Books that Give Us Hope

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

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

Conference ID: 919 910 778#

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

Book Club Adventures

A long time ago, in a job/city far away, I was tasked with forming a book discussion group. As a fairly introverted person whose previous work experience was along the lines of solo archival work with just a dash of librarianship, I found the idea a bit terrifying. Would I have to talk? With real people? Shudder to think. Little did I know that hosting the book group would soon become one of my favorite parts of the job.

The Adventures of Augie March CoverThings didn’t start out all that easy, though the pay-offs tended to be pretty satisfying. On one memorable occasion none of my small group of regulars were able to attend. At the very last minute I had one woman, previously unknown to the group, ask to set up an alternate meeting date to discuss the book. We met over lunch, and she proceeded to rip into everything she disliked about my selection for about 20 uninterrupted minutes (The Adventures of Augie March). She actually told me that she wanted to meet so that she could tell me how much she hated the title. After she’d gotten it all out of her system and my ears stopped burning, we actually settled down to a really great, in-depth discussion of the book. I happened to have loved the book, so there was some really lively back and forth. After that she never missed a meeting.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cover imageMy fledgling club didn’t gain much traction until I picked a current bestseller to discuss. Attendance for our Girl with the Dragon Tattoo discussion was triple the usual amount. This was both a blessing and a curse. From the large group that attended we gained many new regulars. On the downside, the group was large and unwieldy and the flow of conversation was a bit awkward. Lesson learned? If you want to kick-start a new club consider picking something that’s new and hot. If you want to ensure success in the long run, pay attention to what your regulars are into and choose your reads wisely.

Mill Town cover imageFast forward to the present day where I find myself, once again, at the helm of a young book club. This time I get the chance to experiment with doing a themed club: local history and literature. Amazingly, our first meeting was well-attended and lively. We decided to do a mixed approach, where we led off with a mini-lecture on a related topic and then launched into the discussion. This worked wonderfully with Mill Town, which tells the story of Everett’s early days up until the notorious Everett Massacre; our group really enjoyed seeing the book’s pages brought to life with images from our archives. Our second title, The Mushroom Hunters, was a more intimate discussion with some folks who were very interested in foraging and the politics surrounding it. We swapped stories and recipes, and everyone left having learned something new. It was a treat to get to talk with people who were genuinely enthusiastic about the selected title.

The Beginning of a Mortal cover imageThis month we host our third discussion in the series: Max Miller’s The Beginning of a Mortal. I’m excited to see how things go. My colleague and I picked Miller’s autobiographical work of fiction because he wrote extensively about his childhood in Everett. I loved the book’s lively vignettes of daily life in Mill Town highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly with humor and compassion. As an additional perk, the book is sprinkled with charming pen illustrations of the author in his Huck-Finn-like adventures about town. So if you’re like me and have a thing for hobos, shingle mills, and history, come to the Northwest History Room to grab a copy from our book club set. We’d love to see you at our meeting on August 25th, at 6:30pm in the Main Library Training Room.

National Reading Group Month

October is National Reading Group Month and a great time to think about starting a book group, joining one or changing how your current group functions. Tips for Book Groups can help in planning for a new group or in enriching the discussions in your existing group.

bookgroupsets2The library’s book group collection has sets of good books for discussion that can be checked out with a discussion packet.  Browsing the book group titles has just become easier with the library’s new KitKeeper option. Simply go to www.epls.org and click on the box that says Book Group Sets. Titles can be reserved online and you will receive an email confirmation of your reservation and another email when the set is ready for you to pick up.

We will be adding five new titles to the book group collection soon. You might want to consider one of these for your group. I’ve included a brief synopsis of each title and possible ideas for further discussion:

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Philipp Sendker
artofhearingheartbeatsWhen a successful Wall Street attorney disappears, his adult daughter Julia travels to his native Burma (Myanmar) hoping to find him. When she arrives a mysterious man approaches her and begins to tell her a story. He asks if she believes in a love that knows no bounds. She doesn’t know how to answer – is he speaking of romantic love or the love one feels for a child. As the story unfolds she finds out. Discuss the themes of love and death in this book and how Burmese and Western attitudes toward love and death differ. Think about why this particular title was chosen for this book. Consider the ambiguous ending and how Julia will face the future.

The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
artforgerClaire Roth is a struggling artist who agrees to create a copy of a painting at the request of a friend – an act that has serious repercussions for herself and the people she cares about. Discuss the characters in this book and what motivates them. Why does Claire make the decisions she does? What else could she have done? Several other characters also make questionable decisions – what motivates them? Talk about the book’s structure. The author inserts letters from the past throughout the book. What is the author trying to do by inserting these letters? How do they relate to the rest of the story? Do they enhance the story or detract from it?

In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl
infallingsnowYoung Australian nurse, Iris Crane travels to France to find her 15-year-old brother who has run away to fight in World War I. Once there she meets a woman who is a doctor and who is setting up a hospital near the front for the war wounded. Iris joins the hospital staff and has a very intense experience for several years. Much later her granddaughter learns the whole truth about what happened in France so long ago. Discuss the life-changing decisions that Iris makes and whether you agreed with her decisions. Could you have done what she did? An issue in this book is the lives and choices of women. Compare the lives and choices of Iris and her granddaughter.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
sweettoothAn English woman is recruited into the British Secret Service in the 1970s during the Cold War. She is given the assignment of cultivating a novelist who will – it is hoped – write novels with messages the Services thinks are appropriate. This is a book about deception and betrayal. Talk about who is deceived and betrayed. How did you react to the deceptions and betrayals? Consider how the story speaks to the issue of intellectual freedom. Is this topic still relevant today? With the book’s ambiguous ending, reflect on how you wanted the story to end.

mirroredworld

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean
In this tale of love and devotion set during the reign of Catherine the Great of Russia, Xenia, a young aristocrat, reacts dramatically to tragedies in her life. Discuss whether Xenia was mad or simply devout. Talk about the significance of the title. Consider reading and discussing Catherine the Great by Robert Massie first as it will expand your understanding of The Mirrored World.

Marge

Reading as a Collective Experience

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

cake

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

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

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

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

Kate