Must Reads for Summer 2014

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There are good and bad things about working in a library. The good: all of the great books that you discover and get to read. The bad: all of the great books that you don’t have time to read. We all have excuses and these are mine: full-time work and a toddler who just turned two years old and a baby who is ten months old. Oh yeah, and a house and garden and that guy I married 33 years ago. So, I often feel like that funny old bird the pelican whose beak holds more than his belly can. I have a beak full of great reads these days which may interest you if you’re participating in the summer reading program at the Everett Public Library or if you’re lucky enough to be planning a vacation and need a good book to take along. This list has a little bit of everything so there may be just the right book for you. Let’s start with non-fiction.

indexCA1ADCTLFlash Boys: a Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis is on my list since I read Boomerang and I thought that it was the bomb. This guy also wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side and other excellent books. It reads like a John Grisham novel, but it’s a true story about stock exchanges, high frequency traders, and dark pools. The author is great at explaining complicated technical subjects and telling a good story around them. I want to read it!

indexCA63IMS4Leonardo and the Last Supper has been by my bedside for a few weeks now. It’s excellent! I was an art history major in college and I’ve learned so much more from this book about the creation of this Renaissance masterpiece. Mr. King has managed to focus on a particular theme and give the reader as much information as needed to really understand it. Another of his earlier books accomplished the same thing, Brunelleschi’s Dome, which I can also recommend.

indexCAAEEVC8The President and the Assassin: McKinley, terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century is a great book (obvious from the first chapter) by Seattle author, Scott Miller. He creates a portrait of turn of the century America going back and forth between an under-appreciated president, William McKinley and his anarchist assassin, Leon Czolgosz. This was a time when the powerful were growing more powerful and desperate men turned to terrorism. Sound familiar?

And now for some fiction:

index (16)I have to read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because my daughter heard her give a talk recently in Copenhagen and apparently it’s wonderful. The author takes on immigration, race, and what it means to leave home and to return, all wrapped up in a love story. Adichie has also written Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. The first chapter alone is marvelous. Let’s all get with it and read this one.

indexCAZNZBA7The Care of Wooden Floors by Will WIles was recommended to me by two co-workers so I checked it out and my husband read it while we were on vacation. Even though I couldn’t read it, he confirmed that it is funny and interesting and a good book.  It’s an odd couple story of a fellow who house sits for a composer friend. He accidentally spills wine on the apartment’s priceless wooden floor and endures a disastrous week of perfectionist repair and maintenance.

index (1)Delicious! is by Ruth Reichl. I’ve read all of her memoirs from Garlic and Sapphires to Tender at the Bone. This is her first attempt at fiction and she certainly writes about what she knows: the heroine is a woman who works for a venerable food magazine that suddenly ceases publication. It looks like a pretty fun and fast read, and if you’re looking for a souffle-type novel, you could do worse! Plus, the cover is lovely.

indexBroken Harbor is Tana French’s new ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ crime novel and it’s supposed to be every bit as brilliant as her three earlier books featuring that tough cop, Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. This is a murder story which seems easy to solve at first until the details don’t add up. Read this one to get the atmosphere of an Ireland hit hard by the recession, an idea of police procedure and to become engrossed in a well written who dunnit.

index (1)The Possibilities is written by Kaui Hart Hemmings who also wrote The Descendants. You’ll remember that movie with George Clooney. This new book follows a similar theme of family and loss and is set in the paradise of Breckenridge, Colorado. A single mom is grieving the loss of her son, Cully, in an avalanche when a strange girl shows up with a secret from Cully’s past.

indexThe Vacationers by Emma Straub  will take you all the way to the beaches of Spain, where a family’s dramas are set against the beautiful background of a lush vacation. It will leave you feeling like you were just on a family trip — laughing, exhausted and filled with love.

So, check out one of these books to take on your next vacation or simply read one for a great ‘staycation’. Either way, enjoy!

