What’s Next?

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!

Read Your Way to Earth Day

Photo of Earth by NASA, used via a Creative Commons licenseI’ve read that “every day is Earth Day.” I believe I read it off a bumper sticker on a vehicle burning fossil fuels in its engine and releasing CO2 through its exhaust. Love the Earth, man. Don’t worry — in reality Earth Day is just one day a year. The other 364 days a year we aren’t required to acknowledge that we live on Earth. We can pretend this is all a magnificent dream (or terrible dream, depending on how your day is going), claim we’re on Mars or try to start snowball fights on the Senate floor. I see that Columbia’s Earth Day celebration is on April 19. In Jefferson City, the Missouri Department of Conservation sponsored celebration will be on April 24. So maybe we have to maintain awareness of our home planet for approximately a week. That’s doable.

Perhaps you’d like to pass the time reading a book or two during that week? Environmental issues have proven inspiring subject matter for excellent works of both fiction and nonfiction. If all this Earth hugging talk is a little too crunchy for you, you can take solace in the fact that these books have been printed on the flesh of dead trees.

OK, strap into your strappiest sandals and check out these books:

Book cover for Oryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodThe possibility of the world as we know it being dramatically upended or gradually changed to something unrecognizable to us is a common trope in speculative fiction. The threat of environmental catastrophe has provided new possible worlds and cautionary tales for writers. Margaret Atwood, a longtime fan of science fiction, wrote the classic work of speculative fiction, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She went back to that genre for her Maddaddam Trilogy, which the New York Times called “an epic not only of an imagined future but of our own past.” The story unfolds both forwards and backwards in the first book, “Oryx And Crake.” The disoriented narrator wanders through a bizarre wasteland populated by bioengineered animals while sorting through his memories of how the world got this way. While the subject matter is dire, Atwood handles it with wit, dark humor and love for the genre in which she’s writing.
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Working With the Conundrum of Autism

Autism Awareness RibbonApril is Autism Awareness Month, and the Columbia Public Library is doing its part to help raise awareness and educate the public by hosting a presentation, The Future of Autism Treatment, on April 29 at 7 p.m. Rachel Zamzow — doctoral candidate in neuroscience whose research is supported by Columbia’s Thompson Center — will discuss autism and current treatments, as well as her own research focusing on treatments for the social impairment aspects of this disorder.

In case you didn’t know, the Thompson Center is a premier institution, addressing the challenges of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders via the research it conducts and the training and services it provides to families across Missouri impacted by these spectrum disorders. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), which affect about one in 72 people in Missouri, are characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviors. In addition, anxiety is often a significant component for those on the spectrum. Rates of ASDs have been increasing for the past few decades and now affect approximately one in 88 people, with a four-fold higher rate in males. Though the reasons for its increase are cause for scientific debate, research at this time reveals causative factors to be both genetic and environmental in origin.

Since ASDs derive from complex neurobiological bases, it seems unlikely that a “cure” will be found. However, effective treatments that include behavioral, pharmaceutical and dietary interventions have been developed, and these have improved the lives of those impacted by ASDs. As time unfolds and research continues, it’s likely that other treatment options will emerge.
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What to Read While You Wait for A Spool of Blue Thread

Book cover for A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne TylerOne highly sought-after title this spring is Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.” This realistic tale chronicles three generations of the Whitshank family of Baltimore.

Things have changed in the Whitshank household. Abby and Red are getting older. Abby is getting forgetful, Red’s health is declining and the adult children have returned to the estate with all their long festering resentments, drama and family secrets to help their aging parents make decisions about their care, as well as the fate of the home Red’s father built decades ago. If you are currently on the list for this book or are looking for something similar to read about families, relationships and aging, you might try one of these titles to get you by.

Book cover for After This by Alic McDermottAfter This” by Alice McDermott

It is the end of World War II in New York. Mary, an Irish Catholic girl leaving church, takes shelter in a diner away from the gusting winds. Little does she realize that the fellow she sits down beside at the counter will someday be her husband. This tale is about Mary and John who live and raise four children during the 1960s. They experience the social changes and events of the decade, from the sexual revolution and abortion to racial segregation and the Vietnam War.

Book cover for Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth BergTapestry of Fortunes” by Elizabeth Berg

Cecilia Ross is a burned out, procrastinating national motivational speaker who won’t follow her own advice “to live your own truth.”  She receives a postcard from an old love she never got over, which gets her thinking about her future. So, she consults several fortune telling devices and decides to sell her house and take a break from her career. She moves into a Victorian home with three other restless women at loose ends themselves. The ladies and their dog go on a road trip, each searching for something: Cecilia seeks her lost lover; Renie, the advice columnist, is looking for the daughter she gave up for adoption; Lisa, a family physician, is hunting  for her ex-husband; and chef Joni is in search of culinary inspiration.
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Stories in Fabric: History of Quilting

When I got married, my grandmother gave me a quilt. Its pattern is simple, but each square contains great meaning. She created this gift using fabric collected from earlier in my life, including pieces of my first sundresses and scraps of my prom dress (both sewn by my mother). The quilt is a story of my growing up.

