Blogs

--By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

We all have those childhood favorites that will forever hold a place in our hearts. Sometimes we come across something that takes us back. If you want to revisit a blast from the past, try one of these suggestions from Hollywood Teen Book Council member Elsa Hoover.

If you once liked: Yertle the Turtle, now try The Big Short

Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

The rock that Yertle uses as a throne isn’t high enough so King Yertle stacks himself on top of other turtles to see farther and make his kingdom bigger.  He does not, however, think of how this situation is affecting the turtles beneath him.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis

In Michael Lewis’s book, four high-finance outsiders are the first to understand that the mid-2000-era housing market was the equivalent of a throne of stacked turtles.

Eloise by Kay Thompson

Unforgettable Eloise lives at the Plaza Hotel and knows everything about it.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna has her senior year planned out.  Then plans change and she ends up in a boarding school in Paris.  She’s pining for Georgia, so Paris isn’t very magical.  But there’s this guy…

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia and her brother Jamie run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Hiding in the museum is part of the fun, but they also set out to figure out if an angel statue was sculpted by Michelangelo.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother Noah were once close and now they aren’t.  Find out what happened when they were 13 and what’s happening now when they are sixteen.

The Paper Bag Princess  Robert N. Munsch

Princess Elizabeth is ready to marry Prince Roland, until a dragon intervenes.

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

Princess Bitterblue’s rule of Monsea is complicated by the fact that she can’t leave the castle, and also because the former king was a violent psychopath.  She’s ready to move her kingdom past that stage.  But how?

 

If you like Charlotte's WebCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Wilbur, the runt of the litter is saved twice, first by Fern Arable and then by Charlotte, a barn spider.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The pigs have grown up!  And this time they are taking over the farm in George Orwell’s allegorical novella.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The story of a bunny in a great green room saying goodnight to everything.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack says goodnight to things, too, though he does it in Room, the tiny shed which is the only home he’s ever known.  Unknown to him, Room isn’t the world, it’s where he and his Ma are held captive by Old Nick.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Annemarie and Ellen’s friendship persists despite the pressures of World War II and the relocation of Jews in Denmark.

Night by Elie Wiesel

A son’s experience with his father in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald
 

 

 

 

Photo of John McLoughlinAre you studying Portland history? Read on to learn more about famous Portland residents, past and present.

Long before white settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail, the Portland area was home to the Multnomah people, a band of the Chinook Tribe. One of their leaders was Chief Kiesno (sometimes spelled Cassino).  Tragically, many of the native inhabitants of our area died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

John McLoughlin is often called the Father of Oregon. He moved to the area in 1824 and established Fort Vancouver just north of Portland. Later, his general store in Oregon City became the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

Photo of Abigail Scott DuniwayBy 1845, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy owned land in the area and flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygrove won the two out of three tosses, and since he was from Portland, Maine, he chose to name the new city after his hometown.

Abigail Scott Duniway is famous for fighting for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. After many tries, she finally succeeded in Oregon in 1912.  Intriguingly, Abigail’s brother, Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian newspaper, was opposed to letting women vote. This blog post will introduce you to other important women in Portland’s history.

McCants Stewart was the first African American lawyer in Portland and started a newspaper, The Advocate. Dr. DeNorval Unthank is well-known for his role in fighting for civil rights for African Americans and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. A park in North Portland is named for him. 

Some other famous Portlanders include children’s author Beverly Cleary, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), and Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike.