Adult Summer Reading Reviews

We are nearing the mid-way point for the Literary Elements Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Many of you have signed up and received lots of great prizes. Some of you have gone out of your way to share reviews of books that you have been reading this summer. It was hard to choose, but a few selected reviews are shown below from the ones we have received so far. Thanks to all for participating and sharing your reviews with us!

An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James (Reviewed by Patricia R.)

inquiryintoloveanddeathAs a dedicated reader of fiction– Mysteries and Sci-Fi Fantasy–for over 65 years, this book surpassed anything I have ever heard of or read. From the first page to the last, it is a slow builder of suspense! And yes,fear! This is my first encounter with Gothic, though it is not the gory horror stories that make one ill. Ms. St. James has welded together Gothic, Mystery, and Romance with such great skill that the reader should not be surprised if she experiences goose bumps in the final chapters. Location is England in the early 1900’s, shortly after WW1, in a remote village. Ms. St. James writings are filled with spine-tingling, terrifying characters, but, there is also the beautiful romance with a Scotland Yard Inspector and the discovery of Jillian’s family history. I would share with you that this story is so compelling and intense that I would not choose to read this at night before bed. In some ways, a wonderful, old-fashioned ghost story! Her three books have been reviewed and listed on the NY Times Best Seller List with the 4th one to be released in April, 2015.

The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes (Reviewed by Cathleen V.)

wayofallfishContract killers who take jobs on the condition that they can decide for themselves whether or not the target is worthy of elimination is an intriguing idea. Even though the inside flap of this novel gives the impression that the hit men are the focus of the tale, there are a large number of other characters who are part of the detailed schemes in this book. Some of the characters have talents, skills, hobbies, and occupations that could make them worthy of novels of their own. The twists, devious manipulations, and humor kept me reading through the points in the story which seemed slow or less relevant to the plot, even a few places where I was not certain I wished to continue on reading. I would say this is all right as one of my first reads of the summer. It requires some attention to keep track of several characters and storylines but is not so challenging that it is frustrating.

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller (Reviewed by Cynthia W.)

animalspiritsI like to be reading a novel and a non-fiction book at all times. I have lots of opportunities to share good novels with friends and co-workers but I really value this forum to share an occasional non-fiction book. I just finished reading Animal Spirits, a look at classical economic theory and Keynesian theory in light of our questions regarding the recent behavior of our world economy. I have no training in economics so I was a bit nervous but also encouraged by the funny artwork on the cover and the mention of human psychology in the subtitle. The authors, George Akerlof and Robert Schiller, are economists whose names I have seen and heard in the news. While their collaborative style of writing is not graceful or very engaging, it is also not academic or difficult to understand for readers with a good all-round education in other fields. In fact, there is humor to be found in these pages. Beginning with a brief over-view of the work of Adam Smith and his most influential successor John Maynard Keynes, the authors point out the strengths and weaknesses of both theories as they have historically been applied to policy decisions. The “animal spirits” element of Keynes’ analysis, largely ignored by economists since his time, are explained as elements of non-rational human psychology that influence financial and economic decision-making. Since most decisions are made by people who are not following a theoretical ideology but are attempting to make the right decisions for themselves and their society, human psychology plays a greater role than previously acknowledged by theoreticians and scholars. The human considerations examined here are confidence, fairness, corruption and bad faith, money illusion (a new concept for me) and the human propensity to create a narrative story around our lives and circumstances. The effects that these considerations have on individual decisions, relationships and political discussion are easy to see in the world right now. In part 2 the book attempts to answer questions that depend on the economic concepts and human psychology presented in part 1. Questions like “Why do economies fall into depressions?” (lots of history in this one regarding both the US depression of the 1890’s and the Great Depression of the 1930’s that effected the whole world,) “Why are there people who cannot find a job?” (surprisingly, classical theory and the stripped-down version of Keynesian theory do not recognize the existence of involuntary unemployment,) “Why is saving for the future so arbitrary?” (including individual and cultural influences on decisions to save or spend,) and “Why do real estate markets go through cycles?” Animal Spirits is only 177 pages long but I would not call it an easy read. Neither is it too difficult. The insight into the current economic environment gained from this treatise ( the authors do espouse the view that government has a legitimate and vital role to play in economic health and stability) is well worth the effort. I feel more prepared to engage in discussion with the tools to express my own viewpoint and values and without rancor or accusation.

