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.

Fancy!

Fancy!

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

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2014 Staff Picks: Graphic Novel and Media Favorites

We are featuring our thoughts on our 2014 Staff Picks for the week here at Read More! But, if you have impatient streak (like me!) and want the list immediately, please check our 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!

Here are our favorite graphic novels:

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Can't We Talk About Something More PleasantThis graphic novel memoir is the author’s tale of navigating some pretty tricky and hilarious waters as she attempts to help her aging parents cope with illness and the subsequent upheaval of life as they’ve known it. Although faced with exasperating circumstances, and confusion and sadness abound, author Roz Chast faces the realities of this life transition with humor and gutsy honesty. – Jenni

 

Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley

SecondsThis moving, wry graphic novel by the creator of Scott Pilgrim deftly explores the messy, frustrating process of accepting adulthood – whether you want to or not. Vengeful house spirits, good food, dreams deferred, bridges burned, and magic mushrooms abound in this tale about Katie and her quest to avoid what comes next.  This novel resonated with me on several levels – as adult navigating the often-contradictory nature of adulthood, as a friend to those at their own crossroads, and as a Katie that often wishes that I could hold on to my own mythic past.  Plus, the artwork is pretty spectacular. This book is highly recommended to graphic novel aficionados and those that love coming-of-age tales.  – Katie

 

The Wicked + the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The Wicked + the Divine“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. ” The Wicked and the Divine is Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s (of Phonogram fame) new series about teenage gods who are going to inspire (or destroy) the world with pop music. The gods themselves are part diety, part pure angst, and all rock-and-roll swagger which makes this graphic novel the literary equivalent of three-day rave: you aren’t sure what exactly happened, but you know you had fun. It is also infectious, hip, and whip-smart.   If you love music as much as you love mythology – this the graphic novel is for you. – Katie

 

And here is our favorite media:

The Dance of Reality (DVD) by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Dance of RealityIn this film, director Alejandro Jodorowsky interprets his own childhood and the life of his father. The Dance of Reality is full of unique images: a young Alejandro stands on the beach and a large wave washes over him, leaving the beach covered in fish and leading to a battle between the local townsfolk and seagulls to grab hold of the beached fish. The film is occasionally a bit meandering in its plot, but the consistently unpredictable images in the film makes it one you will not forget. – Woody

Check back next Monday when we reveal our favorite 2014 teen novels!

 

2014 Staff Picks: Nonfiction Favorites

We are featuring our thoughts on all of our 2014 Staff Picks 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 list. Or you can visit any of our library locations for a handy paper list!

Here are our favorite nonfiction selections for 2014:

Animal Architecture by Ingo Arndt

Animal ArchitectureFilled with beautiful photographs of all sorts of creatures’ homes, this book further cements my long-held belief that the natural world is a strange and wondrous place, magical even. Close-up shots and cut-a-ways reveal hidden detail and repeating patterns. The photos are simply and dramatically spotlighted through the use of stark background and minimal writing. – Jenni

 

Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents by Brendan Powell Smith

Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US PresidentsThis odd, but fascinating, album of photographs features Lego tableaus of famous assassination attempts on United States presidents. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher as to how the idea for Assassination came about. Even in these days of “Lego” everything, it’s still surprising subject matter and may be the first history book which relies on classic children’s toys as teaching tools. I’d say this book holds more appeal for the adult history buff than for the typical Lego fan, but it certainly makes for interesting conversation no matter what the audience. – Jenni

 

Dead Mountain: The Untold Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident
by Donnie Eichar

Dead MountainIn 1959, nine young Russian hikers died mysteriously while hiking in the Ural Mountains. Author Donnie Eichar details his quest to find answers that make sense, bringing to life the lives of college students in cold war-era Russia, as well as his own obsession to find real answers among almost 50 years of speculation. – Jennifer

 

 

Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson

Lawrence in ArabiaLively book about the fascinating life of T.E. Lawrence and the Middle East during WWI.  Very accessible reading for those unfamiliar with the history and it’s helpful in understanding current issues in the region. – Christy

 

 

 

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Not that kind of girlI was not sure how I would feel about this book because I have a love/hate relationship with Dunham’s HBO series “Girls”.  I loved this book! It is an honest, painful, brash, warm and funny. If you like Caitlin Moran or Jenny Lawson, this is the book for you. – Lesley

 

 

