Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Foodie Reads

 Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.
-Orson Welles 

I like to cook and I like to eat, and I am endlessly entertained by reading books about other people cooking and eating. Give me a snack and a foodie book and I’m dead to the world until I want something else to eat. I think M.F.K. Fisher explained the enjoyable nature of food writing best when she wrote in “The Gastronomical Me,”

It seems to me our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it . . . and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied . . . and it is all one.

So, yeah, what she said. A ton of great food-related books have come off the presses in the past few years, but I’ve managed to winnow my list down to these three winners to share:

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Knisley, whose mother is a chef, relates her life story as it pertains to food in this very enjoyable graphic novel. Incorporating great recipes into her vignettes, Kinsley dispenses her culinary know-how in an easily digestible (sorry, pun alert!) form. I am generally not into graphic novels, but I totally loved this one.

John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk

Literary fiction meets fancy food in this historical novel set in the seventeenth century. When his mother dies after being run out of town by proselytizing witch hunters, John is sent to work in the kitchens of a nearby estate. He soon becomes an indispensable cook and woos the underfed daughter of the house with his creations. A novel about sin and love and hunger.

Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

Did you know that people didn’t have overbites when they just used their hands and a trusty knife to eat? I didn’t. And I didn’t know a whole lot of the other facts scholar Bee Wilson presents in her highly entertaining and engaging account of cooking technology through the ages.

For these and other culinary reads, stop on by the library!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Deplorable State of Young Adult Fiction

It seems that every month brings another article about how terrible books for young adults are. I won’t link to any of these articles, but you’ll find some if you do a Google search. They argue that YA books are full of violence and profanity and abuse and bullying and sex and drugs and suicide and cancer. YA fiction is frighteningly dark, and it’s harmful to kids.

The articles all have something in common: they’re wrong. *

YA lit is so good right now. I’ve read a lot of great, inventive, passionate, mind-expanding novels in recent years that were marketed towards teenagers. And to be clear, YA lit is not a genre – it encompasses everything from realistic literary fiction to science fiction to fantasy to mystery; often YA books blend genres in intriguing and startlingly original ways.

Sure, some YA books are dark. Some of them aren’t dark. Some of them deal with scary issues. Some of them are lighthearted stories about kids making friends and doing fun things. Even the darkest books are often stories of resilience and survival; the tone is uplifting, rather than depressing.

If you're interested in what's hot in YA literature, click here for a guide to the library's YA books.

And here is list of YA books we loved. (That is to say, we didn’t just examine these books and say, “Ah yes, a teen might enjoy this.” We read them ourselves, and loved them.)

Give one a try, and see what you think about the state of YA fiction.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by David Levithan and John Green 
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson 
Sprout by Dale Peck
The Bekka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

* For more about why they're wrong, see this excellent essay by Sherman Alexie. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We're on Pinterest!

We've got ourselves a Pinterest account! If you're not familiar with Pinterest, it's a social networking site that works like a digital cork board. In other words, it lets you "pin" links (or bookmarks) onto "boards" so you can return to the linked webpages easily. Like our other social media accounts (Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube), you don't have to make an account of your own to look at the content we've posted.

Right now all of our boards but one basically act as bibliographies organized by theme. If you're looking for a good scary story to read as Halloween rolls around, you can look on our Horror board, click on a likely-looking book, and go straight to our catalog to place a hold on it. To access our Pinterest page, click on the red "P" next to the blue Facebook "F" to the right of the large central picture on the library's homepage. Interested in starting a Pinterest account of your own? Click here for a how-to guide.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

“I didn’t suspect the day Grandfather came out and got me and my sister, Lula, and hauled us off toward the ferry that I’d soon end up with worse things happening than had already come upon us or that I’d take up with a gun-shooting dwarf, the son of a slave, and a big angry hog, let alone find true love and kill someone, but that’s exactly how it was.” ~Jack Parker, The Thicket

The Thicket is a dark and gory frontier tale about a boy out to rescue his sister, even though he’s not sure if there will be anything left to save.

Jack and Lula just lost their parents to smallpox, and when their grandfather loads up the wagon to deliver them to an unknown aunt, they discover someone’s gone and burnt the bridge over the river. The only way across is the brand new ferry, and Jack doesn’t like the way the other passengers are looking at his sister Lula. A twister hits the river just as Grandpa and one of the men start fighting, a gun is pulled, and next thing Jack knows, Grandpa’s shot, the ferry’s going down, one of the mules is flying through the air, and Jack’s separated from Lula and trying not to drown.

