I've heard the critics who say adults should read adult books. Like Madeline, I say, "pooh-pooh".  If you don't have a child in your life, you're missing out. Picture books have the ability to charm and surprise, not to mention the fact that they come with art, really glorious art, in a dizzying array of styles. That's why I want to suggest you find a kid to share my new favorite with, Hermelin the Detective Mouse.

All kinds of things are going on with the residents of Offley Street, but luckily, none of them are escaping the sharp eye of Heremelin, a mouse with a Sherlockian bent. When Hermelin comes -- anonymousely -- to the rescue, the grateful residents wonder, 'who is this mysterious detective?'

It's a fun romp, and both adults and kids will enjoy examining the detailed pictures to try to solve the mystery themselves. So go ahead, read a picture book. You can always say you're getting it for a young friend.

"I've been studying Brando's scene in The Gnuppet Movie [...] We're players in a Gnuppet realm, reading from the same script. We're All Gnuppets. Brando was saying: abolish this boundary, tear down the wall or the curtain, and look at the Gnuppeteers." — Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City
The Intuitionist book jacket
“What does the perfect elevator look like, the one that will deliver us from the cities we suffer now, these stunted shacks? We don't know because we can't see inside it, it's something we cannot imagine, like the shape of angels' teeth. It's a black box.” — Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist
“He walked with equipoise, possibly in either city. Schrödinger’s pedestrian.”  — China Miéville, The City & the City
Call them alternate history, slipstream fiction, or elastic fiction, these novels and others like them take the world that we live in and shake up its parts, magnifying some, shrinking others, changing shapes and colors. They do not fit comfortably into the genres of science fiction or fantasy, but lift the blocks of the concrete world like Styrofoam, commenting on the real by lacing it with veins of the marvelous.
Ready to stretch? Try the books on the list Thoughtful alternates, slips and streams.

Driftwood fortAs a teenager growing up in Newport, Oregon, I couldn’t wait to hightail it out of town, but in more recent years, my nostalgia for the coast and all its beautiful quirks has led me back to books that feel like home.

I first recognized home in literature with my all time favorite novel Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, but I owe much of my renewed appreciation for my Oregon Coast upbringing to local author Matt Love.

I’m a big fan of Love’s unfiltered writing style and his keen observations on Oregon Coast life.  I appreciate the way he celebrates rain, astutely describes people as OTA (Oregon Tavern Age, meaning anywhere from forty to seventy years old), and that he’s not afraid to quote both Rod Stewart and Walt Whitman in a single paragraph.

Super Sundays in Newport, Love's collection of essays about his first year teaching English at Newport High School and his exploration of the local taverns, perfectly captures my home town with its mix of natural beauty, offbeat charm, uneven characters and plentiful watering holes.

Matt Love is a vocal champion of public beaches as a great birthright of Oregonians, so it comes as no surprise that he writes the introduction to Driftwood Forts of the Oregon Coast by James Herman. Part guidebook to an age-old Oregon beach tradition, part exuberant call to participate in the gratifying work of driftwood fort building, Herman’s book is a rare gem that you ought to check out before your next trip to the beach. Whether you end up building a classic a-frame, a rotunda or repurpose an existing structure, how you use your fort is up to you. As the book points out “One man’s tuna sandwich-eatin’ shack is another’s love shack.”

You can find more Oregon Coast related reads on my list here.

One hundred years ago, on August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany – the culmination of six weeks of European sabre-rattling that followed the assassination of an Austrian Archduke and his wife by a Bosnian revolutionary. Did I know this in January 1976 when the fourth season of Upstairs, Downstairs began running on Masterpiece Theatre? Likely not, but I was gripped from the outset with this beloved series’ depiction of the Great War and its Lord Peter Wimsey dvd coverimpact on the residents of 165 Eaton Place. I became hooked on World War I. A few years earlier, I’d watched Lord Peter Wimsey suffer from an episode of shellshock, but I didn’t really know what that meant until Eaton Place footman Edward Barnes returned from France and collapsed from the strain.

