Bicycling with Butterflies Read-alikes: One Book, One City

Have you been loving Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman? Perhaps you finished it already and are looking for something similar to read? As someone who admittedly doesn’t read much non-fiction, this book inspired me to consider adding more nature focused non-fiction titles to my ever growing to-read pile.

Below you’ll find some suggested read-alike titles, including some stellar nature and travel writing.

You can request a title through our online catalog here or check out our digital collection offerings through OverDrive!

Adventure Cycling: One Book, One City

Biologist, outdoor educator, and author of Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration, Sara Dykman, rode an impressive distance on her bicycle to follow the monarch butterfly migration. My first thought when hearing about this immense feat was- how in the world did she bike that far?! As someone who only bikes around my neighborhood, and occasionally a bike trail in the Cleveland Metroparks, I couldn’t fathom riding thousands of miles across the country on a bike. Naturally, being a librarian and all, I was inspired to take a look at how one might go about such a trip and tips for embarking on your own adventure cycling trip!

Image from https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/from-the-magazine-following-the-monarchs/

Dykman was not new to bike touring, as she shares in this article from Treehugger. She says, “I was actually on a year-long bike tour, traveling from Bolivia to the United States when I first had the idea to follow the monarch butterflies.” She also shares a bit about her bike in the article, describing it as, “… an old, rusty steel mountain bike frame from the ‘80s, the components were newish, cleanish, and ready to get me down the road. Most people were shocked at how unfancy my bike was, especially when it was saddled with my homemade kitty-litter-bucket panniers. It might not have been light or pretty, but my no-frills bike is a reliable machine.” 

Dykman took extensive photos on her trip and you can check them out on her website here and see all the places she’s biked!

If you are feeling inspired to do your own adventure biking trip but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll want to work your way up to long distances. Whether you have an old mountain bike or a fancy new all-terrain bike, you’ll want to get your bike in tip-top shape before you venture out. Here is a list of tips from Adventurecycling.org on items to contemplate prior to setting out on your trip.

  • Make final purchases of clothing and equipment.
  • Make certain that all repairs and maintenance, including lubrication, are made on your bike.
  • Buy an extra pair of glasses, or contacts, and get a copy of your prescription.
  • Continue your training rides, working up to 50- to 70-mile day rides on weekends. (You might try for a century — 100 miles in a day — if you’re taking a trip of more than three weeks.) Seek out hills and varied terrain, attempting to simulate the type of riding you’ll encounter on your tour, and do some rides with fully loaded packs to test for proper weight distribution.
  • Make arrangements for paying any monthly bills coming due during your absence.
  • Make sure you have used all your equipment and know how it works. Make all final adjustments to your bike.
  • Continue training rides; try to do at least one overnight “shakedown” trip with a fully loaded bike. It’s better to discover and take care of problems before your tour begins.
  • Pack your bike in a reinforced box and ship it, if it’s not traveling with you.
  • Pick up your travel tickets.
  • Buy traveler’s checks for emergency and spending money.
  • Fill medical prescriptions to last longer than your trip.
  • Cancel your newspaper delivery.
  • Change mail delivery or have mail held at the post office.
Image from Adventurecycling.org

You can find travel tips for your first bike tour here from The Adventure Junkies. There are plenty of great blogs out there that you can check out with information on bikepacking, adventure cycling, and bike touring such as Cycling About and Bikepacking.

For more resources, we have plenty of great materials at the library, including a variety of digital cycling magazines you can access from the comfort of home.

Finally, we recently had Deltrece Daniels from Bike Cleveland offer a virtual program all about Adventure Cycling. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for that recording in the coming weeks.

Have you ever taken a long distance biking trip? Are you planning one? We’d love to hear about your adventure cycling, so please share with us in the comments!

