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When people object to a book and ask their library to remove or move it, the library shares the complaint with the American Library Association (ALA).  The ALA then compiles all the complaints and every year announces a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books.  This is the list for 2015.

Photo of Bob at Mission Purisima ConcepciónI love to travel … and when I travel I often enjoy reading about the place I’m visiting.

Several weeks ago I traveled to the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas. As a history buff, the obvious choice for something to read was a book about the Alamo. So the day before my departure, I downloaded James Donovan’s The Blood of Heroes to my Kindle. I started reading it on the flight to Texas and finished it up about a half hour before touching down at the Portland airport.

I’ve always thought of the Battle of the Alamo as an isolated incident, but reading about it made me aware of its key role in the wider context of a Mexican civil war and the fight for Texan independence. The Texan revolution actually began several months before near a Spanish mission a few miles to the south called Mission Purisima Concepción and ended with the defeat of Santa Ana's army a few weeks later at the Battle of San Jacinto. Reading about the conflict enhanced my enjoyment of visiting the place; and visiting the place deepened my understanding and appreciation for what I had read.

Now if you’ve ever watched Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, you may be under the impression that there is no basement at the Alamo. Having visited there myself, I have to tell you that this is statement is not true -- there actually is a basement. Although not a part of the original structure, it can be found directly across the street!

Parks and Recreation Season OneBy the Hollywood Teen Book Council

It has been a little over a year since we had to say goodbye to Leslie Knope and friends. This is the show that brought us Galentine’s Day, “Treat yo self,” and so many heartfelt and funny moments.  Luckily, the library has all seven seasons available for checkout.

Even if there was no love loss between the Parks Department and the Library, (Leslie Knope did say once, “The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They’re mean, conniving, rude and extremely well read, which makes them very dangerous.”); these are characters that continue to stay with us. Just as we are gearing up for more  time in the great outdoors, recreating in our parks, we thought we’d take a moment and pick books for our favorite characters.

Leslie KnopeMy Beloved WorldAdventures with Waffles

Leslie Knope

My Beloved World By Sonia Sotomayor

Leslie Knope is not someone to let anything get in the way of her dreams, and she is inspired by a league of powerful women. Since she is on her path to  Washington, she would be interested in the paths of other women that have landed key roles in the running of different branches of  government.

Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr

With a strong love of breakfast food, especially waffles, this is a book for Ms. Knope. Where she is all about strong friendships and adventures outdoors, she will delight in the kinship and antics of Trille and Lena.

Hatchet

Ron Swanson

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Ron Swanson is an advocate for self-reliance, and he has his own fantasies of living off the grid. He will enjoy Brian’s story of surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash with only a hatchet to sustain himself.

April LudgateStiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

April Ludgate

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

As far as working for the City of Pawnee, April’s interest and personality seems to be a better fit for the morgue than the parks’ department. We think she would be fascinated by both Stiff and Putting Makeup on Dead People.

Andy DwyerA Dog's JourneyThe Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Andy Dwyer

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

We know that Andy has a soft spot for animals. He will enjoy this tender-hearted tale told through the eyes of a dog.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

We really think that this is Andy Dwyer’s actual secret identity.

Tom HaverfordModern Romance

Tom Haverford

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Even though this is written by the actor that plays Tom Haverford, we know that Tom would appreciate the meticulous research that went into this to show how modern technology is affecting the way that we date.

Donna Meaglefamous-in-love

Donna Meagle

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Donna has all the men falling for her, just like Paige in this book. Eventually both with have to choose if they want to be with just one.

Ann PerkinsLumberjanes

Ann Perkins

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Ann is the ultimate best friend. We think that she would enjoy the strong female friendships and the supernatural adventures that take place in the great outdoors.

Ben WyattReady_Player_One_

Ben Wyatt

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Bless the ultimate nerd that is Ben Wyatt. If only this book had some more Game of Thrones references. Still, we know that Ben will love this homage to some of the best things to come out of the 1980’s.

Chris TraegerWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Chris Traeger

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Super fit Chris Traeger will love this contemplation about a shared passion from one of today’s greatest writers. .

Jerry GergichWhat's in a Name Everything You Wanted to Know

Jerry Gergich (...or Garry, Larry or Terry)

What's in a Name?: Everything You Wanted to Know by Leonard R. N. Ashley

Really what is in a name? Come on, Jerry!

