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

Find a New Hobby!

Been interested in learning a new hobby? The library is the perfect place to pick up a book before committing to something, so the books and how-to guides and supplies don’t gather dust in the corner when you realize macramé isn’t *really* your thing. But if you want it to be your thing, there’s a book for that!  

I’ve compiled a list of a few different hobby books to peruse while trying to keep boredom at bay, whether you want to learn a new skill or just occupy your brain for a little while. 

Why not try your hand at hand embroidery?  

Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners by Aimee Ray 
Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams, and Instructions for Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell 

Finally beat your overly competitive family member at chess. 

Devious Chess: How to Bend the Rules and Win by Amatzia Avni 
Discovering Chess Openings: Building Opening Skills from Basic Principles by John Emms 

Impress your friends with all the cool card tricks you learned. 

Dazzling Card Tricks by Norm Barnhart 
Simple Sleight-of-Hand: Card and Coin Tricks for the Beginning Magician by Paul Zenon

Or try some brain teasers and puzzles to keep your brain sharp during television commercials.  

The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book: Test Your Inner Detective by Solving Some of the World’s Most Difficult Cases by Sinclair McKay 
Are You as Smart as You Think?: 150 Original Mathematical, Logical, and Spatial-Visual Puzzles for All Levels of Puzzle Solvers by Terry Stickels 

Have fun! 

(And here’s that macramé book I promised!) 

-Linnea

Are You Bored Yet?

We’re entering those lazy days of summer, where it becomes all too easy to binge every episode of Love Island, lounging on the couch in air conditioning. But July is National Anti-Boredom Month and each week I’ll showcase some books that will (hopefully) get you out of the boredom cycle! 

A great way to keep boredom at bay is to be a tourist in your own city. It’s easy to take for granted what you can experience everyday but there’s a whole world just a walk, bike ride, car trip, or bus journey away! If you’re looking to escape into the great outdoors, you’ve come to the right city. Best Hikes Cleveland will get you out and about, exploring all the wonderful parks and hikes within an hour drive. Not so interested in nature? Check out all the spooky happenings in Haunted Ohio, if you dare. Rather explore Cleveland by food? There are plenty of restaurants to taste test in Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland. And if you’re up for the ultimate Cleveland challenge, why not start working on 100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die?  

If you’re farther afield from Cleveland, check out another book in the 100 Things to Do in… series for your city or a city nearby. If you’re eager to explore, Lonely Planet has tons of road trip guides, whether you’re in the United States or France or Australia, even!  

But if you just feel like relaxing as we all deserve to do, honestly, that’s a pretty good way to spend the summer too! 

-Linnea

Pride Month: History & Culture

In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This led to six days of protests and violence, as members of the LGBTQ+ community fought for their lives and their rights. It served as one of the catalysts for the gay rights movement in the United States and in other countries. Until 1966, LGBTQ+ folks couldn’t even drink in bars, as gatherings of LGBTQ+ patrons were deemed disorderly. Even still, police conducted frequent raids and continued to harass community members after it became legal. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina and transgender woman, are the names most associated with the Uprising. Both became prominent activists in the fight towards LGBTQ+ equality. The Stonewall Riots are an important turning point in United States history, and it’s necessary to remember how the LGBTQ+ community was treated and while some strides have been made, how they continue to be treated.  

For our final Pride Month post (this year!), I’ve pulled a few books related to the history of the LGBTQ+ community. From music to history to literature to film to sports, the LGBTQ+ community has been present every step of the way. Let us continue to celebrate them and continue the fight alongside them for their rights throughout the year, not just in June.  

Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era  

“A pictorial time capsule from the pivotal days of a budding gay rights movement. Baumann, coordinator of the New York Public Library’s LGBT Initiative, presents a dramatic collection of images, drawn from the career archives of photo-documentarians Lahusen and Davies, charting the rise of grassroots gay activism from the mid-1960s to the mid-’70s. It was a time when LGBT activists took to the streets of New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New Jersey to creatively and defiantly demonstrate against intolerance and inequality and whose “vision and courage changed our world.” Lahusen was active in early lesbian solidarity organizations while Davies was best known for chronicling the feminist, peace, and social justice activism movements of the era. Their photographs, accompanied by Baumann’s commentary and descriptions, represent separate perspectives within a unified theme of LGBT equality throughout each of the book’s four sections. “Visibility” displays images of a wide variety of gays and lesbians in the primes of their careers and endeavors; “Love” celebrates the power of community and affection in the face of societal hate; “Pride” memorializes the sacred queer spaces where activism, collaboration, and solidarity flourished; and “Protest” demarcates the demonstrations and rebellion against rampant gay oppression. Iconic activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Barbara Gittings, and Ernestine Eckstein share space with gay writers, artists, performers, and media founders. Haunting and arresting, the photos illustrate a historic American era when same-sex affection was forbidden in public and considered both a mental illness and an atrocity. A literary celebration commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the epic Stonewall riots, the book is elegiac yet also provides a reflective and hopeful reminder for future generations that change, and promise can arise from struggle and sacrifice. Though the book is a reflection of a different age and struggle, it is also timely given that LGBT freedoms remain ever endangered within the current political climate. A moving queer tapestry honoring a beleaguered movement’s legacy through art, veneration, and gravitas.”  

-Kirkus Reviews January 2019 

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum 

“Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community’s symbol of freedom. June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York’s West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York’s Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn’t bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress. Enlightening, inspiring, and moving.”  

– Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2015 

Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports by Cyd Zeigler 

“Outsports.com founder Zeigler gives an account of the great strides LGBTQ athletes have made in the sports world over the last 15 years. Before 2000, most professional LGBTQ athletes remained closeted for fear that revealing their homosexuality would end their sports careers. However, as the author documents in this overview, “the last decade has been colored in rainbows by young athletes…who [have] dared to be themselves.” In the 1970s, a few individuals, such as tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, came out. By the turn of the century, other professional athletes, such as baseball player Billy Bean and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, also did so, but only after they had retired. Not until NBA basketball player John Amaechi publicly disclosed his homosexuality in 2007 did gay athletes and the issues pertaining to them come to the fore of mainstream professional sports. In this book , Zeigler tells stories of the fears and anxieties that both college and professional athletes have faced along the path to acceptance by their teammates. He reveals how language used among otherwise tolerant heterosexual athletes to denote weakness compounds the intensity of the inner struggles of their gay counterparts. At the same time, he points to examples of straight individuals like football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin who have actively supported the gay sports movement by speaking about the need for “equality for all.” While Zeigler believes it is imperative that more LGBTQ athletes come out, he also makes clear that public outing is not justified if an individual is not ready to deal with the ensuing media exposure. Lively and provocative, the book  not only offers a much-needed perspective on what until recently has been one of the last bastions of heterosexism. It is also significant for its conscious consideration of how current developments will impact LGBTQ athletes of tomorrow. An informative, necessary work.” 

-Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2016 

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock 

“Bullock’s comprehensive yet concise history of LGBT music from the earliest records in the pre-jazz age to the 21st century is an enthralling journey covering multiple genres and serves as both a cultural and sociological study of the history and impact of various artists and music styles. Bullock examines jazz, blues, country, singer-songwriters, disco, punk, and dance while traveling both the main roads and especially the byways of popular music, highlighting artists who may be unfamiliar to many, narrating a story of a community that over the decades has created original, influential, and singular music. Using dozens of sources as well as his own interviews, the author demonstrates that the story of LGBT music is both a personal and a political one, set against the backdrop of key events in the gay rights movement, which also mirrors the changing societal attitudes toward LGBT people over time. Bullock spotlights dozens of LGBT artists, examining their lives, lyrics, and struggles, both in society and within the music industry, in an entertaining narrative that will also encourage readers to seek out fascinating work that helps define a community’s rich history and heritage.”  

– Library Journal, vol 142, issue 17 

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker  

“Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990, the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s. Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture.”

-Grand Central Publishing 

-Linnea 

Pride Month: Memoir Spotlight

Memoirs pull back the curtain on a person’s life, providing a look into certain experiences that shaped the person they’ve become. They help readers find solace, knowing that someone has similar experiences, interests, or circumstances. Even if you can’t exactly relate to a person being a television star, or growing up with 19 siblings, or working on Human Rights campaigns, most will be able to identify with being left out, feeling disconnected from peers, and trying to figure out who they are. These LGBTQ+ memoirs tackle heavy topics but are important reads in better understanding facets of LGBTQ+ experiences, building empathy, and learning about someone who may be different from yourself. They also provide necessary representation for those in the LGBTQ+ community that haven’t seen themselves in books. 

