Banned Books

Banned Books Week may have ended on September 24, but it’s important to keep the conversation going as more books continue to get challenged. Most commonly, books by Authors of Color or LGBTQ+ authors get challenged (Publisher’s Weekly).  

While it’s nice to believe that challenged books get a bump in sales and promoted more, that just isn’t the case for the majority (Book Riot). Often, authors don’t even know their book was challenged as very few challenges become newsworthy. It could be as simple as a bookstore choosing to pass on buying a book because it is “subversive” or a school library quietly pulling a book from their shelves.  

One way to help combat challenges is to read! Read banned books, talk about them with friends, and let your local library know that you are glad they have books by Authors of Color, books by LGBTQ+ authors, books that reflect actual communities. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of the most challenged books from 2021 (ALA)

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 
     
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison 
     
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson 
     
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez 
     
  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
     
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
     
  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 
     
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
     
  1. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson 
     
  1. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin 

-Linnea

It’s Fall!

Welcome, Autumn Equinox! As we enter chillier fall days, visit pumpkin patches, and begin to don our cozy sweaters, let’s remember we are also entering spooky season!  

On this day in 1692, the last witches were hanged in the Salem Witch Trials. Seven women and one man were hanged on September 22, 1692, totaling about twenty lives taken. After this set of executions, public opinion began to shift and witch trials subsided. Over 250 years later, Massachusetts formally apologized for the events in the late 1600s. Now Salem has plenty of witchy attractions, to educate and entertain visitors, from the official courthouse documents at the Peabody Essex Museum to the witch wax models at the Salem Wax Museum. 

Embrace your inner witch and get the most out of spooky season with these titles: 

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet 

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill 

The Salem Witch Trials: A Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts by Jenny MacBain 

The Crucible by Arthur Miller 

A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J.W. Ocker 

The Path of the Witch: Rituals & Practices for Discovering Which Witch You Are by Lidia Pradas 

-Linnea

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Today marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which will last until October 15. On September 15, Mexico celebrates their independence from Spain, with most Central American countries celebrating on September 16, and Chile celebrating on September 18. It is a time for the United States to acknowledge and commemorate the contributions and achievements of Hispanic Americans. The influence of Central America is everywhere in the United States, from food to culture to language.  

Interested in cooking? Try these Mexican cookbooks: 

Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo 

Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in México by Ricky Martínez 

Plant Powered Mexican: Fast, Fresh Recipes from a Mexican-American Kitchen by Kate Ramos  

Planning your next vacation? Explore Central America and beyond: 

Lonely Planet’s Best of Central America 

Fodor’s Essential Chile

Footprint: Belize, Guatemala & Southern Mexico

Love history? There’s plenty to learn: 

Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration by Alfredo Corchado 

Diego Rivera by Pete Hamill 

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernández-Armesto 

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson

And of course, there are plenty of authors with rich bibliographies to further expand our appreciation: 

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Violeta by Isabel Allende 

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 

-Linnea

“Live long and prosper!”

Fifty six years ago, Star Trek made its television debut on NBC. Featuring William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Leonard Nimoy, and a host of other formidable actors, the original show has spawned numerous iterations, including spin-off television series, films, magazines, exhibitions, and books. Love of Star Trek spans generations, creating communities with each new release. Even if you’re not a “Trekkie”, there’s no getting around the fact that Star Trek has had quite the impact on popular culture.  

I’ve compiled a few books that are sure to interest any Trekkie, and hopefully reach the non-Trekkies too! 

The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack 

Interested in the newer generations of Star Trek but not sure how to get started? Try this prequel novel about Star Trek: Picard, from 2020. You’ll be introduced to Picard and a new cast of characters, bringing your Star Trek knowledge up to par.  

Leonard: My Fifty-year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner  

William Shatner expounds upon his professional and personal relationship with Leonard Nimoy in this biography, published about a year after Nimoy’s death.  

Live Long and …: What I Learned Along the Way by William Shatner 

Shatner also wrote an autobiography that goes beyond just his experiences as Captain Kirk. From motorcycle trips to stage productions to grappling with the uncertainty of life, Shatner explores it all in reflections full of humor and vulnerability. 