 

-By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

Luna Lovegood

"I think they think I'm a bit odd, you know. Some people call me 'Loony' Lovegood, actually.” --Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

There are so many reasons that Luna Lovegood has captivated us. Her airy ways and perceptiveness bring humor  throughout the series. When we first meet her in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling writes, “The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down.”

Initially, as most of us on the Hollywood Teen Book Council are all avid Harry Potter fans, we wanted to do some sort of a book project around the series. When it came time to get started, none of us could get past wanting to suggest books that we thought Luna Lovegood would love to read.

Here is what we would think she should read, if she hasn’t already . And as Luna says, , “Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.”

 

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

Luna’s a little bit quirky and so is Sophie Sophia, the girl with an obsession of music from the late 80’s.  Luna will enjoy Sophie’s attempt to find her father, an eccentric physicist who has disappeared suddenly.  Luna will also be glad that Sophie has a friend along on the quest: her giant shaman panda named Walt.

Rats Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted InhabitantsRats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan

Luna’s interests are varied and thorough, so perhaps she would like this very complete examination of city-dwelling rats and how they have evolved alongside humans.

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Aside from Harry, if anyone else at Hogwarts is going to go on a quest, it would probably be Luna.  Unlike Coelho’s shepherd boy, she might come to a quicker understanding of what she needs to find the treasure she seeks.

 

The Magicians A Novel By GrossmanThe Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

Luna attends a school for witchcraft and wizardry, so she might be interested to compare Quentin Coldwater’s school of magic experience in upstate New York to her own.

 

he Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own MakingThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Ms. Lovegood is a solid character who is always up for an adventure so she might like this story of a girl named September who’s adventure involves a quest  to retrieve a witch's spoon from the terrible and unpredictable Marquess of Fairyland.

 

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Luna wouldn’t be surprised to see a circus appear with no warning, and she might also like the struggle and love story of two young illusionists.

 

Gutshot By Amelia GrayGutshot: Stories by  Amelia Gray

With so many interests, short stories might be the right kind of fiction for Luna.  This collection is human and dark, and full details of this strange world of ours.

 

A Pattern Language Towns, Buildings, ConstructionA Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander

Luna’s unique thought process sometimes makes communication with others difficult.  Perhaps this book, which helps build a common language and coherence within systems, will help.  It’s strongly recommended if she ever designs or builds a house.

 

Unflattening By SousanisUnflattening by Nick Sousanis

Luna Lovegood sees things differently than your average Hogswartian, so Nick Sousanis’s experiment in visual thinking would be at home in her hands.  This graphic novel disassembles perception and will help her to find even more understanding.  Though perhaps she is already ahead of the rest of us?

 

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

Climate change is so complicated, that it is difficult to think about how to make the world a better place. Here are a few ideas about what kids can do, to learn about and respond to the situation.Click on the picture to learn more about climate change in Oregon from the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute

1. Learn about it. For information about climate change, here are a couple of websites that provide information based on science.

  • NASA's Climate Kids provides an overview of climate change and includes games to play, things to make and videos to watch.  From NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • Climate Change in Oregon, from the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, provides information about Oregon's climate.

2. Do a science project. Check out the Arm Program’s Education Center. This website provides global warming facts for the beginner and expert. Explore the site using the tool bar or the search box for stuff like "Ask a Scientist," where you can ask a real scientist anything. From the US Department of Energy.

3. Calculate your carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions produced as the result of activity by a person, group or community; it is one way to measure the impact people are having on the climate. Look at this fairly extensive carbon footprint calculator from carbonfootprint.com.

4. Reduce your impact on the climate. Simple things can make a difference. There are lots of things kids (and adults) can do to lower our impact on the climate. NASA climate kids is one place that tells kids how to help. Energy Choices, from the National Earth Sciences Teachers Association, has a game that lets students make find out about energy use.

5. Prepare for an uncertain future. What will the world be like in 25 to 50 years? What can we do to be ready? The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) kids website has suggestions about how to prepare.  Also, check out the Climate Resiliance Toolkit, develoed by a partnership of federal agencies and organizations led by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 
Hot world image -- NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015
For more information, you can also consult a database like Today’s Science. You will need your library card number and PIN to login from home. Click on the Topic Index at the top of the page, which contains a wide range of headings, or you can use the search bar. This database, from Facts on File, is for high school and older students. 

