American Classics on Audio

One of the best things about being a librarian is all the great questions we get, and the answers we’re challenged to come up with. Recently I was approached by a patron who grew up on another continent, and for whom English was their third language. They were particularly interested in listening to audiobooks of American classics, but they were finding it really hard to locate these in our library catalog. I agree: it is difficult! It is also a question we get a lot.

Because the way we use the term “classic” is slippery and subjective, it is generally not a reliable search term. (My own favorite definition is “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” Mark Twain wrote that. That’s why he’s a classic.) Long story short, I assisted this patron by creating for them this list of American Classics on Audio in our library catalog. I’m sharing it here, because I bet some of you will find it useful as well.

Book lists are limited to 100 items maximum, so there were plenty of titles I had to leave out; in the case of prolific authors with lots of titles on audio, I linked to their whole body of work. Take a look at the list, and let us know in the comments what other audiobooks from our collection you think should be on an American classics list, and maybe we’ll have enough for a sequel.

     ~ Posted by David W.

Read With Pride: Our favorite LGBTQIA+ fiction of 2022, so far

Each year, our librarians start a fresh list of some of the best fiction by LGBTQIA+* authors, adding new titles as the year goes along. In commemoration of Pride month, we recently published a list of some of our favorites of 2022, so far. We’ll keep updating this list all year, and you’ll find a link to our 2021 list at the end of the list. Here are a few highlights, to get you started:

  • Panpocalypse, by Carley Moore.
    In the early days of the pandemic, queer disabled Orpheus acquires a bicycle to search for her Euridice across the weirdly deserted streets of Manhattan.
  • The Kingdom of Sand, by Andrew Holleran.
    A wittily introspective and elagaic novel about two aging Gay men who form a binary community in their rural, conservative Florida town, as they look back on the joys and trials of the past, and ahead towards the end that awaits us all.
  • The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes, by Cat Sebastian.
    The Duchess of Clare, having dispatched her horrible husband, flees straight into the arms of  highwayman Rob Brooks, where the bisexual pair form a surprisingly satisfying partnership. A rollicking romantic adventure.
  • Wrath Goddess Sing, by Maya Deane.
    In order persuade Achilles to join Agamemnon’s army in their quest to rescue Helen of Troy, the wise Athena bestows upon the great warrior the body she’s always known to be truly hers.
  • Manywhere: Stories, by Morgan Thomas.
    This original and illuminating debut story collection tracing genderqueer, trans and intersex identities and mythologies across history is devoted to “anyone who’s gone looking for themselves in the archives.”

Continue reading “Read With Pride: Our favorite LGBTQIA+ fiction of 2022, so far”

#BookBingoNW2022: Read Outside!

Are you ready to get outside? We’re jumping into this Book Bingo square right away, because it is without doubt the easiest one there is. You can literally read anything you feel like, including whatever books you’ve already been planning to read: just read that book outside. Of course the trick around here is that the weather needs to cooperate.

Image of people reading in the sun, courtesy Megan Trace via Flickr

Yesterday – Sunday, May 21 – was that magical day when the clouds cleared and we finally broke 70 degrees. Long range forecasts are for an unusually sunny June; perhaps with such a cold, rainy spring, we got our legendary June Gloom out of the way early. Sure, there is still some drizzle in the forecast, so the trick for reading outdoors in Seattle is to be prepared. Yes, a well-stocked eReader works, and your library offers hundreds of thousands of eBooks for you to download, but we suggest having a pocket-sized paperback handy, so that when that unexpected sunbreak hits you can switch off your phone and race outdoors to lose yourself in some good old analog reading bliss. Here are a variety of pocket-sized paperbacks, to get you stocked up. Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2022: Read Outside!”

The year in Asian American & Pacific Islander fiction

Each May, in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we take a look at the past year’s novels and short stories from AAPI authors. You’ll find the full list of recent AAPI fiction here. To get you started, here are some highlights from this year’s list:

The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang. When Big Leo – founder of Fine Chao, the best Chinese food in Haven, Wisconsin – dies under mysterious circumstances, suspicion falls on his three variosly assimilated sons, James, Ming and Dagou, in a perceptive and poignant Chinese-American rendition of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

Nuclear Family, by Joseph Han. What – or who – possessed Korean Hawaiian Jacob Cho to attempt to cross over into North Korea? Back home at their Honolulu plate lunch restaurant, rumors fly that he must be a spy – a suspicion that seems all too true when on January 13, 2018, sirens suddenly blare, (falsely) alerting the island to a rain of incoming ballistic missiles.

Circa, by Devi S. Laskar.  Coming of age in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bengali-American teenager Heera Sanyal feels the American Dream slip from her grasp when her best friend is killed by a drunk driver, leaving her both trapped and solaced by the clasp of her family’s traditions. Continue reading “The year in Asian American & Pacific Islander fiction”

Reading Ukraine: History, Memoir and Literature

Whenever conflicts erupt on the world stage, we can count on our patrons to head to their local library to find out more. When it comes to the current conflict in Ukraine, whether you prefer the objectivity of history and political analysis, the more subjective personal experiences of those involved, or the imaginative capacity of fiction to capture essential truths, you’ll find something of interest in our new list of books centered on Ukrainian history and life. Here are just a few of the diverse titles you’ll find there:

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, by Serhii Plokhy. Spanning from the Neanderthals to the Ukrainian Revolution and Russian backlash of 2014, Harvard professor Plokhy presents a nuanced, authoritative history of an embattled region whose conquerors have included Huns, Vikings, Mongols, Swedes, Hapsburgs, Ottoman Turks, Poles, Germans, and Russians, and of the gradual, halting emergence of Ukrainian national identity and solidarity. Continue reading “Reading Ukraine: History, Memoir and Literature”