108 Years of Rocky Mountain National Park

In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Rocky Mountain National Park Act, establishing park boundaries and protecting the area for the future.  

For more than 11,000 years, people have lived in the area that would become Rocky Mountain National Park. Ute and Arapaho peoples lived on the land that would become the National Park. When white settlers came into the area in the mid-1800s, Native Americans were displaced, forcing many to leave in the 1860s and others made to move to reservations. Throughout the Park, there is still plenty of evidence of Native American settlement, such as stone and bone tools used for cooking, hunting, and processing hide.

The Park is one of the most visited national parks, topping over 4.5 million visitors in 2018. From hiking to rock-climbing to fishing, there is no shortage of activities. The views, even if you aren’t looking to hike uphill for miles, are stunning. The mountains, trees, and waterfalls are bountiful and with all there is to learn about the history, it’s almost impossible to not find something to enjoy. 

Whether you want to plan a trip to a National Park or just want to know more about the absolute wonders that make up the National Parks, we’ve got the materials for you! 

Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Guide by James Kaiser 

Native American Archaeology in the Parks: A Guide to Heritage Sites in Our National Parks and Monuments by Kenneth L. Feder

National Parks of America by Amy C. Balfour 

The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA  

Accessible Vacations: An Insider’s Guide to 10 National Parks by Simon Hayhoe 

Complete Guide to the National Parks: All 61 Treasures from Coast to Coast by Erika Hueneke 

National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of the United States  

100 Things to See in the National Parks: Your Guide to the Most Popular Features of the US National Parks by Stefanie Payne 

Best Parks Ever: America’s National Parks  

America’s National Parks: A Video Tour of All 55 National Parks 

-Linnea  

Happy Birthday, Dolly Parton!

Dolly Parton has long been considered an icon. Even before she was a teenager, Dolly was singing on local radio stations in their small Tennessee town. And at 13 years old, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry and met Johnny Cash. After high school, Dolly immediately moved to Nashville to hone her talents and live her dream. I think we all know how that panned out—Dolly Parton is a household name with the records to support it, but her legendary status doesn’t stop with just music. 

Dolly is a well-known philanthropist, through her Dollywood Foundation. It originally provided scholarships to local high school students then continued to grow and provide other charitable support as well. Her Imagination Library provides books to pre-school-age children in over five countries; one book per month from birth until they enter kindergarten. (For more information, visit our Children’s Department webpage!) During the 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, she organized a telethon and gathered about $9 million for those impacted by the fires. She’s also donated to medical centers and specifically pediatric programs.

Even if you swear that you’re not a country music fan, it’s easy to find something to appreciate about Dolly Parton. Check out some of these books to pique your interest and then maybe you’ll feel inspired to listen to one of her albums! 

Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton by Lydia Hamessley 

Dolly Parton: Songteller, My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton 

Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson 

(And if you want some music to listen to while you read, Dolly wrote an album of the same name to accompany the novel!) 

She Come by It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh 

Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection  

-Linnea

Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami!

Haruki Murakami turns 74 years old today! He is a prolific author, having written novels, short stories, nonfiction works, and essays that have consistently been published in The New Yorker. While Murakami remains mostly out of the public eye, the reader may get a general sense of who Murakami is when reading his books: a lover of jazz and music in general, a big baseball fan, a collector of random t-shirts, and a dedicated runner. His books incorporate magical realism, a unique brand of humor, and almost always a cat.  

If you’ve never read Murakami before, he has an extensive catalog to choose from! Whether you prefer nonfiction or short stories or hefty novels, he has something for everyone. (Of course, while he is a well-regarded author, his works might not appeal to all!) 

Short Story Collections 

The Elephant Vanishes (1993) 

Containing stories such as “The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday’s Women,” “The Kangaroo Communiqué,” and “Lederhosen,” this is a great introduction to Murakami’s writing style. One of the short stories (“Barn Burning”) even became the basis for the 2018 South Korean psychological thriller Burning. 

After the Quake (2002) 

This collection was written after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. While each short story is independent of one another, they are all connected by the earthquake and its aftermath. 

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2006) 

Quite a few of the short stories in this collection were featured in various English publications before being compiled into one book. Several were in The New Yorker, a few in Harper’s, and one in McSweeney’s. One short story, “Firefly,” was reused in Murakami’s well-known novel Norwegian Wood. 

Nonfiction 

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (2000) 

In 1995, a religious cult attacked Tokyo subway stations with the toxic liquid sarin, injuring over 5,000 people and killing 14. Murakami interviewed over 60 people: witnesses, survivors, family of the victims, and even members of the cult that committed the act, Aum Shinrikyo.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008) 

In this memoir, Murakami discusses his passion for running and how running goes hand in hand with writing. His discipline with the sport and examination of the relationship between running and writing are interesting to read about, even if you don’t run. Plus, reading about all the places he’s run marathons (Greece, Hawaii, Boston) is a treat. 

