I don’t know about you, but I thought I was pretty brave until I read Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman, our One Book, One City book choice this year. Ms. Dykman’s idea for her over 10,000-mile bike ride following the migratory trek of the monarch butterfly sounded daunting, and seemed impossible to this reader. Nevertheless, the author set her goal, planned for it, and then went out there and accomplished it. Talk about realizing your dreams!
I’m inspired -not to embark upon quite such a bike ride- but to instead appreciate that we humans can really get things done when we set out to do so. Like Ms. Dykman, we are bound to make some ‘wrong turns’ along the way, but if we persevere, we can and will succeed.
I’m eager to hear more about her ride among the beautiful Monarchs and will be lucky enough to do so when the author will be available at our virtual Q&A on Monday, August 2 at 6pm. Aren’t you? Register here and I sure hope to ‘see’ you there!
Like Sara Dykman’s journey in her book, Bicycling with Butterflies, monarch butterflies face a perilous journey of survival. If you’ve followed our blog this past month, you might wonder if monarch butterflies are an endangered species.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior and the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats, the answer is, sadly, not yet.
On December 15, 2020, the bureau announced that while listing the Monarch as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, the Monarch is still just a candidate in this process and its status remains under review annually until a decision is made.
Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), plant and animal species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.’
You can read the latest about the status of Monarchs here: News Releases – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (fws.gov) and learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation efforts here: Assessing the status of the monarch butterfly (fws.gov)
Knowledge is power. Consider yourself armed with it and decide what you can do to help protect monarch butterflies!
If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, perhaps you like to imagine that their spirit is visiting you when a butterfly crosses your path. I know I do. It turns out that there is a good reason for that.
According to the smart folks at Baylor University, since Ancient times, the winged form of a butterfly was a symbol for the human soul. You can see this symbolism in Ancient Egypt, the Ancient Greek civilization and in Native American cultures, among others. One example comes from the The Aztecs, who believed that happy dead, in the form of beautiful butterflies, would visit their relatives to assure them that all was well.
In Andalusian Spain, an heir was expected to throw wine over the ashes of the deceased as a toast to the butterfly that would escape with the soul.
Butterflies are also symbolic in Christian imagery. In depictions of the Garden of Eden, the soul of Adam is symbolized by a butterfly, or drawn with butterfly wings, and the Gnostics depicted the Angel of Death by showing a winged foot stepping on a butterfly.
Sara Dykman, in Bicycling with Butterflies, must have felt blessed indeed with all the “souls” she witnessed on her 10,000 journey following migrating Monarchs. Have you started reading yet?
I’m inspired to hang out with butterflies, and this weekend I plan to head to the Butterfly House at the Miller Nature Preserve, part of the Lorain County Metroparks. Visiting the Butterfly House is free and open to the public from mid-June through Labor Day. I can’t wait!
For more inspiration, plan to keep reading all about butterflies with us this month. Until next time, keep looking up! ~Carol
We are all reading Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman here at Rocky River Public Library this month. It really is a fascinating read and an informative, adventure-filled ride. You’ll want to place your hold here.
To get you in the spirit to follow Sara’s journey, here are a few interesting monarch butterfly facts from Save Our Monarchs, a grassroots, non-profit organization that is dedicated to saving the embattled monarch butterflies:
-Like many birds, monarch butterflies migrate south for the winter. They’re not able to survive winters in the US.
-The monarch butterfly is an incredible creature that starts as an egg and goes through three amazing transformations during its life. The egg hatches into a caterpillar, which forms a pupa (chrysalis), which is then transformed into the adult butterfly.
-Monarch butterflies taste and smell using their antennae and legs, which are covered with sensory cells called chemoreceptors. These chemoreceptors also help the Monarchs find Milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs.
Learn more at www.saveourmonarchs.org
Feeling inspired by these facts? Here’s a Monarch butterfly themed word search you can print and complete, just for fun:
Happy Reading! Until next time, Carol
I’m planning to keep things on the light side this summer. That means for the most part, I’ll be sticking with humorous, romantic stories and suspenseful, psychological fiction. Here’s a list of some of the books I’m looking forward to spending my summer with:
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz – I can’t wait to read this book about a writer who steals a plot from a student and writes a bestselling novel out of it -and then gets caught!
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica – Page-turning thrills and chills are promised in this novel about a series of disappearances in a small town.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides – I loved Michaelides’ The Silent Patient so reading this psychological mystery meets gothic thriller is a no-brainer.
The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan – Booklist is calling this book the “ultimate road-trippin’ beach read.” Yes, please.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This coming of age novel set from the 1950s through the 1980s won’t be either a humorous romance or a thriller, but I just cannot resist the buzz surrounding this new release.
An Unlikely Spy by Rebecca Starford – This twisting, sophisticated World War II novel following a spy who goes undercover as a part of MI5 sounds right up my alley.
The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman – Again, I loved this author’s last book (Mr. Nobody) and am counting on this to be another winning thriller.
The Break Up Book Club by Wendy Wax – What’s not to love about a book about book clubs, books, and relationships between readers of books?
