I started reading The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti late last week.
The subtitle says it all. Love, betrayal, revenge, great cheese. If there were room on the cover I would add the words 'Family' and 'Sun-burned Small-town Spain'.
For the first couple days I would think about the book for hours, clock-watching until I could get a few more minutes with it. But it's the kind of book that deserves more than 15 minutes between loads of laundry and emptying the dishwasher. It deserves a quiet space and a steaming cup of coffee. Now one week in I'm getting up extra early to read in bed during that delicious time before the city is awake. Every single page is densely packed with delicious writing and humor. There are on-page footnotes (love them) that make a Siamese twin to the story itself.
I'm not finished yet but I can tell you this book is my favorite of the year. And I know in my heart that Paterniti will find himself receiving accolades and awards for months to come.
I started reading The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti late last week.
When genetically-modified wheat was discovered in an Oregon field in the spring of 2013, the long-standing debate over genetically-modified foods intensified. How was Roundup Ready wheat created? And how did it end up in a field in Oregon, years after it was discontinued? What is the government’s role in regulating such technology?
Citizens and scientists have been debating the pros and cons of GMOs for years. Polls have shown the public is skeptical. Environmental and food safety organizations are concerned about the risks GMOs pose for humans and the planet. However, the companies engineering the crops, such as Monsanto, insist they are safe, as do some farming groups. A number of scientists take a middle ground, acknowledging the potential benefits of genetic engineering but criticizing the current use and regulation of GMOs. Some writers have even argued for an “open-source” model of food genetics.
For an excellent overview on this issue, check out Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context, which contains articles, statistics, audio files, and images. You’ll need to log in with your library card number and PIN to access this resource from outside the library.
Are you looking for some specific information not covered here? Contact a librarian for help.
A few years ago, I walked the Great Glen Way in Scotland. Ever since, I've been wanting to go back to Britain and do another walk, but I wasn't sure exactly where to go. After reading a review of Simon Armitage's Walking Home: A Poet's Journey, I immediately put a hold on the book. I had heard of the Pennine Way and thought perhaps I might like to try a portion of it as it is mostly in the northern part of England which I love.
Thankfully, I actually read the book and learned that there is no way in heck that I would ever attempt even a small part of 268 miserably wet and foggy miles that Armitage experienced on his journey. That being said, it was a lot of fun to read about someone else doing the trail! Armitage is a well-known poet, and decided that he would fund his trip by doing poetry readings almost every night of the 19 days he spent on the trail. Sometimes only a few showed up, but other nights the pub or hotel where he was staying was packed, and people gave generously. Armitage mixes in several poems he wrote along the trail with his thoughtful, humorous and self-deprecating journal. While I won't attempt his journey, the narrative has inspired me to seek out his poetry.
The felt swan shown here, on display in the Hermitage Museum, dates from the 4th-5th centuries BC. An object made of felt and deer hair with the figure supported by wooden stakes, it was part of a burial mound in the Eastern ranges of the Altai region in Russia. This image is from the book Felt, by Willow G. Mullins, an account of the many uses of felt over spans of centuries to contemporary times. It is an example of a type of book in the library that can serve as good starting points for your imagination, beginning with raw materials.
When experimenting with various types of media and processes associated with them, another type of book that is useful to remember about are the books about art hazards. As many people know from studying art, it's easy to forge ahead and forget that some of the properties of materials may be less than benign for health.
Summer may be winding down but there's still plenty of time to find a bestseller, discover a new author or explore a brand-new genre. Need some suggestions? Take a look at the following lists from selected newspapers and websites and see what appeals.
Lots of holds on a must-read title? Don't despair! Library shelves are full of new books to discover. If you're in the mood for sweeping tales that span centuries and generations, browse the Epic novels and stand-alone sagas reading list. If you prefer a quick read, try Stories, samplers and short works, engaging writing that can be read in one sitting.
Be sure and pick up a Read4Life adult summer reading game card to record your books. Return your card to any library by August 31st - you'll be entered to win an e-book reader.
NPR's Summer books 2013 critics' lists have something for everyone -- historicals, romance, forgotten classics, the urban experience, comics and poetry are some of the categories. USA Today features booksellers' picks for summer reading; scan their predictions for hot fiction, nonfiction and "sleepers" and see if they're on track. The LA Times' Summer Reading Guide includes 156 book picks: thrillers and young adult books, history and novels, memoirs and science fiction, pop culture books, kids books and more.