Murakami T: the T-Shirts I Love (2021) 

Pictures of t-shirts that Murakami has acquired over the years and their origin stories—what’s not to enjoy? 

Fiction 

Norwegian Wood (1989) 

Told from the perspective of Toru Watanabe, he is in his late 30s, reflecting on his days as a college student in 1960s Japan. A deeply emotional novel, the sense of nostalgia and longing are intimately felt throughout. This book helped catapult Murakami into more of a celebrity (to his dismay at the time). 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) 

If you read the short story “The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday’s Women,” then you’ve already tackled the first chapter of the much-longer novel. Full of signature Murakami traits like cats, wells, unexpected phone calls, and mysterious disappearances, this is a great introduction to Murakami’s brand of humor. But forewarning—it is over 600 pages! 

Kafka on the Shore (2005) 

Intertwining narratives make up this magical tale: a 15-year-old boy who runs away to escape a curse and an old man who can talk to cats. Metaphysics, music, suspense, humor, and the mundane make up this brilliantly woven story. 

-Linnea 

National Bird Day

Pigeons, parrots, penguins-oh my! With almost 11,000 species of birds in the world, there’s a lot to learn! In North America, that number lessens to about 2,000 species and in just Ohio, there are 427 species, making it a little easier to recognize that bird perched on a tree branch in your backyard.  

Whether you’re a birdwatcher, bird lover, or just bird tolerator, there’s a lot to know about these ever-present creatures. If you’re curious about the best places to birdwatch or you want to learn which birds are native Ohioans or just look at some pretty pictures of birds, we’ve got some books for you! 

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio by Paul G. Rodewald 

Birds of Ohio by Jim McCormac 

The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird by Jack E. Davis 

Around the World in 80 Birds by Mike Unwin 

The Private Lives of Public Birds: Learning to Listen to the Birds Where We Live by Jack Gedney 

The Hummingbird Handbook: Everything You Need to Know about these Fascinating Birds by John Shewey 

Where the Birds Are: The 100 Best Birdwatching Spots in North America by Robert M. Brown 

Great Birding in the Great Lakes: A Guide to the 50 Best Birdwatching Sites in the Great Lakes States by Tom Powers 

Penguins: The Ultimate Guide by Tui De Roy 

Happy birding!

-Linnea

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when we all choose how we want to improve or adjust in the new year. We’re full of hope and ambition, the fear of abandoning our resolutions yet to creep into reality. Our resolutions tend to be pretty similar year after year. How many of us vow to read more, spend less money, watch less television, or pick up a new hobby? And how many of us, after weeks of good intentions, let those goals fall by the wayside as ~life~ gets in the way? You are not alone! And if your goals match any that I listed, you’re not alone there either. 

According to statista.com, a lot of us share the same resolutions:

To help achieve those goals and stay on track longer than a month or two, maybe some of these books will be handy!  

If you… 

Want to cook more meals at home: 

The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen: 80 Authentic, Healthy Recipes Made Quick and Easy for Everyday Cooking by Samantha Ferraro 

The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless by Kathy Hester 

Eating Well Made Easy: Deliciously Healthy Recipes for Everyone, Every Day by Lorraine Pascale 

Want to spend less time on social media: 

How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price 

Growing Up Shared: How Parents Can Share Smarter on Social Media-and What You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe in a No-Privacy World by Stacey Steinberg 

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport 

Want to reduce stress: 

The No-Nonsense Meditation Book: A Scientist’s Guide to the Power of Meditation by Steven Laureys 

Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher 

The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care: Do Less, Achieve More, and Live the Life You Want by Suzanne Falter 

Want to exercise more: 

Hiking Ohio Gary S. Williams 

Running Well by Sam Murphy 

How to Rock Climb! by John Long 

Want to learn a new skill: 

Hoop Quilts for Beginners: 15 Designs Using Easy Patchwork and Embroidery by AnneMarie Chany 

HTML and CSS by Joe Casabona 

Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & CD: Listen, Practise, and Learn 

Want to spend less money: 

Little House Living: The Make-Your-Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-sufficient Life by Merissa A. Alink 

The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take Control of Your Finances, Manage Your Spending, and De-stress Your Money for Good by Ashley Feinstein Gerstley 

Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love by Blair Stocker 

I hope some of these books help you create a plan or spark ideas for how to keep going on your resolutions. But remember, It’s Okay to Break Your New Year’s Resolutions! 

-Linnea 

A Concert for the Ages 

On December 22, 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven debuted two symphonies (including perhaps his most famous, The Fifth Symphony), a piano concerto, and a choral piece, plus a few other favorites in a four-hour long benefit concert at the Theater-an-der-Wien, one of Vienna’s grandest theaters.  

