The Month of Humor

As April is National Humor Month and glum has been the prevailing tilt to the world’s axis this past year, it seems to be a golden opportunity to highlight titles that might make you laugh or give you a lift. Reading has always been a conduit for joy for me, and this past year, the funnier the better. 

YA and Middle Schoolers

Don’t keep the celebration to yourself. Check out the library’s collection of joke books, and pick a favorite to tell your best pal (who’s 38, for instance) and child (who’s 8). My guess is they’ll both appreciate the laugh.

One of my favorite forms is clowning around, nonsense humor, wit and satire. I have long been a fan of P. G. Wodehouse, particularly the merry distraction that is Jeeves and my favorite knucklehead, Bertie. Because of these two, The Code of the Woosters is a joyous romp. I re-read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome whenever I’m especially blue. Bring on the silly!

More Fiction

Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series

Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Especially fun, as well, is You Suck, although most anything by Moore is an odd, fun, joy-ride of a read.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, first in the Thursday Next series. 

Mort by Terry Pratchett, one of the Discworld series

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, book one of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

Dark humor can be the outlet where we brighten ourselves and others up by pointing out the funny sides of adversities or shortcomings in order to laugh about them. While they can have a cheerless aspect, look for the buoyancy, as well.   

Twelve-year-old Flavia, “the world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), lives in a decaying mansion in 1950s England with two prickly older sisters and a distracted father. Part of the charm of a Flavia de Luce series is Flavia’s plucky take on the circumstances in front of her and then heading where that leads. Mix in her avid curiosity and author Alan Bradley’s sterling, darkly comic plot, and you have the recipe for smart and funny mysteries.

At the heart of the 10th installment, The Golden Tresses of the Dead: a Flavia de Luce novel, is a ghoulish question: “How had an embalmed finger found its way from the hand of a dead woman in a Surrey cemetery into the heart of a wedding cake?” While you can grab any one of the books and read it, if you start at the beginning with the wickedly brilliant first novel, The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, you’ll follow Flavia’s bigger story as it slowly unfolds.

Bradley, who has few peers at combining fair-play clueing with humor and has fun mocking genre conventions, shows no sign of running out of ideas.(Publishers Weekly, starred review)

In The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman, Asperger’s sufferer Samuel Hoenig puts his syndrome traits to good use running a business called Questions Answered. With the help of his new colleague Janet Washburn, Hoenig uses his unique powers of deduction to investigate the disappearance of a preserved head from a cryonics institute and the murder of one of the facility’s scientists.

Told from Hoenig’s perspective, this cozy mystery series uses light-hearted humor to point out that the approach of the “normal” world can be confusing and, at times, downright silly. Intricately plotted, thoughtful and frequently humorous, these gentle stories showcase Samuel’s unique perspective as a help rather than hindrance to his sleuthing success.

Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is a funny, award-winning re-imagining of the Western novel.

A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir…Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths. (David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick. This Emmy-winning screenwriter, who started as an intern for the original Late Night starring David Letterman, makes his debut with this collection of personal tales ranging from childhood to being a dad. The book is full of tension between Resnick and everyone in his life, whether he’s on vacation at Disney World or finding a blade in his milkshake at a fast-food chain.

The writing is sharp and sharp-tongued, sometimes close to the line of mean-spirited—the book is not for readers who are easily offended…. A neurotic, unapologetic, hilarious collection. (Kirkus Reviews)

One of the best laugh-out-loud reads I have had in a long time.

Non-Fiction

The Corfu Trilogy: a naturalist and his family leave England to live on the Greek island of Corfu. These are the tales of the interactions they have there–with both humans and animal varieties.

Allie Brosh’s latest offering, Solutions and Other Problems, continues where Hyperbole and a Half, her first book, left off in 2014. Both are based on collections of personal stories and drawings, including funny tales from her childhood, the adventures of her ‘very bad pets,’ and the absurdity of modern life in a mix of text and intentionally crude illustrations. They are part graphic novel, part confessional, and overall delightful. The books come from collections of blog posts in the form of her very popular webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half. Brosh started Hyperbole in 2009.

“A quirky, humorous memoir/collection of illustrated essays.” (Kirkus Reviews)

 **************

“‘There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, “Do trousers matter?”’

‘The mood will pass, sir.’”

~  P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves

Women’s History Month Readfest Ideas

To kick off Women’s History Month, let’s journey through a list of women authors with stories featuring women or girls. These titles–fiction and nonfiction–feature stereotype-busting women characters facing, among other challenges, racism, war and writer’s block. Check them out at the library!