The Facts of Summer

Just in case you haven’t noticed, the summer reading season is upon us. In addition to great programs at EPL encouraging people to read this summer, there are many summer reading lists from which to choose. Any list, however, has to grapple with an interesting conundrum: what exactly is a summer read? Some recommend escapist ‘light’ fiction while others promote the most popular titles that they claim everyone will be reading. While the idea that the season should dictate the type of book you read does seem a bit dubious, I have found that I tend to reach for non-fiction titles when the sun comes out.  Maybe it is just the extra hours of daylight that encourages me to delve into these often longer titles. In any case, here are two excellent non-fiction titles I’ve just read and a list of interesting ones that are on my ‘to read’ list.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
sixthextinctionThe core topic of this book, the scientific evidence that the rise of the human species has coincided with a huge loss of flora and fauna on par with other mass extinctions, is admittedly a bit disturbing. The amazing thing is that Kolbert presents the topic in a fascinating and, dare I say, entertaining way. She goes out into the field with biologists, geologists and other scientists to examine the demise of present and past species and the resulting evolutionary fallout. Each chapter is a separate story complete with an intriguing cast of characters, both animal and human, adding another piece to the puzzle. This is scientific writing at its best. It also helps to give our rather ego-centric species a rare gift: perspective.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
fivedaysatmemorialThis is the harrowing tale of life and death at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As the floodwaters continued to rise, the doctors, nurses and medical staff had to make desperate decisions concerning which of their patients would be evacuated and the even more troubling quandary of what to do with those left behind. Fink uses all her journalistic talents to present the events of those five days after the hurricane as well as the extensive legal battles and moral judgments that came afterwards. The central question of whether there is a separate standard of right and wrong during ‘extreme emergencies’ is wisely left for the reader to decide.

Next is a sampling from my long list of non-fiction titles that I have been meaning to read. While I can’t vouch for them yet, they seem intriguing and just might be worth your summer reading time as well.

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Carsick by John Waters
The concept alone, the infamous director hitchhiking across America and recording his encounters, is impossible to resist. The audiobook, which the author will narrate, should be a standout.

The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History by Richard King
I’ve always thought of cormorants as simply cool birds. Apparently there is a long history of mistrust and demonization when it comes to human/cormorant relations. Time to find out more.

The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David MacLean
A memoir of amnesia, induced by malaria medications no less, and the author’s attempt to rediscover not only his memories, but who he is. Sounds like a mind bender, but in a good way.

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval
Most of us spend a large amount of time in ‘designed workspaces’. How did that happen? Hopefully this book will have a few answers.

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Dance of the Reptiles by Carl Hiaasen
A new selection of the author’s articles from the Miami Herald. While Hiaasen’s fiction can sometimes be hit or miss, his exposés concerning the beauty and corruption of Florida have always been entertaining.

Lost Art of Finding Our Way by John Huth
A curious look at the ways we found our bearings before the recent advent of MapQuest and Google Earth. Maybe this will finally decide the dreaded car argument of whether to consult the smart phone or the map.

Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit by Dane Huckelbridge
A colorful history of bourbon sounds like just the ticket for warm summer nights. As a plus maybe I’ll finally be able to identify all those bottles they are pouring from in Justified.

Yes It’s Hot in Here by A.J. Mass
A cultural history of the team mascot by a former ‘Mr. Met’ that is just too weird a topic to pass up. It has got to be a surreal experience being inside the suit.

Clearly, you have many choices for summer non-fiction titles. So many in fact, that you just might want to extend your ‘summer reading’ well into fall and winter.

I Challenge You to a Read-Off!

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Summer reading: it’s not just for the kids! Yes, these days your library makes it easy for the whole family to have fun reading all summer long. While we have a great Summer Reading Program (SRP) planned for children and teens, you may be surprised to learn that adults can participate as well. I promise that getting started is quick and painless:

Step 1: Sign up for the reading challenge online starting June 1st.
Step 2: Track your reading progress.
Step 3: Pick up a prize after the 1st, 3rd, and 5th books have been read and logged.

