An Embarrassment of Riches

An Embarrassment of Riches is a blog about the best the library has to offer. From audio books to movies, from novels to zines, library staff and guest bloggers will tell you about their latest library discoveries. Read. Watch. Listen. Chat.

Ugh, Valentine's Day is the worst!

The only reason I look forward to this time of year is the flourishing of Valentine's chocolate and candy.  Because in Portlandia, eating seasonally applies to candy, too, right? Jelly beans and Peeps at Easter. Candy corn at Halloween. Best of all is the chalky goodness of Sweethearts, made by NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) since 1901. Maybe it's nostalgia for my New English youth.

But it also provides an annual zeitgeist check. Timeless messages like  "SOUL MATE" or "QT PIE" mix with fads like "FAX ME" or "TWEET". (Heads up - if you find "FAX ME", there's a good chance that bag is well past optimum freshness.)
"143". What the heck does that mean?
Wait, what's this? "LET'S READ"! Awesome!
According to NECCO's website, "in 2014, the longtime favorite “Let’s Read” also reappeared in the mix."

Yeah, "Let's read"!

Let's read Walt Whitman's yawps and H.P. Lovecraft and Batman comics and Mary Oliver's poetry.
Let's read Rumi's chickpea, Chuang Tzu's fish, Icelandic sagas.
Garcia Marquez, Garcia Lorca, cat detectives, dog detectives.
Zombie novels, Amish romance, Zombie-Amish Westerns.
Let's read zines like Librarian Cathy's own Sugar Needle.
Eduardo Galeano, Paco Ignacio Taibo, Italo Calvino, just to say their names!
Let's read blogs! Let's read on phones and laptops. Paperbacks on the bus, or audiobooks in the car!
Let's read magazines and newspapers while they still exist.
Dr. Seuss at bedtime, or breakfast, or whenever, really.
Let's read with friends, with family, alone, or alone in a crowd.

Let's read Dar Williams' lyrics to "What do you love more than love."
(Pizza! No, wait - beer! No, wait - pizza AND beer!)

Or Dead Milkmen's love letter to "Punk rock girl."

Oh, man, Valentine's Day is the best!

Our guest blogger is Eric, who talks about himself in third person: "Eric has been enjoying libraries since the '60s, man. In his 4th decade at MCL, he drives the library's tiniest truck, which some people still call The Bookmobile, for Adult Outreach. His favorite movie, if it existed outside his mind, would be "Batman vs Godzilla", with Chow Yun-Fat as Batman and Nicolas Cage as Godzilla. Co-directed by John Woo and Guillermo del Toro. Scored by David Byrne and performed by The Ukrainians featuring Yo-Yo Ma. The graphic novelization is written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Mike Allred.

Danielle is excited to read Legends, Icons & Rebels, a children's nonfiction book about the legends of music who change how we hear and feel about the world. 27 mini-biographies, playlists, and accompanying CDs will introduce a new generation to the Greats of music.

Danielle is a Youth Librarian at the Hollywood Library.

Parlor Games book jacketWelcome to our new blogger Carol, who says this about herself: I read widely and profusely, propelled by a natural curiosity about everything under the sun and the belief that for me there is no better place to be than living inside a good book.  I have deep love for all things fiction and could not imagine my life without any of the works of Nevil Shute, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited or Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, just to name a few.

It’s 1917 and May Dugas is on trial for extortion. Did she take the money? Well, May Dugas has been taking money all her life! From her early years working in a Chicago bordello to her financially rewarding marriage to a Dutch baron, May has earned her living being the arm candy of some very rich men. May is the ultimate social climber, blackmailer and seductress, skills she developed and utilized in the name of supporting her family. But despite all her scheming, May doesn't plan on the dogged determination of Reed Doherty, a Pinkerton detective who has tracked her across the globe, from Chicago to San Francisco, to Tokyo and London and parts in-between and finally to a Wisconsin courtroom where May must finally answer for her supposed crimes.

Based on an extraordinary true story, Portland writer Maryka Biaggio’s Parlor Games is a non-stop global chase, a thrill ride whose last stop isn’t revealed until the very last second. Cold-hearted grifter or resourceful family provider. When the gavel comes down in that courtroom, will May Dugas finally meet her match?