Remember, if you need help, you can ask a librarian online, or at your neighborhood library.

 

 

How do presidential elections work? What is the difference between a primary election and a caucus? How do political conventions work? What is the electoral college? Kids.gov is a great place to start learning about how presidents get elected in the United States. This handy poster walks you through the presidential elections process. When you're on Kids.gov, you can order your own free copy of the poster, then scroll down below the poster for more information about primaries and caucuses, national conventions, the Electoral College and constitutional requirements for presidential candidates.

Poster on from Kids.gov on How to Become President, link to download of PDF version.

Find news stories about the elections at Here There Everywhere News -- a news blog written just for kids by a former producer for the NBC Today Show. The Politics page presents thoughtful stories about about the elections.

And Time for Kids has an elections mini-site with news stories about the presidential campaigns.

Lewis and Clark mapped many geographic and geologic features on their expedition. They drew a picture of most and labelled them with a name. Sometimes they phonetically spelled the Native American names as best they could. Some were named after the physical properties of the feature...such as Beaverhead Rock. And many were named to “honor” 19th century political figures or members of the Corps.

The Missouri Breaks reminded Meriwether Lewis of an ancient city. Despite appreciating the rugged beauty, the Corps also suffered from holes in their moccasins created by flint fragments found at the bottom of the white cliffs.

Photo of Moccasin

The Great Falls on the Missouri River was an incredible impediment for the Corp of Discovery. It took almost a month for the explorers to portage around this amazing group of five waterfalls.

Aerial Photo Great Falls

Lolo Hot Springs was visited both on the way west and back east. The springs provided a rare opportunity for a warm bath, but only on the return trip. They didn't have time to stop for a bath on the way to the Bitterroots. Today the hot springs bears no resemblance to the 19th century site.

Pompey’s Tower or Pillar was named after Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea’s toddler son Jean-Baptist Charbonneau who had acquired the nickname “Pomp” or “Little Pomp”.

Pompey's Tower

Before crossing the Bitterroots, the Corps made camp at a place now called Traveler's Rest. Most of their time was spent hunting for food for the difficult mountain crossing. Traveler's Rest is the only archaeolgically verified campsite from the expedition. 

The Corps had to trek across the Bitterroot Mountains, a northern section of the Rockies, late in the season. It was a miserable journey which they just barely survived. They were probably too miserable from cold and fatigue to enjoy the breathtaking views.

As the very hungry Corps descended from the Bitterroot Mountains they spied grasslands of the Weippe Prairie. The prairie was named by the Nez Perce Indians—Weippe is their word for “very old place”.

Photo Weippe Prairie

Five different Cascade Range volcanos were seen by the Corps in the Northwest. Some of them were on a map given to them by explorer George Vancouver.

Celilo Falls in the Columbia River Gorge was a spectacular feature on the Willamette River and its history is quite controversial to the present day. Many people would like to see the Falls re-appear.

I’ve described just a handful of the thousands of geographic and geological sites described by the Expedition. It might be a fun project to map them and  several more from each state on the trail. When you look at photos of the Expeditions 's trail, you can easily see the enormous physical obstacles they overcame to accomplish the challenge they received from President Jefferson. 

 

Folks in my family came to Oregon in, on and around covered wagons, part of the great migration that brought about 400,000 people across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to occupy the land that they thought was available up and down the West Coast. (There were people living here already, it turned out.) My indirect ancestor on my mom's side (something like great-great-uncle, I believe) was Ezra Meeker.

photo of Ezra Meeker

Meeker came out via covered wagon, and then after a very busy life of business, planting hops, founding a town and going to the Klondike in gold rush days, noticed that now, in the early 20th century, people were forgetting about the Oregon Trail. He opted to do something about that. Ezra mounted an expedition - at age 71 - to travel the trail backwards, by ox-drawn wagon, to raise awareness for the trail's preservation. He succeeded, and kept going, eventually reaching New York and Washington DC, meeting with President Teddy Roosevelt. He eventually crossed the country by wagon, train, automobile and airplane and managed to place (or have placed) hundreds of Oregon Trail markers. You can read more about him and his trips in his journals, available in physical form or online.

 A New American Adventure book jacket
So? 
 
So, the Oregon Trail is well-known. And, people are still doing this kind of pilgrimage. Well, at least a couple of guys.
 
