Beyond Bestsellers

by Michelle C.

Beyond Bestsellers is a new community reading program at Sno-Isle Libraries! Have you read every Dean Koontz or Danielle Steel? Are you looking for something new to read that you don’t have to wait in line for? We invite you to read along with us for the next five months as we discover new books, take a walk outside our comfort zone, and share each other’s favorite under-the-radar books. Starting July 1, each month on the first we will explore a different theme, post reading suggestions on the blog, and encourage you to share your favorite titles. On the fifteenth of each month we will post again, following up with readers and sharing more information about what makes each theme unique. The themes for Beyond Bestsellers are:

July: Mysteries

Aug.: True Stories

Sept.: Westerns

Oct.: Horror

Nov.: Graphic Novels

Dec.: Prize drawing

Each month we will ask participants to create a list in our new catalog with 5-10 books they would suggest for each theme. Only one of the books listed will need to have been read during the month. Please title the list “Beyond Bestsellers: <subtitle>.” For example if I create a list of cozy mysteries, I might title it “Beyond Bestsellers: Cozy Mysteries.” Be as creative as you like, but please include the Beyond Bestsellers header. The Beyond Bestsellers header allows us and other participants to search for your lists and automatically enters you into a drawing at the end of the five months. You can create from one to five lists. Each list will count as an additional entry into the drawing. You can create the lists at any time before Nov. 30, but we encourage participants to read within the themes as much as possible.

If you have never created a list using the new catalog, check out these easy to follow instructions.

Lists completed during the month may be featured on the blog on the last day of the month. You can vote for your favorite lists by clicking the “like” heart at the top of any list.

In December we will do a random drawing, with everyone who participated by creating a list, and the winner will receive a tote bag full of books!

To participate in Beyond Bestsellers, please sign up here.

If you have any questions, please comment below or contact us. We look forward to reading with you and hearing about the books you just couldn’t stop reading!

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Abandoning vs. Pausing Books

by Lindsey

At what point do you abandon or “pause” a book? When I was younger, I prided myself on always finishing books, even if it meant slogging through the ones I didn’t enjoy. The older I get, the more ruthless I am about abandoning books, or pausing books with the intention of returning to them later. As someone who reads ravenously, there is always another book on the horizon. Life is simply too short to read bad or boring books!

Super librarian Nancy Pearl coined the Rule of Fifty, which says:

If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100 – the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decisions to stay with it or quit. Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!

It’s so true that the world of books is immense and daunting. I try to follow Nancy’s “pearl” of wisdom but at age 34 I’ll admit to not reaching page fifty before dropping a book. Occasionally I’ll read 200 pages. Other times I’ll read only ten. Sometimes a book takes a long time to grow on you, but sometimes you just know it isn’t for you.

I’ve also paused many books – not because I didn’t enjoy them, but because I wasn’t in the right mood for them at the time, or life got in the way.

For example, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy was too brutal for me last September and I stopped reading halfway through. It is a relentlessly violent and bleak historical western, and I just wasn’t in the mood for that at the time. Now I can’t stop thinking about the story, and I need to know what happens to the protagonist, Kid, so I’m determined to try it again this year.

I tried reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo when I was eleven because I loved the musical… and I failed miserably. I tried it again as an adult and it took me six months to finish the 1400+ page French classic. I now count it as one of my favorite books, and one that has influenced me the most. I just wasn’t ready for it at eleven!

What are some books you abandoned or paused? I would love to hear how other readers handle this conundrum!


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Audiobooks Are The Answer!

by Liz

Feeling like your “to be read” list is getting out of control? Double up with an audiobook! Looking to be entertained while doing mundane chores? Audiobooks have got you covered! Allergies got the best of you and need to give your itchy eyes a rest? Do I really need to say it? Okay, here it goes…Audiobooks! Audiobooks! Audiobooks! As Stephen King puts it, with audiobooks “You can do what you’re doing, and at the same time, you can be entertained.” Entertained while I clean the bathroom? Sign me up!

And June just so happens to be Audiobook Month. Let’s celebrate! Earlier this month, the Audio Publishers Association got the party started with the Audie Awards. The Audies are awarded in 27 different categories and honor the best audio titles published each year. The big winner of the evening was Hamilton: The Revolution. Duh. Is there any award Lin-Manuel Miranda hasn’t won?

Ready to join in the celebration? Accessible in CD form, or as an eAudio download through Overdrive, Sno-Isle has over 140,000 audiobook titles to choose from. A tad overwhelming, I know. A good place to start: Sno-Isle carries many of this year’s Audie Award winners. More interested in a staff recommendation? I’ve made a list of some of my favorite listens too. Happy listening!

