Who Writes Those TV Shows, Anyway?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to actually write a TV show? We have an excellent book on the subject at the library!

Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell talks about how the author went from college to a few years in New York and then began a career writing for television in Los Angeles. The highlight of her career (so far!) was being the showrunner (head writer and all around show boss) of Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

It’s not exactly an “anyone can do it” type of story. She went to college at Harvard and freely admits that the connections she made there had a lot to do with her success. I still found it fascinating to read about how writing for a television show actually works and to follow her personal journey, especially since she is a woman in a very male-dominated business.

She says the career of a television writer has four stages:

  1. Who is Nell Scovell?
  2. Get me Nell Scovell!
  3. Get me a younger, cheaper Nell Scovell!
  4. Who is Nell Scovell?

There’s some fun name-dropping in the book as well (she’s been close friends with magicians Penn and Teller since she was young).

Happy Pride Month!

If you were young and LGBTQ+ anytime before 1969, there was no world wide web, no “customers who bought this item also bought,” and no friendly librarians steeped in the parlance of broad-mindedness, diversity and human variety. Gay literature was not positively represented. In June, we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month with the commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which spurred the start of the modern gay rights movement.

Among other things, that movement lead to a shift in the perception of gay literature, and the acceptance of it remains a work in progress, a not-quite-there-yet effort. This annual observance showcases a glorious variety of humans, and it is a reminder that work remains to keep the evolution of LGBTQ+ rights moving in the direction of equality. As the Library of Congress put it, Pride month demonstrates “how LGBTQ Americans have strengthened our country, by using their talent and creativity to help create awareness and goodwill.”

Celebrate Pride with fiction and nonfiction from your library! Links titled Subjects, Genre, and Topics offer even more reading, listening and watching ideas. For a dash of past Pride, check out these blog posts from across the Library of Congress related to LGBTQ history. And now, onto the suggestions!

FOR KIDS 

Who is RuPaul? by Nico Medina. 

In this child-level nonfiction biography, learn how this Emmy-winning host, producer, and television personality became the world’s most famous drag queen. Even as a young child, RuPaul Andre Charles loved to dress up and imitate the glamorous women he saw on television. When he turned fifteen, he began studying theater in a performing arts school in Atlanta and never looked back. — from the publisher’s description

Be Amazing: A History of Pride by Desmond Napoles; pictures by Dylan Glynn

A kid-friendly primer to LGBTQ history that covers everything from the Stonewall Riots to RuPaul’s “Drag Race.” “Be Amazing” encourages young readers to embrace their own uniqueness and ignore the haters. Ages 0-8.

Subjects:Gays — Juvenile literature. Sexual minorities — Juvenile literature. Sexual orientation — Juvenile literature. Transgender people — Juvenile literature. Picture books for children. Gay liberation movement. Gay Pride Day.

FICTION

Patricia Highsmith‘s eerie 1952 romance-as-thriller, The Price of Salt, got the Hollywood treatment in 2015 and emerged as the feature film Carol. The rights to her first novel, Strangers on a Train, published in 1950, were immediately secured by Alfred Hitchcock, who released the classic film of the same name in 1951. She had her own group of underground Manhattan friends, all closeted lesbian “creatives,” including the remarkable photographer Berenice Abbott and the writer Djuna Barnes (doomy, melodramatic Nightwood, 1936).

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo  

Evaristo, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize for this title, is the first black woman to receive this highest literary honor in the English language. She compels the reader to accommodate and adjust, and the rewards for this tiny bit of mental labor are extraordinary. As she creates a space for immigrants and the children of immigrants to tell their stories, Evaristo explores a range of topics both contemporary and timeless. There is room for everyone to find a home in this extraordinary novel. Beautiful and necessary. — Kirkus Reviews.  Available to check out as a book club set!

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Cynical August starts to believe in the impossible when he meets Jane on the subway, a mysterious punk rocker she forms a crush on, who is literally displaced in time from the 1970s and is trying to find her way back. McQuiston’s joyful sophomore romp mixes all the elements that made “Red, White & Royal Blue” so outstanding—quirky characters, coming-of-age confusion, laugh-out-loud narration, and hilarious pop-cultural references (“Bella Swan, eat your horny little Mormon heart out”)—into something totally its own. 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this novel about a resilient and courageous woman transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women has become a Broadway show and a cultural phenomenon. Check out the book or the feature film.