Dear Miss Kopp by Amy Stewart

The sixth installment of the smart, top-notch Kopp Sisters series follows the adventures of the Kopp Sisters as they head overseas to help in the World War I effort, each in her own personal inimitable adventure. They are separated for the first time, and the sisters write to each other with their news. This is a smart, light-hearted series based on the sisters’ true story. Early in the 20th century, Constance Kopp was named one of the first female deputies in the nation. The sisters lived what was considered at that time to be an unconventional life. The three lived alone on a farm in New Jersey, and despite Constance working as a deputy sheriff, it was frowned on to not have any males around to provide and protect. Occasionally the trio piled into the horse and buggy for a day to visit their brother and his wife, and I wonder if he will show up in the series, at some point. The seventh book, Miss Kopp Investigates, arrives on library shelves this year. 

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

A cast of characters make up the community of ‘Conjure Women,’ and Miss Rue, a healer and midwife like her mother, is its center. Because the story’s structure is deftly threaded forward, past and during, you can pluck from this absorbing read the connection of secrets and fallible humans, which plays out in different eras of the Civil War. Miss Rue cares for a community of freedmen, some closer to her than others. She has cared for many people in her life, including a strange kinship she has with a baby who had a difficult birth. When she is accused of witchcraft, she says she just “knows things.” While she is privy to secrets about the plantation owner’s daughter, she knows exposure of her own secrets is a very real possibility. 

West with the Night by Beryl Markham

Markham, a British adventurer, covers growing up in Kenya in the early 1900s and beyond. In 1936, Markham became the first woman to cross the Atlantic east-to-west solo, and the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west. In 2004, this memoir, first released in 1942, landed in the number eight spot out of 100 best adventure books by National Geographic. I gobbled up this aviation pioneer’s memoir like it was a gastronomic garden party. She may have had lauded careers as a bush pilot and a racehorse trainer; however, readers are fortunate that it is because she was also such a talented writer, her compelling adventure stories have endured.

Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald

Betty MacDonald spent a good chunk of her younger and teen years in the Roosevelt District of Seattle. In her four primo memoirs, details from this madcap family portrait occasionally come bubbling out, and it’s crackling good fun to read. Descriptions of antics and arguments the close-knit family experience attest to their ability to think beyond bleakness. I suppose that’s why the buoyant Anybody Can Do Anything was a surprising delight to read. Betty and her sister, Mary, were job hunting in Seattle during the depression of the 1930s. From what I knew, I expected a glum read. It was not. The family was far from depressed, especially Mary. She saw the economic situation as a personal incentive. Mary’s fearless outlook triumphs and leads Betty into one zany job after another. A groove-restoring read.

The Egg and I, MacDonald’s best-known memoir, was also a successful movie. It was based on the four years she and her husband spent deep in the Olympic Peninsula raising chickens on their remote farm. Alas, the marriage ended. Could it have been that the farm had no running water or electricity, but plenty of endless work starting with the rooster’s crow at 4am, year after year? While she didn’t answer that question in the book, her take on the experiences make for a light-hearted, witty read. Readers bought one million copies in the year after it was published. It was then made into a popular 1947 movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. Betty’s neighbors down the road a bit from the poultry farm, Ma & Pa Kettle, had audiences guffawing so hard, they got their own movies. 

In another excellent read, The Plague and I, MacDonald writes about the nine months she had tuberculosis. It is very contagious. During that time, she stayed in a Seattle sanatorium waiting to be healthy again. 

More absorbing reads by women starring compelling women:

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. “Two refugees from the Spanish Civil War cross the Atlantic Ocean to Chile. This decades-spanning drama is readable and engrossing throughout.” –Kirkus Reviews

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict. Check out Benedict’s other under-celebrated women in history. The Only Woman in the Room, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, and others.

How to Order the Universe by Maraia Josae Ferrada. A traveling salesman and his daughter traverse Chile.

Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.

Life After the Afterlife

One recent rainy Sunday, bored and scrolling through Netflix, I landed on a six-part documentary series examining death and what comes after. It sounded like a sure-fire opportunity to watch an obvious bunch of hooey, so I settled in. As I later learned, the series is based on the nonfiction book Surviving Death: a Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife by Leslie Kean .

