Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

The song Changes by David Bowie has the lyrics “ch-ch-ch-ch changes (Turn and face the strange) ch-ch-ch-changes” and I’ve been thinking about those words a lot lately.

Life during a pandemic has been difficult and even scary. Many things have changed drastically: schools, businesses and parks are closed, work has been relegated to those who can work from home and some jobs have been flat out eliminated. People are having to stay at home, stay healthy and the changes are happening at a pace that makes my head spin.

Looking back, I regret that I wasn’t more prepared both physically and mentally for this change. When we were required to go home from our work positions at the library, I thought oh well. . . maybe we’ll be closed for a couple of weeks. Boy was I in La-La land. In a way, it was probably better that I didn’t know the extent of all that was going to happen or I wouldn’t have been able to serve the library in a professional manner.

The words I would use to describe this time in history include fear, loss, and grief but also resiliency and empathy. I made a search of the library catalog using the terms Change, Stress, Anger and Resilience to see what items would come up. Here are some of my great finds!

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David.

From the catalog summary: Emotional agility is a revolutionary, science-based approach that allows us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. Renowned psychologist Susan David developed this concept after studying emotions, happiness, and achievement for more than twenty years. She found that no matter how intelligent or creative people are, or what type of personality they have, it is how they navigate their inner world—their thoughts, feelings, and self-talk—that ultimately determines how successful they will become.

Something I have personal experience with is the cognitive behavior and freedom technique called Tapping or psychological acupressure. This therapy utilizes meridian points to restore the balance of energy and help resolve physical and emotional issues. Similar to mindfulness, it draws your attention to your body and breathing and serves as a mental distraction from issues causing anxiety or stress. You might ask if it works? Well it didn’t hurt and it gave my something new to try.

If you want to learn more, the library has the ebook The Tapping Solution: a Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living by Nick Ortner . 

From the catalog summary: In a friendly voice, he lays out easy-to-use practices, diagrams and worksheets that will teach readers, step-by-step, how to tap on a variety of issues. With chapters covering everything from the alleviation of pain to the encouragement of weight loss to fostering better relationships, Ortner opens readers’ eyes to just how powerful this practice can be. 

A memoir that came up in my search that looks really interesting is On Being Human: a Memoir of Waking up, Living Real and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff. 

From the catalog summary: An inspirational memoir about how Jennifer Pastiloff’s years of waitressing taught her to seek out unexpected beauty, how deafness taught her to listen fiercely, how being vulnerable allowed her to find love, and how imperfections can lead to a life full of wild happiness.

A fourth digital book that came up in my search and looks worthwhile is Change Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance by Rodger Dean Duncan.

From the catalog summary: In this radical new book, practitioner Rodger Dean Duncan shows that humanness, approachability, and friendliness are necessary but often overlooked elements of making change successful. Change cannot be achieved by a press release, slogan, or announcement. Effective organizational change requires the active, mindful participation of the people affect.

Things are still changing and will likely never go back to ‘how it used to be’ but together we can strive to make it less painful and frightening by being there for each other and understanding ‘we are all in the same boat.’  

Memories of another graduation season

Cartoon of a man sitting on a riverbank, fishing. The word "seniors" is written above him.

Senior title page from the 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

The class of 2020 faces a graduation season that is unlike anything seen before. While some schools move forward with in-person graduation ceremonies, many have scrambled to creatively meet the challenges created by the need to socially distance and limit contact. There are drive-through graduation ceremonies, virtual graduation ceremonies, and car parades past student and faculty housing. Needless to say, this graduation season will be one for the history books.

I wanted to see what graduation looked like 100 years ago, for the class of 1920 – another graduating class that lived through a series of unprecedented challenges. During their teen years this class witnessed labor unrest, a global pandemic, and a World War. The statement from the class of 1920 gives us a little insight into how these events impacted them.

Senior Class A's Statement - a full page of text with two portraits on the top - one boy and one girl.