RRPL Summer Reads- The Chosen and The Beautiful

It’s finally June which means that summer is officially right around the corner! We will be counting down the days until the first day of summer, Sunday, June 20th, by sharing the books we are most excited to read in the months ahead. Each week you’ll get a look at titles that Rocky River Public Library staff can’t wait to dive into!

My first summer read pick is The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo.

This book, just published yesterday (!) is a Best of Summer Pick for Time Magazine and a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine, so I’m definitely not the only person who has been looking forward to this title to hit bookshelves.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents the American classic story of The Great Gatsby through a queer, magical, immigrant lens. Reimagining Fitzgerald’s character Jordan Baker as a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in white, American high society, Vo invites readers along for a fresh, imaginative look at this Gatsby woman. Jordan has money, education, invitations to the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age, but is treated like an exotic attraction by her peers.

Vo, a Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas Then the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, said in a recent interview that her early influences include Neil Gaiman, British fantasy writer Angela Carter, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” author Patricia Highsmith, and the popular podcast series “Welcome to Night Vale.”

As many students have had to throughout the years, I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school freshman English class, and wasn’t particularly impressed. I’ve re-read it since then and am a fan of Fitzgerald’s works now, but am very excited to read a modern, diverse voice such as Vo’s take on this well-known narrative. I also love magical realism and this new novel sounds like an amazing mash-up of some of my favorite literary elements!

What are some titles you are excited to read this summer? We’d love for you to share your titles with us this month in the comments! Happy reading!

Love is in Bloom: New and Upcoming Romance

Ahh May. That magical time of year when the flowers are blooming, everything is a beautiful green, and the weather is wildly unpredictable (that might just be a Northeast Ohio factor). It’s also a great time of year to pick up a light and fun romance! Take a look below for ten new and upcoming romance titles sure to make for a great read- whether you are cozied up on the couch or soaking up some sunshine poolside.

Excited to dive into one of these titles? Visit our OverDrive digital library or request a print copy today!

Staff Poetry Favorites

Welcome back to our final installment of Staff Poetry Favorites in honor of National Poetry Month 2021. This week we look at some of our favorite poetry collections!

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

blud by Rachel McKibbens

The end of April is quickly approaching and thus the end of National Poetry Month. Hopefully you have been inspired to continue reading poetry throughout the year! We have a great selection of poetry on our shelves at Rocky River Public Library, and don’t forget you can access our digital shelves via OverDrive for more poetry titles from the comfort of your couch.

Staff Poetry Favorites

As we continue to celebrate National Poetry Month here at Rocky River Public Library, I’m sharing some more staff favorites with you today. Last week we heard from our Outreach Department and this week we will hear some favorite poems from some of our Adult Services Department staff.

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

The Hill We Climb

by Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Selected by Shannon, Adult Services Librarian

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in)

by E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Selected by Shannon, Adult Services Librarian

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Good Bones

by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Selected by Dori, Adult Services Manager

Check back next week for our final National Poetry Month post featuring a list of recommended poetry collections!

Staff Poetry Favorites

April is National Poetry Month and in honor of this special celebration of poetry, I asked my colleagues to share some of their favorite poetry with me. For the next couple weeks I will highlight these selections on the blog. This week we hear from members of our Outreach staff on their favored works.

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Fog

By Carl Sandburg

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

“For me, poetry is a good way to connect with how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking about in a certain time and place. There are so many poems and poets, the style and content can be so different, it’s like there’s always a piece of candy that catches my eye. 

If Fog by Carl Sandburg were candy, it would be my perfect mix of caramel, chopped nuts, nougat, and chocolate. In just a few words, the poet creates an image and atmosphere, including a touch of whimsy with an accurate cat vibe. Thank you, Mr. Sandburg, for the gift of this poem!” Stacey, Outreach Coordinator

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

by Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

” ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ by Maya Angelou is my pick this year. I’ve been chanting it to myself lately (for obvious reasons)!” Carol, Outreach Librarian

10 Recommended Funny Books by Women

Are you in need of a good laugh? I’m sure most of us are seeking humor more than usual during this difficult time and one of my favorite ways to be heartened is cozying up with a hilarious book. I just finished Shit, Actually by Lindy West, a collection of scathing and laugh out loud funny reviews of popular films, which was exactly what I needed this past week.

