Bus Reads for February

Commuting to Seattle by bus five days a week gives me a lot of reading time. Here’s what I read on the bus in February:

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Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera. This novel reminded me of Where the Crawdads Sing and I can’t quite tell you why. Three women, Gertrude, Retta and Annie, from three different classes, while seen as so different come together to find strength. Gertrude seen by everyone as poor white trash will do ANYTHING she can to save her daughters, Retta a first generation freed slave that works for the Coles, the family that once owned her family. And Annie the matriarch of the Coles. All in all this story just reminded me of the strength of women and how powerful we can be.

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Lanny by Max Porter. This book was so great! Odd and weird and beautiful – best read through audiobook in my opinion. Each character has their own unique voice and Dead Papa Toothwort is perfectly captured. Lanny is a unique boy, misunderstood by most. A distant father usually annoyed by his sons oddness finds escape in his commute to London from their village. His mother is more open to her son’s quirks. She connects Lanny with a local artist who comes to adore him. But when Lanny goes missing the village is turned upside down and in the end Dead Papa Toothwort will have to be reckoned with.

What are you reading on your commute? Tag your reads on social media #splbusreads

~posted by Kara P.

If You Like Charles Portis (True Grit)

There are generally three or four big successes in the life of a good book. If an author is lucky, sales peak when a book is first published, and they spike again should the book be made into a movie or if it wins a major award. Most reliably of all however is that warm glow of popularity bestowed upon an author precisely when they can least enjoy it: right after they die.

The irony would not be lost on sardonic author Charles Portis, who died last Monday in his home in Arkansas at the age of 86. Best known for his witty, gritty anti-romantic 1968 western True Grit, as well as popular film adaptations starring John Wayne and Jeff Bridges, Portis is enjoying a revival of popularity, with waiting lists on his other novels and stories as well. (Portis excelled at road novels, and my own favorite is his The Dog of the South, which tells of the offbeat misadventures of Ray Midge, who falls in with odd company on a trip south of the border searching for his runaway wife Norma. Or join hayseed folk singer Norwood Pratt on his own equally amiable cross-country ramble, this one from Texas to Manhattan.)

We urge you to rediscover this mischievous author, and while you wait for your Charles Portis reserves to come in, we’ve made a list of some other writers and books with a similar feel. Here’s a preview of some titles that reflect the dark humor of Portis’ more contemporary books:

Hillbilly Hustle, by Welsey Browne. Knox Thompson thinks he’s working a hustle, but it’s a hustle that’s working him. Trying to keep his pizza shop and parents afloat, he cleans out a backroom Kentucky poker game, only to get roped into dealing marijuana by the proprietor-an arrangement Knox only halfheartedly resists.

The Last Taxi Driver, by Lee Durkee. The good naturedly gritty tale of Lou, a writer deep into his sophomore slump and UFO enthusiast who has returned to his home state of Mississippi drives for a ramshackle taxi company that operates on the outskirts of a college town among the trailer parks and housing projects.

Sweetgirl, by Travis Mulhauser. Braving a northern Michigan blizzard to search for her missing meth-addicted mother, Percy James stops by the cabin of two drug addicts and flees with their endangered baby, triggering a dangerous race from the elements and a band of desperate criminals.

Rooster: The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit, by Brett Cogburn. Yep, he was real: Franklin “Rooster” Cogburn was born in 1866 in Fancy Hill, Arkansas, the descendant of pioneers and moonshiners. Six foot three, dark eyed, and a dead shot with a rifle, he was as hard as the rocky mountain ground his family settled. Read all about him – or check out this documentary about the real history behind the book and the film.

     ~ posted by David W.

Fantastic Librarians of the Future!!

Many years ago – back in the ‘oughts – we did a couple of popular posts on librarians in fiction, and in fantasy. Since then, librarians have only stepped up their fictional game, appearing in more and more novels, not so surprising when we consider that many authors basically grew up in libraries. They pop up in all genres, from Romance to Mystery to literary fiction from around the world, such as Dag Solstad’s T. Singer, Jennifer Tseng’s Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera’s The Awakening of Miss Prim, or Jenny Offill’s novel Weather. But most of all, librarians appear in the extraordinary realms of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Here are a few recent examples: find more on our list in the catalog.

Library of Fates, by Khorana Aditi. Princess Amrita and the oracle Thala escape a cruel regime to fine the Library of All Things and recover their lost past, in this coming-of-age fable inspired by Indian mythology.

The Regrets, by Amy Bonnaffons. Brooklyn reference librarian Rachel was always unlucky in love: witness her new heart-throb, the recently deceased Thomas, stuck on earth for 90 days of spectral limbo while he awaits his true place in the afterlife.  Aprofound and witty rom-com about life, love and all that.

Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey. In the post-apocalyptic West, fiercely subversive librarians ride the range delivering “approved materials,” and quite a bit more. Young runaway Esther stows away with them, and learns their seductive ways.

The Library of the Unwrittenby A.J. Hackwith. There’s a place in Hell for unfinished books, and Claire Hadley is the librarian there – although she’s prepared to go to Heaven and back in search of a precious missing volume that could close mankind’s story for good.

The Barrow Will Send What It May, by Margaret Killjoy. In this spirited and often hilarious supernatural thriller, demon-hunters arrive in a small town where the occult library may contain the clues to why the dead live again to walk the streets.

The Curse of the Evil Librarian, by Michelle Knudson. He is young. He is hot. He is also evil. He is ……. the librarian! and in this third installment to the popular teen series, he refuses to stay were he belongs, in Hell.

Among Others, by Jo Walton.  “It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Dip into the mind of a troubled young bibliophile who finds refuge in the endless realms of fantasy and futurity.

Many more fantastic librarians await you in the library catalog – and at your local library!

    ~ Posted by David W.

February is American Heart Month

Four years ago, at the age of 44, I had a heart attack. I was one of the lucky ones because women who have heart attacks are much less likely to survive.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. – American Heart Association

41104077. sy475 A new book that came out last year called Invisible Women: Data Bias in A World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez talks about this and digs into the statistics in other areas where women are ignored. The symptoms a women can have when a heart attack takes place can often differ greatly than a man. I actually feel lucky that I had the traditional symptoms because my husband knew to call 911, but if I had the sore arm or back I would have ignored it, just writing it off as another one of my daily pains.

Heart disease does not run in my family, I did not have high blood pressure, and my cholesterol was slightly elevated, but not enough to be on medicine. Also, it is highly unusual for a women to have a heart attack before menopause, which at the time I wasn’t even pre-menopausal.

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When I can’t cope with something I read to try to understand it. One of the books, I read that helped me  is Saving Women’s Hearts: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease with Natural and Conventional Strategies by Martha Gulati. It wasn’t able to give me an exact answer to why it happened to me, but it did answer and explain a lot of the things that were happening in layman’s terms. It also made me wish I had read it before I had the heart attack.

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Finally, because fiction is my way to escape everyday things, though still relatable, I read and enjoyed Leave Me by Gayle Forman, which is about a working mom and wife who is so busy she doesn’t realize that she had a heart attack. She decides to run away from it all and when she does she discovers inner secrets about herself.

 

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services also has information about American Heart Month. Ways to get involved, to practice a healthy lifestyle, and a social media toolkit! Help spread the word about heart health! 

~posted by Pam H.

Mandalas, Muffins, and Mimosas

I recently took a mandala rock painting class with a bunch of girl friends last month. I was surprised at how lost we all got into painting our mandalas and how fast the two hours they had scheduled for our group went! The art studio we went to also offered us muffins and mimosas while we got our painting on. Since I live in Tacoma I thought what better way to spread this idea than highlighting books from the library for patrons to recreate this activity at home!  Maybe even for Galentine’s Day, perhaps!

Mandala for the Inspired Artist: Working with paint, paper, and texture to create expressive ...Mandala for the Inspired Artist [working With Paint, Paper, and Texture to Create Expressive Mandala Art] by Marisa Edghill
This book takes on multiple mediums to create your own mandala art. “From making art with pencils, paints, and paper to tape, nature’s textures, and found objects, readers will discover a variety of ways to make unique mandala artwork.” This book is also for all skill levels so don’t be afraid to make your mandala in the medium that works best for you. In class none of us were familiar with this art type and each rock created was amazing, unique, and beautiful – just like the women who created them!

Mad for Muffins: 70 Amazing Muffin Recipes From Savory to Sweet by Jean Anderson
Muffins are pretty much just breakfast cupcakes, right? I had the most amazing Lemon Poppyseed muffin at the art studio, which are two flavors that I can never say no to! And this book has so many different kinds of muffins for those that prefer savory or sweet in every kind of variation you can imagine.

Let’s Get Fizzical: More Than 50 Bubbly Cocktail Recipes With Prosecco, Champagne, and Other Sparkling Wines by Pippa Guy    First of all this book is just adorable, but also takes the idea of the sparkling cocktail to another level. “An inspiring mix of classic cocktail recipes such as bellinis and mimosas, alongside exciting variations and twists, Let’s Get Fizzical offers tips, tricks, presentation ideas, and technical know.”

Happy Galentine’s Day!

~posted by Kara P.