Welcome to DBRL Next, the library’s blog for adults! Here you’ll discover authors, programs, area events and learning resources. Visit often and find your next good book. Unravel the mysteries of new technologies. Read about upcoming films, lectures and computer classes. Participate in Adult Summer Reading. Find a volunteering opportunity, a new hobby and more. What’s next? Scroll down to find out!
In 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.
Have you ever heard of the Owens sisters? How about Lucile Bluford, a civil rights activist and well-respected editor and publisher of an important African-American newspaper? What about Phoebe Couzins, the first female US marshal, and one of the first female lawyers? It’s not surprising that you may not have heard of these women in history class, but they’re fascinating! In addition to being important female figures, these women all have something else in common: they’re all from Missouri!
As you (hopefully) know, March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme celebrates women of character, courage and commitment, and list of 2014 honorees can be found here. Women across the world have had a powerful, but often over-looked, impact on human history, and that influence extends to women’s contributions in our own state.
Back to the Owens sisters, three trailblazers from St. Joseph, Missouri. These sisters all had highly successful careers, which was very uncommon for women in the US in the late 1800s. The work of Mary Alicia Owen, the oldest sister who had the most prominent career, is documented in the book “The Life of Folklorist, Mary Alicia Owens” by local author Greg Olson. Mary was the most famous female folklorist of her time, and her ethnographic writings documented Ozark Gypsies, Voodoo Priests and other local legends.
It was a typical Missouri winter day – gray, cool and windy, with no recreational potential of any kind. It was also Sunday, but nothing special was going on in town, either.
“Let’s drive to Eagle Bluffs,” I said to my husband while we were eating our breakfast – I my usual cereal and he the leftovers from a dinner party we held the night before.
“Sure,” he said and immediately reached for his binoculars.
The thing is that my husband is a wildlife lover, and since Eagle Bluffs is a state conservation area about 10 miles away from us, it is one of the places he’s always ready to go. Over the years, I have come to like that area, too, although the first time my husband took me there, I was disappointed.
Not that I expected to see parrots or flamingos flittering around the Missouri wetlands, but with a name like “Eagle Bluffs” I surely counted on seeing eagles there! In reality, though, Eagle Bluffs is a series of ponds dug into a large open field, confined between impressive sandstone bluffs and the Missouri River, and it is visited mostly by Canada geese and a variety of ducks. Also, early in the spring, white pelicans make their festive appearance. As for eagles, after numerous visits to the area, we finally (!) stumbled on an eagle’s nest, hidden high in the tree that grows on a strip of land that is surrounded by ponds on all sides. Since then, we periodically check up on it, although it’s rare that we see its occupants.
(Review of the Inspector Montalbano mystery series, by Andrea Camilleri)
Salvo 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.
Authors Rebecca Skloot and Colson Whitehead are making appearances in mid-Mo during the next two weeks. Mark your calendars for these free events!
2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the library’s community-wide reading program, One Read, and that year we read and discussed the important work of narrative nonfiction, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. The closing program was a visit with David “Sonny” Lacks, Henrietta’s son, which proved inspiring for many in our community. Mr. Lacks was a charming guest and graciously accepted thanks from several people who waited in line to share with him their personal stories and to express gratitude for his mother’s contributions to science. Now our community has the opportunity to hear about Henrietta Lacks from the author’s perspective. Skloot will appear as part of the 10th Annual MU Life Sciences & Society Symposium on Monday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:00) at Jesse Auditorium. Tickets to this event are free, but they are required for entry. You can pick them up at one of the following locations.
- Missouri Theatre Box Office (203 S 9th St, Columbia, MO 65201)
- MSA/GPC Box Office in the MU Student Center at the University of Missouri
Find more details at the University of Missouri’s website, and cross your fingers that the weather cooperates!
Okay, who out there is weary of this winter weather and being inside-bound and weighted down with layer upon layer to fend off the bitter cold? I have been seriously stir-crazy and blue, too, so I went looking for some solution, some relief from the bleakness found within and without. I needed some way to figuratively “climb out of winter,” like the flower bulbs will do come springtime. I decided a new hobby would help keep me going until the first crocuses surface.
Here’s what I found to do:
I’d been hearing in the ambient noise surrounding me the past few years that fermented foods had health benefits, and I had a vague notion it had to do with dosing your gut with friendly bacteria. Fermented foods (miso, tempeh, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi and other cultured vegetables, cheese, beer, wine, etc.) are taste bud-pleasers with lots of flavor and zing and texture – that in and of itself is good thing.