The concert was…not a success. From frigid temperatures to ill-rehearsed pieces to contentious relationships between Beethoven and the musicians, the concert was certainly one to remember, but maybe not for the reasons a composer would want!  

Even though the concert may not have gone to plan, Beethoven did make a cash profit—his only of the entire year. Many composers were not revered in their time and only in their later years or even posthumously, were they appreciated and acknowledged for their talent. 

Beethoven is probably one of the most famous names in composing and if you’re interested in some of the reasons he is so highly regarded, here are some books to learn more: 

Beethoven: A Life by Jan Caeyers 

The Great Composers: The Lives and Music of 50 Great Classical Composers by Jeremy Nicholas 

How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell 

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes 

Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths 

And if you want to recreate the concert from the comfort of your home, here are some of the pieces on CD: 

Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 

Choral Fantasy, Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 5 

Symphony No. 5, C minor; Symphony No. 6, F major, “Pastoral” 

Give us a call (440-333-7610) if you’d like to place any of the physical copies on hold! 

-Linnea 

Linnea’s Top Ten of 2022

The Ghost That Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City Poltergeist by Daniel Kraus (2022) 

On June 1, 2017, six people were killed at a Burger City franchise off I-80 near Jonny, Iowa. It was the bizarre and gruesome conclusion to nine months of alleged paranormal activity at the fast-food joint—events popularly known as “the Burger City Poltergeist.” 

Presented here is the definitive story of “the most exhaustively documented haunting in history,” including—for the first time ever—interviews with every living survivor of the tragedy. 

The employees of Burger City were a family. They loved one another. At least, at the beginning. 

But love can make you do unspeakable things. 

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum (2022) 

A witty and moving debut. Moving to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, Hoodie Rosen falls for the daughter of the mayor who is trying to keep Hoodie’s Orthodox Jewish community out of town, and when antisemitic crimes turn deadly, he must choose between his first love and the only world he’s ever known.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014) 

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin (2021) 

Chronicling her life in the songs she writes, April Sawicki, after leaving home for good, finds her way to Ithaca, New York where she finally finds a sense of belonging but cannot shake the feeling that she’ll hurt her new friends that way she’s been hurt. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (2021) 

The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother. 

The Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd (2020) 

Josie Lloyd’s fearless novel is a tribute to the power of the human spirit in the face of hardship, based on the author’s own experience with cancer and community. 

A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett (2020) 

Presents an urgent call for justice-system reform in the story of a disadvantaged, African-American single mother from the rural South who was separated from her young daughter and sentenced to life in prison for a first-time offense. 

The Winners by Fredrik Backman (2021) 

As simmering tensions between the towns of Beartown and Hed turn into acts of intimidation and then violence, a 14-year-old boy, increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community, puts in motion a plan to avenge his beloved sister’s death that will leave Beartown with an unimaginable loss. 

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton (2021) 

Accepting a contract from a fledgling record company, a talented music artist in early 1970s New York endures racist responses to her activism, before a reunion interview decades later reveals explosive secrets. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022) 

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, this is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.  

-Linnea

Happy Birthday, Bill Bryson!

Happy 71st birthday Bill Bryson! An accomplished journalist, author, and lecturer, Bryson has published over eighteen books, with subjects ranging from language to travel to science. His nonfiction works are full of humor and wit, making even the potentially dull topic on the human skeleton enjoyable to read. If you’re new to Bryson’s work, here are some good places to start: 

If you’re interested in travel… 

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail 

Bill Bryson really had no business hiking the Appalachian Trail, but fortunately for us, he did. In exchange for his misery, we get a delightful account of hiking one of the longest trails in the United States. Bryson balances his struggles on the trail with bits of history, descriptions of nature, and plenty of retellings of the people he hiked with and encountered along the way. This is a very realistic portrayal of one person’s experience, told with humor and genuine awe of the land. 

(It was also made into a movie with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte!) 

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America 

After a decade in Great Britain, Bryson decides to return home to Des Moines, Iowa, before driving through 38 states, exploring towns with names most have never heard of. Reflecting on the America of his youth (the family car trips and getting lost using paper maps and staying in cheap motels), Bryson tries to create some of the magic he felt. He has no problem poking fun at the people he meets, and his sarcasm is present on every page of the travelogue. While you may not plan an entire trip to the middle of nowhere Wyoming, maybe Bryson will inspire you to stop and take in the sights before getting back on the road again. 

If you enjoy reading memoirs… 

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid 

This was my first foray into the world of Bill Bryson, and it was an absolute blast. Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950s, and beautifully recreates his experiences in middle America: the advent of microwaves, innocent youth swiping beer, and like many young kids, pretending to be a superhero. It can be hard to read a memoir about someone you know nothing about, but this was a perfect introduction to Bryson’s writing style and provides insight into how his early life informed future works. 

