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For a short read you could finish over a cup of coffee, try Carlos Fuentes's Aura. You can also read it in Spanish!

Eureka! I have found one!

Does anyone else get this feeling when they find an audiobook reader that they can love?

My new favorite is Lisette Lecat. She reads the Alexander McCall Smith series No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels. 

After trying (and failing) to read the No. 1 Ladies in print, it was a joy to hear the rich, rolling tones of Lecat sing out all those names that had given me grief. In The Full Cupboard of Life, the women are grown-ups, dealing with adult issues such as overbearing rivals, taking care of other people's children, or finding the perfect mate.

And I thoroughly approve of 'the traditional Botswana shape'!

If you have a reader that you adore, I would welcome the suggestion. And next month we might be able to write a blog together!

Pimpón - Español
 
Pimpón es un muñeco 
con manos de cartón
se lava la carita
con agua y con jabón.
 
Se desenreda el pelo
con peine de marfil
y aunque se da estirones
no llora ni hace así.
 
Pimpón dame la mano 
con un fuerte apretón
que quiero ser tu amigo
Pimpón, Pimpón, Pimpón.
 
Y cuando la estrellas
comienzan a salir
Pimpón se va a la cama,
Pimpón se va dormir.
 
Pimpón - English
 
Pimpón is very handsome doll
made of cardboard
he will wash his face
with soap and water. 
 
When he combs his hair
with an ivory comb
when he pulls his hair
he will not cry nor go like this.
 
Pimpón give me your hand
give it a good squeeze
because I want to be your friend
Pimpón, Pimpón, Pimpón.
 
When the stars in the sky
start to blink
Pimpón goes to bed
Pimpón goes to sleep.

Victoria Jamieson; photo: Herminio JacomeVictoria Jamieson is the author and illustrator of  books for children, including the Newbery Honor book Roller Girl. Along with writing and illustrating, she teaches children's book illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

A good percentage of my childhood was spent at the library. When my brothers and I were young, my mom helped organize the summer reading program at our local library outside of Philadelphia. I created many a diorama based on books during those summers. A few years later, my mom started working there as a children’s librarian where, much to our chagrin, she seemed to learn all of the gossip in town (“So, I hear you’re dating so-and-so!”)

The most formative books for me as a kid were the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I related to her so much -- she seemed like a real kid. I appreciated the fact that her family worried about money, and her dad worried about finding a job. It reassured me to no end to read about kids facing real-life situations. I can’t tell you how many times I read those books. They MAY have been a factor in my deciding to move to Portland.

Other childhood favorites included Anne of Green Gables and all of the Roald Dahl, but especially The BFG.  That book inspired a lifetime of whizpopper jokes. I love re-reading childhood favorites. I teach a continuing education class in writing and illustrating children’s books at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and I always recommend re-reading old favorites. It’s fascinating to read them from an adult perspective, and if you want to write children’s books yourself, it’s a great way to remember what you loved about reading as a child.

Here’s a list of my recent favorites:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This was the last book that made me cry — like, a deep, body-shaking sob. If you like a body-shaking sob as much as I do, this is the book for you.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
As soon as I read this book, I knew it would be a book I would read to my kids someday. It’s just a book you want to share. Now I just need to wait for my son to be old enough.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
You just have to read it. It’s an amazing book.

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
This book is both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-out-loud touching. Be careful where you read this one; I was reading it on the subway in New York when I started ugly crying.

A few more:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

El Deafo by Cece Bell

One Crazy Summer by Rita Willams-Garcia

Get even more reading recommendations hand-picked for you by My Librarian.

In the time it takes your bread to toast, you could be making art.

Filmish bookjacketA 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 onOut on the Wire bookjacket 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.

Job search image

If you're looking for work and aren't sure where to start, consider these top sites that will help you begin your job search, network with others find out when jobs in your area of interest open up.
 
OregonLive: Best Local Jobs
Take a look at the Oregonian’s online employment classified section.
 
Craigslist isn't just for getting a couple of bucks for selling that old futon in your basement - you'll also find lists of local jobs in a wide-variety of categories. Here's a great article on getting the most out of Craigslist for your job search.
 
Craig isn't the only one with a list - this is a newsletter and website that posts jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities from hundreds of Portland Metro and greater Oregon non-profits, public agencies, and private employers. It also offers a resource page with recommended books, career coaches and more.
 
LinkedIn is a profession-focused network that allows you to link to people you know and network with those who know them. Its job board allows you to post your resume and it also includes a browser toolbar widget that can help connect you with your targeted employer. Still not sure what LinkedIn is or how it can with your job search? Take a look at LinkedIn's job searching tips and here are some tips from Forbes that LinkedIn won't tell you.
 
Indeed allows you to set up searches and have the results emailed to you daily and/or pushed to you via RSS. Easy to limit to a particular location. As with LinkedIn, this site also lets you post your resume.
 
City of Portland Jobs | Multnomah County Jobs | Metro JobsClackamas County Jobs | Washington County Jobs | Clark County Jobs
Search for government employment in the Portland Metro area.
 
Search for jobs throughout the state - use the advanced search to limit to a wage per hour, occupational group and more.

Knickers in a Twist book jacketBefore 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 MasterpieceDivided by a Common Language book jacket 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.

Photo of Ross on cell phone, with copy of Press Start to PlayYour 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.)

C:\>_

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

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!
 

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

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