Wrap It Up!

Newspaper never looked so good.

Newspaper never looked so good.

We are mere days away from Christmas.
Are your gifts wrapped?

Hopefully, you’ve got every gift covered at this point so you can sit back and relax your way into the holiday.  However, for the chronically late or the hopelessly perfect, the clock is ticking and those gifts aren’t going to wrap themselves.

Never fear!  The library has a lot of great gift wrapping resources on our new Wrap It Up! list to make your gifts shine in any setting.

First, you will need a gift.  It doesn’t need to be fancy/expensive/rare. It just needs to be thoughtful. I have had great success crafting various items for friends and family over the years.  In fact, this lovely kusadama ball was a smash hit for me several years ago.  But, if you are out of time and aren’t feeling too creative, here is a wonderful list of gift ideas for bibliophiles.



Next, you will need to get those gifts ready to present.  And you don’t necessarily need to have fancy paper.  In fact, you might just need a pretty scarf or some newspaper.  These books, in particular, can help you figure out what you will need and how to use it like the wrapping ninja you are about to become:

The Art of Gift Wrapping by Wanda Wen
Furoshiki: The Art of Wrapping With Fabric by Kumiko Nakayama-Geraerts
Ruby Star Wrapping:Creating Packaging to Reuse, Regive, and Relove by Melody Miller
Wrapagami by Jennifer Playford


Does that package need a bow?  A tag?  I thought so!  The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts by Elaine Schmidt is a wonderful book that can show you how to make all sorts of lovely bows for your loved ones’ gifts.

Simple, fast, and easy.

Simple, fast, and easy.

Finally, I realize that some people prefer giving (and receiving!) cards on the holidays. Thankfully, the Bellingham Public Library has many, many (MANY) great books on making handmade cards. 130 New Iris Folded Cards to Make by Maruscha Gaasenbeek is my favorite on the Wrap It Up! list. However, Ultimate Cardmaking by Sarah Beaman, is also popular with the crafty crowd.

Now, fingers crossed, you should have an amazing gift that is awesomely wrapped. Boom!  The holidays have been won.  Go get yourself some celebratory cider and relax – you’ve earned it.


– Deborah and Katie


2014 Staff Picks: Fiction Favorites

2014 was a great year for books and the Bellingham Public Library staff had an amazing time reading, discussing, and debating their favorite titles of the year.  We sincerely hope that you enjoy what you see here in the next couple of weeks and use it to find a book for you or for a loved one during this winter season.

We will be featuring our thoughts on all of our selections for the next two weeks here at Read More!  But, if you have impatient streak (like me!) and want the list immediately, please check out our online list in two parts, 2014 Staff Picks for Adults and 2014 Staff Picks for Children. Or you can visit any of our library locations for a handy paper list!

Now, without further ado, here are our favorite fiction titles:

California by Edan Lepucki

CaliforniaA couple leaves Los Angeles to live off the grid in a post-decline America. This survivalist, end of the world novel, has an interesting plot and gives insight into the unraveling of civilization. – Madeline




Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Fourth of July CreekPushcart Prize-Winner, Smith Henderson, has written a spectacular first novel.  Social worker, Pete Snow, serves the working poor of rural Montana; overworked and underpaid, Pete struggles with his client’s desperate lives while dealing with his own troubles.  He’s left his adulterous wife and angry teenage daughter to live in a remote cabin with no electricity.  His dedication to his job helps him ignore his own unraveling life.  “I take kids away from people like us,” he tells his ex one drunken night. Pete’s life intersects one day with an eleven year old boy whose father is a tyrannical survivalist awaiting the “End Times”; whose harsh life and treatment of his son reels Pete into their world. Full of complicated, sympathetic and realistic characters, Fourth of July Creek is a home run.  More please, Mr. Henderson. – Linda


Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Goblin EmperorLooking for a fantasy title free of horrifying bloodshed, vampires, or zombies?  The Goblin Emperor is the story of a half-goblin, half-elven prince; the result of a political marriage of the Elven Emperor to his despised fourth wife, a goblin princess.  Raised in seclusion away from the byzantine elvish court, Maia suddenly ascends the Emperor’s throne after an ‘accident’ kills the emperor and existing heirs.  Maia struggles to retain his crown in a hostile court where everyone wants something from him (no matter how formal and politely they may ask). Written from Maia’s perspective, I found him to be utterly likeable and charming.  And while there is some bloodshed, there is also a thread of hope throughout the book. – Deborah


If Not for This by Pete Fromm

If Not for ThisIf Not for This by Montana author, Pete Fromm, is an amazing, heartfelt love story filled with characters you cheer, laugh, and cry with. Maddy and Dalt meet as rafting guides on the Snake River, fall in love, marry, and lead and adventurous, active life together.  Economic realities force them to leave their beloved river and move to the suburbs of Ashland, Oregon.  There, Maddy’s dizzy spells and weakness morph in a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis – at the same time she learns that she is pregnant.  Written in Maddy’s voice, If Not for This, is filled with wit, poignancy and heart-breaking sadness.  Have the Kleenex handy. – Linda


Maid’s Version
 by Daniel Woodrell

Maid's VersionFrom the author of Winter’s Bone this short novel reflects on a mysterious explosion at a dance hall in Missouri in 1929. The author paints a vivid scene and uses capturing language to tell this non-linear story. – Madeline




One Kick
 by Chelsea Cain

One KickThis is from the book description on Amazon: Meet Kick Lannigan. She’s twenty-one. She can pick any lock. She knows five ways to kill you with a jacket. Get ready to fall in love.” Five ways to kill you with a jacket? I’m in! One Kick is the first book in a new series written by local author Chelsea Cain. I really like the Archie Sheridan series by Cain and I really like this one too, though there are parts that are difficult to read. But Compelling storyline, characters, and lots of action will keep you riveted. Kick Lannigan has been through a horrific childhood and she gets caught up in solving a case similar to her own. Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. – Lesley


The Painter
 by Peter Heller

The PainterA story of loss, injustice, and morality – with splashes of love and beauty – as seen through the eyes of renowned, yet reclusive, artist and fisherman Jim Stegner. After fully absorbing the shock of the death of his teenage daughter and sinking in a mire of self-recrimination, alcoholism and impetuous action, Jim is on a path back to life when he encounters Dell Siminoe brutally beating a horse on a back road. His actions, right or wrong, set the pace for the rest of this emotional suspense story. A highly compelling book – it had me shaking my head and exclaiming “no, no, no,” over and over again.  – Jenni


The Queen of the Tearling
 by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the TearlingThe Queen of the Tearling was my favorite discovery of 2014. The main character, Kelsea, is complex and relatable and the book is full of interesting characters. There is lots of action and adventure. If you like Game of Thrones you will like this book! – Lesley


Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Winter PeopleA haunting ghost story set in early 19th century and present day Vermont. Creepy characters and an exciting plot make this a novel a beautifully written page turner. – Madeline




Check back on Wednesday for our 2014 nonfiction selections!

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!

Surviving the Holidays

bad-christmas-presents1-300x199This reading list is for those of us who are patiently waiting for the holiday chaos to end.  It’s not that the holidays aren’t fun.  They can just be a bit stressful. Three cheers for grace, good humor, good friends, and a good drink!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays
By Jeremy Piven
A guide to dealing with the trials and tribulations of the holiday season offers a variety of whimsical coping strategies for dealing with obnoxious relatives, surviving an office holiday party, escaping a runaway parade balloon or a stampede of rabid shoppers, rescuing someone stuck in a chimney, silencing a group of carolers, and other festive scenarios.

It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine
By Wade Rouse
Wade Rouse looks at the yearly celebrations that unite us all and bring out the very best and worst in our nearest and dearest.  Family is truly the only gift that keeps on giving, namely, the gifts of dysfunction and eccentricity.

Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat
By Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat
Collection of humorous rants dissecting the “most wonderful time” of the year. She unleashes her biting wit and hilarious opinions on everything from cookie exchanges to annual humble brag Christmas letters from over achieving moms to horrifying Christmases of her childhood.

Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive
By Jen Yates
From thankless Thanksgiving turkeys and confusing Christmas conundrums, to less-than-happy Hanukkah horrors and New Year’s meltdowns, Wreck the Halls has an icing-smeared disaster for every occasion. With additional chapters on Black Friday, family communication, and navigating the murky waters of politically correct cake greetings (“Winter!”), Wreck the Halls combines Yates’s signature blend of wit and sarcasm with the most hilarious frosting fails this side of winter solstice.

Holidays on Ice
By David Sedaris
An anthology of humorous Christmas tales and essays features excerpts from the author’s “Barrel Fever” and “Naked,” as well as “The Santaland Diaries,” “Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family,” and a new tale of holiday mayhem.

Super Pop!: Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make it Through the Holidays
By Daniel Harmon
Super-Pop offers a maximum-pleasure, minimum-effort way to become smarter, happier, and more likely to survive your next family function (or a shark attack). This hilarious and wide-ranging guide sorts nearly 500 different bestsellers, blockbusters, and underappreciated gems into quirky top ten lists.

Need more survival tips?  Check our Holiday Survival book list!

Feasts with a Different Flavor

Christmas dinner

The holiday season is full traditions, mainstays, and family favorites … but that doesn’t mean that you can’t shake things up!  Here are some books that can give your future feasts an nontraditional twist.

Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine
By Jennifer Hahn

The One-Block Feast: An Adventure in Food from Yard to Table
By Margo True

Eat With Your Hands
By Zakary Pelaccio

Gather: the Art of Paleo Entertaining
By Hayley Mason

Gluten-free and Vegan Holidays: Celebrating the Year with Simple Satisfying Recipes and Menus
By Jennifer Katzinger

Poor Man’s Feast: a Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking
By Elissa Altman

For more ideas check out our Feasts with a Different Flavor book list!

Staff Picks of 2013: Non- Fiction

For those readers that like facts more than fiction, here are the Bellingham Public Library’s favorite non-fiction titles of 2013:

500 Paper Objects - New Directions in Paper Art

500 Paper Objects : New Directions in Paper Art by Gene McHugh
Filled with gorgeous photographs of fantastical paper art – this book fills me with inspiration and wonder each time I crack it open. A mind-blowing showcase of variety and ingenuity on display.  –  Jenni


The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown.
This book has everything: a fast paced plot, a well-described, local and historical setting, interesting characters and one of those fun come-from-behind underdog wins stories – a winning combination! I couldn’t put it down. – Georgi


Bloodlands - Europe between Hitler and Stalin

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder
There has been much written about the Holocaust, somewhat less about Stalin’s starvation and execution of millions, but Timothy Snyder does something new by treating the murders by the two dictators as one history. He tell the larger story of what happened in Eastern Europe from 1930 to 1945, but also tells the stories of individuals caught up in the horrors of that time. Much of what happened disappeared behind the Iron Curtain after the war, but Snyder, with access to recently declassified Soviet and other archives reveals new facts and perspectives about that harrowing time. This is not an easy book to read, but a brilliant history of an almost unbelievable period. – Beth


Dad is Fat

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
I’ve always enjoyed listening to Jim Gaffigan’s comedy routines. I think his observations are sharp and clear-eyed, but based in humility and understanding. Plus he is hilarious. Dad Is Fat is a series of short essays on life with a wonderful wife and five young children living in a 2 bedroom apartment in New York City. I had to stop reading it on the bus because it was too difficult to suppress my laughter. – Deborah


One Summer - America 1927

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of the leading popularizers of science, nature, and history. In his new work, Mr. Bryson focuses on a few famous characters (Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth) and events of 1927 to create a readable but fact-filled story of that pivotal year. While we may know the story of Lindbergh flying the Atlantic and the Babe setting a home run record, Bryson also cover less known history. That was the year that the federal reserve made the fateful decision that led to the depression, and the explosion of tabloid journalism and radio marked what could be considered the birth of modern popular culture. A fine way to painlessly swallow your history lesson. – Beth

Join us tomorrow for our favorite Teen picks of 2013!