Bessie  (DVD) starring Queen Latifah. Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of the Blues,” was a bold, supremely confident artist who sang with breathtaking emotional intensity on songs such as “Down Hearted Blues,” “Empty Bed Blues,” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” — Britannica.  While you’re at it, check out other materials featuring this Tennessee native.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Set in El Paso, Texas in the 80s, the novel follows two Mexican-American teenagers, their friendship, and their struggles with racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and family relationships. A gem of a coming-of-age YA story.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. In the early 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Post rebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center. Check out the book or the feature film.  

Subjects:Gay teenagers — Drama. Sexual reorientation programs — Drama. 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Emezi’s debut novel incorporates Igbo cosmology into her semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel about a young woman, Ada, who must contend with a multitude of identities living within her as she navigates the world—first in Nigeria and later as an immigrant in the United States. Exploring the spaces between gender, culture, and existence, Emezi writes of identities that do not fit neatly into a single category. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

A Vietnamese-American poet’s debut mines his extraordinary family story with passion and beauty. The novel also draws on elements of his life, to tell the coming-of-age story of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. 

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin 

When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened – while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson 

Describes the funny, poignant adventures of a young girl’s adolescence. Jeanette is a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an evangelical household in the dour, industrial North of England and finds herself embroidering grim religious mottoes and shaking her little tambourine for Jesus. Jeanette’s insistence on listening to truths of her own heart and mind—and on reporting them with wit and passion—makes for an unforgettable, moving chronicle into adulthood. “Winterson’s voice, with its idiosyncratic wit and sensitivity, is one you’ve never heard before.” — Ms. Magazine

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Tired of being labeled white trash, Ruth Anne Boatwright–a bastard who is attached to the indomitable women in her mother’s family–longs to escape from her hometown, and especially from Daddy Glen and his mean-spirited jealousy. Allison’s remarkable country voice emerges in a first novel spiked with pungent characters ranging from the slatternly to the grotesque, and saturated with sense of place — Greenville, S.C.

A landmark coming-of-age novel that launched the career of one of this country’s most distinctive voices, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, remains a transformative work more than forty years after its original publication. Born out of wedlock and adopted by a poor, loving family, Molly Bolt finds the South and even bohemian New York a hostile world for a lesbian but manages to thrive and remain confident. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes–and she refuses to apologize for loving them back. This literary milestone continues to resonate with its message about being true to yourself and, against the odds, living happily ever after.

Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg 

Mrs. Threadgoode’s tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger. A groundbreaking novel that tells the story of a transgender teen’s search for identity and acceptance. 

Subjects:Transsexuals — Fiction. Identity (Psychology) — Fiction.

HERmione by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) 

A semi-autobiographical tale of Doolittle’s early 20s. She is driven to a nervous breakdown by conflicting aspects of her personality. After her relationship ends (a thinly veiled portrait of Ezra Pound) and she comes home from Bryn Mawr, Hermione goes through a painful self-reflection with a beautifully transcribed eerie, interior monologue. 

Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 campaign, the two women become deeply involved. “Loving Eleanor” is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see, celebrating the depth and durability of women’s love.

The Magnificent Spinster : a novel  by May Sarton

The fifty-year friendship of two remarkable women, Jane and Cam, is relived as Cam, in her seventies, recalls and celebrates the personality, compassion, and fulfilling career of her recently deceased friend.

The Revolution of Little Girls by Blanche McCrary Boyd

Bedeviled by fragments of her childhood dreams, Ellen embarks on a painful odyssey that leads from her Charleston youth to lesbian experiences, spiritual quests, and a reconciliation with her mother.