Page one of Senior Class A’s statement in the 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

Senior class A's statement. This is a full page of text

Page 2 of Senior Class A’s statement in the 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

This was a class that started its high school experience just before the Everett Massacre occurred in November of 1916, after months of labor unrest had rocked their city and their region. As alluded to in their essay, they had a 6-week ‘vacation’ when the Influenza pandemic that knocked the world to its knees closed Washington schools in the fall of 1918. Some of these students left to go to war in the middle of their schooling, seeing action in the hellish battlefields of France, only to return to Everett High School to finish their classes.

Yearbook page showing student portraits and information about their activities

Page from the Senior Class A section of the 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

Despite all this turmoil, these students remained essentially what they were: teens. Young people with hobbies, inside jokes, and a fierce sense of loyalty and belonging to their cohort. You can read in their statements, their activity pages, and in their class seniorscopes a little bit about who they were. They had gotten involved with the Service League and Red Cross to help aid the war effort, and I suspect to help pack gauze for the influenza response. Their story about the freshman year candy sale triumph must have been a particular point of pride, because they also boasted about it in their junior year statement in 1919. Competition between the different classes must have been fierce, with the hazing of incoming freshman a known threat and the frequent jibes you see in other annuals making fun of underclassmen.

Chart showing stats about different class members of senior class A

A page from the Seniorscope section for Senior Class A – 1920. Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

They loved music, and flirting with each other, and making up goofy nicknames. There were slackers and overachievers, and heartbreakers. They were sassy and nerdy and, well, teenagers.

Back in the earlier days of Everett High School you often had smaller graduating classes who finished their studies after the first semester of their final year. The 1920 Nesika has a section for a class of 1919 1/2, which from the sounds of it was a proud group of misfits.

Class of 1919 1/2 statement

The statement from the class of 1919 1/2, 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

These were students who were transfers, or those who briefly left school to work, or in this period fought in a war. For whatever reason, they returned to earn their last few credits and move on with their lives. Some were destined to follow in their fathers’ footsteps into the mills and logging camps, while others continued on with their education either taking junior college classes at Everett High School or entering the University of Washington. Many of these students were probably the first in their families to seek a college degree.

Yearbook page with student portraits and activities

A page of students from Senior Class 1919 1/2 in the 1920 Everett High School Nesika, Everett Public Library

Horoscope page for the class of 1919 1/2

Horoscope page for the class of 1919 1/2, 1920 Everett High School Nesika. Everett Public Library

This blog isn’t meant to be a discussion about how other kids may have had things worse at some time in the past. Instead, it’s a celebration of the resilience of youth. This is certainly not the graduation that the class of 2020 imagined themselves having. Despite that, our students are constantly adapting and learning to meet the challenges that they face during this extraordinary time. Just as the class of 1920 had to figure out their next steps after they made it through turmoil, so are today’s teens trying to figure out where the future will take them. Maybe that will be a new job, or off to college, or some other new adventure. I hope that like the class of 1920, they will be embarking on the next phase of their journey bolstered by the strength and support of their peers and will meet each new experience with the same sense of humor and pride gained from their shared experiences.

Best wishes to the class of 2020 – we’re proud of you!

Take a Listen

If you are a regular visitor to A Reading Life you may have noticed some new features recently. In addition to our more dynamic links to library social media, we have just added a brand spanking new podcast page, with a link conveniently located under our signature image. Here you will find the latest podcasts created by our talented team of library audio enthusiasts as they roll off the presses.

And oh what a unique and talented group they are.

If you are in the mood for some music reviews, head over to Mr. Neutron’s Record Closet and enjoy reviews from all musical genres with some surprises and mysteries to discover as well. Towels recommended.

If books are more to your liking, take a listen to what the Lone Reader has to say. Librarians have always hung back, but now one librarian takes his guns to town.

For a unique audio take on notable films, settle in and listen to the Treatment Film Reviews.

If you want to learn more about the history of our fair city and its surroundings, you have a treasure trove of audio delights to sample. Far from dry and academic, these recordings incorporate unique voices, music and sound effects to bring the past to life. Here is a small sampling.

Find out about Snohomish resident and writer John Patric who in 1958 was involuntarily committed to Northern State Hospital for the Insane. As permitted by Washington State law, Patric demanded—and received—a jury trial to determine the matter of his sanity. This is the story of that trial, and of John Patric.

