World Book Night logoIt’s World Book Night!  As we told you back in November, eager librarians and community members will be handing out free books tonight in an effort to spread the joy of reading.  You have a chance of getting a book on the bus, at your gym, while you are getting coffee … the possibilities are endless.

Awesome, right?!  But wait, it gets better…

Five of your favorite Bellingham Public Library employees will be handing out books this evening at the Grand Avenue Ale House around 5:30 p.m.  So stop by, grab a beer and a bite, and enjoy some free literature courtesy of World Book Night.

And if you don’t get a free book tonight, you can always check them out (for free!) at the Bellingham Public Library.  We even have a handy list of the 2014 World Book Night Picks for you to choose from:

World Book Night 2014, pt. 1

World Book Night 2014, pt. 2

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is finally here and it is time to get your gardens back into summer-shape.  Fortunately, we have bunch of great materials at the Bellingham Public Library to help you out!  Check out the highlights from our Spring into Gardening list that will get you on the top of your gardening game in no time:

A Garden of Marvels by Ruth KassingerA Garden of Marvels Book Cover

In the tradition of The Botany of Desire and Wicked Plants, the author of Paradise Under Glass gives us a witty and engaging history of the first botanists interwoven with stories of today’s extraordinary plants found in the garden and the lab.


Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Niki  JabbourGroundbreaking Food Gardens Book Cover

Vegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more. Each plan is fully illustrated.


Plantiful by Kristin GreenPlantiful Book Cover

A bountiful garden is easy to create, and gardeners can save big by choosing plants that grow quickly and spread vigorously. The fragrant stems and dusty-blue flower spikes of anise hyssop will pop up throughout the garden when the plant goes to seed. A cascade of golden Japanese forest grass is a fast but well-contained spreader. And when you add frost-tender plants to the mix, you’ll open the door to an even wider world of possibilities.


Small Space Garden Ideas by Philippa PearsonSmall Space Garden Ideas Book Cover

Perfect for people who have little space to garden, whether a doorstep, balcony, or part of a wall. Small Space Garden Ideas is full of creative ideas for making use of every growing space available. From windowsills and hanging baskets to rooftop containers and vertical gardens, Small Space Garden Ideas shows you how to create a dream garden, through step-by-step projects from start to finish.


Looking for more fun and useful reading lists?  Check out our Staff Picks today!

Night Film By: Marisha Pessl

Night Film Book CoverFirst Impressions
When I started reading Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, it seemed to be a mystery including elements of suspense.  I recommend sitting in an armchair while reading this, you will need something to clutch during this thrill ride.  I also love the fact that there are photos, personal notes, and even pages resembling websites within the pages of this book.  I felt I was right in the midst of the action, and experienced everything the characters did first hand.  Journalist, Scott McGrath, is our guide, as well as partner, through the dark world of Night Film.

Drive-By Summary
McGrath is investigating the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova, famous pianist prodigy, and daughter of famous horror film director, Stanislas Cordova.  After being pummeled, career-wise, by Cordova for reporting seemingly false testimony against the director, Scott McGrath is trying to get his life back–mainly his career.  Ashley Cordova’s suicide opened the window for him to dive back in to Cordova’s world of horror.  Desperate, he will stop at nothing to find the truth, even if it means risking his life and delicate relationship with his daughter.  With the help of Nora, wannabe actress, and Hopper, a drug dealer who knows more about Ashley than he’s letting on; Scott will find much more than just the truth about Ashley, he will find the truth about himself.

My Favorite Character
My favorite character is Nora.  She is smart, observant, and is more of a partner to McGrath, than an assistant.  I love the banter she has with protagonist McGrath, and secondary character, Hopper, who is just as equal in skills as McGrath; making this trio a real joy to travel with.  All three characters are so fun and relatable, but I feel Nora, is the glue that holds the three of them together.  She is a special person.

Words to Live By
“I was following in their footsteps, sending myself to the outer reaches of the world.  Was I fleeing something or had I been set free?” ~ Scott McGrath

Recommended For
Mystery, suspense, with a dollop of horror, and a dash of romance.  If these sound like your kind of ingredients, then this story is for you.  Character development and relationship growth is also demonstrated beautifully.

Final Say
Pessl explore the idea of movies being more than just pieces of fiction we can escape into for our enjoyment.  They reflect our own inner psyches, the good and the bad.  Join Scott, Nora, and Hopper as they explore the labyrinth of Night FilmWith all the twists and turns, horror and relief, you may never look at horror films the same way again.

Uncover Night Film today at the Bellingham Public Library!