The approach in the series turned out to be more scientific and historical than I expected, although Kirkus Reviews said of the book:

Those given to believe in ghosts, heaven, and white lights will find this a fine example of confirmation bias, while those who are not will not be swayed.

While I haven’t read it, reviews seem to suggest the book doesn’t lean on a believer-centric foundation and does a better job presenting evidence to suggest that consciousness survives death. 

As part of episode one of the Netflix series, viewers are whisked off to a Seattle meeting of IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies), an open support group for those who’ve had near-death experiences (NDE) and others who wonder about loved ones who have died. Both types come together–now meeting online–to hear the NDEs directly. The series explores other paranormal phenomena including apparitions, contemporary mediums and reincarnation. 

Compelling case studies involving unlikely, level-headed persons (a spine surgeon, and an Oklahoma law enforcement officer, to list two). A historic look at many aspects of the unworldly–including fakers, debunkers, cheerleaders, medical doctors, academics and organizations–makes for an entertaining binge watch. Who knew the case to continue research to lift the veil between life and the afterlife could be mysterious and informative? Netflix did.

One I wouldn’t have guessed to be interested in parapsychology was William James, known as the father of American Psychology and the first to offer a psychology class in the U.S. He co-founded the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in 1884, the oldest psychical research organization in the United States dedicated to parapsychology.

Check out Kean’s book now. The Netflix series, which launched in January, is not available on DVD at this time. If it becomes available, the library will purchase it.

If you liked Surviving Death, you might want to read The Hairbrush and the Shoe : A True Ghost Story by Jeanne Stanton. When a workman in her home is pushed, Stanton takes action. The former Harvard Business School case writer embarks upon a rigorous search to learn what is happening, which makes for an absorbing, creepy and sometimes funny read.

Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot by Bruce and Andrea Leininger. This story details how the authors finally accepted that their young son was the reincarnated WWII fighter pilot, James Huston. This account is also featured in the reincarnation episode of the Netflix documentary series.

Life with the Afterlife : 13 Truths I Learned about Ghosts by Amy Bruni. In this autobiography, Bruni, co-star of the popular paranormal show, Kindred Spirits, discusses what she has gleaned from ghosts, her unique approach to paranormal investigations, and tips for amateur ghost hunters. 

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. Science writer Mary Roach–Everett Reads! author a few years back–moves on from the cadavers in her book Stiff to what happens after death. From Kirkus reviews: “Truly deft handling of the (mostly) daft.”

Whether it’s buying and demolishing what he believed was a ‘demon house,’ hanging out at his popular haunted museum in Las Vegas or starring in the widely popular Ghost Adventures on cable, Zak Bagans knows how to stay in the spotlight. He’s done it for a long time. Last year, for instance, he released his third book, Ghost-hunting, part of the For Dummies series, and turns out it could be just the guidebook you need if you have a hankering to investigate spooky stuff. He also relays an assortment of unearthly experiences, much of it one of a kind.

Life After Life by Raymond Moody. Originally published in 1975, this remains essential reading. Moody, considered the grandfather of the Near Death Experience (NDE) movement, introduced the world to the phenomenon.

Also worth a check out: 

Between Two Worlds: Lessons from the Other Side by Tyler Henry

Near-death Experiences: Understanding our Visions of the Afterlife by John Martin Fischer

To find more information and materials all about this subject, try searching the catalog using these keywords and phrases: 

Near-death experiences.

Parapsychology — Investigation.

Ghosts.

Haunted places.

Ghosts — History.

Haunted places — History.

Parapsychology — Investigation — History.

Mediums — United States — Biography.

Clairvoyants — United States — Biography.

EPL’s Virtual Book Club says Bah! Humbug! to 2020!

Books with a general winter theme are the focus of discussion at our next meeting of the library’s virtual book club (Stay Home, Stay Reading) December 28 from 6-7pm. Read any title–fiction or nonfiction–of your choosing inspired by winter. Nary a sprig of new spring growth takes center stage this month! On Monday, Dec. 28, join us when you like, and leave when you like during our open discussion.  

If it’s possible to love and hate a season, then winter is it for me. I detest this dark season; yet, I enjoy hibernating and reading (or listening to) stories with a wintertime setting–the genre doesn’t matter. Still I grew up in Las Vegas, and grabbing a heavy sweater if you went out was about it for outside winter prep. The past years, starting around the Winter Solstice, even the cat knows now to look for me on the couch under a blanket, book in hand. In terms of daylight, Winter Solstice (December 21 this year) in Everett is 7 hours, 34 minutes shorter than on the longest day of the year, June Solstice. Las Vegas is a mere 4 hours, 55 minutes shorter than its longest day. I continue to adapt. 

