Friday, October 2, 2015

Fancy A Trip To Mallorca?

Some of my friends traveled to far away lands this past summer: Russia, Greece, Italy. I was not so lucky. However, thanks to Peter Nichol’s wonderful new novel, The Rocks, I spent a delightful few weeks transported to the sun-drenched Mediterranean isle of Mallorca. But this is not just a light-hearted beach read. Underneath the sunny exterior, The Rocks tells a double love story and reveals a tragic secret as the plot unravels backwards in time.

Lulu is a free-spirited expat Englishwoman who runs a hotel, The Rocks, overlooking the sea. Her ex-husband Gerald, owns a small olive and citrus orchard a few miles down the road. Once, deliriously in love, they separated inexplicably the day after their honeymoon and haven’t spoken in 50 years. Luc, Lulu’s son from a second marriage, and Aegina, Gerald’s daughter with his beloved Mallorcan wife, try to overcome their parents’ enmity, but their own love is thwarted by a family history they don’t understand.

By telling the tale in reverse, moving backwards through time as characters become ever younger, The Rocks is propelled by a kind of fatalistic energy that is both engaging and discomforting. We already know what has happened (I won’t give that away), because it’s related in the first few pages. Now we want to know why. It’s a conceit, but one that works well.

A great story coupled with a beautiful location, told in an unusual way. That about sums up Peter Nichol’s The Rocks. It was a book I looked forward to reading every evening; like going on vacation and meeting some very interesting characters along the way. I hope you like it as much as I did.

You can reserve Peter Nichols, The Rocks, here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lucy in the Sky with Banned Books!

Picture yourself in a chair by the window
With chamomile tea, curled up with a book
Suddenly, someone peers over your shoulder,
The censor, with flames in his eyes.

You should not read that book, it’s full of blasphemy,
Sex, and political lies,
I must protect you from thoughts that will harm your mind,
To implement my designs.

Celebrate the freedom to read,
Don’t give in to others' creeds,
That’s what makes a democracy! 
R E A D   F R E E

* * *
Banned Books Week is observed every year at the end of September.  Don't let the censors win; celebrate your freedom to read freely!

Banned Books display at Newport Public Library

Monday, September 21, 2015

Solitude and Community in the Age of Social Media

Solitude and community each face new challenges in this age of online connectedness. Does gazing at smartphones, video games, online movies, and web pages really bring us together? In this busy world, how do we find time for personal reflection? These topics will be addressed at two Oregon Humanities programs at the Newport Public Library this coming weekend.

Lost and Found: Community in the Age of the Internet is a free conversation with Tod Sloan on Saturday, September 26 at 2:00 p.m.

Tod Sloan
Many social theorists agree that community life has been transformed by communications technologies. How do these technologies both connect and disconnect us? Where online do we engage deeply with friends, family, and neighbors alike?

Sloan is a professor of psychology in the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling in Portland, Oregon. He was trained in a field known as personality theory, which addresses fundamental questions about human nature.

Going Solo: The Value of Solitude in a Social World is a free conversation with Jennifer Allen on Sunday, September 27 at 2:00 p.m. 

Jennifer Allen
In today’s busy world, many people struggle to find solitude and to be comfortable with it when they do. Why is solitude peaceful for some, and punishment for others? How does solitude help—and hinder—our creative and intellectual endeavors? Is our understanding of what it means to be alone evolving? How does our experience of solitude, or lack thereof, affect our relationships and communities? How does place affect our experience of being alone, and how is our identity shaped by solitary reflection?

Allen is Director of Programs at Oregon Humanities, where she has worked since 2004. Her graduate research focused in part on the cultural impacts of technology, which sparked an ongoing interest in the challenges of solitude in our busy and connected lives.

These programs are sponsored by Oregon Humanities, with support from the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Through the Conversation Project, Oregon Humanities offers free programs that engage community members in thoughtful, challenging conversations about ideas critical to our daily lives and our state's future.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Value added car trips with kids

 The first words I often hear before even turning the keys to start my vehicle is “Can we listen to the story?” This makes me smile.

I check out audiobooks from our library on a regular basis to save my sanity while traveling with children in the car, this is the truth. But, the bonus is that I know my kids are sharpening their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. I also know that they are being exposed to language rich with vocabulary and their imaginations are working hard visualizing all of the details as the tale unfolds. I like that the stories often provide an opportunity to discuss important topics, or that we have to hit the pause button to explain what a certain word or phrase means. And most important to me, they are learning that books are entertaining and fun.

Here are a few of our top audiobook picks:

 The Best Candy in the whole world: and other stories by Bill Harley. Hilarious short stories with sound effects and goofy songs perfect for the younger audience. This is the one that got us hooked on audio.

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Also good for younger audiences, short detective stories that are funny and the narrator has nailed the voices of Nate and his eclectic gang of friends.

Tales of a fourth grade nothing by Judy Blume. Be prepared for fits of laughter, and demands for more “Fudge”. This one is expertly read aloud by the author.

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne. Jack and Annie are charming siblings with adventures involving history and geography. Read by the author.

