When I was in Berlin a few years ago, I made it a point to visit the Bebelplatz -- site of the infamous Nazi book-burning of May 1933. This understated memorial consists of a glass plate set into cobblestones; peering into the glass, you see empty bookshelves below -- enough to hold the 20,000 or so volumes that were incinerated on that terrible night.
Fast forward 10 years and the world was embroiled in the most savage and destructive war in history. The movement that sought to quash freedom of thought in 1933 was now working to impose its will on the rest of the world. But those fighting against the oppressors were fighting not only with the personnel and material of war, but also with books.
American citizens suddenly found themselves transformed into military personnel and were stationed thousand of miles from their homes and loved ones. The Council on Books in Wartime was formed to provide America's military personnel with literature to enrich their lives, make them laugh, and to remind them of home -- and so the Armed Services Edition was born. These little books were produced in the millions and were specifically engineered to be light and to fit neatly into the pockets of government issue uniforms. These little books could be found virtually everywhere from ships to foxholes and in both the European and Pacific theaters.
In her new book, When Books Went to War, Molly Guptill Manning relates the fascinating history of these little books which did so much not only to support the country's men and women in uniform, but to combat the philosophy they were fighting so hard to defeat as well.
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 years 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.
A Cheerful Volunteer
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
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 Sky. Follow her: @staceyleeauthor
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 is a girl gamer - her handle means "hammer" in Korean.
- She's a good dresser.
- She's a YouTube and blogging star.
- Finally, she taught me everything that I know about Korean cooking!
“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.
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
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.
In the housing column, choose the option you want. If you are looking for a house or apartment to rent, choose apts/housing.
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.
Limit the search by price, size, and number of bathrooms and bedrooms on the left side.
Limit the search by using the checkboxes on the left side to find listings that are cat or dog friendly, that
have wheelchair access, and more.
Click housing type to specify what kind of house or apartment you are looking for.
Click parking and laundry if you want to choose these features.
The top of the screen gives you options for viewing the results.
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: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.
Need more help?
Craigslist help: https://www.craigslist.org/about/help/
Try this tutorial: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/searchresults?q=craigslist
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!
You’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.
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.
"There are these things and they
are da kine to me. They are the tear.
The torn circle.
There are these things and they are
the circle malformed, pulled tight
in one place. These things are the
symbol of all not being right. They
are da kine for me.
Da kine for me is the moment when
things extend beyond you and me
and into the rest of the world. It is
Like two who love each other
breaking eye contact and coming
out of that love and back into the conversation " (p. 8)
"That Winter the Wolf Came" - Julianna Spahr's recently published collection of thoughtful and painful interrogations against capitalism - is unfortunately not currently available through Multnomah County Library. We do however have a copy of "Fuck You, Aloha, I Love You," her mesmerizing
book of poems from 2001.
The poems in "Fuck You, Aloha, I Love You" generate a never-ending series of questions and tensions, pitting the cost and construction of selves (most assuredly not as specific indicators of psychological depth) within the coordinates of location/place. But the selves in these poems are never transcendent, never reified - barring those collisions when the determinate conditions of history and capital freeze us in frightening, dead, and/or emptied moments.
As the title suggests, most of these encounters and repetitions occur in Hawai'i, where Spahr was living and teaching at the time the book was being written. Spahr's poems are tricky (but never clever-tricky) in the way they reveal aesthetic structures that are doubled in the
structures of Hawai'i as political geography. Spahr elicits Hawai'i's ongoing history of violent colonialism without reducing the conflicts and tensions to an outsider's appreciation of the "local" or within a liberal's plea for empathy for the other.
"We want this story, our personal
story, to tell this story:
It is late at night and we lean over
and kiss, our one head one way
and our other head another way,
and stick our tongues in our
mouths and it feels strange this
way, top of tongue on top of
I have finally found my answer to the question, “what author, from any time period, would you want to invite to a dinner party?” My answer is Shirley Jackson.
I'll always remember the visceral feeling of reading Jackson's amazing short story, "The Lottery" (And if you haven't read that story yet, read it now. Or listen to Shirley Jackson read it to you.). Her memoirs, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, are totally entertaining. The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are wonderfully creepy. And now there's a lovely new collection of her writing, Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings.
And boy do I want Shirley Jackson to tell me things. I would like her to regale me with her short stories. I wish she could talk to me about the craft of writing. If only she would join me at my dinner table and describe her daily, rather surreal, home life. Let Me Tell You is a collection of her short stories, domestic humor pieces, and essays - many of them never published. There are even some of Jackson's witty little line drawings.
Alas, since there shall be no dinner with Shirley (she died at the too-young age of 48) I will have to be satisfied with Let Me Tell You.
I am fast approaching the age where women are considered invisible. I have noticed in the last 10 years or so that I am invisible. It’s a relief because I received a lot of street harassment over the years. Question is have you ever wanted to be invisible?
What if you didn’t want to be invisible and you were? That’s what happens to Clover Hobart. One morning she wakes up and she is invisible. It doesn’t help that she is 55-plus woman and already invisible in society’s eyes. Even her family is oblivious to the fact that she is invisible. The only one who notices is her best friend, who tries to help Clover in her non-visible adventures.