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei 

George Takei is well-known for his acting roles in Star Trek and as a fierce LGBTQ+ activist. Born to Japanese-American parents, their family was forcibly imprisoned in a Japanese interment camp during World War II. This graphic novel memoir depicts Takei’s experiences in the camp, as a young child trying to make the most of the situation and grappling with horrific atrocities. A must-read for anyone, Trekkie or otherwise. 

Phasers on Stun!: How the Making (and Remaking) of Star Trek Changed the World by Ryan Britt 

Whether you’ve been with Star Trek since the beginning or you’ve never seen a single episode, Ryan Britt’s in-depth look into the Star Trek phenomenon will provide insight into this illustrious franchise.  

The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay That Became The Classic Star Trek Episode by Scott Tipton 

One of the most beloved episodes of Star Trek, with the original script by Harlan Ellison, adapted into a graphic novel. Fans will love being able to see how the script changed into what is seen on screen. 

-Linnea

Happy National Secondhand Day!  

The interest in buying secondhand, upcycling, and reducing our spending has risen in recent years. There are plenty of reasons to shop at thrift stores and do our own mending. With the constant changing of trends and being surrounded by new all the time, it can be extremely gratifying to find that diamond in the rough and make it one of a kind. No matter your ability level, anyone can find great pieces by shopping secondhand and learn tricks to jazz up thrift store gems, from home décor to clothing. 

Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures by Lara Spencer 

The Whimsical Home: Interior Design with Thrift Store Finds, Flea Market Gems, and Recycled Goods by Sania Hedengren 

The Refashion Handbook: Refit, Redesign, Remake for Every Body by Beth Huntington 

Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-dye & Love Your Wardrobe by Katrina Rodabaugh 

Re-bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials by Jeannine Stein (As a librarian, I would be remiss to not include a book about books!) 

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

The next time you pass a garage sale or find a hole in your favorite socks or want to redecorate, you’ll have plenty of inspiration to create or mend or design while saving money.

-Linnea

National Pinot Noir Day

Today may be National Pinot Noir Day but there are plenty of other wine-related topics to celebrate. If you drink wine, you know that a glass can elevate a dining experience. But between all the varietals and rules, it can be hard to know what exactly you’re drinking and which to drink with which food. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to teach us!  

First off, there is no need to become an expert because as Victoria James’ autobiography Wine Girl explains, the journey to becoming a sommelier (not to mention America’s youngest sommelier!) is quite the intense journey. If that doesn’t scare you off, peruse Rosie Schaap’s book Becoming a Sommelier and really take your wine knowledge to the next level. But if you’d rather take a step back, there’s Aldo Sohm’s book Wine Simple. Sohm takes his expertise and makes it manageable for those of us that just want to know which wine goes best with pizza.

And maybe you don’t want to take it that far and just want to know what wines come from where, learn something, and impress your dinner guests. Around the World in Eighty Wines by Mike Veseth is an excellent resource, broken into continents, countries, and cities, delving into the history and making of their wines. Wine Isn’t Rocket Science by Ophélie Neiman breaks down how to buy and pair every type of wine, so you’re never left wondering if you should have a white or red with dinner.  

And if you’d rather just read wine-themed books, have we got options for you!

Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
The Winemakers by Jan Moran
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

-Linnea

Remembering Robin Williams

Today marks eight years since the passing of Robin Williams. An actor, comedian, legend, hero to many, we’ve all experienced Robin Williams in some way through his work. He was first introduced to me as Genie from Aladdin (1992), though I picture him as the English professor from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) more often now. Whether you laughed along to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or enjoyed a more dramatic performance in Good Will Hunting (1997), he certainly has left his mark in Hollywood.  

Plenty of biographies have been written about Robin Williams. Here are few books with different perspectives: 

Robin by Dave Itzkoff 

If you’re looking for a definitive biography, this will be the one. 

Robin Williams, American Master: The Movies and Art of a Lost Genius by Stephen J. Spignesi

More interested in facts and trivia about Robin Williams’ films and life? Then you’ll enjoy Spignesi’s biography. 

Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002 by Arthur Grace

Arthur Grace has created a biography told in a series of photographs, taken over decades. 

And of course, here are a few of his films to remember him by: 

Popeye (1980) 

Hook (1991) 

Jumanji (1995) 

Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet Two (2011)

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

What a specific thing to acknowledge!