Sooner or Later coverSomewhere in the past few years Portland morphed from a Tonya (Harding) into a Nancy (Kerrigan) kind of town - from a scrappy backwater to a burgeoning condopolis full of fancy ice cream shops, artisan beard oil, and chic boutiques peddling faux lumberjack outfits. I kid, I kid... but believe it or not, touring bands often used to skip Portland, due to it being a grey, unfashionable spot with small audiences. There wasn’t much for young people to do here, and not much employment either, so they had to form their own bands, and make their own fun.

Which brings us to Sooner or Later, the new double album that collects the recordings of the Neo Boys. One of Portland’s most notable punk bands, they often played with the Wipers, and opened for X, Nico, and Television, among others. Their sound is a very early form of punk, not frenetic or thrashy at all - in fact, it’s very catchy and melodic, with guitar parts that go beyond the usual couple of power chords. The tracks are in chronological order, so be sure to listen past the first few to get a feeling for them at their most skilled - try “Give Me the Message” if you want to get hooked fast. And, oh yeah… despite the name, they weren’t boys at all - over ten years before the whole Riot Grrrl movement, these four young women, some in their late teens, were shaking up local music. They’re worth a listen if you’re interested in early punk, the history of Portland music, or women who rock.

To learn more about the Neo Boys, the Wipers, Poison Idea, and other Portland punk and underground bands, try some of the items on this list.

Judy is reading Fresh Off the Boat, a memoir by Eddie Huang, the founder of the popular East Village food shop Baohaus.

Judy is a Library Assistant at the Hollywood Library.

Every once in a while I come across a book that makes me feel as though the years I spent before reading it were half lived. Here are three books that were published long before I was born that opened my eyes up a little wider this year.

Dandelion Wine cover

Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine is sweet, brave, and precious. I use all three adjectives in the fullest sense of their meanings, and feel as though if anyone less honest and skilled than Bradbury had written this it would be treacle. In his hands, it's the magic and fear of childhood distilled.

In the 1935 noir novel about the era's dance marathons, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? what should be a pleasure becomes a horrific ordeal. Both a peek into a world that existed briefly and a point on a continuum of exploitation extending from Roman gladiators to Honey Boo Boo.


When I picked up Eugénie Grandet I expected exuberance and humor.

Instead I found something beautifully constrained and subtle. Balzac wrote with uncharacteristic somberness to tell the story of a girl whose life is stunted by her greedy father. This was only the second Balzac novel that I have read, and it revealed the scope of La Comédie humaine.

Recently I was digging around for something to satisfy me in the same way that Connie Willis' Oxford Time Travel series does and I dragged up the Small Change Series by Jo Walton. I am deep into book two, and I love it.

Book One, Farthing, is a Christie/Sayers-style country house mystery, the stakes increased enormously by the fact that this 1949 England has made peace with Hitler and the murder in question may push the country decidedly into fascism. The book is deceptively modest -- "oh, I'm just a mystery with a funny bit of alternate history, don't mind me" it whispers -- but manages to pull off a riveting whodunit, a chilling 'it really could have happened', and a lovely portrait of how brave everyday people can be.

Book Two, Ha'Penny, replaces the 'whodunit' with an effort to assassinate Hitler. But this isn't just a fantasy of derring-do in the face of evil. People who dream of a free England ally with Stalinists in order to accomplish their ends, good people are killed by other good people in the effort to do What Must Be Done. In other words, Walton acknowledges that the world is complicated while keeping the pages flying by.

The third and final book is Half a Crown, & I almost can't bear how much I want everything to be OK by the end of this reality-that-wasn't.

Welcome to our new blogger Azalea, who says this about herself: I have been a Multnomah County Library fanatic since moving to Portland in 2006 from San Diego, California. I love cookbooks, the author Elena Ferrante, books with kitty pictures, and that moment when I pick up a brand new or overwhelmingly popular item from the holds shelf.
Adobo Road Cookbook bookjacket
Like lots of Asian-American kids growing up, sometimes I got tired of eating rice at home and loved novelties like hamburgers and pizza. It was only when I moved away for college that I found myself missing comfort foods like arroz caldo, pancit palabok, and chicken barbecue. I missed those garlicky, savory, sour, and sweet flavors that exist somewhere near, but are not quite Chinese or Thai food. 
Years of making disappointing or unremarkable Filipino food ended the day I picked up The Adobo Road Cookbook by Marvin Gapultos. I found recipes that looked like they were just for me: Filipino spaghetti, homemade longanisa (breakfast sausage), a cocktail with calamansi juice, and more. So far, I'm most proud of becoming an expert at making some amazing lumpiang shanghai, which are egg rolls.
Browsing the new cookbooks page and discovering Adobo Road brought me closer to my culture and improved my culinary abilities. If you enjoy the complex flavors in Thai cuisine, want to explore a new food, or earn some bragging rights through cooking, check out Adobo Road.


