Keeping it Local

With the current restrictions on social gatherings, as well as the return of the November rainy season, you might find yourself spending a lot of time indoors and at home. If, like me, you have caught yourself analyzing the animal residents of your backyard or scrutinizing the behavior of your beloved pet, it may be time to just lean into the situation. Why not declare your immediate home environment a new obsession and give your curiosity free reign?  

Luckily, the library has a lot of great new books to help you investigate your local surroundings and find out what makes its inhabitants tick. Here are a few excellent examples. 

Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy by Zazie Todd

Whether you dog follows you around all day, barks at a leaf falling on the roof, or likes to take 8 hour power naps, spending so much time with them begs the question: Are they happy? Zazie Todd sets out to not only answer that question, but to also find out ways to make their lives markedly better. She interviews a broad range of experts, including veterinarians, behaviorists, shelter managers and trainers to gain insight into the dog mindset. Equally important, she asks the reader to examine their own expectations when it comes to living with, or even getting, a canine companion. 

Decoding Your Cat: the Ultimate Experts Explain Common Cat Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

Ah the inscrutable feline. Even with extra hours of observation at home, is it possible to understand what makes yours tick? This book, from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists no less, believes you can understand your feline companion and learn to cohabitate better. They even provide a handy chart of common behavioral cues, like the set of their ears, to help you interpret your cat’s changing temperament. This book is also full of practical advice (cats like to observe from above so providing a perch to view all the human action below is ideal) and DIY cat toy ideas. 

Peterson Guide to Bird Behavior by John Kricher

Birds, aka avian dinosaurs, are another set of creatures you have probably had more time to observe lately. While your backyard feathered friends might not belong to any unusual species, their behaviors are definitely exotic and fascinating. This Peterson guide is not about bird identification but instead delves into the many aspects of bird behaviors: social interaction, nesting, migration, feeding and many more that you can observe. Best of all, this guide is written in an easy to understand style, which ditches obscure and technical jargon in favor of ease of understanding.  

A Cloud a Day by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Even if you don’t have a pet or local fauna to observe, there is one sure fire way to connect with your local surroundings: simply look up. Clouds are easily taken for granted, but are actually pretty amazing, and come in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes. Put together by the Cloud Appreciation Society (yes, it is a real organization) this book provides you with 365 cloud formations to contemplate and appreciate. Each entry is gorgeous in its own way, with photographs and famous illustrations of each formation. A detailed, but easy to understand, scientific explanation of each cloud is provided as well. 

So get out of your headspace and observe some of the fascinating, complex and beautiful creatures and phenomena that surround you. Library books included.  

Did You Know? (Owl and Snake Edition)

Eastern Screech Owls will keep blind snakes in their nests to ‘babysit’ while parents are away gathering food?

The owls in these nests with snakes seem to be healthier than owls from non-snake nests; it is believed this is because the snakes eat insects in the nest that may harm the babies. I found this information on page 88 of North American Owls by Paul A. Johnsgard. What a highly detailed book! It tells about the many different kinds of owls, their sizes, territories, nesting habits, where to find them and on and on.

There are two families of blind snakes: the Leptotyphlops with about 80 species that have teeth only on the lower jaw and have un-toothed maxillary bones fused solidly to their head, and the Typhlopidae with maxillary bones that are toothed and not fused to the skull with about 160 species. I doubt the owls care which of the families of snakes they have. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Western North America by R. D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett has pictures of many of these blind snakes. They spend most of their time underground and look remarkably like worms.

This type of mutually beneficial interaction is called a symbiotic relationship. There are many types of these relationships. Mycorrhizal Planet by Michael Phillips tells how plants have photosynthate sugars to offer mycorrhizal fungi, which can’t access carbon. The fungi in turn assists the plant by facilitating the uptake of mineral nutrients and water.

Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom by Jose Aruego and Arianne Dewey is an excellent book for children explaining symbiosis and has many examples of different animals helping each other. Natural Attraction: a Field Guide to Friends, Frenemies, and Other Symbiotic Animal Relationships by Iris Gottlieb goes one step further and shows not only symbiosis, but parasitism and commensalism as well. This book has nice pictures of animal pairs along with explanations of who is gaining what in each relationship.

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear is not about a symbiotic relationship, but true love! They sail away together and get married on a tropical beach. It was originally published in 1871. It is truly an example of how love stories never go out of style. We have many other book series with pairs of animals. A few of them are The Elephant and Piggy books, Hondo and Fabian and Frog and Toad series. While symbiosis is a mutual benefit, friendship is probably the best benefit anyone can ever have!

