Blogs

Jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore has been described as one of the finest singers of the contemporary jazz scene. As a "song sleuth," she researches songs of the 20s, 30s and 40s, and reinterprets them for appreciative audiences. She has been a guest on shows such as Fresh Air with Terry Gross and Prairie Home Companion; she is a inductee in the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

I fell in love with the majestic downtown public library building when I first visited Portland in 1979 from the east coast. It was among the reasons I moved here a year later! Since then my library card has been working overtime.

I am a full-time jazz vocalist and song researcher, so I’m always looking for information on the music, artists and composers from the era of the Great American Songbook and the jazz age. I take advantage of the library’s printed sheet music collection, streaming music and physical books.

Researching composer Billy Strayhorn’s life was essential for a concert of his music which I performed recently, so I checked out Lush Life, A Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu and Something to Live for, The Music of Billy Strayhorn by Walter van de Leur.

For escape I love listening to fiction on downloadable audiobooks. I loved Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys, Abide With Me, and the new My Name Is Lucy Barton.  I adored Room by Emma Donoghue, and an unusual book We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I could go on and on!

My neighborhood library is Hollywood which is perfectly friendly and convenient. I don’t often visit the Central Library, but I still get a happy feeling when I do.

Want to shake up your reading patterns? Tired of reading a book from cover to cover in a sequential order? Here are two reading suggestions from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council where you get to choose the order you read the stories, and invites you to pick your own pattern.

 

Ghosts of Heaven Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

True, history goes in chronological order, but that doesn’t mean all stories flow that way. If you were to rearrange the order of certain events in life, you would wind up with an entirely different plot, and The Ghosts of Heaven proves that. A collection of four short tales, you can read them in any order and get a different story each way. It’s a very interesting set of stories, each written in a different style of writing, and I would highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

Turnip Princess book coverArden Butterfield, freshman

The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

These German fairy tales were lost in an archive for over 100 years, and were recently discovered a few years ago. The stories are fairly short, but there is a large variety in what they are about. The stories are grouped by topic-- tales of romance, of magic, of animals and of banished princes which can make the book feel somewhat monotonous. I would recommend jumping around in this book, instead of reading it cover to cover.

This book is bland. The stories, for the most part, are told without emotion, just matter-of-factly stating whatever happens. While this contributes to the monotony of the story, I also think it makes it feel more dreamlike, in the way that in dreams the wildest things happen completely deadpan. I would recommend it to anyone interested in fairy tales, or interested in German medieval culture.  It isn’t a gripping page turner, but it was very good nonetheless, especially from a historical perspective.

 

Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

 
 

Perhaps you’ve seen them in gift shops around town - those lavish reproductions of vintage natural history books and posters of Victorian era scientific illustration. Whether you are a science lover, an outdoorsy type, a designer looking to create the next Etsy hit, or have way too much in common with that scary orchid guy from Twin Peaks, why buy when you can check them out for free?

Art Forms in Nature book jacketOne of my favorite examples of natural history illustration is Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel. Fascinated by symmetry, Haeckel saw it everywhere, from the spiny stellate forms of radiolarians, to the undulating tendrils of jellyfish, even in the faces of bats. While his strong, elegant hand makes his images resemble the stylized motifs of an art nouveau designer, there was a scientific method to his almost rococo madness. His observations led him to the idea that any creature’s development goes through stages similar to the adult forms of its evolutionary ancestors -  “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” (as my biologist father used to intone, rather than reading me nursery rhymes). While this is no longer a current idea, Haeckel’s correspondence with Darwin on the topic influenced the latter’s theory of evolution.Cosmigraphics book jacket

The field of astronomy has also produced many images that have endured beyond their original scientific purpose. During one of my recent expeditions into the vasty deep of the sub-basement (yes, two basements are needed to store all the books at Central), I stumbled upon a magnificent discovery: The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings Manual. This is a folio of chromolithographs from 1882 by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot, a self-taught scientific illustrator who made extensive observations through the telescopes at Harvard University and the U.S. Naval Academy. He depicts the aurora, the zodiacal light, the twisting ropy whorls of sunspots, the milky cataract that is Mars. Despite his artistic talent, he is probably more well know for accidentally releasing the forest-ravaging Gypsy moth. While you can request to see the folio down at the Central library, if you’d rather not make the trek, the images can be viewed here.  Many of them are also found in Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time by Michael Benson, which is full of all kinds of other great astronomical images as well.

