Posted in Adult, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, LGBTQI+, Teen & Young Adult

LGBTQI+ Graphic Novels to Read During Pride Month, or Anytime, Really

In a continuation of last week’s post centered on LGBTQI+ excellence in books and movies, please enjoy this list of graphic novels to celebrate Pride and the inherent talent and diversity within. Below, I highlight four graphic novels that are worth a look whether it’s Pride month or not. Book descriptions were sourced from publisher information.

Goldie Vance (2016) by Lilliam Rivera (ongoing series)

This series is what it might look like if Nancy Drew liked girls and had non-white friends. 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery utilizing her smarts, random skills, and connections with the hotel staff and various folks in town. Available on Hoopla.

The Backstagers (2017) by James Tynion IV 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Available on Hoopla. Ongoing series. 

Cosmoknights (2019) by Hannah Termpler

Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. It didn’t even matter that Tara was a princess… until one day it very much did matter, and Pan had to say goodbye forever. Years later, when a charismatic pair of off-world gladiators show up on her doorstep, she finds that life might not be as small as she thought. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down. Available on Hoopla.

Bingo Love (2018) by Tee Franklin

When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. Available on Hoopla. 

Additional LGBTQI+ graphic novels to celebrate Pride month with:

The Authority (2000) by Warren Ellis
Fence (2018) by CS Pacat
Gender Queer (2019) by Maia Kobabe
Lumberjanes (2015) by Noelle Stevenson
Mooncakes (2019) by Susanne Walker
Runaways (2006) by Brian K. Vaughn
Smile (2010) by Raina Telgemeier

All of the above titles can be found in the Monarch catalog. Most of the titles are available on Hoopla. In fact, Hoopla is host to hundreds of comic book and graphic novel titles, so no matter one’s interest area there is bound to be something that appeals. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting material or troubleshooting tech stuff. As always, we are thrilled to pieces to give reader’s advisory book recommendations whether it’s for Pride month or any other occasion.

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Film, LGBTQI+, Nonfiction

Celebrate Pride with LGBTQI+ Excellence

Happy Pride month! June is for celebrating queer culture and remembering the innovators and agitators who fought for, and continue to fight for gay rights and freedom. While there is much work to be done, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the progress made. Commemorate and celebrate along with the community by engaging with queer-created content. Below, I list books and movies to educate and entertain alongside the celebration.

Books 

Anyone who has been paying attention to publishing trends over the past decade should be pleased to notice the availability of more and more diverse books. Whether you’re talking romance, sci-fi, memoir, or history, there is something for everybody. And guess what? You don’t even need to be gay to enjoy all this great content.

In the Dream House: a Memoir (2019) by Carmen Maria Machado; considered one of the best books of 2019, Machado uses horror tropes to explore the impact of abuse in same-sex relationships.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017) by Mackenzie Lee; being gay in contemporary times is still, sadly, fraught with danger. This book explores the stifling conventions of 17th century nobility and how they impacted people who are not content to live within the bounds of convention. Lots of fun, with a third book in the series debuting this fall. 

Pet (2019) by Akwaeke Emezi; I have for sure blogged about this book minimum once before, and I will admit it’s likely I will blog about it again, but this book is so good. Just. So, so good. It’s fantasy, but real. It’s the future, but not too far away. Monsters come in all forms, and Pet examines them with great feeling and humanity. 

Sissy: a Coming-of-Gender Story (2019) by Jacob Tobias; assigned male at birth, Tobias uses their story to explore how a stringent gender binary is keeping us from fully being who we really are. Might want to read someplace you won’t get looked at funny for laughing out loud.

Wow, No Thank You (2020) by Samantha Kirby; Super funny collection of essays about the author’s life.

Movies

All About My Mother (1999) by Pedro Almodovar; considered one of Almodovar’s best. Riffing on golden age of Hollywood sensibilities and Betty Davis, this is the story of a mother’s journey across Spain to inform her estranged husband of the death of their son. 

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) This movie will devastate you. Don’t watch it alone and don’t watch it if you cannot stomach violence. Do watch it to gain some understanding about the dangers of being trans in a world that doesn’t want trans people to exist. Hillary Swank won Best Actress for her portrayal of Brandon Teena which now leads us to some fascinating conversations about trans actors representing themselves on screen. 