Did You Know? (Cashew Edition)

That cashews grow on the bottom of a cashew apple, and are related to poison ivy?

Cashew nuts are actually the seeds of the ‘cashew apple’ – a Brazilian evergreen tree with bright orange fruit. I found this on page 405 of 1900 Ingredients by Christine Ingram. Cashews are never sold in the shell because they have to undergo extensive heating to remove them from their shells.

Wikipedia tells us that “the seed (drupe) is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy.”

Fancy Nancy: Poison Ivy Expert by Jane O’Connor is a darling story about poor Nancy getting into poison ivy while picking flowers. Nancy’s neighbor gives her a cream made from jewelweed to help soothe her itch. Jewelweed has long been used for this as a natural cure.

The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants by Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins has a chapter about identifying poison oak, ivy and sumac along with pictures so you DON’T end up eating or touching them! It also tells us that mangoes and pistachios are related to cashews.

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins is a fun tale told to a man in the park (eating a peanut butter sandwich: chunky peanut butter, by the way) by a very old squirrel that can speak! He tells the stories of squirrels travelling on the buzz paths, and having great adventures. He states that ‘nuts to you’ is a classic squirrel greeting, meaning all manner of things, but mostly good luck.

As vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, cooking with cashews and other nuts is getting more and more popular. VBQ the Ultimate Vegan Barbecue by Nadine Horn and Jorg Mayer has recipes using cashews for a pesto, sour cream and an aioli spread. This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt has lots of cashew cheese choices. So, go nuts with these recipes, and “nuts to you!”

Introducing Books for You

The Everett Public Library is happy to be launching a new service during Phase 2 of the ongoing pandemic. For the past month we have been offering curbside service in which we bring to your vehicle the materials you have requested once they are ready for pick-up.

Now, with our Books for You project we’ll surprise you with 3-5 books that are similar to popular authors or titles you may have liked or that are focused on a variety of popular genres and subjects of interest.

Do you like true crime, or alternate histories, or mysteries featuring amateur sleuths?  We’ve got you covered. Maybe you loved Delia Owens’ bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing – we’ll bring you 3-5 similar books that you might also enjoy. Or say you’re waiting to read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist or Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – we’ll bring you some titles that also address racial equity and systemic racism in America.

Take a look through the Books for You categories below and give us a call at 425-257-8000 so we can surprise you with some handpicked read-alikes.

Books for You categories

While you wait for:
How to Be an Antiracist or White Fragility

If you liked:
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Handmaid’s Tale
Little Fires Everywhere
Where the Crawdads Sing

If you like:
Clive Cussler
David Baldacci

If you’re interested in:
Alternate Histories
Amateur Sleuths
Best Sellers from Around the World
The Black American Experience in Fiction
Books set in the Pacific Northwest
Culinary Mysteries
Debut Fiction
Diverse Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Everett History 101
Heartwarming Reads
Inspirational Fiction
The Latinx Experience
Pandemic Apocalypse Fiction
Science Books for Curious Minds
Short (but not so sweet) Stories
Small Press Fiction Sampler
True Crime
What They Didn’t Teach in History Class

Simply give us a call at 425-257-8000 or reach us at Ask a Librarian regarding the Books for You category you are interested in and we’ll contact you when they are ready for curbside pick-up.

Visit epls.org/bfy to see the current list of Books for You categories.

Of course, you’re not limited to the categories above – we’re here to help you discover good reading, whatever your areas of interest, so give us a call.

And for kids materials, click here to browse reading suggestions or to have our Youth Services librarians gather some Personal Picks for you.

We look forward to surprising you with some great reads!

Birding from Home

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Photo by JoAnna Thomas of me and my camera, seeking Lazuli Buntings near Snohomish one spring.

A few years ago I became one of those (some may say) weird people who are fascinated with birds. You know, the kind that you see pulled over on a country road gawking at something in a field, or in a big group of blandly dressed folks all wearing binoculars, or stopped in the middle of a trail pointing a camera with a giant lens up at the trees.

When COVID took over our lives it was necessary to stay home, and stay healthy, but it’s been a good time to keep birding, too. It seems we had an amazing spring in terms of ‘good’ birds in our fairly urban area close to downtown Everett, from what I could see and what others reported as well. I spent a lot of time taking photos and recording birdsongs in my own backyard, and in the parks close to home.

I also listened to a really interesting and accessible book about birds by author Jennifer Ackerman, who has been writing about science and nature for 30 years. The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think is available as an e-audiobook which is read by the author, and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

The book contains lots of new scientific discoveries about how smart birds actually are; now it’s known that their tiny brains, previously assumed to be mostly operating on instinct, are capable of astonishing feats. How birds use intelligence and ingenuity in their daily activities is explored in separate chapters in the areas listed in the subtitle.