Right after Upstairs, Downstairs piqued my interest, The Duchess of Duke Street explored the War and a few years after that, To Serve Them All My Days told the story of a young shellshocked Welshman attempting to come to grips with his war service. Around this time, I also watched another British television series – still on PBS, but not on Masterpiece Theatre – Flambards, which obliquely touched on the War. At this point, I felt I knew enough about England’s and the English people’s sufferings to fill in the blanks.

My Boy Jack dvd coverAfter this, Masterpiece Theatre took a long break from the War to End All Wars, showing a bunch of equally interesting programs about World War II. (Since this year also brings a “significant” anniversary of this war – Britain declared war on Germany 75 years ago on September 3, 1939 – I could go on in this post, but instead, I added some suggestions to this list of DVDs.) Returning to World War I, Masterpiece Theatre presented three more programs in this century: My Boy Jack, Rudyard Kipling’s poignant memoir of the loss of his son (played by Daniel Radcliffe), and Birdsong, based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks. And don’t forget Season 2 of Parade's End dvd coverMasterpiece’s current uber- popular drama, Downton Abbey, where Matthew survives, Daisy marries a dying man, and Thomas Barrow takes the coward’s way out! Most recently, the BBC (via HBO) presented an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s World War I doorstopper, Parade’s End (starring Benedict Cumberbatch). If you enjoy history and costume drama, all of these are worth watching.

All Quiet on the Western Front dvd coverQuite obviously missing here is the German side of the Great War, which has not been depicted via Masterpiece, but you can still watch and be moved by the 1930 film made from Erich Maria Remarque’s masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front.

Finally, many of Masterpiece Theatre’s programs are based on books, on “masterpieces” of literature, so if watching isn’t for you, MCL owns all of the source works mentioned here (with the exception of the venerable Upstairs, Downstairs and its close cousin, Downton Abbey, which were never books).

Adult Nonfiction

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

by Hampton Sides

From the author of "Hellhound on his Trail", Sides writes " a  masterful re-telling of a harrowing 1879 expedition to the North Pole."

Adult Fiction

Lisette's List

by Susan Vreeland

Set in Provence between 1937 and 1948, it is a story that blends art with human experience. From the author of The Girl in Blue Hyacinth.








A Proud Advocate for the LibraryVolunteer Jack Tan

by Mindy Moreland

When most of us hear the word “library,” we picture tall shelves of well-ordered volumes, or maybe a quiet place to sit and read. But as Jack Tan has learned over the past four years, books are only the beginning of what the library has to offer. Jack grew up in Taishan, in China’s Guangdong Province, and moved to Portland four years ago. When he arrived,he spoke little English, so his uncle suggested a trip to the Rockwood Library, near his family’s home. Jack started taking English classes at Rockwood and using the library. “That’s how I fell in love with the library,” he says. “And I use the library so much, why not give back?” 

Jack became a Summer Reading volunteer at Rockwood, helping young readers to select books, choose prizes, and complete their game boards. He especially enjoyed seeing young children learning to read, and the encouragement and support their parents provided. “Jack utilized his every minute here. He never sat still; he always looked for something to help out with,” writes Reid Craig, the volunteer coordinator at Rockwood. “As such, we thought he would make an excellent Computer and Homework Helper. This is a pilot program in the Rockwood Library where we match trained volunteers with children that need help with their reading and homework.” When Summer Reading ended, Jack transitioned into this new volunteer opportunity. “It has been thrilling to see Jack at work helping so many youth,” Reid continues. “There are folks in the community that come to the library especially to get help from Jack.” 

After his first year studying accounting at George Fox University, Jack has taken on a new role and a chance to understand more of how the library system as a whole operates. In the summer of 2014, he is a Communications Intern as part of the Multnomah County Office of Diversity and Equity’s summer mentorship program, working on several different research and media projects. This position fits Jack well, since he is a proud advocate for the library’s array of resources and opportunities. “The most fascinating thing about libraries is the social services they provide,” Jack says. “They make people feel thankful, and make them feel a sense of home.” As Jack would tell you—and as his own experience proves—libraries are indeed about much more than books. 