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Books with Lists

by Marina

And my lists will go on . . . .

I like making lists. Lists of things to do and buy (you know, that old reliable grocery list), places to visit, books to read (which you can do in BiblioCommons, as I’m sure you are well aware), movies to watch, plants to grow, and on and on. So it goes to reason that I would enjoy books that have lists.

Now, I’m sure there are many stories out there that incorporate lists into the plot. However, I seem to have found most of mine in young adult fiction (plus a nonfiction book written by a young adult). I’ve (mostly) limited my list of books with lists to bucket-type lists and playlists. Featured as part of the story. Because I’ve read a few books where the author will list the music they used as inspiration. Or what they think the characters would have been listening to at certain points of the story. But, as you will see from my complete list I do also use my rights as listmaker to have exceptions to my own rule. Which I’ve learned is acceptable from other members of the Readers’ Services Team.

Here are a few highlights of ones that I’ve read (and even reread) over the years.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is one I’ve read more than once. My favorite part of it is actually the spontaneous path of their road trip. But it’s the playlists that Amy and Roger have that fuel their trip and their friendship renewal along the way. Plus, the itinerary that Amy’s mom provides for their trip (that they TOTALLY disregard) is another type of list throughout. No wonder I like this story so much!

With Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt the list the reader gets is one of goals main character Mallory follows, written by her grandmother in 1962. Mallory embarks on this plan after finding that her boyfriend Jeremy cheated on her with somebody online. She decides to ditch the modern for a while to just focus on herself. Her grandma’s list includes items like “starting a pep club” and “find a steady.” And Mallory obviously inherited her grandma’s penchant for lists because there are others featured throughout that help get her through each day.

If you like the movie Groundhog Day then you’re sure to get a kick out of A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody. Ellie uses playlists she names with titles like “Bubble Yum” and “Brand-New World Order” to get through life in general. But now they help her survive the same Monday over and over for a week. The same Monday where it’s raining. Where she gets caught driving through a red light and has to give a student body VP election speech. And where her boyfriend breaks up with her. Every. Single. Time.

In Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman, we follow Anna on an epic road trip from her sleepy town in Iowa to the East Coast as she completes the summer bucket list made by her recently deceased sister, Storm. When Anna first sets out to complete the list who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery? Aided by her sister’s best friend (and boy next door) Cameron, Anna accomplishes items like climb a lighthouseget a tattookiss in the rain, and, eventually, the hardest–be brave with my life.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman is where the exception to my self-imposed rules comes in. Technically, there isn’t a list list but all of the cataloged items featured could be a list. Plus, cataloging is what librarians like.

Do you have a list of books that have lists? Share your titles in the comments below.


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Write Now 2017

by Jackie 

We know that writers almost always start out as big readers – and that readers often want to be writers. Between July and December, Sno-Isle Libraries is again hosting our sucessful Write Now series, this year with over forty classes aimed at aspiring and published writers. Whether you’re struggling with page one or you have a full manuscript in your hands, be it fiction, children’s, nonfiction, or if you just want to write your family’s history, there’s a session for you. All classes are entirely free to attend, although registration is suggested for many of them.

Find the upcoming Write Now events below. On our events calendar you’ll be able to limit the search to the libraries near you and register.


Continue reading »

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Freegal Artist Highlight

by Brian (snoislelib_brianh)

A while back I featured music by the renown cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a Bibliofiles post about music you can find hidden in Sno-Isle Libraries Freegal music collection. I’d like to highlight another amazing artist tucked away in the Freegal collection, violinist Joshua Bell. It really pays to think about Freegal as a extension of the library’s traditional catalog. A search in the traditional catalog results in 5 recordings that Joshua Bell has made. A search in Freegal for his recordings will result in at least a dozen other recordings.

The beauty of Freegal is that you can listen to music from all of these recordings instantly with your Sno-Isle Library card.

I’ll leave you to it.  Get busy listening.  To help get you started I’ve include tracks from a few of the albums featured here in this playlist.


Let me know if you find a favorite recording or track by this incredibly talented artist. Or, if you have found your own hidden gem of an artist tucked away in Freegal, feel free to share in the comments.

Joshua Bell Recordings


Soundtracks Featuring Joshua Bell

P.S. Freegal features Sony recordings by Joshua Bell.  Head over to Hoopla to hear recordings Joshua Bell made for the Decca label.  Discography at AllMusic

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Uh, I haven’t seen it …

By Grant

In 2016 there were 798(!) movies that recorded a box office gross (movie 798 is so sad, just 29 tickets sold, how is that even possible? Didn’t the cast and crew make their friends go?) Of those 798, I can safely say I have seen at least 57.  The point being that I missed a lot of movies and clearly there were more than most anyone could possibly watch.  Now some of those films I wanted to see, but most I didn’t.  I feel there are three categories of movies I haven’t seen.