The cast of characters is truly a collection of sorry misfits, from Shorty the lonely and cynical little person, to Eustace the hog-owning drunk, to Jimmie Sue, retired prostitute and Jack’s true love. Lansdale’s language is rife with profanity yet lyrical—the story brings to mind the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, for the whimsicality and eccentric characters, as well as the TV show Deadwood, for the rough poetry, the quick violence, and the gore. There are no supernatural elements, but Jack’s coming-of-age tale has a Grimm’s fairytale feel.

The Thicket is a wonderful read for fans of dark western stories, anti-hero stories, and gritty coming-of-age tales. Very well written, and if you’re a wimp like me, you can skim over the gory parts without missing anything. (Note: Even if you do that, it’s still very R-rated—definitely not for the squeamish.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

A story of interesting people

Most of the novels I really like are genre fiction: mysteries, science fiction, historical adventures, and so on. I’m starting to read more literary fiction, but the truth is, if you were to recommend to me a book about a group of friends and how their relationships change over forty years -- well, I admit that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I’m usually dying to read.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, is that book. I picked it up, not because I wanted to read the saga of the friends, but because I think the cover is so beautiful. Excellent work, cover designers!

Anyway. Here’s the setup: six teenagers meet and become fast friends at an arty summer camp in 1974. The book follows them - Jules, Ethan, Ash, Jonah, Goodman, and Cathy - from that summer through the present day.

Two of the friends marry each other. One earns amazing success, wealth, and fame. One is forced to give up her dreams. One comes out as gay. One leaves the group, amid pain and bitterness. One is rejected by it.

They all make compromises, keep secrets, negotiate with the world and with each other. The way they feel about each other changes over time. It’s inevitable, but in a way it’s a little heartbreaking, too.

I’ve disclosed that this kind of book isn’t really My Thing, but I have to admit that The Interestings is pretty terrific. I was engrossed from beginning to end in the lives of these characters, who are smart and funny -- just flawed enough to be infuriatingly real.

If you like literary fiction, especially stories that unwind realistically over a period of decades, check The Interestings out - I bet you’ll like it. (And the cover’s pretty, too!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cover Oregon Info Session October 22

There has been a whole lot of discussion about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Oregon is one of sixteen states running its own healthcare exchange, called Cover Oregon. While you may have seen the commercials or the brightly colored billboards advertising Cover Oregon, you might be unsure as to how it can affect you. How much will it cost to be insured? Are you eligible for Medicaid or a healthcare subsidy? What will you be charged if you do not buy health insurance?

Newport Library is pleased to help you find answers to your questions. On Tuesday, October 22 at 6:30 p.m. Lauren Bailey from Lincoln County Health and Human Services and a Certified Enrollment Assister will be at the library to present information on Cover Oregon and answer your specific questions. There will be no actual enrollment assistance, but Lauren will provide information on how to seek help from Certified Enrollment Assisters like herself in the community. Come join us in the downstairs meeting room as we learn more about Cover Oregon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Newport Library's Classic Non-Fiction

Following on the heels of our Classic Fiction List, a reader asked us to create a list of classic non-fiction. After consulting library staff and a few online lists, including a very nice one at Goodreads, I tweaked together a list that includes both “classics” and staff favorites.

Some readers may shake their heads at what I’ve left out: the Bible, Mein Kampf and Das Kapital, for example. Many such well-known titles appear on all sorts of lists and these can be easily found online. I wanted to create a list that a modern book lover might actually read (John Locke’s Second Treatise Of Government anyone?) In addition to what staff thought were must-read classics, I also included more recent favorites I felt should be, or perhaps, will be classics in years to come. Some of the staff titles may be less familiar but are noteworthy nevertheless.

I also wanted to cover as much of the non-fiction world as possible (history and the social sciences titles predominate the online lists) and wanted to include topics like gardening, cooking, animals and even crafts. I also restricted the list to titles that our Ocean Books consortium owns. As a result, this list is completely arbitrary and just a tad eccentric.

The list is arranged alphabetically by author:

