Blogs:

Throughout the Library, you will find books that in some way pertain to style and form, for such unrelated topics as cooking, watercolor painting, writing, or building a fence. For architecture, often people come in to research a particular style, such as Craftsman style, to help them decide about colors, etc. for historic rennovation. From working at the Reference Desk in the Art and Music Room, I became aware of another type of book, more general and encyclopedic, about architectural style and form.  Fascinating to look at, these books are primarily image-based, with drawings, photographs, and deAmerican Homesscriptions of the design of houses over spans of centuries, a single page for each style. The abstraction of these books, with their comparisons of architectural details, brings together variations in design that can be hard to find otherwise.

At the Reference Desk, these books come into use when someone comes in wanting a particular term for part of a building. Sometimes, when you are looking for something specific, one page is just about perfect.

Please let us know if we can help find architecture information for you: contact the Library.

I'll try pretty much any science fiction or fantasy book that falls into my hands... at least for the first 50 pages. That's the window an author has to hook me. Superheroes aren't quite my thing. I'll go to the summer blockbusters, sometimes, if the reviews are good. I didn't read that many comic books growing up so I probably missed the golden window to really learn to love superhero stories. So when I was lent a copy of Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin, a Portland comic book writer, I wasn't sure it was going to pass my 50 page test. The news is that it passed with such flying colors that I immediately set aside the other books I was reading in favor of this one.

Partially set in a fictional Oregon town, the crux of the story boils down to what happens when a super villain says "Prepare to die!" and the hero asks "How long?"

Steve Clarke, aka Reaver, was a small-town boy when an accident caused him to become super-powered. The book is funny and frequently tragic: consider the post-traumatic-stress resulting from being a very young superhero who is trying to defeat super-villains who slaughter passers-by just for fun. Often crude, the tone fits the character and story perfectly.

I really hope this Portland comic book writer has another novel or three in him because I'm really eager to read him again. I'm glad I wasn't too picky to try it because, out of the last 100 or so novels I've read, I'd put this very character-driven novel in the top 5.

While my reading taste is pretty eclectic, until recently I hadn't read very much historical fiction.  Perhaps it is thanks to those engaging YA historical novels I've listened to in the past few years that I'm dipping into this genre a little more.

It also helps if I find an author I like who bounces around genres.  A couple of years ago my book group read The Sparrow.  At the time, I said it was hard to believe this was Mary Doria Russell's first novel, and that the book was like Ursula LeGuin, only deeper.  I know, hard to believe, deeper than Ursula?  In this SF masterpiece, Jesuits make First Contact, because, well, Catholics go on missions.  And you know how missionaries can get into trouble due to deep cultural misunderstandings?  The sole survivor who returns to Earth must reveal his story that includes a brothel and a dead child, as well as recover from unimaginable trauma.

Since I loved this author's style, I'll happily read her other books. In Doc, Russell daringly covers a subject that has entered our cultural consciousness through many movies: Dr. John Henry Holliday, dentist.  IMDB tells me there are 43 instances of the character Doc Holliday in movies and television since 1937. Along with Doc Holliday, in this book we get close to the Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, and James, during their short time in Dodge City, before the famous OK Corral incident.

Despite all those occasions to encounter Doc as a character, I was surprised to learn there was a lot I did not know. John Holliday was born with a cleft palate, treated with surgery. He was a southern gentleman, and a search for relief from consumption drove him west. The tale is told as if from the view of a compassionate historian. The man was an alcoholic, but it was alcohol rather than laudanum that helped him relieve his consumptive cough without losing his sharp mental faculties he needed as a gambler. Faro was his game, not poker, usually.  We're given the myth that was spread in the papers, like say how Doc shot and killed a man, and the often innocuous story (in which no one was shot) that spawned the myth. The author clearly is fond of Doc, and now I too have a soft spot for the man.

Walking through the streets of Portland, it's interesting look at the variety of age and style of adjacent buildings. In many areas of the city architectural style from past to present shows the range of Portland's history for more than a century. If you are intrigued by the character of neighborhoods, and have changed over time, you might enjoy the Library's books about Portland architectural history and online resources that you can use from home.

Here are some starting points for both informal reading and research

Historic Resource Inventory:
Central Library 3rd Floor Humanities North Room Reference (Literature and History): The Historic Resource Inventory shows residential and commercial properties organized by neighborhood, with pictures, information, and bibliographies. Ask the reference staff at the Humanities North desk for assistance.

Sanborn Maps:
View Portland neighborhoods in diagrams from 1880 up to 1950; print out or save closeup images. Sanborn maps show the outlines of properties, with additional detail on a limited basis for residences, but with more detail for commercial buildings. The 1905 Sanborn maps are entirely of the Lewis and Clark Exposition, with considerable detail about the buildings and grounds.