Find out-of-the-mainstream titles on Your mega summer reading list: 200 books recommended by TEDsters (designer Chip Kidd, editor Maria Popova, choreographer Bill T. Jones, to name a few). More hot, new and undiscovered titles appear on the DailyCandy's 14 New Books That Save Brain Cells This Summer: Essay anthologies, scorching family dramas and more.
Subject-specific lists to consider: Scientific American's Best Summer Books, recently-published science books worth reading selected by SA editors, bloggers and contributors; Theater Books for Summer Reading on the Broadway & Me blog; JP Morgan's Summer 2013 Reading List offers "a global exploration of topics including philanthropy, gender equality, business and art"; stretch your mind with some readable philosophy from the hosts and guests of Philosophy Talk.
Librarians love to steer book lovers to Indiebound, the independent booksellers website. Book groups will enjoy their Summer 2013 Reading Group Indie Next list. And no reading list would be complete without Oprah's summer picks: best cookbooks, compelling paperbacks, arresting memoirs and much more.
The books in the Library about the art of Maori people and other groups from the islands of the South Pacific provides us with "a sense of awe, the admiration for arts that are both beautiful and profound, with a history that commands our respect both for what we can know of it and what we cannot." - Arts of the Pacific Islands by Anne D'Alleva. This summer, the Library added a new book published in 2012, titled Art in Oceania: A New History, that spans art of the Pacific Islanders from the remnants of thousands of years ago to contemporary artists of this decade. Chapters describe by centuries the impact of political and social changes upon art of these islands, with effects of trade, war, and globalization of culture.
Many of the sculpture and other objects of wood, stone, and textiles historically were created for ceremonial uses, with elements of design and representation of human form that far exceed the merely practical. The wood carving shown here on the cover dates from 1896, by Tene Waitere, a master woodcarver and teacher, who during his lifetime created many commissioned works such as this panel. It is an example of the powerful sculpture and other forms of art in this book, interspersed with photographs, poetry, and stories from master craftsmen, artists, tribal leaders, travellers, and historians.
View an excerpt from this book from the publisher, Oxford University Press.
Looking for more books about the art of this region of the world? There is a good selection at Central Library. Find them collectively in the Library catalog with a search by subject heading: Art- Oceania.
This probably won’t come as a surprise but librarians like questions. And we really like answers. We like finding them and sharing them. But there are questions that don’t work that way: What is right and what is wrong? When do you keep a secret? Is it ever OK to break the law? Where should a person’s loyalties lie? Complicated in the best of times, when you enter the world of whistleblowers these questions really get messy. It’s not that they don’t have answers, more that they don’t have only one answer. And as the stakes get higher, often the answers are harder to pin down.
According to the National Whistleblowers Center, we have laws to protect people who “stop, report, or testify about employer actions that are illegal, unhealthy, or violate specific public policies”. Seems pretty clear, right? Well…only sort of. It’s just that no one seems to agree on what counts as being whistleblower and what is just breaking the rules. NPR reported a recent study that found that 55% think NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a whistleblower while 34% call him a traitor. And any of you who are good at math will notice that those numbers don’t come anywhere near 100%. So while we wait to discover Mr. Snowden’s future, let’s meet some other players in the whistleblowing world. And whether you prefer to read the Handbook, follow the official paper trail or sneak a look at Hollywood’s take, the library has you covered.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Whistleblower programs each received around 3000 tips from both private and public employees. They oversee the laws to protect people when they come forward with information. For many cases, this might be as far as it goes. Does the relative anonymity of these cases make them any less complicated or risky? Or is it true that we are all the stars of our own dramas? At the other end of things we have some of the country’s best known if not always the best loved whistleblowers who were involved in everything from Watergate, to police corruption, to nuclear power, to farming. And an entirely different approach to whistleblowing was introduced to the world by Wikileaks, who instead of blowing the whistle on one thing publish any and all secrets. Even from these few examples it’s obvious that being a whistleblower is a precarious and downright dangerous thing to be, even if they do make a movie about you.
If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, you know what to do: Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.
Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
There are loads of you out there who love to read a fat book (Hi, Mom!). You're drawn to authors like David McCullough, Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin. I've always regretted that I'm not one of you. I was not at all looking forward to reading this fat book, but it was for a book club so there was no getting around it. I cajoled myself with thoughts like, 'it won the Pulitzer Prize--it'll be good for you,' like it was a giant vitamin, and 'c'mon, you really like science writing.'
So I did it. I read Emperor of All Maladies because I had to. And sometimes when you read something you wouldn't normally choose, you stumble on something that will keep you thinking for weeks after. Like the little boys, as young as 4, who were apprenticed or indentured as chimney sweeps in England during the 17 and 1800's, working nearly naked in flues as narrow as nine inches square. If asphyxiation or burns didn't get them as kids, then dying in young adulthood from cancer caused by the soot that stuck to their bodies seemed almost guaranteed. I'm thinking of the sort of 'why don't we try this?' experimentation on cancer patients through history. I'm thinking of the horrifying, radical surgeries, done for decades, with the idea that cancer could be physically removed by surgeons if they just removed enough flesh. I'm thinking of the amazing discoveries of scientists that seemed almost random, like a light bulb suddenly went off over their heads in a very, very dark room.
We've all lost a loved one or friend or neighbor or coworker to cancer. Or maybe you're fighting its spread in your own body right now. Every week it's in the news. A new medication, a gene discovered, a warning about food or chemicals or the environment. Strangely, and I didn't expect this, reading Emperor was a comfort to me. That we really have made progress. That each form of cancer is so specific, working on the big picture is important. And working on the rare, one-in-a-million cancers is just as important, because the science behind a discovery is always connected to something else, even if we don't know what it is right away.
This new book accompanies a recent exhibition of works by Chinese-American artist Hung Liu at the Oakland Museum of California. Hung Liu and the Rene de Guzman, Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum, have created a set of interviews on YouTube, so that not only can you read the artist's quotes in the book, but listen to her voice as she describes her approaches to paintings and other works. It's an interesting way to experience a book, to hear the voice of the artist along with her paintings, that portray people in China from the time of the Cultural Revolution forward to the present. Often in a political context, the paintings and mixed media works use photographs, some faded, to "make history and memory materialize in the present." - p. 82 Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu.
Authors: Liu, Hung, 1948-
Title: Summoning ghosts : the art of Hung Liu
Publisher: Berkeley : University Of California Press, 2013
Notes: Catalog of the exhibition Summoning Ghosts: the Art of Hung Liu, organized by René de Guzman on behalf of the Oakland Museum of California and presented March 16-June 30, 2013
Whether you’re just beginning to work on expressing yourself in writing, or have been working at it for a while, there is always room to improve your writing skills. From the basics of grammar and punctuation to the finer points of style and persuasive rhetoric, there’s a lot to learn. Practice helps, of course, and all writers continue learning as they go!
We have many books and other resources (including DVDs!) about developing those writing skills. A selection of resources for beginning and intermediate writers is available here as a booklist, but you might also browse the following subject headings:
There are also some great resources online, many of which are developed by college writing centers to help undergraduate students (and anyone else!) finesse their writing. Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a favorite, and UT Austin’s Undergraduate Writing Center and Colorado State’s Writing@CSU pages are also quite helpful. William Strunk and E.B. White’s classic guide to writing, The Elements of Style, is also freely available online.
Library notices sometimes are filtered as spam by email providers and this happens because the library sends out many notices at one time. You can prevent this from happening if you add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts or address book. Sometimes, library notices are bounced by email providers and the notices come back to us as undeliverable so it appears that your email is no longer valid. If this happens, we remove your email from your account and you will begin to receive telephone notifications. You should contact Account Services, if you start receiving telephone notifications instead of email notifications.
Search for a job on Craigslist ... really?
Yes, really, because aggregator job boards don’t go there so you should. An aggregator site is one that sends its ‘spiders’ crawling over the web to gather together links to jobs listings (or other things). Among the biggest are Indeed and SimplyHired. One aggregator that pulls job listings directly from company websites is LinkUp, which means they should have fewer duplicate, out-of-date or scam listings. Niche boards are those that focus exclusively on a particular area of employment - a couple of examples are Idealist, which lists both paid and unpaid opportunities in the nonprofit sector, and Madden Industrial Craftsmen for welders, machinists and other industrial positions in the Pacific Northwest. This About.com Job Searching page has links to lists of niche boards covering all different sorts of work.