Crossing by Pajtim Statovci; translated from the Finnish by David Hackston

Originally born in Kosovo to Albanian parents, Statovci’s family fled to Finland to escape the violence that destroyed Yugoslavia. This novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, follows a young Albanian boy, Bujar, and his best friend as they deal with the aftermath of war, eventually leaving to find better lives in Italy. In a foreign country, however, they are forced to confront their identities in more ways than one, exploring the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, alienation, and migration. –BUST Magazine

NONFICTION

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (true) story & art by Nagata Kabi; translation, Jocelyne Allen

This gripping graphic novel about a 28-year-old Japanese woman who is struggling with her sexuality and mental health, makes even the lumpiest of her warts-and-all confessions look adorable. Winner of many awards and critical acclaim, the memoir features minimalist drawings that underscore a powerful story of struggle and self-discovery and confronting topics ranging from sex work to depression with dignity and understanding. It will strike a chord with people from anywhere, undergoing any kind of struggle. 

Subjects:  Lesbians — Comic books, strips, etc.

The Sacred Band: Three Hundred Theban Lovers Fighting to Save Greek Freedom by James Romm. A vivid portrait of ancient Thebes — and the saga of the greatest military corps of the age, the Theban Sacred Band, a unit composed of 150 pairs of male lovers. A spirited, informative classical history from an expert on the subject. 

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Stein’s other writings include letters between her and Thornton Wilder. The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder  Edited by Edward Burns and Ulla E. Dydo, with William Rice.

The friendship between Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder is a surprise. How did two such different writers, of different generations and with such radically opposed cultural backgrounds, become so close? As the editors succinctly explain, and the letters so eloquently prove, Wilder, 37 when he first met Stein in Chicago in 1934, was in dire need of a mentor, and Stein, sanguine at 60, was thrilled to find a new disciple, especially one as gifted and impressionable as Wilder. –Booklist

Queer Intentions: a (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ+ Culture by Amelia Abraham 

Today, the options and freedoms on offer to LGBTQ+ people living in the West are greater than ever before. But is same-sex marriage, improved media visibility and corporate endorsement all it’s cracked up to be? At what cost does this acceptance come? And who is getting left behind, particularly in parts of the world where LGBTQ+ rights aren’t so advanced? Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in “Queer Intentions,” Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now.

Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism by Taylor G. Petrey

Information-packed, with a forceful thesis and jargon-free prose, this is an important contribution to Mormon studies as well as a convincing consideration of the ways religions construct and maintain frameworks. Petrey’s trenchant history takes a landmark step forward in documenting and theorizing about Latter-day Saints (LDS) teachings on gender, sexual difference, and marriage. 

Subjects:Gender identity — Religious aspects — Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sexual orientation — Religious aspects. Mormon Church — United States — History — 20th century. Mormon Church — Political activity — United States. Sexual ethics — Religious aspects — Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager

Short and straightforward profiles of queer figures throughout history, ranging from ancient and obscure to modern and well known. For as long as there’s been air, there’s been Queer; in acknowledgment, Prager offers 23 short biographies of individuals who changed their world and ours. Ages 12 and Up.

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to office in California, fought for civil and human rights. Elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, this charismatic and eloquent public servant was assassinated by a fellow supervisor almost a year after taking office on November 27, 1978, at age 48. Check out the books and documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk.  

Subjects:Milk, Harvey. Gay politicians — California — San Francisco. Assassination — California — San Francisco. Gay men — California — San Francisco — Biography. Gay liberation movement — United States Gay liberation movement — California — San Francisco — History — 20th century.

Art After Stonewall: 1969 – 1989, edited by Jonathan Weinberg. Explores the impact of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights movement on the art world of the period. It focuses on openly LGBTQ artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, and Andy Warhol, as well as the practices of such artists as Diane Arbus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Karen Finley in terms of their engagement with queer subcultures. –Adapted from inside front cover.

Subjects:Art — United States — 20th century — History and criticism — Exhibitions. Gay artists — United States — Exhibitions. Lesbian artists — United States — Exhibitions. Gay men in art — Exhibitions. Lesbians in art — Exhibitions. Transgender people in art — Exhibitions. Gender identity in art — Exhibitions. Gay liberation movement — United States — Exhibitions. Stonewall Riots, New York, N.Y., 1969.

Outlaw Marriages: the Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples by Rodger Streitmatter

A selective glimpse at prominent same-sex nuptials. For more than a century before gay marriage became a hot-button political issue, same-sex unions flourished in America. In the households of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, both parties were famous. Walt Whitman, the father of free verse, had a 25-year relationship with his muse, the significantly younger railroad worker Peter Doyle. Jane Addams, the most admired woman in America in the 1900s, and who became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, had a 40-year marriage with Mary Rozet Smith, whose financial backing kept Hull House afloat. 