For more information on famous residents of Portland, visit the Oregon History Project’s biography page, or search the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Juliet Takes a Breath book coverYou know that moment when you are reading a book that you realize somehow mirrors your own life? For me that book is Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes A Breath. Like many young folks I was intent on escaping the town that I had called home for most of my life and wanted to discover myself in someplace new. At some point my attention turned to moving west, and about 12 years ago I finally found my new home in Portland.  Juliet Milagros Palante has always called the Bronx her home, but she has her sights set on Portland. Before she leaves home, Juliet must do one thing, come out to her family. While eating dinner with her loved ones, a few hours before she is about to board the plane that will take her from the east coast to the west, she reveals her truth. Although her mother will not speak to her Juliet begins her journey to a strange new land. Juliet has a plan: figure out what it means to be queer and brown while spending the summer in Portland interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the author of one of her favorite books. In this candid coming-of-age story, Juliet discovers herself as a feminist and as a queer Latinx, finds a her community and falls in love.
Cunt: a Declaration of Independence
 
The fictional author, Harlow Brisbane, wrote a book that strikes a chord with Juliet, opening her up to the world of feminism.  Like Juliet, my introduction to feminism, radical politics and the Pacific Northwest came in the form of an eye opening book by Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. While this wasn't the first book about feminism that I had read, it was the first one that did not have an academic tone. It was a book that was passed around among my group of friends, sparked frank and often hilarious discussions, and changed the way that I moved in my female body. And like Harolow Brisbane's fictional feminist tome, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is the kind of title that would make some passersby uncomfortable. Gotta love a book that has that kind of power!

 

In April, award-winning comics creator and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang visited Portland, delighting more than 1,300 students and young people at two appearances. Mr. Yang is a critically acclaimed and best-selling graphic novelist and former computer science teacher who creates powerful stories through juxtaposing words and pictures.
 
Speaking to a packed house at the Alberta Rose Theatre about Asian Americans in comics, he said, "All you need to start making comics is paper, a pen, and a healthy ignorance of your limitations as an artist."
Gene Luen Yang at Alberta Rose Theater, photo by Bitna ChungGene Luen Yang audience at Alberta Rose Theater, photo by Bitna Chung
 
He also issued the audience the reading challenge that he's promoting as National Ambassador:

- Read about someone who doesn't look or live like you

- Read about a topic you find intimidating

- Read in a format you don't usually read in -- if you only read prose, try comics or poems

And he answered many questions from the enthusiastic audience, including "Which Harry Potter house are you in?" Gene Luen Yang is a Hufflepuff.

Also as part of this program, Mr. Yang spoke to students representing 13 middle and high schools from several school districts in an assembly hosted by Cleveland High School. Multnomah County Library provided 1,000 copies of Mr. Yang’s highly regarded graphic novel American Born Chinese to the students so they could read and study it before his talk. Also in advance of Mr. Yang’s visit, the library held a comics-making contest for grades 6-12 and produced an anthology of winners and honorable mentions.
Gene Luen Yang audience at Cleveland High School, photo by Bitna Chung
 
Mr. Yang's visit was made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

Simon Tam is the founder of the dance-rock band The Slants, and is social activist, dedicated to raising awareness of racial disparities, social justice and issues that affect the Asian American community. See more picks from The Slants here.

My childhood was defined by the three places where I spent most of my waking time: school, the restaurant that my family owned and the county library.

At the age of eight, I was already bussing tables and doing kitchen prep work at our family’s restaurant. But when business was slow, I would walk two blocks over to the Lemon Grove Public Library and pick up a stack of books so large that I could barely see over the top of them. In fact, I spent so much time there that I got to know the staff and volunteers on a first-name basis.

The aisles and shelves of the library whet my appetite for knowledge. It didn’t matter which section I was in, I’d always find something interesting, whether it was filled with dinosaurs or theology, art or business. I know, it probably doesn’t sound like your average grade-school child. But it was the library that instilled an unshakeable belief in lifelong learning, curiosity and exploration. This same belief gave me the drive to set a record on the most number of TEDx talks given, and helped me lead a landmark case going before the United States Supreme Court; this sense of curiosity also helped me start numerous businesses, publish several books, and prepared me for touring the world with my band, The Slants.

