Blogs: Adults

Dana and John are the masterminds behind Minimalist Baker, a Portland blog dedicated to simple, plant-based and gluten-free cooking. Dana is the recipe developer, and John handles all-things technical. We asked Dana a few questions about books, reading and food, and here's what she said:

The cookbook I can’t live without is ...

I am honestly not a big cookbook user and typically search for recipes online. However, the one I find myself going back to is My New Roots by Sarah Britton. It has so much helpful information about how to soak grains, nuts and seeds, and how to handle and prepare foods on a very foundational level. Plus, the recipes are seasonal and gorgeous!

If I could have dinner with any author it would be...

Anne Lamott. I’ve read most of her books and they’ve taught me so much about life, writing and faith.

I would serve...

I think I would serve my Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes from the blog. They’re a classic, so filling, and entirely plant ­based! One of my all­ time favorites.

The last thing I learned from reading was...

That I should wear a sleep mask to improve the quality and the amount of sleep I get (from the The Body Book by Cameron Diaz).

My guilty pleasure book is...

I don’t know that I have a guilty pleasure book, but I’m always reading up on health and diet and my favorite among that group is Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men and Discovering Myself.

My favorite thing about the library is....

The smell. Ha! I love the smell of books. I also love that there is so much knowledge at my fingertips when I’m there.

Cover image of Love Saves The Day
   
     "If there's a cure for this
       I don't want it
       Don't want it
       If there's a remedy
       I'll run from it
       From it"

If you ask many people what the term "disco" conjures, you'll likely hear about drugs, excess, sex, celebrity and exclusive parties/clubs - not to mention the questionable fashions, the quintessential hairstyles and the inevitable accusations of artificiality and inauthenticity  (anyone remember "Disco Sucks"?).

But disco was a complex musical and cultural set of coordinates that originally emerged from the economic, sexual and racial peripheries of early 1970s New York City.  Tim Lawrence's Love Saves The Day - a definitive and exhaustive intervention in cultural history - uncovers these radical roots in eye-opening detail.  Lawrence draws upon a ton of archival material and interviews with many of the (surviving) primary players to construct a wonderful narrative that should appeal to anyone fascinated by the intersections of the social, economic and cultural in the 1970s. Lawrence documents the founding of David Mancuso's legendary Loft and tracks the myriad divergent strands forward that ultimately lead to the dead end of Studio 54 and the mass burning of disco LPs in Chicago's Comiskey Park.

Especially of interest for pop music aficionados (disco touched just about every pop musical genre that followed), sound junkies, and anyone curious about the complex intersections between sexuality, technology, music and politics. 

And for your dancing pleasure, here's a playlist featuring some of the best music of the period:
 

Diana Ross - Love Hangover, Live on The Midnight Special 1976





Eddie Kendricks - Keep on Truckin



DONNA SUMMER - I feel love (1977) HD and HQ



The Trammps - Disco Inferno



Little Scotty - Going To The Disco Tonight

Princeless book jacket
Kids these days.  They get the best books!  Sometimes we get the best recommendations from patrons.  Even when they're only 7 or 8 years old!  I'm pretty sure I would have adored these graphic novels as a little girl because, I've got to admit, I really liked them as an adult. Princeless tells the story of a young princess whose father locks her up in a dragon guarded tower to await rescue by a prince.  She's having none of this. She promptly rescues herself and steals a dragon so she can have adventures instead of meekly awaiting a future spouse.  After listening to a young fan sing the praises of this series, I put book one on hold to read for myself and I'm glad I did! It's a charming adventure with some clever jokes for older readers hidden in it.

The Courageous Princess is a gentle story with a fairytale feel to it. Mabelrose is kidnapped from her loving parents, the king and queen
The Courageous Princess book jacket
of a tiny humble kingdom. She manages to keep her head in the face of danger and escapes from her captor while, unknowing of this, her father sets out to try to save her.  Mabelrose has traditional fairytale virtues of modesty, loyalty and so on. She saves herself from each new problem she faces while trying to get home by doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Princess Ugg is meant for a somewhat older audience than the first two titles. Princess Ülga is a barbarian warrior princess who, on the wish of her dead mother, goes to a school for princesses in the "civilized" lands  so she can learn about her clan's neighbors. Her mother hoped that perhaps what she learned would halt the endless fighting in her homeland through diplomacy. The noble born girls from gentler lands do not understand Ülga and mock her appearance and behavior endlessly.