Local Organizations

Architectural Heritage Center:
A local nonprofit architectural preservation organization with many resources for architecture and local history. Take a look at their online map "mashup" project called TagWhat. View information and historical images for buildings in Portland, some with links to structures that existed in prior years but that were demolished to make way for new buildings.

Oregon Historical Society Library:
The Research Library houses more than 32,000 books, 25,000 maps, 12,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 4,000 serials titles, 6,000 vertical files, 18,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, 10,000 oral history tapes, and more than 2.5 million photographs.

Portland City Archives:
The City of Portland's archival records provide important historical evidence of the development of city government since 1851. Significant research subjects documented by the collection include, but are not limited to, urban planning, parks, land use, public works, economic development, public safety and social issues. The collection includes reports and studies, correspondence and memoranda from city agencies, and elected officials, maps and plans, and nearly 750,000 photographic images of City projects and personnel.

For the purpose of the gorgeous and astounding book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine by Piotr Maskrecki, the author defines a relic in this way: 

Relic: a creature or habitat that, while acted upon by evolution, remains remarkably similar to its earliest manifestations in the fossil record.

Do we have relics here in the U.S. of A.? Bunches. Among them, the Atlantic horseshoe crab.  It lives on the eastern North American Coast and has been doing a mass spawning every Spring, like clockwork, for 440 million years.

Relics not found in the U.S. : Emerald and black mottled treerunnner: Its cache of eggs is normally stashed in elevated piles of leaves in the geographical area of Africa called the Guiana Shield. If the nest is disturbed by a predator near the end of the eggs' development, all the eggs will hatch at once, within seconds of each other, the infant lizards scattering in all directions.

The Atewa dinospider from West Africa is from an ancient group of arachnids that go back all the way to the Carboniferous period. When was that? Three-hundred million years ago. What's a dinospider look like? Think brown pipe cleaners--those fuzzy things you used in third grade art class.

And New Guinea....my goodness. You're amazing. A giant, newly discovered and as yet unnamed gliding frog (think flying squirrel) and an equally astonishing and also as yet unnamed tiny frog of the species Choerophryne, smaller than a human fingernail.

I'd go further into the spider arena but I know it's gonna freak out some of you. But I can't leave without mentioning the Goliath tarantula that weighs in over 150 grams--about a third of a pound--that the author of this book thought at first was a small mammal when he saw it scurrying across the forest floor. I'm not an arachnophobe but the picture of this bad boy was all it took for me to close the book.

Are you thinking about learning to play the piano, or returning to the piano after a long absence? If so, the library can help, with its collection of music books especially for beginners. Music scores these days often come with CDs and DVDs, that help make learning easier by providing examples and a duet part to play along with. Not a subsitute for a teacher, but a good starting point for both children and adults.

Booklist:
Learning to Play the Piano

Are you a kid who wants to learn to make your own books?  Are you a grown-up who wants to make books with your kid friend?  Making books isn’t as intimidating as it looks, especially if you’ve got a great how-to book to help you get started!  Here are my favorites:

In Print! by Joe Rhatigan has instructions for 40 different publishing projects for kids -- everything from a make-it-yourself audioboook to instructions for starting a writers’ group or workshop to getting your work published in a magazine.  This book has it all!

Pop-ups and moveable books that fold out or turn into a sculpture when you open them sometimes look complicated, but actually they can be really great projects for a beginner!  Gwen Diehn shows you the basics in Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, and Turn.  That’s a long title, but you really know what the book is about now, right?

If you want to go totally D.I.Y. and make a zine -- that’s a book or pamphlet you make and distribute all yourself -- you definitely want to check out Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine?, by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson.  It covers everything: zine history, tools and methods for making your own zine, why you might want to write a zine, photocopier tricks, promoting your zine, and more.

Are you more of an artistic than a literary bent?  Perhaps comics are your thing?  If so, the book for you is definitely Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.  It’s an everything guide for comics creators, covering basics like layout and lettering and extra credit topics like how to reproduce your comic so you can distribute lots of copies.

Questions? Let us know if we can help you find the how-to book (or any other book) that's just right for you.

 

A former boyfriend of mine was a great cook, and I was only allowed in the kitchen when it was time to do the dishes. This worked well for me, as I like to eat tasty food without putting in a lot of effort, and I don't mind plunging my hands in warm, sudsy water. I was finally eating some meals that had more than five ingredients! So after we broke up, I went back to my standard  fare of spinach salads and heat and eat entrees. To say I had no interest in spending hours cooking something that would take only minutes to consume would be a vast understatement. I had better things to do with my life.

