Celebrate pollinators in June!

Learn more about pollinators, how to attract them into your garden, and reflect on what can be done to protect them and the work they do in our ecosystems. Of course it’s a subject always of interest, but June 17-23, 2019 is National Pollinator Week, designated by the U.S. Senate as a celebration of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats, and more. Here are some books and resources on bees and other pollinators.

Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry
Organized by bee, Embry provides an overview of the various native bee species in the U.S, covering the nesting, foraging and mating habits of each bee. Embry visits the owners of almond groves, cherry orchards, blueberry fields and more to better understand different bees. Written in a chatty, folksy tone with many high-quality photos, this is a lovely book to dip in and out of.

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
by Thor Hanson
Providing a more comprehensive history of bees, including both honeybees and wild bees, Hanson describes what is known about bee evolution; their role in human evolution; and human fascination with bees, from hunter-gatherer groups to Shakespeare. Taking it up to the modern day, Hanson details bee population decline, Colony Collapse Disorder, and ways that farmers and home gardeners can support bee populations.

The Secret Lives of Bats by Merlin Tuttle
Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International, has spent a lifetime studying bats across the world. From their significant role in pest control (able to catch thousands of insects in one hour), as pollinators and as dispersers of seeds, Tuttle describes the roles bats play in human economies such as agriculture, and across ecosystems. He also delves into their sophisticated hunting practices, community living, and complex social relationships.

100 Plants to Feed the Bees
Experts offer their favorite 100 plants that support bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. Organized by type, flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees are listed with information on growing zones, bloom times, types of pollinators attracted, and other plant requirements. The format of this book is highly visual with large, full-color images and minimal text, enough to get you interested and started.

Pollinator Friendly Gardening
by Rhonda Fleming Hayes
This informative guide identifies pollinators from bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to ants, wasps and beetles and then suggests plants, ways to enhance habitats, nesting site creation, and methods for providing water to give pollinators their best chance in the garden. This book is a bit more text heavy, and includes lists of tips and interviews with expert gardeners.

Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees
by Malcolm Sanford
If you’re ready to jump all the way in and become a beekeeper, this handbook covers everything from planning hives and installing a colony to preventing disease and managing hives.

Discover more about Pollinator Week at Pollinator Partnership.

~ posted by Andrea G.

#BookBingoNW2019: Set in the Northwest

Welcome to another year of Summer Book Bingo and suggestions for the category “set in the NW!” This category is one of my favorites because it gives me a chance to explore my home region in fiction. Find these titles and other suggestions here.

While I’m native to Portland, OR, there’s one book that made me want to call the Puget Sound region home: David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. I read it as a teen and fell in love with the lush descriptions of the San Juan Islands. The novel is a moving portrait of what happened to the region’s smaller communities in the face of the Japanese-American internment camps of WWII.

I spent a lot of time at the Oregon coast growing up and a less well-known title from beloved, recently deceased author Ursula K. Le Guin, chronicles that area beautifully. Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand is a set of loosely connected stories about the residents of Klatsand, a fictional Oregon costal town, and features strong, resilient women. Le Guin’s writing is a treasure, as always.

Shifting to a well-known nonfiction author to include another piece of classic writing, Timothy Egan’s The Good Rain is history, ecology, environmentalism and personal narrative all rolled up into one beautiful book about the Pacific Northwest.

In Marrow Island, Alexis Smith also uses an ecologist’s lens to consider our relationship to place and each other in the wake of a fictional Big One (earthquake). The majority of the novel takes place on Marrow Island, north of the San Juans, after The Big One destroys the oil refinery on the island, making it uninhabitable. 20 years later, the main character’s best friend invites her back to the Island where miraculous new growth and sustainable living is possible, but at what cost? Moody and mysterious, this novel will haunt you.

Mink River by Brian Doyle is set in a small town at the mouth of the Mink River on the Oregon coast. It follows the lives of the residents as well as two friends, one of whom is trying to record the stories and oral histories of his Coast Salish relatives for his grandson. Doyle does for the residents of Mink River what Sherwood Anderson did for Winesburg, Ohio.

In his 2016 novel Summerlong, fantasy author Peter S. Beagle, most famous for my childhood favorite The Last Unicorn, gifts readers with a contemporary take on the ancient myth of Persephone set in the islands of the Puget Sound over one glorious summer (this one could also count for “set in summer”).

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu explores the lives of five women after a traumatic event during a kayaking trip at a sleep-away camp in the Puget Sound. The story moves between the event itself and its reverberations throughout their lives as the years pass.

For a too-prescient topical novel, Leni Zumas imagines the lives of five women in a small town on the Oregon coast in an America where abortion is once again outlawed in her debut novel Red Clocks. Grounded in the realism of everyday life, this novel and the questions it asks stay with the reader long after the last page.

Finally, with the movie coming out this August, I’d be remiss not to mention Where’d You Go, Bernadette by fellow transplant Maria Semple (could also count for “made into a movie”). I read this shortly after moving to Seattle and thoroughly enjoyed this biting send-up of the best and worst of Seattle. Our very own Central Library is a setting for what will surely be a delightfully funny movie starring the amazing Cate Blanchett.

