I have been reminded (by those who wish to remain anonymous) that librarying is Serious Business!

Therefore, I will present only relevant, meticulous information in lieu of my frivolous penchant for having jokes and smiles. This month's offering is from the list of a human being who knows more about movies than the 'Thumb's up guys' (and is more accurate in his reviews and assessements.) These documentaries deal with disturbing subject matter in a freshly original way.

And ta ta! I get the last laugh because remember you can eat popcorn while you get educated. Perhaps if PPS acknowledged this fact, it could do something about its pesky little attendance problem.

Find Out What's Available

Trinity collegeIt's never too early to start looking for scholarships. The best time of year to start looking is in the summer or early fall. This lets you find programs before their deadlines have passed, and gives you enough time to complete a well-planned application. Many scholarship programs require an essay and recommendations from teachers or other adults who know you, and these take time to prepare.  

There are many scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships and work-study jobs available. You'll likely encounter some common eligibility criteria. These include which state you live in, if you've performed military service, whether you have minority status or a particular nationality or ethnic background, a religious affliation, or if any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. If you fit the eligibility criteria, be sure to consider applying! 


The library is a great place to get started as you research scholarships. Whether you are looking for a scholarship in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, or sports, we can help you discover ways to find scholarship awards for higher education. 

Scholarship HandbookThe Scholarship Handbook is organized by common eligibility criteria. It lists scholarships based on which state you live in, whether you have performed military service, if you have minority status or come from a particular nationality or ethnic background, if you have a religious affliation, and whether any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. Each scholarship program is described by eligibility, basis for selection, application requirements, amount awarded, application deadline, and contact information.


Ultimate Scholarship Book"Billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and prizes." The Ultimate Scholarship Book organizes awards into categories such as humanities, social science, science and general. You don't need a perfect GPA or financial need to win a scholarship. There are plenty of awards that have none of these requirements.



College help for teens: More resources for financial aid, admissions, guides, and Study Abroad.

Saving and paying for college: Additional help with financing college.

National Novel Writing MonthNaNoWriMo 2015 is nearly upon us: the season when hundreds of thousands of writers worldwide dig into their work and draft a novel in just thirty days. Camaraderie, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a lot of frenzied and productive writing will ensue! We are excited to be hosting several events at several library locations. Meanwhile, the Library Writers Project is on - we are awaiting your finished book! So clearly, the time has come - this November will be the NaNoWriMo when you write the novel. Here are some resources to inspire and assist you (and some to distract you, too).

I am not a hoarder!  So okay, my work desk might have goat’s paths and the 9 x 9 storage unit down the hall from my condo could use a good clear out, but still, I can let go of things!  In the new book Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, I learned that hoarders really can’t give up anything. I, therefore, am merely a clutter bug and only at work.  My living quarters are actually quite neat.  Each room and piece of furniture can be used for its original purpose, and clothing, books, and craft supplies are not stacked up on every surface. 

This was so not true for Barry Yourgrau, the author of Mess.  His girlfriend, Cosima, was horrified when she finally arrived on his apartment doorstep some Mess book jacketyears after he had taken it over from her and gave him an ultimatum:  Clean it up or we’re breaking up!  Now Barry had a sweet gig – he worked in his own apartment, but actually lived at Cosima’s much nicer place where she regularly cooked gourmet meals for him.  Additionally, they traveled all over the world to foodie events for Cosima’s career.  He had plenty of reasons to clean up his act, but would he be motivated enough to actually get it done?

Follow Barry as he does his “researches” that include lots of reading, talking with organizing professionals and a psychiatrist, and visiting one of the most famous hoarders of all time. It’s the most fun book on organization (or lack of it) that I’ve ever read!

Here’s a list of further resources on clutter and hoarding, most of which Yourgrau refers to in Mess.

Cover image for A Simplified Map of the Real World by Stevan AllredWant to spend some (fictional) time in a rural community on the margins of Portland?

A Simplified Map of the Real World, by Stevan Allred, is set in and around the fictional town of Renata, Oregon. Renata is a stand-in for Estacada, an Oregon city 25 miles southeast of Portland. (You can read a 2013 article from the Estacada News about the book.) The city’s website (the website of Estacada, that is) bears the motto “Where we are close to everything... but away from it all!” and Allred’s book does a good job describing this combination of urban conveniences and rural remoteness. The community of Renata has its own history, its own self-sufficiency, but residents still drive into Portland when they want a fancy steak dinner on Saturday night.