I sure hope you find something stellar to read this summer, too! -Carol
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto
Meddie Chan is a young Indonesian/Chinese American who always puts her mother and Aunties first. She resents her role as the wedding photographer in her family’s wedding company, but dares not admit it. In her meddlesome and overbearing family, everyone has their role: Big Aunt is the pastry chef, Second Aunt is the make-up artist, and Meddie’s mother designs wedding gowns, while Fourth Aunt is the entertainment. Meddie wonders if she’s given up everything for her family, and is silently bitter for not moving away with her ex, Nathan, when she had the chance.
In an effort to be “helpful,” Meddie’s mother sets Meddie up on a blind date on the eve of an important and profitable wedding that the Chan family is planning. It’s bad timing when Meddie’s obnoxious blind date makes such an outrageous pass that Meddie ends up wrecking his car and, accidentally killing him. Rather than go to the police, she turns to her mother and Aunties for help. Obligingly, the Aunties rally to help hide the corpse, in a freezer! When the freezer, with corpse in tow, inadvertently follows them to the wedding, hilarity ensues.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto is a sometimes-irreverent, blend of mystery and dark family comedy that has a hint of romance, too. It delivers the kind of over-the-top, madcap fun and mayhem you expect from authors like Janet Evanovich and Lisa Lutz, and it the gives readers a peek into Indo-Chinese culture along the way. Why not take a wild ride with the Aunties? Place your hold here.
Nora Seed, a 30-something who suffers from depression, is at her lowest point. Filled with regrets about the choices she has made, she decides to end her own life. Her plan goes awry, however, and Nora wakes up in a sort of limbo, a library filled with books containing every imaginable version of her life story. This library provides Nora with a chance to try out other lives to see if things would end up differently for her. If Nora finds the book that contains the life she wants, she can live out the rest of her days fulfilled and happy, and be saved.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig was on many people’s lists of favorite books last year, but I only just read it. My only regret: not starting it sooner. Place your hold for a copy of this memorable novel that explores life’s endless possibilities for Nora (and all of us) here.
Nora and this novel are fictional but mental health issues are not. If you know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Have you heard that (Cleveland’s own) Paula McLain has a brand-new book out? You’ll want to place your hold for When the Stars Go Dark right now.
In this novel, Anna Hart, a missing persons detective in San Francisco, is very good at her job. Having suffered trauma as a teenager in foster care herself, Anna is an outspoken advocate for young girls in trouble. After a personal tragedy, Anna takes a break from her life and work in San Francisco and flees to her one-time home in Mendocino, California to regroup. There, she rents a cabin in the woods and reunites with her childhood friend, Will, who is now the local sheriff. When Will tells her about a series of missing local girls, Anna quickly becomes engrossed in the investigation.
Paula McLain is well-known and loved as an author of bestselling, meticulously-researched novels of historical fiction. When the Stars Go Dark is more of a suspense novel, though, and is inspired by the author’s own personal experiences with foster care and abuse. With well-drawn characters, many edge-of-your-seat moments, and a satisfying conclusion, McLain delivers a truly compelling read. Just try and put this one down!
If you like slow-burning, character-driven stories, pick up The Survivors by Jane Harper. This new mystery is set in Tasmania in the fictional coastal town of Evelyn Bay. 30-year-old Kieran and his young family have returned to help his parents move to a facility for help with Kieran’s dad’s advancing dementia.
Kieran hasn’t been home in twelve years, since the day a fateful storm. During that storm, Gabby, a fourteen-year-old girl, disappeared and was never found. That same day, Kieran’s brother Finn, and his friend, Toby drowned while attempting to rescue Kieran and his summer fling Olivia, Gabby’s sister. Kieran’s feelings of guilt about that day have kept him away.
The community of Evelyn Bay, fractured by the events of that long-ago storm, is a resentful bunch. Tensions are high when, on the night Kieran returns, a young woman is found dead on the same beach where Abby went missing. Could these crimes be connected?
Set against a backdrop of perilous cliffs and treacherous caverns, The Survivors is an evocative read. Read it for its surprises, intrigue, and plenty of suspicious characters with long-held grudges. Like the other Jane Harper mysteries I’ve read, The Survivors will keep you guessing until the end. Place your hold here.
I just love April! It means Spring and Spring means Baseball! I’ve been a fan since I was tiny, listening to games with my Dad on the radio while he was working on yard projects or fixing whatever used car we had at the time. Something about the soothing sounds of the crowds, the crack of the bat, and cheering for the home team fill me with nostalgia and comfort and make me feel like everything is okay. What started as a family tradition for me continues on, but I doubt I am the only one looking forward to going to a game in person this year knowing that the stands at Progressive Field will be filled with actual fans instead of the cardboard cutouts that 2020 season saw. I’ll listen to today’s home opener on the radio, for old time’s sake, and then I’ll start reading the book I’ve had on hold that, coincidentally, just became available for me.
The Resisters by Jen Gish is a dystopian novel set in a not-too-distant future America about “haves” and “have-nots,” but it is also all about baseball and a girl named Gwen, a pitcher with a dynamite arm. This book sounds tailor-made for a book and baseball fan like me. I can’t wait! Find it in our catalog here. But first, let’s hope the good guys win! -Carol