If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.
For a lot of people, the pleasure of reading is enhanced when they can discuss books with friends or family. But children, teens and adults can't always read the same books. If you'd like to amp up the conversation at your dinner table, explore some of these titles grouped by themes and subject.
To begin, if your family enjoys stories about real people, here's one that is available in formats for beginning readers to adults. William Kamkwaba is a Malawian innovator. As a teen living in poverty, he devised a windmill that provided first electricity and then drinking water to his community.
Talking about animal welfare can be a challenge, for both kids and adults. Here are three stories for varying age levels that examine our treatment of animals.
If you're off on a camping trip this summer, what better time to discuss wilderness, courage and the will to survive?
Are you waiting with bated breath for Go Set a Watchman? Read, (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird, while younger readers get engrossed in The Lions of Little Rock, and then talk about civil rights and the power of friendship to bring people together.
In the early 1900's, Edward Curtis traveled North America taking photos of Native people, an obsession that almost destroyed his life but left us with an amazing historical record. Here's his story told for both adults and kids.
Looking for some creative inspiration? Syllabus is essentially a college course on connecting to your inner artist; My Pen encourages artists of all ages to draw. Just add blank paper.
Happy reading and discussing!
Finding and securing affordable rental housing is a challenge. There are a number of reasons for this, from a low vacancy rate of only 3% to the steady gentrification of Portland neighborhoods since 2000. While the exact rate of increase is variable depending on neighborhood and data collected, an October 2015 State of Housing in Portland (pdf) report found that “average rents across the city have increased between 8-9%, or roughly $100 per month, since this time last year.” On October 7, 2015 the Portland City Council declared a housing emergency with Mayor Hales agreeing that renters need protection. The hope is that the declaration and subsequent actions taken will help with both increasing affordable housing (defined as no more than 30% of one’s income) and also begin to address the rising number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. Immediate Portland City Council measures require landlords to give more notice to tenants before rent increases and no-cause evictions.
What do you do if you find yourself looking for rental housing in this tight environment? What happens if you find a no-cause eviction notice taped to your door? What can you do to keep good relations with your landlord and ensure you are retaining your tenant rights?
The rental housing market in the Portland metro area is the tightest it has been in many years and is currently one of the hardest in which to find affordable housing in the country. It is tough out there! You are not alone, however. There are many resources and organizations that can help and your library can help connect you to these resources.
Where do I look for housing?
There are many places online that you can do a general search for housing. They include but are not limited to:
Be aware of possible scams and do not send payment in advance to secure housing. Be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true.
You can also search for housing and housing assistance specifically for people and families on limited incomes using these resources:
Housing Connections (currently undergoing maintenance)
Housing Search NW (housing in Washington State)
Search HUD for Section 8 Housing in Oregon
HUD Resource Locator provides real time HUD housing information.
The lists are long and the process is overwhelming. Where can I get more help?
211info is a great place to start for a directory of community renter resources including deposit/fee assistance, eviction prevention, housing search assistance, neighbor and landlord mediation, renters rights, and renting classes.
Oregon CAT - Community Alliance of Tenants is a tenant membership organization that declared a Renter State of Emergency in September 2015 to address rent increases and no-cause evictions. In addition to a Renters’ Rights Hotline (503) 288-0130, they have many valuable resources including information on how to find and keep affordable housing, how to research a prospective landlord, as well as a Landlord-Tenant Law Booklet.
For help staying in your current home look to:
El Programa Hispano Católico can provide assistance in Spanish.
Legal help from OregonLawHelp.org.
Proud Ground helps low/moderate-income first-time home buyers.
As well as other resources from Oregon CAT.
Contact your library for assistance getting connected to the right housing resource. We are happy to help!
Ah, the slight autumnal chill in the air. The smell of apple pie wafting from the kitchen.The clouds and the greyness and the rain on the horizon. Yes, indeed, here in Portland, it's time to hunker down and watch some good shows.
Are you in the mood for deceit and mystery and sex and how distorted our memories can be? Try The Affair.
