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Photo of curated clutter: plastic dinosaur, drawing, vintage cameraI admire minimalists. I really do. I totally get the peace of mind that comes with clean surfaces and simple outlines. I love natural linen, wood and neutral shades with bare hints of color. It’s just that I can’t maintain it for long.

I gravitate towards clashing patchwork patterns and ric rac. I see an amateur oil painting being discarded, and I have to rescue it. At the beach, I fill my pockets with interesting bits of wood and rock and when my father passed away, I claimed his collection of antlers to remember him by.Photo of corner clutter: oil painting, pillows, anters, books

Rather than see all of this stuff as clutter, I’ve been finding inspiration in my collections. A messy stack of books becomes an art installation when towered high on a vintage toddler chair. Tiny plastic goats balanced on the ledges of picture frames, add whimsy to a room, and in my opinion, antlers look good stacked or hung just about anywhere.

Maybe you’re a collector of objects yourself. Maybe like me, you’ve been trying to suppress your love of found, thrifted and handmade objects for the sake of living simply. Maybe you don’t have to. Check out my list for books that will inspire you to clear out your attic and display the things that bring you joy.  After all, it’s not clutter if it’s curated.

On Aug. 6, the library offered an event with the author of Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith. This event was mistakenly included in the library’s August newsletter, which was sent out on Aug. 7. We apologize for the error. 

We do hope you'll have a chance to enjoy these Elliott Smith offerings from the library's collection.

波特兰华人服务中心将于八月十六日举行一年一度的亜裔社区义诊活动,穆鲁玛县图书馆将会在场参与,提供有关促进身心健康的资源及书籍,並有华语职员为大家介绍及解答有关图书馆各类活动的资料。亜裔社区义诊活动在8/16 上午十一时至下午四时于3430 SE Powell 街华人服务中心举行。欢迎各位到图书馆的摊位与我们見面!

speaker buttons

Do you enjoy turning your speakers up to 11, like Nigel in Spinal Tap? Or do you find yourself craving silence in our often noisy world? How about little bit of both, like me? 

Before coming to Portland, I lived in a little house in the middle of the big woods. No neighbors. Quiet all the time, except for the occasional train, animals, birds, and frogs. Now living in the city, I enjoy a cacophany of sounds every day. You know them, the buses, the trains, the cars, the people. It's been a huge transition, as I now have to seek out the quiet that I used to take for granted, but I find it has become one of my favorite hobbies. Of course, travel outside the city limits, and one can find any number of places in which to soak in the silence:  the Columbia River Gorge is a favorite of mine. Peaceful Places, Portland is a wonderful book that will guide you to the most serene places in the city. So many opportunities exist to find solitude and quiet, and I think it is good for the mind, body, and soul to enjoy them when we can. 

Summer is a busy time for everyone. But sometimes we need to put the busy aside and just BE. This has been your friendly reminder to enjoy the silence. Check out the list of books below for some inspiration on ways to find peace and quiet in a loud world.

Now, for those who are interested...

Woodstock Library (6008 SE 49th Ave.) will resume normal operating hours on Tuesday, August 5. The library was closed July 31 - August 4 to repair water damage from a plumbing failure.

Patron holds were suspended during the closure and are now available for pick up at the library. If you have questions about your account, including overdue items and fines, please call Account Services 24 hours a day at 503.988.5342. To speak to a staff member, choose option 2 during Central Library's operating hours.

Fiction with a sprinkling of magic. Will you love Sarah Addison Allen's The Girl Who Chased the Moon as much as I did?

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen and heard that ad on TV. But if you decide to get a medical alert device, or are helping an older friend or relative get one, you might be ready to scream “Help! I need a device but can’t decide which one to get!”

Here’s some tips to make things easier. First, make a list of features you want the medical alert to have. The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice about things to consider. An article called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” from CRS – Adult Health Advisor (June 2012) also gives a checklist of possible concerns [ Note: to read the article, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. This blog post from Huffington Post, Post 50 examines three major designs and providers of each kind.

It’s hard to find unbiased reviews. For example, AARP offers a discount to members, available through ADT Companion Service, but this comparison by a competitor, Life Station, makes some arguments against it.

Luckily, in 2014 Consumer Reports Magazine published some unbiased information in their articles "Should You Buy a Medical Alert System?" and "How to Pick a Medical Alert System."  [ Note: to read these articles, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. 