A Few Facts About Jack 


Your home library is: Rockwood Library

What are you reading now? I don't reading any book now, but the last book I read was call The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

What book has most influenced you? The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino 

When you were a child, what was your favorite book? My Childhood by Maxim Gorky
What is your favorite section of the library to browse in? Adult non-fiction
Which do you prefer--e-reader or paper book? Paper book

What is your reading guilty pleasure? All of the pleasure, and none of them is guilt. Because I believe books are magic portal to another dimension, out there you will left everything behind you, and just enjoy that moment while you have it.

Where is your favorite place to read? In my bed. Right before I go to sleep.

Cop Town cover"The good-ol-boy system was great so long as you were one of the boys." Karin Slaughter's Cop Town, my latest read, not only held my attention with its action-packed suspense, but also made me think about what it means to be a woman in today's society. 

If you've been following me since the inception of the My Librarian program, then you know that I love to read thrillers, mysteries, and police procedurals, the darker the better. Karin Slaughter has always been one of my go-to authors. Her Will Trent series is one of my favorites, and Beyond​ Reach, from her Grant County series, featuring doctor Sara Linton, contains one of the best, didn't-see-it-coming twists of an ending that I have ever read. Slaughter's latest has all of the elements of her previous books, a killer, a setting in deep south Georgia, quite a bit of violence (not for the faint of heart!), but it also speaks to the strides that women have made in the last 40 years in America.

Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy are police officers in the almost all white, male-dominated Atlanta police force of 1974. They encounter resistance at every turn, from lewd remarks, to groping, to physical beatings in Maggie's case, all from their male colleagues (who are often drinking on the job). What makes their struggle even more poignant for me are their journeys outside of work, most notably Maggie's. She struggles to break free from her cop-infested, somewhat abusive family, but, as a woman in the south in 1974, she is unable to open a bank account, secure a car loan, or rent an apartment without her 'nearest living male's information'. When that nearest living male is her reviled uncle, and fellow officer, Maggie is seemingly out of luck.

In Cop Town, the struggle for women's rights is just as strong of a plot point as the search for the killer. Yes, this is a work of fiction, so some of the details may be exaggerated, but I can easily believe that life was like this for women in the south in 1974. Make no mistake - many of the characters in this book are appalling in their prejudice, even the females. But I highly recommend this book to you. It will not only take you on a suspenseful ride, but may just leave you appreciating what you have.


Extraordinary Volunteer and ScholarVolunteer Julia Yu

by Donna Childs


Each year,  1000 high school seniors across the country receive prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarships.  This year, out of 21 recipients from Oregon, nine are from Portland, and two 

are volunteers at a Multnomah County Library.  One of those, Julia Yu, is a recent Franklin High School graduate who will attend Emory University in Atlanta in the fall.  (The other volunteer, Enat Arega, is the sister of library volunteer Melaku Arega, who was featured in a previous Volunteer Spotlight in August 2013.)

Julia is a charming, hard-working, talented young woman who has volunteered at the Holgate Library since 7th grade, for a total of almost 500 hours.  She started because she loved reading and because the library was a refuge after school while her parents worked.  Over the years, she has helped with Summer Reading, worked as a branch assistant, and served on the Teen Council, spending as many as four days a week at Holgate Library in the summer.

Not only is she a top student and library volunteer, but Julia was very active in her school’s Key Club, Red Cross chapter, and National Honor Society.  A natural leader, Julia was Key Club Secretary, Preparedness Coordinator at the Red Cross, and Vice President of the National Honor Society.  She initiated several events to improve the Honor Society, increasing membership from 70 to over 180 students.