The section about bird songs and calls was really mind blowing. Birds can and do understand ‘foreign languages’ – they quickly learn to decipher an incredible amount of detailed information in other species vocalizations. Other chapters feature raptors who spread fire to increase their hunting success, hummingbirds who know how long a flower takes to replenish nectar, cooperative nesters who aren’t even related, and crows and parrots who solve puzzles, sometimes as a team. Ackerman says this is really a thrilling time in bird science. I agree!

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New Holland Honeyeater, an Australian bird that conveys super-detailed information about predators in its calls. Photo from Wikipedia.

If you haven’t heard of Ackerman, you’ve probably heard of David Sibley. For any fellow birders out there, check out this video that features the two of them in a virtual program on World Migratory Bird Day.


The library has a hundreds of books about birds for adults and youth. Below are a few recent additions to the collection to check out.

John Marzluff, probably best know for his work with crows at the University of Washington, as well as his talks at EPL, has published a new book, In Search of Meadowlarks. This book looks at sustainable food production methods that are compatible with bird and wildlife conservation. Meadowlarks live in most areas of the country, yet their numbers, like many birds, are in decline. Marzluff examines the reasons and ends with a chapter on what we can do to help.

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Hopefully you have been lucky enough to see a Meadowlark, and to hear its beautiful song.

What It’s Like to be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley, who’s famous for his illustrated bird guides which are favorites of many birders, is a bit of a departure for the author. Like The Bird Way mentioned above, Sibley takes a look at questions such as: “Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” and “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” He says that he first planned this book many years ago as a children’s book. With two starred reviews, it sounds like it was worth the years of effort.

If birds themselves aren’t interesting enough, check out the bird related The Falcon Thief by Joshua Hammer. This is the story of Jeffrey Lendrum, who for two decades had a lucrative business of stealing, smuggling, and selling endangered falcon’s eggs to wealthy clients who were involved in falcon racing. Part true-crime narrative, part epic adventure, this book is hard to put down.

If gardening comes first for you, but you’d like to learn more about birds, try out Attracting Birds and Butterflies by Barbara Ellis. Planting for wildlife will certainly increase your chances of seeing some of our amazing local birds in your yard, acreage, or balcony. Even if you have little experience or time, you can make some changes that will help birds and butterflies survive.

Pacific Flyway by Audrey Benedict is a gorgeous photographic collection of images of the Pacific Flyway, the 10,000 mile stretch from the Arctic to southern South America, which is traveled by many bird species on their seasonal migrations. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California coasts are crucial to support these birds on their journeys.

Close to Birds: an Intimate Look at Our Feathered Friends by Roine Magnusson is another photographic examination of the wonder of birds which features close up, super detailed photos of birds, all the work of the author.

So take a look at these great bird books, look around your yard and neighborhood, and discover the joys of birding, if you haven’t already. It is simultaneously challenging, relaxing, exciting, healthy, and just plain therapeutic!


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Chestnut-backed Chickadee in my backyard with a grub for its babies. It was a great joy to watch the progress of the family without leaving my yard.

Dynamic Fluids

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always found books about scientific ideas oddly comforting. In times of stress, books in the sciences, with their often specific and single-minded focus, allow me to take a step back and ignore the chaos all around. If only for a little while. 

Since I’m not of a naturally scientific bent myself (the curse of being a humanities major, alas) I need my science explained to me in layman’s terms. In addition, I especially like books that focus on quirky and often overlooked ideas. You can imagine my anticipation and delight when I came across Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik. I was not disappointed. Read on to find out why. 

The author smartly realizes that many may not initially find the liquid state fascinating. To help convince the skeptical, he grounds his discussion in a common experience (well what used to be common): a transatlantic flight from London to San Francisco. While most of us might be making sure our phone is in airplane mode or perusing the inflight magazine, Miodownik has one thing on his mind: kerosene, the primary ingredient in aviation fuel. 

Kerosene is a transparent, colorless fluid that, confusingly, looks exactly like water. So where is all that hidden energy stored, all that secret power? Why doesn’t the storage of all that raw energy inside the liquid make it appear, well, more syrupy and dangerous? And why is it not mentioned in the preflight safety briefing? 

Thus begins an immensely entertaining, quirky, uproarious, and, yes, informative deep dive into the mysterious world of liquids.  