Want to visit a bleak, desolate land of ice and snow? If you can suspend your sense of disbelief just a bit and want an intriguing story set in the Arctic Circle that’s filled with a completely bizarro mystery, pop Fortitude into your dvd player (the first half is the best part of it),
And then for a little lighter fare, an entertaining, series that stars the most splendid character, Miss Phryne Fisher wearing fabulous 1920s dresses, watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
"Your limitations are our every care"
The Associates (primarily singer Billy Mackenzie and multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine) were a Scottish act, now identified as quintessentially "post-punk." But there's no way any taxonomic indicator could ever contain or expand enough to encompass the sounds embedded in "Sulk." Leading with the shrill blast of "Arrogance Gave Him Up"'s racing drums and fluorescent synth stabs, the record defies expectation at every turn. Predictably, Bowie genetic traces run rampant - but "Sulk" sidles into the outer territories of what "pop" might be/come, like an acid spill corroding the enervated gestures of everything else happening in 1982 (Bowie soul-boys, New Romantics, chart entryists, end-days disco). The record is overflowing with ideas and impulses - gorgeous, but like a still life of a swamp, harboring all kinds of unknown and carbonized creatures, sensations, and pitfalls.
No album is ever fully outside its historical moment. "Sulk" has "1980s" written all over its face - Thatcher-induced paranoia, the seemingly endless money-spouts pumping out of the pores of the culture industry, and a leashed but furious gnashing of the teeth at sex and desire's constraints. And drugs of course. Legend has it that Rankine and Mackenzie spent half of their 60,000 pound advance (massive for '82) on cocaine, clothing, cocaine, room service, cocaine, and inspired concepts like chocolate life-sized guitars for a Top of the Pops appearance. Mackenzie's lyrics are ultimately impenetrable but necessarily so. These songs are howls from the edges of a self-enclosed world that Mackenzie knew would never be able to carve out new space quickly enough for escape.
I'll end with Mackenzie's voice. It moves everywhere at once, sometimes following the often unpredictable musical pathways but just as often birthing new songs within songs, burning like brush fires that we know will eventually (though we don't want them to) self-exhaust.
I always thought that bird watching would be boring until I actually did it! I can't recall exactly how many birds I saw on my first official try, but I do remember being impressed by the beauty and variety of shorebirds on view in winter down around Tillamook Bay. I was so completely charmed by the sweet little buffleheads as they bobbed around that I almost forgot the freezing temperatures! Then there was the visit in and around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in spring where I was blown away by the beautiful American White Pelicans and got a close-up look at a rough-legged hawk making a meal of a duck. On another visit to the same area, I got a rare and long look at some juvenile golden eagles as they were snacking on something.
My latest avian adventure happened last spring in Britain when I went to the Farne Islands and was dive-bombed by an Arctic tern! Fortunately, I had a hat on and had been warned that this might happen. I wish I had started my bird-watching ventures when I was a lot younger. if I actually kept a life list, it certainly would have been more complete had I started observing birds when I was five. Fortunately for today's youth, there are lots of fun, fact-filled books to help get them excited about birds. Check out this list for some ideas!
I've kept a list of the authors and titles I've written about over the last five years in order to avoid duplication, but I've finally found an author that really deserves another mention. I first wrote about N. K. Jemisin in 2010: A New Voice in Science Fiction. Over the last five years she has been nominated for several awards for her early novels. She writes fairly short series and each series has an overarching theme. In an interview I read with her, she said the theme of the first series was racism, the second was religion, and the third is about the collapse of civilizations.
Her first trilogy begins with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms where Yeine Darr, one of the many descendants of the emperor, is summoned to the court and told she is one of three potential heirs. Being the "other", the jumped up barbarian half-breed from the uncivilized hinterlands, her welcome is about as warm as you'd expect. The "civilized" heirs promptly try to assassinate her and it all goes on from there.
The second series, a duology, begins with The Killing Moon. Ehiru is a gatherer who is sent by his church to collect "dreamblood" from the dying and those too corrupt to let live. He's too much of an innocent to realize that he's being used by the less ethical members of his church and that he isn't simply granting a merciful end to the dying and criminals. Once he becomes aware of the corruption, his faith is tested.
The Fifth Season, the first book in her most recent series, has just come out. The world she created is prone to regular extinction level events that are called a “fifth season”. Volcanoes so massive there might be 5 or 10 years of winter from the ash blanketing the sky. Massive earthquakes flattening not just cities but entire regions. Tsunamis wiping out coasts (not towns, entire coasts) every few years. Despite this, humanity survives. "Stonelore" tells what to do and how to make the hard choices so that some of the community might survive until better days come back. Then the ground shakes and the ash starts falling. This time it doesn't stop.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Fifth Season make the final ballot for the Hugo award this coming year. She's one of the best new authors in the genre, and I fully expect she'll win a well-deserved award one of these years. Pick the theme that speaks to you and give one of her series a try!
