Author crush: Ted Chiang

In my tween and teen years, I devoured science fiction like Godzilla devoured Tokyo train cars. I read all the great authors and all the classic titles until I found myself, around age 19, sated. No more science fiction for me. I got it. Space. Aliens. The Future.

A year or so ago, I subscribed to our Library’s NextReads newsletter service and decided to return to science fiction (or speculative fiction, in this case) to see what was new out there. While there were a few good choices, many reminded me of what I’d read so many years ago, just updated with things like the Internet and bioengineering. But there was one author who lit my mind on fire with stories that deal with the limits of our humanity in the face of the new and the unknown: Ted Chiang. He’s written just two books, and each one is a gem.

Ted Chiang Stories His first book, Stories of Your Life and Others, collects the ten stories he has written into one book. One follows one of the builders of the Tower of Babylon as he ascends the fabled tower and approaches heaven, only to discover that God has a surprise in store for humanity; another story considers what happens to a brilliant mathematician who discovers a glaring error in the equation that describes reality itself. Another premise is that golems, activated by Continue reading “Author crush: Ted Chiang”

Buildings and Cities

The Seattle Public Library has a large and varied collection of books about architecture and city planning. Here are a few that I find interesting and useful. I hope you enjoy them too.

Death & Life of Great American CitiesThe Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs’ classic ground-breaking attack on the planning of American cities, published in 1961, is still widely read, and has great relevance for us today. What, she asked, makes cities and city neighborhoods work, and what makes them die? What can planners do to save our great cities? She presented what were at that time completely new principles of city planning, including dense population and diversity of uses, principles which are coming into favor today. She writes with passion as a city dweller; this is an exciting book.

 The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog by William Allin Storrer
Among the many books available on Frank Lloyd Wright, this is the only Continue reading “Buildings and Cities”

Metro Reads 2: What are you reading on the bus?

book cover for Roasting in Hell's KitchenDo you notice what people are reading? At a coffee shop? At the dentist’s office? On the bus? We notice — and not just because we work at a library. Sometimes we notice because we want a good book to read; sometimes we get excited because we read and loved that same book. Most of the time, though, we notice as a sort of exercise in urban anthropology.

Below are just a few of the titles Library staff members spied on their commutes home. Oh, your book isn’t on here? Your bus isn’t on here? Please let us know what you’re reading — and what you spy others reading on the bus.

Book review: Dead to Me by Anton Strout

Book cover of Dead to MeWhen Simon Canderous accidentally drops his drink through the ghost of a beautiful woman, he knows things are going to get weird. Luckily, as the newest member of New York Cities’ Department of Extraordinary Affairs, “weird” is his profession. Armed with the ability to see the past of anything he touches (psychometry), Simon stumbles his way through the city, battling furious phantasms, evil bookcases and politically correct cultists. Fans of urban fantasy will love this story for lots of  reasons, not the least of which is that the main character has no idea what he’s doing. In Dead to Me, author Anton Strout adds some much needed humor to the world of magic and monsters, and readers will love the laugh-out-loud results.


Tomatoes – are they safe?

And what about lettuce? avocados? cantaloupe?

Here are some links to university and government research with updates on how to be sure the fresh produce you bring home is safe to eat as well as nutritionally sound and just plain delicious.

Salmonellosis Outbreak in Certain Types of Tomatoes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The FDA is coordinating the nationwide consumer alert regarding the salmonella outbreak on tomatoes. This web site has the latest information about the outbreak, a list of states and countries producing uncontaminated tomatoes, information about Salmonella and safe handling of raw produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices.

Food Safety links to a variety of government agencies that provide Continue reading “Tomatoes – are they safe?”