The book is a collection of linked short stories which jump from generation to generation and character to character. After reading about the community of Rentata from so many perspectives, you are left with a very strong sense of the place, as well as a more even-handed view of its residents. A character who comes off as a real jack-ass in one story might be the hero of the next. Novels are often touted for exploring the complexities of being human, and it is a neat trick that Allred has pulled off the same feat with a slim collection of short stories.

I particularly enjoyed this book because I grew up in another rural community outside of Portland, not that far from Estacada. Reading the book felt a little bit like going home.

If you’d like some recommendations for more books that capture the sense of a particular place (whether Portland, Oregon, or elsewhere!) get in touch with me or one of the other My Librarians and we’ll put together a reading list just for you.

A Cheerful Volunteer

Volunteer Allan Karsk

by Donna Childs

Allan Karsk is the sort of smiling, good-humored fellow whose presence makes one feel happier. He was born, raised, and went to college in Nebraska before moving to Portland as a young man. He worked as a medical technician in Nebraska and continued that path here, at the Red Cross, where he worked until he retired.

That’s where the library comes in. As a library patron, Allan often thought what a pleasant place his Hollywood Library might be to volunteer. When the current hold system, which shares books and media among all 19 branches, was inaugurated, he realized that volunteers could help process all those holds. He now comes to Hollywood twice a week to do his part to keep the holds working well.

On Tuesdays, Allan searches for books requested by other libraries, enters the information, and labels them for the receiving branch. On Fridays, he processes books received from other branches, shelving them by patron name or number. In addition to feeling useful by helping to keep the hold system functioning smoothly, Allan likes finding out about unfamiliar books as he processes them. And, as a piano player, he has found some interesting music; he has even bought some at the library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore. Most importantly, though, he values the interaction with Hollywood library staff and the many interesting conversations he has had over the years.  

While Hollywood was being renovated, Allan volunteered at two other neighborhood libraries: Belmont and Gregory Heights.  While he found it interesting and useful to see how other branches work, he’s happy to be back in his home library at Hollywood.



A Few Facts About Allan 


Home library: Hollywood Library
Currently reading: The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
A book that made you laugh: Anything by Carl Hiassen
Favorite section of the library: Fiction
E-reader or paper? Paper
Favorite place to read: In my recliner at home
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

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!

Stacey Lee photo

Stacey Lee is a fourth-generation Chinese American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes young adult fiction. Her debut book is Under a Painted SkyFollow her: @staceyleeauthor

under a painted sky cover

I write young adult historical and contemporary fiction, but read across all genres. As long as it's a good story, I'm in! I didn't find enough stories about people who "looked" like me growing up, so I'd love to share with you some stories that either feature diverse characters, or are written by a diverse author. 

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. A black girl in 1940s Louisiana joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots "passing" as white. A touching story of sacrifice and friendship.

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. A small town boy's radio minister father is accused of murdering a cop. This one will wring your heart dry.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. Backstabbing ballerinas. It's juicy. Read it.


Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking book jacketHere are the top four reasons why I love Maangchi:
  1. Maangchi is a girl gamer - her handle means "hammer" in Korean.
  2. She's a good dresser.
  3. She's a YouTube and blogging star.
  4. Finally, she taught me everything that I know about Korean cooking!
Three years ago, Maangchi taught me how to make kimchi at home. Fast-forward to 2015: With Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking at my side, I made Korean fried chicken (dakgangjeong) and soft tofu stew (kimmchi-sundubu-jjigae). If you've never had it before, Korean fried chicken (KFC) is super crunchy, garlicky, and has a great sweet and spicy sauce. Unfortunately, you can't eat KFC everyday, but that's what soft tofu stew is for. The stew, which is made red and spicy by hot pepper powder, is full of onions, garlic, kimchi, silken tofu, and pork belly. Both dishes are comfort food at its best.
Other things that I've made in the past that are absolutely yummy include: kimchi fried rice (kimchi-bokkeumbap), LA kalbi (LA galbi), bok choy with miso (cheonggyeongchae doenjang-muchim), and stir fried potato glass noodles (japchae). All these recipes are highly recommended.
Although many of these recipes are available online, I encourage you to check out her book because it's a work of art. Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking is an excellent cookbook for people like me who get easily intimidated by complicated, unfamiliar foods. Stop running away from your true desires! Cook with Maangchi now.