1. A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
2. Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
6. The Curve Of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet
8. A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson
9. The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
10. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
11. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
12. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
13. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
14. Two Years Before The Mast by R.H. Dana
15. On The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin
16. Guns, Germs And Steel by Jared Diamond
17. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
18. Out Of Africa by Isak Dinesen
19. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
20. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
21. The Golden Bough by James Frazer
22. The Interpretation Of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
23. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
24. Ticked by James Fussell
25. The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
26. The Lady Queen by Nancy Goldstone
28. Team Of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
29. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
30. The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
32. Mythology by Edith Hamilton
33. A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking
34. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
35. The Histories by Herodotus
36. All Creatures Great And Small by James Herriot
37. Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
39. Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
40. The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley
41. History Of Art by H.W. Janson
43. Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz
44. On Writing by Stephen King
45. The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey
46. The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence
47. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
48. Young Men And Fire by Norman MacLean
49. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
50. A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester
51. 1491 by Charles Mann
52. West With The Night by Beryl Markham
53. The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin
54. Nicholas And Alexandra by Robert Massie
55. The Essential Earthman by Henry Mitchell
56. Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss
59. Homage To Catalonia by George Orwell
61. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
62. Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi
65. The Botany Of Desire by Michael Pollan
66. Travels by Marco Polo
67. The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
68. Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
69. Between Pacific Tides by Edward Ricketts
70. Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
71. The Joy Of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
72. Wind, Sand And Stars by Antoine de Saint Exupery
73. And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts
75. Longitude by Dava Sobel
76. Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
77. Maus by Art Spiegelman
78. Autobiography Of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein
70. The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
80. The Elements Of Style by WIlliam Strunk
81. The Art of War by Sun Zi
82. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
83. Hard Times by Studs Terkel
84. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
85. The Lives Of A Cell by Lewis Thomas
86. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson
87. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
88. A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman
89. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
90. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
91. The Tiger by John Vaillant
92. Working On The Edge by Spike Walker
93. The Double Helix by James Watson
94. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
95. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
97. A Room Of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
98. She’s Tricky Like Coyote by Lionel Youst
99. Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Friday, October 11, 2013

Historical Fiction: The Middle Ages Edition

I have recently come to the conclusion that I don’t want to read a novel unless the story takes place at a minimum of fifty years ago. I really, really don’t want to read about people talking on their cell phones. I believe characters should communicate via galloping stallion, mail wagon, homing pigeon, or smoke signal. At the very least they must have to use a rotary phone and talk real loud.

One of my very favorite cell phone-free settings is medieval England. I know that to have lived there during that time basically meant a lifetime of cold, hunger, and social injustice, but seriously, some great legendary material rose out those miserable ashes! (See Beowulf, King Arthur, and Robin Hood.) While there are some perennial classics well worth reading in this realm of fiction (e.g., The Name of The Rose, The Brother Cadfael Mysteries, The Mists of Avalon, and The Once and Future King), I want to highlight three recently published books set in Merrie Olde Engelonde that would be perfect fireside reads this winter.

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell 
Prior to the Norman Invasion of 1066, Emma of Normandy is joined to King Aethelred II in a miserable marriage made worse by her deepening love for his eldest son. An absorbing beginning to a planned trilogy.

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas 
Nicholas is a renowned poet, a fact made evident by his lovely prose filled with evocative descriptions of everyday medieval life. The story centers on a group of travelers who are revealed to be much more than they seem when they encounter a violent evil stalking the snowy Pennine mountains of Northwest England.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen 
Chosen as a 2012 Amelia Bloomer book, Scarlet tells the story of one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet, who is actually a young woman in disguise. Scarlet can fight and steal with the best of ‘em in this entertaining retelling of an old tale.

Come visit us to pick up these and other great titles! (I promise that no one will look down on you for grabbing something set after the year 1200.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Library Catalog - Take Two

Last week our library catalog was upgraded to a newer version.  Many of the changes are "behind the scenes" and shouldn't cause any problems, but we've had questions about two aspects of the catalog.

"Where do I find my account information?"  When you are logged in to the catalog, your name--at the top of the page--is now the link to your account.  Just click on your name, and you'll be able to see your holds, checkouts, and any lists you have saved.

"I can't place holds anymore!"  Fortunately, the solution is simple!  Each web browser has an option for you to clear your history, cache, and cookies.  If you do this once, you should be able to place holds without a problem.

How do you clear your history, cache, and cookies?  It is different in each web browser.

In Internet Explorer, you click on Tools - Delete Browsing History, and a window will pop up.  Check the boxes for Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, and History, and click on the Delete button.

Internet Explorer

In the Mozilla Firefox web browser, click on History - Clear Recent History.  Check the boxes for Browsing & Download History, Form & Search History, Cookies, and Cache, and click on the Clear Now button.

Mozilla Firefox

In the Chrome browser, click on the row of lines in the upper right of the screen, which brings up menu options. Select History, then click on Clear Browsing Data
Google Chrome

In Apple's web browser, Safari, click on Safari - Empty Cache.  (Warning - this can also delete usernames and passwords you have saved.)

Safari - Empty Cache
Then on History - Clear History

Safari - Clear History
We appreciate the feedback you give us!  Let us know whenever you have a question or need help with the catalog, Library2Go, databases, or any other library service.  That's what we're here for!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DIY + Library = WOW!

Do you have a tired old carpet that doesn’t get clean even when you use a steamer? Did the crazy people that used to own your home install carpet in food preparation areas and around the fireplace? Did the burner accidentally get turned on under your cooling ceramic pie plate, which then exploded and burned holes in your old and ugly linoleum?