We realize that there's a constant flow of hot, new books, music and movies all vying for your attention. Of course, if you want it, it goes without saying that a lot of other people want it too. That's why you'll often see long lines of holds waiting for the latest and greatest thing.
When you're looking for something that has a lot of holds on it, you may also see a list starting with "While You Wait for..." We put these lists together for you, thinking that you might like to explore some other options while...well...while you wait for that wished-for item to show up at your neighborhood library.
These lists are made by library staff who enjoyed that movie or book that you're waiting for. We hope you'll find some undiscovered gems among them. So what are you waiting for? Explore all of the "While you Wait.." lists. Happy hunting.
Where do you go once you’ve mastered sewing basic items of clothing and are ready to branch out into more challenging fashions?
Step one is to make sure you are getting the best out of your sewing machine. The Sewing Machine Classroom is more than just information about your machine. In the first chapters, Charlene Phillips talks in-depth about needles and thread. Think of it this way -- you can have the best car (sewing machine), but if you use the wrong tires (needles and thread), then the only thing between your car and the road (fabric) won't perform well. And may crash--badly.
Picking out a more advanced pattern can be intimidating, but the website PatternReview.com helps you get the scoop on which patterns work and which don’t. The site is a little clunky and cluttered, but there is a wealth of information there. You can create a free profile to access sewing pattern reviews, get reviews of sewing machines, visit forums, find tips and techniques, register for classes and the list goes on. If you need help with anything to do with sewing clothing, you can probably get your answers here.
You might be intimidated by trying a more complicated garment because you are worried it might not fit and you will have spent all that time creating something unwearable. Check out Fitting & Pattern Alteration by Elizabeth G. Liechty. I’ve found fitting solutions in here I’ve never seen anywhere else.
So now you’ve got it to fit, how do you give your garments that extra special touch? Try some couture techniques. Claire Shaeffer has really studied couture garments in depth and has stellar techniques in her book Couture Sewing Techniques, as well as interesting histories of some garments from couture designers. Made a v-neck top that gaps? She’ll tell you how to fix that. Know all about closures? This will tell you even more. Claire is also featured on the Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog.
If you are making a shirt, take a look at David Page Coffin’s book, Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing, and companion DVD, Shirtmaking Techniques, in order to get seriously professional results: well-turned collars, perfect plackets, and impeccable hems. I would recommend these techniques even if you aren’t sewing a shirt. They can be applied in other areas of other kinds of garments. For example, I use his instructions for attaching a sleeve cuff to attach waistbands to pants as a way to avoid bumpy corners.
If you’ve gotten to this point, you’re probably ready to try some tailoring. Tailoring, a volume from the Singer Reference Library, goes over classic tailoring techniques, but gives you the option of shortcuts with modern fusible stabilizers, too, making the process a little less daunting.
Maybe you’re still not sure what you want to sew next. Look for some inspiration in the form of online blogs. Two standout blogs I regularly visit are Gretchen Hirsch’s blog, Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing and Peter Lappin's Male Pattern Boldness. Gertie sews her own clothes with a vintage flair, and has transformed that into a successful teaching business, a book, and even her own line of patterns. For every creation, Gerie provides tutorials or photographs of the process. Peter makes dresses and suits and everything in between. He also takes photos of his sewing process which are really helpful, and his writing style is a joy to read, even if you don’t sew.
And, lastly, if you’re feeling really adventurous, check out this drool-worthy blog of period costumes at Before the Automobile. Wow!
Rebecca is a library clerk at Belmont who has been sewing since a very young age, but recently realized she was resting on her laurels and needed more of a challenge.
I don’t seek out dystopian novels: I’m not usually looking for a downer, but somehow I end up reading dystopian novels for young adults, and I like them. These books have appeal that crosses genres. Usually sci-fi, they have the intrigue of thriller, the creative world-building of good fantasy, and strong characters who are capable of facing hard times. Unlike those for adults, dystopian books for teens often have a more hopeful ending, or aren’t quite so...um...grim. Unlike...cough...The Road.
Imagine living in a bottle two kilometers by two kilometers, and that people have been living there, reproducing, evolving as a society, well, forever now, and the small contained world is bursting at the seams. Maria V. Snyder creates such a space in Inside Out. Society is divided by the “uppers” in the upper two levels, and the “scrubs” packed into the lower two levels. Feisty scrub Trella tries to keep to herself, but ends up turning this world upside down, or is that inside out?
