We Dare You…

As we enter peak fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest we dare you to get swept away by those beautiful colors and read a book by the color of its cover! Here are a handful to choose from, but we highly recommend you explore the stacks – you never know what gem you might find.

They May Not Mean To, but They Do by Cathleen Schine: Refusing to age quietly, take antidepressants or accept the inevitable loss of her longtime husband, Joy Bergman shocks her children when, after becoming a widow, she reconnects with a former flame from her college days, turning as willful and rebellious as the younger members of their family.

Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw: Sixteen-year-old Adam, repeatedly abandoned by his caregivers in the wake of Holland’s repatriation activities, suffers a series of personal tragedies that mark his efforts to find his adoptive father.

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio: Conflicting political ideals, culture clashes, spiritual crises and divided passions challenge a Cuban-American family over multiple generations at the turn of the 21st century. Continue reading “We Dare You…”

Three on a Theme: There’s a Rabbit on Your Book

Two new novels and one of last year’s fiction gems have an obvious link with a distinct long-eared creature on the cover. What these books really have in common, however, is within their pages of bitingly funny fiction.

Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum (May 2019)
It’s been ten years since we’ve been treated to a novel by the hilarious Kirshenbaum, and this new one is worthy of a celebration. In Rabbits for Food, Bunny, a novelist, heads into a clinical depression as she waits for a therapy dog that never arrives. How could this possibly be funny? Well, Continue reading “Three on a Theme: There’s a Rabbit on Your Book”

Judging a book by its author photo

This photo of Raymond Carver was taken in 1984 by Marion Ettlinger.

I was on a tight budget in 1989 when a book cover totally seduced me and weakened my fiscally conservative resolve. I’d already read most of the stories in Raymond Carver’s collection Where I’m Calling From when I saw the Vintage paperback at Elliott Bay Book Company. But that photo. I couldn’t walk away.

That day was the first time I paid attention to a photographer credit:  © Marion Ettlinger. This, I thought, is a photographer I want to remember.

Turns out it was easy to remember Ettlinger’s name. Each time an author photo seemed particularly arresting, I’d look and — sure enough — it would be by Ettlinger. Soon I didn’t even need to look for the “photograph by” line. I could tell. It got to the point that before I’d read the inside front flap, I’d flip to the back to check out the author photograph. In fact, I still do this.

One of Ettlinger's photos of Truman Capote gets front cover treatment.

In 2003, a compilation of Marion Ettlinger’s author photographs was published in Author Photo. You’ll find a lot of big names – Truman Capote, Russell Banks, Ann Patchett, Joyce Carol Oates, Sherman Alexie, and maybe some names you don’t recognize (but if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself looking up their books). Ettlinger photographed Stewart O’Nan in a diner and Jeffrey Eugenides in a New York subway, but most of her portraits are tighter on the author’s face; all are shot in natural light; and all have a realness that seems even more evident if you know the author’s work.   I come to a photo of Lucy Grealy and my heart aches for the loss of her voice; I feel the same way when I get to David Foster Wallace and I look to see if there’s any hint in Ettlinger’s photo of the sadness of DFW. Then I recall a photo of Wallace I like even better (below)  than the one in Author Photo. I look for it online, and am not at all surprised to see that it, too, is by Ettlinger.

David Foster Wallace, photographed by Marion Ettlinger.

My challenge to you: Next time you see an author photo that seems particularly compelling, check to see the photographer credit. The ones you like may or may not be by Ettlinger, but now at least there’s a chance you’re flipping to the back flap and noticing, too.

See also: Marion Ettlinger’s gallery at her website.

Books with green covers, literally

A favorite and fun library display to do is one which is literally a rainbow of covers. Library staff go on the search for books with covers in primary and other major colors. These finds are displayed on book easels. Then the serendipitious time happens with people pausing, contemplating, oohing and chuckling. Keeping in mind that the St. Patrick’s Day holiday is this week, I asked my fellow library workers to find some books with green covers. The following is a quick list of titles and authors; just a fraction of what was found in the matter of 12 hours. Click on the covers or titles that catch your eye!

by Jacqueline Davis
by Jean Kwok
by George Gessert

And, for mystery lovers, there is Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke and Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews. Jerry Spinelli has followed up the teen novel called Stargirl with Love, Stargirl.

by J. California Cooper

by Jonis Agee





Continue reading “Books with green covers, literally”