When you complete the final challenge you’ll be entered to win the grand prize, a Kindle Paperwhite! And don’t forget: your library card unlocks thousands of free Kindle downloadable books. All the details can be found on our website. Thanks to the Friends of the Library, who generously donated this year’s prizes.

So what else can you do? If you’d like to try your hand at blogging, write a book review and you may see it published right here on A Reading Life! Maybe my editor will give me the summer off if enough of you write some stellar book reviews. If you’ve seen my list of reading resolutions you can understand how I’d like to spend my summer: getting through some of my tougher reading selections.

If you’re more of a hands-on person, you’ll be interested to learn that we’ll also have some fantastic events that tie in with our theme of Literary Elements. The one I’m most looking forward to is learning home brewing from Don Roberts. Yes, the owner of Everett’s Homebrew Heaven will be at the Main Library June 17th at 7pm, ready and willing to teach us how to create our own craft brews at home. Finally, I can join the ranks of my idol Wil Wheaton–at least in terms of home brewing.

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Staff have gotten on board as well, a few of us going so far as to purchase Literary Elements T-shirts to promote this awesome reading opportunity. Be sure to stop by and tell us how it’s going. After all, I’ve challenged you, a worthy opponent to a read-off. You’ll definitely want to brag.

Reviews from the Adult Summer Reading Challenge

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The Adult Summer Reading program continues to be a great success here at the library. Many of you have participated and received some great prizes. Some, however, have gone to the extra effort of writing a review to let us know what they think of their reading choices. Below are a few selected reviews that we are publishing on A Reading Life to share. Thanks to all of you who have participated so far.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (Reviewed by Karen S.)

mrslincolnsdressmakerThis book is about Elizabeth Keckley. She was born a slave, but purchased her freedom and became a dressmaker. Elizabeth sewed dresses for important ladies in Washington D.C. and became Mary Lincoln’s personal dressmaker. They became close friends during the Civil War, and this book really focuses on their friendship. I am a fan of this author and enjoyed this story, which is different from Jennifer Chiaverini’s other books. If you enjoy books about people during the Civil War, you’ll enjoy this one.

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks (Reviewed by Shelley W.)

inbedwithahighlanderThe cover of this book does not reflect the book very well which is a good thing actually. The story focuses on a young woman, Mairin, who has lived in an abbey in Scotland for 10 years. She is the only living heir of the King and is abducted from the abbey, escapes the keep of a ruthless lord only to be rescued and forced into a marriage with Ewan McCabe, a commanding savior. Set in the 1700s this historical romance has a good storyline with a little “spice”. I enjoyed it enough to check out the sequel Seduction of a Highland Lass.

Dakota by Kathleen Norris (Reviewed by Kathryn J.)

dakotaThis memoir of Kathleen Norris’ move to her grandmother’s farm-house on the border of North and South Dakota showcases her roots as a poet and her transition to writing on spirituality. In chapters alternating between short “weather reports” and long philosophical and historical essays, she weaves together themes of economic hardship, isolation, and the changing landscape of the Great Plains. Her transformation is helped by the hospitality of a Benedictine cloister which she creatively compares to the rural communities of the Dakotas.  I particularly enjoyed her somewhat random storytelling of marginalized people and places, bringing forth the richness of their chosen simplicity.

How Computers Work by Ron White (Reviewed by Cindy F.)

howcomputersworkSince I don’t know much about computers, this was a great read. It was written really well and was easy to understand. It also had great illustrations that made it easy to follow along. Tons and tons of information and touched on so many subjects. If you want to learn about computers, this helps so much. Really liked it.

The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick (Reviewed by Diane T.)

gothbibleThis is an extremely well written book! The author has created something that is for both kids and parents. It strikes a balance when dealing with information. Nancy not only covered the basics, but went to several goths around the world and added their input. Granted, the book is 9 years old, but it is still worth a peek if you are curious about the many facets of the goth lifestyle.