Small Scale History

History is a broad topic with many avenues for study.  Why not scale history down a bit with these micro-histories?  They are guaranteed to make you think a little bit more about the every-day objects in your life!

Banana: the Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan KoeppelBanana Book Cover
In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought.



Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon GarfieldJust My Type book cover
The history of typefaces from the early days of Gutenberg to the modern applications of digital fonts, tracing the impact of font usage in business and pop culture while explaining what favorite fonts reveal about personality.



Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria FinlayColor book cover
Discover the tantalizing true stories behind your favorite colors. Finlay examines the physical materials that color the world, and explores the social, political, and cultural implications of color throughout history.



The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine AshenburgThe Dirt on Clean
Ashenburg searches for clean and dirty in plague-ridden streets, medieval steam baths, castles and tenements, and in bathrooms of every description. She reveals the bizarre descriptions of history’s doctors as well as the hygienic peccadilloes of kings, mistresses, monks and ordinary citizens, and guides us through the twists and turns to our own understanding of clean, which is no more rational than the rest.


A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom StandageA  History of the World in 6 Glasses book cover
An offbeat history of the world traces the story of humankind from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century from the perspective of six different drinks–beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola–describing their pervasive influence during pivotal eras of world history, from humankind’s adoption of agriculture to the advent of globalization




All Hallows Eve

Good gracious!  Halloween is just around the corner and it is time to start thinking about costumes and candy.   And, if you love making your own costumes, decorating your house, and carving kick-butt pumpkins, you should head down to the library.  We have a lot of great Halloween materials to make your Halloween as memorably ghoulish as possible.  Here are some of our favorite resources:

Special Effects Make-up

Special Effects Make-Up by Janus Vinther
From bullet holes to severed fingers, from slashed throats to wounds and burns, Special Effects is a complete easy-to-use guide to creating horrifying make-up.


Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic HoodExtreme Pumpkin Carving
Step-by-step instruction and a gallery of intricately carved pumpkins.  These aren’t your everyday jack-o’-lanterns but elaborate and complex pieces of art.


Maskwork by Jennifer Foreman
Stunning yet practical book that shows you how to design and construct theatrical masks.


HorrorgamiHorrorgami by Chris Marks
If you thought origami was just about making peaceful cranes, flowers, and sailboats, you’re in for a wicked treat.



Bow Wow Wow!

Bow Wow Wow!  by Cathie Filian
Cool canine attire.

Want to see more?  Check out our online All Hallows Eve list!

Maps and Meaning

Isn’t it funny how maps can provide so much meaning to all the random data that drifts around in our heads and on the internet?

Recently both the Washington Post and a cool blog, Twisted Sifter, both put out 40 maps that will change the way that you understand the world.  These maps are both visually stunning and a bit emotionally shocking.  For example:

Map of highest paid employees by state

Map created by http://deadspin.com/

The map certainly makes a statement and gives context to facts–which is AWESOME in this librarian’s opinion.

If all these maps have got you hooked (and you want to know more about maps and their meanings), take a look at these books that are available at the Bellingham Public Library:

Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking
By Jill Berry
You don’t have to be a world traveler or a professional cartographer to embark on a grand journey of self-discovery through map-making. Personal Geographies gives you the tools and techniques you’ll need to create artful maps of yourself, your experiences and your personal journey.

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks
By Simon Garfield
Imagine a world without maps.  How would we travel?  Could we own land?  What would men and women argue about in cars? Follow the history of maps from the early explorer  maps and the awe-inspiring medieval Mappa Mundi to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones, Garfield explores the unique way that maps relate and realign our history and reflect the best and worst of what makes us human.