On National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, let’s think fondly upon the most classic of cookies. Whether the preference is for a soft, gooey bite or more of a crunch, made with classic chocolate chips or chunks, everyone loves a chocolate chip cookie (okay fine, ALMOST everyone). To celebrate this marvelous morsel, here’s a collection of chocolate chip cookie related materials to make the perfect cookie and then read the perfect cookie book. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke 

Feel-good, cozy mystery  

Death By Chocolate Chip Cupcake by Sarah Graves 

Light-hearted investigative mystery 

The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book by Carolyn Wyman 

Learn how to bake the best chocolate chip cookies 

125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes by Julie Hasson 

When you don’t want cookies but have all those leftover chocolate chips from your cookie exploration 

Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Mystery

A fun cookie film to watch while you eat your way through those new recipes (based on the Joanne Fluke mystery!) 

Enjoy your delicious treats on this most important of days!

Bored? DIY!

One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling restless and bored is to see how I can change up my living space. Sometimes all it takes is finally putting up that picture that’s been sitting on the floor since I got it or rearranging the furniture in my bedroom, but other times I want to tackle a project. I love flipping through interior design books and thinking “one day!”. Fortunately, there are plenty of DIY books with inexpensive ideas to occupy my time for at least a few days. And sometimes all you need are quick ideas for holiday decorations or easy home improvement tips. Here are a few books to hopefully inspire you and maybe you’ll even learn some new tricks! 

If you have an outdoor space, often just mowing the lawn can feel like enough of a project. But if you’re interested in making that space into a focal point of your home, Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick is worth checking out. Build that privacy wall, the outdoor fireplace, or a stone patio you never thought you could and enjoy your new gathering space! 

Marian Parsons’ Feels Like Home takes us through each room in her home, showing us budget-friendly ways to incorporate our own uniqueness into each space. With tutorials, design ideas, and tips, your home will feel more like an extension of yourself in no time. 

While for most people, all 10,001 solutions won’t be new, almost anyone can learn something from Bruce and Jeanne Lubin’s Who Knew? 10,001 Household Solutions. You’ll learn a myriad of tricks with common household products, like using beer for removing rust or making fluffier pancakes, putting whole cloves in drawers or other spots you see creepy crawlies, and removing scuffs on shoes with lemon or rubbing alcohol.  

I’m sure most of us have spent too much money on pet accessories because how can you resist that cute cat bed?? But if you’re looking to cut down (but never entirely!) on fancy things your pet definitely needs, DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs by Armelle Rau has the inexpensive solution for even a novice DIY-er. From the ever-needed scratching posts to leash racks, this book covers a variety of projects, all in a functional, minimalist style to fit any home décor.  

Enjoy exploring your DIY side and your new handmade projects!

No-Bake Treats for the Dog Days of Summer

Beat the heat and the boredom with these no-bake cookbooks! It can be hard to gather the motivation to cook in these hot summer months but good thing we don’t always have to. There’s plenty of sweet treats to make without turning the oven on. Here are a few cookbooks to try out and remember, when it comes to dessert, sharing is caring! 

No Bake Makery by Cristina Suarez Krumsick has over 80 recipes for small bite treats that you can make without using an oven! Learn how to make key lime pie, peanut brittle, marshmallow pretzel bars, and more, and learn baking techniques such as decorating your treats and tempering chocolate. 

Haven’t you always wanted to eat a cheeseburger made from rice crispies? Look no further than Jessica Siskin’s Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats. Making food look like other foods or objects is “in” right now and you too can be a part of the action and make rice crispy treats into a camera, sushi, even a menorah. Siskin provides all the tips and tricks, so don’t worry if you’ve only made rice crispy treats shaped like rice crispy treats. Definitely a fun, creative way to fill your day! 

And what is summer without ice cream? But who wants to deal with churning and ice cream makers? Fortunately, No-Churn Ice Cream by Leslie Bilderback has our back and has compiled over 100 recipes without any special equipment. You’ll learn the basics (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry) and tons of variations, so no need to keep buying pints at the store! 

Enjoy all your new-found techniques for these no-bake treats to satisfy your sweet tooth all summer long! 

-Linnea