Amid mud and exploding stumps…a library! This podcast, celebrating the 125th anniversary of Everett Public Library, tells the story of how the Everett Woman’s Book Club parlayed political muscle and donated books to build an enduring civic institution during hard economic times.

Many fascinating stories are to be heard in the Smokestack Soundbites series, audio stories from the Everett Public Library about the history and life of our city and our county.

If you like your tales straight from the source, take a listen to the Everett Voices series. These podcasts are edited versions of recordings in Everett Public Library’s oral history collection, giving 21st Century listeners intimate insight into events and times otherwise lost to us today.

These are just a sampling of all the unique podcast content already created by the talented staff of the library. Check back often, for new and interesting tales and reviews to listen to. You won’t be disappointed!

Fairies vs Vampires

Hmmm, should this blog be sweet or gory?

A little while ago, I had a young reader excitedly ask for the Isadora Moon book series. She was so animated while telling me about Isadora, whose mother was a fairy and father was a vampire, and how her favorite colors were pink and black. 

The young reader was such an excellent book-talker, the first in the series made it to the top of my reading list (I believe most librarians have to-be-read lists longer their arm)! The Isadora Moon series by Harriet Muncaster is about a girl who needs to be true to herself and that means not always fitting in where others may expect her to. I love how this relatable theme is shown through the lens of fairy vs vampire.

OK, if you’ve interacted with me before, you knew this was not going to be a gory blog! Check out today’s list of cute downloadable stories, inspired by the Isadora Moon series, combining fairy and vampire characters. The book descriptions are from the Everett Public Library catalog.

Picture Book

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale by Lynne Marie

Forget Goldilocks and the three bears—MOLDILOCKS and the THREE SCARES are here, in a delightful new version of the popular story. Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a haunted house where they eat finger sandwiches and alpha-bat soup. One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound, of course) to let their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, a chair, and a bed that’s just right. Kids will love this hauntingly funny story with its surprise ending!

Beginning Chapter Books

Sylva and the Fairy Ball by Margaret McNamara.

With Sylva and the Fairy Ball, Margaret McNamara launches the Fairy Bell Sisters, an enchanting new chapter-book series. The books feature Tinker Bell’s little sisters and are a must-read for lovers of the Rainbow Fairies and Disney Fairies stories. Clara Bell, Golden Bell, Rosy Bell, Sylva Bell, and baby Squeak are fairy sisters who live on Sheepskerry Island. Usually Sylva and her sisters get along just fine–until the week of the Fairy Ball. Sylva has her heart set on going–she’ll get to wear magical diamond wings and walk on beautiful satin ribbons under the stars! But fairies must be at least eight years old to attend, and poor Sylva’s birthday is the day after the ball. But before the night is over, Sylva’s big sisters will need her to come to their rescue. Charming illustrations by Julia Denos bring the world of fairies to life.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

Meet Isadora Moon! She’s half-fairy, half-vampire and totally unique! Isadora Moon loves sunshine — and nighttime. She loves her magic wand — and her black tutu. She loves spooky bats — and Pink Rabbit. Isadora is half-fairy, half-vampire, and she’s special because she is different!

Now Isadora’s parents want her to start school, but she’s not sure where she belongs — fairy school or vampire school?

Juvenile Fiction

My Fangtastically Evil Vampire Pet by Mo O’Hara

Welcome to Camp Mwhaaa-haa-ha-a-watha! This summer is going to be epic. Epically evil, that is. ‘Cause I’m going to Evil Scientist Summer Camp! No annoying little brothers. No annoying zombie goldfish. Just me, my best friend Sanj, our notebook of evil plans, and my truly evil (and totally forbidden) vampire kitten Fang. We’ve got it all planned out. Okay, so maybe I didn’t expect for the totally not-evil Geeky Girl to show up, or for Sanj to find a new partner to work with, but there’s no way I’m going to let them ruin my summer. Evil Emperor of the Camp, here I come! Signed, The Great and Powerful Mark.