Meet Rinker Buck (and his brother Nick). In 2011, they traveled the Trail by wagon, the first people to do that in more than a century. They stuck to the original ruts as much as modern highways and civilization would allow and crossed from Missouri to Oregon with three donkeys and a Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Nick was a practical sort, with horse-driving skills, carpentry experience and a fix-it mentality. Rinker brought a shoe-shine kit and a pasta steamer. The book he wrote about their adventure, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, tells why they dropped everything and traveled the trail for four months. It tells about the Odd Couple-like relationship of the brothers, and the wagon vacation with their father that inspired their own trip. And it is a look at middle America from the slow lane, small-town hospitality, river crossings, and lots of places with no cell phone reception.  Ezra Meeker would be proud.

 

Original photo: Alyssa L. MillerFinally -- a reason to celebrate insomnia.

The Egyptians are famous for their hieroglyphics, which is writing using pictures to represent sounds and ideas. The Egyptians weren’t the only ones though to use symbols to record information. Pictograms, ideographs, and phonoglyphs are all forms of writing used by ancient Mesoamericans. Often the Maya used all three to write one document. What are these writing forms?

 
A pictogram or pictograph is a symbol to represent an object or idea. Here’s an example
falling rocks road sign
An ideograph is a symbol to represent an whole word, for example ‘%’ for percent and ‘&’ for and.
A phonoglyph or phonogram represents a sound
​​
Ancient writings have been found on pottery, painted murals, carved rock, and paper which the Aztecs and Mayan made from bark. Paper was important enough to be used by the Aztec papermakers to pay their taxes and the paper was then used by the government tax collectors, lawyers, and more. Early writings recorded city and ruler histories, family trees of important people, wars, accounts of what someone owned, astronomy and religion. (American Indian Contributions to the World: Science and Technology by Emory Dean Keoke)

Take a look at this video about Mayan hieroglyphics and then check out the Think Deeper section from TED-Ed for more information.

The Maya had about 800 symbols for writing, according to an article Maya Glyphs. Seven hundred of those symbols represented whole words with the remaining 100 being syllable signs used to spell out a word syllable by syllable.

You can also find more information from articles: Maya Writing and the Calendar (Calliope, Feb. 1999) and Early Maya Writing, Science News for Kids Jan 2006. The World Book Student edition also has articles about hieroglypics, pictograms, writing system, history of the alphabet, Maya communication and learning, and Aztec language. You'll need your Multnomah County Library card to use it if you're outside the library.

Don't forget to ask a librarian if you need more help.

 

 

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? book jacketOur guest blogger is Memo. Memo works at the Central Library. Besides reading history and literature about Latinos, workers, and immigrants, he enjoys re-reading the great literary works of nineteenth and twentieth-century realist writers.

Raymond Carver’s tales offer portraits of run-of-the-mill Americans living in unexciting monotonous places.  His characters are mostly working-class whites, residing in small-town America where life is plain and ordinary.  There is nothing special going on in their social environment, and the daily routines of the characters are fairly monotonous.  The simplicity of their world makes their constant preoccupations for the basic needs in life dull.  Their strengths and flaws, even between those who have stable lives and those who do not, share similar features, in part because their vigor and imperfections are the products of the same banal world.

However, there is more than meets the eye in these representations of the mundane.  Carver portrays a realism that is humane, complex, and universal.  His fictional characters such Earl and Doreen Ober in “They’re Not Your Husband” and Del Frazer in “Dummy” are not only sketches of ordinary people living uneventful lives, they are portraits of working-class Americans whose lives were and are overlooked in favor of ones that express exceptionalism. 

If you enjoy the works of realist writers, you will appreciate the literary representations of plain folks in Raymond Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Cathedral, and Where I’m Calling From.  His ability to dig deep into the daily and simple worlds of the ordinary Americans puts his fictitious universe at odds with triumphal post-World War II Americana. 

Picture file drawer - costume

Fashion designers, stylists, and makers! Perhaps you find inspiration in browsing images of fashion from times past, and you want to go a little deeper than the same top hits that everyone else can find on a Google image search. Perhaps you like the feel of paper. You probably know that you can page through old issues of magazines such as Vogue at the library, and of course we have many excellent books on vintage fashion. But did you know that we have files upon files of image inspiration for your projects?

