Fast Fashion Fatigue

By Kaley

Image result for washing wool sweaterI recently watched a video by Nancy Birtwhistle, one of the winners of the British Bakeoff, where she shows you how to wash a wool sweater. Guys, I could not believe how easy it looked. I have a few thrifted sweaters and spent some time recently cleaning them per her instructions. To quote Marie Kondo, it brought me joy! Caring for things I benefit from was a rewarding experience. It also made me think about some of the impacts of fast fashion. Fast Fashion is a term used to describe clothing made inexpensively by mass-market retailers directly inspired by whatever might be trending. As quickly as it is made, it moves to landfills or various other methods of disposal like offloading onto friends, family, or thrift stores. Many people are starting to return to the tried and true life skills of mending or making clothing. Opting for items that fit better and prolonging the life of the clothing you have. Continue reading »

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More Detail Than You Probably Require

by Melleny T.

You may recall that I’m a big fan of eating, and of perusing cookbooks that I’ll never use. As a librarian, it’s probably not very surprising that I also enjoy learning all kinds of things, especially obscure things. My brain is filled with odd facts that are really only useful during trivia night and for annoying friends during Jeopardy.

(Although I did once win a free round of miniature golf at Walt Disney World because I happened to know Donald Duck’s middle name, so I have experienced my fair share of fame and glory.)

History of Food illustration

I have discovered a subgenre of books that appeals to both my geeky trivia side and my borderline obsession with food, and that subgenre is Food Microhistory. There is a surprisingly large number of books in this category, treating you to a wealth of information on topics you may never have thought could fill an entire book, such as white bread and baking powder.

The following list includes some of my favorite microhistories related to food items that many of us eat every day.

Have you ever read a food microhistory? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

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Indigenous Picture Books

by Lois H. (they/them or she/her)

During the month of November—a month shared by Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving—it’s easy to return to the stories we’ve always read about the holiday. Books we read as children. Or books by authors we recognize.

But how do these books depict Indigenous characters? Do they contain stereotypes or misinformation? Are they written by an Indigenous author?

There is a long history of stereotyping, bias, and erasure of Indigenous people and culture by the media, advertising, and society at large.

Luckily, it seems like more Own Voices Indigenous books are published every year. These are books about Indigenous people, created by Indigenous people.

This November, I would encourage you to read a book written by an Indigenous author.

To get started, here’s a list of Own Voices Indigenous picture books:

Own Voices Indigenous Picture Books


For more information on this topic, check out American Indians in Children’s Literature

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Don’t I Know You?

by Marie B.

Are you a people watcher like me?  While it’s true that I kouldn’t kare less about keeping up with the Kardashians (no judgement here!), I do generally enjoy reading about famous people.  Chances are good that I’ll never meet anyone famous in real life, but I can encounter them in a story.  That’s right:  even if you’re not into biographies and memoirs, you can still enjoy a bookish celebrity encounter.

The easiest way to meet a celebrity in a story is by way of biographical fiction.  Here the celebrity is the main attraction and readers expect to get up close and personal with the lives and times of their favorite famous people.  In White Houses by Amy Bloom, readers are invited to come as close as they dare to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickock.  This moving, romantic story brings history and literary fiction together with a generous dollop of LGBTQIA diversity.

Perhaps you are more interested in hobnobbing by happenstance.  There are plenty of novels peopled with celebrities as main or supporting characters.  In these, although the celebrities themselves may play an important role, the story is real star.  The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore tells the suspenseful story of how the pioneers of electricity fought for supremacy – using every dirty trick in the book – in the burgeoning market.  This is a veritable who’s who of the early days of electricity, perfect for fans of historical fiction and suspense.  Side note:  Although not affiliated with this book, now showing in theaters is The Current War starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Edison and Michael Shannon as Westinghouse.

I’ve put together a list of books featuring famous people.  Discover more books starring famous figures in NoveList Plus.  Please share your favorites with us in the comments below.

Don't I Know You?

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Queer Fantasy Romance

I’ve discovered a su-sub-subgenre that I love: queer fantasy, preferably with a little romance. (How’s that for a niche?)

I’ve always liked fantasy novels, and romance novels, and queer stories. Right now there seem to be lots of great books that combine all three.

Here are a few I’ve read recently:

Continue reading »

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History’s Hidden Stories

by Marina M.

Over the course of this blog post I will link to several articles in our research databases. Any article link you click on will require you to log into your Sno-Isle account.

I recently finished reading The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. Almost eight years of research by Sepetys went into writing this story, which takes place in Spain during the rule of long-time fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Upon his death in 1975, Spain started its long recovery effort towards democracy. The leaders wanted to promote a peaceful progress after almost 40 years (1939-1975) of suppression and unrest so they chose a path of amnesty. As a result, many political prisoners were freed and the exiled returned home. However, with amnesty, those who committed war crimes under the command of Generalissimo Franco were granted impunity. It also kept secret many atrocities of Franco’s regime. Continue reading »

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November and Caregiving

by Denise D.