A book with a chilly setting seems to be more haunting, or it can add a layer of mystery–which sends shivers down my spine. Maybe it’s the short days? If you’re looking for a great winter read, consider that much of Russian literature takes place where there is often snowfall, from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy to Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. Back in America, check out the snowy scenes in Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and an iceberg-cold lake in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Also known to fill an icy wintery vibe and be slow to unfold are those Scandinavian crime novels from authors such as Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø. Snow muffles sound, I’ve noticed, and books set in snow settings are a bit quieter. Whenever it’s snowy, too quiet and I’m alone reading Stieg Larsson, I check to make sure the doors and windows are locked. 

This season it seems appropriate to read or re-read, watch or rewatch A Christmas Carol, the beloved 1843 novella by Charles Dickens. Since it’s Dickens, you can expect that living circumstances are squalid. With few exceptions, there is great difficulty getting by in life, including for Tiny Tim, a child who uses a crutch. He is seen as being symbolic of the consequences of the protagonist’s choices. Our protagonist and well-off miser, Ebenezer Scrooge of Bah! Humbug! fame, scorns openly those who have less:

Merry Christmas! What right have you for being merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.

It is Christmas Eve, and what happens to Scrooge that night is among the greatest stories set in winter. A Christmas Carol is not about a holiday as much as it is about redemption, being for the light and against darkness, and being a good person. It is an inner dialogue you can have with yourself at any time of year. 

This year has a lot in common with Scrooge, who is described by Dickens as:

….squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; a frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

Scrooge and 2020 both give off a stench of sourpuss right up until the end when Scrooge has a reckoning, and one of 2020’s few bright spots is that a Covid vaccine has arrived or will soon. As I write this, today the first person in the Western world has received the vaccine–a 90-year-old British grandmother. In 2021, we can hope for a smooth, efficient roll out of the vaccine in the U.S. 

If you’re looking for A Christmas Carol, the library has a lot to offer. Whether you listen to the audiobook, read it digitally or in the physical book format; or watch one of its many adaptations for television and film over the years, it’s a delight to step away from 2020. Check out physical materials such as these television and film DVDs also.

Many versions have emerged as the story of saving Scrooge’s soul is re-imagined. For example: Scrooged starring Bill Murray, the 1938 film A Christmas Carol (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), the 1970 musical film Scrooge, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, the 1984 A Christmas Carol starring George C Scott, the 1992 The Muppet Christmas Carol, and on Hoopla, the 1951 B&W classic A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim.

This season I plan to re-watch the 1951 film version of A Christmas Carol that I have enjoyed many times, and I’ll read A Christmas Carol using, for the first time, a book I recently came across on a shelf at my apartment. It belonged to my mother, who died 25 years ago this Thanksgiving. The title was long gone from the spine, it was so worn. Her signature was on the inside page in pencil, Erna Mae Lueder. For the season, these two will be a good winter combo for me. What special title–winter or not–will you be reading or watching? 

If you need a few more December books to choose from, perhaps consider these titles: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld, We Met in December by Rosie Curtis, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

At the book club meeting, we will discuss whatever winter books you’ve been reading or read in the past: Dec. 28 at 6pm. 

To join the meeting, you’ll need a phone or a computer with internet access and a browser. No special software is required. Use this link: https://tinyurl.com/y5mhq3bk or call 425-616-3920 and use conference ID 919 910 778#

Books that Give Us Hope

“Have Hope, Stay Strong,” (Other Title, “Hope,”) was created by artist Giancarlo Mancuso and published by Amplifier in Seattle, 2020. Poster (left) shows a collage of illustrated images with a center circle reading: “Honor our heroes–Help fight against COVID-19–Help prevent spread–Stay home for those who can’t.”


Books that give us hope will be the uniting theme and focus of discussion at the next meeting of the library’s virtual book club (Stay Home, Stay Reading) November 23 from 6-7pm. Read any title–fiction or nonfiction–of your choosing inspired by this month’s theme.  

This month read a book that gives you hope. Winter is coming, and November represents the transition to it from the autumnal harvest season. Thanksgiving, a beloved holiday to many, is a day to reap the harvest and celebrate the bounty. Books that give us hope can make the transition to winter less cruel and dark, and remind us not to fear, for spring will follow. 