Indian in the cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. I found tiny paper teepees and miniature campfires in our living room shortly after finishing this gem of a tale.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. We started book one and never looked back until we finished the entire series! Jim Dale does an outstanding job of bringing the characters to life.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. An adventure story that takes place on a 986 car passenger train with bandits, Sasquatch, and thieves aboard.

The Lion the witch and the wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This one is done in a Radio theatre style. It has multiple narrators, realistic sound effects, and music.

Blog written by Miss Rita in the Children's Room.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Talking about "The Next Tsunami"

When Tom Horning was a ten-year-old living in Seaside, a tsunami triggered by the Great Alaskan Earthquake nearly swept him out to sea.  Thus begins Bonnie Henderson's latest book, The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast.  On Saturday, September 19 at 2:00 p.m, Henderson will present a program at the Newport Public Library.

The book describes the geological discoveries—and the scientists who uncovered them—in the fields of plate tectonics, earthquakes, and tsunamis, with a focus on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It has been praised for making complex science accessible and exciting.

The Next Tsunami ends in Seaside with a sequel to Horning's story. He became a geologist, and returned to his family home in the 1990's. No one in Seaside understands earthquake and tsunami science and politics, and the complicated psychology of living in a tsunami zone, better than he.

Henderson’s 2008 book, Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, was listed as a Best Book of 2008 by the Seattle Times and was a finalist for the 2009 Oregon Book Awards. She is also the author of Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon, and Day Hiking: Oregon Coast. A resident of Eugene, Henderson serves as communications coordinator for North Coast Land Conservancy and is a CoastWatch volunteer.

This program is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. For more information, call the library at 541-265-2153 or go to its website,

Friday, September 11, 2015

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Okay, I know you don’t surf, probably never have and likely never will. That doesn’t mean you won’t love William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. And if you do surf, you’ll love it even more. 

Finnegan, staff writer for The New Yorker, began surfing as a child. What started as a healthy before-and-after-school hobby, quickly became a life-long passion that influenced school, work and family. Because of his love for surfing, Finnegan dropped out of college, worked a few dead-end jobs, ended relationships and began new ones as he chased waves from Hawaii to South Africa, Australia to Madeira. He was one of the very first surfers to discover the “perfect” wave at Tavarua, Fiji, before it became a private surf-tourism destination. 

After finishing university, Finnegan moved to San Francisco and later, New York, where he experienced urban waves at places like Ocean Beach and Long Island. From young gun, charging every wave no matter how big or dangerous, to middle age and beyond, taking his daughter out with him, Finnegan chronicles a lifetime surfing and writing about surfing. The Paris Review calls Barbarian Days, “ a semi-dangerous book, one that persuades young men…to trade in their office jobs in order to roam the world.” 

Read Barbarian Days and you, too, can roam the world chasing waves. All without getting wet. And you can reserve it here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Stacy's summer reading

Did you get a chance to read anything good over summer?  I ended up with a shorter list than I hoped, but here's the scoop on what I read in August--

Dexter is Dead (Dexter #8) by Jeff Lindsay: This was the series closer for the books--it seems pretty definitive! I used to like Dexter before the advent of his TV show, and I was curious about the ending even though I'd skipped a couple along the way. I don’t know if he changed or I changed, but I found it immensely boring. His grandiose self-narration used to amuse me, but it got old really quickly. Sorry, Dex, I’m afraid you won’t be missed, at least by me.

The Killing (The Killing #1) by David Hewson: A political race in Denmark becomes tangled in a murder inquiry when one of the mayoral candidates seems to be a suspect. The characters seemed wooden to me, and the endless round of red herrings got old quickly.

Dead to Me (Scott &Bailey #1) by Cath Staincliffe: Scott and Bailey are female DC’s in the Manchester police who develop an unlikely mentoring relationship while on the case of a murdered teenage girl. The ending was a little predictable, but observing the almost unwilling friendship growing between the two women as they pursued very different investigative styles was fun.

Fool Me Once (A Tarot Mystery #2) by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco: Hockensmith is an old favorite of mine from his Holmes on the Range series which were light, funny mysteries set in the Old West. Fool Me Once is the second book in a new series of which the library missed the first book—we’ll have to remedy that. It’s a tarot-card based series about a woman trying to make up for all the damage her late mother did as a con-artist/psychic. Her method? Working out of her mother’s shop as a tarot-card reader. This was a solid, amusing mystery.

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7) by Patricia Briggs: A guilty pleasure. Mercy Thompson is a were-coyote deeply involved in werewolf, vampire, and fey politics. She’s one of the pack of strong paranormal female protagonists so popular these days (Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels, Seanan MacGuire’s October Daye, et cetera) I listen to these on audio via Library2Go whenever I can get them.

Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson: I’d forgotten a good deal of the plot from the first book, The Way of Kings, which was released in 2010. Nevertheless, I was quickly sucked into the audiobook, to the point of making excuses to spend extra time driving and doing housework so I could listen. Epic fantasy in a deeply developed world with a history of genocide, slavery, and massive social inequalities, narrated through the eyes of fascinating three-dimensional characters.