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the names on the selections here, and there are certainly many more to explore! 

Tomorrow Will be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride 

“In her first book, activist McBride (national press secretary, Human Rights Campaign) shows self-awareness and purpose. Cognizant of the many positives in her life—supportive family, friends, and coworkers—McBride has devoted her career to ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ people. By sharing her own story of coming out, the author illuminates the pain that can come along with that process, and how she has arrived at accepting (and living) her life. She writes movingly of her experience transitioning from a man to a woman, and her political activism, along with falling in love and then losing her love to cancer. Statistics about the marginalization of and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender, are brought to life by her voice. The importance of telling these experiences in order to combat demonizing stereotypes is stressed by the author’s experiences in passing civil rights legislation in Delaware, as well as her activism nationwide. The pressing need for broad antidiscrimination protection for the entire LGBTQ community is made clear. All readers will find this book enlightening. Those struggling with gender identity, and their families and friends, will find hope in McBride’s words.”

-Library Journal, vol. 143, issue 4 

Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter 

“Television and stage star Porter opens his soul in this memoir about his life and career, from his childhood in Pittsburgh, to his recent award-winning roles in the stage musical Kinky Boots and on the FX series Pose. Porter writes candidly about growing up Black and gay, his current fears about living during the time of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his own hard work, luck, and the generosity of others provided the stepping stones for his current success. Reflecting on the title of the book, Porter tells of moments in his life when he felt unprotected, as both a child and an adult. His fearlessness in discussing the darker parts of his past (including sexual abuse by his stepfather and being diagnosed with HIV) is remarkable, but equally as impressive is the narrative of his decades-long dedication to hone his talent and make a space for himself in a racist and homophobic entertainment industry and society. This memoir, as exceptional as Porter himself, should please not only devotees of the actor and his work but readers interested in a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.”  

– Library Journal, vol. 146, issue 10 

Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life by Jonathan Van Ness 

“Known for his tasteful grooming counseling on Queer Eye, Van Ness moves past the triple trauma of publicly acknowledging his HIV-positive status, surviving sexual abuse, and overcoming drug addiction to explore ways to cultivate personal happiness. Despite support from fans who had experienced similar struggles, some of that support came with massive amounts of transphobic vitriol. The author offers advice on navigating the ever critical social media platforms, writing about grief, family matters, hometown pride for Quincy, Illinois, confronting and vanquishing internalized shame, and the surprisingly precarious professional and social politics of hairdressing and stand-up comedy. He also authentically tackles hot topics like the vilification of marijuana, body-shaming, homophobia, transphobia, and, in a section that will resonate with many readers, gender dysphoria: “I’ve always known I didn’t feel completely male or female, but in those early days of having gay men reject me because of my femininity, I learned fast to masculinize.” In lighter moments, Van Ness gushes over his role on Queer Eye and shares humorous behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show. His ebullient sense of humor and his passion for LGBTQ+ rights and social justice for an increasingly marginalized transgender population inform with spirited ease. The narrative is equal parts anecdotal whimsy and social criticism, and Van Ness remains reflective, sincere, and cathartic throughout, reiterating that “the darkness I’ve survived doesn’t define me.” Rather, it motivates him to “process the noise” and “grow and be a better person.” Inspirational motivation and counsel primarily for fans who can’t get enough of the Van Ness experience.”  

-Kirkus Reviews 

Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad 

“Racebaitr editor-in-chief Ziyad merges astute sociopolitical analysis with soul-baring honesty in their striking debut memoir. Drawing on their family’s strong religious beliefs and the traumas of growing up poor in Cleveland as a young Black queer person, Ziyad charts their search for self-understanding and liberation from their guilt-ridden first experiences with boys in high school, to moving to New York City for college, to their early career as a screenwriter and essayist. Along the way, they extrapolate on how each of their experiences has roots in colonialism, white supremacy (“were raised in the same America. The America that demonizes all Black children”), and capitalism. The idea of “misoafropedia” (or “the anti-Black disdain for children and childhood that Black youth experience”) is a unique framework from which they analyze their youthful attempts to assimilate into whiteness at school, the carceral logic that led them to punish other Black children for the crime of being “ghetto,” and their relationship with their own inner child. With its candidness and sharp prose that doggedly links the personal to the political, Ziyad’s tale is engrossing and necessary.”  

-Publisher’s Weekly vol. 267, issue 47 

-Linnea