Also, Lawserver Online RatingLab’s comparison of medical alerts provides product reviews, advice about comparing them and a ratings chart. You can also go to the Better Business Bureau and do a search for “medical alarms” limited to your zip code, to find how they’ve rated local services.

If you are trying to help an older person who lives out of state, you might also want to find out what is available to them locally. You can use this eldercare locator to find agencies where they live, that can help you.

Be wary of phone salespeople, and online ads; there are lots of scams out there. The resources we’ve listed should help you find a reliable device that will work for you.  Need more help? Contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help. 

 

Have you ever picked up a book and become so intrigued by the subject matter, it sparked a reading frenzy? Of course you have. That, my friends, is a book binge and it happens when you least expect it. You’ll be innocently reading along when you hit on a certain character or place or time and boom! Book binge. I myself have had many. Perhaps you are familiar with my proclivity for Paris in the 1920s, or my simple living obsession, but did you know I fostered a Sylvia Plath binge for at least a year and a half and had a brief fling with the Bloomsbury bunch as well?

I like to think book binges are good for us, edifying in some way. Like Picasso needed his blue period, we need our book binges.

Here and here are a few of my more memorable ones.

 

good luck cover

 

Three things you should know about Bartholomew Neil:

-His mother just died

-He’s not very good at being alone

-Coping with the above requires Richard Gere

 

Woodstock Library (6008 SE 49th Ave.) will be closed at least through Monday, August 4 to repair water damage from a plumbing failure.

Patron holds and due dates for that location have been suspended so long as the library remains closed. Holds will be available for pick up when the library reopens.

If you have questions about your account, including overdue items and fines, please call call automated Account Services 24 hours a day at 503.988.5342. To speak to a staff member, choose option 2 during Central Library's operating hours.

The closest libraries to Woodstock are Sellwood-Moreland (7860 SE 13th Ave.) and Holgate (7905 SE Holgate Blvd.) See all library hours and locations.

“History isn't about dates and places and wars. It's about the people who fill the spaces between them.” ― Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller 
 
I happily Marathon book jacketread non-fiction books about the Oregon Trail, but otherwise I like to absorb most of my history lessons via fiction. Fiction gives you setting, context, details and a snapshot of 'a day in the life'. It makes history into what Jodi says: a human story. And thanTemplar book jacketk goodness there are quite a lot of writers and artists bringing these stories to life as graphic novels!
 
Marathon by Boaz Yakin shows the life of Eucles, the Athenian messenger who ran from Sparta to Athens and prevented the fall of Greece to the Persian empire. The art is a good match for the gruelling story. Templar by Jordan Mechner is based on the apocalyptic end of an entire knightly order when the king of France arrested 15,000 of these crusaders. Pretty dark, but also has a bit of a 'heist movie' feel to it. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang are brother and sister works that show opposite sides of China's 1898 Boxer Rebellion. It is a dangerous time for Chinese Christians, and seeing how Yang gets us to empathize with opposing characters is a neat trick. 
 
You like? We have lots more.

Have you heard about STRYVE (Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere)?

STRYVE is a national initiative, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that takes a public health approach to preventing youth violence before it starts.

Locally, the Multnomah County Health Department's Community Capacitation Center is leading the STRYVE charge, engaging youth from across the county to create comLittle Free Librarymunity change in a variety of exciting and inspiring ways. They are known as STRYVEPDX.

The Multnomah County Library is proud to be working with STRYVEPDX on one of their summer projects, the building of 150 Little Free Libraries in four neighborhoods around Multnomah County. The hope is that these Little Free Libraries will be a place where a community can create connections with their neighbors, share their favorite books, and strengthen life-long literacy. These small but powerful libraries will be unveiled at four National Night Out* events happening the first full week of August.

The library is thrilled to be at these very special National Night Out events to enthusiastically talk to folks about libraries and books and literacy. We will also be presenting the Little Free Library hosts with some special Multnomah County Library goodies, including coupons to the fabulous Title Wave Used Bookstore. Because what better way to supplement a Little Free Library going forward, but with the 20,000 used books, audiobooks (and more!) found at Title Wave at bargain prices?

The library will be at the following National Night Out events, please drop by and see us:

Albina/Killingsworth Neighborhood National Night Out

Cully Neighborhood National Night Out

New Columbia Neighborhood National Night Out

Rockwood Neighborhood National Night Out

Congratulations to STRYVEPDX for all their amazing work and for seeing the power of libraries, books and literacy in building strong and safe communities!

