His readers know suspense writer Andrew J. Rush as a successful mild-mannered author of high profile suspense mysteries and thrillers. His publisher is happy because Andrew’s books sell thousands of copies and he is in high demand as a speaker in bookstores across the U.S.  He has a beautiful house, a lovely submissive wife and is able to send his children to the best and most exclusive schools.  Enthusiastic reviewers hint that he may be compared to Stephen King, although Andrew himself can’t see it.  

But Andrew holds his cards close to his chest because on the side where it is dark and unkempt and cold, is the Jack of Spades.  The  books written by the Jack of Spades are cruel and twisted and violent.  They are so secret that even Andrew’s publisher doesn’t know his real name; he has a locked room in the basement where he writes his Jack of Spades books.

The manuscripts are unsigned and all the profits  go to a private bank account.  His family live in complete ignorance of these secrets.

Then two things happen:

First a woman accuses him of breaking into her house and stealing her ‘words’- ideas, sentences and whole paragraphs that appear in his published titles.

Second- his daughter accidently picks up and reads one of the books written by the Jack of Spades.  She is disgusted and horrified to find some events described there are taken from her own family.

As Andrew desperately tries to hang on to his ‘normal’ life he begins to hear a black, ugly voice buzzing in the back of his mind. ‘Do it, Do it Do it’.                                                                          Wondering who ends up holding all the aces? Read Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates



Upcycling is the transformation of an object from one use to another. A man’s shirt might become a little girl’s dress, for example. The best upcycling is when trash is transformed into treasure. Crafty people see potential where other people see waste, so the next time you wonder if there might be another purpose for an item that you are about to throw out, take a few minutes to search online first to see what’s out there.


Try a Google search using the words “upcycle”, “reuse”, or “repurpose” with the name of the object to be remade (for example, “tin cans upcycle”). One of the top results will generally be images for your search words, so click on these words to quickly scan for appealing ideas. There may be many ways to repurpose common objects and fewer for less common items. Some of the ideas are brilliant and some are daffy, but these might stimulate ideas of your own.


Many of the top results will be from Pinterest, the visual bookmarking tool. Of course, you can go directly to Pinterest and search using the same search terms that you used in Google. However, the search will generate slightly different results depending upon whether you use “upcycle”, “repurpose”, or “reuse” so be sure to play around a bit. You must have an account to search Pinterest but if you do not, it is easy to create one since all you need is an email and a password. The only personal information that you provide is your name, age, and sex.

Of course, the library has many books featuring upcycled projects and the best way to find these is to search by subject using the words “salvage waste” in either the Classic Catalog or My MCL. Alternately, you can do a keyword search using “upcycling” or “repurpose”.

In the 1970’s, if you lived in a small southwestern desert town near the Mexico border, you didn’t expect to hear much soul music on the radio. So, when Diane Mays ran down 2nd Street hollering “there’s Negroes on the radio!” ; nobody paid attention. Then Gary, her brother, put a radio on the front porch and turned it up. That brought all the Saturday clean-up to a screeching halt. Radios switched on from the gambling man's house all the way down to the preacher's.

The piano was striding, the bass was bumping and the drums thumping. So the words caught us all by surprise.

"Did they say Jesus?"

 "Naw, they must be thinking that's how you say Hay-zeus (spelled "Jesus" in Spanish)."

"Hush now, let's us listen."

And yes, that was gospel on the radio.

For a sample of what we heard go to Hoopla, sign in and type this: "Oh Happy Day". Click on the one by Edwin Hawkins-2004. It's short 'cause church mothers was falling out all over and couldn't take much.

Citing Emma Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer; Wed July 14, 2010:

Edwin Hawkins & Family won a Grammy for "Oh, Happy Day" in 1970. It was the 1st gospel song to climb mainstream charts. In 1968, a (Berkeley, Calif., choir) under the direction of Hawkins recorded an album. They expected to sell a few hundred as a fundraiser for an upcoming trip to Washington, D. C. But one of their songs--"Oh Happy Day"--caught the eye of a local Dj, who played it on the radio. It became an international hit, selling an estimated 7 million copies.  It was the first gospel song to climb the mainstream charts.

Folks started talking about modern vs traditional gospel.

"What is tradition, anyway?" Bishop (Walter) Hawkins once said. "Gospel music doesn't have a particular style. Gospel's got to progress."

In our little dried up town, far from the centers of black culture, even we knew 'thangs' had changed!



