A picture is worth a thousand words, or so people say. If you’d like to learn about something but don’t necessarily want to read a big ol’ tome (or conversely, a short Wikipedia entry), there just might be an excellent graphic novel available that will tell you everything you want to know about a subject.
Interested in the history of film? Check out Filmish by Edward Ross. Not only did I learn about everything filmic, I also could congratulate myself on the huge number of movies I’ve watched over the years.
Do you spend your morning commute listening to podcasts? If you’re curious about the evolution of narrative radio stories (I’m talking to all you Serial fans out there), then check out Out on the Wire: Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio. Not only will you get the behind the scene action of podcasts, you might just be inspired to create your own radio program!
Ready to delve into other subjects through the world of comics? Take a look at this list of some very enlightening graphic novels.
Take a look at the Oregonian’s online employment classified section.
Search for government employment in the Portland Metro area.
Before I headed across the pond for the first time, my stepmother loaned me a slim volume entitled Coping with England. While I appreciated her thoughtfulness, I seriously doubted that I needed that book. I mean what’s to cope with? I knew enough to avoid the mushy peas and eel pies and I’d heard about the quirky plumbing, but I was pretty sure I could hail a cab or understand directions as long as the person giving them out wasn’t from Glasgow. Well let me tell you how wrong I was about my ability to cope; on my first few days in London, I was introduced to the twin domestic horrors of limescale and salad cream. I’m still scarred by that experience, and so I will just say this: Avoid them at all costs! If you are about to make your initial journey to Britain or just want to know more about the ways of that island nation and its people, take a look at the following offerings. You’ll be glad you did (or at least you’ll know when you’re being insulted).
Someone (Shaw? Wilde? Churchill?) once said that Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language. If Masterpiece Theater isn’t helping you as much as you’d like with your grasp on British English, get your paws on one of these titles. Knickers in a Twist is a hilarious look at British slang. Due to my long association with Brits and their police procedurals, I was fully aware of about three quarters of the words and phrases; however, I encountered some new-to-me lexical gems when I read this recently.
Ever wonder what Brits mean when they natter on about toffs, yobs, twitchers or white van men? You'll wonder no more after reading The Queen's English and How to Speak Brit. They offer fewer words and phrases than Knickers, but most entries are longer. And finally, both you and your British pals (who somehow think the words "sidewalk", "stove" and "garbage" are weird and/or hilarious) might find Divided by a Common Language helpful in understanding each other. You'll find several side-by-side comparison charts for British and American terminology, words and phrases you shouldn't use while in one country or the other, and a pronunciation guide. So I'll close by saying Have a nice day! and Cheers!
For a list of books on British English, click here.
Your XBOX is broken, your iPhone is dead and, on top of all that, the power is out. You need a book to read! I recommend Press Start to Play, a new collection of short stories inspired by video games.
The stories are short, snappy and really diverse in the ways that they translate video-gaming into fiction and then use it to speculate on the future of our society. Action? Yes. Dystopia-utopia, with laughs? Sure. Horror-filled text-based-game bleeding into reality? That too. Some big-name authors are included in the book, like Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky), Ken Liu (Grace of Kings) and Andy Weir (The Martian), among many others. You can find Press Start to Play in my reading list Great reads for gamers v2.0.
It is a good time to be a video gamer in Portland. OMSI has an exhibit called Game Masters which is running through May 8, 2016. Local super-arcade Ground Kontrol is getting ready to expand and double in size. Multnomah County Library is in on the action, too: Troutdale Library will be holding a spring break gaming week for teens in March 2016, and local nonprofit Pixel Arts is presenting game design programs for kids and teens at libraries around the county.
So, what are my personal top 5 favorite video games of all time? I’m glad you asked.
- Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989, DOS)
- Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992, DOS)
- Street Fighter II Turbo (1993, Super NES)
- Gran Turismo 2 (1999, PlayStation)
- Dragon Age: Origins (2009, PlayStation 3)
Share your own favorites in the comments! Bonus score if you can suggest a book match for your favorite game.
Now let's play some Curse of the Azure Bonds! (Warning: the following video contains spoilers as well as 1980s D&D awesomeness.)
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.
Siena 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.
Arden 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?
One 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.
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.”
It 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.
Alisa 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.
Elsa 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.
Siena 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
"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 - 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 - 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 - 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.
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.
When 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.
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 Hours
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
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?
"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.