Do you enjoy reading stories told from multiple perspectives in alternating chapters? Do you like your characters to surprise you, but still feel authentic? Are you more moved by a story with substance but also want it to be a page-turner?  
If you answered yes, then there's a good chance you'll enjoy three of my recent five-star reads. Each one shares all the traits mentioned, but the best part? Their similarities end there. Because, when I put down a book I love, I want another great book, but not the same great book. I want to be surprised by something new.
Book jacket: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna NorthThe Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North is fiction, but it reads like the true documentary of a controversial filmmaker. Sophie Stark's life unfolds in chapters told from the perspective of the people that were most affected by her and by her work. Never mind that the title gives away the ending; I got sucked in fast to this story and didn't dare look away for fear of missing a hint or clue as to where it all went wrong. Sophie Stark is not exactly likable, but as an outcast artist, who relies on images to express how she sees the world when words fail her, she was absolutely believable. If you love outsider stories or psychological fiction about art and creativity, don't pass this one up!
Book jacket: The Fair Fight by Anna FreemanI have a hard time imagining why anyone wouldn't want to read about female bare-knuckle boxers in 18th century England, so I'm baffled that The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman doesn't have holds on it. Told from the perspective of three characters who defy social class and convention in their own way, this is a great read for fans of richly-detailed historical fiction looking for unconventional characters. But what makes this book especially fun to read is the language. Filled with cullies, strumpers, and babbers, The Fair Fight is a brilliant, brash and brawling book that shoves you through a mass of foul smelling coats, out the back door of a Bristol tavern where you're left looking up at a young woman on a low wooden stage, petticoats pinned up to expose thick legs, stays loosened, bandaged fists raised, head high and eyes fixed, letting her opponent know, "I'll drive that breath out of you sonny." 
Book Jacket: All That Followed by Gabriel UrzaAll That Followed by Gabriel Urza begins with a terrorist act. The 2004 bombing of commuter trains in Madrid, stirs up painful memories in a small Basque town miles away. The truth behind the gossip whispered in the cafes of Muriga unfolds slowly, told in alternating voices by the town's residents: the lovely young widow of a murdered outsider politician, an American expat teacher with a dark past that binds him tightly to his adopted homeland, and the young radicalized Basque separatist, jailed for his part in a crime that should have never happened.
If you like fiction that brings to life newspaper headlines, this could be a book for you. If you like stories vividly set in small towns with complicated histories and nuanced characters with dark secrets that leave you questioning where to place blame; this might be a book for you. If you think you'd like a story where a character believes her donated "terrorist kidney" is talking to her, sharing images and smells from the donor's life, this is definitely a book for you!
Have you recently loved a book, but are still waiting to find your next great read? Tell me about it, I'd like to help!

Book cover of The Underground Girls of Kabul“What’s bacha posh?” you may ask. Literally it means “disguised as a boy.”
I learned about bacha posh in The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg. She interviewed many Afghan women to learn about this cultural practice of girls dressing and living as boys in Afghanistan. Why would a family choose to do this?

I can’t stop thinking about these women’s experiences, because there’s so  much to think about: the roles of women, gender identity, human rights, cultural beliefs. Even the way Nordberg titled the sections of this book made me think. The book’s about girls and women, right? The sections are titled Boys, Youth, Men, Fathers. What’s that about?

Since I’ve read the book twice already, I've started looking for more about bacha posh and women in Afghanistan. Here’s my list. Is there anything else that you think I should add to it?
 I love when people recommend books to me. In fact, it’s because a friend gave me this book as a gift that I discovered it at all.  (Thank you, A. It’s my favorite book so far this year.)

If you’d like me to recommend books especially for you, contact me at My Librarian Lisa W

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse

by Piu Marie Eatwell

The story of a sensational ten year trial that took place during Edwardian England full of greed, fraud and characters that seem fictional rather than real. A cliffhanging narrative which will be a treat for anglophiles.

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath

by Ben Bernanke

The chair of the Federal Reserve reveals how his agency used every resource it could muster to pull the country through the economic crisis of 2008, and the efforts made to prevent a global economic disaster.

Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art

by Julian Barnes

The iconic novelist and Man Booker Prize winner Barnes presents his essays on his love of art and his fascination with painters such as Delacroix, Magritte and Lucien Freud.

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring the Real Landscapes of the Hundred Acre Wood

by Kathryn Aalto

An exploration of Ashdown Forest, the real Hundred Acre Wood, which Milne used as the setting for his beloved stories of Winnie-the-Pooh.

The Witches: Salem, 1692

by Stacy Schiff

The Pulitzer Prize winning author of Cleopatra, portrays the historic witch scare in Salem, Massachusetts which lasted less than a year but quickly spread panic among all levels of the inhabitants of the colony.