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

The Reason I JumpConnecting with others requires communication, both verbal and nonverbal. What would happen if you couldn’t reliably speak or gesture in a way that made sense to the people around you? Naoki Higashida shares his unique perspective as a young person living with autism. Thirteen at the time this book was published, it is Naoki’s plea to be seen, heard, and valued as a human being. His writing exposes the raw vulnerability of a child struggling to connect with others and himself. There were times when I lost Naoki’s train of thought, but this only increased my interest. David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, and his wife, KA Yoshida, translated the book. Overall, The Reason I Jump was a fast, informative, and moving read. – Suzanne

 

Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen

Scandals of Classic HollywoodAnne Helen Petersen has a deep love and appreciation of Golden Age Hollywood that borders on obsessive, but it makes this collection of essays on the glitzy, messy lives of silver screen stars even more enjoyable for its readers.  Each chapter is both a glimpse into a world long past and an exploration on how media spin can make or break a star.  The tone of the book is chatty and casual – like you are reading an email from an extremely knowledgeable friend.  I highly recommend reading this book, then going and reading all of Peterson’s earlier essays online at The Hairpin so you don’t miss any of these entrancing, well-researched essays.  – Katie

 

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

Short Nights of the Shadow CatcherI wanted to read this because the Bellingham Public Library is collaborating with the Whatcom Museum to bring Timothy Egan to Bellingham in 2015; his appearance complements a display of Curtis’ photographs at the Museum, and Egan will speak about this book.  In addition to this upcoming program, Curtis’ photographs have been fascinating and mysterious to me so I was interested to learn more about him and how he did his work.  Curtis’ goal was to document as many Native American tribes as was possible before they were gone forever.  Egan details Curtis’ struggles to find funding to support his life’s work and the publication of his photographs into a twenty volume series.  This is both an adventure story and a biography about one of America’s most determined, famous photographers. – Pam

Stop by on Friday for our favorite graphic novels and dvds!

Great Winter Reads from the November LibraryReads List

LibraryReads is a nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  The November list is filled with some reads that are perfect for all-day reading sessions on cold, long weekends.  Here are some of my favorites from this month’s picks:

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia MilletMermaids in Paradise
“This delightful book starts out as almost chick-lit, turns into a fantasy adventure, then leads into an underdog heist. The tone reminds me of Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, with just enough absurdity in a tropical location to keep you on your toes. Protagonist Deb’s husband, Chip, is a total babe (in a nerdy way) and her BFF, Gina, is the best kind of snarky. A highly entertaining read!” – Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie BarronJane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
“Jane, her sister Cassandra, and her mother are spending Christmas with her brother’s family at Steventon Parsonage. They’re invited to visit the Vyne, where the weather and then a murder (or two) keep them houseguests. Jane’s personality and all of those around her shine throughout this story. I’m now planning to start back at the beginning of the series.” – Kim Storbeck, Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA

Us by David NichollsUS
“Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that makes you wish you could meet the characters in real life. This is the case with Us, the poignant story of a middle-of-the-road British family spiraling out of control, and one man’s attempt to win back their love. Quirky, delightful and unpredictable, the novel delves into what makes a marriage, and what tears it apart.” – Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX

In the Company of Sherlock Holmes In the Company of Sherlock Holmesedited by Leslie S. Klinger and
Laurie R. King
“A unique, engaging collection of short stories written in honor of Sherlock Holmes. It’s wonderful reading all of the different styles with twists on the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tales, such as a Facebook-type narrative and a story written from the point of view of a horse. Sherlock aficionados will appreciate the whispers of the great detective on every page.” – Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

You can find the whole November list at the LibraryReads website!

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Short, Scary Reads

Scary Short Stories

Who remembers this inexplicably terrifying read?

How do you get prepared for Halloween?  Design costumes?  Decorate?  Watch a million scary movies?

I prefer, not surprisingly, to read – because there is nothing like a really scary book to keep you up all night with the lights on.  But it is sometimes hard to devote yourself to a full-length Stephen King thriller when you are working, partaking in Doctober or Fire Drink with Me,  and working on your way-rad Halloween costume.  This is why story stories are the bomb.  They give you a quick, powerful punch of horror that will keep you thinking (and worrying!) for days.

So, I was totally going to make my own list of favorite scary short stories for you, but Flavorwire has beaten me to the punch.  They have a list of the 50 Scariest Short Stories that includes some classic favorites (Lovecraft, Bradbury) and some new talent (Russell, Gaitskill) that are sure to get your blood pumping.  It is a comprehensive, frightening list despite the fact that my two all-time favorites, All Summer in a Day and The End of the Party, were not included.

What is your favorite scary story?  Leave a comment below!