These titles are a great deal of fun and a quick distraction (and from an adult's perspective pretty sweet and charming) with young heroines who don't need someone to rescue them.

Amazons book jacket
A figure emerges from the dusky grasslands of the steppe. She rides an antlered beast, perhaps an elk or deer. A bow and quiver is slung across her back, and an axe hangs at her side. She is clothed in a long tunic with ornate belt, a leopard skin, and wildly patterned  trousers. A peaked felt cap covers her head. As the rider moves closer her mount’s antlers glint red and gold, and you can see that they are part of an elaborate mask, and that the elk is a tawny mare, one of those with the thick scruffy coats suited to cold climates. A hunting dog bounds through the grass at her side, and a trained eagle flies above.

While this may sound like something out of a fantasy novel, it’s a scene that could have happened 2,500 years ago in the steppes of ancient Scythia. In The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World,  Adrienne Mayor compares the myths to the archaeological evidence, and reveals a horse-centric, egalitarian culture in which women riders with bows fought and hunted, both at the sides of men, and on their own. These independent women were perplexing and even scary to the Greeks, who were both repelled and aroused by the idea of women fighters… and their pants! The world's oldest trousers were invented by the nomads of the steppes and look like something you might see today on Hawthorne street, but the Greeks considered them women's wear and thus, well, TERRIFYING! There are many more fascinating tidbits like this in Mayor's book and the books on this list.

Rereading is a great pleasure for me. There's way too much new stuff for me to keep on top of it all, and sometimes you just want something you know. (Dunno how many times I've gone through the Harry Potter books.) What I'm mainly curious about are: what do YOU reread? What books bring you back every once in a while? Some people have a thing they read annually. Do you? Please comment with your favorites!

Lord of the Rings book jacket
Right now I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings, and I realize that I hadn't read this since the Peter Jackson movies came out, or since I began spending a fair piece of my free time playing Lord of the Rings Online. For whatever reason, this time I'm devouring Professor Tolkien's work like a modern page-turner. Maybe it has something to do with visual cues from the movies, or the fact that I've visited Rivendell, Hobbiton and Helm's Deep in-game? In any case I am enjoying a very welcome return to a beloved place. Nothing beats it for deep sense of place.
 
Every year I read a Dickens book, and some years it's my favorite (Great Expectations). Why return to the adventures of Mr. Pip and Mr. Pocket, Estella, Miss Havisham & co.? I love the characters, the setting, the contrasts between the classes, and of course the language. 
 
My tastes run to fantasy, sci-fi, military historical fiction & classics, so I also like to revisit things that are some of each. A Princess of Mars was a recent re-read. Edgar Rice Burroughs Civil War soldier John Carter ascends to Mars and finds it inhabited by big green people, medium-sized red ones, ten-legged lizard-dogs called calots and a huge variety of other fauna. Typical, wonderful early sci-fi (but little for the title character to do other than be rescued, sadly). 
 
And of course, there is a ton of good kid-to-teen fiction out there that has stood the test of time more or less well. Regardless of the old science involved (see
The Book of Three book jacket
previous paragraph), I still love Rusty's Space Ship  by Oregon writer Evelyn Sibley Lampman. I stared at the drawings of all the creatures blowing around on Venus for what seemed like hours, and plotted out how and where to build my own spacecraft. And don't forget the wonderful Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander starting with The Book of Three where Taran, orphan and Assistant Pig-Keeper, wants to be a warrior. Based on the legends of Wales, this one has magic, swords, some chaste romance, and a giant cat!
 
But back to you: what do YOU read over and over? Let us know!

 

It is the 41st millenium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies ... Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the dark, grim future there is only war.