As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I’m reminded of the sacrifices that my parents made (you can hear that story here) — not only to provide a home for our family, but for encouraging me to use the library as a way to grow as well. Today, the library does more than lend books: now you can check out films, use the computer, take classes, and more!

Here are some of my favorite works that I’d recommend you check out:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell: This was one of the first leadership books I read as a teenager. I was instantly hooked. Not only do you learn about leadership principles that can help you lead an organization, but there are plenty of great lessons for being a better student, friend and volunteer as well.

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: Diaz is one of my favorite authors. He gets being a geeky person of color and his characters are incredibly relatable, frustrating and real. It provides a fresh perspective on teenage life, rejection and redemption.

King Dork by Frank Portman: I grew up in the early 90s pop punk scene so I was obsessed with a band called the Mr. T Experience. Later on, the lead singer became an author and published this coming-of-age novel with the same wit, comedic awkwardness and rock n’ roll references as the songs I loved.

Octavia’s Brood, edited by Walidah Imarisha: Local author and activist Walidah Imarisha teams up with Adrienne Maree Brown to create this incredible combination of science fiction and social justice stories. It’s a must read.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: Murakami paints these swirling, surrealistic worlds that blend alternate realities with our own. In part, this novel pays homage to George Orwell’s 1984, but I believe it surpasses it in nearly every aspect.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang: Chang provides a breathtaking biography for the history of the hip-hop movement, from the Bronx to Jamaica. It is based on over a decade of interviews and research and is considered one of the best musical, as well as political, writings available.

If you like these, you might enjoy some of my books like Music Business Hacks (for aspiring artists) or my music.

Donna with her Kuchulu spindle.MCL Makers is a DIY series that highlights Multnomah County Library staff who make things in their spare time. Our first MCL Maker in the series was Anne Tran who taught us about all things soapmaking. Our second MCL Maker is Library Assistant Donna Cain. Donna is active in the fiber arts community and shared with us about her craft. 

How long have you been handspinning fiber into yarn? 

I've been spinning for about 25 years.

How did you learn how to spin?

In the beginning, I bought a used Ashford spinning wheel and took an eight week class at the Multnomah Center for the Arts. I've been happily turning fiber into yarn ever since. I'm a member of the Aurora Colony Handspinners' Guild, and am always learning new things about the craft. Handspinning is one of those crafts that you can learn in a day but take years to truly master. Luckily, every step along the way is a joy. 

Have you used any resources from the library to further develop your craft?

I've checked out hundreds of craft books, including books on spinning, from the library over the years and we have a good selection. Even better, the library has great DVDs on various aspects of hand spinning. How cool to check out a DVD and learn a new technique from a nationally known expert. You'd have to travel and pay a substantial fee to learn from someone like that in person!

Have you taught others how to spin or shared your skill in any way? 

A Kuchulu spindle with multicolored yarn.

I love bringing new spinners into the craft and have taught lots of people, mostly one on one. Currently, Librarian Judy Anderson and I are teaching spindle spinning (Drop Spindle Basics) as a library program.

What advice do you have for the new spinner just starting out? 

I would encourage anyone interested in handspinning to start by taking a class. We continue to offer Drop Spindle Basics through the library. I am also available to teach drop spindle or wheel spinning at the Belmont Knit Fix program. In addition, classes are available at some yarn shops and through the Aurora Colony Handspinners' Guild. Another great beginning (activity) is to attend a fiber festival. They are listed on the Guild's website. It's a great way to see lots of spinners in action and experience the wonders of the fiber world. 

For more information on all things handspinning, be sure to check out this curated list. Happy crafting!

 

 

Photo: Tom Cherry, Suspense Radio Theater ad, FlickrThere are some psychological suspense books that are even better to listen to. 

She's cute, she's clever, but she sure is trouble! 

Cesar Millan, you're great and all, but I can't quite master 'no touch, no talk, no eye contact' with Meri. Come on, look at that face! 