What Deane Reads

My husband, Deane, is a voracious reader.  He’s always reading. He reads fast and furiously.  If he’s without a book he begins to twitch and then starts reading cereal boxes, magazines, anything, but is unsatisfied until he gets his hands on another book. Luckily for him I work at a library and can keep him in a constant supply of books, books, books, and more books.

Here is a photo of Deane showing his library spirit at the Everett Fourth of July Parade:

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I’ve gotten to know his reading tastes, of course, after 30 some odd years of marriage. I know that he’ll always read what I call ‘boy books':  the newest Tom Clancy, Lee Child, and the like. But he’ll also enjoy what I’d consider ‘better literature’ such as The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin which was on my night stand, but is now in Deane’s hands since he needed a book. In fact, his reading tastes have evolved so much that he thought Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was fluffy and vacuous while I really liked it! Who knew?

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Why am I telling you this? Because perhaps you didn’t know that the librarians at the Everett Public Library are ready and willing to provide reader’s advisory service to you and not just that lucky fellow, Deane. You should already know that you can ask the folks at the reference desk for information on the phone (425-257-8000) or better yet, in person, but they can also recommend fiction to you.  And you don’t have to sleep with them. Bonus!

If you can’t make it into the library but have access to the Internet, you can take advantage of  the Reader’s Corner part of EPL’s website which has loads of resources for readers. We also have a database called Novelist which is a fantastic way to find new reads or books similar to the ones you already enjoy.

I like to use the web site Goodreads as a resource for what to read next and to keep track of what I’ve read. It’s like a virtual bookshelf but also offers ways to explore the world of books such as recommendations and lists.

Also, one of our knowledgable reference librarians points out that another source he finds helpful for people just wanting to quickly identify some good new (and older) books is Bookmarks magazine available for use at the main library only.

So what is Deane reading this summer besides my copy of The Orchardist? He just finished reading Winter of the World by Ken Follett. Deane proclaimed that this was a great book with good characters, though he thought that it was somewhat contrived in places in order to weave all of the plot threads together neatly in the end.

Right now he’s sitting in the sun reading Truth Like The Sun by Jim Lynch. Deane says that Lynch describes a pivotal moment in Northwest history when Seattle came of age during the 1962 World’s Fair in a pretty good novel.

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I brought three books home from work today for Mr. Deane. He glanced at Barbara Kingsolver’s newest work, Flight Behavior, and said, “Oh, yeah.  I’ve read some of her books”. Deane remembered reading books by T C Boyle when I showed him San Miguel, a novel about the families who inhabited the islands off of Santa Barbara, California. But when he saw John Connelly’s newest, The Black Box, he said, ‘Oh, YEAH!’ and put Lynch down like a hot potato. Well, I guess you can’t change a tiger’s stripes or teach an old dog new tricks or some other such expression, but you can get the books of your liking at the Everett Public Library!

Leslie

Recipes for Life: A Sense of Wonderment

Today we publish the first in a new series on A Reading Life titled Recipes for Life and written by Margo. Margo will be pairing books and recipes for your enjoyment.

As a young girl some of my early and fondest memories were visits to the Lake Hills Public Library. In the summer I could ride my bike on a shortcut trail that ran alongside the blueberry farm. I still remember that sense of wonderment walking into the library: the quiet hush, the faint leathery smell of books, the coolness on a hot summer day, the librarian seated in the center. I’d quietly make my way to familiar ground where new adventures awaited me.

Award winning books by authors such as Lois Lenski and Eleanor Estes, transported me across the country to remote places and new experiences. Those days are long gone, but have etched a love for the library in me.

palisadesparkMy most recent book trip took me to the East coast in Alan Brennert’s latest book Palisades Park. He is best known for Molokai, a popular book club read. Palisades Park is part saga, part history spanning 40 years.