If you need a few more November books to choose from, perhaps consider these titles:

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan, fiction. “A close-knit group of 60-something black women deals with loss, illness, addicted family members, and the never-ending challenges of diet and exercise.” –Kirkus Reviews

All Adults Here by Emma Straub, fiction. “….a beach read for when you can’t get to the beach. …Family secrets come soothingly to light.” –Vox.com 

Humans by Brandon Stanton, nonfiction. “Just when we need it, ‘Humans’ reminds us what it means to be human.” –Washington Post

Keep Moving, Notes On Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith, nonfiction. Sage insights and advice to return to in times of confusion or loss.

Whether you prefer to read a book in a digital or physical format, options are available through the Everett Public Library. The library not only has eBooks and eAudiobooks, but also physical copies of titles, including audiobooks (on CD), playaways and graphic novels. 

Instead of focusing on a specific book, each month we invite readers to discuss books around a broad theme. Aiming for easy to access and fun, we want to spur on open-ended discussions. Come and go from the meeting when it’s convenient for you. Read a book, don’t read a book. No problem. For those who love to read and exchange views on books (or just sit back and take in the conversation!), join us. You never know when you’ll find your next treasured read, but joining the library’s virtual book club can make it that much easier to do. There is no formal registration. 

If you could use a little help ahead of time to learn how to get connected to the meeting, call the library (425-257-8000 and 425-257-8250), and talk to a librarian who can walk you through the process. You will need a device with audio and video and an Internet connection to participate. Doubleclick on the text “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” below, and you’re on your way. If you are not comfortable using video, that’s okay! You can still join. Simply call the phone number below and enter the password (conference ID) on your phone and you will be connected. 

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

+1 425-616-3920   United States, Seattle (Toll)

Conference ID: 919 910 778#

The Everett Public Library hosts a virtual book club meeting on the 4th Monday of the month from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. through 2020. Our next meeting is December 28. The December theme is Winter–Books that take place during the winter season.

Stay Home, Stay Reading in October

“October’s bright blue weather A good time to read!” Poster for the WPA Statewide Library Project, Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project (between 1936 and 1940). Looking for a delightful and free source for autumn and Halloween images? Check out the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. The selected items are from the Free to use and reuse resource, unless otherwise noted. This set of copyright free pictures features activities and scenery from late September through early November. Check back often! More images are regularly added.

Big book club announcement! We are changing up the how and when of the library’s virtual book club: Stay Home, Stay Reading. Join us for our monthly book discussion October 26 from 6-7 pm hosted digitally by the Everett Public Library. Starting this month, we will be hosting an open book discussion on the 4th Monday of the month from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. through 2020. You are free to read any title of your choosing. Instead of focusing on a specific book, each month we’ll invite readers to discuss books around a broad theme.

Aiming for easy to access and fun, we want to encourage more open-ended discussions. It can be a good time for the exchange of reading ideas.  

Here are the themes for 2020: 

October 26: The Unexplained 

November 23: Hope–Books that give us hope 

December 28:  Winter–Books that take place during the winter season 

This month’s connecting theme will be “The Unexplained.” Read a fiction or nonfiction title about which the reason for it or cause of it is unclear or is not known.

Does the idea of a spooky story give you chills? Are you interested in a nonfiction title identifying US lakes known for their monsters (including the Winged Alligator-Snake of Lake Chelan)? Perhaps you are more interested in curling up in front of a roaring fire with a mystery surrounding a baffling legend and a hellhound? Whether you want to learn more about ancient past rituals surrounding afterlife preparation or absorb details about the Witches’ Market in La Paz, the literary possibilities are endless. 

If you need a few more October books to choose from, perhaps consider these titles:

These titles are available through the EPL digital catalog. Just reserve an available copy of the ebook (or eAudioBook) and read it instantly using your library card or consider putting a hold on the title, and picking it up at one of our two Curbside Pickup libraries to get your hands on a physical book or audio book (plays CDs). If you have any questions, just ask library staff for more details at 425-257-8000 o 425-257-8250. 

Staff Picks: Favorites from Childhood

As a first grader, I checked out as many books from our public library as I could pile high in my arms (with my parents’ help). As quickly as my parents could read them to me, we would head back to the library for more. I grew up with favorites including Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and the Nancy Drew mystery series by Carolyn Keene. 

