Let’s Swim!

This return of warmer weather has me thinking about swimming – dipping my feet in a lake,* seeking out a pool. I’m still feeling cautious about being in proximity to people, even as pandemic precautions wane, which means that while I scope out swimming spots I’m also finding books to satisfy my urge.

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey by Roger Deakin
Originally published in Britain in 1999 and now being published for the first time in the US, Waterlog is Deakin’s thoughtful reflection on swimming in wild places. Inspired by John Cheever’s story “The Swimmer,” Deakin began with a dip in the moat behind his farmhouse, and then conceived of a plan to swim the waterways of Britain, pristine and polluted alike. Swimming in seas, springs, rivers and ponds, he reflects on the history and geography of the waterways he visits, and on the general responsibility of environmental stewardship and maintenance of natural places that are open to all. Deakin’s work launched an international “wild swimming” movement; it’s good to see it published on our shores. (For a fantastic, in-depth review, check out Anelise Chen’s story in The Atlantic).

Continue reading “Let’s Swim!”

Surrounded by ADHD

The last year has been interesting, complicated, and/or stressful for all. In my household we add the diagnosis of ADHD to all of my immediate family members except me. One way that quarantine worked for my family is that we were all working or schooling from home. There was not the desperate search in the morning for keys, wallets, backpacks and anything else that we would need for the day but not placed in its “right” place.

Being all in the same house hasn’t been all easy though. Some of the ADHD behaviors have just transferred to other things. Like right now I am “reminding” my teenage son for the third time to clean the kitchen and do laundry. He is hyper-focused on his screen, whether it is his game system or YouTube. My husband, who is hyper-focused on work, is forgetting to “remind” him to do the chores. So it falls on me to remember what needs to be done and when.

I have gathered together a few books for me and hopefully for the men in my life to read/listen too. Hopefully it will make all of our lives easier and it could help your family, too.

Book cover image for ADHD 2.0

ADHD 2.0 New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving With Distraction–from Childhood Through Adulthood

This book is coming out this year. I was able to get a sneak peak at it. The nice thing about this book is that it helps people and parents who are dealing with ADHD to look for what they or their loved ones are really good at. It is kind of a nice change because usually the focus of these books is what is wrong with people and how to fix it. Continue reading “Surrounded by ADHD”

PNW Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors

Image of Tweet from Nicole Chung: work by Asian American writers is always timely

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month, but as author Nicole Chung noted, “work by Asian American writers is always timely.” The library has created some fantastic lists celebrating Asian American writers and artists for all ages to explore, but I wanted to call attention to some Pacific Northwest Asian American and Pacific Islander authors and books to explore this May and beyond.

Book cover image for My Forgotten Seattle

Current Library Board member Ron Chew served as the editor for the International Examiner, the Asian American community paper, for more than a decade, but as Carey Quan Gelernter says in the introduction to Chew’s memoir, My Unforgotten Seattle, when asked 25-years-prior whether Gelernter could write a profile on him Chew was reticent: “He protested that he wasn’t interesting, or important, enough.” Thank goodness Chew later consented to be interviewed, mainly out of his commitment to sharing the good work of the Wing Luke Museum. We are all the more fortunate that years later Chew decided to pen a memoir imparting the depth of knowledge he had to share on his years as an activist and storyteller in Seattle. My Unforgotten Seattle is steeped in history and a deep connection with the Asian American community whose lives and stories Chew reveals with appreciation and care. Continue reading “PNW Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors”

The Irresistible Lure of Russian Literature

Recently, a curious thing happened in the Library’s beloved Peak Picks collection (still very much available at a curbside location near you, by the way); we featured a not unscholarly explication 19th Century Russian literature. Admittedly, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life is by the hugely popular, iconoclastic American author George Saunders. Still…

I couldn’t be more thrilled. My own love affair with Russian literature goes back over thirty years, when a bored teen somehow managed to draw inferences about his banal suburban angst from the inky depths of Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man. From that sub-basement up to the peaks of War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov, summited alone or read aloud with my wife, the great Russian authors have remained for me a source of awe, inspiration and rewarding perplexity. Clearly I’m not alone, to judge from the wealth of excellent books inspired by the varied and enigmatic genius of these writers.

My own favorite book on this topic – and probably the funniest – is The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, in which Elif Batuman depicts the colorful ranks of besotted Russophile readers with an antic drollery worthy of Gogol himself. A great follow up to this is Sarah Wheeler’s Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia With Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age, a vivid, lighthearted travelogue in quest of the Russian soul in its natural habitat, amidst the worst depredations of Russian life. Continue reading “The Irresistible Lure of Russian Literature”

Jacob Lawrence’s American Struggle

In March, the Seattle Art Museum will host a timely exhibition, Jacob Lawrence:  The American Struggle. Best known for his work The Migration Series, Lawrence set his sight on the American Revolution creating a series of 30 painted panels between 1954 and 1956, focusing on historical events occurring from 1775 to 1817. It is interesting to note that Lawrence developed this series during another time of struggle and strife in the country, the Civil Rights era.

The Seattle Art Museum’s show will reunite these works for the first time since 1958.

For some artists, their work is to create visual narratives. Through their work they provide their singular perspective on historical events. Such is the work of Jacob Lawrence. Lawrence brings us to key moments of a history centuries away that, yet, links to the present.

Today, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide of history sweeps over the nation. As you are well aware, we have been visited upon by multiple, simultaneous struggles that have swept us up Against Wind and Tide of forces unforeseen in our lifetime. Continue reading “Jacob Lawrence’s American Struggle”