The story begins in 1922, at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey, where you meet Eddie Stopka as a young boy. It’s an unbearable hot summer day and Eddie’s father has arranged for the family to go to the park. Everything, including the sights, sounds and smells packaged with thrilling rides, French fried potatoes, and the largest pool Eddie has ever seen, makes a memorable impression on Eddie that day.

As a young man, Eddie makes his way back to Palisades Park and a job where he will eventually meet his wife, Adele, and have two kids. When Eddie enlists in the service during WWII and leaves his wife with the responsibility of running their concession stand and raising their kids, the story takes a twist. Things are not the same when Eddie returns home.

Palisades Park is also the story of Eddie and Adele’s daughter Toni, who has grown up at the park and has dreams of becoming a high diver. At an early age she is captivated when she sees legendary high wire and high diver Arthur Holden perform at Palisades Park. Brennart’s research is extensive but also based on his recollections of Palisades Park, where he grew up within a few miles of the park. Palisades Park portrays an era gone by but not forgotten.

Whether it’s a trip to a theme park or just getting outdoors after a long Northwest winter and spring, summer is a time for new adventure.

Recipe for Adventure: Stop in the library or go online and download an e-book, get a comfortable chair and place it preferably outdoors. Pour yourself a refreshing glass of Tzao Passion fruit lemonade tea, sit down with that book you’ve been meaning to read and enjoy. Remember Summer Reading is for grown-ups too. This is the second year Everett Public Library has offered a summer reading program for adults. Stop in or visit our website @ www.epls.org and or click on Adult Summer Reading http://www.epls.org/asr/.

Passion fruit Lemonade Tea Recipe

3 bags passion fruit tea to two quarts water brewed or sun method
Mix equal parts to lemonade or to taste
Add ice

Margo

Summer Reading Program 2013: Dig Into Reading

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The first Summer Reading Program I remember participating in was when I went with my two sisters to spend the summer with Uncle Carl and Aunt Gladys in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What magical memories I have of going to the library with Aunt Gladys each Tuesday to get new books. I was so excited to keep track of my progress and earn my prizes!

I still have the reading log. It was an under the sea theme which seems odd for such a land-locked state, doesn’t it?  I’ve lost the wonderful little clay animals that you were allowed to make after completing each reading column, but vividly recall them: a grey-blue clay dolphin, complete with little hand squeeze marks, a sand dollar and, of course, a fish. Even though my treasures are lost, I keep them in my mind as a happy memory.

How about creating some happy memories for your child or even yourself this summer? It’s time for everyone, young and those also not as young, to sign up for Everett Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. We have programs for the read-to-me set, young readers, teens and even adults! The theme for 2013 is ‘Dig into Reading’.

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Summer reading begins the instant school ends and that was last week for the Everett School District. That means you can start your reading log on the first day of summer vacation. For each column completed, bring your reading log to the library to receive a prize courtesy of our sponsors. Prizes are available while supplies last. The summer reading prizes are made possible by the Friends of the Everett Public Library, AFSCME Local 113, Rotary Club of Everett, Rodland Toyota, Subway, Taco Time and Masonic Lodge #95 F & AM.

Summer reading at the Everett Public Library also offers programs and activities designed to inspire children’s creativity and imagination. This summer’s programming is sure to excite children with the varied offerings, which include everything from musical concerts and puppet shows to themed story times and Wednesday ‘crafternoons’. Programs begin in June. Some of the highlights will be a Nancy Stewart concert Saturday, July 27th at both libraries, and the super fun ‘Dig into Art’ (‘crafternoon’)  craft time at the Main Library at 3 PM on Wednesday afternoons.

Everett Public Library’s 2013 summer schedule  is available online. This is where children can find activities just for them! Copies of the Reading Program brochures are available at both library locations.

Everett Public Library is dedicated to providing educational programming for youth during the summer months, helping keep children engaged in reading and in their communities while out of school. Summer reading programs are designed for children to have positive learning experiences and to encourage reading as a lifelong habit.

I read Dr. Seuss and Are You My Mother? and other such literary tomes during that long-ago summer in Iowa. This summer I have quite a long list of books to enjoy including: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies also by Hilary Mantel (Thanks, Eileen, for the suggestions), The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

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Some titles I’ve read recently and can recommend for your (adult) summer list include: The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris (for a little chuckle).