Attention educators! Are you tired of using the same old books with your students every year? Attend one of our summer educator workshops to learn about the latest and greatest materials to use in the classroom.


Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum

Come to this workshop to learn about new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and arts curriculum.


For K-5th grade educators:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2-4:30 pm, Central Library U.S. Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave. Register by July 31.


For 6th-12th grade educators: Gotta Read This! online workshop

  • Select the subjects of greatest interest to you. Register by July 31, and we’ll notify you when this online workshop is available.


Novel-Ties (for 4th -8th grade educators)

  • Discover hot, new fiction to use in book discussion groups and literature circles. Register by July 31, and we’ll notify you when this online workshop is available.


Contact School Corps with any questions!

Death and Mr. Pickwick: A Novel

by Stephen Jarvis

Jarvis recreates the writing of Charles Dickens'  first novel "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" giving us a flavor of 19th century London and the publishing industry of the time. For Dickens fans everywhere.

The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis

by Simon Goodman

A dramatic story about a seventy year detective hunt for stolen family treasures which included works by Degas, Renoir, Botticelli and many more. A heartfelt tale of loss and redemption.

Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs --  A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal and Murder

by Ben Mezrich

The bestselling author of "Bringing Down the House" brings us a tale of wealth and rivalry among the super-wealthy oligarchs who amassed great riches and power after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time

by Jonathan Kozol

Kozol, who has written award winning books on vulnerable children and education, tells the story of his father's life, a specialist in brain disorders, and his descent into dementia. A tender portrait of love and understanding.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

by Robert Kurson

An extraordinary tale of the search for the 17th century pirate ship Golden Fleece lost somewhere near the Dominican Republic. In thrilling detail, Kurson relates the excitement of the search for gold and the research involved looking at documents and maps in libraries around the world.



Leviathan Wakes book jacketLeviathan Wakes is the first book in the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey (a pen name for for co-writers Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham).  If you prefer to watch instead, it is currently being produced as a 10 episode series for the SyFy channel. My husband wanted to read the book before seeing the show so he started in on it.  After about a third of the book, he insisted I also had to read it before watching the show. He wasn't too far into the second book when he asked for the third.

In this universe, set a few hundred years in the future, humanity has managed to colonize the solar system but hasn't yet reached the stars. The crew of a small ice hauler responds to a distress signal, and it all goes horribly, horribly wrong from there. Earth groans under the weight of 30 billion hungry mouths and doesn't get along with Mars or Luna.  Those three all look down on the 50 to 100 million Belters living on asteroids in the outer solar system. The Belters live a hardscrabble life taxed into poverty by the inner system and resent the folks born into a gravity well. When the ice haulers point the finger at Mars for the death of the ship, they find that things get ugly very, very fast.  The more sensible scramble to keep systemwide war from breaking out but the rest just add to the chaos. Remember, you don't need bombs if you can just push a big rock down a gravity well, so the wiser heads are terrified of humanity wiping itself out.

Once I got my turn with book one, I found this to be an action-packed title that alternates between two main characters who feel like believable men.  You see a great deal of the life in the "Belt" and it's a rough place.  Mistakes very quickly equal dead and the justice is quite frontier in style. Pretty much any consensual vice you can imagine appears to be legal but nobody bats an eye that an engineer that neglected some life support systems fell out of an airlock with some pretty terrible injuries. The science part of the science fiction does have a great deal of "handwavium", but it feels real.  The reader is given little details like how many years it took to put a stable spin on a larger asteroid so it would have some gravity for the inhabitants.Firefly dvd cover

I think that the setting and flavor of Leviathan Wakes would appeal to anyone who has the good taste to have loved Firefly.  It’s nice to see a new set of “big damn heroes”! I don't know that I hold out the greatest of hopes for the tv. show being as good as the books, but if they stick to the exciting story and interesting characters there's hope!  Even the tv show turns out to be awful, the books are well worth reading if you like space-set science fiction at all.