When I was in Berlin a few years ago, I made it a point to visit the Bebelplatz -- site of the infamous Nazi book-burning of May 1933. This understated memorial consists of a glass plate set into cobblestones; peering into the glass, you see empty bookshelves below -- enough to hold the 20,000 or so volumes that were incinerated on that terrible night.
Fast forward 10 years and the world was embroiled in the most savage and destructive war in history. The movement that sought to quash freedom of thought in 1933 was now working to impose its will on the rest of the world. But those fighting against the oppressors were fighting not only with the personnel and material of war, but also with books.
American citizens suddenly found themselves transformed into military personnel and were stationed thousand of miles from their homes and loved ones. The Council on Books in Wartime was formed to provide America's military personnel with literature to enrich their lives, make them laugh, and to remind them of home -- and so the Armed Services Edition was born. These little books were produced in the millions and were specifically engineered to be light and to fit neatly into the pockets of government issue uniforms. These little books could be found virtually everywhere from ships to foxholes and in both the European and Pacific theaters.
In her new book, When Books Went to War, Molly Guptill Manning relates the fascinating history of these little books which did so much not only to support the country's men and women in uniform, but to combat the philosophy they were fighting so hard to defeat as well.
I am not a hoarder! So okay, my work desk might have goat’s paths and the 9 x 9 storage unit down the hall from my condo could use a good clear out, but still, I can let go of things! In the new book Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, I learned that hoarders really can’t give up anything. I, therefore, am merely a clutter bug and only at work. My living quarters are actually quite neat. Each room and piece of furniture can be used for its original purpose, and clothing, books, and craft supplies are not stacked up on every surface.
This was so not true for Barry Yourgrau, the author of Mess. His girlfriend, Cosima, was horrified when she finally arrived on his apartment doorstep some years after he had taken it over from her and gave him an ultimatum: Clean it up or we’re breaking up! Now Barry had a sweet gig – he worked in his own apartment, but actually lived at Cosima’s much nicer place where she regularly cooked gourmet meals for him. Additionally, they traveled all over the world to foodie events for Cosima’s career. He had plenty of reasons to clean up his act, but would he be motivated enough to actually get it done?
Follow Barry as he does his “researches” that include lots of reading, talking with organizing professionals and a psychiatrist, and visiting one of the most famous hoarders of all time. It’s the most fun book on organization (or lack of it) that I’ve ever read!
Here’s a list of further resources on clutter and hoarding, most of which Yourgrau refers to in Mess.
A Cheerful Volunteer
by Donna Childs
Allan Karsk is the sort of smiling, good-humored fellow whose presence makes one feel happier. He was born, raised, and went to college in Nebraska before moving to Portland as a young man. He worked as a medical technician in Nebraska and continued that path here, at the Red Cross, where he worked until he retired.
That’s where the library comes in. As a library patron, Allan often thought what a pleasant place his Hollywood Library might be to volunteer. When the current hold system, which shares books and media among all 19 branches, was inaugurated, he realized that volunteers could help process all those holds. He now comes to Hollywood twice a week to do his part to keep the holds working well.
On Tuesdays, Allan searches for books requested by other libraries, enters the information, and labels them for the receiving branch. On Fridays, he processes books received from other branches, shelving them by patron name or number. In addition to feeling useful by helping to keep the hold system functioning smoothly, Allan likes finding out about unfamiliar books as he processes them. And, as a piano player, he has found some interesting music; he has even bought some at the library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore. Most importantly, though, he values the interaction with Hollywood library staff and the many interesting conversations he has had over the years.
While Hollywood was being renovated, Allan volunteered at two other neighborhood libraries: Belmont and Gregory Heights. While he found it interesting and useful to see how other branches work, he’s happy to be back in his home library at Hollywood.
A Few Facts About Allan
Stacey Lee is a fourth-generation Chinese American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes young adult fiction. Her debut book is Under a Painted Sky. Follow her: @staceyleeauthor
I write young adult historical and contemporary fiction, but read across all genres. As long as it's a good story, I'm in! I didn't find enough stories about people who "looked" like me growing up, so I'd love to share with you some stories that either feature diverse characters, or are written by a diverse author.