As we continue on our flight, we are introduced to liquids that are not only explosive (kerosene) but also intoxicating (alcohol), sticky (glue), refreshing (tea or coffee), cooling (freon), visceral (saliva), and cleansing (liquid soap) to name just a few. The author’s style is the furthest thing from a lecture you could think of and you will find yourself learning a lot without even realizing it.  

He accomplishes this by lots of self deprecating humor and a keen sense of human foibles. You will come to sympathize with his fictional, but long suffering, airplane seatmate who must put up with his awkward attempts at dialogue and odd unsolicited observations. 

So why not distract yourself for an hour or two with some keen insight about an often encountered, but rarely discussed, state of matter? You will be entertained, informed and gain a new appreciation of the liquids in your life. Well, most of them anyway. 

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!

Hiking: Real and Virtual

April felt like a very long month. I’m skeptical of my calendar saying it was only thirty days; I think an extra week or two might have been snuck in this year. As essential as it has been to stay home and stay indoors whenever possible, it has been a mental struggle for some (okay, at least for me). With the spring weather showing up my mind kept wandering to the outdoors and what hiking trails I’d like to explore before I remembered that outdoor recreation sites – like so many things – were closed to keep us safe.

Rejoice, though! Starting on May 5th the restrictions on some outdoor activities that can be done safely were relaxed, opening up state lands to hikers – with the expectation that those partaking in recreation activities follow safe social distancing procedures.

So why not check out some of the hiking ebooks we offer to get you ready for your next outdoor adventure?

One of the provisions in the new outdoor recreation guidelines is the request that those who wish to hike try to stay as close to their home area as possible to help reduce the risk of accidental spread of covid-19.

To help you with that, one great book is Take a Walk : 110 Walks within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound. Sorted by city and full of information on nearby trails, parks and nature preserves, this guide has something for everyone who wants some ideas on where to take in some fresh air.

Another great series of trail guides are the Day Hike! books published by Sasquatch Publishing. Each title covers a specific region, such as the Olympic Peninsula, Columbia River Gorge, or probably the most relevant to readers of this blog, the North Cascades. Each hike listed can be done in a day, perfect for a quick getaway without needing to pack a tent (which is good, because camping is still prohibited).

For those seeking a more leisurely stroll instead of something more strenuous, The Creaky Knees Guide, Washington: the 100 Best Easy Hikes offers plentiful suggestions for trails suitable for all ages (including children) and athletic abilities.

Always be sure to check for the latest information before planning a trip to municipal, county, state or federal areas as restrictions may vary.

That said, maybe it’s just best to stay home, relax, and let someone else do the hiking. One of my favorite books is Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, his humorous memoir of trying to tackle America’s famed Appalachian Trail. Spanning over two thousand miles, there’s plenty of room for eccentric characters and beautiful landscapes, all brought to life by Bryson’s signature wit and keen observations. It’s an enjoyable read and you won’t even need to risk blistered feet, bug bites, or unexpected wildlife encounters to get a laugh.

We also offer a few outdoor related digital magazine titles as well. On Libby you can access issues of Backpacker Magazine, full of trail highlights from around the world, gear reviews, and other articles focusing on trail life, as well as Field & Stream magazine for content more focused on hunting, fishing and outdoorsmanship.

Who Knew?

You may have seen this wonderful viral picture on social media about owls and their long legs. Who knew that’s what was under all those feathers! There are so many things to learn about owls. Did you know that in the Harry Potter series, Harry’s owl Hedwig is a female Snowy Owl. All the owls that played her part in the movies were male.

From the book Snowy Owl Invasion, I learned about a 2013 Snowy Owl irruption, a sudden increase in an animal’s population. Due to the larger number of owls in unusual places, scientists studying these owls found that they flew faster, higher, and further than they thought possible. Sounds like the perfect mail carrying owl for Harry Potter!

Below I have included a list of fantastic owl books, including the non-fiction book Snowy Owl Invasion, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Through the end of May, Pottermore Publishing and Overdrive has given libraries unlimited access to Book 1 in the Harry Potter Series, in downloadable book and audio versions! All book descriptions are taken from the library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
In the night skies above Paris, an adorable young owl teaches her older brother about the power of imagination—and the unconditional love between siblings 

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
It’s evening in the forest and Little Owl wakes up from his day-long sleep to watch his friends enjoying the night. Hedgehog sniffs for mushrooms, Skunk nibbles at berries, Frog croaks, and Cricket sings. A full moon rises and Little Owl can’t understand why anyone would want to miss it. Could the daytime be nearly as wonderful? Mama Owl begins to describe it to him, but as the sun comes up, Little Owl falls fast asleep.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Features an audio read-along! When three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, they can’t help but wonder where she is. Stunning illustrations capture the owls as they worry about their mother: What is she doing? When will she be back? Not surprisingly, a joyous flapping and dancing and bouncing greets her return, lending a celebratory tone to the ending of this comforting tale.