Moonlight (2016) directed by Barry Jenkins; this is hands-down one of the most beautiful movies ever made. We follow protagonist Chiron through three life phases as he grows from a boy into a man. Another worthy exploration of race and sexuality in America. And let’s not forget about the best acting of the year coming from Mahershala Ali as Juan, one of the only adults to show young Chiron an ounce of tenderness. Currently available on Kanopy. 

Paris is Burning (1990) directed by Jennie Livingston; this wonderful, shiny and bright documentary explores the African American and Latinx ballroom drag scene of 1980s Harlem against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, homophobia, transphobia, and racism. If you enjoy Ryan Murphy’s Pose, you have to watch Paris is Burning. I don’t make the rules here, just do it. 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) directed by Celine Sciamma; gorgeous 17th century love story between two women. Now available on Kanopy.

Many of the books and movies mentioned above can be found on Mead’s Pride book display, located on the first floor, until the end of June, 2021. All titles are available in the Monarch catalog, often in multiple formats, as well. Don’t see anything that grabs you? We are thrilled, THRILLED to help you find what you are looking for. That goes for any genre or topic piquing your interest at any particular time, diverse or not. Never hesitate to reach out for book recommendations or tech help, we love that stuff. And remember: just because we celebrate in June doesn’t mean we go without Pride all year long. 

Don’t forget to check back next week for a list of LGBTQI+ graphic novels!

Posted in Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Graphic Novels & Memoirs

Bookish Bingo: Read a Graphic Novel, Graphic Memoir, or Manga

How has your Bookish Bingo Challenge been going? We’re approaching the halfway point of 2021, so it is by no means too late to finish up a row, or start completely from scratch to reach your bingo goal. Not sure what the Bookish Bingo Challenge is, or need a copy of the bingo sheet? Click HERE. Also, take a look at past installments of Bookish Bingo blog posts for inspiration HERE

This week’s post focuses on the “read a graphic novel, graphic memoir, or manga” square. My public school experience happened to line up with the place in time when we stopped saying “comic books” and started saying “graphic novels”. Really high-falutin’ and academic types might even have uttered “sequential art” when trying to frame comic books as a serious literary and artistic medium. My seventh grade english teacher quickly did an about-face at my proposed book report on Art Spiegleman’s seminal Maus, when told that it had won a Pulitzer Prize that year; a first for any comic. Anyone familiar with this remarkable title will understand how Spiegleman’s work helped usher in a truly golden age of graphic novels, manga, comics, comix, funny pages, or however you know the medium. Take a look at the list below for some additional high-chroma recommendations.

Graphic novels:

Black Panther: World of Wakanda (2017) written by Roxanne Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates; gone are the days when comics were known for shoddy writing. Gay and Coates are some of the country’s greatest living authors, so we should all take a moment to appreciate the depth of talent at work in all aspects of contemporary graphic novels.

Check Please! (2018) by Ngozi Ukazu; there’s a trope in queer fiction in which gay protagonists are subjected to unceremonious deaths, overt gay-bashing, or some other violent consequence of homophobia. I’m begging you to read this book not only because it is an absolute delight, but gay characters are defined by their thoughts and actions, not by their trauma. Also: PIE!

A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories (1978) by Will Eisner; widely considered the first modern graphic novel. Eisner is so important to the medium they named the award for industry achievement and innovation after him. Take a look at the list of Eisner award-winning work HERE.

Love and Rockets (1981-1996) by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez; I, personally, cannot talk about American comic history without mentioning the Hernandez brothers. They gave voice to minorities and women in an industry that still isn’t always welcoming to these populations, as well as define the post-underground generation of comic artists.

Usagi Yojimbo (1987-present) by Stan Sakai; follow masterless bunny samurai Miyamoto Usagi around a 17th century Japan populated with anthropomorphic animals. This long-running series is packed full of awesome action, Japanese mythology, folklore, and humor. Does Usagi seem familiar? It might be because he has been known to join the Ninja Turtles on adventures, as well.

Here’s NPR’s list of 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels from 2017 for additional reading recommendations. 