For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2019 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2019 on social media. Need a Book Bingo card? Print one out here or pick one up at your Library. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

~ posted by Veronica H.

BookBingoNW2019: DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

You may not have heard the term DIY before but you’re likely familiar with the concept. Do you grow your own herbs? Cook? Make small home repairs? Knit? Sew? Change a flat tire on your bicycle? Well that means that you do it yourself (DIY). And any book that teaches you how to make something that you’d normally buy, or do something that you’d usually pay a professional to do instead can count towards your DIY bingo square.

If you don’t already DIY, this square may seem daunting. Here are a few titles that are entertaining and informative reads in their own right, regardless of whether or not you plan to make any of the projects.



Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida. In this heartfelt hybrid memoir/sewing instruction guide, local author Ishida recounts how learning to sew changed her life and shares a number of stress-free sewing projects, from book covers to bags to dresses and pants, arranged by season. She also includes an excellent, easy-to-follow primer on sashiko stitching, a traditional Japanese embroidery technique.

Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mytting. Building your own fire is one of life’s most primal and satisfying tasks. A runaway bestseller in Europe, Norwegian Wood will teach you everything you need to know about selecting, chopping, storing and drying wood to heat your home while introducing you to a number of utterly charming Norwegians and their artfully arranged woodpiles. A must-read for anyone who loves Scandinavian culture.

A Year Between Friends by Maria Alexandra Vettes and Stephanie Congdon Barnes. This beautifully designed book chronicles a year of correspondence, recipes and handmade projects shared between two artist friends who live in Portland on both sides of the country (Vettes in Maine, Barnes in Oregon) and met online in the mid-2000s. From January through December, Vettes and Barnes document their joys and heartbreaks with intimate letters and photographs, and share mouth-watering recipes and simple but sophisticated crafts and household projects.

How to Make It: 25 Makers Share the Secrets to Building a Creative Business by Erin Austen Abbott. If you’re curious about what it takes to make a living from DIY art and craft, check out this collection of interviews with 25 creatives around the country who run their own artisan business. Each profile includes instructions for a simple project, such as a hand-printed scarf, essential bath salt soak or macramé plant hanger, that you can make yourself.

Fermentation on Wheels by Tara Whitsitt. In 2013, food activist Tara Whitsitt traveled across the United States in her mobile fermentation lab, spreading the gospel of fermented food. This breezy, freewheeling memoir is the result — combining travel narrative with mouthwatering recipes and tips for making your own pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, sourdough, kefir, kimchi and many more tasty foods.

None of these titles pique your interest? Check out this list of DIY books for more ideas, or use our Your Next 5 Books service to get a personal list of DIY reads hand-crafted by your local librarians!

~posted by Abby

#BookBingoNW2019: Comics

Comics is a magical and mysterious medium that can fill one or all of your Book Bingo card squares this summer! It’s up to you!

Take a look at this recent staff booklist of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Comics and Graphic Novels and maybe try out In Between, a collection of poetry comics by local creator Mita Mahato (and don’t forget to stop by the Ballard Branch where Mita will lead a graphic memoir workshop, Thursday, June 6th @ 6pm).

For the hungry folks out there, maybe some Food-themed Comics & Manga is what you need in your life? Delicious in Dungeon (currently at 6 volumes of manga) is a dungeon-crawling adventure full of food, friends, and monsters (aka the food).

The Lambda Awards were just announced on June 3rd, and the library has you covered with this list of finalists, including graphic novels. With On A Sunbeam, Tillie Walden (Spinning) interweaves a beautiful tale of moody space exploration, with an earthly recollection of two girls falling in love at boarding school.

If you’re a short story reader, then comics anthologies are for you! Puerto Rico Strong is a recent anthology published to support disaster relief and recovery in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. With stories of survival, colonialism, diaspora, and science fiction by Puerto Rican comics creators, there’s something for everyone!

Looking for an experience that is more local and unique? Try visiting the Zapp Zine Collection at the Central Library to peruse or read a few of the over 30,000 self-published and small press zines and minicomics!

Browse the comics or graphic novels tags on our Shelf Talk blog for many more recommendations!

For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2019 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2019 on social media. Need a Book Bingo card? Print one out here or pick one up at your Library. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

~ posted by Mychal L.

Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

The first Spring in our new house was spent figuring out where we wanted things and tackling the things we didn’t – I battled sticker bushes and morning glory, we moved garden beds, and got a patio poured. This year all that hard work started coming together. I planted vegetables, we got patio furniture, and got some flower beds organized – but like all good library nerds I had to do research first.

I’ve always wanted my yard to be habitat friendly so when I weeded I didn’t just take out everything that’s considered a weed. I kept clover and bachelor’s button despite their bad reputation. I also let things happen naturally with random plants that popped up on their own like lupine, hyacinths, daffodils, and a calla lilly! We added lavender, rosemary, borage, and mint for bees. I also, made little rain gardens and added bird feeders and from last year we have foxgloves and crocosmia for the hummingbirds.

I’ve seen so much new wildlife come into our yard lately; looking forward to what each year brings! Here are a few books in our collection that helped me out: Continue reading “Birds, Bees, and Butterflies”