Beginning Readers

Rocket Writes a Story a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story.

National Geographic Readers: Owls by Laura Marsh
In this level 1 reader, young readers will explore the feathery world of adorable owls. Follow these curious-looking creatures through their wooded habitats, and learn how owls raise their young, hunt, and protect themselves. Beautiful photos and carefully leveled text make this book perfect for reading aloud or for independent reading.

Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
It’s springtime on the ranch. Cowgirl Kate is excited about the arrival of all the baby animals: a newborn calf, a frisky puppy, and a nest of little barn owls. Her best friend Cocoa the horse is not so excited. Babies are a lot of work! But they are also sweet, as Cocoa and beginning readers will discover in this delightful addition to Green Light Readers. Short sentences and simple dialogue keep newly independent readers engaged and confident.

Beginning Chapter Book

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot
Eva Wingdale gets in over her head when she offers to organize a spring festival at school. Even with her best friend Lucy’s help, there is NO way she will get everything done in time. Will Eva have to ask Sue (a.k.a. Meanie McMeanerson) for help? Or will the festival have to be cancelled? This book is written as Eva’s diary — with Rebecca Elliott’s owl-dorable full-color illustrations throughout!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Origami Papertainment: Samurai, Owls, Ninja Stars, and More! By Christopher Harbo
From samurai and owls to ninja stars and dragonflies, exciting traditional and original paper folding projects await young origami artists. Organized from easy to challenging, each project includes clear, step by step, photo illustrated instructions that make developing paper folding skills fun. All projects also include creative tips for using and displaying models to impress friends and family.

Snowy Owl Invasion! Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle
Late in 2013, snowy owls started showing up in places no one expected to find them—including Florida. What had caused so many of these majestic birds to leave their Arctic home and fly to southern Canada and the United States? Scientists quickly began working to find out. Author Sandra Markle brings together firsthand reports from the scientists involved along with stunning photographs of the owls to explain this rare event, known as an irruption. Follow along as scientists figure out why snowy owls took part in this unusual migration and discover what they learned from the unexpected opportunity to study them up close.

Middle Grade Fiction

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Shallow Choices

There are a lot of great reasons to choose a book. An interesting topic, a good review, a friend’s recommendation or even an intriguing title are all tried and true methods of selecting a book here at the library. But let me recommend one other way that might seem frivolous at first: beauty. While definitely a poor method for choosing human (and pet for that matter) companionship, selecting a book based solely on looks can yield great results. It can even introduce you to titles you might not dream of looking at otherwise.

Still skeptical? Take a gander at these four titles that I plucked off the shelves for their beauty alone; and ended up thoroughly enjoying.

The Old West, Then & Now by Vaughan Grylls

The concept for this book is deceptively simple: display a historical photograph of an important location in the development of the idea of the American west and juxtapose it with a recent one. Seeing the differences, or not, brought to a place by the simple passage of time is actually quite thought provoking and complex. It doesn’t hurt that the photographs, both old and recent, are stunning and the locations well chosen, either.

Star Wars Propaganda by Pablo Hidalgo

Whether you are a potential recruit for the Empire or the Rebellion, you will find a lot of gorgeous art posters to confirm or deny your leanings in this unique book. This work takes its Star Wars lore very seriously, with a detailed chronology that places each poster in a specific time and place within the Star Wars universe.  But even if you don’t know Darth Vader from Darth Maul, you will enjoy the sleek artwork and the sometimes-disturbing references to current cultural events and tropes that are displayed.

The World of Dinosaurs by Mark Norell

A post about beautiful books wouldn’t be complete without one on the topic of dinosaurs now would it? These long extinct creatures have been the subject of artists reconstructions since the first fossilized bones were dug out of the ground. This masterwork, chock full of speculative illustrations and photographs of the fossils themselves, is a feast for the eyes. Being authored by the chairman of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History guarantees that all the speculation is scientific and based on the latest research as well.

The Drink that Made Wisconsin Famous by Doug Hoverson

While beauty might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Wisconsin and beer, this book is definitely gorgeous. Chock full of photographs of vintage advertising, bottles in various shapes and hues, and historical as well and modern production machinery, this book is truly a looker. In addition to the beauty, this impressive tome is chock full of well researched and detailed histories regarding brewing and breweries in the Badger state. Plus, beer!

So, go ahead, and be a little bit shallow. Check out a book or two based solely on looks.