Camano Island Library Pilot Project Blog

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Summer

As I drove to work yesterday, the sun was out, there was mist rising off the water, a line of geese flew overhead (as a line of cars drove onto the island) and I thought "How did we ever think we could keep such a paradise a secret?" Like most of the Northwest, Camano Island is being discovered, and it's hard to share sometimes. (For the record, I lived on Camano Island 27 years ago, so I'm allowed some nostalgia for the "old days"!)

The arrival of fall often brings these thoughts to mind as we cling to our last warm days. If you're not quite ready to admit summer is over, there are a few books on our shelves that will help you keep that frame of mind. "Tales from the Torrid Zone: Travels in the Deep Tropics" by Alexander Frater is a memoir of the author's travels through Indonesia, Fiji and other tropical islands, and one reviewer describes it as "stories one hears at sundown on a tropical veranda while nursing a tumbler of whisky".

"The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty" by Julia Flynn Siler is mainly about the business of wine, but you do get to spend a fair amount of time in warm Napa Valley wine country.

"The Last Summer (of You and Me)" is the first adult novel by Ann Brashares, author of the very successful teen series "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". A few years ago, I worked for the Whatcom County Library System and we had a brilliant idea: as a prize for the Teen Summer Reading program, we'd buy a pair of jeans at the thrift store and have them autographed by Ann (who just so happened to be doing a book signing at the bookstore where I also worked). Picture this scene: in a room of 13-14 year old girls clutching their beloved copies of the Traveling Pants books, there's me (not a girl and way past 14) holding....a pair of pants. When I got to the table where Ann is signing, she hesitated for a moment (I can only imagine what she was thinking) until I explained the whole teen prize thing, after which she breathed a sigh of relief and said it was a great idea. Final note: the girl who ended up winning the autographed pants in a random drawing turned out to be a big fan of the books and she LOVED her prize!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Dark and Stormy Night

Those of us lucky enough to live in the Northwest endure (enjoy?) more than our share of gray days, none more so than when fall arrives. The dark overcast skies, the wind and the seemingly constant rain are the perfect companions for a cup of something warm -- and a great ghost story. Scary stories don't have quite the literary reputation of other genres (just ask Stephen King), but when you consider that one of the classic ghost stories is Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", that's not bad company. H. P. Lovecraft's literary reputation has been improving recently, and the Library of America edition of "Tales by H. P. Lovecraft" gives him a critical boost. His poetry doesn't work for me, but I enjoy his mythos tales like "The Rats in the Walls", and his influence on more recent writers is enormous. "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield isn't strictly a ghost story but it is a loving tribute to the gothic. And my candidate for scariest movie is "The Haunting" (the 1963 version with Julie Harris, please, NOT the version with Liam Neeson). For me, it's one of the very few films that's even better than the book it was based upon.
So what gives YOU the chills, and why do we enjoy being scared?