Banned Books Week is upon us once again: October 1-7. The theme chosen this year by the American Library Association (ALA) is “Let Freedom Read” with the slogan “Free People Read Freely.” I love this theme. I love freedom. And really, who doesn’t? Some of our greatest leaders have supported the idea of the freedom to read. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a commencement address at Dartmouth University on June 14, 1953 in which he said “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in [sic] your library and read every book…” And from across the aisle, upon signing the amendment to the Library Services Act February 11, 1964, Lyndon B Johnson said “The central fact of our times is this: Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” Continue reading “Let Freedom Read!”
I don’t know who first characterized books as “windows and mirrors,” but that is exactly what they are, especially memoirs. Memoirs teach about real worlds and experiences that can be far from our daily realities and thereby expand our lives. Memoirs can also show how someone else has managed a challenge or crisis and allow us to learn what to do — or what not to do. They can show us resilience and perseverance that inspire and empower or give us snapshots of historical perspectives we might’ve otherwise missed. Perhaps most importantly, memoirs can teach empathy, humility, compassion and grace — for others, but also for ourselves. Continue reading “Literary Links: Windows and Mirrors”
Below I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in September. 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 downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.
“The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts” by Loren Grush (Sep 12)
When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots — a group then made up exclusively of men — had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its blunder and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000 six elite women were selected in 1978 — Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon. In “The Six,” acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic — and sometimes deeply sexist — media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: September 2023”
The first time I read “The One and Only Ivan” it upset me. I grew up spending many, many hours watching Ivan the gorilla at the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington. My grandfather would take me on errands with him, then get himself a coffee and each of us a donut, so we could sit with Ivan for a while before going home. I read all the articles pasted on the walls, saw all the photos, and mostly just enjoyed my time with Ivan. Even as a small child, I knew he didn’t belong there.
Ivan was such a character. Some days he just sat around doing nothing. Other days he threw me balls, wiped boogers on the glass, made faces and played. The days he was quiet I was incredibly sad for him, but the days he was active are some of my happiest memories. He placed his hand on the other side of the glass from mine many, many times. I like to think he recognized us, but that may be a pipe dream. As an adult, I have a sense of guilt about enjoying his captivity as much as I did. I wasn’t the one that captured him. I never teased him, and I always loved him, but I still sat there and enjoyed seeing him. Was that wrong? Probably, but as a child, even though I knew better, my NOT watching him would not have freed him. It’s an eternal dilemma.
My childhood created a lifetime fascination with gorillas. I recently purchased prints of a few of Ivan’s paintings. Upon their delivery, I fell down a rabbit hole of research. This is not the first time I’ve fallen down this particular Ivan deep dive, but it did lead me to reread this book. Having a bit of distance made me more appreciative.
This book upset me the first time I read it because it painted Ivan in abject misery. I didn’t want that to tarnish my happy memories of him. But that’s selfish. How could he have been happy there? I was complicit in his captivity, and although I could have done nothing about it, I can’t be pleased with my nostalgia. Author Katherine Applegate first made me feel guilty, then made me think. That made me mad at first, but isn’t that what good writing is supposed to do? Especially with literature aimed at youth? Continue reading “Reader Review: The One and Only Ivan”
What book combines the obscure art of horse diving, otherworldly hauntings, unusual animals, World War I veterans and Wild West shows, all taking place under the long shadow of Manifest Destiny and racial segregation in America? Look no further than this year’s One Read book, “When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky” by Margaret Verble. The novel, Verble’s third, is a wildly entertaining but also compassionate examination of the treatment of those on the margins of society in early 20th century America, a time when the tenets of a humanistic progressivism were all too slowly supplanting long-held beliefs about race and gender.
In her other novels, “Maud’s Line,” “Cherokee America” and “Stealing: A Novel” Verble does not shy away from offering entertaining narratives and characters alongside unsparingly realistic narratives about the displacement, violence and marginalization aimed at Native Americans in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. Verble herself is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, and each book asks one overarching question: What is it like to be a member of a nation of people, with immense territory and a complex and advanced civilization, and to have all of that stripped away by an often violent, racist and land-greedy government? Continue reading “Literary Links: One Read Author Margaret Verble”
“A Cosmology of Monsters,” Shaun Hamill’s debut novel, is an instant horror classic. The book is a perfect mix of creature-feature horror and a dark, modern fairy tale. The story keeps the reader guessing — just when you think it’s going one way, the story zags in a whole different direction. Yet, the narration is always easy to follow and neither the pacing nor tension ever slacken. Fans of Eldritch Horror will enjoy all the references to H.P. Lovecraft’s short fiction.
Be advised, possible content warnings include: Suicide, mental health, and an adult/minor relationship. There are also a couple of sex scenes. If the story were a film, I’d give it an R-rating. Although the book deals with dark, disturbing subject matter, these subjects are not described with explicit language or overly gory detail. In fact, the juvenile nature of Hamill’s prose is my only complaint about this book. I often felt like I was reading a YA novel right up until the content reminded me that I was in fact not. “A Cosmology of Monsters” is an unpredictably thrilling novel, perfect for fans of the fantasy/horror genre.
Three words that describe this book: Exciting, Clever, Creepy
You might want to pick this book up if: You’re in the mood for a good horror novel.
I have really been struggling with food and cooking lately. It’s not that I don’t love food (because boy do I love food!) but I just can’t seem to get the energy or inspiration to cook. Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe I’m just bored with the same five things I’ve been making forever. But I’m hungry. And I’m not sure exactly what I’m hungry for. Connection? Community? Comfort? Curiosity? I need inspiration but I just find it difficult to sit down and read a cookbook. I need stories. So here goes my quest for food inspiration through memoirs. Continue reading “Tasty Memoirs”
Below I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in August. 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 downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.
“Valiant Women: The Extraordinary American Servicewomen Who Helped Win World War II” by Lena S. Andrews (Aug 1)
“Valiant Women” is the story of the 350,000 American women who served in uniform during World War II. These incredible women served in every service branch, in every combat theater, and in nearly two-thirds of the available military occupations at the time. They were pilots, codebreakers, ordnance experts, gunnery instructors, metalsmiths, chemists, translators, parachute riggers, truck drivers, radarmen, pigeon trainers and much more. They were directly involved in some of the most important moments of the war, from the D-Day landings to the peace negotiations in Paris. These women — who hailed from every race, creed, and walk of life — died for their country and received the nation’s highest honors. Their work, both individually and in total, was at the heart of the Allied strategy that won World War II. Yet, until now, their stories have been relegated to the dusty shelves of military archives or a passing mention in the local paper. Often the women themselves kept their stories private, even from their own families. Now, military analyst Lena Andrews corrects the record with the definitive and comprehensive historical account of American servicewomen during World War II, based on new archival research, firsthand interviews with surviving veterans, and a deep professional understanding of military history and strategy. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: August 2023”
Do you ever feel stuck in the middle of a creative project or, arguably worse, even before you have started on a project? Does your creativity sometimes feel stunted or dried up? Do you struggle to get your creative juices flowing because you are afraid you aren’t talented enough? Perhaps we have a book that can help you. The library has a collection of books on the topic of creativity such as pep talk books to help give you a boost, books about being creative at work, and books to help you think differently.
There are some repeating themes in many of the creativity books. When you are a child, it is easy to be creative. You have time to play and are encouraged to use your imagination. You are less afraid of making mistakes or having everything be perfect. You rest and daydream. These are all tools for freeing up creativity. Continue reading “Creative Is an Adjective”