Read & Listen: White Bicycles

The first in an occasional series in which we pair reviews of music criticism/history books with a list of accompanying albums for your reading and listening pleasure.

READ: Walking off the baseball field of his Connecticut prep school one evening in the late 1950s, Joe Boyd heard the strains of the most recent Fats Domino single and was struck by the sudden realization that he wanted to be a record producer. This epiphany led Boyd down a long and twisting career path in which he discovered some of the most gifted musicians of the 1960s and helped create ground-breaking music that still enthralls listeners today. In White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, Boyd gives a clear-eyed and captivating account of his experiences making music in this tumultuous decade on both sides of the Atlantic. Want to know what really happened when Dylan went electric at Newport in 1965? Or experience the sounds, smells & sights of swinging psychedelic London at its peak in 1967? Perhaps you’re curious about what it was like that day in the studio when Richard Thompson met Nick Drake. Read this book and find the answers to these questions, plus the story of the Blues & Gospel Caravan’s triumphant tour of Europe in 1964, the Incredible String Band’s adventures in Scientology, Pink Floyd’s rapid ascent from the London underground to the pop Continue reading “Read & Listen: White Bicycles”

Public Health

There probably aren’t many people who could say they “like” diseases, but they are interesting subjects for researchers and writers.  Especially interesting are accounts of how society copes with illness, now and in the past – and in what ways particular diseases were perceived by the society struggling with them.  Here are a few investigations of the culture-individual-illness matrix:

Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera by Sandra Hempel
This book, and Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, are about the very birth of epidemiology, and the extraordinary man responsible for the idea that disease had patterns, that understanding it had a geographic dimension, and that illness could be combated by simply removing a pump handle and ending access to tainted water.

The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald
This famous book has value on many levels — it is by and about a Seattle author and how she confronted the disease that still challenges medicine today.  Writing over half a century ago, MacDonald treats serious subjects with humor but offers very detailed descriptions of life in a tuberculosis sanatorium.  The isolation and shunning that people with TB suffered along with Continue reading “Public Health”

Staff Favorites: Three novels to take to the beach

Looking for a good novel to take along on your vacation—or read in your backyard? The Summer edition of Staff Favorites for Adults is hot off the press and available at your branch. The bright green booklet highlights 27 books, fiction and nonfiction, recommended by Library staff. The three novels suggested here are also available on audio, making them good companions for road trips, too.

book cover for Last Night at the LobsterLast Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
It’s Manny DeLeon’s last night managing a Red Lobster restaurant on a snowy stretch of Connecticut highway. The staff knows the restaurant is closing, yet they seat, serve, feed and clean up after customers with infinite consistency, despite the uncertainty of their own futures. Soft-hearted, conscientious Manny leads readers through twelve ordinary hours and lets us into lives at the Lobster. Tender, funny and concise, this novel is pure perfection for anyone who’s worked at a restaurant (ever change the oil in a Frialator?) as well as for Continue reading “Staff Favorites: Three novels to take to the beach”

Baseball with the Seattle Pilots

Ball Four by Jim BoultonThis challenging season for local baseball fans brings to mind another last place team in our fair city, the famous and short-lived Seattle Pilots of 1969. An expansion team in the American League, they played at Sicks’ Stadium, a converted minor league ballpark. In their one year here they launched Jim Bouton’s literary career through his tell-all bestselling book, “Ball Four.”

Bouton was a former All-star pitcher on the Mantle-Maris era Yankee juggernauts of the early sixties. In decline and with a sore arm, Continue reading “Baseball with the Seattle Pilots”

Summer Reads: Fremont and Queen Anne reader suggestions

Want to share what you’re reading? Enter the Adult Summer Reading Program at any branch (or downtown at the Central Library), write one or two sentences about three books you’ve read. You’ll be entered in a weekly drawing to win a book bag (one winner per week at each location; lots of chances to win!).book cover of loving frank

Readers on Queen Anne recommend:

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Part fact and part fiction, a poignant love story between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick. Mamah and her husband commission Wright to design a house for them and a passionate love story begins.

Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson
Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic-book history of Jewish suffering (Five Thousand Years of Bitterness), recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Really good writing — oh, those Brits!

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas
Wow. A librarian’s memoir about how all the other librarians are all idiots who don’t like books. I certainly am glad I never have to work at the same library as Scott. He seems like an idiot himself.

Readers in Fremont Continue reading “Summer Reads: Fremont and Queen Anne reader suggestions”