So she likes to steal things from the coffee table and runs out the dog door with them...What kind of things you ask? A pair of eyeglasses, a pair of sunglasses (this dog is costing me a fortune), letters, pencils, earrings, a friend's wallet (mostly recovered apart from the chewed bank card--sorry!)...and basically anything else she can put in her mouth. 

Also, I taught her to speak and now she really likes the sound of her own voice. 

And I taught her to give me a hug when I get home and now she thinks it's okay to jump up on visitors. 

Teoti Anderson's The Dog Behavior Problem Solver  to the rescue!
 


 

The Wild Robot book jacketWhen I was a kid, I didn’t particularly like robots. They seemed cold, impersonal and completely unlovable. I had my first inkling that robots could be more than just metallic tools when R2D2 and C3PO came on the scene. Since that first Star Wars movie came out, there have been lots of books for kids with wonderful and wonderfully personable bots including a novel I just finished entitled The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.  After the ship she is on sinks, Roz, the titular robot, pitches up on an island. Only when some playful otters break open the box she is in, is Roz able to start figuring out how she is going to survive. At first, the island animals think she’s a monster and try to avoid her, but they slowly warm up to her after she adopts a baby goose and begins to do things that make the animals lives better. When something threatens Roz, the animals band together to try and save her.  For a good survival story with a robot that’s all heart, despite not having one, The Wild Robot is just the ticket.  For more children’s books featuring robots, check out this list.

The Picture File is a massive collection of file cabinets that you do not see when you come in to the library to the 3rd floor at the present time. In the past, these cabinets were prominently available in the Art and Music Room for library visitors to look through and make selections to check out. We are still checking out the Picture Files, but  now since we have a much larger collection of books to display plus computer stations, there is simply no room for all of these file cabinets in the Art and Music Room, and they have been moved to closed stacks.

The Picture Files consist of folders on many topics, collected from books that could not be repaired, periodicals that were duplicates, and a whole myriad of images from calendars and other sources.

What use are these in our time, when we can find internet sources for images with ease? Since this collection was created in the Art and Music Room, it is particularly strong for these topics; there are hundreds of folders for the arts with thousands of pictures all together. If you are in the library looking for images of artists' works, it can be more practical to take home a manila envelope of images than a series of books. If you are working on ideas for a mural, for example, and want to experiment with combining images of different subjects, these files are useful for composition ideas.

Recently I was preparing a display of materials about the composers Bartok and Beethoven for a local festival and library concert, for which I used the Picture Files. There were some images of these composers that I had seen in books and on the internet, but a few that were a complete delight since new to me. So I suggest that it can be worth taking a look at these if you have a project. Simply ask the staff at the Art and Music Reference desk for picture files on a subject. We have an index of the subjects in this collection, and from these you tell the staff which folders you would like to look at. You can select up to 50 pictures at a time to check out from a range of folders.

These three images are samples from one of the three folders of paintings and drawings by Jean-Antoine Watteau (October 10, 1684 - July 18, 1721) whose drawings of musicians are so evocative of 18th century French baroque music.

Questions? Send our reference staff an email question or call the library: 503.988.5234. 
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

A Volunteer Who Has Found Her NichePicture of volunteer Allissa Purkapile

by Donna Childs

It was a genuine pleasure to see Allissa Purkapile in the setting of her St. Johns library, a place she describes as “friendly and comfortable.” She is clearly comfortable with the library staff, and they seem to care as much about her as she does them. Several stopped to say hello to her as we spoke.

Allissa began volunteering with the St. Johns Summer Reading program following 6th grade. Initially, she worked one two-hour shift a week. Fast forward five years: Allissa is not only an indispensable Summer Reading volunteer, who helps coordinate the schedule, but also a dedicated helper with the storytime program and a reliable member of the library’s Teen Council.  