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If you’d like to help a child find age appropriate and exciting reads this summer, check out these lists from the American Library Association.

There’s no need to go all the way to Iowa to enjoy summer reading. Join me in creating more happy summer reading memories right here in Everett!

Leslie

Take the Adult Summer Reading Challenge

diginto1“Groundbreaking Reads” is the theme for Everett Public Library’s 2013 Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Groundbreaking books of the reader’s choice, including fiction or nonfiction, new or not-so-new releases, can be explored. Or if you prefer, pick up some music CDs, a movie or an audio book. The library has them, as well.

Registration began June 1. The program is open to those age 17 and older and will run through August 31.

Visit a local branch library to register and pick up a book log. More information about the challenge is on epls.org/asr. Don’t forget about the prizes!

  • After reading your first book, you are eligible to receive a peat pot with seeds
  • After reading your third book, you are eligible to receive a 2 for 1 coupon for Bookend Coffee Co.
  • After reading your fifth book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library key chain or a “I read between the covers” window cling
  • After reading your seventh book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library tote bag.

Registration in the challenge is also an entry for one of four grand prizes:

If you want to share your thoughts on the books you’ve read this summer, you are encouraged to submit short reviews. You can get book review forms at the main library or the Evergreen branch as well as online. We will publish select reviews right here on A Reading Life (as well as on the Everett Herald website). Book reviews will be accepted at all library branches June 3 through Aug. 31. 

But that’s not all. Be sure to mark your calendar to attend a program. There are two designed with the Groundbreaking theme in mind which are free and at the Main Library:

Kimberly-clarkUnearthing Kimberly Clark:  2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15th – As it was being demolished the Kimberly-Clark plant was often described as the last vestige of Everett’s smokestack heritage. But centered in the very heart of the city’s bay front industrial corridor, the site has connections stretching all the way back to the region’s tribal past, the earliest peninsular homesteads and the coming of the railroad. Everett Public Library historian David Dilgard will take us on an exploration of pictures and maps that reveal the many-faceted story of this key spot in the life of “The City of Smokestacks.”

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Getting the Dirt on Dirt:  10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22nd – All dirt is not created equal.  Learn what it takes to maximize the growth potential of your soil. Master Gardener Sandy DeLisle will show you how to create compost from yard or food waste. One lucky participant will take home the demonstration worm bin. 

Sponsors for the 2013 adult summer reading challenge include: Friends of the Library, and Bookend Coffee Company.

Dig Into Reading today!

Kate

It All Starts with World War Z

I’m not really into zombies. I generally confine my summer reads to mildly-embarrassing vampire fiction or binge-reading Game of Thrones books. I did not choose World War Z to fill the guilty pleasure niche as my summer came to a close. What attracted me to World War Z was the oral history angle. I have always loved oral histories and was curious to see how the author used that framework to tell a sci-fi story. I was not disappointed by what I found. Author Max Brooks did an amazing job adapting his subject matter to have the feel of a real collection of oral histories. In his credits at the end, Brooks cited the late, great oral historian Studs Terkel as one of his main influences. Those who are familiar with Terkel’s work can see why after a couple of chapters; the voice of Studs is continually present.

I would highly recommend this title to the average reader – not strictly those who are into sci-fi, zombies, gore, dystopian novels, or anything else you would assume that a book about zombies might represent (though readers looking for all the above will get hooked on this book just as quickly). By necessity there are some gruesome descriptions, but that’s not what dominates the stories told by the author. World War Z, above all, gives a human voice to a terrible (though fictitious) period of human history.