*Want to know more about National Night Out? Please see Librarian Kate S.’s great post, National Night Out - An annual party across Multnomah County.
 

The Book Thief jacketThere’s a theory I subscribe to that no matter what our chronological age might be, we all feel a different age inside. As in, our bodies grow, we mature in different ways, but mentally, we all feel stuck at some earlier age. For instance, I am mentally a 17-year-old girl who doesn't quite fit in anywhere yet.

I was thinking about this recently after reading an article in Slate Magazine entitled, Against YA by Ruth Graham. The gist of her essay is that teen fiction is written for teens and adults “should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

There are several things I’d like to say to Ms. Graham. Here goes. . .

First of all, it’s sometimes a marketing/publishing decision as to what gets published as a young adult book. Take The Book Thief. Please, please take it. It's a brilliant bookFangirl bookjacket that should be read by everyone! In Australia where Markus Zusak hales from, you’ll find it in the adult section. But here in the U.S., it sits in the young adult section because his previous book was put out as teen fiction in the U.S. Arbitrary? Indeed.

And then I think back to my growing-up years. Once I reached a certain age, definitely when I was still in middle school and high school, I started reading “adult” books. These were books with younger protagonists that certainly were appealing to teens but they also were well-written novels that adults enjoy. Books like My Name is Asher Lev and To Kill a Mockingbird. The chances are that if these books were published today, they would be cataloged as “young adult” fiction and think how many adults would miss out on them?!

That brings me to today and my reading tastes. Sometimes I read young adult books and I enjoy them because I can totally remember what it was like to be that teen (Fangirl, I’m talking to you). I relate to the characters because I’m still a 17-year-old misfit inside. Other times, I enjoy a teen book because it tells a really good story (A Brief History of Montmaray fits the bill).

I hereby proclaim, I am not embarrassed to read young adult literature and you shouldn't be either! Here are a few more titles that you too can be proud to read.

Mayor Charlie Hales at National Night Out - City of Portland photo

In early August for the last 30 years, communities and neighborhoods have been getting together to meet, celebrate, and have fun as part of the National Night Out celebrations. These events were started to promote safe neighborhoods and crime prevention initiatives by solidifying partnerships between law enforcement and communities. These events are generally free and family-friendly. A continuing feature of local celebrations is that groups can request to have police officers and firefighters show up at their party. And who knows, your neighborhood could throw a party and maybe even the Mayor will show up!

I know my neighborhood party will have grills and hot dogs and some games for the kids, but each party is a little bit different. Some are small affairs with a handful of neighbors potlucking, while others occupy the better part of a city park. Thinking of planning your own party? The Office of Neighborhood Involvement in Portland has a variety of National Night Out party planning resources to help you get started that should assist planning for everything from a small potluck picnic with chalk out for the kids to a big bash with a live band that shuts down the street. The message from the experts is to start early--it's not too early to plan for next year! 

The official date of National Night Out is the first Tuesday in August, but there are so many parties happening in Multnomah County, they can't all take place on the same day. The City of Portland compiles a list of parties submitted to them for publicizing. Check out the Find a party link to find events in Portland. In Gresham, call 503-618-2567 to find out where there's a party near you and in Troutdale call 503-665-6129. Learn more about Fairview's party on their National Night Out web page

We've compiled a list of books to get you planning your party, meeting your neighbors and thinking about community. See our picks for National Night Out celebrations. 

You might see your Library at a National Night Out party. We can't hit all the parties (we'd be so tired!), but where you see us, you can guarantee that we'll be talking about all the great books, services, and resources the Library can provide to you.  Here are the neighborhood parties where you'll see us and the libraries sending staff to attend:

Albina/Killingsworth - Tuesday, August 5th, 4:00-8:00PM
N Killingsworth Ct and Borthwick Ave
North Portland and Abina Library staff
 
Cully - Tuesday, August 5, 5:00-8:00PM
Baltazar F. Ortiz Community Center, 6736 NE Killingsworth St
Gregory Heights Library staff
 
Fairview Night Out - Tuesday, August 5, 5:00-8:00PM
Community Park, 21600 NE Park LaneFairview
Fairview Library staff
 
Foster-Powell Night Out - Tuesday, August 5, 6:30 - 8:30PM 
Kern Park, SE 67th Ave & Center St
Holgate Library staff
 