She is the go-to Summer Reading volunteer, the one to call at the last minute if another volunteer doesn’t show up. Last summer she devoted more than sixty hours to Summer Reading. Since storytime often takes place when she is in school, her contributions to that program are more behind the scenes, but no less significant. She spends five hours most Saturdays cutting, folding, and gluing to create crafts for the youth librarian to use.

Since her freshman year, Allissa has also been a member of the St. Johns Teen Council, a group of young people who meet monthly to help make the library more teen-friendly. The group, which ranges in size from two to twenty teens, helps come up with program ideas, chooses books to display in the young adult (YA) section, and has even been instrumental in moving the YA from the back to the front of the library.

When asked what she likes best about volunteering at the St. Johns Library, Allissa said “everything, especially being able to answer questions and help people.” A true library aficionado, Allissa may apply for SummerWorksa summer youth employment program that includes internships with Multnomah County. She also volunteers at her high school library two or three days a week and plays clarinet in her school band. Outside of school, she helps distribute food for a program called Harvest Share.

 


A Few Facts About Allissa

Home librarySt. Johns Library
 
Currently reading: The Three Musketeers
 
Books that made you laugh or cry: The Fault in Our Stars

Most influential book: Harry Potter

Guilty pleasure: Classic novels (Little Women, Moby Dick)
 
Favorite book from childhood: Rainbow Fish
 
Favorite section of the library: Every inch of it
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper book
 
Favorite place to read: At the library or in a small corner

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland. This slide show will show you how Portland grew from 1851-1900.

Photo of Pioneer Courthouse SquareHere are some of the historic places that make Portland special:

  • Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”  
  • The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
  • Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
  • The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.
  • In 1900, Portland’s Chinatown was the second largest in the country.

Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!

Photo of Lewis and Clark ExpositionWhat did Portlanders in the past do for fun? The Rose Festival, which still happens every June, started in 1904. The next year, Portland hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Expositionwhich attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. Children liked to visit the amusement parks at Oaks Park and Jantzen Beach.

You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.

For more information on Portland history, view the past and present photos at Portland Then and Now or check out the city’s Portland Timeline.

Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:

 

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Outline of the U.S. and image of a camera lens, with the words "CHOOSE PRIVACY" beneath them.May 1st through 7th has been designated by the American Library Association as Choose Privacy Week, and this year it is just as relevant as ever. A recent Pew Internet study shows many American adults who go online do not have a good understanding of cybersecurity. This spring, we also read about a vote to repeal rules requiring ISPs to protect customers’ privacy. 

What does privacy mean to you? Is it a place where no one is watching you or listening to what you say? Thanks to our ever-connected gadgets (our phones, computers, televisions, e-readers) such places are becoming more and more scarce. Every digital breath we take is noted, collected, and recorded for future marketing or security purposes.

Should we care? After all, we get many benefits by giving up our privacy: we receive recognition from others, we can easily share and communicate with groups of friends, we get free email. But a world without privacy is also a world where you are not free to ask questions or seek information without being monitored.

Libraries care about privacy. Why? Because, according to the American Library Association, "the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy.” 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Privacy webpage is a good place to keep up to date with current privacy issues, especially in the online world. To learn more online privacy, take a look at Portland Community College’s Privacy Online guide: it includes videos and links about the ways that privacy is compromised online, and tips for how you can protect it.

Book cover for Intellectual Privacy by Neil RichardsIf, like me, you’re more of a book person, I’ve made a reading list called “Privacy? What’s privacy?” - it includes current books that will help you start to answer that question. If you’d rather get your dystopia in a make-believe format, another reading list, “Surveillance stories and privacy parables,” includes books and DVDs about the privacy-less society that we just might be headed toward.

Are you taking steps to protect your privacy? Or have you already given up on the notion of privacy? Leave your comments below (and please feel free to do so anonymously).

There was a great response to Multnomah County Library's first comics contest for grades 6-12! It was very hard to choose the winners and honorable mentions, and we're grateful to Robin Herrera and Ari Yarwood, editors at Oni Press, for their help judging. 