Books are for chumps drawingAbout a year ago this picture landed on my desk. Drawn on the back of a library survey that had been given out to hundreds of middle and high school students. A hastily drawn angry face with a speech bubble that says “Books are for CHUMPS!” When I first saw the drawing I couldn’t help but laugh. Then I wondered, who was it who drew this? Do they really think that books are for chumps? What even is a chump? Since the creator of this drawing is an anonymous student, I will respond to their cry for bookish help in the form of an advice column.
Dear Books Are For Chumps,
I understand that you do not think that books are fun or interesting to read. I sympathize with your struggle. I was once like you until I realized that it wasn’t that books were boring, it was just that I hadn’t yet met the right book. I know very little about you other than that you do not like to read, you do like to express yourself, and you have a great sense of humor. So with those three things in mind, here are some titles that I think will change your opinion about books.
Ready Player One book coverLet’s start with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Imagine that it is 2044 and the world has become a bleak place. Most people escape their extremely grim reality by immersing themselves in a virtual reality called the OASIS. The deceased creator of OASIS, James Halliday, leaves his inheritance to any gamer who can solve three puzzles that he has left within the OASIS. After years of isolation Wade Watts finds himself juggling real world danger, romance, friendship and 80’s nostalgia in a fast paced cyber quest.
Why read this: You love video games, Dungeons and Dragons, and 80s movies.
Grasshopper Jungle book coverIf you are in the mood for dystopian fiction with more of a  comical bend I recommend giving Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith a try. This is a book that is hard to explain and impossible to forget. Grasshopper Jungle is a first person chronicle of the end of the world told from the perspective of 16-year old Austin Szerba. Austin is a normal teen living in a small Midwest town, hanging out, having fun and struggling with his affection for his best friend, Robby and his girlfriend, Shann. Meanwhile there are 6-foot tall praying mantis-like alien Unstoppable Soldiers (that Austin and Robby accidently let loose) poised to take over the world. 
Why read this: 6-foot tall praying mantis-like aliens. Need I say more?
Dorothy Must Die book coverDorothy Must Die is the first book in a  new series  by Danielle Paige (the second book The Wicked Will Rise came out earlier this year). This is a “what happens after” story and a twisted take on the Land of Oz. Amy Gumm is another girl from Kansas who gets swept away to Oz. But the land that she visits is not the same Technicolor fantasy from the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. Oz is a gray, sad place ruled by a powerful and horrible tyrant, Dorothy. This series is an awesome spin on a classic tale. 
Why read this: You want to know what happens after the movie ends.
The Shadow Hero book coverMaybe a graphic novel is what you need. If so check out the Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang. The Shadow Hero revives the 1940s comic book story of the Green Turtle, the  first Asian American superhero. 19-year old Hank Chu is the son of Chinese immigrants living in a fictional 1930s Chinatown. After his mother is rescued by a superhero, she decides that it is her son's destiny to become a superhero. This is a comical take on the traditional superhero origin story.
Why read this: You have (and maybe stiil do) fantasized about being a cape wearing superhero.
So my challenge to you, B. A. F. C. , is to read at least two of these books over the summer, then get back to me and let me know if you still think that books are for chumps.
Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.
A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.
Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.
The Multnomah Law Library in downtown Portland provides legal reference assistance and more six days a week. You can access various legal forms and complete NOLO legal reference books on common legal topics online, 24/7, through their website.
The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.
Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

The True Meaning of Smekday came out in 2007, so this spring's sequel, Smek for President, was an unexpected joy. I read both books with my 11-year-old son, who still lets me read out loud to him, although at this point, I'm afraid that every book is going to be the last. If you've already read the first book, then you'll want to read the second one, which is almost as good as the first. If you haven't yet read The True Meaning of Smekday, here are some reasons that you should give this kid's book with crossover appeal a try:

1) The main character is named "Gratuity"-- her mom liked the sound of it-- but is nicknamed "Tip". This kind of offbeat cleverness runs through both books.

2) Tip is a strong, smart, resourceful girl, AND a girl who just happens to be biracial, in a book that's not about race at all, really.

3) There's an alien from the planet Boov whose name on Earth is inexplicably J-Lo, even though he has nothing to do with Jennifer Lopez-- and he is extraordinarily funny. Seriously. Several times while reading these books, my son and I laughed until we couldn't breathe and our faces were wet with tears.

4) Wildly inventive comics are scattered throughout the book like little treats waiting to be discovered. 

5) J-Lo and Tip team up to save the world in an insanely goofy and original way.

6)This story has at its heart a deep and beautiful friendship. It doesn't matter that Tip is human and J-Lo is an alien. They're true to each other.

7) Both books are wonderful read-alouds for an adult and a child to experience together. Honestly, even if you read it to yourself, you're going to want to read parts of it aloud to anyone who happens to be in the room.

I suppose I should mention that there’s a movie based on the first book which was also released this spring. I’m afraid to see it because I can’t believe it’ll be as good as the book, but let me know if I’m wrong, okay? And in the meantime, here’s a list I made of absolutely wonderful read-alouds for a parent to read with children who are perfectly capable of reading to themselves-- but they’ll still allow you the pleasure of reading to them. 