The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me : An Aristocratic Family, a High-Society Scandal and An Extraordinary Legacy by Sofka Zinovieff

In this gorgeous, entertaining narrative of bohemian aristocracy illustrated with lots of photos, Zinovieff gives an account of her grandparents’ unconventional relationship with her grandfather’s gay lover, examining period taboos, family secrets and cultural dynamics that shaped their shared lives. This impressively researched saga, which spans both world wars, is an effervescent account of the British upper class in the first half of the 20th century.

Genre: NonFiction; Domestic; Gay; Gay and lesbian; Lesbian; Sociology; Biography

Same-sex marriage; Marriage; Relationships; Gay lifestyle; Lesbians; Social history; American history

Topics: Same-sex marriage — United States.

Behind the Mask : the Life of Vita Sackville-West by Matthew Dennison. A lively, vigorously written biography of a singular character that beckons readers urgently back to Sackville-West’s writing. A British novelist and poet known mostly for her ardor for Virginia Woolf and as a gardener at Sissinghurst later in life, she grew up an only child to her overbearing mother. Her adoration for playing dramatic roles, cross-dressing, and wearing masks tied in befittingly with Vita’s extravagant, secretive persona, and her duality of nature, male and female, that she would try to resolve in her writing. 

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

A collection of essential essays and speeches written by Lorde, a woman who wrote from the particulars of her identity: Black woman, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist writer. This collection now considered a classic volume, of Lorde’s most influential works of non-fiction prose has had a groundbreaking impact in the development of contemporary feminist theories. –Wikipedia

The Birds and the Bees… and Gardening

Gardening, for me, can be an interest that waxes and wanes. I usually get excited about flowers in the spring, and then get tired of it all by the parched days of August, when all I can do is keep plants watered enough so they don’t die. This past winter on a very cold day, I noticed a large flock of birds, mostly American Robins and Ceder Waxwings, descend on my cotoneaster shrub and start eating berries like mad. Usually birds leave these berries alone, so I knew they were a bit desperate. That started me thinking about deliberately landscaping with plants that birds can use for food and shelter, and those that provide for bees and other pollinators. What can we do to help? Luckily, the library has some books on the topic, because I have a lot to learn. Most are available in ebook format, as well.

A Cedar Waxwing joins a mob of berry seeking birds in my backyard cotoneaster tree (a non-native plant, that does attract bees, and on occasion, birds).

Douglas Tallamy, an ecologist who teaches at the University of Delaware, has been a trailblazer behind the research that proves we must plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers in order for butterflies and other pollinators to survive, and we must do it now. The decline in bird populations is believed to be partly caused by lack of food for their young; almost all birds exclusively feed their offspring caterpillars and insects. The sterile landscapes that dominate our neighborhoods do not support enough insects to feed birds, but if enough of us plant native plants, we can make a difference together. Even those of us with tiny yards can contribute in this way. Learn more by watching this talk given by Tallamy to WWF-Canada.

Books by Douglas Tallamy
Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants was Tallamy’s first book about planting natives to regain the biodiversity we’ve lost. Check out the audiobook and listen while you garden!
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard describes Tallamy and others quest to start a national movement to enlist homeowners everywhere to help create conservation corridors. You will learn specific tips on how to add native plants to your yard.
The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy
This book, full of photos by Darke, will help you create a beautiful, natural, and diverse garden that will work for both your family and wildlife.

Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Arthur R. Kruckeberg
This is an older book but it’s still useful – after all, native plants aren’t new varieties created by humans, but the original species that have been around for thousands of years. The Garden Uses section after each plant’s description gives a lot of detail on growing needs and habits. Also useful are the plant lists in the back for specific settings such as shady dry, shady wet, maritime sun, etc. These are excellent lists for planning a native garden.

Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, and Grow a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen M. Stark is another PNW guide, but this one is packed with color photos of plants, and includes many of our best native species. The usual garden book tips on soil, location, and landscape design are there, but this time with the focus on our beautiful Northwest native plants.