Elephant House

by Dick Blau

Elephant House takes an inside look at the Oregon Zoo's Asian Elephant Building exploring the relationship between the elephants and their caregivers through photographs and commentary by zoo staff.

Whoopi's Big Book of Relationships

by Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi presents her hilarious take on relationships, love and marriage.


Looking for rental housing and apartments can be frustrating, but Craigslist is a great place to get started. Craigslist is like an online bulletin board. You can use it to find a home to rent or buy.

Getting Started
  1. Go to

  2. Find your city or state (Craigslist serves the whole world!)

Choose Portland for Portland and the Portland metro area (Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, etcetera.)


Housing/Apartments on Craigslist

Many rental properties are listed on Craigslist. You can view listings in a list, with pictures, or on a map.


  1. In the housing column, choose the option you want. If you are looking for a house or apartment to rent, choose apts/housing.

  2. Type a keyword or keywords into the search box.

    • This could be a feature of the neighborhood you want to live in. For example, if you want to live near public transportation, you could enter the keyword bus.

    • A keyword could also be a feature of the dwelling you are seeking. For example, the keyword light might help you find apartments or houses that let in lots of light.

  • A keyword can also help you find a particular neighborhood, for example: Kenton.


  1. Limit the search by price, size, and number of bathrooms and bedrooms on the left side.

  2. Limit the search by using the checkboxes on the left side to find listings that are cat or dog friendly, that

  3. have wheelchair access, and more.

  4. Click housing type to specify what kind of house or apartment you are looking for.

  5. Click parking and laundry if you want to choose these features.


The top of the screen gives you options for viewing the results.


Thumb shows you small images, gallery shows you larger images, and map shows you locations. The map option might be really important when you’re searching for a place to live.

Map view

When you use the map view, you can click the bubbles to zoom in and get more information.


When you find a listing you would like to pursue, read the entire listing carefully. You may need to click a show contact info link to see the phone number for the listing.


Avoid scams: be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true. Do not send money or other forms of payment in advance to secure a home. Do not give personal information to anyone whose identity you cannot verify.

Find more information on avoiding scams at Craigslist:

Need more help?

Craigslist help:

Try this tutorial:

The library also offers a class called Using Craigslist. To see if that class is available now, you can search for it in the search box, or check here


What a summer it was in Portland for the gardener and cook. And what a perfect book Kitchens of the Great Midwest was to read while harvesting piles and piles of the tastiest tomatoes our garden has ever produced.

Kitchens of the Great Northwest is a new novel by J. Ryan Stradal. It’s been compared a lot to Olive Kitteridge, because both of these take the form of short stories told by different narrators that illuminate one central character, but Olive Kitteridge, while a very fine book, is a bit more glum. Kitchens is brighter in its outlook, much funnier, and more delicious, as its central character is Eva Thorvald, the daughter of a chef and a sommelier. Eva is excited about food even as a baby, and she ultimately becomes a famous chef, the kind of chef who does simple, amazing things with the best local ingredients. It was a really fun book to read, and I read it fast, enjoying the well-developed characters. I also enjoyed the enticing recipes that appeared from time to time.

Different varieties of heirloom tomatoes are passionately described several times in this book, and this reminds me... I need to go make a ton of tomato sauce and can it right away. Sadly, I can’t invite you all over for spaghetti, but I can offer this list of very delicious fiction for you to savor. Bon appétit!

A Collection of Essays book jacketYou’ve probably noticed that much of what is said does not actually say anything. Yes there are words, but they are vague enough to mean anything or nothing. George Orwell also noticed and he wrote an essay in 1945 called "Politics and the English Language". The problem, he says, is lazy writing which often is just a bunch of worn out phrases strung together. Orwell says when our writing is sloppy it is easier for us to have foolish thoughts. It also makes it possible to dance around an issue without committing ourselves. He calls for writing that is clear and concise, where we are aware of the meaning.

Give Orwell’s essays a try. You will be treated to some fine writing and great arguments. I hope you will enjoy his essays as much as I have. They should help you develop the critical tools needed to evaluate if what you are hearing or reading makes sense or is nonsense.

All Art is Propaganda and A Collection of Essays contain "Politics and the English Language" and are available at Multnomah County Library.

Thrillers and series are not exactly my thing, but I was swayed by the common themes in The Expats and The Accident by Chris Pavone: who can you trust and what happens when secrets are revealed, as they always are…

cover image of the expats


Imagine yourself keeping secrets from your spouse. Now imagine that secret was in fact your day job. Makes things a bit more complicated right? Consider that while you have been lying to your husband about how you earn a living, perhaps he has been hiding some things from you as well? Now take the setting out of the USA and make it some rainy European city like Luxembourg or Paris. Still with me?