Great stories so often remind us that success is boring. It is the wretched tale of miserable failure which captivates and holds our attention. Here is one story I recently found to be worthy of both watching and reading.
The Homesman book jacketThe Homesman by Glendon Swarthout is a spare and ruthless picture of sodbusting subsistance in the Nebraska Territory. The writing draws stark and vivid lines of life for five women on the frontier. After various brutalities drive four of the women into debilitating mental illnesses, Mary Bee Cuddy reluctantly volunteers to drive them back over the plains and across the Missouri River to a charitable churchwoman when none of the menfolk are up to the task. Knowing she will need help on the six-week journey, she rescues a claim jumper from hanging and presses him into service. George Briggs is a cipher and the trip is harrowing: they face hostile weather and deprivation and grueling monotony along with their own inner demons.
Mary Bee is an educated and relatively successful single teacher-turned-farmer who is increasingly desperate to marry. Her success is also her failure in that she proves to be stronger in body and spirit than most of the men who surround her. George Briggs, an army deserter, materializes as something of the equal that has thus far eluded her. 
A window demonstrating the fragility of their mission opens when a group of unknown and possibly hostile Indians appear on the horizon. They are a "ragtag bunch" possessed of coats and caps and rifles indicating they have, at some point, killed some U.S. Cavalry. There is a tense stand-off:
The Homesman dvd
     "They won't turn us loose," said Briggs. "I count four rifles. If they think we're worth it and come on down here, we're dead."
     Again the bugle blatted. Mary Bee got gooseflesh. Indians were what she had most feared.
     Briggs decided. "All right, I'll try to buy 'em off." He jumped down, fished inside his cowcoat, and handed her his heavy Colt's repeater. "If they come, don't fool with the rifle. Get inside the wagon as fast as you can and shoot the women. In the head. Then shoot yourself."
The feature film based on the novel stars Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank. Don't miss this movie. It is a reminder of the riches that lie buried, abandoned and forgotten, at the side of the road to success. 
The winners may ride into the sunset, but the losers hold the stories we remember.

Giving Help and HopeVolunteer Ronald Fabricante

by Sarah Binns

At Multnomah County Library, one easily meets people with diverse experiences and passions. Ronald Fabricante, Central Library's longtime computer lab assistant, is the embodiment of this. When I set up a meeting with Ronald he says he'll be easy to spot because he wears steampunk glasses with blue lenses, a great introduction to a man who is an experience connoisseur.

A lifelong learner, Ronald grew up reading, especially encyclopedias, in Manila in the Philippines, and moved to Oregon after graduating high school. Approximately 80 members of Ronald's extended family have moved here from the Philippines. His childhood in Manila inspired him to give back to the community in Portland. “I came from a poor family and a poor society,” he says. “I know what it's like to have nothing, so I want to help.”
Ronald started volunteering in the periodicals department, but moved to Central Library's computer lab over five years ago. Though working full time and studying for a computer science degree, he still helps patrons with technical questions and resume writing. “I love working there,” he says. “I've seen a lot of people who are discouraged, frustrated, for whom it's difficult to find work. I identify every resource I can for them. I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope.”

Ronald Fabricante Quote: "I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope."By now, Ronald's lab visitors know more about him beyond his work as a volunteer. Many of his regulars have become friends with whom he discusses art, books, and poetry. He prides himself in diverse activities that include film dates, watercolor painting, and weekly trips to write poetry at the Chinese Gardens, “a nexus of tranquility” as he says. He also speaks six languages, including Russian and Spanish. 

With all of his interests in technology and art, Ronald describes himself as both traditionalist and modernist. His interest in steampunk, a sci-fi/fantasy genre which combines 19th century technology with futurism, represents him: “I am connected to the past to learn and appreciate its continual relevance, but also look forward to a bright future.” When I ask if his steampunk glasses work, he replies with a laugh that they are functional. It's a fitting response for this technical engineer with the eye of an artist.