Billy Wilder, director of such diverse and wonderful films that to begin to list them is to agonize over your exclusions, had a sign in his office that said “What would Lubitsch do?”

Ernst Lubistch made movies that sparkled, with wit and sophistication that has not been matched since. Trouble in Paradise

Lubitsch’s 1932 film Trouble in Paradise was released before the Production Code acquired the power to prevent ‘immoral’ movies from being shown. Crime pays. People who are not married have a great deal of fun together. The screening of such delights was considered dangerous. Trouble in Paradise was unavailable for years, and never released on VHS.

Sometimes it seems to me that the Production Code changed our view of the past, that this board of censors determined not only the morality of what was on American screens, but also the way that we would see their times. The past becomes a foreign country where good was good, bad was bad, and human beings were somehow not so human.

I’ve made a list of Effervescent Pre-Code Movies in our catalog. For me these movies break down the barrier between us and the past, showing that our great-grandparents had desires and foibles that were just like our own. And that they were very funny and had great gams.

I want a book that will suck me in, make my brain spin, and not let me go until the very last page. Thank goodness there's been a surplus of books lately where the authors have written books that do exactly that.

book jacket of We Are All Completely beside OurselvesOne book is Karen Fowler’s We Are All Completely beside Ourselves. I’m rather mad that many reviews (and even Multnomah County Library’s catalog) describes with too much detail what this book is about. The best thing to do is just check it out and dive right in. It’s beautifully written, haunting, heartbreaking. At its core, this is the story of a family and the loss they experience. And after you read it, please don’t reveal the secret at its center so other readers can feel the surprise!

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is another twisty book that I couldn’t put down. Lionel Shriver has written quite a few novels that take on big issues. In her latest book, book jacket of Big Brothershe takes on obesity. As an American woman, I’ve struggled with body image and weight issues since I was a young adult so I found this book really interesting. The main characters are a sister and her obese brother. She decides to devote a year of her life to help slim him down. And boy does he. Or does he? Shriver’s book is a commentary on the epidemic of obesity and the ties of family. How can we help our family and at what cost? After I read the last section of this book, I had to meditate a while on everything that I had read in the previous parts. It made my head hurt just a little. But in a good way.

book jacket of The Shining GirlsAnd speaking of heads hurting, a must read for anyone who wants a twisty, turvy book who isn’t put off by quite a bit of gruesomeness, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is your book. Harper Curtis is a serial killer, a repulsive, horrible, yucky killer. He’s exactly what murderers should be like. He’s not the gentlemanly, charming, oh-so-relate-able serial killer that has become the norm in pop culture today. He finds a key to a house that allows him to travel back and forth across time to find his victims and then escape into another time. And then one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and begins to hunt him back with the help of ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez. This story will make a fantastic tv series (Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company have bought the television rights). And after you read it, please let me know what you think happens at the end. It made my brain spin.


Welcome to our new blogger, Patrick, who says this about himself: "I work at the Holgate Library where I answer questions all day. When I'm not doing that (and if you don't believe me, check with my coworkers who have given up hope of engaging me in lunchroom conversations) I'm probably reading or playing games. I read lots of comics and graphic novels, but also enjoy dystopian fiction, rousing adventure tales, classic sci-fi and fantasy, Dickens, good writing about science, and the occasional bit of warm and fuzzy pop philosophy."

I like 'thoughtful'. Thoughtful and reflective and true, all things that bring about a calm philosophical life. (I'm also a fan of whimsical, dystopian and heroic but those will be other entries.)