If you prefer science… 

The Body: A Guide for Occupants 

Bryson’s most recent book explores how our bodies function, without getting bogged down in too many specifics. From skin to the effects of disease to digestion, learn a little bit of almost everything related to the human body. I know I take mine for granted at times, only really appreciating it when I’m not feeling well. But this book is full of great, funny, and interesting reminders that our bodies are pretty cool, operating in a million different ways at all times.  

If you want to explore the English language… 

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States 

Ever hear a word and think “how did that come to be?” Bryson had similar questions and embarked on a quest to the origins of the English language as it exists in the United States. Aside from just etymology, Bryson includes history and side stories to add context to the words he explores. Why do we pronounce “lieutenant” differently from those English speakers across the pond? How has censorship impacted the evolution of certain words? When did we start using the term “junk food”? An informative and interesting look into language and how words come to be. 

Those are just a select few of his books—maybe you’d rather read about his travels in Australia, or delve into A Short History of Nearly Everything. Whichever you choose, Bryson will be sure to feature his accessible writing style and signature wit on every page. 

-Linnea 

Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott

On this day, 67 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to move from her bus seat to one in the back of the bus. This marked the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, lasting from the day Rosa Parks was arrested (December 5) to more than a year later. On December 20, 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the bus segregation laws in Alabama and Montgomery were unconstitutional. 

While this did mark a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, Parks was not the first to refuse to move her seat on a bus. Earlier in 1955, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old student, was arrested for refusing to move from her seat for a white person. As for why she did not become a catalyst for the movement the way Rosa Parks did, Colvin offers a simple explanation: “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.” (NPR, 2009

Additionally, Rosa Parks was active in the Civil Rights Movement before the bus boycott and for decades afterward. She was involved with the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, a member of the League of Women Voters, and attended the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism for workers’ rights and racial equality.  

For more information on Rosa Parks and integral figures in the Civil Rights Movement, check out these titles: 

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis 

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks 

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin 

The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990 by Clayborne Carson 

Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy by Karen Gray Houston 

-Linnea

Live from New York, it’s Saturday night! 

Okay, maybe we’re in Cleveland. And maybe it’s Thursday. But it is Lorne Michaels’ birthday, the creator of the beloved series Saturday Night Live. Through showrunner changes, controversial sketches, and the COVID-19 pandemic, SNL has remained a mainstay in many households. For some, it’s how they learn about a hot new band; for others, it’s how they learn about the latest political scandal. And while the number of laughs per season may ebb and flow, comedy remains a focal point of the show.  

Many adored comedians have done their turn on the SNL stage. Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, John Belushi, Leslie Jones—the list goes on and on. Even though our favorite stars come and go, they’ve kept the content coming. 

Whether you’re waxing nostalgic for the old days or just want to revisit some of the funny people you’ve only seen on SNL, here are some materials to check out that will hopefully satisfy your sense of humor. 

Tina Fey 

Tina Fey starred on, wrote for, and hosted SNL for numerous years. After her nine years on SNL, she went on to create hit shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’s received Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, and was even nominated for a Grammy and Tony. Her memoir, Bossypants, was a huge hit, staying true to her comedy bona fides. 

Eddie Murphy 

Credited with saving SNL from cancellation, Eddie Murphy’s genius is practically unmatched. He has had quite the career, from voice acting to singing to stand-up to dramas and back to comedy. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, an NAACP Image Award for Trading Places, and People’s Choice Awards for Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Shrek.  

Will Ferrell 

Will Ferrell made a name for himself on SNL, starting in 1995 on season 21. Since leaving SNL after seven years, he’s acted in many comedic movies, many written and directed by former SNL writer Adam McKay. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy are all classic comedies you’d expect from the inimitable Will Ferrell.  

Gilda Radner 

One of the first cast members, Gilda Radner was an accomplished impressionist. After five years on SNL, she left for other pursuits. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away at the age of 42 in 1989 after an extremely tough battle. She wrote a memoir, It’s Always Something, in 1989, a few months before her death, detailing her struggles and successes. Alan Zweibel, a former writer for SNL, wrote a biography for Gilda, sharing stories of their friendship that began on the SNL set and endured until her death. 

Chevy Chase 

One of the original cast members, Chevy Chase was also the first cast member to be banned from SNL (though he has appeared in sketches since, so perhaps the ban is not so strict). His comedic chops have been proven time and time again, from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to the more recent television show Community

Kenan Thompson 

Kenan Thompson started on SNL in 2003 and has become the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history. Other than SNL, he is probably most known for his time on the Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The pair also starred in the delightful movie Good Burger together in 1997. While not for all senses of humor, it certainly appeals to anyone craving some ridiculous 90s comedy. 

-Linnea