For more scientific illustration, check out this list.

“No, I cannot help you build a portal to The Nether to mine soul sand.”

Photo of My Librarian Darcee reading Minecraft for DummiesIt felt like overnight my 7-year-old became totally absorbed in a world full of “Mooshrooms” and “Snow Golem” that I knew nothing about. He had discovered Minecraft.

I think most parents experience some sort of struggle between accepting early exposure to technology as part of this generation’s reality, while worrying that their kids will become so engrossed in it, that it will hinder their ability to develop other skills and interests. It was out of this sort of concern, that I started exploring Minecraft on my own.

On my first venture I added an unintentional water feature in my son’s igloo which turned his carefully crafted home into a flood zone. Oops. I’ve since sharpened my construction skills with the help of Minecraft books from the library and even added the Minecraft Pocket Edition app on my phone so I can play with my son. An awesome side-benefit is that setting limits has actually gotten easier. It’s clear to me now why he needs ample warning  to get back to his shelter and stow his inventory before re-joining the real world. I also understand that when you find an abandoned mineshaft or a desert temple you may need an extra ten minutes to explore, because “that is super rare.”

Check out this list for parents who want to get up to speed on Minecraft basics or you might encourage your kid to put down the pickaxe long enough to enjoy one of these books that share themes with their favorite game.

Feeling a little frozen these winter months? Needing an emotional jolt? Here are three reader reviews that teens from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council think will break your heart open.

I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson - CoverAlisa Folen, sophomore

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully written book that weaves together a complex story about friendship, love and a hint of magic. Noah and Jude are twins, but they could not be more different. Noah is an amazing artist, yearning to go to the highly acclaimed art middle school in his town.Jude loves to socialize and hang out at the beach, surfing and arguing with her mother. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of their complex relationship. The language used in I’ll Give You the Sun creates an entire world, and makes an average California beach town seem like the most magical place on earth. Each chapter is told at a different time in the plot, which can be confusing at first. Overall, I would highly recommend to everyone, but especially those who enjoy mystical subplots and figurative language.

 

 

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary Schmidt - CoverElsa Hoover, sophomore

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

 

Orbiting Jupiter follows 6th grade Jack as his family starts fostering Joseph; a 14 year old boy with a daughter. Joseph, after spending time in a juvenile detention center, is left scared of the world and only wants to be with his daughter. Jack soon befriends him and tries to help him in any way he can. The characters in this book are multi-dimensional and  not at all stereotypical, and they are written to have complex emotions and thought processes. The themes are subtle, and help  to keep the book’s realistic feel. The plot is well executed--at the beginning you are dropped right into the middle of an action so the characters, background and setting are introduced throughout the first few chapters. The whole plot was executed beautifully with a slow burn that made you need to keep reading. The characters and plot were so realistic it made you feel like you were reading a news article (in a good way). So it was inevitable to feel for them and their struggles. I would recommend this book if you have three hours, and want to go on an emotional rollercoaster.

 

The Bunker Diary- Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks

Written in the confines of a minute room, six individuals wait for their fate to be determined. They have no control - “he” has all the power there. “He” put them there. “He” holds all the cards. Told from the point of view of Linus, a sixteen-year-old boy. The Bunker Diary is an excellent representation of the many forms of human nature - from addiction to assertion, as the six try to hold onto the hope of escape. This book was a real page-turner, and very complex for such a simple situation. Just a quick note: don’t start this book late at night - you will finish it at 4:00 a.m., unable to sleep, the last events playing over and over in your head.


Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

burnt toast bnb coverLooking for literary love, but the burning desire to read a romance novel is nowhere to be found?

I was once like you.

Shrugging off the ridiculous covers, improbable plots, and ridiculous characters -- campy melodramatic stories with overwritten sex were a no go. That is, until I read a few of them. Then a few more, including the entertaining, The Burnt Toast B&B.

Derrick Richards is a ruggedly handsome lumberjack and reluctant bed and breakfast owner. He wants nothing more than to leave the hospitality world behind. Ginsberg Sloan is his “city boy” guest looking for respite and recovery at the cheapest place to stay in town. Regardless of the creature discomforts Derrick offers, Ginsberg is determined to make the B&B home.

After peeking in on  their trials, tribulations and um… that too. Derrick and Ginsberg offer a reader their own break from the real world with a few hours of drama, love, and a happy ending.

Go ahead. Give a romance a chance.  

Over the course of the last year, I served on a book award committee.  For the most part it was a great experience. Brand new, straight from the publisher books arrived at my house (some 1800 titles!) like clockwork. I was privy to writers and titles I never would have discovered on my own. It was interesting work, overwhelming at times but tremendously exciting to be riding the crest of the publishing wave. The downside of this experience was that my reading choices were not truly my own. Someone and something dictated the whole of my reading life. Sad as I am to see a lengthy and engrossing project end I am once again delighted to be reading whatever I please. But where to start? I decided to start by revisiting some old favorites, authors and works I have deeply enjoyed in the past and that seemed perfect for a revisit.  

Miss Buncle's Book book jacketMiss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson.
Barbara Buncle is low on cash. Her unorthodox solution to the problem is to write a novel. Lacking in experience but chock full of determination and keen observational skills she writes Disturber of the Peace, a somewhat screwball comedy based on the quirky inhabitants of her own village. The novel is a smashing success and the cash starts to flow until her friends and neighbors begin to recognize themselves within the pages.  When her publisher begs for a sequel will Miss Buncle be able to deliver the goods while keeping her neighbors at bay?

Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes.  
Wealthy businessman Orson Foxworth hosts a dinner party to introduce his niece Ruth to the cream of New Orleans society. But hours later one of the guests is found dead with a pistol and a note by her side.  Keyes' most memorable and best-selling novel is set in the immediate aftermath of World War II. It is an engrossing who-done-it filled with period detail and beautifully mixing the history and customs of 1940’s Louisiana.  

The Valorous Years by A. J. Cronin.  The Valorous Years book jacket
Trained as a physician, many of A.J. Cronin’s novels have a hard-working doctor at their heart.  The result was a forty-seven year career filled with engaging novels, masterful characters and stories with a deep moral code.  In The Valorous Years, Duncan Stirling is a young man whose arm is crippled by polio yet  is determined to become a doctor.  Without the support of his family, Duncan struggles to believe in himself and to reach is goals.  Best known for his 1937 book The Citadel, Cronin was a prolific writer and deeply engaging storyteller whose books have never gone out of style.

A large pile of library booksOne of the many perks, or pitfalls depending on how you look at it, of working in a library is that you have access to more books than you will ever be able to read. If you are a bit of a pack rat, like myself, you are constantly taking home books and you end up with a "to read" pile that is as tall as a toddler. While cleaning up my room over my weekend, I decided to stack up all of the books in my room (and this isn’t even all of the books that I have checked out) and snap a picture. Will I read all of these books? Probably not, but here are some of the titles that I am most excited to dig into:
 
Why would a lactose intolerant person, like myself, want to read a book about ice cream? Just look at the title! The title itself is delicious, and the pictures inside even more so. Big Gay Ice Cream is a yearbook of ice cream recipes, and while I might not be able to consume delicious frosty goodness myself...I can dream (of ice cream). 
 
This is a complex  graphic novel that is difficult to explain. It is an exploration of visual perception and how words and images work together to create meaning.
 
I can’t wait for the Suicide Squad movie to come out, so in the meantime I plan read up on the Squad’s exploits. 
 