Having this routine of reading aloud with my parents led to a life of jubilant reading and writing. Having a routine of reading childhood favorites can be a fun way to bond with kids, and discuss how life was different in the past and how the books may be outdated. In that spirit of back to school, I surveyed the Everett Public Library staff to learn what favorite books they read starting from kindergarten through the end of high school. 

Leslie

That’s a tough one. There are so many. I recently read an excellent book by Jason Reynolds called Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, and I found it so much more accessible. It was an entertaining and educational read about the history of racism, racism itself and what you can do about it. I highly recommend it!

My favorite easy reader (and once again, there are so many) is called Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selnick. It’s laid out like a chapter book, so kids feel proud to read it. It’s funny! Baby Monkey, private eye, will investigate stolen jewels, missing pizzas, and other mysteries- if he can only figure out how to get his pants on. (He has a tail, of course!) As for a favorite picture book, I’d choose anything by Julia Donaldson. I can’t pick one. The Gruffalo, The Detective Dog, The Snail and the Whale, Superworm, and The Giant Jumperee are all excellent. I love them because they rhyme, have great stories and usually a surprise ending. 

Lisa 

When I was little I remember really loving books by Gyo Fujikawa and Joan Walsh Anglund. We went through a lot of books as a family so I don’t have one favorite that stands out – just how much I enjoyed reading and being read to. The book that stands out to me most from high school was The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Not a happy read by any means, but it left a deep impression. 

Linda

I loved My Side of the Mountain by Jean C. George because I was so impressed that he learned how to live in the wild from reading library books! I read it in 4th or 5th grade, so 10 or 11 years old. 

Scott

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Player Piano, which focuses on the human and social costs of workplace automation, made such an impression on me that within a month I’d read everything of Vonnegut’s I could get my hands on.

Andrea

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Each of five children lucky enough to discover an entry ticket into Mr. Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory takes advantage of the situation in his own way.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery:

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

Eileen 

If I had to choose a favorite childhood book, it would be the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved the mystical elements, and how Mary’s connection with nature and others helped her grow into herself. I also appreciated the darker, complex themes of grieving, hope and finding non-traditional family. 

Elizabeth

I read The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes when I was in third or fourth grade and it really had an impact on me; in fact I remember crying while reading it. The story is about bullying, accepting differences, and standing up and doing the right thing. It is based on a real life experience the author had in school. Art plays a role in the book as well, which always appeals to me, and the illustrations done in simple but brilliant watercolor and colored pencil are still beautiful all these years later.

Illustration from “The Hundred Dresses”

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell was probably the first survival story I read, and I still like them to this day. The determination and ingenuity of the stranded young girl, Karana, was so inspiring to me. She inadvertently gets left behind when her people sail away, and is all alone on the remote island for years. She builds shelter and protection, stockpiles provisions, befriends a wild dog, and spends time watching all the animals. It is a true story of female strength, persistence, perseverance, and survival.

Carol

Nancy Drew: The Case of the Safecracker’s Secret by Carolyn Keene

This book—part of a 4 book set my late, great Aunt Judy gave me for Christmas when I was 9—got me hooked on Nancy Drew, mysteries, and reading.

Kristen

Some of my favorite books from my childhood are: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey and The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I enjoyed reading them over and over. I also loved reading them to my daughter and getting to share those memories with her.

Kim

The first series I remember reading is the Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Four orphans live in an abandoned boxcar until they are discovered by their grandfather. After moving in with him, they set out to solve a variety of mysteries. Next would be the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder following her life from a little girl living with her family in  Little House in the Big Woods to her life with her husband and daughter in These Happy Golden Years. Then moving on to the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. I read the Hardy Boys too by Franklin W. Dixon but you know, boys. 

Two other stand outs are From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg about a brother and sister hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. 

If you want to know my most hated book of my childhood it would be Lord of the Flies!

Richard

One I remember loving from my pre-teen years was Grendel by John Gardner: This retelling of the Beowulf legend from Grendel’s point of view clicked with my growing sympathy for the vanquished and the idea that any story has multiple interpretations, depending on the teller.

Emily

When I was in kindergarten, I loved the Frances books by Russell Hoban; especially A Bargain for Frances. How does one get back at a conniving friend? Outsmart them, of course!  

Ron

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler provides the perfect young nerd fantasy: a kid living inside of a museum. This was my favorite book in 4th grade. Imagine the thrill of living independently as a 12-year-old, making use of items at hand for comfort and survival, spending days and nights researching and studying… Sigh.

