A few of my favorite things

Now that 2014 is coming to a close,  I thought I would share with you all one of my very favorite things about the Bellingham Public Library.  It may surprise you …

I LOVE our book displays.  The staff here is endlessly inventive and always amusing.  And the focus is always to get the right books to the right readers – that thought alone makes me geek out like the library nerd that I am.  Plus, the holiday always make our displays more special and inviting.  So, obviously, I took pictures.  Obviously.

Let me show you!

Here is a Christmas tree made out of books.  It is the most darling thing in our front lobby

 This Christmas tree is made out of books. MIND. BLOWN.


Speaking of Christmas, here is a selection of good holiday reads in the Children's Library.

Speaking of Christmas, here is a selection of good holiday reads in the Children’s Library.


We have other holidays down there as well!

We have other holidays down there as well!


And, since I love tooting my own horn, here is the 2014 Staff Picks display.

And, since I love tooting my own horn, this is our 2014 Staff Picks display.


Feeling a bit stressed out by the holidays? We have some recommendations!


Here is an eye-catching and timely display in our Teen Space.

What an eye-catching and timely display in our Teen Space!


And here is my FAVORITE display this month.   Deborah collected all of the books that had been purchased with donation funds and created this  amazing wall of good reads.

Finally, this is my FAVORITE display this month. Deborah collected all of the books that were purchased with donation funds and created this amazing wall of good reads.


She even decorated it with the book plates we place in each book.  This is such a darling detail.

She even decorated the space with the book plates we place in each book. What a darling detail.

And the best part about these displays?  They loooook way better in person.  (Trust me, I’m a librarian – not a photographer.)  So you know what that means … it is time to visit us here at the Bellingham Public Library!


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!


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




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.

New Reads from August’s LibraryReads List

The August 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 August.  Here are the highlights:

One Kick by Chelsea CainOne Kick
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at twenty-one, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.” ~ Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ


Lock In by John Scalzi0765375869
“There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right.” ~ Jane Jorgenson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI


The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist
“A dollhouse whose figures and furnishings foretell life events, mysterious notes, family secrets and the powerful guild and church of 1686 Amsterdam. All these elements combine for an engaging story of a young bride’s struggle to be the ‘architect of her own fortune.” ~ Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY



The Story Hour by Thrity UmrigarThe Story Hour
“Another beautifully written novel by Thrity Umrigar. A relationship develops between Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a troubled Indian woman. As their stories develop, it is hard to figure out which woman does more to impact the other’s life. Highly recommended.” ~ Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY





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



LibraryReads November Picks

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

Bellman & Black by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black book cover
William Bellman is a happily married father with a promising future, until an event from his childhood comes to haunt him and everyone he loves. Beautifully written with a vividly enticing setting, Bellman & Black is a truly gothic tale that will you have entwined in its arms until the very end. – Scott Lenski, Whitefish Bay Public Library


The Valley of Amazement by Amy TanThe Valley of Amazement book cover
A new Amy Tan novel is an event. Under her sharp-eyed observations of mothers and daughters and their inexplicable bonds, is a powerful story of love, family, courage, and history. – Kaite Stover, Kansas City Public Library



The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P. S. DuffyThe Cartographer book cover
Angus MacGrath is caught between the artist he longs to be and the naval career his father believes is more fitting for a man supporting a family on the coast of Nova Scotia. Angus enlists in World War I with the promise of a safe cartographer’s job, but finds himself thrust on the front lines of battle in France. The emotional havoc is palpable. Life changes in the blink of an eye and Duffy does a masterful job of letting the reader watch everyone desperately trying to catch up. – Jennifer Hendzlik, Anythink Libraries


The Raven’s Eye: A Brock and Kolla Mystery by Barry MaitlandThe Raven's Eye book cover
The latest Brock/Kolla mystery begins with a sudden death on a London houseboat. Unusual setting, great plot, wonderful writing. This fabulous series is yet to be discovered by many American lovers of British police procedurals. Great recommendation for fans of Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, early Martha Grimes and Deborah Crombie. – Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries





Not Just for Teens: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy book coverFirst Impressions
I’m trying to read all the books that are possible contenders for the Printz Award (the award given by the American Library Association for the best fiction book for teens). Out of the Easy is one of those contenders and has great-word-of-mouth buzz, so I picked it up.

Drive-by Summary
Jo, daughter of a prostitute, named after a madam, is coming of age in post-World War II New Orleans. Finding herself caught in two worlds, she is as comfortable reading poetry and working in a book shop as she is firing a shotgun and cleaning the brothel where her mother works. Desperate to get “out of the easy” and go to college, Jo goes up against obstacles including gangsters and her own mother, and finds help in unlikely places.