Greek and Roman mythology share many of the same gods and goddesses in their stories, but most often the names are different. It can be difficult to keep straight who is who when referring to them with either their Greek or Roman name. Is it Zues or Jupiter? Is it Hera or Juno? Is Aphrodite or Venus? Encyclopedia Mythica has a great list of major Greek deities and their Roman counterparts. When we are reading Percy Jackson we are working with the Greek names, but our planets are named for the Roman Gods and Goddesses.
When studying Greek and Roman mythology consider using some of the library’s databases. Using the “Reference Center” in World Book Encyclopedia can expand your study on the subject. Search for “Greek and Roman divinities,’ and you will get another chart matching up Greek and Roman counterparts with links to learn more about the individual deities. Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) is another online resource that will lead you to a variety of online e-books full of mythological information.
If you are trying to keep track of who is related to who in the Pantheon (all the gods of a people or religion collectively), Greek Mythological Link has great genealogy charts as well as maps. History for Kids also has brief descriptions on the differient gods as well as book suggestions for further reading, many that you will find here at the library. Check out some of our reading suggestions too.
We are such a serious people. Eavesdrop on one of today's conversations, and it goes something like this:
"I never listen to the news, it's always bad."
"You are so right!"
"The middle class is disappearing, climate change is accelerating, and in-filling is destroying my neighborhood."
"The final blow for me personally? They went and cancelled Leverage!"
Whoo-sah! Can I have a time out?
Like Ron Weasley said, "Why is it always spiders? Why can't it ever be butterflies?"
Here are a few of my Calgon, take me away faves...
Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling is set in an apocolytic Northwest centered on Portland, Corvallis and the foothills of the central Willamette Valley. Why pike around with worrying about the end of life as we know it? Stirling drops you headfirst into a tale of survival that will shiver your bones while delighting you with crafty Oregonians who have the last laugh on civilization. Spoiler note: the Lord of the Rings trilogy is featured.
Gideon the Cutpurse is all about imagination, loyalty and friendship. When did we as adults forget that funny and stupid are not synonymous? Might it not be fun to move out of your comfort zone, stretch your capabilities, and maybe discover a new you?
This list contains names that make me smile. Because when the good guys blow stuff up and win, the universe is in balance. To get in the mood, I just suspend the social training that says this world is a awful place and wait for the one-liner that says 'You're adorable!'
Ah, back to school! The crisp fall days, football on Friday nights, challenging classes, and the absolute terror of starting at a new school! I switched from public to private school in 8th grade and, fortunately for me, the students were really friendly and welcoming. I bonded with a couple of girls right away over soccer and disco, and even though our main teacher was a bit intimidating, I managed to get along with her despite being sent to the library for talking to a pal during a boring film.
Penelope (aka Peppi) has a pretty rough start when she begins classes at a new middle school. On the first morning of the first day, she manages to trip in the hallway and scatter books and papers everywhere. When Jaime, a kind, but nerdy boy, attempts to help her and the mean kids laugh at them, she screams at him to leave her alone. She almost instantly regrets her action, but can't seem to find a way to apologize and avoids him like the proverbial plague. Peppi finds friends among the Art Club and things are going pretty well, but then - horror of horrors - the science teacher assigns Jaime to be her tutor! What's a girl to do? Skip the sessions and flunk science or just face the music? Maybe art can meet science and have something positive emerge. You'll have to read Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova to find out.
Are you heading back to class or just wanting to relive those days? If so, check out these graphic novels about the school experience...they've got to be more fun than a calculus textbook!
It was a hot day in Central Library. The air conditioner was busted, the doors were propped wide open, and, thanks to the latest forest fire out on the eastside, the air was about as smoky as the Virginia Cafe circa 1975. I thought about lighting up myself since it couldn’t make things much worse in here, but then I remembered that I quit smoking 20 years ago. Something bad was going to happen, I could feel it.
Mercifully, this is not the actual condition in the library at the moment! Everything is just fine. But if this scene appeals to you for some reason, maybe you should be reading more Portland crime fiction.
Did I leave something important off this list? Let me know!
You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers, buttons and T-shirts and other paraphernalia. But why do books get banned? For a variety of reasons -- political views, offensive language, sexual content, or content that for various reasons is felt to be “inappropriate” for children, to name just a few.
But books are not the only things that get banned. Music has its own long history of being banned. For instance, the works of many composers were banned in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union during the reign of Joseph Stalin.
The banning continues in the Twenty-First Century. About a year ago, the New York Youth Symphony commissioned a new work by the talented young Estonian-born composer Jonas Tarm. The piece, entitled Marsh u Nebuttya (March to Oblivion), which was to run about 9 minutes in length, included a couple of quotations from other musical works. The most controversial of these was a 45-second quote from the Horst Wessel Song (listener discretion advised) -- the unofficial anthem of the Nazi Party.
The work’s debut at Carnegie Hall was cancelled. The orchestra’s executive director said that the instrumental quotes from the Horst Wessel Song and the Ukrainian Soviet national anthem were offensive, even though the composer insisted that the piece was dedicated to “the victims who have suffered from cruelty and hatred of war, totalitarianism, polarizing nationalism -- in the past and today.”
It’s a classic case of judging a creation by its parts rather than its overall artistic merits. I look forward to the day when I can hear this piece and make my own decision.
Celebrate Banned Books Week later this month, September 27-October 3.