Fifteen Years since Hurricane Katrina – Nonfiction

path of Hurricane Katrina
Source: Wikipedia

As Hurricane Sally made landfall, I remembered on August 30, fifteen years ago, when I realized I needed to actually put together an emergency kit for my family and me. What made me finally do this is seeing New Orleans underwater after Hurricane Katrina and the levees breaking.  What a devastating part of our history which just seems to be repeating itself today with COVID-19.

I remember being glued to the TV at the time and thinking how could something like this happen in the United States of America? The President of the United States was turning away help from other nations, but not doing enough to help the people that were stuck. He actually said in an interview on Sept 2, 2005, five days after the hurricane hit, to ABC News: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. There’s a lot of food on its way, a lot of water on the way and there’s a lot of boats and choppers headed that way. It just takes a while to float them.”

View of New Orleans in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Source: Wikipedia

Recently I listened to the podcast Floodlines from The Atlantic. Writer Vann R. Newkirk goes into the deep history of hurricanes in New Orleans, interviewing people that were in New Orleans when the storm hit, people who were able to make it out, and various government officials.

A year after Hurricane Katrina hit, Spike Lee made a documentary, When the Levees Broke, for HBO. It is a four-part documentary that interviews the residents, including celebrities that were in New Orleans, state and local politicians, and rescuers including Sean Penn. The first part covers when the hurricane hit and the immediate days following. It concludes with the final part looking at it was like going back to your home.

cover image for Yellow House

Several nonfiction books have been written about people’s experiences during the hurricane. The most recent one, The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, won the 2019 National Book Award. The hurricane is not the main focus of the story, but it is part of the story of the house that she grew up in.

cover image for ZeitounWhen I first read Dave Eggers’ book Zeitoun, I thought it was fiction. Nobody should have to go through the trauma of Katrina, spend days helping fellow survivors, and then be arrested and detained for unknown reasons. This is exactly what happened to this Muslim American.

cover image for Five Days at MemorialHealth care rationing has been a part of our current pandemic, hence the need to flatten the curve. Back in 2005, Memorial Hospital in New Orleans also decided who lived and who died. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital tells the stories of the caregivers at the hospital where there is no power, the temperature is rising, and they are all exhausted. After reading this book, you might wonder if we have learned anything from our past.

cover image for Shots on the BridgeWay before Black Lives Matter became a movement, there was a killing of a disabled black man and a black male teenager by New Orleans Police, and they injured four other black people.  All of them were unarmed. It happened on the Danziger Bridge and Shots on the Bridge: Police Violence and Cover-Up in the Wake of Katrina tells the story of what happened that day.

graphic for City of Seattle Prepare Yourself kit instructionsI hope that I will never need that emergency kit that I started putting together on August 30, 2005. But I know I have it and I know that history will continue to repeat itself until we learn from our past. You can also be ready for any upcoming disaster by visiting Prepare Yourself on the City of Seattle’s website where it tells you what you need for your emergency kit.


~posted by Pam H.

Three on a Theme: Vegan Cookbooks for Autumn

Autumn is a great time of year to turn inwards and do some experimentation in the kitchen, whether this means cooking delicious warm meals or exploring new baked goods to munch on while things get colder and darker outside. This post compiles a list of plant-based (vegan) cooking and baking resources offered by the Library that can help guide you on your autumn kitchen adventures. Whether you are already eating plant-based foods or not, these are sure to yield some yummy treats for this yummy season.

Vegan Casseroles by Julie HassanVegan Casseroles: Pasta Bakes, Gratins, Pot Pies, and More by Julie Hassan

Nothing says autumn like a nice gooey, crispy, scrumptious casserole taken fresh out of the oven. This cookbook by Julie Hasson is designed for the “health-conscious” vegan while also prioritizing the things that make casseroles a traditional comfort food. According to critical reviews, her recipes succeed in delivering flavor even without the dairy products that we tend to think make casseroles so good in a non-vegan context. With categories sch as “one-dish appetizers,” “pasta casseroles,” “dessert casseroles,” and an entire section on “sauces, toppings, and basics,” this is a very varied collection for anyone looking to expand their recipe repertoire this season. Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Vegan Cookbooks for Autumn”

Working it Out: From Emancipation to Economic Independence

After centuries of receiving no or minuscule compensation (by being hired out) for their labor, formerly enslaved people, at the stroke of a pen, were responsible for their own livelihood.

Seamstresses, servants, cooks, carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and masons could ply their trade. Most, however, of this country’s enslaved workforce had been deployed to cultivate monocrops. No matter their occupation, they were responsible for negotiating wages, securing housing, paying rent, purchasing supplies, buying and/or growing their own food, clothing themselves and their families.  After centuries of laws that denied them literacy, property and ownership of their own bodies and those of their children, thousands of people were thrust into a world that did not welcome their newly acquired status.

Continue reading “Working it Out: From Emancipation to Economic Independence”

#BookBingoNW2020: Set in a City of Literature

Now that summer is truly underway, it’s time for a book bingo check-in. How’s it going? Do you need a few more suggestions for books set in Cities of Literature? We thought you might need some recommendations for books to read, so we asked our colleagues in the thirty-eight other Cities of Literature to recommend some titles.

We’ll start with books that are available digitally from The Seattle Public Library. The titles below are just a small selection of titles set in Cities of Literature around the world. If reading printed books is more your style, you can purchase books through by supporting your favorite local indie bookstore in the process or see if curbside service will work for you!

Books Set in a City of Literature

Milan, Italy
The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti

This classic Italian coming-of-age story features Pietro and Bruno, who meet one summer as children and whose friendship endures the years and their divergent paths. Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2020: Set in a City of Literature”

#BookBingoNW2020: Indigenous Author

If you’ve been wanting to decolonize your bookshelf but aren’t sure how to start, Adult Book Bingo has an indigenous author square, which is an excellent opportunity to begin including more works by Native authors in your daily reading.

The Library offers plenty of fiction and nonfiction by indigenous writers from all over the world, but to get you started, here are three books from different genres by Native authors from North and Central America.

There There by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne, Arapaho) Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2020: Indigenous Author”