In the Picture File Collection at Central Library, there are many folders containing clippings of women’s fashions: at least one for each year from 1900-2005. And that’s just a fraction of the files with subjects related to clothing! Other files contain examples of traditional dress around the world, children’s clothing, men’s fashions, school uniforms, and accessories such as spectacles, shoes, and underwear. One file is all about men's coiffure, including beards. Another focuses entirely on the American "Pioneer Mother" style of dress. There's a file for Norse (Viking) costume, one for the stock pantomime characters Pierre & Pierrot, and another for Scottish tartans. There is a folder of swimwear clippings for each decade in the twentieth century... and so on! The files in the Picture File Collection are assigned library subject headings and subheadings, much like books and other library materials. The library subject heading that encompasses these fashion clippings is Costume, with subheadings like Costume - 20th c. - 1963.

Women's fashion clippings 1963

1963 is an excellent year for women’s fashion, I think. There’s sophistication and grace, and also the Tweter (a sweater for two, which apparently was invented by novelist Beth Gutcheon)!

If this piques your interest, you might be interested to know that following the many Picture Files with the heading Costume come the folders with these headings: Couples, Courthouses, Covered Wagons, Crete, Crime, Croatia, Crowds, Cuba, Curaçao, Custom Houses & Ellis Island (buildings), Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dairies, Dams, Dancing, Day Care Centers, Demonstrations, Denmark, Deserts, Design, Devils, Disabilities, Domes, Dominican Republic, Drawings, Driftwood….

The many file drawers that contain the Picture File Collection are in a staff-only area of the library. To access the Picture Files, and to browse a traditional library card catalog file of the subject headings, please visit the reference desk at the Art & Music room on the third floor of Central Library. Images from the Picture File Collection can be checked out, too - up to 50 individual clippings. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about this unique and historical collection!

 

Recently I decided to see if I could up the number of books I finished in a year if I moved the books that were well reviewed to the top of my reading list.  I know it takes me longer to finish a book that's only just barely good enough not to put down than it does to finish a top-notch page-turner of a book.

Uprooted book jacketTwo well-reviewed titles I've finished recently are Uprooted by Naomi Novik and A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly.  Uprooted is a charming fairy tale about Agnieszka, a peasant girl in a humble village on the edge of a corrupted Wood.  The village is kept safe by the Dragon who asks only that a girl of his choice from one of his dependent villages enter his service every ten years.  At the end of her term of service, she is let go with a fine fat pouch of silver coins for her time.  But the girls are never the same after and they always leave their village homes.  Agnieszka never thinks that she'll be the chosen one....
A Criminal Magic book jacket
A Criminal Magic is about a 1920s America where prohibition doesn’t ban alcohol; instead it bans sorcerer's "shine".  Sorcerers can bottle their shine which gives an incredible and addictive high, but the shine loses its power after only a single day.  After prohibition begins, shine distribution falls to mobsters - the same as alcohol did in the real1920s world.  Joan is a sweet young orphaned sorceress from the back woods who only wants to earn money and look after her little sister and her cousin. Alex is a Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a scandal in his past who is forced to go undercover into the world of "shine" dens.  Both are forced to confront all the unpleasant realities of the world they find themselves in.  It's early in the year but I can already tell you that A Criminal Magic will be in my top ten titles for the year.

If you are looking at a title in the newer version of the catalog (Bibliocommons), scroll down past the title information to "Opinions" then look for "From the critics" to see professionally published reviews.  In the classic catalog, click on the cover picture for the book (you'll need allow new windows to pop up) and any published reviews will be available in the new window.  I found these two titles as delightful as the reviews promised and finished both in short order since I didn't want to put either one down!

Part of the joy of reading The Improbability of Love was that it was like revisiting the art history classes I loved in college. Author Hannah Rothschild clearly knows the art world, and it was such a pleasure to learn about the mechanics of that world, the kinds of characters that populate it, and the art itself. I learned to keep my iPad close by so I could look up paintings and statues that were mentioned, and all that beauty became part of my experience of the book.

In this novel, a young woman impulsively buys a painting that’s been moldering in a London junk shop for decades. It winds up being an important (imaginary) painting by Watteau, a (non-imaginary) French painter from the eighteenth century- a Rococo painting, featuring attractive people in nice outfits in an outdoor setting. There’s a bit of romance as well as a family secret that is very dark indeed. The painting itself is one of the narrators, telling us about its long, fascinating history, from Madame Pompadour's boudoir to dark days in Nazi Germany. 