Hollywood - Tuesday, August 5, 4:00-8:00PM
4400 NE Broadway St
Hollywood Library staff
 
New Columbia - Tuesday, August 5, 6:00-8:00PM
McCoy Park, 9298 N Woolsey Ave
St. Johns and Kenton Library staff
 
Stephen's Creek Crossing, Hillsdale - Tuesday, August 5, 4:00-7:00PM
6719 SW 26th Ave
Hillsdale Library staff
 
Peninsula Park, Piedmont  - Wednesday, August 6, 5:30-8:30PM
700 N Rosa Parks Way
North Portland Library staff
 
East County/Rockwood - Thursday, August 7, 6:00-8:00PM
Rosewood Initiative, 162nd and Stark St
Gresham and Rockwood library staff
 
Downtown - Friday, August 8, 6:00-8:00PM
South Park Blocks between SW Harrison St and SW Montgomery St
Central Library staff
 

Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway, is due to be published on July 29th. It’s funny, sweet, surprising and SUPER.

The fictional island of Mancreau is scheduled for UTTER DESTRUCTION. A chemical company has been stuffing its waste products into the empty spaces in the rocks. When magma bubbles into this waste brand new forms of life are created, not intelligent, but perhaps malevolent. The United Nations designates the island as the first official ‘International Sacrifice Zone’ to prevent contamination.

Representing authority in this EXPLOSIVE situation is Lester Ferris, a comically reserved British bobby-type. The only chink in his armor is his paternal love for a brilliant, comic book-loving boy who only gives his name as ‘Robin.’

Before long, the boy is looking to Lester to be a hero, and hence TIGERMAN IS BORN!

For more superheroes in prose, check out my list Cape not pictured.

Even though I haven’t left the Pacific Northwest recently, I’ve spent a good deal of the past few months with my head in Africa.

I’ve always been interested in life in other countries and the immigrant experience, but like most Americans, my knowledge of African countries is narrow at best. However, since reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I've gotten hooked on African writers. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Book jacket: We Need New Names by NoViolet BulawayoWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is one of those books that crosses over into poetry. I relished every word in this joyous and harsh story of a girl named Darling who grows up playing games like 'hunting Bin Laden' with her friends in Zimbabwe until moving with her aunt to ‘Destroyedmichygan' (Detroit Michigan). This is a truly modern immigrant story and the sharp contrast between Darling's African childhood and her teenage years in Michigan is startling. Then there are the character names...Bastard, Godknows, Mother of Bones, and who could forget the Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro?

Book jacket: Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

Set in 1950's Sudan, Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela will break your heart, heal it, and then break it again. But it's the good kind of heartbreak, offset by great beauty. Nur, the son and heir of a prominent family suffers a tragic and debilitating accident. With their future uncertain, the family is caught between the traditional values of Nur's Sudanese mother and the modern leanings of his father's young Egyptian second wife, mirroring the social changes in Sudan itself.

Book jacket: Aya by Marguerite AbouetMarguerite Abouet's Aya is the first in a graphic novel series that takes you to Abidjan, the capital city of the Ivory Coast, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl, Aya. Set in the prosperous 1970s, the level-headed Aya and her boy crazed friends do what teenagers everywhere do; sneak out to discos and argue with their parents. This is a fantastically fun series that both teenagers and adults will relate to, while also relishing the differences of another culture. Turn to the back pages for bonus extras such as the peanut sauce recipe made famous by Aya's mom and instructions on how to 'roll your tassaba' like Aya's friend Bintou.

You can join my African reading adventure with other titles on this list. Got some favorite titles of your own? I'd love to hear about them. I've got many more countries yet to visit and Nigeria can be so hard to leave.

How I love a good Western -- no, make that a small-w western -- one that rides right down the middle of the road. I'm not into books that stumble too far into Louis L'Amour territory or ones that lean towards romance. All I need is an underdog with a cause and no-good varmint who needs to be brought to justice, or have justice brought to him (yeah, it's usually a him.) Though a lot of Westerns are historical, I also like those that are more contemporary too - after all, people didn't stop writing westerns at the turn of the 20th century.

As I've mentioned before, True Grit is one of my all time favorites, featuring a girl who is not to be messed with. Most recently I enjoyed an twist on that story. Robert Lautner's main character in Road to Reckoning is Thomas, an introspective kid who loves books and has no business being on the road with his father, a salesman preaching the wonders of a new-fangled gun, the Colt revolver. When things go badly wrong, Thomas is reluctantly rescued by Henry Stands, a mercurial bounty hunter who has no desire to be saddled with a kid. Yep, there sure are a lot of parallels with True Grit, and that makes this book all the more enjoyable.