There isn’t space in this brief profile to list everything this impressive young woman has accomplished already.  She wrote eight essays for her Gates application, before school began in September. She worked for six months as an intern at OHSU, all day every Saturday, which included lectures and lab research on proteins. She plans to major in biology at Emory and pursue a career in medicine. She works in the summers with the Gear-Up college preparatory program and has been president of the math club at Franklin.  Keep an eye on this young woman - she will go far!

A Few Facts About Julia


Your home library is: Holgate Library
What are you reading now?  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

What book has most influenced you? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

What is your favorite book from childhood? the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
A book that made you laugh or cry: Thirst by Christopher Pike
What is your favorite section of the library to browse in? Science fiction and teen romance
Which do you prefer--e-reader or paper book? Paper book

What is your reading guilty pleasure? Supernatural reads such as The Vampire Diaries (L.J. Smith), Thirst (Christopher Pike), and The Walking Dead (Robert Kirkman)

Where is your favorite place to read? In my room on my comfy bed.

Listening to the radio, we hear music that is new, along with favorites, that may also be new from interpretations or performances that we haven't heard before. Though a common complaint of many is that email is too much, if you like to find out about music and musicians that might be new to you, Alexander Street Press has a signup for free music downloads every two weeks that arrive in your inbox. A short text about the composer and piece of music comes with the recording,

Alexander Street Press offers downloads from two collections that do not require logging in with your library card from Multnomah County Library : Classical Music Library and Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries.

Sampler: Here is a Classical Music selection from past weeks of music: 
Link to these two collections for the current week's downloads. Classical Music Library and Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries.

Erik SatieSampler: Erik Satie's Trois Sarabandes

Eccentric. Iconoclastic. Hostile. Incompetent. Enigmatic. Pioneer.

French composer Erik Satie (1866–1925) has been called many things, but his musical legacy establishes best that he was, in essence, a visionary. Satie composed in a musical environment dominated by the heavily orchestrated, longwinded Germanic tradition—home to Wagner, Brahms, and Bruckner. In stark contrast, Satie’s music is clean, simple, and brief. Unlike the thematic transformations found in Wagner’s operas, Satie does not develop his motives, choosing rather to juxtapose shorter repeating phrases. 

The sarabande originated as a movement in the Baroque dance suite. Centuries later, Satie’sThree Sarabandes for piano still bear a resemblance to the original sarabande. All three movements are in triple meter (though Satie’s irregular phrasing often obscures this), conform to an AABB form, and strive to emphasize the second beat of the measure, sometimes referred to as a “sarabande rhythm." Otherwise, these three short pieces are distinctly Satie.

The late 19th century was the beginning of a harmonic revolution and Satie surely enlisted. While Satie’s music was regarded as radical among more conservative musicians, he was really forecasting the new movements in 20th century music—minimalism, total chromaticism, and serialism, to name a few. While his teachers and peers strove to force him into following the rules and conventions of “proper” composition, Satie remained true to himself and ushered in the new wave of music. This recording is performed by France Clidat.

Sampler: Pakistan: The Music of the Qawal

The Sabri Brothers - Nât Sharîf. Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in the northern regions of present-day Pakistan and India. Although it is thought to have originated in Persia, present-day Iran, and Afghanistan, the form of qawwali performed in this 1977 recording probably dates from the Mughal Empire (approximately 1526–1857) in the Indian subcontinent. Qawwali music became popular in the 20th century through the recordings of Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Other 20th-century performers include Aziz Mian and the Sabri Brothers.

To explore more of Music Online Alexander Street Press, login from home to the Multnomah County Library website with your MCL library card. 

Check out this haiku-limerick mash-up from our friend Eric!

Beautiful Darkness book jacket

Beautiful Darkness

Now homeless and up to no good,
can the Wee Folk survive in the wood?
It's all rather ghastly.
You'll read it quite fastly. 
And they feast on such terrible food! 
In drawings, the Wee Folk are gorgeous, 
their schemes as deadly as Borgias', 
There are creepies and cuties, 
and eye-gouging beauties! 
Fair warning: Beware of torches! 
The woods in Autumn - 
sprites sport as their home decays, 
all fun 'til eyes poked.


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