Ross and Rod
Thus begins every Warhammer 40,000 novel. In an infinitely vast universe in which anything imaginable--as well as anything not imaginable--exists, the deathless emperor of humanity watches over his domain. There are over 350 books set in the Warhammer 40K universe so it only seems appropriate that it be included in that most remarkable of all books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not wanting to actually endure the violence inherent in the Warhammer universe, intrepid Hitchhiker’s Guide contributor Ford Prefect has come to Multnomah County Library to find out what it’s all about and why you need plenty of dark towels when you visit. He interviewed Rod and Ross, reference staff at Multnomah County Library who have been exploring the Warhammer 40K universe--through books, of course. There are a couple reasons why they chose books: 1) neither has access to a starship and 2) both are quiet, gentle souls who would last approximately 8.6 seconds in your typical Warhammer 40K setting before suffering some grisly end.

Ford: What is Warhammer 40,0000?
Rod: Well, it’s a universe 40,000 (40K) years in the future where humanity has spread throughout the galaxy. The peak of human technological development

Nightbringer book jacket
occurred centuries before, so most aspects of life are treated like a religion because there is no longer any real understanding of how things work.
Ross: This futuristic version of our universe was first depicted in a tabletop wargame created by the British company Games Workshop, but novels and short stories by various authors have been steadily produced over the last 30 years, such that there is now an enormous body of literature all taking place in this same grim, dark future.

Ford: How did you discover this future reality?
Ross: I first discovered Warhammer 40K as a kid through the board game Space Hulk. The game was okay, but mostly I was just fascinated by the enormous scale and dystopia of the setting and the cool looking Space Marines in their power armor. When I got older and discovered all the books set in this world, I was a little intimidated and unsure where to start reading.
Rod: Yes, “intimidated” would describe my own thoughts when faced with the overwhelming number of Warhammer 40K books. After talking with Ross and doing a little research, he and I decided to dive in and create our own list of places to start reading in Warhammer 40K.

Ford: As any traveller of the galaxy knows, a towel is the one necessity that cannot be done without. Its uses are mind-boggling in variety. As you can see, I have this lovely towel from Marks & Spencer, but you two seem to have A LOT of towels in dark, rather drab colors. Why?
Ross: Like the intro to each Warhammer book says, “there is only war” in the year 40,000. If there’s one thing that Warhammer 40K books have in common, it’s carnage. Lots of battles, lots of cool weapons (power armor! chainswords! storm bolters!), and lots of blood. Hence, dark towels.
Rod: When starting your journey into the Warhammer 40K universe, you really need to know what you are getting into. Be prepared for gaping combat wounds, ritual sacrifices, demonic transformations--all manner of violence. Not only will you need a towel for your own injuries, but chances are you’ll be staunching wounds for everyone around you, too,

Ford: Personally, I’d much rather visit Ursa Minor Beta (you remember the ad campaign, “when you are tired of Ursa Minor Beta, you are tired of life”). This Warhammer universe sounds utterly dreadful. What could you possibly find appealing about such a dark, violent place?
Ross: Hmm... there’s something cathartic and freeing about visiting a world (through books, that is) which is so bleak and brutal. And there’s more to these novels than just unceasing violence: I get a strong sense of absurd, very black humor when I read them. They are violent, funny, and so completely over-the-top that you never know what will happen next. 
Rod: I didn’t sense much humor in the books I read, but you definitely can’t take them too seriously. These are novels built around action. While individual books don’t always bother much with such niceties as plot and character, the overall universe is remarkably deep. One of the nice things about such a large catalog of books is that there are many different series within the larger universe and many different authors, so if you aren’t a big fan of one, then another might be just the thing for you.

Ford: Well, thank you gentlemen for your insights into the Warhammer 40K universe. I think I already have my entry written. What do you think of “Mostly harmful”?

 

Pacific book jacket
What do Gidget, transistor radios and the Sydney Opera House have in common? They are all featured in Simon Winchester’s new book Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is finally coming into its own. Long overshadowed by the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean is increasingly the stage where the important events are happening. The Pacific is so much more than tropical islands. Pacific looks at ten themes that define and explain the changing role of the Pacific Ocean since January 1, 1950.