If you are interested in women’s comedy, which has long been a prime spot for women to talk back and break taboos in mainstream popular culture, join us tonight on Zoom for Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics at 7 pm Eastern. This sure to be engaging virtual program with Linda Mizejewski, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor in Ohio State University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Department, is an overview of women’s comedy beginning with Mae West and ending with the new generation of women comedians such as Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres who flout the pretty-versus-funny dynamic, targeting glamour and in some cases making it clear that in popular culture, “pretty” almost always means “white.” Click here to register!


There are a plethora of fabulous titles out there by my favorite funny women, and I’ve selected ten of my top choices for you below.

Hop on over to our Overdrive catalog to snag one of these fabulous titles now, or request a print copy, and let the laughter begin! Happy reading all.

Ten Graphic Novels for Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month! Did you know that Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981? Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. You can read more about Women’s History Month here.

To celebrate, I’m sharing some great graphic novels that highlight women authors, illustrators, women’s stories, and more! Take a look below to see my ten picks for graphic novels you should read this month to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Click here jump to our online catalog! All titles are available in our print collection or digitally in Hoopla.

Happy reading!

What I’m Currently Reading & What’s Next

In typical librarian fashion, I am always reading a book or two, in addition to having a plethora of books sitting in various to-be-read piles in my house. Back in the days of spending time at my library office desk, I would always keep a book there to read during my meal breaks (stares nostalgically out window thinking of my desk…). Of course, now that I’m home most of the time I keep a book in the dining room to read during lunch breaks. There is always a book on my night stand (usually my Kindle hangs out there) as well and a book on my coffee table, so I’m prepared for reading at all times. Take a look below to see what I’m currently reading and what I have lined up for the next couple months!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

I was so excited to snag an ARC of this book from NetGalley! I’m only about halfway through but it is great so far. After escaping a dangerously strict religious compound, where she was forced to marry the nefarious leader Reverend Sherman, teenage Vern escapes to the woods pregnant and alone. She gives birth to twins in the forest and tries her best to survive the harsh realities of this isolated life, all the while being pursued by a mysterious fiend, odd hallucinations, and experiencing uncanny changes in her body and abilities.

You can read a full review of this novel from my colleague Shannon by clicking here!

Something is Killing the Children: Volume 2 by James Tynion IV

Collecting issues #6-10 of this horror comic series, readers catch up with monster killer Erica Slaughter after she has slain the beast who was terrorizing the small town of Archer’s Peak. The only problem is that the monster had babies and now they are loose in the town. A mysterious man from The House of Slaughter arrives (is this the monster slayer version of a Watcher?) to help clean up the mess but seems to make matters worse.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

I am not usually an audiobook person, but every once in a while I check out an audiobook on Hoopla to listen to while I’m in the kitchen. I adore Shirley Jackson but have yet to read all her short stories and this audiobook has been a joy to listen to. Humorous, dark, and sometimes tragic, this powerful collection of haunting stories is read by a variety of voice actors making for an interesting and engaging experience.

What’s next for me? I have Tender is the Flesh by Agustina María Bazterrica, on deck, which was recommended by multiple authors in a recent Women in Horror author panel I viewed. It’s been on my want to read list for a while but after hearing some amazing authors highlight it as one of their favorite books of last year, I knew I needed to bump it up the pile! Another book that was shared in the panel and recommended to me by a friend is Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation. I just got the ebook loaded on my Kindle thanks to OverDrive and can’t wait to start it. Finally, I’m patiently waiting for a digital copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain to arrive for me!

What is on your to-be-read pile? What are you currently reading? Share in the comments and happy reading!