1.) The biggest category, movies I don’t care about, and no one else does either. I point again to the 798(!) movies in 2016.

2.) Movies I haven’t seen, that I don’t care about not seeing, but people would lecture me about not seeing.  Lets see, The Sixth Sense (guessed the ending from the preview), Gone with the WindDeliverance (uh, I prefer not to have a lifelong fear of the backwoods) Marathon Man (I already have a fear of dental work, no need to add to it).  There are hundreds of others.

3.) Here is where the real concern is, movies I have not seen that I am embarrassed not to have seen. In almost all of these cases, I am sure that I have pretended to have seen these movies in conversations …

Stalker is one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s crowning achievements, I know this because I read a book about the movie, but have never seen it.

Some Like it Hot, I know that I would like this movie, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe!

Midnight Cowboy, apparently I have something against John Schlesinger’s films (he also directed Marathon Man). This film about gritty New York City won the Academy award for Best Picture.

American Graffiti George Lucas’s first film. Unfortunately it is a not a prequel to Star Wars, but weirdly a coming of age story set in the 60’s?  I am getting all of this information from IMDB as again … haven’t seen it.

Hurt Locker is another best picture winner that I somehow missed, it does seem a bit intense.

These three go together, because while I have seen none of these movies, they are made by three of my favorite directors, and most importantly I OWN THEM.  They are sitting with my DVD collection still in cellophane wrap … sad. Grand Budapest Hotel, The Tree of Life and Inherent Vice by Wes Anderson, Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson.

This is the most embarrassing, I have never seen Casablanca (I feel like I have, but know I haven’t) #3 on the AFI all-time greatest films.

Luckily all these film are available from Sno-Isle … now will I watch them?  Any embarrassing films you haven’t seen?

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Morbid Curiosities: True Tales of Medical Misadventure

by Emily Z

Lindsey’s fabulous post about plague fiction reinforces my belief that the history of medical care is a morbidly mesmerizing topic with unusually broad appeal. I gravitate more towards apocalyptic science fiction and its nightmarish, speculative medical issues, but I was also once a history major and know historical fact can sometimes be even stranger than fiction.

Given what we now understand about threats like radiation, lead, germs, chemical addiction, etc we can look back on missteps in medicine (or just daily life) and yell, “What were you thinking?” or “Don’t lick that!”. We can even do this while giddily washing our own hands with soap in bathrooms that have actual plumbing and only trifling amounts of asbestos. Perhaps even more striking to the modern reader is the gruesome ingenuity of bygone, experimental treatments, particularly when they inspire techniques still in use today (ex: leeches). Add in the traumatic experiences of individual patients and their perplexed (or stubbornly ignorant) attending physicians and you have an enthralling, often harrowing read. The books featured here do not intend to turn suffering into a sideshow but are not shy about gory details either.


If you haven’t yet heard of Radium Girls:

Radium Girls: the Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Radium Girls unfolds like a spectacular, slow-burning courtroom drama. Moore builds the case against radium (and the companies that used it) meticulously, sparing no ghastly detail. The reader meets several vibrant young women starting promising careers in the application of radium, a cutting-edge wonder that glows in the dark. If you know anything about what else radium does, you also know you’ll be gasping in horror before too long. There are some face-melting descriptions of melting faces. Witnessing what these women went through and the breathtakingly cavalier denials of their struggle is compelling to the very end.


If you are already in the queue for Radium Girls:

Asleep: the forgotten epidemic by Molly Caldwell Crosby

As the title suggests, sleeping sickness or encephalitis lethargica was repeatedly overlooked and brushed off as a mysterious curse on mankind. This is shocking given that even surviving it could be devastating. It rose up and receded at different times in different places for (still) unknown reasons, infecting millions globally and leaving hundreds of thousands dead, insane, or locked inside their own bodies.  In graceful prose, Crosby’s writing breathes life into this epidemic’s history, those who struggled to study it, and its impact on the development of neurology as a field of study.

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz 

More than a collector of unusual specimens, Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter was a remarkably empathetic and forward-thinking surgeon in an era famed for its less than tender medical care.  He championed new restorative surgical techniques, the use of anesthesia in surgery, sterile operating equipment, and compassion for patients who were normally made to feel like monsters. In addition to being Mütter’s first biographer, Aptowicz is a keen chronicler of 19th century medical education, attitudes about illness and injury, and the many varied ways one could be harmed by everyday life in the 19th century.

Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright

A journalist by trade, Wright’s tone is less staid and stoic than the average historian. This book reads like a conversation over cocktails with a passionate, well-researched new acquaintance. Get Well Soon is a whirlwind tour through medical epochs dating from the fall of Rome to the 20th century AIDs crisis. If you’re looking for a fast-paced medical history survey mixed with commentary on the current state of the world, this is the book. It’s worth the read for its ruthless dressing down of the 1950s lobotomy craze alone.

Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris by Asti Hustvedt

French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot is a complicated figure of 19th century medicine. Some of his contemporaries thought him brilliant, but more recent retrospection paints him as a kind of ringmaster, manipulating vulnerable female patients and putting them on display. Hustvedt’s compassionate examination of the catch-all diagnosis “hysteria”–which was exclusive to women but could entail seizures, hallucinations, emotional imbalances, and any behavior deemed unladylike–focuses on the three most famous case studies at Charcot’s hospital. All were poor, female, and from horrific backgrounds but very distinct in their personalities. Each also ended up a celebrity, whether they wanted to or not.

Dragon’s Blood & Willow Bark: The Mysteries of Medieval Medicine by Toni Mount

If one summons a picture of pre-Victorian medicinal drama, they might conjure up images of leeches, open sores, and baffling amounts of leprosy. Mount believes we owe slightly more respect to the toil and grossness of the medieval, Tudor, and Stuart periods. Yes, there was a somewhat erratic commingling of mysticism and herb-lore, an inexplicable attachment to the Four Humors, and some truly heinous things done with animal parts, but there was also a fair amount of common sense, determination, and admirable experimentation with the natural materials on hand.

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New Book Group Discussion Kits for the Summer!

by Jackie

We’ve recently added a large batch of new book discussion kits to our collection! Whether you belong to a private club, a Sno-Isle Library book club, or you are wanting to start your own, these kits are a great way to connect with your community and spark discussion about the big questions.

See the new kits below:

Descriptions can be found in our Book Kit Reservation System.

Each book kit contains ten paperback copies of a single title and can be checked out for any book group. Currently, there are 299 book kits available to reserve. If there’s a book you absolutely love as a book group pick and want to share with others, let us know in the comments!

This Book Discussion Kit collection is funded by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and individual donations given for this purpose. Lilac Girls was generously funded by the Edmonds Lutheran Book Club, and each copy has a customer book plate reflecting their donation. Book Discussion Kits can be sponsored for a $200 donation to the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. Contact the foundation to donate.

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Reuniting for Love: Second-Chance Romances

by Jocelyn (SnoIsleLib_JocelynR)

Tropes, commonly used themes or storylines, are the backbone of many romance novels. This isn’t a bad thing; use of these tropes gives readers an idea of what they’re getting into before they even crack open a book. Alternately, it lets them know to steer clear if it’s a trope they don’t care for. Today, let’s talk about the second-chance romance trope. In a second-chance romance, the main characters had a past romantic relationship that failed. Maybe they were young lovers who were separated, a couple whose romance faded away, or perhaps it was the wrong time, wrong place…These stories explain why the couple broke up, and show us how they face their issues to mend their relationship.

Why are these novels appealing? They tend to be deeply emotional reads, although some still manage to have a light tone. Second-chance romances also remind us that people and circumstances can change, that sometimes life gives us a chance to learn from the past and grow into the person we’d like to be. One idea that often runs through these novels is that the time the couple spent apart allowed them to gain wisdom and maturity, which makes their relationship even better (and helps them to forgive past transgressions and issues). While it could take years (or centuries if it’s a paranormal romance), the happily-ever-after from these books leaves readers feeling satisfied.

If you’re ready to give a second-chance romance a try, take a look at the titles below or at this list.

Dark Skye – Kresley Cole
Though centuries have past since Thronos, Lord of Skye Hall, lost the one woman meant for him, nothing can cool his never-ending need for Melanthe. She was the girl he loved and lost as a boy, the girl who nearly destroyed him. Lanthe, a once-powerful sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the fallen angel who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. Friends to enemies to . . . lovers? With their families at war and the world burning around them, will they succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or can the two rekindle their childhood love in time?

Rock Redemption – Nalini Singh
Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John but he deliberately shattered her heart. He knows he destroyed something precious when he chose to betray her, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret.

Not Quite a Husband – Sherry Thomas
Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon–to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn’t possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?

This Heart of Mine – Brenda Novak
Unable to prove her innocence, Phoenix Fuller was sent to prison for running down a romantic rival. Now, after serving her 17-year sentence, Phoenix wants to return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son, Jacob. But Jacob’s father, Riley, isn’t exactly welcoming.

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