Maybe not, maybe that kind of thing only happens at my house, but maybe you have some other reason to hate your floor. Or maybe you’re just ready to do some creative decorating. If you’re uneasy about the budget, or you just have a yen for a little DIY, the library is a marvelous first stop.

Not quite sure what you might want to do with your floor? The Complete Guide to Flooring might help. Or The Flooring Handbook. Or 1001 Ideas for Floors. Just search “flooring” in our catalog.

For my family, between the pie plate incident, children spilling food on a regular basis onto the rug under the dining room table, and the effect of many winters worth of woodpiles shedding on the carpet around the hearth, tiles were an easy choice. They promised attractive sweepability and a more spacious look in our little house: I could picture it, an elegant field of tiles stretching all the way from the entryway, past the fireplace, through the dining area, and into the kitchen. But there was one huge drawback: my husband and I had never tiled before.

Bring on the books:
 · Ceramic and stone tiling: a complete guide
 · Ortho’s all about tiling basics
 · Step-by-step tiling projects
 · Floors & tiles
 · Complete tiling
 · The complete guide to ceramic tile

And many more . . . (Check “Tiling” in our catalog.) We read, we learned, we rented power tools. We created a lovely new floor, for a rock-bottom budget.

This is not to say that reading a few books will make you an expert – at anything—overnight. I also watched some Youtube videos, and that did the trick.

Just kidding. There are those who would say my tiling looks kind of amateur in spots. (Hi, Mom.) There are a few places where the grout lines didn’t stay even, despite the spacers, and a couple spots where the grey mortar shows through the burgundy grout. But I don’t care. It’s a million times better than the old carpet. A million. Literally. I think it’s beautiful. And every time I look at it, and remember the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it, I’m amazed. The power of DIY, backed by—dare I say?—the power of the library.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Love and terror in the sky

 Cathy Kerkow was a pretty hippie from Coos Bay. In 1972 she was living and partying in San Diego. There she met and was instantly attracted to Roger Holder, a troubled African-American Vietnam veteran who coped with his racing thoughts and violent memories by smoking copious amounts of dope. The two began a passionate romance.

Holder hatched a plan that embodies the principle of “So crazy it just might work” - he and Kerkow would hijack an airplane, rescue Angela Davis (the political activist then on trial for murder in San Francisco), drop her off in Hanoi, and then he and Kerkow would become homesteaders in Australia. When he asked Kerkow what she thought of the idea, she was thrilled. She asked what she should wear.

The story of Holder and Kerkow’s insane and daring adventure is told in The Skies Belong To Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, by Brendan I. Koerner.

To say that events did not go according to plan is an understatement; but the Holder/Kerkow hijacking of Western Airlines Flight 701 was far more successful than anyone could possibly have predicted.

Koerner’s book doesn’t just concern itself with the mad exploits of Holder and Kerkow. He also tells of the epidemic of hijacking that took place on American aircraft from 1968 to 1973, when desperate people with guns and bombs hijacked commercial flights nearly once a week. I knew little of this period - my flying years began after improved airport security made hijacking a considerably more difficult business - and I find it extraordinary that hijacking was ever so common and was permitted to persist for so long.

For a breathlessly exciting and scary true read, check out The Skies Belong To Us by Brendan Koerner.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

More than this by Patrick Ness

Seth dies. And then he wakes up, in a hell with no food, no water, no people. Or is it not hell, but something else?

I hesitate to give away even one more little thing, because this is a book of subtly shifting perceptions, of Seth’s slowly growing understanding—maybe—of what’s really going on, with his surroundings, with himself, with others.

I'm not fond of simplistic books with easy answers. I can't stand supposedly uplifting books with everything all tied up neatly at the end.  This book is not like that.  More than this is more deftly written, more exciting, more suspenseful, and more meaningful than you expect.

(Not to be coy. I guess I can at least tell you this is a YA book that might be called science fiction, by Patrick Ness, an author who has the rare distinction of being awarded two Carnegie Medals, one in 2011, one in 2012, for best new children’s or young adult book published in the UK.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"I never"

Bela Lugosi gave the performance of his life in the 1931 screen version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. His hypnotic eyes, slow, deliberate speech, and commanding presence drew his victims to him as moths to a flame. Movie audiences in 1931 were terrified of his persona, and many fainted in shock when they watched the film. 

Do Lugosi’s charm and menace translate on the screen 82 years later?  Join us at the Newport Public Library on Tuesday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. as we venture into the scary season with a showing of this classic horror movie. 

Other characters include Dwight Frye as the ill-fated Renfield; Edward Von Sloan as Professor Van Helsing, a vampire hunter; and Helen Chandler and Frances Dade as Mina and Lucy, two of Count Dracula’s beautiful victims.

Literary Flicks are shown the 2nd Tuesday of each month, and are free and open to the public.  Popcorn will be served.