Treat yourself and read this book. Then take a look at my list of fiction about art and artists.
 

If you hear “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” in my apartment, you’d know that rice was cooking. That’s the song my rice cooker plays when I hit the “start” button. I like planning my meals around rice and these past few months I’ve found some star accompaniments: short rib kare-kare, Visayan roast chicken, and garlic shrimp. (Most of these recipes are available online in some form or another, but I encourage you to check out the books too.) Here’s what I made:

Asian-American book jacket1.  Short Rib Kare-Kare from Asian-American by Dale Talde: Kare kare, as slightly reinvented by Talde, is a decadent Filipino pot roast in a savory coconut milk and peanut sauce. Talde labelled the recipe with a "Filipino advisory explicit flavor" warning, noting that it was "too funky for most white people" probably due to the shrimp paste ingredient. I’ll just say that my boyfriend loved kare kare and creatively used it later in sandwiches and burritos. (Note: if you can’t find boneless short ribs, feel free to substitute with another cut ideal for slow cooking.)

2.  Visayan Roast Chicken with Lemon Grass from The Cooking of Indonesia and the Philippines by Ghillie Başan: This roast chicken is a riff on Filipino barbequeCooking of Indonesia and the Philippines book jacket flavors. Here, the whole chicken is rubbed in a heavenly spice paste containing garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, brown sugar, and lemon. I love that the recipe has you make roasted sweet potato fries as a bonus “one pot” side dish. (Note: Ignore the temperature and time directions and roast this chicken at 425 °F for 35 minutes breast side up, flip it, and roast for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 °F.)

3.  Ms. Vo Thi Huong’s Garlic Shrimp from Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan: Just a few words: best souvenir from Vietnam ever. Here, the shrimp is quickly stir fried in an amazing combination of garlic, shallots, green onion, Sriracha, Kewpie mayo, and soy sauce. Much like many of the recipes in the book, the garlic shrimp was super easy to make.

These recipes are perfect for people who like Southeast Asian flavors and want to feel proud of themselves in the kitchen. I’m all about kitchen victories. Are there any recipes that you’d recommend to me? Please let me know in the comments!

I can’t get enough of some authors that I love. I also try to slowly savor authors I discover. I don’t read all their books in one fell swoop: I read one every couple months. I am on my third book by Rainbow Rowell: Carry On. I love how Rowell writes about contemporary life, people, class issues and love through her adult and teen fiction.

There’s a reason she’s a best seller. She can tell a love story. I am haunted by the amazing and awkward love story of Eleanor and Park. I want to reread Fangirl which alludes to the romance between Baz and Simon in Carry On. Fangirl has its own marvelous, slow paced romance but I don’t want to give anything away.

I grew up working class: my father was a surveyor’s aide, and my mother was a part time key punch operator. The worries of Rowell’s working class characters really resonate with me. For instance, Eleanor worries about clean clothes with her small wardrobe, and Simon just wants enough to eat like many growing teens. These details add to the realistic aspects of the world she is building. She nails it without rubbing it in your face.

I’m so happy to find another author to love! Have you found any new authors to love lately?

newsradio cover

It was a dark and drizzly night in Portland, Oregon...

Thanks to the magic of Roku, the hilarious and irreverent Newsradio was on my television. Nothing could have been better. Then, out of the elevator, arrived the cast of Mr. Show.

Mic dropped. Laughs ensued.

During the 90s and early 00s a collective of writers and comedians produced a body of work featuring each other in one form or another. However, when shows like this aired, the internet was merely a buffering baby - finding and watching these shows was not a click away. Well worn VHS tapes and personal retelling after a ten mile uphill walk through the snow filled the gap until the current overabundance of content was available. 

 

Haven’t seen the Kids, Bluths, or the Party Down crew in a while? Check out this list and say hello!

Spring 2016 teen booksSpring 2016 kids booksAh, spring break! In my memories of childhood, it was always filled with chocolate Easter eggs and lots of time to read the stack of good books I’d just checked out from my local library. In honor of those memories, I’ve gathered up a crop of new books for kids and teens that I want to read over the upcoming spring weeks that are bound to be cool and rainy.  I might just have to buy a bag of chocolate to go with them!

Check out the kids’ stack here and the teen stack here.

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