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks
By Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth.

The Art of the Map: An Illustrated History of Map Elements and Embellishments
By Dennis Reinhartz
This lavishly illustrated history of the golden age of cartography, from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, explores not only the embellishments on maps but also what they reveal about the world in which they were created. Here there be monsters real and imagined; ships actual and archetypical; newly discovered flora such as corn and tobacco; fauna ranging from buffalo to unicorns; godlike beings and fantasy-like depictions of native peoples.

Cartographies of Time
By Daniel Rosenberg, and Anthony Grafton
Cartographies of Time features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways, curving, crossing, branching, defy conventional thinking about the form. A fifty-four-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Presented in a lavishly illustrated edition, Cartographies of Time is a revelation to anyone interested in the role visual forms have played in our evolving conception of history.

Science for Non-Scientists

Want to know more about science, but were afraid to ask?  Never fear,  we have a reading list for you! All of the following books are fun, intelligent reads that will get you thinking about the world around you in new ways. 

Time Travel and Warp Drives book coverTime Travel and Warp Drives: A Scientific Guide to Shortcuts through Time and Space
By Allen Everett
Lays out what humans really know about time and space and how to bend it to our will, and explains just how close we are to some of the ideas of science fiction novels.

Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and Proof that will Change the Way We Live our Lives
By Mario Beauregard
Filled with extraordinary stories of the mind’s abilities, a prominent neuroscientist captures a major shift in our understanding of the age-old mind/body debate, proves that humans are more than complex biological machines.

Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization
By Adrian Bejan
Reveals how recurring patterns in nature are accounted for by a single governing principle of physics, explaining how all designs in the world from biological life to inanimate systems evolve in a sequence of ever-improving designs that facilitate flow.

Boltzmann’s Tomb: Travels in Search of Science
By Bill Green
Green describes his evolution as a scientist as he travels throughout the world to visit sites where important scientific discoveries were made.

The Compass of Pleasure: How our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel so Good
By David Linden
The neurobiology of pleasure, exploring how pleasures can become addictions, and how the pursuit of pleasure has become a central drive of the human mind.

The Disappearing Spoon book coverThe Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodical Table of the Elements
By Sam Kean
Intriguing tales about every element of the periodic table, sharing their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, evil, love, the arts, and the lives of the colorful scientists who discovered them.
Also available in Audiobook and eBook

Big Data: a revolution that will transform how we live, work and think
By Viktor Mayer-Schonberger
Big data is our new found ability to crunch vast amounts of information, analyze it instantly and draw profound and surprising conclusions from it. Mayer-Schonberger  discusses how it will change our lives and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
By Michael Pollan
Pollan discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements–fire, water, air, and earth–to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture.

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet
By Dimitar Sasselov
An astronomy professor at Harvard University discusses the possibilities of finding other worlds that sustain alien life forms, citing recent breakthroughs in biology and exoplanetary astronomy, including the recent discovery of arsenic-based bacteria in a California lake.

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are
By Sebastian Seung
A mind-bending adventure story of neuroscience. Seung believes that our identity lies not in our genes, but in the connections between our brain cells, our particular wiring. Mapping these connections is  a monumental effort, but if successful will uncover the basis of personality, identity, intelligence, memory, and perhaps disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Packing for Mars book coverPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
By Mary Roach
Describes the weirdness of space travel, answers questions about the long-term effects of living in zero gravity on the human body, and explains how space simulations on Earth can provide a preview to life in space.
Also available in Audiobook and eAudiobook

Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics
By Leonard Susskind
This is a book for anyone who has ever regretted not taking physics in college, or who simply wants to know how to think like a physicist. In this unconventional introduction, physicist Leonard Susskind and hacker-scientist George Hrabovsky offer a first course in physics and associated math for the ardent amateur.

Don’t forget! We have lots of reading suggestions in our online catalog under Staff Picks.