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner The author wants us to plant native, but instead of focusing only on the environmental benefits, he makes the point that it’s much easier and more rewarding to garden with native plants; they have evolved right here so are perfectly suited for the conditions. His ‘design’ method is much more natural – let the plants choose their place. Your garden can be “…a sanctuary for indigenous wildlife, and a protector of biodiversity.”

New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden by Kelly D. Norris explores the elements needed to create the natural looking outdoor spaces that we crave, rather than the tightly controlled and difficult to maintain landscapes that do nothing for the soul, or the environment. You can build your own meadow or prairie even in urban or suburban yards, and help increase biodiversity, while increasing your peace of mind.

The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Gardening by Kim Eierman shows us how we can help pollinators, which are so important to our own food supply, to increase in number by making a change from “vast green pollinator deserts” (lawns) to pollinator havens. Pollinators, not just bees but many other insects, are in a steep decline. We can all help to win the war against pollinator decline by following the suggestions in The Pollinator Victory Garden.


Gardening with native plants feels rewarding. I have just started, and now have about 20 different species planted in pots. I have plans to turn a mostly empty garden bed into a natives only section. It feels like maybe I can make a difference.

A note about finding native plants at nurseries – it’s difficult. Consider telling your favorite nurseries that you want them to carry native plants. There are some native plant nurseries in our area, but don’t expect to find the plants you want in your usual shopping spots.

Douglas Tallamy and others have started Homegrown National Park, a way to promote the native plant movement and track the progress nationwide. After you start your garden, you can get on the map! Currently there is only one garden listed in Snohomish County – let’s create more, and help our birds, bees, and ourselves survive.


Did You Know? (Pearl Edition)

The world’s largest pearl weighing in at 14.1 pounds was discovered in a giant clam off the coast of the Philippines in 1939?

I found this on page 46 of The Secret Life of Clams by Anthony D. Fredericks. I always thought that only oysters made pearls.

But the author tells us about a kind of giant clam, Tridacna gigas, that grew the largest pearl: “The Pearl of Lao Tzu” which is privately owned and valued at $93 Million! He also tells us that clams were on earth about 510 million years ago and some of these oldest clam fossils were found in late Cretaceous rock in Kansas and had actually grown pearls.

Razor clams are native to the Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times we dug clams when I was a child. My family loves clams and my mom cooked them so many ways. Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest by David Berger shares similar stories of clamming with the family. He also shares many recipes that highlight these tasty critters. David doesn’t mention pearls, but I know in all of my time clamming, we never found any!

Many famous people loved pearls. Elizabeth Taylor owned a fantastic pearl, but it came from an oyster and previously belonged to Mary I of England, and then Elisabeth of France. Eleanor Roosevelt was famous for wearing her pearl necklaces as well. They were as smart looking on her as she was, and she was a strong and accomplished first lady. Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper has great stories about all the things she accomplished.

A completely different take on pearls are the Pearls Before Swine comics by Stephen Pastis. They are quite humorous, but not what one would necessarily call “pearls of wisdom.”

There are lots of mystery stories of stolen pearls and pearl necklaces. Geronimo Stilton stars in a fun series of books for kids. Cavemice, Paws off the Pearl is just one of many adventures that Geronimo and Thea Stilton have. Nancy Drew, The Thirteenth Pearl by Carolyn Keene has Nancy and her friends trying to find a stolen necklace.

Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw by Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill have done for the oyster what Anthony D Fredricks did for the clam. They show different varieties and explain the characteristics of each kind. If you are a fan of oysters, this will make you want to travel the world and try them all! They describe oysters like a fine wine with different hints of flavor depending on where they are from.

Lastly, don’t forget the rule of only eating oysters during a month with a “R” (September to April). This helps replenish oyster supplies by allowing their breeding in the summer and eating them in the cooler months gives them better flavor as well. But you can enjoy clams all year long!

Mushrooms of the PNW

Attention all fungi enthusiasts and budding mycophiles, a must see virtual program is headed your way. You definitely need to check out Introduction to Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest this Tuesday, April 13th at 6 pm on the library’s Crowdcast channel.