– Laura

Hot Titles from April’s LibraryReads List

The April LibraryReads list is here!   This nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  And there are some intriguing books coming out in April.  Here are the highlights:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

“A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep, and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances.” - Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Frog Music by Emma DonoghueFrog Music

“Donoghue returns to historical fiction in this latest offering, based on the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher with a mysterious past. Set in 1870s San Francisco, this brilliant book includes impeccable historical details, from a smallpox epidemic to period songs.”- Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, IL

The Intern’s Handbook by Shane KuhnThe intern's handbook

“How did Shane Kuhn pull this off? He’s written an action-packed, twisting thriller about professional assassins, and–guess what?–it’s funny and romantic, too! In a totally quirky way, of course. You have to read it to believe it.”- Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina StibbeLove, Nina A Nanny Writes Home

“With a unique voice, Stibbe brings 1980s literary Camden back to life in this delightful epistolary memoir. The letters that Stibbe writes to her sister are a hoot, featuring unexpected cooking advice from the great Alan Bennett, and droll commentary on just about everything from Mary-Kay Wilmers.” - Jennifer Estepp, Queens Library, Jamaica, NY



The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

The Childhood of JesusFirst Impressions
With deliberate sparseness, Coetzee concocts a dreamlike tale of a ridiculous mission in The Childhood of JesusSimón and David are newcomers to a vaguely socialist country where no one can recall their original birthdate, age or name.  They are issued new ones, along with free food, lodging, clothing and healthcare, although Simón soon tires of the bean paste and dry bread that passes as everyday fare.  To pass the time and buy a few luxuries Simón finds work as a stevedore, despite his lack of physical prowess.  No one else seems to remember or miss any trappings of private commerce, religion, desire, ambition or humor, increasing Simón’s frustrated attempts to navigate the society around him.

Drive-By Summary
The Childhood of Jesusis a dystopian novel…or is it?  Set in no particular time or place, the middle-aged Simón meets a young boy named David, and sets about trying to reunite him with his mother.  Both are without their memories, as are all citizens in the new country they now reside in.  Everyone amiably conforms to standards of bland acceptance, despite no threat of any rebels being punished by their benign and benevolent government, and the pair struggle to adapt to this bizarre, subdued world.  Can Simón locate David’s mother without any real memories or knowledge of her?

My Favorite Character
Simón is plagued by curiosity and yearning, but also a strange sort of passivity; making him a fascinating and contradictory character.

Words to Live By
Alvaro does not trade in irony.  Nor does Elena.  Elena is an intelligent woman but she does not see any doubleness in the world, any difference between the way things seem and the way things are.  An intelligent woman and an admirable woman too, who out of the most exiguous of materials – seamstressing, music lessons, household chores – has put together a new life, a life from which she claims – with justice? – that nothing is missing.  It is the same with Alvaro and the stevedores:  they have no secret yearnings he can detect, no hankerings after another kind of life.  Only he is the exception, the dissatisfied one, the misfit.  What is wrong with him?  Is it, as Elena says, just the old way of thinking and feeling that has not yet died in him, but kicks and shudders in its last throes?

Recommended For
Fans of Beckett, Don Quixote, and quiet contemplation on family, enlightenment and desire.

Final Say
The Childhood of Jesus is a quietly unsettling and muted read, where the absence of Coetzee’s usual rich lyricism acts as a relief picture, revealing starkly contrasting themes through his postmodern prose.  Peaks of emotional intensity are curiously built around Coetzee’s own passions for sports and animal rights.  However, the author leaves much to ponder:  Is David the child Jesus, and Simón Joseph?  Is this a fable, farce, or lecture that Coetzee is delivering?  This is a paradoxical and challenging book that will engage you long after you have finished reading it.

You can find The Childhood of Jesus at the Bellingham Public Library.

– Nicky

Willy Vlautin at the Chuckanut Radio Hour

“Bad luck, it falls on people every day. It’s one of the only certain truths. It’s always on deck, it’s always just waiting. The worst thing, the thing that scares me the most is that you never know who or when it’s going to hit”. – From The Motel Life

The FreeIf you haven’t purchased tickets yet for February’s Chuckanut Radio Hour, go and get ‘em straight away! The featured guest this month will be author and musician, Willy Vlautin.  I’m second in line for the Bellingham Public Library’s copy of Vlautin’s newest book, The Free, so I’ll admit I haven’t read it yet, but I just finished his other three novels: Northline, The Motel Life, and Lean on Pete. I loved them and I’m very excited to see the author in person and hear a little from The Free, and I highly recommend him to you.