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. A black girl in 1940s Louisiana joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots "passing" as white. A touching story of sacrifice and friendship.
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. A small town boy's radio minister father is accused of murdering a cop. This one will wring your heart dry.
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. Backstabbing ballerinas. It's juicy. Read it.
- Maangchi is a girl gamer - her handle means "hammer" in Korean.
- She's a good dresser.
- She's a YouTube and blogging star.
- Finally, she taught me everything that I know about Korean cooking!
“What’s bacha posh?” you may ask. Literally it means “disguised as a boy.”
I learned about bacha posh in The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg. She interviewed many Afghan women to learn about this cultural practice of girls dressing and living as boys in Afghanistan. Why would a family choose to do this?
I can’t stop thinking about these women’s experiences, because there’s so much to think about: the roles of women, gender identity, human rights, cultural beliefs. Even the way Nordberg titled the sections of this book made me think. The book’s about girls and women, right? The sections are titled Boys, Youth, Men, Fathers. What’s that about?
Since I’ve read the book twice already, I've started looking for more about bacha posh and women in Afghanistan. Here’s my list. Is there anything else that you think I should add to it?
I love when people recommend books to me. In fact, it’s because a friend gave me this book as a gift that I discovered it at all. (Thank you, A. It’s my favorite book so far this year.)
If you’d like me to recommend books especially for you, contact me at My Librarian Lisa W.
Looking for rental housing and apartments can be frustrating, but Craigslist is a great place to get started. Craigslist is like an online bulletin board. You can use it to find a home to rent or buy.Getting Started
Find your city or state (Craigslist serves the whole world!)
Choose Portland for Portland and the Portland metro area (Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, etcetera.)
Housing/Apartments on Craigslist
Many rental properties are listed on Craigslist. You can view listings in a list, with pictures, or on a map.
In the housing column, choose the option you want. If you are looking for a house or apartment to rent, choose apts/housing.
Type a keyword or keywords into the search box.
This could be a feature of the neighborhood you want to live in. For example, if you want to live near public transportation, you could enter the keyword bus.
A keyword could also be a feature of the dwelling you are seeking. For example, the keyword light might help you find apartments or houses that let in lots of light.
- A keyword can also help you find a particular neighborhood, for example: Kenton.
Limit the search by price, size, and number of bathrooms and bedrooms on the left side.
Limit the search by using the checkboxes on the left side to find listings that are cat or dog friendly, that
have wheelchair access, and more.
Click housing type to specify what kind of house or apartment you are looking for.
Click parking and laundry if you want to choose these features.
The top of the screen gives you options for viewing the results.
When you use the map view, you can click the bubbles to zoom in and get more information.
When you find a listing you would like to pursue, read the entire listing carefully. You may need to click a show contact info link to see the phone number for the listing.
Avoid scams: be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true. Do not send money or other forms of payment in advance to secure a home. Do not give personal information to anyone whose identity you cannot verify.
Find more information on avoiding scams at Craigslist: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.
Need more help?
Craigslist help: https://www.craigslist.org/about/help/
Try this tutorial: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/searchresults?q=craigslist
The library also offers a class called Using Craigslist. To see if that class is available now, you can search for it in the search box, or check here.
What a summer it was in Portland for the gardener and cook. And what a perfect book Kitchens of the Great Midwest was to read while harvesting piles and piles of the tastiest tomatoes our garden has ever produced.
Kitchens of the Great Northwest is a new novel by J. Ryan Stradal. It’s been compared a lot to Olive Kitteridge, because both of these take the form of short stories told by different narrators that illuminate one central character, but Olive Kitteridge, while a very fine book, is a bit more glum. Kitchens is brighter in its outlook, much funnier, and more delicious, as its central character is Eva Thorvald, the daughter of a chef and a sommelier. Eva is excited about food even as a baby, and she ultimately becomes a famous chef, the kind of chef who does simple, amazing things with the best local ingredients. It was a really fun book to read, and I read it fast, enjoying the well-developed characters. I also enjoyed the enticing recipes that appeared from time to time.