Social justice meets superheroes! In Coral City crime is out of control and a group of young citizens team up to rise up and fight back, sparking a worldwide revolution.
 
World traveler and photojournalist, Elian Black’mor discovers a hidden refuge for all manner of supernatural and mystical creatures. This collection of Black’mor’s fictional observations is so beautifully illustrated that it begged to be taken home.
 
So, I've shown you my book pile. I invite you to show me yours!
 

 

What Does February mean to you? I prefer my Valentine’s day with a mix of romance and candy. Visually I am fascinated with candy: All the colors, shapes, sizes and then the textures. February 14th  is a parade of colors and images for me.

As an adult I get my husband nice chocolates and make him a love note. He returns the favor.

I have never had a secret admirer or a sweetheart send me a Valentine. I wished for it as a teen. I longed for a sweetheart and a heart locket.

My Dad though has sent me a valentine every year since someone broke my heart back in the nineties. Do you have a broken heart? My Librarian Heather has the perfect list for this called Divorce Support Group Reads.  

Maybe though you are a teen. And like me you are wishing for a sweetheart. Here’s a list for you of romantic love stories called Teen Romance.

Kleeman book cover"A woman’s body never really belongs to herself. As an infant, my body was my mother’s, a detachable extension of her own, a digestive passage clamped and unclamped from her body. My parents would watch over it, watch over what went into and out of it, and as I grew up I would be expected to carry on their watching by myself. Then there was sex, and a succession of years in which I trawled my body along behind me like a drift net, hoping that I wouldn’t catch anything in it by accident, like a baby or a disease. I had kept myself free of these things only through clumsy accident and luck. At rare and specific moments when my body was truly my own, I never knew what to do with it."

What is a body and what is it for?  Something to be improved?  Something to be managed?  Something to be disciplined?  Something to be saved?  Something to be remodeled?  Something to set free?  Something to be destroyed?  Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine does a remarkable job of tracking one young (presumably white) woman's body's movement in and through late capitalism.  As much as A - the novel's narrator - tries to escape or resolve her body's contradictions, all she can eventually do is document the various ways her body is seen and reflected.  At every turn, up against every potential escape route - roommate B who spends the first half of the book attemping to become A, boyfriend C who watches porn while they have sex so he might layer "fantasy upon reality upon fantasy," the mirrors she regularly consults for changes in her facial structure, the cult she later joins that prescribes a steady diet of nothing but Kandy Kakes - the possibly edible treats made of nothing ever alive hence nothing actually dead, and finally as a prop in a competitive dating show where real-life lovers test their knowledge of one another or face imposed and permanent separation - A inevitably finds herself simultaneously inside and outside her body, blurred lines never coalescing except in moments of extreme duress.
 
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is a surveillance report mapped and composed by the object of surveillance.  Utilizing anorexia as a kind of totalizing metaphor, the novel turns the commodification of bodies inside out but we end up precisely where we began.  Weird, paranoiac, and desperate, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine mines territories familiar to fans of DeLillo, Pynchon, and Philip K. Dick - an oddly recognizable and spooky map of our current historical moment  where bodies are necessarily quantifiable but ultimately weightless, until the threat of brutal hunger arrives with a sudden flash.

"Stand By Me (1986) is a great movie because  you can watch it fifty times in a row and never get tired of it. You can connect with the characters and laugh at the jokes. It’s an amazing coming of age movie that everyone can enjoy." - Hazel Spivey, Hollywood Teen Book Council

The Hollywood Teen Book Council got together to think about what books  these unforgettable characters would read if they were growing up today.

Gordie from Stand By Me

Gordie - Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt  

Sensitive, nice guy Gordie, much like Okay for Now’s Doug Swieteck, lives in the shadow of an older brother. Both find their support in the communities they create around them. They are both tender and tenacious, smart and strong, and have a writer’s heart.

Chris - Stand By MeGreat Gatsby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Who would be most likely to reinvent themselves but Chris? Smarter than he lets other see, and with a worldly understanding, we see him drawn to weightier novels full of symbolism. He would both resonate with the observant Nick Carraway as he does with Gordie, and identify with Jay Gatsby.