Willy Vlautin’s writing has been compared to that of John Steinbeck, William Kennedy, and Raymond Carver, with a dash of Bukowski thrown in. It’s high praise, and the comparisons are certainly warranted. A friend recommended Northline to me and I devoured it, and immediately sought out all of Vlautin’s other books and devoured them too. His are gritty stories of down-on-their-luck folks that will likely make you weep, but within all of them a message of hope and the possibility of redemption glimmers. The characters in his books experience terrible disappointment and heartache, and their personal crises build one upon another. The reader, meanwhile, is drawn deeper in and closer to them, achingly aware that things can’t end well, but hoping for something to shift or for a saint to intervene on their behalf. This is good, clean writing with a solid heart, and with The Motel Life in particular, supremely imaginative story-telling. The stories within the story will leave you thirsting.

Richmond FontaineWilly Vlautin is also the singer/songwriter for the band Richmond Fontaine, an alt/country band from Portland, and will be performing musically at the Chuckanut Radio Hour as well as speaking.  While I’m not familiar with the songs of Richmond Fontaine, the library copy of Vlautin’s book, Northline, comes with a soundtrack cd in the back as an accompaniment to the story. The music was written and performed by Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard, and it’s lovely.

The February 2014 Chuckanut Radio Hour with special guest author and musician Willy Vlautin takes place on February 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Whatcom Community College’s Heiner Theater here in Bellingham, WA. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance at BrownPaperTickets or at Village Books in Fairhaven. Don’t miss this one! But rest assured, if you just can’t swing it – the show will be broadcast on KMRE LP 102.3 FM at 6:00 p.m. on  Saturday, March 1 and again at 9:00 p.m. Sunday, March 2.

–  Jenni

Valentine’s is for Readers

Are you looking to spice up your reading?  Are you looking to break out of a reading rut?  Do you want to flirt with a strange genre?

Then look no further!  The Bellingham Public Library has you covered with our new Literary Blind Date display at the Central Library.  To encourage reading outside the box, we have wrapped up some of our favorite books so you can’t judge them by their covers. All you have to do is pick the book with the most appealing blurb, take it home, unwrap it, and fall in love.

… Or not.  

Thankfully, there are many books to choose from!  So, this Valentine’s Day, take a chance on us – take a chance on reading.

Book Date

The  Literary Blind Date display will be available at the Bellingham Public Library until February 28.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Vampires in the Lemon Grove book coverFirst Impressions
I normally don’t like short story collections.  I prefer books that pull me in, keep me absorbed for 400+ pages, and leave me (more than a bit) wistful when they end. But Vampires in the Lemon Grove is shockingly good.  The stories are short (sometimes too short), but the world-building is superb.  You feel that every place in the book is absolutely real and improbably inhabited by the most fantastical characters that are as understandable as you or me.

The emotional impact of many of the stories is devastating and tense.  I found myself setting the book down several times in order to lessen the tension I was feeling.  But the overwhelming concern and fascination I felt for various protagonists kept me coming back for more.

The writing in this collection is also amazing. It is clear, crisp, and innovative.  Russell tends to brief in her prose, but the impact is powerful and lingering.

Drive-by Summary
Vampires in the Lemon Grove is comprised of eight short stories written by author, Karen Russell, who wrote the award-winning Swamplandia!.  Each story is a self-contained world filled with unlikely, unusual, and disquieting people that inhabit realities much like our own.

My Favorite Story
“Barn at the End of Our Term” is hands down the funniest and most bittersweet story in Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

The story follows Rutherford B. Hayes, a former US president who has been reincarnated as “a skewbald pinto” and is stabled with ten other former, and equally transformed, presidents somewhere in Kentucky.  This absurd tale takes a turn for the profound as Hayes wanders the property looking for his wife or his freedom –whichever comes first.

Words to live by
“I think we needed that librarian to follow us around the hallways for every minute of every school day, reading us her story of our lives, her fine script of who we were and our activities — but of course she couldn’t do this, and we did get lost.”

Recommended For
Horror fans, fantasy-lovers, literary adventurers, and prose geeks who want a quick, satisfying read.

Final Say
This book is bizarre, heartbreaking, and deeply weird.  It is also fun and well-deserving of the praise I am lavishing upon it.

You can grab a copy  of Vampires in the Lemon Grove at the Bellingham Public Library.

– Katie


Getting Graphic @ Your Library

Watchmen Book CoverGraphic novels, or novels in comic-strip format, have become increasingly popular with adults in the last ten years or so.  This is not surprising considering graphic novels cover all genres, topics, and issues with a lot of skill and great art.  But, with all the available graphic novels out there, where do you get started?  Thankfully, Bellingham Public Library has your back with this handy list: Getting Started on Graphic Novels.  This is a list of essential reads from the best writers and artists in the industry.  Here are some highlights:

Watchmen by Alan Moore 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


There is something on this list for every reader – so check out a graphic novel today!