A Few Facts About Ronald

Home library: Central Library for browsing when volunteering, but most books come from Washington County Library system, nearer where he lives.
Currently reading: Wildwood. “I lamented when I finished Harry Potter and I've been looking for something to enjoy as much as I did that series.” 
Most influential book: The Da Vinci Code. “It's thought-provoking and has so many elements of fiction, history, religion, and travel.”
Favorite book from childhood: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, novels by Filipino hero José Rizal, which expose the abuses of the Spanish colonizers in the late 19th century Philippines.
E-reader or paper? Both. Ronald uses an e-reader for textbooks but still loves the way a book feels!
Favorite place to read: Portland Art Museum and the Grotto. 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.
Signs that say Hope and Despair.When you are seeking help, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is a selective list of social service organizations and places that offer housing, shelter, mental health counseling, escape from abusive situations and other basic needs for people who are homeless, jobless or going through personal transitions. If you have any questions or need assistance finding services, contact us and we'll be happy to help!

When in doubt, start here: 211info

211info is a comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more. Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages. Dial 211 from any phone; text your zip code to 898211; send an email to; or search resources online.

Other resources:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges.  They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income.  Their website includes addresses and phone numbers for services as well as links to additional resources outside of the area.
Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services
Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members as well as people who have no insurance or resources. Their Mental Health Call Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week; call 503-988-4888, 800-716-9769 (toll free) or 503-988-5866 (TTY). Clasping hands; link to Northwest Pilot Project.
Northwest Pilot Project
Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Find housing, transportation help, advocacy and referrals to other resources and services. NW Pilot Project recommends calling 503-227-5605 before coming in.

Outside In
Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Portland Women’s Crisis Line
Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence; call 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333.  The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource
Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive online directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in  Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is continuously updated.
Smiling woman; link to Transition Projects website.Transition Projects
This organization can help with a variety of services including housing, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Tri-met tickets, information and referral and housing search assistance.


There is so much good teen fiction that I have quite a time (and only moderate interest in) actually getting to the grown-up stuff. Here are two stories I recently discovered and enjoyed.

Seraphina book jacketSeraphina by Rachel Hartman
I discovered Dungeons and Dragons at age 17, and I remember getting pretty excited when my brother told me "There are FOUR kinds of dragons!"  I'd read The Hobbit, The Reluctant Dragon, and a few Norse myths by then, so I knew that all dragons were not the same, but there being actual kinds of dragons was very new to me. Dragon taxonomy, if you will. Years and lots of fantasy later, this book gave me a similar thrill.
Among many very cool things about this book (a wry and honest main character, strange dream beings starting to talk back, a sackbut), it has dragons that, by virtue of their ability to assume human shape, can communicate on a level with the humans. But although they look like regular people, Hartman does a great job with keeping them very different. Dragons have a hard time understanding human emotions, so it's a bit like interacting with aliens, or animals, or gods. This had a nice amount of intrigue, a very observant prince, questions of loyalty, medieval music, saints and sayings for all occasions, and a bit of a look at discrimination and hatred.  Good stuff, and the first e-book I read for fun (because it was available and the printed one wasn't). 
 An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
I haven't quite finished this yet, but I'm thinking that I have a great recommendation for people who enjoyed reading The Hunger Games. This has some of the sameAn Ember in the Ashes book jacket themes - power vs. powerlessness, fate vs. choice, battle against friends, star-crossed love triangle. It's set in an empire reminiscent of ancient Rome, but this is not historical fiction. The magic of the desert pervades this story... ghuls, jinn, efrit... and yet it is mostly the tale of one young man expected to become a great leader, and of a young woman with nothing but a rebel pedigree, posing as a slave and struggling to save the last relative she has. The perspective changes back and forth between them with each chapter, and the pacing is used well to build suspense. It's on hold so I'll have to turn it in soon, but I'll finish this one quickly.


Lately I've been gravitating towards books that give me respite from working full time and going to school part-time. These are the books I've been loving lately:
Bee and Puppycat book jacketBee and PuppyCat by Natasha Allegri: Bee is a twentysomething woman who works for a temp agency fighting monsters with Puppycat in SPACE. It's a pastel dream just as gorgeous as the original cartoon.

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa: Sakugawa takes you on a beautiful intergalactic journey where you deal with little and big things like petty annoyances, self-hatred, and anger. Surprisingly calming.The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl book jacket

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae: This is the funniest book I've read in a long time. I loved reading about her family, '90s culture, and the endless embarrassments. As a POC (person of color), this is the kind of voice I've been wishing wasn't so rare.
I hope you can find as much solace in these books as I do. What kinds of books help you keep cool when under stress?