Join Jeremy Collison, founder of Salish Mushrooms, for an introduction to mushrooming in the Pacific Northwest. This program is perfect for anyone curious about mushrooms. No mycology knowledge or previous foraging experience necessary. Learn about the basics of mushrooming in the Pacific Northwest, find out about native mushrooms, review basic safety concerns, and learn how to identify mushrooms using the inaturalist.org website.

Rest assured that we have plenty of resources and materials to support your mushroom enthusiasm, before and after the program. From books on mushroom identification, cultivation and just plain fungi fascination the library has got you covered.

So join us this Tuesday for a great program and think of Everett Public as your source for all things mushroom.

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

Seattle Style with Clara Berg

When you think of the Pacific Northwest, is fashion the first thing that comes to mind? If you are like many, you might think of trees, salmon and lots of rain before considering clothing and style as something that defines us. But maybe it is time for a rethink. Let Clara Berg, curator of collections at MOHAI in Seattle, change your mind by attending her virtual Crowdcast program Seattle Style this Thursday, March 25th at 6 pm

Can’t attend on the day? Always remember that you can view all of our program recordings at your convenience on our Crowdcast channel after the event.

Berg will be giving an informative and entertaining lecture on Pacific Northwest fashion, based on her book Seattle Style: Fashion/Function. Her book highlights how elegance and practicality coexisted and converged in Seattle wardrobes, providing new insights into local clothing, ranging from couture, to outdoor gear, to denim. 

If you think her book is only chock full of evening gowns, though there are plenty of interesting ones, you will be pleasantly surprised. There are detailed sections on quintessential Pacific Northwest duds such as REI hiking boots, one piece ski suits from the 1980s, wool mackinaw cruiser jackets, Eddie Bauer skyliner down jackets and, of course, lots and lots of raincoats. 

So join us for this fascinating look at the fashion of the Pacific Northwest, as Clara Berg breaks down Seattle Style, live on Crowdcast this Thursday evening

Did You Know? (Moon Edition)

In 1609 the Italian astronomer Galileo first pointed a telescope at the moon and noted that the orb had terrain including mountains, flat plains and craters? Therefore the moon was solid and it’s surface might be walked upon.

Galileo’s discovery is talked about on page 10 in the book Space Stations: the Art, Science and Reality of Working in Space by Gary Kitmacher, Ron Miller and Robert Pearlman.

Galileo is known as the father of modern physics – indeed, of modern science altogether. His discoveries were based on careful observations and ingenious experiments that contradicted conventional wisdom and the views of the church at the time. The new book Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio looks at Galileo’s theories and accomplishments, and how he arrived at them – as well as why they are relevant now. This is a must read if you love science!

Astronauts by Thomas K Adamson is a book for children that shows how astronauts work in space on a space station and walk on the moon. I used to imagine what it would be like to walk in space and now you can see exactly how it would be.

Imagine winning a chance to go to space! 172 hours on the Moon is a novel by Johan Harsted. Mia, Antoine, and Midori are selected by lottery to join experienced astronauts on a NASA mission to the once top-secret moon base, while an old astronaut in a nursing home tries to warn them of the danger there. Perhaps it will be a trip in a lifetime, literally.

There is a little treat we had while I was growing up nicknamed Moon Pies, but they were actually Whoopy Pies. Whoopie Pies by Viola Goren is full of recipes for a variety of flavors of these delicious snacks. They look like little planets on a platter!

We have all heard that the moon is made of cheese, but it is unknown where this saying started. There is a really cute song on the children’s CD Inside I Shine by Danny Weinkauf called “The Moon is Made of cheese.”

Moon is also a company that publishes travel guides. While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can plan a trip or watch a travel show and take a virtual trip… of course, you probably won’t need a guide if you are sitting in your living room. 

Finally, how can you talk about the moon without mentioning stars? Paper Stars by Karen-Marie Fabricius gives directions for origami, quilled and folded stars. You can make these and turn your house into the great outdoors on a starry night. The directions are well laid out and easy to follow. Enjoy!

Drawing for Meditation and Relaxation

Are you one of those people who says ‘I can’t draw a stick figure’? Do you freeze and stress out when you’re expected to freehand draw anything? Drawing doesn’t have to be stressful. What you draw doesn’t need to be the least bit realistic, and it certainly doesn’t need to be perfect. You don’t ever have to show your art to anyone – your drawings can be just for you.