Giulia Melucci's dating experience, chronicled in I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti was the exact opposite of mine: she loves to cook and prepared some pretty yummy dishes for the parade of boyfriends that began when she was in her early twenties. Yummy things (recipes are included) like "Risotto with Intricately Layered Hearts", "Pear Cake for Friends with Benefits", "Salmon with Lemon-Tarragon Butter", "Morning After Pumpkin Bread" and the one that I'm going to try out on my boyfriend:  "Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant".

Because, you see, I'm now with someone who actually enjoys it when I prepare meals (he helps, too, and also recently fixed the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten), and I've discovered how much fun it is to cook for someone besides myself. Guilia got that from the beginning and, with the exception of one guy who was lukewarm on the whole food thing, her boyfriends all seemed happy with her culinary skills. Never happy enough, alas, to give her the one thing she craved: a marriage proposal. We meet Ethan who, after three years, was given an ultimatum and declined to offer a lifetime together; Mitch Smith who, not very many years after they broke up ("I didn't want a girlfriend or whatever."); ended up marrying someone else, and Lachlan, a Scotsman who was passionate…about food. As we leave Giulia, she's still unwed but doesn't seem too downhearted. Optimism, like cooking, seems to come easy to her.

With the availability of the Oregonian in searchable pdf format from 1861-1987, Multnomah County Library cardholders can piece together the unpublished history of music events and musicians in our city.  Search for reviews of concerts, names of musicians, bands, composers, or whatever is of interest to you, and save articles by sending them to your email address, print articles, or download.

As an entirely random example, here is what Portlanders thought of Aaron Copland's performance of his 1926 Piano Concerto (referred to as the Jazz Concerto) in the Sunday Oregonian review in August, 1930:  "There was applause enough to cover up the hissing which came from the stands."

Articles from the Oregonian cover the entire span of years from 1860 through articles published yesterday, available from home, school, or office with your Multnomah County Library card and pin number:

1860-1987 Oregon Historical Archive
1987-present Oregonian

Please call us if you would like any assistance in using the Oregonian:

Central Library Information Services
503.988.5234

The library has a large collection of books about sewing.  Jen Winn, sewing enthusiast and on-call staff person most often at Hollywood, has enhanced the book collection with this list of some of her best sewing picks from the Web. 

Colette Patterns is the work of local sewing and design mastermind Sarai Mitnick.  The Coletterie is the blog arm of Colette Patterns and it's a wonderful resource for garment construction and fabric choice. The patterns are vintage-inspired while still feeling wearable, modern and fresh.  The blog features wonderful photography and so many tips for giving new clothes that vintage touch.  (Subscribe for free to Snippets, their email tip of the week.  Good ideas galore!)  In addition, there's a vibrant forum where a person can find the answer to (or commiseration about) almost any sewing or fitting concern.  PLUS, she's written a fantastic book that we have in the our collection.
 
Oh, Fransson! is the blog of Elizabeth Hartman, local stitcher and quilt wizard.  She's a modern-style quilter, teacher, and author who writes simple, easy to follow instructions.  Her site has basic quilting tutorials and she also does a lot of quilt-alongs on her blog.  She's written two popular quilting books, both of which are available at the library.
 
Portland Modern Quilt Guild has a lot of good information and opportunities to meet other quilters of all skill levels on their blog, even if you're not a member.   What is a modern quilt anyway?  Check out this site to see!

If you're looking for information or inspiration from vintage pattern envelopes, Vintage Pattern Wiki is the place to go.  If you've ever bought a grab bag of patterns at an estate slae or thrift store, you know what I'm talking about.  It's not always easy to find details on old patterns, but the Vintage Pattern Wiki is a great place to start.

True Up:  All Fabric All the Time is a blog by Kim Kight, who keeps readers updated with new fabric lines as they come out, notifies about online fabric sales and is a bit of a printed fabric historian as well.  She too is an author and we have her book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design, which has beautiful pictures and salient information if you've ever thought about designing and printing your own fabric.
 
Wise Craft is the blog of Blair Stocker from Seattle.   She's just completed a series on granny squares, but there's always something new around the bend.  Lots of ideas for re-use (she has designed holiday craft projects for Value Village, among other things), but she also talks about home decorating, quilting, knitting, painting, collage and so on.  She recently announced that she's working on a book, but it's not out yet. I can't wait to read it!
 
Crochet Empire is a fairly new local site by Erich Treeby. Crochet designs cover everything from amigurumi to fancy doily rugs and beyond. He's got tutorials, yarn reviews, pattern reviews, and is good at answering questions. 
 
A Dress a Day is a whole lot of fun!   Erin McKean sews mostly vintage or vintage style and is very upfront with the triumphs and trials of matching plaids or getting your zipper in straight. She's also the founder of wordnik and the author of The Secret Lives of Dresses, (fiction with a little romance, some sadness, familial love, a victory and a lot of vintage dresses).

Contributed by Jen Winn from Hollywood Branch Library.

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