 

 

Teddy - Stand By MeA Game of Thrones

Teddy - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Fantasy is Teddy’s  genre all the way, and he would love the escapism of the Game of Thrones series. Full of abrasive characters, and unexpected resolutions will appeal to the often volatile Teddy.

Whales on StiltsVern  - Stand By Me

Vern - Whales on Stilts by M.T.Anderson

Of the group, Vern still has a foot in childhood, where the others are older than their years. He is often the butt of everyone’s joke, but is still a loyal friend. We think that something with a bit of wackiness and humor would appeal to his comic-loving side. A little fantasy, but still set in the current world.

 

Guild Theater - Portland photoWhen you’re driving through the country, do you wonder what’s inside that neglected barn leaning in the distance? When you see a derelict car do you slow down and try to figure out the year, make and model? When passing through the “bad part of town” do you long to go into a boarded up movie theater that still advertises “This year’s Best Picture winner, D ncing wi h Wo ves” on the marquee?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then urban exploration—the act of visiting abandoned man-made places to document the experience—might be something you’d enjoy. Even though they may be called “urban explorers,” as you can see from this example, many of the places they visit may not be in a city. Man-made structures and artifacts are everywhere and have been abandoned everywhere.Ruined Buick photo

There are some theories out there about why people are drawn to abandoned places, but I don’t know if I’m self-aware enough to pick any one reason that explains my own fascination. In the United States, Detroit has become the poster child for urban decay, but it certainly isn’t alone. Urban explorers have an entire globe to discover and there is an active web presence for those who are interested. It isn’t for everyone, however. These are dangerous places, for many reasons.

Maybe running a gauntlet of armed guards or crawling through a dank ruined building full of bugs and asbestos isn’t appealing. Fortunately, there are those who are not only interested in that sort of adventure but also want to share, so you can vicariously enjoy man-made ruins by visiting the library and checking out one of the great books on this list.

More Than 1000 HoursVolunteer Shirley Bernstein

by Donna Childs

“Volunteer!” That’s Shirley Bernstein’s message for everyone who is able and interested. She believes that volunteering is good for older people because it gives them a way to get out, to interact with others, and to feel useful. For young people, it can be a way to test out a potential career.  

Shirley practices what she preaches: she has accrued more than 1000 hours at the Hillsdale Library. Twice a week, she sorts and alphabetizes children’s picture books and checks in holds for Hillsdale patrons. She sorts the picture books because that’s what needs doing, but she prefers the holds, because she finds out about new books this way.  

Shirley enjoys the freedom of volunteering: she can come in a little earlier or stay a little later, or even come in an extra day if there is a lot to do. But most of all, she likes being appreciated. When asked to name the best part of volunteering at Hillsdale, she replied, “They say ‘thank you’.”

Shirley has three sisters living in the Portland area, one of whom was a director at Store to Door,  a non-profit organization which delivers groceries for those who can’t shop for themselves. They take orders over the phone and deliver groceries, prescription medications, and household items to seniors and people with disabilities, filling more than 7000 orders annually, delivered by volunteers, one of whom is Shirley. She works there on Mondays and at Hillsdale on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She participates in activities at the Multnomah Arts Center on other days.

Shirley came to Portland in 2004 from Philadelphia. She worked at a hospital there for over 40 years in the mailroom and making deliveries to nurses’ stations. But after two of her sisters relocated to Portland for a job, Shirley decided to move here too. Now three of them are here, with another in Seattle, and a brother in Florida.  Shirley is happy with her useful and family-centered life in Portland.


A Few Facts About Shirley

 
Home library: Hillsdale Library
 
Currently reading: Take Six Girls: the Lives of the Mitford Sisters  by Laura Thompson
 
Favorite section to browse: Biographies
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper books
 
Favorite place to read: Living room sofa
 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.
 