Why January 1, 1950 you ask? Well, that is the reference date used for radiocarbon dating.  Amounts of carbon 14 in the environment were very stable until all of the atomic bomb tests that mostly took place in the Pacific Ocean after WWII. Then they jumped way up. It also makes a great starting point for Pacific since the atomic bomb tests are the first theme. Sony, surfing, North Korea, Hong Kong and the end of European colonialism, super cyclones, Australia, the ring of fire, global warming, and the growing influence of China are the others.

Living in Portland, the Pacific is our ocean. Our economy, weather and recreation are all affected by it and dependent on it. This very enjoyable book will add to your understanding and knowledge of the Pacific Ocean.

There are some psychological suspense books that are even better to listen to. 

The Anglo Files book jacket
When I first met the Scottish Lad, practically the first thing out of my mouth was some version of a question that many Brits find terribly intrusive: What do you do for a living? People wonder why the British talk constantly about the weather.  Here’s a hint:  Every other topic of conversation is considered rude at best or taboo at worst! I didn’t know my question was intrusive because I hadn’t read a bunch of books on British etiquette and culture.  Again, I thought I had no need of them.  Again, I was wrong. Here are some titles I have since read.  You, too, can educate yourself so you don’t make the mistakes I did!

Many Americans apparently want to (and do) marry British people.  At least two of them have written revealing books about living in the land of their mates. The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall and Erin Moore’s That’s Not English cover some similar territory, but the latter book explores English and American cultural

A Writer's House in Wales book jacket
differences with a focus on language.  Moore titles each chapter with a word and then delves into what it means for each country. You’ll get the scoop, for example, on why the English seem to dislike “gingers” while Americans generally find redheads attractive (although an American friend of mine who has beautiful red hair was teased mercilessly in school because of the color of her locks). Other chapters include Knackered, Whinge, Bloody and Dude.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Scots and Welsh are the same as the English! To get an understanding of Scottish life and culture, as well as practical tips on living in or visiting Scotland, read Culture Shock! Scotland.  For a glimpse into Welsh life, try A Writer's House in Wales by Jan Morris.

For even more books to help you navigate the British cultural waters, try these.

My father is in the last years of his life. Once a strapping man well over six feet tall he becomes  smaller and more frail with each passing day. His physical world has shrunk as well and his days are passed in the small, walkable space between “his” chair, the kitchen table and his bathroom and bedroom. The things that are important to him now are few:  watching a good ball game (any seasonal sport will do), his next meal (the man has an appetite!) and a good book to read. Despite his deteriorating condition he has always placed a big importance on reading and having books around. He has always been surrounded by books:  some he inherited, many he was given as gifts and several I have absolutely no idea where they came from (a Japanese phrase book, Milton Berle’s favorite joke book, Tiling 101 to name a few. )

One of my jobs as his caretaker is to make sure he has something good to read.  He loves mysteries (I once caught him starting a new one from the last page!)  He loves Stuart Woods and Alex Berenson. He loves stories about World War II, tales of espionage and anything to do with the U.S. Navy. There is always a book next to his chair and more than one on his nightstand.   

I know reading will always be a part of his day.  And I look forward to keeping him well-stocked with good stories.  They are always his best medicine.

Here are a couple of my dad’s go-to authors:

Night Passage book jacket
Robert B. Parker, the Jesse Stone Series
Parker’s original series of nine novels tells the story of Jesse Stone, a troubled detective desperate to rebuild his career when he takes the job of Police Chief in Paradise, Massachusetts.  Along the way Stone battles the mob, white supremacists, a corrupt town council and the occasional homicide while struggling to come to terms wit
The Kill Artist book jacket
h himself.  All nine novels have been made into films for television starring Tom Selleck as the new Chief. The first in the series is Night Passage which the library owns as a downloadable ebook.

Daniel Silva, the Gabriel Allon series:
Part spy and part artist, Gabriel Allon works for “the office,” the name employees have given to the Israeli Intelligence Service.  While attending art school Gabriel was offered a post with the elite special forces unit, tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.  At the conclusion of the job Gabriel decides to stay on, maintaining an official cover as an art restorer. The Kill Artist is the first in the series.

Pages

Subscribe to