Flower Frenzy

It’s flower season here in the great northwest!  If you want to get up close to fields and fields of colorful tulips, don’t miss the 25th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

If you’d like to explore some of the fascinating history of these blooms, here is a bouquet of books exploring the appeal of flowers past and present:

Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused by Mike Dashtulipomania.jpg

In the Netherlands in the 1630s, during the height of what would become known as “Tulip Mania,” single tulips were being sold for more than the price of a house. This slim fascinating page-turner Continue reading “Flower Frenzy”

Book review: Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

dreamers-of-the-day.jpgMary Doria Russell visits The Seattle Public Library this Thursday (March 20) to introduce her new book, Dreamers of the Day, to the delight of her many Seattle fans. Mary’s first book, The Sparrow, won the James Tiptree award in 1996 and the Arthur C. Clarke award in 1998, and still is in constant demand by book groups and library patrons who are discovering her talent for the first time. The sequel, Children of God, continues this literary philosophical science fiction story, though it has not received due acclaim. A Thread of Grace (2005) captured the hearts of readers with a masterfully conceived historical novel set in World War II Italy.

Lit lovers have come to expect great things from Russell’s creative mind, and Dreamers of the Day delivers. We loved Father Emilio in The Sparrow and Renzo in A Thread of Grace, and we cannot help but be enchanted by Agnes Shanklin in this fourth novel by the virtuoso of characterization and surprising plot nuance. The only surviving member of her family after the Great Influenza, Agnes shakes off grief in an uncharacteristic visit to Cleveland’s shopping district. Hair bobbed and stylishly attired, the shy and unattractive 40-year-old spinster ignores her ghostly “mumma’s” cautionary Continue reading “Book review: Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell”

Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!

image-of-egg-and-i-book-cover-courtesy-of-pat-sum.jpgEvery so often history offers us a chance to revisit a good book. This March is the centennial of the birth of Betty MacDonald, author of The Egg and I (1945) which is a memoir of life on a “chicken ranch” on the Olympic peninsula near Chimacum from 1927-1931. Betty observed the very rural and undeveloped farmland and forest and commented on the facts about farm living. Her large cast iron cookstove which she nicknamed “Stove” was a constant source of frustration for her; baby chicks seemed to be self-destructive; her neighbors throw-backs from evolutionary development of the species. She wrote the book after her divorce and she had remarried and moved to Vashon Island. Here’s a sample:

“By one o’clock on winter Sundays the house was shining clean, my hair was washed, Bob had on clean clothes and dinner was ready. Usually, just as we sat down to the table, as if by prearranged signal, the sun came out. True it shone with about as much warmth and lust as a Victorian spinster and kept darting behind clouds as if it were looking for its knitting and sticking hits head out again with an apologetic smile, but it was sun and not rain. The mountains, either in recognition of the sun or Sunday, would have their great white busts exposed and I expected momentarily to have them clear their throats and start singing Rock of Ages in throaty contraltos.”

                                                                   ~ The Egg and I. p. 77 Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!”

March Question of the Month: An irregular series

ask_a_librarian_button.gifThe reference librarians at The Seattle Public Library are pretty darn amazing. They don’t know everything, instead they know where to find everything. As part of an irregular series of posts we salute the talented and dedicated reference staff at your local library. Names and other identifying information have been removed from the questions we showcase. Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.

“…looking for newspaper articles on a ship named the Western Trader, which in the 1960s, sailed with a group of families to settle in the Galapagos Islands.” Continue reading “March Question of the Month: An irregular series”

Have you heard about “Seeds of Compassion” ?

dalai-lama-book-cover.jpgA historic five-day gathering to focus the world’s attention on the importance of nurturing kindness and compassion will take place at large-scale venues in Seattle from April 11 to 15, 2008. This spiritually-significant event will include public presentations by the Dalai Lama, as well as other luminaries. For a complete listing of events see Seeds of Compassion.

At the local level, the children’s, young adult and adult services librarians at Green Lake Branch are inspired to join forces and mount an interactive display, and to compile a list of suggested books for all age levels in the community. We invite you to visit our Branch to exchange seed packets in our “Sow Seeds of Compassion” display.

We also invite YOU, the reader, to contribute to and expand this list for our diverse communities in Seattle, and elsewhere. What books are you familiar with that signify compassion, or can help people become more compassionate by reading them? Feel free to provide your favorite author/title(s) and short comments at the end of this list. Let’s share our knowledge and awareness of compassion so that everyone can benefit!

Sow Seeds of Compassion:

Recommended Reading for adults, teens and children

 

ADULT BOOKS

Kindness in a Cruel World by Nigel Barber

Buddha Heart, Buddha Mind by Robert R. Barr

Ordinary Grace by Kathleen Brehony Continue reading “Have you heard about “Seeds of Compassion” ?”