It turns out that I have been finding many of those thoughtful moments via MCL's zine collection, particularly the works of John Porcellino. I discovered them randomly in the form of an issue of King-Cat Comics & Stories that passed in front of my face, and there was something about the simplicity of the line art that made me want to open it. What I found was a little handmade collection of comics and... well, 'essays' sounds boring, but 'stories' doesn't sound true enough. 'Reflections' seems to fit. John talks about his beloved cat Maisie, his sweetie Misun, sunrises, moving, music, and all sorts of things that occur to him. He's someone who struggles to find meaning in life, and he frequently questions things he has previously held true. What I like best are the little vignettes like 'Football Weather' from King-Cat #66 where all the neighborhood kids decide to help him with his lawn and then a football game ensues. It's not about leaves or football, though... it's about things like community, and appreciating life, and What Is Important to You.

If you enjoy King-Cat, there are hardbound collections, or you might also like his other work, including  the short and sweet Three Poems about Fog, or a hardcover graphic novel called Thoreau at Walden. As is usual for me, a thing aimed at younger readers can actually be pretty universal.

And if you want another good autobiographical zine with less philosophy but equal self-discovery and more sass in it, try Jesse Reklaw's Ten Thousand Things to Do. where he describes his lifestyle of "inking, drinking, and anxious thinking".

Is there anything as sweet as discovering a new author?

I found one this month, Maureen McHugh, and I have Jo Walton to thank for it.
In her blog post revisiting the 1993 Hugo Awards she mentioned one of the nominees, China Mountain Zhang, with an adamant "It's wonderful" that intrigued me.
I grabbed it. I loved it.
The time is the near future -- after a Second Great Depression, China dominates the world. The US has gone through it's own Cultural Revolution -- a 'Cleansing Wind' -- and has settled down into Socialism. But economics and ideology are not the focus, they are only the background of the characters' lives.
The main character is Zhang Zhong Shan. He pretends to be things that he is not: 100% Chinese (he is half Hispanic), straight (he is gay). At the beginning he is not honest with himself, he does not know what he wants, and he is hard to like. But with the finest shown-not-told writing, McHugh brings him from being to a boy to being a mensch. I grew to love him, to be excited for him as he learned new things and began to be capable of making the world better. And as I learned to love him I gained understanding of why he had been the person he was: ashamed, torn, young.

In short, "It's wonderful."

I'll admit I do not have the world's classiest taste in movies.  I adore the summer blockbuster season (even if I frugally wait for the really really bad ones to hit DVD and wait for my hold to come in).  If like me you think winter means slow talky movies with a depressing minimum of explosions, I have a couple of books to suggest that you might like.

Steelheart coverSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson is set in a world where people suddenly turned up with superhero like powers.  Only nobody who has developed the powers is heroic; instead everyone who developed the powers seize what power and slaves that they can without regard for the lives of others.  Most have given up hope and have submitted to the rule of their new masters.  David was a child of six in Chicago when the Epics came to be.  At eight, he watched his father murdered by Steelheart whom everyone thinks is invulnerable to any physical harm. At eighteen, David wants revenge and he has spent the last decade gathering every scrap of information that he can find on the Epics and any weakness they might have. David saw Steelheart bleed once when his father died and he'll see Steelheart bleed again if it's the last thing he does.  

The one type of action movie I have no real interest in is a zombie movie, although Warm Bodies was cute.  I have no interest in seeing World War Z even on DVD.Darwin Elevator cover With that dislike in mind when I read the summary for The Darwin Elevator by Jason M Hough, I was almost ready to ignore this debut novel.  "The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures"...  Okay.  I'm not the target audience for this title.  But the Library Journal review compared it to Joss Whedon's Firefly... Hmm, perhaps I'm being overhasty I thought!  So, with cheery disregard for my husband's free time I hand him this novel and tell him that this book should be his next choice! (The poor trusting soul...)  In short order he had it finished and comes back to me saying "This was fun!  You'll love it!  When can I have book two?" So I read it and found it everything I love about a good action movie.  The plot runs along so quickly you'll have finished before you know it. Fortunately books two and three are already out and waiting for you because the publisher realized it had a hit on its hands and put this debut trilogy out in a three month window to build the author's readership.  Every time a publisher has done this I've loved the series, so I should have realized that this series would be worth reading too!

P.S. I do occasionally watch classy movies! I especially enjoy historical movies and movies based on classics of literature, and I've got The Great Gatsby and Lincoln checked out as I write this. 