The theme of green-horn intellectual thrown into a wild and dangerous wilderness shows up in another favorite, Leif Enger's So Brave, Young, and Handsome. The story centers on a writer who has made a name for himself in the penny Western craze - think a fictional Louis L'Amour. But now he has writer's block and just when it seems he'll never write again, an elderly stranger comes to town, one whose criminal past is catching up with him. Together they go on an adventure that promises to save them both.

One reviewer calls the West portrayed in these books "regrettably familiar".  And it's true that these stories sometimes rely on stereotypes - a kind of short form that links directly to our imaginations. It's that reliance on the archetype that makes them good. After all, what else is a western than the age-old story of a fall from grace, and an effort to reach a more perfect world? For a few more small-w westerns that range from heart-warming to terrifying, take a look at my list. Happy trails.

I found  Dan Simmons' The Terror  positively ripping, a great big adventure story filled with interesting characters-- men of the sea testing themselves against the many, many things the Arctic throws at them. Then it changed, and it started to remind me of a book I read once about the Donner party. And then it changed again and became something unexpected and unusual, and I don't want to talk about that too much and spoil it for you.

The Terror is based on the real expedition of Sir John Franklin and his two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, which in the 1840s disappeared in the Arctic on a doomed search for the Northwest Passage. There's not much sailing in The Terror, as a the ships get frozen into the ice pretty early on and stay there, the result of several exceptionally cold winters. Things start out pretty bad-- Franklin, the commander of the expedition, is something of a fool who fails to respect the Arctic as he should, the canned food is tainted and spoiling, there are no animals to be found by the hunters, crewmen are coming down with scurvy, and it’s unbelievably cold-- like -50 degrees Fahrenheit cold. The ship is crowded and the darkness is constant. And then things get worse. Something-- an enormous polar bear?-- is stalking the crew. And the ships, frozen in the ice for years, are starting to crack up under the pressure.

This is not for the faint of heart-- it’s almost a thousand pages long (or 22 CDs), and contains vast amounts of research about nineteenth century ships, polar ice, the early days of canned food, Inuit mythology, and more. But while I can’t believe that human beings actually signed up for these expeditions, I  just loved the time I spent in the world of this book. The writing is good,  the plot is thrilling, and it’s so compelling that I couldn’t stop listening. Oh, and if you are considering listening to the audiobook, as I did, you should know that the voice actor is excellent, as well, with a plummy English accent and great ability to express characters of different ages, classes and dispositions.

This list will provide you with even more opportunities to head into the cold during the hot summer days that will be coming back soon.

Freddie and MeMusic fans! FANS with a capital F, you know your own history in relation to your favorite music or band, right?  Wouldn’t you love to look at an illustrated timeline of that relationship? I would. The other day as I was listening to Queen on the way to work and it made me reminisce about my own relationship with the band and the book Freddie and Me: A Coming-of-age (Bohemian) Rhapsody. It tells the story in graphic novel form of Mike Dawson’s love of Queen and how their music intertwined with his life. There is a beautiful timeline of Mike Dawson’s life in connection with the albums of Queen in his comic book memoir! The timeline is a two page spread with family photos and covers of Queen albums. I can remember album covers of my favorite bands with certain snapshots of my life.  Mike Dawson did this in a really thoughtful way.

I love that he made this memoir in a loving tribute to his life and his favorite band. It is such a thoughtful book. I think it is time to pick it up again. And if you haven’t had the chance to read a comic book memoir here’s a list to get you started.

 


 

It’s been a rough few years personally: divorce, grad school, auto theft, dog death, ancient cat pissing indiscriminately throughout the house. I may be tough, but sometimes enough is enough. Give a girl a break already. Times like these make me contemplate running away. Before I chuck it all in and move to an undisclosed location, I thought I’d make a list. Why? Because lists soothe my virgo soul. Also list making is legal. And free. I shall call it my escapist list for hard times. On it will be absorbing things that don’t make me think too much, books that make me laugh out loud on public transport, hilariously ridiculous films, and music that puts a smile on my face and makes me move and groove involuntary of my mood (or talent).

There, you see, that’s better. Things are looking up already.

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