Library as Community

Working in a library during the pandemic has been hard, but not for reasons you might think. It was hard because we had to close to keep people safe and working with people is one of the most primary functions of a public library. What is a library with no patrons? The pandemic and our subsequent closure brought home to me in a new way how important the library’s relationship to its communities are. The library is not just the books, not just the fun programming; the library is the people and the communities we serve. During Library Appreciation week, I wanted to highlight a few books that explore this relationship and demonstrate how necessary libraries are for healthy communities.

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson is a heartfelt love letter to the old libraries that may appear sad on the outside (and therefore deserving of funding cuts) but harbor a wealth of community inside. Each character in the novel uses the library in different ways for different reasons, but they all come together to save their little haven. Continue reading “Library as Community”

Cozy Mysteries of the Magical Variety

In the wake of Halloween, All Saint’s Eve, Samhain, and Dia De Los Muertos, there’s quite a bit of magic lingering in the air. The leaves have turned, the weather is harsher, and the nights are chilling. Many peoples view this time of year as the time to honor their ancestors as the veil between this world and the world of the dead is thinner. We are in the liminal time between seasons as the days grow shorter and winter readies its cold, cold breath here in the PNW. The harvest is complete and we are ready to tuck in for the long, dark nights ahead. Cozy mysteries are a prefect genre to tuck in with: light and fluffy with little violence, no gore, and big hearts centered on community. If this sounds like your cup of tea, here are some very magical cozies to cozy up with this liminal season.

Samhain Secrets by Jennifer David Hesse is the perfect book to read this time of year. It touches on the sabbat of Samhain, a Wiccan celebration that coincides with Halloween, which often includes the honoring of ancestors. New junior partner Keli Milanni is disturbed to hear of her free-spirited aunt’s seeming disappearance, she is intrigued. Then a body is found in the woods and her missing aunt’s secrets come to haunt her in more ways than one. This is the 4th book in the series, but it’s ok to read them out of order.

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon is a light mystery featuring African-American classical musician Dr. Gethsemane Brown who takes a teaching gig at a school in Dunmullach, Ireland after a major career letdown. With a delightfully creepy old house and a snarky ghost who wants his murder solved, this is a pitch-perfect first-in-the-series that continues with Death in D Minor. Continue reading “Cozy Mysteries of the Magical Variety”

Fall into a Cozy Mystery, 2021

As the weather turns and the rains begin, I love nothing better than to curl up with a good book. Cozy mysteries are a genre I’ve recently discovered, only to lament that I hadn’t started reading them sooner! Don’t let the pun-filled titles deter you from this warm, light, and friendly genre, which is often thematic. There are series set in book stores, series set in coffee shops, series centered on dogs and cats, and even foodie series: whatever hobby you are into, there’s probably a cozy mystery series for you! These are some of the cozies I’ve enjoyed and recommended recently.  

Margaret Loudon’s Open Book series starts with Murder in the Margins and is set in a quintessential small British Hamlet. Our main character is an American woman on a grant-based writing trip, working part time at the Open Book Bookshop. The delightful cast of side characters and the quaint setting will reel you into this cozy, bookish series. Continue reading “Fall into a Cozy Mystery, 2021”

Radical Mycology!

We live in one of the most fungally rich regions in the United States. Oregon has the largest single living organism on Earth in the Malheur National forest. It’s a fungus known by several names: Armillaria, scientifically; Honey Mushroom commonly; or, locally, as the Humongous Fungus. By 2015 it was three square miles large and a few thousand years old. It lives in the soil and spreads its filaments outward so that it grows one to three feet each year. It’s also killing the forest.

Or is it simply performing its natural function of recycling the trees back into the soil, but on a longer time scale than most humans are capable of understanding? Questions like these underpin the field of Mycology, the branch of biology that studies fungi, one of the least understood branches of life on Earth. Several recent books delve into this field from both the highly specialized scientific perspective as well as that of radical DIYers. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake, is a highly readable account of the author’s love for mushrooms and fungi as well as a tour through current trends in mycology to examine just how little we understand about these organisms. Similarly, Doug Bierend’s In Search of Mycotopia shows us the possibilities of fungal and microbial life. Both authors are trained experts and believe that understanding the fungus among us can radically alter how we experience our own lives as well as the world around us. Continue reading “Radical Mycology!”

Magical Thinking

Sometimes we need a little magic in our lives, whether we create it ourselves or look to others to create it for us. Let these magic-makers offer you inspiration, wonder, and escape.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is a classic of the genre. It introduces us to sisters Gigllian and Sally Owens and their efforts to endure the Owen family curse. The sequel, The Rules of Magic is about the Aunts in the 1950s & 60s. Also look for Hoffman’s forthcoming book, Magic Lessons (out in October) to learn the origin of the Owen family curse. Continue reading “Magical Thinking”