How much did I know about James Garfield before reading Candice Millard's most recent book, Destiny of the Republic ? Almost nothing. He was just a trivia answer to me, one of our four assassinated presidents. But here's the thing: Garfield didn't die from the assassin's bullet. He died from massive infection eighty days after the shooting, almost certainly caused by hisBook cover, Destiny of the Republic doctors.

Luckily for Garfield, the wound caused by his shooter was not mortal, though that would have been merciful. Unfortunately, the U.S. medical profession, for the most part, did not believe that there were such things as microorganisms. In 1881 doctors in America believed in the "old stink" of surgery, and were proud of it.

The infection that raged through Garfield's body was introduced within moments of the shooting by the unwashed hands and instruments of the doctors who battled to attend to him, determined that they would be the one to find the bullet. Their poking and prodding would continue daily, and it makes for cringe-worthy reading. Garfield lingered for months, getting weaker, always in excruciating pain, suffering in the heat of a humid D.C. summer, in a White House in disrepair where rats were a constant problem.  When he finally succumbed and the autopsy was done, the doctors knew immediately what the cause of death was. The bullet was not where they had insisted it had to be, but on the other side of the body, "safely encysted." However, infection was everywhere. The doctor's words were "Gentlemen...we made a mistake." Profound septic poisoning was the cause of death.

The story of Garfield's life and death by Candice Millard is a stunning read, and gets an "un-put-downable" rating from me. Two remarkable ironies: had Garfield been an average Joe in America in 1881, he would've likely survived the shooting without a doctor's care, and simply walked around with a bullet in his body, like tens of thousands of his fellow Civil War veterans. Second, had the shooting happened just a few years later, it would have been easily survivable, even with a doctor's care.

[Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Medicine, Madness and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, and was also a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 2011]

I have been waiting a decade to find many comics about contemporary women. Comics have changed - they just aren't about muscle bound men and scantily clad muscle bound women. Now there are cBook Jacket of Calling Dr. Lauraomics about science, memoirs, history, and health. There's a little bit for everyone.  Recently, we were asked for comics about contemporary women.  With that in mind I have developed a reading list.  I wanted to find women's voices in our comics culture.  Finally and Ahhhhhh!





When I was on a tour in Germany about ten years ago, we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Nuremberg. While I was admiring the red roofs and the medieval architecture, I was surprised to learn that many of the buildings we were looking at had been bombed during World War II, but had been rebuilt to match the pre-war structures. In The Aftermath, a new historical novel by Rhidian Brook, Colonel Lewis Morgan is in charge of rebuilding Hamburg, a city that was heavily bombed during WWII. The British government has requisitioned a beautiful home for him in an unscathed area of the city and has informed the current owner, Stefan Lubert, that he and his daughter must move out. Lubert, an architect before the war, is now working at a menial job while he waits to be cleared as a "good German", one who was not heavily involved with the Nazis.  While Colonel Lewis is awaiting his wife and son's arrival in Germany, he decides that Lubert should stay and share the house with his family. His wife is NOT happy with that decision. Their older son was killed by a German bomb while playing in a house in Wales, and she is not ready to forgive the Germans or her husband, whom she partially blames, for that tragedy.  I was fascinated by Rhidian's stories of people in immediate post-war Germany, both the Germans and the British, and was touched by the humanity and forgiveness that shines through the characters. This novel, based on the post-war experiences of the author's grandfather, will stay with me for a long time.

For another historical novel featuring strange bedfellows, check out Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  Based on the life of the last woman executed for a crime in Iceland, Kent tells the story of Agnes who, along with two others, is accused of murdering a man.  Because there are no suitable prisons in Iceland in the early 1800s, she is sent to live with a family on a remote farm until the time of her execution.  The waiting period of several months gives the characters a chance to adjust to each other and move from anger and resentment to acceptance.  Burial Rites is a quieter, more slow-moving book than The Aftermath, but is similarly compelling.  Both novels made me want to delve into other historical events that I know little about (and there are many)!

At this time of year many people are tempted to pull out the tarnished sax hiding under their beds or dust off the old ivories to see if their after-school piano lessons can be resurrected. But what to play? "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" can get a little tired after the second or third time through.

Never fear - Multnomah County Library has one of the best collections of sheet music anywhere around.

For instance, maybe you'd like to know what the kids were singing in the 90's - the 1890's, that is. Take a look at Songs of the Gilded Age, which includes such great tunes as "Elsie from Chelsea" and that old favorite "She is More to be Pitied, than Censured", not to mention "Where Did you Get that Hat?".

