structured and scheduled that it can be difficult to imagine them being completely upended by nature. This is a reality for many. Here are some stories (both fiction and nonfiction) from the survivors, the helpers and the researchers of natural disasters.
“Haiti After the Earthquake” Three days after the massive 2010 earthquake, Dr. Paul Farmer rushed to Port-au-Prince to help. Having lived in Haiti for nearly thirty years, Farmer offers his perspective on the socioeconomic and political factors that made the earthquake even more devastating. Other doctors, volunteers, and survivors offer their perspective on the disaster and recovery efforts. Continue reading “Read Harder 2020: Books About Natural Disasters”
As the recipient of a charmed life, my dreams generally bring me glad tidings (normal stuff like a time lapse of cinnamon rolls baking or a dog pushing a stroller filled with kittens, etc.). Like most folk, I have the occasional nightmare (again, typical dream content: dogs and cats aggressively defending their territory from each other or an endless void suffused with the howls of the damned, etc). Add it up, and I’m enthusiastically pro-dream, but I can understand why one wouldn’t be if their slumber was consistently corrupted by visions of atrocities in which they participated. What I cannot understand, and what I will not abide, is the desire to replace everyone’s dreams with propaganda designed to advance the agenda of the state. This is one of many ways in which I am at odds with the protagonist of “China Dream” by Ma Jian (translated by Flora Drew).
Ma Daode has earned his terrible dreams by spending portions of his youth killing people while they tried to kill him, denouncing his parents as traitors (shortly before they killed themselves), and abandoning his home for the spoils of corrupt power before eventually participating in its destruction. As the head of China Dream Bureau, he is leading the effort to insert a chip into people’s brains that will regulate their dreams. His attic is overflowing with bribes, and his phones are constantly chiming with messages from an array of mistresses. One understands why he might find himself pelted with trash now and again.
After being suspended from his job for buffoonery, aiming to erase his past, he seeks out a notable guru type and obtains the recipe for what sounds like a truly disgusting beverage. This drink, famous for being what’s imbibed shortly before reincarnation so that one doesn’t bring too much of their past into the future, has ingredients such as ginger that’s been sucked by a corpse and a wolf heart. He drinks this foul concoction, and tries to sell others on it’s benefits. They are not convinced, and food is thrown at him. The book ends with a satisfying crescendo before an afterword that elaborates on the author’s anger at the Chinese government.
Ma Jian lives in exile, and his books are banned in China, but good satire is universal, and reading banned books makes you cool, is what I hear.
More than 2,400 years ago, Aristophanes complained about the youth of his community, “…they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders …” In the intervening centuries, the world has seen many changes, but the propensity of adults to complain about younger generations has remained constant. Of course, there are always teens showing up to prove them wrong — the Marquis de Lafayette serving as a general in George Washington’s army at 19, young Mary Shelley creating a new genre of literature with her science fiction masterpiece, “Frankenstein,” or Barbara Johns fighting school segregation. Continue reading “Literary Links: Terrific Teens”
Check out below to learn more about a few popular titles coming out in February! For a more extensive list of new nonfiction coming out this month check out our catalog.
“The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” by Eric Larson
On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next 12 months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally — and willing to fight to the end. In “The Splendid and the Vile,” Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people ‘the art of being fearless.’ It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports — some released only recently — Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s ‘Secret Circle,’ to whom he turns in the hardest moments. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: February 2020”