Honorable mentions:

Broken Hearts, Stephanie S

Copy Cats, Delana Wilkins

Delete, Quinn Plucar

D-exorcist, Thomas Trinh

Zombie Pizza, Abraham Gonzalez

Winners:

A Little Slice of Dumb Life, Naomi Nguyen

Chris and Fishy! Vol. 1, The Wizard's Gift, Daniela Sanchez

Chori and Chester: the Crazy Cats, Humphrey Hamma

Common Ground, Kay Lowe

Growing up in the Garden, Rebecca Celsi

Picture Day Disasters, Hannah Hardman

Would You Rather, Gabrielle Cohn

The Anglo Files book jacketWhen I first met the Scottish Lad, practically the first thing out of my mouth was some version of a question that many Brits find terribly intrusive: What do you do for a living? People wonder why the British talk constantly about the weather.  Here’s a hint:  Every other topic of conversation is considered rude at best or taboo at worst! I didn’t know my question was intrusive because I hadn’t read a bunch of books on British etiquette and culture.  Again, I thought I had no need of them.  Again, I was wrong. Here are some titles I have since read.  You, too, can educate yourself so you don’t make the mistakes I did!

Many Americans apparently want to (and do) marry British people.  At least two of them have written revealing books about living in the land of their mates. The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall and Erin Moore’s That’s Not English cover some similar territory, but the latter book explores English and American culturalA Writer's House in Wales book jacket differences with a focus on language.  Moore titles each chapter with a word and then delves into what it means for each country. You’ll get the scoop, for example, on why the English seem to dislike “gingers” while Americans generally find redheads attractive (although an American friend of mine who has beautiful red hair was teased mercilessly in school because of the color of her locks). Other chapters include Knackered, Whinge, Bloody and Dude.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Scots and Welsh are the same as the English! To get an understanding of Scottish life and culture, as well as practical tips on living in or visiting Scotland, read Culture Shock! Scotland.  For a glimpse into Welsh life, try A Writer's House in Wales by Jan Morris.

For even more books to help you navigate the British cultural waters, try these.

I feel like author Catherine Newman has been right there in the trenches of parenting with me for the past twelve years or so. I started reading a parenting column she wrote when she and I were both pregnant with our second children. Later, I enjoyed her book, Waiting for Birdy. She writes funny, thoughtful essays that show up all over the place, and she has her own blog. Her two kids are right about the same ages as mine, and she's got exactly the irreverent but warm sense of humor I most enjoy. She’s a passionate home cook, too, the kind of person who, like me, not only makes her own granola but glories in making it (even though neither of us would ever consider ourselves “granola”).

Catherine NewmanAnd now there's a new book. Catastrophic Happiness is more of a series of appreciations about kids and family life than a story about anything actually happening, although she does have some pointed things to say about how our culture foists its stupid ideas about gender on our children. If you have kids in your house, this book will make you laugh--a lot. It also might make you feel more present, make you stop spacing out long enough to love the life you have with your family.

 

My father is in the last years of his life. Once a strapping man well over six feet tall he becomes  smaller and more frail with each passing day. His physical world has shrunk as well and his days are passed in the small, walkable space between “his” chair, the kitchen table and his bathroom and bedroom. The things that are important to him now are few:  watching a good ball game (any seasonal sport will do), his next meal (the man has an appetite!) and a good book to read. Despite his deteriorating condition he has always placed a big importance on reading and having books around. He has always been surrounded by books:  some he inherited, many he was given as gifts and several I have absolutely no idea where they came from (a Japanese phrase book, Milton Berle’s favorite joke book, Tiling 101 to name a few. )

One of my jobs as his caretaker is to make sure he has something good to read.  He loves mysteries (I once caught him starting a new one from the last page!)  He loves Stuart Woods and Alex Berenson. He loves stories about World War II, tales of espionage and anything to do with the U.S. Navy. There is always a book next to his chair and more than one on his nightstand.   