Once that mess has been settled, you make a brief appearance in another story (but only figure in it as a minor character). The main players in this one? An author, a publisher, and a who's hunting who scenario.

cover image of the accident

I was hooked on audio for both of these. Normally I drift peacefully off to sleep while listening, but I found myself still awake at the end of the disc and getting up to put in the next one. So much for my relaxing bedtime ritual. No need to read them in order, they stand alone.


A Leisurely breakfast on a work day? Ha!

I stay up late. Whether the reason is  getting stuck in a page turning book, “just one more” episode, or an inconvenient burst of restlessness, there’s not much time between a last hit of the snooze button and leaving for work.

However, there are the rare mornings with coffee in a ceramic mug, breakfast comes a bowl without a lid, and a there's a few moments to spare. The Iphone beckons out of habitual use, but screens await all day at work. Taking advantage of these precious minutes requires a good book.

What would you read if you had ten minutes? Personally, I like things that are entertaining, short, and easy to put down.  That precludes anything with chapters, literary writing, and page turning books that kept me up the previous night. The following are a few of my favorites for such occaisions.

5 very good reasons to punch a dolphin in the mouth



Matthew Inman, aka the creator of The Oatmeal offers a collection of hilarious cartoons that demonstrate how caffeine works and answers the question that's been keeping you up late "How would a T-rex do at comedy?" Ranging from the everyday to the absurd, these cartoons are a great start to the day.



cook everything cover



You may be eating breakfast, but what's for dinner?



Calvin and hobbes cover




A boy and his stuffed tiger make breakfast grrrrrrrreatttt!!! Wait, wrong tiger...







Next time there’s a choice between “ten more minutes” and the breakfast table there’s no guarantee what will win.  However, I’ll always have something waiting to read and enjoy if it does.


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!

Looking for great, new middle grade fiction to use with book discussion groups or literature circles? Check out these videos created by Multnomah County Library School Corps librarians. Featured books for 4th-8th grade students were published in late 2014 and early 2015, and each title includes discussion and extension ideas. In addition to use in book groups and classrooms, these titles are great to recommend to individual children and young teen readers. The videos are best viewed on desktop or laptop computers. You can also find a list of the featured titles in the library catalog. Happy reading!

For many children and teens, it is difficult to find books with multi-dimensional characters and  compelling stories that reflect their lived experience. Censorship is not the only barrier preventing people from reading certain books. There is a more insidious process -- when writings don’t get published at all due to reluctance to publish books about people from cultures and situations out of the mainstream.

There is a current national campaign, We Need Diverse Books, to promote diversity in publishing for children and teens. One of our librarians, Alicia, got the opportunity to see W.N.D.B. founding members speak earlier this summer. People of different races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, mental and physical challenges exist in our society. Studies have shown that there are relatively few books being published that reflect this diversity of potential readers.

Three debut young adult novels Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Under A Painted Sky, and Far From You are great examples of books that reflect this diversity of potential readers.  These books have nothing in common except for having well developed heroines with riveting narratives.

In Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero produced a powerful coming of age story about a likable, young, smart, resilient Latina, facing various challenges in her life. She finds courage and humor from her friends, family and creative writing. She has problems ranging from her father’s meth addiction and  body image concerns. Read other coming of age stories that are touching, realistic, and hopeful with characters who are from diverse cultures and circumstances.

In Under A Painted Sky, Stacey Lee created an historical adventure story about two girls, one African American and one Chinese American, who escape harrowing circumstances in the pre-Civil War West. They disguise themselves as boys and runaway to freedom and the California Gold Rush. Here are some other wonderful books with historical adventures of teens on the run plus a few books to give historical background behind some of these stories.

In Far From You, Tess Sharpe tells a story of mystery and endurance of a bisexual, disabled teen girl recovering from trauma and substance abuse. Check out these books featuring diverse teens dealing with some dark events.

As part of Banned Book Week (September 27-October 3), Multnomah County Library is hosting a panel discussion featuring the authors of the above books,  Isabel Quintero, Stacey Lee, and Tess Sharpe. The conversation will be moderated by local professor and author, Swati Avasthi. We are calling this event Censorship by Omission: The Diversity Deficit.

Please mark your calendars and join us for Censorship by Omission at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97233) on Saturday, October 3rd, at 2-3:30 PM.