My Favorite Character
Willie, the madam who has a huge impact on the person Jo becomes, is fascinating. I wish she had her own novel so we could read her story.

Words to Live By
“I no longer wondered why Ray and Frieda were afraid of the dark. I was too.” – Jo

Recommended For
Anyone wanting to read a rich coming of age story with strong, believable characters. Anyone wanting a change of pace from teen fantasy and dystopia.

Final Say
Jo’s New Orleans is richly drawn and filled with multi-faceted characters. The author does a good job of not creating caricatures, but rather well fleshed-out people whose presence makes Jo’s story come alive.

Extra CreditWant to know  more about Out of the Easy?  Here is author Ruth Sepetys talking  about the world and people that inhabit her book:


You can find Out of the Easy at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Jennifer


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

If you liked Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken book coverUnbroken: A Word War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is story of individual courage overcoming extreme adversity.  It  is inspirational nonfiction told by a master storyteller.  Once you are finished with Unbroken, here are some similar titles you’ll want to check out:

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History
By Molly Crosby
Yellow fever arrived in America with the slave ships in the mid-seventeenth century creating a crisis of monumental proportions for our new nation.  This history weaves the story of the ravages of the mosquito-borne disease in cities ranging from New Orleans and Memphis to New York and Philadelphia, and profiles four men who had a profound effect on medical history through their efforts to combat the deadly scourge.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
By Erik Larson
William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered professor from Chicago, became the first US ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in 1933. Dodd, his wife, their son, and their 24-year-old daughter Martha experienced life in an increasingly violent city.  While Dodd tries to alert the State Department to the increasing Jewish persecution, his daughter embarks on affairs with high-ranking Nazi officials.
Also available in Large Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudio book

Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home
By Laura Ling
Americans Laura Ling and Euna Lee were filming a documentary about North Korean defectors fleeing their homeland when they were chased down by North Korean soldiers, charged, interrogated, imprisoned, and put on public trial. This harrowing account alternates between Laura’s experience in captivity and the activities of her sister Lisa Ling to get Laura and Euna released.

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
By Mitchell ZuckoffLost in Shangri-la book cover
On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea. But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers survived, through badly injured.  Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside.
Also available in Large Print, Audiobook, eBook

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death
By Laurence Gonzales
After her plane crashes, a seventeen-year-old girl spends eleven days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference?  When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic.  Gonzales examines stories of miraculous endurance and tragic death in this exploration of what makes the remaining 10% stay cool, focused and alive.

Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic
By Gay SalisburyCruelest Miles book cover
In 1925, a deadly diphtheria epidemic swept through icebound Nome, Alaska. The life-saving serum was a thousand miles away, and a blizzard was brewing. Airplanes could not fly in such conditions: only the dogs could do it. Racing against death, twenty dog teams relayed the serum across the Alaskan wilderness as newspapers nationwide headlined the drama, enthralling an entire generation. The heroic dash to Nome inspired the annual Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska.

The Last Run: A True Story of Rescue and Redemption on the Alaska Seas
By Todd Lewan
A painful, exhilarating narrative of the ordeal of a fishing schooner that tried to cheat the weather forecasts in the Gulf of Alaska and got caught. In the winter of 1998, an old boat with bad gear and a hard crew set off for the Gulf of Alaska at night.  18 hours from port five crew members went into 38-degree seas with rough waves and winds topping 100 miles per hour. The author cuts back and forth between the men in the water and the three helicopter rescue teams sent one after the other in an effort to pull them out.
Also available in Large Print

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
By Blaine Harden
Shin Dong-hyuk was born in an infamous North Korean political prison.  Rarely allowed to see his parents, Shin lived in barracks and was forced to endure labor that killed many.  Everyone was encouraged to snitch on each other, a policy so ingrained that Shin snitched on his mother, resulting in her public execution. In his early twenties, Shin became the first person to escape to China, and struggle through difficult years in South Korea and the United States.
Also available in Audiobook, Playaway, eAudiobook

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
By Ben MacintyreDouble Cross book cover
Despite massive efforts by the German espionage service, the where and when of the D-Day landings were perhaps the most successfully kept secrets of WWII.   The Double Cross system which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, tricked the Nazis into believing that the Allied attacks would come in Calais and Norway rather than Normandy.  Together the double agents made up one of the oddest and most brilliant military units ever assembled.  This is D-Day from their perspective: a tense, and exciting real-life spy story.
Also available in Large Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook

Strength in What Remains
By Tracy Kidder
Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing.
Also available in Large Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook

Like this list?  We have many more Staff Pick Lists to choose from!

— Deborah