Coming up on March 11, attend out free virtual program, Draw and Doodle with local artist Rosemary Jones. Explore drawing as a meditation, and learn how to enjoy the process of playing with shapes and patterns to create unique creatures. Discover your inner artist and experience the joy of drawing and doodling for pleasure and relaxation. All you need is paper and pen, but if you just prefer to watch and listen, everyone is welcome! Register here.

The library has hundreds of books about all things drawing, from coffee table books of hyper-realistic masterpieces, to how-to books for drawing dinosaurs, dogs, dresses, and dragons, to doodling for fun and relaxation. Check out these doodling and simple drawing books for inspiration.

Craft-a-Doodle Deux: 73 Exercises for Creative Drawing by Jenny Doh
Seventeen artists share ideas and prompts to get you drawing original doodle designs in markers, paint, and pens.

Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean walks the reader/artist through techniques for doodles beginning with simple designs and moving to increasing complexity. It is aimed at all skill levels.

Zentangle®, a method of doodling for meditation and relaxation, focuses on concentration and mindfulness rather than on the finished product. The library has hosted programs on the Zentangle method taught by Certified Zentagle Teachers, and we have books in the collection, The Art of Zentangle by Stephanie Meissner, and Zentangle for Kids by Sandy Steento Bartholomew, to name a few.

20 Ways to Draw a Dress and 23 Other Fabulous Fashions and Accessories by Julia Kuo is in our juvenile nonfiction section but the drawings look fun for all ages. If you love fashion you may want to check this one out. Learn how to draw bunches of kinds of shoes, dresses, sunglasses, etc!

Ladies Drawing Night : Make Art, Get Inspired, Join the Party by Julia Rothman
This is a fun book and a fun concept. A group of friends meet regularly to draw together. Sometimes they work on a central theme, other times each works on their own project. Art parties are one of my favorite activities. They are great for shy people who enjoy creating with others but may find a more formal party stressful. I look forward to when we can gather and craft together again.

If you still don’t want to draw after all that encouragement, or if traveling to the library to pick up books through curbside service doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you just want to color. How about an e-coloring book? Our Overdrive magazine collection has two dozen to choose from including Doodle Emporium: A Stress Relieving Adult Coloring Book by Lori Geisler. These coloring books are always available to check out through Overdrive. Of course you will need to print out the the designs before coloring. See the whole collection here.


Try out drawing and doodling and see if it relaxes you. I know for me when I draw, craft, build, or create in any way, it takes my mind off of my worries, and that has to be a positive thing.

Writer’s Live: Tiffany Midge, Madeleine Henry & Jennifer Bardsley

The great virtual programs just keep coming here at the library. There are so many in fact that we wanted to point out two author talks you can attend next week so you wouldn’t miss out. The presentations are part of our Writer’s Live series, which is dedicated to highlighting talented writers and their works. Both programs are free, open to the public, and you can register to attend on our Crowdcast channel. Read on to find out more. 

Tiffany Midge on Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 @ 6:00 PM  

Why is there no Native woman David Sedaris? Or Native Anne Lamott? Humor categories in publishing are packed with books by funny women and humorous sociocultural-political commentary—but no Native women. Well, it’s time to meet Tiffany Midge, the author of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s

Midge’s book is a smart and funny collection of essays on life, politics and identity as a Native woman in America. Spend an evening laughing, thinking, and talking about anything and everything—from politics to pumpkin spice—as Midge shares stories and insights from her book. 

Madeleine Henry in conversation with Jennifer Bardsley 

Saturday, March 6, 2021 @ 5:00 PM 

Madeleine Henry is the author of two novels, The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. She has appeared on NBC, WABC, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and Inspire Living. She has been featured in the New York Post, Parade, and Observer Media. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management after graduating from Yale.  

Madeleine will be joined by Jennifer Bardsley for a conversation about The Love Proof. Spanning decades, The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads. 

Jennifer Bardsley lives in Edmonds, Wash., and her newest book, Sweet Bliss, will be published by Montlake Romance in 2021. Jennifer also writes under the pen name Louise Cypress. Jennifer has written the “I Brake for Moms” column for The Everett Herald since 2012.