  What does a plate of chocolate chip cookies have to do with a funeral home?                                         

Everything if you are Matt and you get a job in a funeral home because your mother is dead and being around people who understand grief is better than going to high school where even your best friend acts strange and uncomfortable with you.  Then you meet Lovey- who is there for the funeral of her grandma Gwendolyn Brown. Matt waits and waits for her to break down, for her voice to tremble, for tears to fall.  While he’s waiting he notices her eyes and her curly hair.  He also notices how confident she is, how calm. Intrigued he attends the reception after the funeral just so he can meet her.  Talking with  her is magical - he takes a chance and asks her on a date.  She asks if she can plan the date.  Yes!  He almost shouts it.  But the date is  different from any other type of date he’s been on and with her he feels different. So different that it makes him feel like baking his mom's special chocolate cookie recipe, breathing and laughing again. Loving again.

If you like a book that will help you see life and -death- in a whole different way, Read The Boy in the Black Suit by Joan Reynolds

Book jacket: Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter by Nina MacLaughlinWhen I was approaching 30, I left a job in Seattle and moved to Portland to become a woodworker.  I spent the last of my cashed out 401k on a table saw, hung my hand tools neatly on pegboard and slowly and with great discipline became a master carpenter.  Not true.  I spent about a month dressed in overalls, creating little more than sawdust before stopping to admire my tools with a self-congratulatory glass(es) of wine. And then I panicked and signed on with a temp agency to do mind-numbing office work.

Nina MacLaughlin carried out what I only fantasized about.  After spending much of her 20s working as a journalist in Boston she realized that somewhere along the line, the work that had once inspired her, had grown oppressive.  Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter is her memoir of what happened when she quit her desk job and traded in her cubicle and computer for a hammer, a tile saw and a 50lb bag of grout.

Picking up Hammer Head, I felt an immediate kinship and let’s face it- envy for MacLaughlin.  We share an enormous satisfaction in mastering a new tool and an appreciation for the unique history and warmth that radiates off of a freshly-sanded plank of wood. But by the end, it was her boss Mary that I fell in love with. It was Mary’s Craigslist ad: Carpenter’s Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply, that started MacLaughlin’s journey.  Not much of a talker, Mary offered only the simplest instruction and encouragement (“Be smarter than the tools”), but abundant patience and quiet humor. McLaughlin's inspiring memoir is as much about her own leap of faith towards meaningful work, as it is a love letter to her straight shooting and unflappable mentor.

Oh why weren’t you in Portland in 2001, Mary?


Check out this list for more memoirs that will inspire you to follow your bliss.

Do you love urban fantasy? I do. I love that the stories are set in the real world with an action paced plots and supernatural beings. I connect better with a story if it’s set in our modern world. And if there is humourous dialogue-you’ve got me. I become a devoted fan!

Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles series is at times so funny I can laugh for a full five minutes about a scene. The stories are pageturners with a mix of supernatural beings that are Nordic, Celtic, Native American, Roman or Greek gods. There are vampires, witches, and werewolves thrown in too.

The Iron Druid is Atticus Sullivan who lives in Tempe Arizona with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon when we first meet him in book one Hounded. The fact that the story is set in Tempe Arizona makes me giggle. Because then it is a nod to sunny noir.

The humor I love best in the series is in the discussions between Oberon and Atticus. There’s comic relief and diversion when Oberon and Atticus discuss snacks like sausage when they are worried about an upcoming battle. If you like your supernatural action story with a side of humor then you might love Iron Druid Chronicles series. I do.

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!

cover image of alone in the kitchen with an eggplantFood is a lovely thing. Cooking and eating a meal can be one of the more pleasurable things in life, but if you're not sharing it with someone, it can feel like too much to bother. Though we are totally worth it, sometimes corners are cut and the end result can be a sad and pathetic excuse for a meal. Enter some hilarious accounts of What We Eat When We Eat Alone and other tomes like Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. These are full of often innovative recipes that occasionally work and frequently don't.

Did you know there are cookbooks just for one? My personal favorite is by Judith Jones. The Pleasures of Cooking for One will have you cover image of the pleasures of cooking for onerediscovering the joys of cooking, without the drudgery of having to consume what you just made for the whole of next week's lunches and dinners.  

Are you on your way to being a famous chemist?  Then you need some examples of those who came before you!  Or do you just need to write a report on a scientist?  Well, we've got you covered for that too.

A great first stop is the Biography in Context database.  (If you're using this outside the library it will ask for your library card number and pin, so have those at the ready.)  You can search by name if you know who you want information on or click "Browse People" on the upper left and select "scientists" from the drop-down menu to explore your options.

Check out the booklist below for some more ideas!  Need more help?  That's what we're here for.  Contact a librarian to get what you need.