Book cover for American Quilts by Robert ShawThe history of quilting in this country is itself quite a story. For more than 200 years, women have been sewing quilts  as functional household objects, as means of expression, as historical documentation and as ways to create community. Robert Shaw, in his informative and visually spectacular book, “American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007,” describes quilts as “emblems of hope, infused with a host of meanings – some broad, national and patriotic; others subtle, familial, and personal. Quilts are banners of self-realization and individual creativity, and the best quilts are significant works of visual art – objects of great beauty and expressive power.”

While we often imagine the first quilts being created by thrifty and clever colonialists, fashioning odd scraps into blankets, the truth is that the first American quilts belonged to the very wealthy – fabric had to be imported from England, and all but the very well-off needed what little fabric they had for their clothing. (And nobody but the rich had the number of free hours it took to actually sew a quilt by hand.) Elise Schebler Roberts, in “The Quilt: A History and Celebration of an American Art Form,” explains that it wasn’t until the 1840s that the textile industry was established enough in this country to make fabric widely affordable and quilting a common activity. But once it did become commonplace, what a rich variety of creation occurred!

Book cover for The American Quilt by Roderick KiracofeBlock quilts, strip quilts, applique quilts, Baltimore Album quilts, mourning quilts, crazy quilts, African-American quilts – read about them all in “The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort, 1750-1950” by Roderick Kiracofe. Kiracofe uses quilting as a lens through which to examine the cultural and social attitudes throughout our nation’s history.

Check out these books and more on the history of quilting, at the very least for the incredible images they contain. And through April 14, enjoy a quilt showing at the Columbia Public library, featuring 24 quilts from the mid-Missouri region, as well as programs related to the rich history of quilting.


New DVD List: Keep on Keepin’ on & More

keep on keepin on

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction recently added to the library’s collection.

keeponkeepinonKeep on Keepin’ on
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing recently at the Ragtag in conjuction with the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series, this documentary follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.

Season 1
Website / Reviews
TV series based on the book series by author Diana Gabaldon. Claire Randall is a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. When she is forced to marry a Scottish warrior, an affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two men.

girlsinthebandGirls in the Band
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing last year at the Ragtag in conjuction with the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series, this films tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 30s to the present day. The challenges faced by these talented women provide a glimpse into decades of racism and sexism that have existed in America.

silicon valleySilicon Valley
Season 1
Website / Reviews
In the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. A comedy partially inspired by Mike Judge’s own experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the late 1980s.

code blackCode Black
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Physician Ryan McGarry gives an unprecedented access to America’s busiest Emergency Department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic young doctors-in-training as they wrestle with both their ideals and the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system.

Other notable releases:
Sons of Anarchy” – Season 7Website / Reviews
Master of the Universe” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
Longmire” – Season 3Website / Reviews
Girls” – Season 1Website / Reviews
Watchers of the Sky” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
The Sixties” – Website / Reviews
House M.D.” – Season 1Website / Reviews
Trailer Park Boys” – Season 1 & Season 2Website / Reviews
Banshee” – Season 1, Season 2Website / Reviews
The Thin Blue Line” – Trailer / Website / Reviews
Veep” – Season 3Website / Reviews
WKRP in Cincinnati” – Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4Website
Remington Steele” – Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Seasons 4 & 5Website

Classics for Everyone: Spoon River Anthology

Book cover for Spoon River AnthologyLet’s play literary Jeopardy. The clue is: Making its first appearance in April 1915, this book of poems spoke of life in a fictional Midwestern town and has been the inspiration for numerous theatrical productions, musical compositions in multiple genres and at least one computer game. If you said “What is ‘Spoon River Anthology’ by Edgar Lee Masters?” you won this round.

Masters was a practicing attorney who dabbled in literature on the side. He’d published a few pieces previous to 1915, but “Spoon River Anthology” brought him a level of success that allowed him to quit his law practice and follow his dream of writing full-time.

The fictional village of Spoon River was based on Masters’ hometown of Lewiston, Illinois. Each poem in the book, with the exception of the introductory one, is narrated from the grave by a different deceased town resident. Since there are no consequences to be suffered, the characters can speak with honesty, showing realities of small town life not often acknowledged at the time. People discuss extra-marital affairs, domestic violence, greed, swindling and all manner of pettiness with surprising frankness.
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