I know reading will always be a part of his day.  And I look forward to keeping him well-stocked with good stories.  They are always his best medicine.

Here are a couple of my dad’s go-to authors:

Night Passage book jacketRobert B. Parker, the Jesse Stone Series
Parker’s original series of nine novels tells the story of Jesse Stone, a troubled detective desperate to rebuild his career when he takes the job of Police Chief in Paradise, Massachusetts.  Along the way Stone battles the mob, white supremacists, a corrupt town council and the occasional homicide while struggling to come to terms witThe Kill Artist book jacketh himself.  All nine novels have been made into films for television starring Tom Selleck as the new Chief. The first in the series is Night Passage which the library owns as a downloadable ebook.

Daniel Silva, the Gabriel Allon series:
Part spy and part artist, Gabriel Allon works for “the office,” the name employees have given to the Israeli Intelligence Service.  While attending art school Gabriel was offered a post with the elite special forces unit, tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.  At the conclusion of the job Gabriel decides to stay on, maintaining an official cover as an art restorer. The Kill Artist is the first in the series.

lets go crazy book coverIt’s hard out there for a kid, especially The Kid.

Vanity film projects are a terrible idea. Funding is shaky, poorly constructed scripts are battered about, and rumors of an impending Hindenburg of a movie are spread. Fueled by egos and inexperience, these problems offer easy fodder to the media waiting to rip apart the darling superstar who’s in over their head.

Purple Rain should have failed. However, it did not.

Upon its release, the film propelled Prince, and to a lesser degree the Revolution, to superstar status. Alan Light’s Let’s Go Crazy sheds light on Purple Rain's improbable  success driven by an unlikely group of collaborators.

So, forget your shrink in Beverly Hills. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the tale of the quest to make a musically charged film which can only be described as magically cringe-worthy experience.

 

Book jacket: Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly PrentissIt feels how buttery popcorn smells, or seeing chartreuse flashes while your ears pop from an underwater dive.

Like a rebellious cigarette you had smoked when you were twenty, or a night under the stars with a girl or a boy who had only wanted to be your friend.

These are just some of the ways that the character James Bennett, an art critic with synesthesia, describes paintings and people in Molly Prentiss's debut novel, but he could just as easily be describing the book. One that has left me in such a daze that I'm at a loss for my own words to describe how much I loved it.

Set in a pre-gentrified SoHo, Tuesday Nights in 1980 follows Argentine artist Raul Engales, bright-eyed New York newcomer Lucy Olliason and the wonderfully odd art critic James Bennett; whose lives are all irreversibly altered on a series of Tuesday nights at the start of the new decade.

Whether you're an art lover or just up for visiting a unique time and place through vivid characters, check out this vibrant whirlwind of a book.

 
 

 

There are a couple of flavors I like in Highlander romance -- I enjoy the ones that are straight up historical; but mmm, a Highlander story especially if it involves time travel? Yes! Maybe you have seen the new Outlander television series? Guess what? It's based on a book!

The story starts with Mrs. Claire Randall on her second honeymoon in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s 1945 and she's a former combat nurse who has taken up the hobby of botany to fill her free time. She is gathering plants at the stone circle Craigh na Dun when she is transported through time to 1743, and finds herself in the midst the fighting prior to the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

This first novel of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is a passionate romance with depictions of wartime violence, and steamy sex scenes. If you're squeamish about these things this isn't for you. Presented in the context of the times, these details give the story historical resonance. I found comic relief in Claire’s swearing. She doesn’t swear like a sailor but she swears like a healthy woman dealing with brawny men, exciting, brutal times, and frustration. I don’t know about you, but if I was a fish out of water I might swear a lot too.  If romance, brawny men in kilts and time travel are among your favorite flavors too, there's more to explore in my list, Scottish highland romances.

 

Pages