My first thought on encountering Uglies is remembrance of that old Twilight episode in which the beautiful woman undergoes surgery so she can be as beautiful as everyone else - that is - ugly. At 16, everyone undergoes this surgery to be Pretty, except a few rebels. And that’s unacceptable. Here we have the seeming elements of a utopia, with everyone happy, hoverboards and hovercars, ready-made food, and parties all the time. But then there’s that dark underside, that shadowy governing body that does anything to keep it that way. When Tally, so looking forward to her own Pretty-making surgery, is coerced to find rebels, adventure and coming-of-age hardships ensue.
A technological living prison gone rogue in which people inside have lost belief in the outside - that’s Incarceron. Outside, the prison world is also a myth. Outside, by royal decree, advanced technology is banned. Yet an insider and an outsider find a way to communicate. The insider’s memory has been wiped, but with clues that he once was outside. The outsider is a pampered daughter of the warden...the one person who has a clue about the forgotten experiment in incarceration. Of course, once the secret’s out to these two, action and intrigue develop.
Humans bond over food, don’t we? We get together over a meal casually, as well as mark major milestones with a special meal. Food or meals from childhood often take on a mythic status, as in the case of the macaroni and cheese served at my father’s elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother spent 50+ years of marriage trying to replicate that recipe … which was – knowing cafeteria food – probably awful.
Artist Michael J. Strand understands the pull of food. He wants to collect your recipes – for cafeteria mac and cheese or the special stuffing you serve at Thanksgiving or your grandmother’s tamales. He wants to collect your stories of preparing and eating that recipe. Through Bowls Around Town, a collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Strand hopes to gather these treasures from you.
Picture a wooden box … inside is a large hand-thrown ceramic bowl and a book. Place a hold on the box (found here in the catalog), check it out, take it home. Think about a dish with special meaning to you. Prepare it. Eat it. Take lots of pictures (instructions on where to send these are in the box). Write your recipe in the book along with a bit of its history and what happened when you prepared and ate it this time.
Bring the box and its contents back to the library. Return it on time so someone else can share their story.
Bowls Around Town at Multnomah County Library will circulate from May 16 to September 21, 2013.
“Who picks these books!?” That could be a question someone asks about In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This well-written classic true crime stands up to the tests of time, but the violence can be a turnoff for some. When it comes to book groups, such as our library’s Pageturners groups, a great book for discussion is not necessarily liked by all.
As a facilitator my response to that question is, “I’m glad you asked. Let me give you the inside scoop.” In May, Pageturners book groups are busy picking their books for the next calendar year, which begins in September. Most groups pick by gathering votes from regular attendees, or, as I like to say, book groupies. Books on the ballot come from recommendations by groupies, awards lists, book news, and discussions with other facilitators. My little secret: my nominations include books that I hope to read, but won’t get around to unless my group reads them.
I thought I’d share with you a few books that have already been read by Pageturners book groups, but are likely to make another appearance on a group’s list sometime soon, like In Cold Blood. Many people first come to a group for a book they like, but keep returning for the books they might not otherwise read. Perhaps you’ll catch the bug and attend a Pageturners book group near you...there’s nothing like that aha moment when a book’s deeper intentions are revealed through lively and thoughtful discussion.
The Sisters Brothers by local author Patrick deWitt captures the craziness of the gold rush era along with a complex relationship between brothers who navigate an odyssey through that 1850s underworld. Who knows, perhaps some enterprising facilitator will persuade the author to join their discussion.
You might think this collection is for children, but a revisit to The Jungle Books in adulthood will introduce you to the stellar writing of Kipling, and your more sophisticated awareness will pick up on the global politics of an Imperial era. Nancy, the facilitator of the St. John's Pageturners, shared all kinds of show and tell...maps, pictures of animals, plants, the author, and more.
This year, seven Pageturners groups readThe Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It will certainly be a choice in the next year as well. It is about the “Great Migration” - the large movement of blacks from the South to the North and West from the time of WWI to the seventies. The story follows the lives of three people, making it very readable, while it bursts with rarely encountered historical facts.
Patricia, administrator of North Portland Library and Pageturners facilitator, said, “Though my family participated in the "migration,"the book still put things in perspective and explained a lot, like why my highly educated, architect uncle decided to move from Baltimore to California. The book just helped make sense of so much.”