Once you’ve had the chance to check out a fictional oral history collection, you may want to branch out into the real thing. Oral histories are collected to tell a range of different stories about historic events, cultural phenomena, or just to record what life was like during a specific time period. The Everett Public Library has a lot of great oral histories in its collections – here are some voices from a few:

One of the boys in the show, Tony, said, ‘Don’t worry. All my uncles are stagehands and the rest of ‘em are bootleggers. Pick out a night club you want to work, we’ll work’. I looked at these freaks, with these little postage-stamp stages… Up to this time, the most sexy thing I’d ever done is Scheherazade in the ballet. I thought a girl who went on stage without stockings was a hussy (laughs). -Sally Rand, Dancer. Excerpt from Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, by Studs Terkel.

“Punk rock saved a lot of people’s sanity, emboldened the timid and gave countless youth all over the world a voice.” – Henry Rollins from the forward of Punk Rock: an Oral History, by John Robb

D-Day was not one day, but a composite of many days, experienced by each of those individuals who played a part on the Allied side – from the 120,000 men who landed during the initial action to the millions of personnel who supported them. […] The record, as offered in this volume, does indeed show that they didn’t just do their job “well” – they were magnificent. – prologue to Voices of Valor:  D-Day: June 6, 1944, by Douglas Brinkley and Ronald J. Drez

“But I love him! I love him! He’s sleeping, and I’m whispering: ‘I love you.’ Carrying his sanitary tray, ‘I love you.’ I remembered how we used to live at home. He only fell asleep at night after he’d taken my hand. That was a habit of his – to hold my hand while he slept. All night. So in the hospital I take his hand and don’t let go.” – Lyudmilla Ignatenko – widow of a first responder to the Chernobyl disaster. Excerpt from Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich

I walked down the street, not knowing where to go, thinking that everybody I’d been with had died. I barely knew who I was, I was dizzy and disoriented, my speech was slurred. Looking back, it makes perfect sense: I’d been hit twice on the head, once in the office and once on the street. The wall of my office had knocked me on my right temple… All I wanted to do was get uptown and find my wife. I knew where she worked and I said to myself, I don’t care if I have to walk all the way, I’ll get there eventually, just go. So I started walking. – Tom Haddad, 31, escaped from the 89th floor of Tower I. Excerpt from Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11 ,by Damon DiMarco

 “We had a policy in place that was ridiculous. I had served for so many years with so many people that I knew were gay and were outstanding soldiers. Officers, enlisted-they ran the gamut. I mean, yes, there were some that I wasn’t fond of and would never want to be friends with, but in general most of the gays and lesbians that I served with in the military did a good job, and I would have been proud to call them a friend at any time. So I did want to do something to change the policy.” Brenda Vosbein, WAC Retired. –  excerpt from Ask and Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out, by Steve Estes

“We received support from the most unusual places, like The Times. I hope they live forever. They saved my neck. A year making mailbags in prison was not on my itinerary [laughs].” -Keith Richards. Excerpt from The Rolling Stones: An Oral History, by Alan Lysaght.

Explore these other oral history titles for even more first-hand accounts of culture, history, and events that changed the world:

Culture

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, By Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey, by Studs Terkel
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, by Mark Yarm
The Record Players: DJ Revolutionariesby Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton
Why? Because we Still Like You: an Oral History of the Mickey Mouse Club, by Jennifer Armstrong
Listening is an act of Love: a celebration of American life from the StoryCorps Project, by Dave Isay with StoryCorps
Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, by Alison Owings
Nā Kua’āina: Living Hawaiian Culture, by Davianna Pōmaika’i McGregor

History

Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History , by Nick Barratt
Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words: Extraordinary Stories of Courage from World War II to Vietnamby Larry Smith
48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust: An Oral Historyby Mitchell G. Bard, Ph.D.
Reflections of Pearl Harbor: An Oral History of December 7, 1941, by K.D. Richardson
Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South , edited by William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Rodgers Korstad
What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany: An Oral History, by Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband

Local Interest

River Pigs & Cayuses: Oral Histories from the Pacific Northwest, by Ron Strickland
Voices from Everett’s First Century
Riverside Remembers: Books I, II & III
Whistlepunks & Geoducks: Oral Histories of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Ron Strickland
Everett Voices, by David Dilgard of the Everett Public Library
Upriver Voices: Tales of Skykomish, by Nancy Cleveland and Anne Sektor

Lisa