Everett Reads!

We are pleased to announce that bestselling author Jamie Ford will be at Everett’s Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 4th at 7:30 p.m. in celebration of the kickoff for Everett Public Library’s one-community, one-book program, “Everett Reads!

For the month of February, the community of Everett is encouraged to read Ford’s popular book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  Admission to Ford’s talk is free, and he will also be signing books following his presentation.

Everett Public Library selected Hotel based on the results of a public poll for title suggestions. Once it was confirmed that Ford was available in February, planning for the rest of the month’s programs were underway.

In February, Everett Public Library will be offering many programs for all ages designed to enhance the reader’s experience of Ford’s book. Russel Bareng of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle will discuss the history of Seattle’s International District. Filmmaker Lucy Ostrander will screen and discuss her film East of Occidental. Seattle Times jazz critic Paul De Barros will discuss the early Jazz scene in Seattle. Everett Public Library’s Historian David Dilgard will present a program on the history of the Japanese Gulch. Children can come celebrate Chinese New Year and participate in a time capsule program. And rounding out the month will be a family-friendly “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it’ ain’t got that Swing” jazz/swing concert at the Main Library.

Of course, the public is invited to book discussions, as well.

For full details of this coming month of events, visit our on-line calendar or pick up a flyer (and a book!) at the library today!

Kate

Sometimes the Critics are Just Plain Wrong

book coverA few of us at the library got suckered into reading Adam Ross’s Mr. Peanut based largely on its favorable review in the New York Times. We might have been wise to take in the preponderance of other reviews, which are peppered with the often intentionally ambiguous adjectives “ambitious,” “inspired,” and “unique.”

Indeed, Mr. Peanut is a complex piece of crime writing that incorporates a mind-boggling number of themes, red herrings and alternate endings. Into a story about a marriage gone horribly wrong, it attempts to meaningfully integrate themes such as game theory, the art of M.C. Escher, the tyranny of peanut allergies, our country’s love affair with unsolved crime (á la Dr. Richard Kimble), office romance, troubled marriages, infertility, and body image issues (to name a few).

Since the book’s publication, it has since received an equally mind-boggling number of mixed reviews, from experts and lay persons alike.

Last month the nation celebrated banned books week, and that list of books is certainly characterized by mixed reviews. Can you think of others?  Even though a few of us at the library didn’t like Mr. Peanut, you might. How often are book critics right? Well, that’s for YOU to decide.

Kate
 

Reading as a Collective Experience

For the past two years, Everett Public Library has partnered with Sno-Isle Libraries to bring The Big Read to all of Snohomish and Island counties. The Big Read is an example of an extremely far-reaching program designed to bring the book back into the cultural center of American life.

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This month, I had the privilege of reading Gary Mack’s Mind Gym with my roller derby team. My team is ranked 7th in the West and will be competing at the upcoming regional tournament for an even higher ranking. So in addition to physical training, we have also chosen to prepare our minds to be competitive at a higher level.

Mind Gym isn’t a book that has broad appeal, but it’s a book that is bringing my team and coaches together in ways that simply training for a sport wouldn’t. We discuss the things in the book that inspire each of us and make suggestions from the book to others. This dialogue, in turn, informs the way we play.

Everett Public Library has books like this available in sets for you to use, too. We continuously nurture our Book Group Set collection so that it stays fresh. You can choose from over 60 titles, with about equal selection of fiction and non-fiction. Even if you don’t belong to a formal book group, you may have a circle of friends that would enjoy reading one of these titles together. Reading is immensely enjoyable as an individual experience, but it can also be an experience that you share with your communities, large and small.

In 2011, the library would like to bring a more personalized, local community reading experience to Everett. What would you like to read? What would you like to read with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family? Please take a minute to fill out our poll and let us know.

Kate

Read-Alikes

Cigarettes were the Agent Orange you paid for. –Sully (Hearts in Atlantis)

The Things They Carried is widely hailed as one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. Sometimes poignant war stories sneak up on you, where you least expect them.

I recently picked up Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis due to a recommendation I heard months ago, from none other than Seattle’s favorite reader, Nancy Pearl. I remembered her saying that Hearts in Atlantis was terrifying because of the way the terror slowly reveals itself. Though I had previously really enjoyed Stephen King’s books, I hadn’t read one in years. Pearl’s description made me want to check in with King again.

Hearts in Atlantis is a book that, strangely, complements O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. In these two books, King and O’Brien are telling a story of survival, lost innocence, and a war’s interminable legacy. And in their own way, both books are a little fantastical. In Hearts in Atlantis, King brings in his penchant for terror early in his protagonists’ lives, long before they ever go to war. He then uses that terror to explore the reasons why some became anti-war activists and why others became soldiers.

You won’t find Hearts in Atlantis on any “read-alike” list for The Things They Carried. There are many outstanding books about war, or that use war as a metaphor.  The Everett Public Library currently owns 57 titles with the Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 — Fiction subject heading, and even more under Vietnam War, 1961-1975 — Fiction.

What I enjoyed most about reading Hearts in Atlantis was not just the book itself, but the transcendence of Pearl’s recommendation, the way the book unexpectedly balanced my reading of O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. To me, this is what programs like The Big Read are all about!

Kate

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May is the Month of the Big Read

book coverWe are pleased to be participating in our second year of our partnership with the Sno-Isle Libraries in bringing The Big Read to all of Snohomish and Island Counties. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture—to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

 This year the book selection is Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War tour de force, The Things They Carried. Comprised of short stories O’Brien wrote over a period of years, this book has continued to receive critical acclaim since it was published. In fact, this year the book has been re-released in hardcover in recognition of its 20th anniversary.

The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.

We hope you will join us, in reading and experiencing this book during the month of May. To enhance your experience, we have many great programs on offer including a documentary film series that includes titles that were once unavailable to the American public. We also have a display in the main library of “Things” that guest speaker and Veteran Jim Pace himself carried in the War. (Pace will speak at the main library on May 8.)

A very special event, a “Book-It”-like verbatim performance of Things will be presented, free of charge, at Everett High School’s Little Theatre at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 15.

 For information on all of the programs and events throughout Snohomish and Island Counties, visit our Big Read website

Kate