Ask A Librarian: A Brief and Incomplete History of the Middle East

Recently, a friend asked me for books, preferably fiction, to help her understand the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I don’t think I can adequately cover that subject (ever, it’s just so big), but I can offer some suggestions regarding Israel, Palestine, Syria, and the changing face of the Middle East. I do want to offer a caveat that I had a hard time finding books by Arab authors, but I tried to include what I could. I also wanted to try to avoid books that came off as rabidly pro– or anti–Israel. I couldn’t find any fiction, but I did find some non–fiction that can hopefully offer some insight into what’s going on in an area that’s often misunderstood or underestimated. Continue reading

Ask a Librarian: Decks and Drinks Books

Last Saturday was gorgeous here – in the 80s and sunny, the perfect weather for putting a chair (or, if you’re as lazy as I can be, an air mattress) on the deck, propping your feet up, pouring a cold drink, and falling into a book. On sunny summer days, I don’t want my usual fantasy or romance, but I also don’t want something “literary.” For me, summer days call for a specific kind of literature, the kind with lots of money, long-range revenge schemes, constant fashion name-dropping, and sex between beautiful people. In short, summer calls for trashy fun. Continue reading

Ask A Librarian: Bring Me Your Finest Histories, Real or Alternate

Hello, readers! It’s a gorgeous day outside in Seattle, but I am going to be inside, as being employed at the library means far too much time thinking up titles to request. I thought I had seven holds yesterday and walked out with sixteen items. I finished Hold Me Closer Necromancer last night, and I re-started Karen Marie Moning’s Iced this morning. What are you reading? What do you want to read? Bring it on! Continue reading

Ask A Librarian: Funny, Funny, Funny

I really enjoy fiction books that are humorous, fantastical and absurd, with lots of interesting details and great world building, like everything by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Eoin Colfer and Walter Moers (although he isn’t that well known in the non-German speaking world, I believe), as well as things like Harry Potter, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede and the Howl’s Moving Castle series. I recently started reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and am liking it so far, too. Continue reading

Ask a Librarian: 4/18/13

Spring always gets me in the mood for romance, but I often have a hard time finding romantic novels that feel smart, funny, and well-plotted. (I’m bored to death with Janet Evanovich’s series, and Sophie Kinsella’s books make me cringe.) I like some of Jennifer Crusie’s novels (Faking It, Agnes and the Hitman), most of Elizabeth Peters’ books, and paranormal novels with romance and humor mixed in (like Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series). Any ideas? Continue reading

A Womb of One’s Own: The Childfree and the Parents

At one point or another, many of us will either have kids or have friends who have kids. Believe me when I say that your kid-bearing friends still want to hang out with you, despite constantly turning down your Facebook invites to parties, barbecues, and shows. We still want to socialize, it’s just that socializing as a parent is a bit more complicated. Continue reading

A Womb of One’s Own: Carry That Weight

There comes a time when, if you have a baby, you’ll need to carry that baby somewhere. And that somewhere will be someplace that’s inconvenient with a stroller and is too far to carry them bare-armed comfortably. It’s at that moment when you’ll realize the value of a good baby carrier.

When I was pregnant, I was convinced that I was going to be a super hippie granola mom – I’d wear Gabe constantly, do skin-to-skin all summer long, and lull him to sleep in the carrier as I went about my day. When he arrived, I was armed with two MobyWraps and a wealth of good intentions. What I learned, however, was that despite my choices, the baby carrier would be chosen by the one being carried, not the one doing the carrying. Continue reading

A Womb of One’s Own: It Takes Two

I wish I could explain the urge in me to have another baby. In the past 24 hours, I’ve gotten less than three hours’ sleep, been bitten and scratched by my darling progeny, and spent hours sitting on the floor and pushing a wooden car over things for his amusement while my adult responsibilities went untouched. But I jump at even the half-joking chance to try for a second child. Continue reading