 
 

Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Pok Pok, lets us know his favorite cookbooks, meals and his thoughts on the Portland food scene.

 

1. Do you have any favorite cookbooks, books or cooking blogs that have inspired you?

Picture of Andy Ricker

"Thai Food" by David Thompson; "The Joy of Cooking"; "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating" by Fergus Henderson; "White Heat" by Marco Pierre White; "Cous Cous and Other Good Food" by Paula Wolfert.

 

2. What do enjoy most about the Portland food scene?

The dedication the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, food makers and gatherers have to using local products of the highest quality and being in a community that supports this ethos.

 

3. List your top 2 favorite meals (of all time or even this week).

Last week in Phrae, Northern Thailand, I had an amazing meal of expertly made local food at a restaurant called Jin Sot. The owner is a ninja. A Tai Yai/Shan restaurant near my home here in Chiang Mai reopened after a long hiatus, during which time I was jonesing badly, and much to my relief, the food had not changed at all: delicious egg curry called Khai Oop being my favorite dish.

4. Do you have any library memories to share?
When I was a kid growing up in rural Vermont, we had no TV so reading was our entertainment. We would go to the town library (Jeffersonville) and check out as many books as were allowed per person and devour them over the week.

Inspired to try your hand at Thai cooking? Check out our booklist below for our favorite Thai cookbooks that you can check out from the library. If you are feeling particulary adventerous, try your hand at making the egg curry dish that Andy mentioned, Khai Oop.

 

DEQ map of Air Toxicity in Portland, OR

February 3, 2016, The Mercury recently reported findings of high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in SE Portland. Days later, the DEQ released a map that showed many areas throughout Portland to be affected.

If you are wondering, “Should I get tested for arsenic or cadmium poisoning?” this Portland Mercury article cites Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a Toxicology Fellow at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, who offers advice.

A timely resource for updates on current action by Portland residents (meetings, information sharing, etc.) is the Facebook Public Group Inner SE Air Quality. Although the focus is SE Portland, there’s much information about air quality in other areas in the city being shared here too. Inner SE Air Quality is also sharing community-generated/created Google maps of cancers and serious illnessesa map for people that have tested for heavy metal exposure, and a map showing results of soil testing for heavy metals.  Check here for updates on community meetings you can attend. Neighbors for Clean Air Facebook page is another good resource.

If you are interested more broadly about air quality in Portland, check the ToxNet map. Use the Beta version and click on "zoom to a location" then enter an address to see emissions near you. If you click on "more" you can see the levels of toxins a facility reports. This doesn’t report these recent SE Portland findings.

There has been concern about a cancer cluster in SE Portland.  The Oregon Health Authority’s Cancer Registry researches possible clusters in communities. 

Questions? Call, text or email a librarian to get personalized help – or ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library.  We will do our best to find the right resource or service for you!

The Portable Veblen bookjacketLooking for a bit of quirkiness in your books? Here’s a delightful story I zipped through recently.

The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie, tells a story that includes the economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”; a big, bad pharmaceutical company; the department of defense; hippie parents; the upcoming marriage of a neurologist who has invented a tool to cut a perfect circle in skulls of soldiers with brain injuries and a translator for the Norwegian Diaspora; and a squirrel. It’s funny and sweet and endearing, just a tad on the experimental side with unique little illustrations sprinkled throughout. The book and its main character, Veblen Amundsen-Hovda, are wonderfully quirky and ultimately quite wise. I laughed, learned new words, and thoroughly enjoyed The Portable Veblen.

If you’d like a bit more unconventionality and eccentricity in your reading, try one of the books on my list here.