National Family Caregiver Month

Happy National Family Caregiver Month! November is the time to recognize those who do the essential, but generally hidden and unpaid, work of caregiving for a family member or friend.

Chances are, you know a caregiver. As Rosalynn Carter famously noted, ““There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

Continue reading »

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Beyond Bestsellers: Neil Gaiman

By Craig B.

My first taste of Neil Gaiman was in the early 90’s when my cousin introduced me to The Sandman series. I was a borderline batcaver with a dark trench coat and an inelastic haze of Aqua Net. I tried to be a batcaver, at any rate: black clothes, hair dye, spooky music, ennui. The Sandman fit into my world like a dingy pair of leather pants. It rested in the twilight world between fantasy and folklore. It was rich with mythology and literary allusion, elaborate but not laborious, sarcastic but not caustic, grown-up but not mature. It was, in short, miraculous. I fell in love with Neil Gaiman.

Then I learned that Gaiman had thrown a wide artistic net: graphic novels, nonfiction biographies, companion manuals, books. As the years went by, his net grew wider: short stories, radio, children’s books, mythology, plays, movies. Sometimes, he even mixed and matched mediums and genres. He was, and still is, hard to pin down. However, three things remain consistent in Gaiman’s art…a darkly affable sense of humor, an ear for lexical lyricism, and a love of lore and legend.

In this vein, I’ve decided to serve up a pu pu platter of delicacies from various genres and authors that will sate your appetite for the Dark Prince of Prose, Neil Gaiman.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

It’s hard to talk about Neil Gaiman readalikes without mentioning Douglas Adams. His Hitchhiker’s Guide series has become a staple for lovers of both sci-fi and the comically absurd. Adams loves a good yarn, poking at the establishment, gently ribbing philosophy and religion, and coining metaphors. And he does so with a distinctly British sense of timing. This is equally true of Adams’ second series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency I chose the second book from the second series. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, because it’s the closest to Gaiman’s art…brooding, dark, hilarious, and steeped in Norse mythology.

Dark Lord of Derkholm

If you want to read something that has fueled Gaiman’s creative furnace from his childhood, you couldn’t do better than the works of Diana Wynne Jones. Gaiman loved Jones’ novels when he was young, then met her when he was still a fledgling writer. They became fast friends. If you’re experiencing Harry Potter withdrawals (and who isn’t wild about Harry?) you could book a flight to Japan, or you could read Jones’ Chrestomanci Series. However, if you’re itching for something a little more Gaimanesque, might I suggest Dark Lord of Derkholm? I’ve gulped down both the novel and the audiobook, and I have to say, Jones (like Gaiman) is one of those rare authors whose prose should be heard to be truly appreciated. Plus, she’s marvelously witty.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Alan Moore is a legendary graphic novelist. He was among the first wave of authors who helped create the genre. He was also friends with Neil Gaiman, who apparently did a little side work to help Moore finish one of his masterpieces, Watchmen. However, if you’re hankering for something with a stronger Gaiman tang, you might want to sample The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It has intrigue, an intricate plot involving secret cults and world domination, heavy doses of local lore, and a ragtag confederation of flawed literary glitterati standing in as our protagonists. It’s also wickedly funny, though it doesn’t mix any sugar in with its humor. Parents beware…this is not for kids. In 2003, it was made into a movie that bares a passing resemblance to the graphic novel.

The Song of Achilles

If you liked the vibrant coat of linguistic paint that Gaiman used to freshen up the Scandinavian legends in Norse Mythology, you’ll be absorbed by Madeline Miller’s brilliantly reimagined Greek tragedy based on Homer’s The Iliad. Told from the viewpoint of Achilles’ best friend and lover, Patroclus, Miller’s novel seethes with eloquence, passion, and ultimately, tragedy. I may have known where the story was going, but Miller’s moving prose took me in directions I did not expect. In other words, if you’d like to cross off a good vehicular crying jag from your bucket list, you should really give the audiobook a spin. Bring your hankies. It’s worth it. And to the lady in the white Chevy Suburban who saw a middle-aged man sobbing inconsolably in the car next to her on the highway…there’s no need to worry. His life is fine. He just finished a really good book.

Please take a look at further readalikes in my list. Feel free to drop me a message with other fine suggestions!




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Television Up North

By Isaac H.

A number of people often express frustration that “there is nothing good on anymore.” Scripted, live-action American television has seen something of a decline. Replaced by reality shows, game shows and animated sitcoms. Not  to say there is anything inherently wrong with any of those genres. The lack of live action scripted content has led entire generations of Generation X’ers, Xennials, Millennials and Generation Z’ers to “cord cut” and get rid of cable outright. But ye need not abandon all hope, our neighbors up north have been churning out quality scripted content for decades. Continue reading »

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Terrifying Children in Books and Movies

by Lisa C.

*Please don’t mistake this for a post about books that terrify children – though that’s fun, too.

Ah, children. The apples of our eyes, our hope for a better future. So sweet. So innocent. So terrifying!

Still from The Bad Seed (1956)

Continue reading »

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