Joyce 

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

When Harriet is encouraged to track her observations in a notebook, she does.  She fills notebook after notebook with brutally honest takes on her friends and family, school and home. It’s a great outlet until the notebook falls into the wrong hands. I read Harriet the Spy at age 10, and the idea that she would write down what she observed rang so true, I immediately started doing the same. I liked writing in notebooks, but I was very bad at sneaking around and eavesdropping. I decided to not become a spy, and instead continued reading Nancy Drew books to work toward Career Plan B: girl detective.   

Stay Home, Stay Reading

As the world moves online in response to the coronavirus, virtual book gatherings have grown in popularity. At Everett Public Library, we have also moved many events and programs online in an effort to continue supporting the community while our buildings are temporarily closed. Check out our website, and you will find that many of our pre-pandemic events and programs have moved online.

We are devising educational and useful, as well as fun and funny, virtual programs and events to meet community needs, and there is no admission fee for any of it. Families can take part in virtual child-centered events and book lovers can attend virtual author talks, interacting with writers directly. But what about book discussions you might ask?

We are happy to report that those who would like to discuss a book, can now hop online and come to the library’s monthly virtual book club: Stay Home, Stay Reading.

The library recently kicked off our Fall programs with a virtual author talk with Ellen Feldman, who joined us on August 25th from New York City for a conversation and questions about her latest novel, Paris Never Leaves You. Appropriately this month, Stay Home, Stay Reading will be discussing her novel. Check out our virtual book club event, Saturday, September 26th from 11 a.m. until noon. Information on how to join the discussion can be found here

Feldman’s novel, published in June, follows survivors of occupied Paris throughout and after World War II. It is a story of love, hardship and thorny choices in this vivid depiction of history. The story alternates between 1940s Paris and 1950s New York City, where Charlotte faces tough decisions and life is exhausting for both her and her daughter, Vivi.

In 1940s Paris, they fight to leave and seem to be growing weaker and more hungry with every moment. Charlotte, who works in a Parisian bookstore, gets a reprieve when a soldier comes into the shop, takes a liking to her and helps the mother and daughter get to America.

In 1950s New York City, Charlotte works in publishing where she doesn’t exactly fit in. Matters complicate when Vivi is interested in unearthing her roots and starts asking dangerous questions. Survival comes at a cost, and Charlotte, who has lived with her secret past with a German officer in war-torn Paris, would rather Vivi not dig too much. 

If you enjoyed Paris Never Leaves You, you may also like these titles. They are all available from the library.

City of Women by David Gillham, 2012, 400pp.

Most World War II stories–movies or books–include Nazis, black marketeers, Jewish children hiding in root cellars and attics, and a mysterious, blonde German woman who appears to be keeping secrets, probably underneath her trench coat. When these elements are used over and over, they can become very familiar, losing their intrigue and complex meaning. Fortunately for readers, Gillham takes those parts often at the heart of many World War II tales and puts an original spin on them. In his historical fiction debut about 1943 Berlin, the city is almost empty of men. It has become a City Of Women. This being the height of World War II, most able-bodied men are at war. Sigrid, the wife of a soldier away at war, cares for her disagreeable mother-in-law, goes to work every day, does what she can with rations and wearily keeps up a facade. There is a lot at risk–life and death is not relegated to the front lines. She is secretly in love with a former flame–he is a Jew. She trusts no one until she is forced to, which brings this page turner to an end that is full of suspense.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, 2017, 448pp.

The Pulitzer Prize winner (A Visit From The Goon Squad, 2010) does it again. This time, Egan seamlessly weaves together stories and time periods in this, her first traditionally written novel. The book opens in 1934, and the depression is in full force for Eddie and his 12-year-old daughter, Anna Kerrigan. They are going to the Manhattan Beach home of Dexter Styles, a mobster, in search of work for Eddie. Eddie’s tired of the other job he has for a crooked union boss. He needs something that will pay enough money to purchase a wheelchair for Lydia, his severely disabled youngest daughter. The story jumps forward. Anna has become, at age 19, the first diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, and she alone is supporting Lydia and their mother because Eddie disappeared 5 years ago. Anna has a great amount of moxie and determination, which serves her well when she decides she will become a diver. Egan researched the naval yard and its divers for years which makes for detailed descriptions of diving at that time, including the diving suits: what a suit felt like on as well as moving underwater in one. One night Anna approaches Styles for information about her father, and they become involved. Egan successfully combines details of the 30s and 40s, crime fiction and compelling three-dimensional characters to vividly immerse readers in a layered, fluid world which makes great efforts to look at what makes us tick. 