Reading Roulette

We have hit the time of year where it is time to start thinking about winter projects, winter meals, winter trips, and, of course, what the heck we are going to read when the weather makes a turn for the dreary.  Winter reading, to me, has always been a high stakes game.  I want something exciting and well-written, just like my summer reading, but I also want deeper content – some to ponder and discuss at length.  So, with those rather high standards, the search for my winter reading becomes rather daunting.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fall/winter reading guides, both at the library and on the internet — because reading is the most awesome thing you could be doing, like, at any given moment.  (Also, it is really nice to know that everyone is concerned with what I read next?)   So, as a professional “book-slinger”, I have seen, read, and made many good reading guides.  But none are as fun as this What Book Should You Start Reading Next? game:

What Book Should You Start Reading Next - Google Chrome_2014-09-15_14-00-29

The premise is simple; click on the start button, let the list of books shuffle past, click stop, and get paired up with a surprise book.  The books are all critically acclaimed, interesting, and perfect for people who like reading from random suggestions from strangers on the internet (like me!).

Of course, if you prefer something a bit less capricious, we here at BPL have also created a Hot Reads for Cold Nights list that has some of the upcoming fall/winter titles we are most most excited about.  There are a lot of exiting books, well-written books, and a lot of books with depth, sentiment, and, perhaps, some laughter.

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!

Staff Picks of 2013: Miscellaneous Favorites

Happy Friday! Thank you all for joining us for our week of 2013 Staff Picks. We hope you enjoyed reading about our picks as much as we enjoyed picking them! As a special Friday treat, here are our favorite movies, music, and graphic novels from 2013:

The East

The East directed by Zal Batmanglij
This movie is equal parts gripping and terrifying.  Watching Sarah infiltrate, and ultimately empathize with, an extreme activist collective is thrilling and makes for a movie that leaves you thinking long after it has ended. – Katie

 

The Massive

The Massive, Vol 1 by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson
Environmental activists struggling to find meaning in a post environmental crash world. Their sister ship is missing, governments have collapsed, new and old ways of life are the new norm. What does an activist do when they’ve failed in their mission? Expertly researched and written by Brian Wood, one of comics most talented and diverse writers. Smart and relevant. – Kelly

 

Amour

Amour directed by Michael Haneke
This is a deeply moving and beautifully acted film. This film depicts the harsh realities of illness, aloneness, and death for an elderly couple who are deeply in love. – Beth

 

The Underwater Welder

 The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
All at once a ghost story, on becoming a man, fathers and sons, and finding ones place in a sometimes very bleak and unforgiving world. This haunting tale of an expecting husband who spends his days alone underwater repairing an oil rig of the coast of Nova Scotia will stay with you long after the book is finished. Beautifully written and drawn by Jeff Lemire. One of the best graphic novels of the year. – Kelly

 

 We The Common

We The Common by Thao
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down  are known for their infectious, rollicking folk melodies that are heavily-tinged with sorrow and longing.  Their new album is no exception — making it the perfect sunny-day album to play on repeat. – Katie

 

 The Manhattan Projects

The Manhattan Projects, Vol 1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra.
Science. Bad. This romp through an alternate history is all at once intriguing, hilarious, disturbing, and riveting. Join a very angry Einstein, a deranged Oppenheimer, FDR in a jar, and other historical figures shown in quite a different light. This ongoing series is a sciencedelic trip at the dawn of the Atomic Age, told through the eyes of a master story teller at the top of his game. – Kelly

 

You can get a print out of our full list of 2013 Staff Picks or you can stop by the Central Library to see our display!

 

Staff Picks of 2013: Fiction

It has been a great reading year and the Bellingham Public Library staff has had a lot of fun coming up with their favorite titles of 2013.  15 members of our staff came up with a veritable bounty of selections that are sure to please readers of all ages.

Each day this week here at Read More! we will share our thoughts on the best items in each category: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Teen, Children, and Miscellaneous.

So, with our further ado, here are our picks for the best adult fiction of 2013:

Shining Girls book coverThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The story involves a time-traveling serial killer who always gets away until one of his victims manages to survive. The killer and the victim then hunt each other throughout time. I like the book because it was such a strange assortment of genres all mixed into one.  – Madeline

 

Night Film

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Different from what I usually read but I really liked it.  – Stacy

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane book cover

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This haunting fairy tale is Gaiman’s most personal and powerful work to date.  It grabbed my attention immediately and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.  Beautiful, creepy, and lingering, Ocean at the End of the Lane is not to be missed. – Katie

 

Doctor Sleep Book Cover

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
This sequel to The Shining is like a beautiful nightmare . . . I loved it.
– Danielle

Stick around this week – we have more great picks coming your way!