Bunnicula by Deborah Howe

THIS book is written by Harold. His full time occupation is dog. He lives with Mr. and Mrs. X (here called Monroe) and their sons Toby and Pete. Also sharing the home are a cat named Chester and a rabbit named Bunnicula. It is because of Bunnicula that Harold turned to writing. Someone had to tell the full story of what happened in the Monroe household after the rabbit arrived.

It all began when the Monroes went to see the movie Dracula At the theater Toby found something on his seat, a baby rabbit that he took home and named Bunnicula. It proved to be an apt name, at least as far as Chester was concerned. A well-read and observant cat, he soon decided that there was something odd about the newcomer. For one thing he seemed to have fangs. And the odd markings on his back looked a little like a cape. Furthermore, Bunnicula slept from sunup to sundown. He was awake only at night.

When the family started funding white vegetables, drained dry, with two fang marks in them, Chester was sure Bunnicula was a vampire. But what to do about it. None of the family seemed to grasp the trouble, and Chester’s hilarious hints were totally misunderstood.

Was Bunnicula really a vampire? Only Bunnicula knows for sure. But the story of Chester’s suspicions and their consequences makes uproarious reading.

This title is also available as downloadable audiobook!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia

Could Dr. Frankenstein’s machine ever animate a body? Why should vampires drink from veins and not arteries? What body parts are best for zombies to eat? (It’s not brains.) This fascinating encyclopedia of monsters delves into the history and science behind eight legendary creatures, from Bigfoot and the kraken to zombies and more. Find out each monster’s origin story and the real-world history that informed it, and then explore the science of each creature in fun and surprising ways. Tips and infographics—including monster anatomy, how to survive a vampire attack, and real-life giant creatures of the deep sea—make this a highly visual and fun-to-browse book.

Library Video Highlights

There is no doubt that our patrons (and staff!) miss going to our stellar buildings and accessing all the library has to offer in person. While our locations remain shuttered and quiet for now, there is actually quite a lot going on in the virtual realm here at the library. So much so that you might have missed some of the great content being created by members of the community and staff for you to enjoy.

To help keep you up to date, here are few recent video highlights that you just might want to check out.

If you are feeling crafty, Elizabeth is here to help you create funky figures for all to enjoy.

Fred Cruger, a volunteer at the Granite Falls Historical Museum, gives an interactive demo of the Snohomish County Historic Register Map. A big “thank you” to Fred for sharing his expertise!

We are all about telling stories here at the library. Enjoy a few from our ever expanding selection of stories for children of all ages, read by a diverse cast of characters.

Miss Andrea entertains with an enthusiastic Toddler Storytime all about shapes.

In this Baby Storytime, Miss Emily, her cat Celia and stuffed turkey read Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton.

Guest storyteller Officer Vander Lei reads about a Horrible Bear on a police motorcycle no less.

Not to be outdone, fireman Barry Pomeroy tells the story of Fire Truck vs Dragons from the inside of an actual fire truck.

If you want to access more of our video content (and why wouldn’t you?) visit the Everett Public Library YouTube Channel or Facebook video feed. Happy viewing and stay tuned for more!

Feeling Lonely?

Stuck at home and lonely. That’s where a lot of us are right now! Let’s be sure not to confuse alone with lonely. Some people are perfectly happy to be alone to work on what they want. Many avoid being lonely by talking to friends on the phone or through Facebook, Zoom or whichever technology they may be using. Sone others, however, can be in a houseful of people and still feel socially isolated and desperate for human interactions that are outside of their family circle.

Hopefully, you are not alone and have family in the house with you and the ability to “be” with your friends.

Of course, being stuck indoors with family can also be annoying! I think everyone should have their own private space set aside where they can take time out from the world. Perhaps your bedroom with the door shut or even hang out in the laundry room or bathroom. Now may also be the time to institute a ‘quiet hour’ where everyone either naps or sits individually with a book or craft.

I have been looking at Creativebug, which is in our online resources, and have seen a lot of family friendly crafts that are easy to do with stuff you have lying around the house. There was an especially easy weaving project where all you need is some leftover bits of yarn and a piece of thin cardboard from the recycling bin to get you started.