Perhaps your instrument is your voice. Then maybe you'll want to check out the American Idol Presents series - complete with sheet music and CD accompaniment. You're sure to be a star in your own living room.

Or maybe you'd like to rock out and take it up to elevenThe Zen of Screaming might come in handy. It's a training program for rock singers "to preserve their vocal cords without compromising their passion."

You say you and your friends would like to present a musical tribute to Lady Gaga? Here's the place to start

According to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, it will only take you 10,000 hours of practice to become just as good a guitarist as Etta Baker was. This instructional DVD might even cut it down to 9,500 hours. 

After all, as the writer, Alexander McCall Smith asked, in a recent New York Times article, "why should real musicians — the ones who can actually play their instruments — have all the fun?"

When people speak about the mystery of Christmas, they generally aren't talking about crime novels, but I like to read something holiday-ish in December, and for some reason I gravitate towards mysteries.  The following titles range from crimes as simple and relatively innocuous as a stolen Christmas tree to a death at a Victorian holiday party.  Make a cup of cocoa, throw another log on the fire, and check 'em out if you'd like to celebrate the holidays with a mystery!

picture of A Highland ChristmasA Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
Hamish MacBeth is on the trail of a stolen Christmas tree and lights, as well as trying to solve the mystery of a missing cat.



picture of Jerusalem InnJerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes
Two dead bodies make for a not-so-merry holiday for Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his friend Melrose Plant.



picture of A Christmas HopeA Christmas Hope by Anne Perry
When a woman dies at a holiday party, the wrong person may have been accused.  Claudine Burroughs wants to make sure that the truly guilty party is caught.  This is just the latest in Anne Perry's series of Christmas novels.


picture of Past Reason HatedPast Reason Hated by Peter Robinson
Just three days before Christmas, Inspector Alan Banks must sort out a tangle of relationships to find a killer.



Merry Sleuthing and a Happy Clue Year!

The Divergent movie, based on the insanely popular series by Veronica Roth, is coming March 21, 2014. Looking through the cast list, I noticed several interesting bits of trivia:

Shailene Woodley, starring as Tris, appeared in another movie adapted from a young adult novel: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp -- as did Miles Teller, who plays Peter. Ms. Woodley is also starring in another hotly-anticipated movie adapted from a young adult novel: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Zoe Kravitz, daughter of musician Lenny, playing Christina, was in yet another movie adapted from a young adult book: It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

Theo James, playing Four, had an important role in the third episode of the first season of the BBC TV series Downton Abbey.

You might know Kate Winslet, playing the Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews, from Titanic or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Back in 1994, when she was a teen, she made her feature film debut in the creepy and compelling Heavenly Creatures.

Tony Goldwyn, playing Tris's dad Andrew Prior, also plays President Fitzgerald Grant on the ABC drama Scandal. And he's the grandson of producer Samuel Goldwyn, who's responsible for the G in the name of the movie studio MGM: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 

And finally, Mekhi Phifer, playing Max, was in Eight Mile along with Eminem and is name-checked in Eminem's famous track "Lose Yourself."

Lose yourself in books, movies, music & TV while you wait for the Divergent movie!


So I put myself on hold for Nick Trout's book, Tell Me Where it Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon after reading a positive review of it somewhere, and fortuitously it came in right before my vacation. Trout is a veterinary surgeon at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Massachusetts, and although he's British, he's pretty far removed from the James Herriot I knew and loved in my youth through All Creatures Great and Small

Trout focuses mostly on the dogs he's met and operated on and condenses a number of cases he's seen over the years into one day to give readers a sense of the urgency and adrenaline rush one might experience in a day working at Angell. He begins with an early morning call that gets him out of bed and ends his day over fifteen hours later when friends of his child bring in a pet that needs some immediate attention.

Interspersed among the cases are Trout's ruminations on the practice and business of being a vet - issues that I had barely, if ever, considered over the years of taking my pet to the vet. Questions of ethics and finance, cures versus palliative care - these are all noted in Trout's honest, if at times slightly condescending, voice. Now that I make weekly visits to the vet with my elderly cat, the new insight has given me an even deeper appreciation for the doctors who work so hard to make sure our pets have the best possible care. 


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