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!


Interesting New Titles from October’s LibraryReads List

The October 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 October.  Here are the highlights:

A Sudden Light by Garth SteinA Sudden Light

“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.” – Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT


As you wishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Princess Bride. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.” – Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH


Malice by Keigo HigashinoMalice

“Detective Kaga is investigating the murder of best-selling author Kunihiko Hidaka. Hidaka’s wife and best friend both have rock-solid alibis, but Kaga discovers that the friendship might not have been what it seemed. A classic cat-and-mouse game with twists that keep the pages turning.” – Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA




The Glitter Plan by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor with Booth Moore

The glitter planThe Hook
I pay attention when I have the opportunity to learn and understand what is considered a trend in fashion as it becomes an overt fashion statement to those who treasure labels.

Tell Me More
I am very motivated by entrepreneurial ventures and the risks taken to become successful.  Juicy Couture, a label for the young-at-heart has intrigued me since their inception.  And led to me  to ask myself: how, why and where?  Then I won this book through a GoodReads contest and the answers to these questions were answered. Juicy Couture is more than just a clothing label.  These two women have a pragmatic passion of combining fashion into useful, everyday objects. Their personal flair, infused by society’s reoccurring need to stand out in a crowd, helped them to make the best-timed judgment call ever made in the fashion industry.


The KFC theory is not just for chicken: do one thing and do it well.

The KFC theory is not just for chicken: do one thing and do it well.

Recommended For
Those of us who have big dreams and have the gumption to try to make creative ideas become a reality.

Final Say
There are so many people in the world that have experiences and dreams who want to do something that they love in order to make ends meet. Often they may not have the education so that they can accomplish their goals. This book is proof in the pudding that a little innovation and a lot of motivation can make a dream come true.

Get The Glitter Plan today!

— Keyla

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 5

Here are some more great reviews from participants in our 2014 Summer Reading for Adults program.  Enjoy!

Expecting Better by Emily OsterExpecting Better
Three Stars
Pregnancy advice have you feeling anxious? This academic delves into the research to discern the customary from the scientifically established. She includes citations so you can make up your own mind but also summarizes her conclusions in reasuring and pragmatic advice.


Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David SedarisLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Four Stars
The author’s dry sense of humor is so fun to read. He writes about childhood memories as well as his current adventures in biographical chapters. Other short story type chapters are confusing at first because he becomes someone else, quite opposite. This was a very entertaining book that made me think!


The Third Plate by Dan BarberThe Third Plate
Five Stars
Thought provoking look at farming, seed saving and market desire for foods.  A must read for anyone concerned about our food sources.



Want to see your review here?  Join Summer Reading for Adults!

Staff Picks of 2013: Children’s Reads

Do you have a special place in your hearts for kids’ books? Us too! Here are our picks for 2013:

That is Not a Good Idea!

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
A duck is approached by a sneaky looking, fast talking wolf, inviting her back to his house for dinner…is this a good idea? I love stories in which the author plays on the reader’s preconceived notions of a story and then flips it upside down. Mo Willems does not disappoint.  –  Bethany


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but inside a fantastical library! Puzzles, clues, and great characters make this book a fun and fast read. – Bernice


Timmy Failure - Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
Timmy and his best friend Total, a polar bear, run a detective agency together named Total Failure. Their detection skills live up to their company name, providing the reader many laughs as Timmy believes he is truly a star detective. Perfect for Diary of a Wimpy kid fans!
– Bethany


North of Nowhere

North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler
Wrestled away from her Spring Break, Mia joins her mom on a trip to the small fishing town of Porthaven to look for her missing grandfather. One mystery quickly turns into two when she discovers a mysterious boat on the coast. – Jeff


The Tortoise and the Hare

The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney
This nearly wordless retelling of the classic story emphasizes slowing down to enjoy the process, and that even the toughest competitors can be friends and supporters. Take time to savor the beautiful illustrations!
– Bethany



Itch by Simon Mayo
Some kids collect baseball cards, others collect comics, Itchingham Lofte aspires to collect all the elements in the periodic table. The hobby of gathering sometimes explosive collectables proves dangerous enough, but when Itch gets ahold of a rock that he can’t quite categorize the situation turns from bad to worse. – Jeff


Friday is our final Staff Picks of 2013 day.  Join us as we reveal our favorite DVDs, CDs, and graphic novels of 2013!


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!


library_reads_logo_websiteFiguring out which books are going to be good reads BEFORE they are released is, shockingly, very hard to determine–even for us super-librarians who are constantly looking for the next AWESOME BOOK.

Luckily, for both librarians and the general public, we have a new monthly list of good books called LibraryReads.  LibraryReads is a list of the best new reads that are being released each month.  The list is composed of  books that were read, loved, and nominated by librarians across the nation.  It is a great list that covers everything from literary fiction to hot non-fiction titles.  There is sure to be something for every kind of reader each month!

October’s list is now available.  Here are some highlights:

The Rosie Project by by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project book cover
“Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist, thinks that having women fill out a six-page, double-sided questionnaire before a date is logical and reasonable. Rosie Jarman, an impetuous barmaid, thinks Don should loosen up and learn to live a little. Follow the unlikely pair in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good story of unexpected joys, discovery and love.” ~ Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

Longbourn by Jo BakerLongbourn book cover
“Using Pride and Prejudice’s familiar setting and characters, Baker tells a very different story of family, love and self-discovery. Bold and intelligent, Sarah is an orphaned housemaid whose days are filled with hard, body-punishing work. Baker doesn’t sugar-coat. A beautiful, uplifting novel full of mystery, hope and romance. Highly recommended for Austen fans and historical fiction readers.” ~ Jenifer May, Secaucus Public Library, Secaucus, NJ

Hawthorn & Child by Keith RidgwayHawthorn & Child book cover
“Ridgway has taken the ‘partner cops’ and ‘troubled cops’ sub-genres to new levels. Hawthorn is a haunted man with a callous worldview. Child is his apt foil: humane, funny and insightful. Set in contemporary London, the story draws readers quickly and completely into a complex, seedy world of crime, madness and despair.” ~ Margaret Donovan, Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA

We Are Water by Wally LambWe Are Water book cover
“Annie Oh, a newly famous artist, sends her family into a tailspin when she announces her intention to marry her powerful gallerist, Viveca. While Annie’s husband Orion is devastated by the loss of his wife of 27 years, her children’s responses range from delight to denial. Good writing and distinct characters, personalities and voices.” ~ Katie Karkheck, Valley Cottage Library, Valley Cottage, NY

Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbric

First ImpressionsBunker Hill book cover
Military history is a recently new field for me to explore, especially American military history. I was pleased to come across a book titled Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Drive-by Summary
Bunker Hill is about more than just the battle of Bunker Hill. It includes Lexington and Concord as well as briefly touching on the Tea Party.

Favorite Character
Henry Knox. With no engineering experience except for that which he’d gained from the books he read, he successfully leads an expedition to Fort Ticonderoga to bring back sorely needed artillery for the Continental troops.

Words to Live By
“It is not rank or titles, but character alone which interests posterity.”

Recommended For
Readers of military history, students of American history, and anyone else who is curious about how the out manned, outgunned and under-supplied Continental troops beat the British during the War of Independence.

Final Say
Philbrick once again delivers a superbly researched book. I cannot wait to see what he writes about next.

You can find Bunker Hill at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Claudette