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, 2016, 496pp.

Kelly’s compelling first novel features the stories of three women, who alternate first-person narratives for 20 years–between 1939 and 1959, during and after World War II. In 1939, Hitler is on the march. Poland is captured. In northern Germany, Ravensbrück, the women’s concentration camp, becomes home to 74 “rabbits,” women selected for medical experimentation. Two of the three characters are based on the actual women–one a Ravensbrück doctor, the other an American actress. The third character, Kasia, a rabbit, comes from a compilation of actual camp residents. Despite being set in a world of vicious Nazis, this story is about second chances and determined, gutsy women who help each other survive–in camp and beyond. 

eCookbooks at EPL

A slew of new eCookbooks have landed at our online library!    

Ready to whip up a heap of comfort food, or try your hand as a dough puncher (industry lingo for bread baker)? Haven’t been out to the grocery store lately? We’ve got you covered. The library has eCookbooks for all of those scenarios and more. So. Let’s get cooking!

A few categories of cookbooks lend themselves perfectly to the practice of hibernating, settling inside for an extended period of time. One such type is pantry cooking: cookbooks chock full of recipes that use what you have on hand, and many are easy, perfect for cooks at entry level and up.

For instance, Michael Love has many yummy recipes in The Salvage Chef Cookbook: More Than 125 Recipes, Tips, and Secrets to Transform What You Have in Your Kitchen into Delicious Dishes for the Ones You Love. Besides the recipes, Love explains how to lengthen the shelf life of items and answers a variety of questions about how cooking meals can be easier and more successful based on the underpinnings of a kitchen.

Hack Your Cupboard: Make Great Food with What You’ve Got by Alyssa Wiegand goes over what food storage areas typically have (and what they ought to have) and then delves into age-specific guidance to help you move on to more ambitious meals. Under the heading Toast, Wiegand offers three kinds of Avocado toast as well as adventurous versions of meal and snack staples, including Pepperoni Grilled Cheese and Curry Lime popcorn. Under Raman Hacks cooks can select from, among others,  Raman with Ham, Egg and Spinach as well as Coconut Curry Raman. I also like the sound of her Rotisserie Chicken Hacks and the list of many marvelous Microwave Hacks recipes, including Mushroom and Egg Cheese Bowl. And finally, show off your new cooking skills in what she calls, A Family Celebration Dinner, a collection of recipes to choose from for dinner and dessert.

Add ‘easy’ to ‘make with comfort food’ and you have yourself a popular recipe. Danielle Centoni turns an old standby favorite, fried rice, on its head with delectable results. with Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up the World’s Favorite Grain. For easy and healthy, try Fix-It and Forget-It Healthy 5-Ingredient Cookbook by Hope Comerford. For easy and fast, check out The Two-Pan, One-Pot Cookbook: A Guide to Cooking Great Meals Quickly, in Any Kitchen, and On Any Budget by Hope Korenstein. It can help you to swiftly deliver a meal and remove hunger pains at the same time.

Besides the aforementioned titles, aspiring cooks can pick up valuable information that deconstructs how all the food parts fit together in the critically acclaimed Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat.

Comfort and freshly baked bread go hand in hand (don’t forget the butter!). If you’re looking for all of the above as well as the ultimate weekend baking project (any two days will do) that ends with you popping a warm piece of bread in your mouth, see if these cookbooks don’t do the trick.

In David Norman’s debut cookbook, Bread on the Table: Recipes for Making and Enjoying Europe’s Most Beloved Breads, he spells out bread baking traditions, learned first-hand traveling throughout Europe and North America. Home bakers will revel in the clear instructions and terrific photography, as well as the menu suggestions, which he has designed to showcase the bread you make. A fixture in Austin, head baker Norman and Easy Tiger Bakery and Beer Garden have recently committed to baking 10,000 loaves in 60 days to distribute to organizations that are experiencing increased demands from those in need, a direct result of the Coronavirus. Norman’s book was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by The New York Times Book Review in 2019.

Then there’s David Leader’s Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making, released last October. Living Bread is an introduction to everything bread and includes recipes inspired from bakers around the world.  A pioneer in American artisan bread baking, Leader started baking bread out of a wood-fired oven in the southern Catskills. From the start, he produced traditional, European-style bread shaped by hand. Perfect for the enthusiastic home baker.

Bon appétit!