Different varieties of heirloom tomatoes are passionately described several times in this book, and this reminds me... I need to go make a ton of tomato sauce and can it right away. Sadly, I can’t invite you all over for spaghetti, but I can offer this list of very delicious fiction for you to savor. Bon appétit!
You’ve probably noticed that much of what is said does not actually say anything. Yes there are words, but they are vague enough to mean anything or nothing. George Orwell also noticed and he wrote an essay in 1945 called "Politics and the English Language". The problem, he says, is lazy writing which often is just a bunch of worn out phrases strung together. Orwell says when our writing is sloppy it is easier for us to have foolish thoughts. It also makes it possible to dance around an issue without committing ourselves. He calls for writing that is clear and concise, where we are aware of the meaning.
Give Orwell’s essays a try. You will be treated to some fine writing and great arguments. I hope you will enjoy his essays as much as I have. They should help you develop the critical tools needed to evaluate if what you are hearing or reading makes sense or is nonsense.
There is a current national campaign, We Need Diverse Books, to promote diversity in publishing for children and teens. One of our librarians, Alicia, got the opportunity to see W.N.D.B. founding members speak earlier this summer. People of different races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, mental and physical challenges exist in our society. Studies have shown that there are relatively few books being published that reflect this diversity of potential readers.
Three debut young adult novels Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Under A Painted Sky, and Far From You are great examples of books that reflect this diversity of potential readers. These books have nothing in common except for having well developed heroines with riveting narratives.
In Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero produced a powerful coming of age story about a likable, young, smart, resilient Latina, facing various challenges in her life. She finds courage and humor from her friends, family and creative writing. She has problems ranging from her father’s meth addiction and body image concerns. Read other coming of age stories that are touching, realistic, and hopeful with characters who are from diverse cultures and circumstances.
In Under A Painted Sky, Stacey Lee created an historical adventure story about two girls, one African American and one Chinese American, who escape harrowing circumstances in the pre-Civil War West. They disguise themselves as boys and runaway to freedom and the California Gold Rush. Here are some other wonderful books with historical adventures of teens on the run plus a few books to give historical background behind some of these stories.
In Far From You, Tess Sharpe tells a story of mystery and endurance of a bisexual, disabled teen girl recovering from trauma and substance abuse. Check out these books featuring diverse teens dealing with some dark events.
As part of Banned Book Week (September 27-October 3), Multnomah County Library is hosting a panel discussion featuring the authors of the above books, Isabel Quintero, Stacey Lee, and Tess Sharpe. The conversation will be moderated by local professor and author, Swati Avasthi. We are calling this event Censorship by Omission: The Diversity Deficit.
Please mark your calendars and join us for Censorship by Omission at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97233) on Saturday, October 3rd, at 2-3:30 PM.
"There are these things and they
are da kine to me. They are the tear.
The torn circle.
There are these things and they are
the circle malformed, pulled tight
in one place. These things are the
symbol of all not being right. They
are da kine for me.
Da kine for me is the moment when
things extend beyond you and me
and into the rest of the world. It is
Like two who love each other
breaking eye contact and coming
out of that love and back into the conversation " (p. 8)
"That Winter the Wolf Came" - Julianna Spahr's recently published collection of thoughtful and painful interrogations against capitalism - is unfortunately not currently available through Multnomah County Library. We do however have a copy of "Fuck You, Aloha, I Love You," her mesmerizing
book of poems from 2001.
The poems in "Fuck You, Aloha, I Love You" generate a never-ending series of questions and tensions, pitting the cost and construction of selves (most assuredly not as specific indicators of psychological depth) within the coordinates of location/place. But the selves in these poems are never transcendent, never reified - barring those collisions when the determinate conditions of history and capital freeze us in frightening, dead, and/or emptied moments.
As the title suggests, most of these encounters and repetitions occur in Hawai'i, where Spahr was living and teaching at the time the book was being written. Spahr's poems are tricky (but never clever-tricky) in the way they reveal aesthetic structures that are doubled in the
structures of Hawai'i as political geography. Spahr elicits Hawai'i's ongoing history of violent colonialism without reducing the conflicts and tensions to an outsider's appreciation of the "local" or within a liberal's plea for empathy for the other.
"We want this story, our personal
story, to tell this story:
It is late at night and we lean over
and kiss, our one head one way
and our other head another way,
and stick our tongues in our
mouths and it feels strange this
way, top of tongue on top of