Perhaps you have a yard you can sit in and enjoy. Why not have fun with your family and start a small vegetable or flower garden? Ask Ciscoe: Your Gardening Questions Answered by Ciscoe Morris is a great resource to get you started, and Small Garden Style by Jennifer Blaise Kramer will give you great ideas for making use of the smallest garden spaces such as patios or your deck. Early spring is the perfect time to start a garden. You may also want to see if there is a community garden in your neighborhood or a vacant lot that could become one.

While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can enjoy planning a trip. We have many Lonely Planet Travel Guides in ebook format to explore. Pretend you are going to Fiji, the South Pacific, Paris or Berlin! Or you can watch a show on Kanopy and take a virtual trip. On the tab ‘sciences’ under ‘zoology’ there are a number of shows about animals from all over the world. And of course, you won’t need a travel guide if you are sitting in your living room!

No matter what you find to do, it is good to remember that this is all temporary. You may even look back on it eventually and say “remember when we were all stuck at home? I kind of miss that.” Stay safe and healthy!

Know About Novelist?

There are many ways we at Everett Public Library try to to help you find your next great read. Normally, we offer book clubs, Everett Reads!, book displays all over the library, and author talks, plus you can ask us for recommendations in person. Right now the options are more limited since we are closed, but you can still check out our book reviews and Notable New Fiction book lists on our blog, A Reading Life. We have staff picks collections that show up in our catalog. You can email us at libref@everettwa.gov, call us Monday-Friday from 10-5 (425-257-8000), or ask us for recommendations on Facebook. If none of those appeal to you read on.

Novelist is one of many research databases that the library subscribes to for our patrons to use, but it happens to be one that a lot of librarians use on occasion as well. It’s a fast way for busy librarians to find a list of books similar to a one a patron just finished. It has a variety of ways to find your next read by genre, appeal, themes, and award winners. I recently used it myself to discover how I might describe a certain type of book that I love reading.

Since we’ve been been staying home basically all the time due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy emergency order, I’ve been listening to more audiobooks on weekends. I finished one I really enjoyed called After Me Comes the Flood, by Sarah Perry, and realized how much I have liked the other books I’ve read by her, The Essex Serpent and Melmoth (for a fascinating look at what was happening medically in her life when she wrote that one, check out this Guardian article “Out of my mind: Sarah Perry on writing under the influence of drugs“).

Since there wasn’t another book by her I could listen to, I decided to see how NoveList categorized or described After Me Comes the Flood.
Genre: First person narratives; Psychological suspense
Storyline: Character-driven
Pace: Leisurely paced
Tone: Atmospheric; Creepy

Okay, so I like creepy, psychological books that take place in eerie, atmospheric settings. I always knew I was weird. So how to find more? When searching by title, scroll past the reviews to find a Search for More option where you can choose from those descriptors and more to find similar books. For me it was the creepiness, atmosphere, and psychological suspense that were most appealing, so I can check those boxes to find similar titles, 66 of them in this case.


Searching by author gives the option for author read-alikes and title read-alikes lists. This is one of the most useful functions of NoveList for librarians, because you will get a printable list to be able to hand to patrons for future reading ideas.

You will often find NoveList recommendations right in our catalog without having to navigate to NoveList. Look up the title of the book you loved, click on the link to fully open the information about the title, scroll down a bit, and often you will find Read-alikes right there.

NoveList is not just for novels – there are nonfiction categories to search through – and it isn’t just for adult books. You can find books for ages 0-8, 9-12, and teens. There are many genres to choose from for each age range; for instance Ages 9-12 brings up a real variety such as Adventure Stories, Horror, If you Like…, and Mysteries.

We also subscribe to NoveList K-12, which is similar but focused on books for kids and teens. By doing an advanced search you can find books in the right reading level (Accelerated Reader and Lexile), publish date, and even limit by gender and cultural identity of the author. You can also look for titles that received starred reviews.

Another nice thing about NoveList is that it connects with our catalog; by clicking on Check Availability and then Go to Catalog, you can place a hold on the book. What NoveList doesn’t do so well is find our ebooks – it seems to only be able to connect with our print copies of titles. Still, you may find it useful to find a list of titles to read now or in the future.

May you find something good to read in whatever way suits you best. We are still here, ready to help.

Happy reading!