Outside of my undying love for various teen idols, I never had much romance in my life in my tween and teen years.  Sure, there were a few flirtations, crushes and dates, and one memorable mad kissing session with a Danish exchange student at a party my parents STILL don’t know about, but I didn’t have a serious boyfriend until my early twenties. Most of my romance back then had to come from books.  Today there is no shortage of romance in books for teens.  Read on to find out about my current favorites just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Isla and the Happily Ever After book jacketIsla is in her senior year at the School of America in Paris and finally has gotten together with Josh, the boy she’s been crushing on for three years.  He’s sexy!  He’s an artist!  He’s crazy about her!  He gets expelled!  Well, the last part isn't so great.  In fact it’s downright depressing.  What’s a girl to do?  Read her story in Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

I love "boys in love" books. You get to see what guys are actually thinking about girls, because sometimes you just gotta ask them “What were you thinking?” Six Impossible Things book jacketDan Cereill (that’s pronounced “surreal” NOT “cereal”) has had a pretty cruddy time lately, but has set himself quite an agenda that might just take his mind off the fact that his dad just trashed the family business and then came out.  In fact, his to-do list is made up of six pretty impossible things, the first being to kiss Estelle, the gorgeous girl next door who, basically, doesn’t know he exists.  One day he sneaks into her attic lair and reads her diary, and that just sets him up for some pretty rough going.  What was he thinking? Find out in Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood.

The Heir and the Spare book jacketWhen Evie heads off to the University of Oxford, one of the first people she meets is Edmund, the second in line to the throne, and therefore the “spare heir”.  Evie immediately falls in love with him, but a romantic relationship seems impossible.  She’s American, she’s not part of the aristocracy, and Edmund has a rich girl who is hanging all over him.  Edmund is giving Evie some positive signals though, and then she discovers a family secret that might change everything.  Will she ever get her prince?  Does he even deserve her? The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright.

For more romance featuring teens, swoon over this list.

Are you a creative person who sometimes struggles with getting things done? Need some inspiration, or just another excuse to procrastinate? Here are 5 podcasts to prime your creative pump.

Michael Ian Black is best known as a comedian, but he's also an incredibly fine interviewer. In How to Be Amazing he talks to exceptional people about how they succeeded, how they've failed, and what they did about it. There are interviews with Baratunde Thurston, Amy Schumer and Nate Sliver, but perhaps the most revealing is with David Sedaris, who reveals a weird pastime and how much he earns. How much? You'll have to listen to find out.

Nora Young and the folks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation explore new ideas in the world of technology on Spark. You'll be thinking, "I wish I had invented that!"

 

If you're looking for science-based inspiration, look no further than PRI's Science + Creativity where they explore mind-blowing topics like microbal video games, Occulus Rift, and cybernetic art.

 

 

 

 

Brian E. Young is a kind and encouraging voice, and he directs his comments especially to artists and designers in his podcast Uncanny Creativity.

 

 

Todd Henry's The Accidental Creative is all about process. He offers practical advice on implementing your best ideas, gaining traction, and conveying value.

 

Happy creating, and happy listening!

 

Learn a new language with us. Mango Languages.Learning a new language has multiple benefits: you can communicate with people at home and around the world, and at the same time you also exercise your brain.

Although scientific studies vary, there seems to be agreement that learning and speaking multiple languages is good for your gray matter. It may even delay the onset of dementia*. It will certainly improve your je ne sais quoi.

Here are a few of the language learning resources available to you from Multnomah County Library:

  • Mango Connect: This online app is easy to use and full of quick exercises for learning over 50 different languages. You move through lessons at your own pace, and you can spend a lot of time on it or just a little bit each day.
  • Language Exchanges: The library offers in-person language exchange programs in Chinese, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. These events are intended for both English speakers and English learners. Half of the event is spent practicing in the non-English language, and the other half is spent practicing English. All levels are welcome! These programs are informal, fun, and a great way to meet people in your community.
  • Books: The library has lots of books (and audiobooks) for learning languages! The best way to find these is by asking a librarian - they will guide you to the books and resources that are perfect for you.

For even more language learning ideas, take a look at the library’s Language learning topic page. If someone you know is working on learning or improving their English, be sure to also check out the library’s Learn English webpage.

You’re never too old to learn something new!

*: For more information about the science of languages and the brain, read “Delaying Onset of Dementia: Are Two Languages Enough?” (2014) in the online journal Behavioural Neurology.

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