Graphic memoirs:

El Deafo (2014) by Cece Bell; perennial favorite of middle-grade readers, and rightly so. Full of heart, humanity, and humor.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007) by Alison Bechdel; you may also recognize Bechdel’s name from the eponymous “Bechdel Test” which is a simple if imperfect way to evaluate female representation in fiction. Read more about it HERE, because honestly it’s fascinating.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1991) by Art Spiegelman; aforementioned as perhaps THE book that helped comics reach mainstream notoriety.

Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood (2004) by Marjane Satrapi; I learned more about the 1979 Iranian Revolution from this book than the entirety of my formal education. See also: the animated movie adaptation.

Your Black Friend and Other Strangers (2018) by Ben Passmore; named one of NPR’s favorite comics of all time.

Need even MORE excellent graphic memoir recommendations? Take a look at the list assembled over at Bookriot

Manga:

Akira (1984) by Katsuhiro Otomo; the manga that launched a thousand obsessions. As with many middle-Americans, Akira was my first encounter with anime which then extrapolated into my first encounter with manga. The influence of both film and book on modern media cannot be overstated. Watch the movie and marvel at its late 80s technical excellence and totally badass soundtrack.   

High School Debut (2004-2013) by Kazune Kawahara; beloved romance series known for its straightforward charm. 

O Maidens in Your Savage Season (2017-present) by Mari Okada; this one comes highly recommended by fellow librarian Carol, and if one can trust anyone’s opinion, it’s hers. This is a great title for women and girls who are tired of seeing themselves objectified from hell to breakfast in manga (and plenty of American media as well, to be fair). 

One Piece (1997-present) by Eiichiro Oda; this long-running, best-selling adventure series will publish its 100th volume later this year.

Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror (1998) by Junji Ito; horror manga tends to be filled with super gross, intense depictions of gore and violence. This three-volume series goes easier on the reader without scaling back the genuine creep-factor. 

I will admit manga is a personal blind spot for me, so please take a look at THIS list from Bookriot for further recommendations. One thing I love about manga is that many tend to be published as long-running series, so if one book is appealing there are likely to be dozens more (looking at you, One Piece).

For a great introduction to the main genres of manga, take a look at THIS excellent guide published by the New York Public Library. 

At one time the word “comics” might have conjured the blurry, three-color lithography of Sunday papers, superhero rags made famous by DC and Marvel, and not a lot else. Superheroes and newspaper funnies are still valid and important, but the form has come a long way over the years, which benefits us all. Framed as a gateway to broader reading, many reluctant readers morphed into avid book lovers after connecting with a graphic novel they loved. My gateway comics were Archie Comics and Herge’s Tintin; these were the first books I ever read on my own & cemented my positive relationship with reading. Hopefully, the books and lists above will provide Bookish Bingo players ample inspiration of their own. All titles listed above are available via the Monarch catalog. For help requesting materials or additional book recommendations including but not limited to bingo square challenges, we would love to hear from you via phone (920-459-3400), email (publicservices@meadpl.org), chat, or in-person.

Posted in Adult, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Book I Have Been Saving to Read on Vacation

What’s your favorite coping method? Lately I’ve got two. First, I’ve been daydreaming and scheming over the past 14 months about having a mini road trip adventure. Soon I will leave my dark hovel and re-enter the bright, shining world, and when that time arrives I know which books are coming with. Which leads me to coping mechanism #2; keeping an eternal, endless reading list that will never get shorter, only longer. Always longer. Check out my list below for some summer reading inspiration of your own. What’s that? It’s not officially summer til June 20th? Why don’t you tell someone who hasn’t been living in their head for the better part of a year and a half, because I will never listen.

Below, I list my top three genres and the books I’ve been saving to read on the road, along with their runners-up.

The HORROR:


The Twisted Ones (2019) by T. Kingfisher

Some will know T. Kingfisher as Ursula Vernon, author of the very popular juvenile graphic novel series, Dragonbreath. She felt the need to create a pen name to distinguish the adult titles from the juvenile titles, and after enjoying work published under both names, I can see why. Kingfisher spins dark fairytale-adjacent stories filled with sinister characters, terrifying big boss-style monsters, and genre-defying badass women. Check out some of her short fiction HERE. I’ll look for a spooky roadside motel near the woods to read this one at night. 

Here are some additional titles to make your skin crawl:

The Luminous Dead (2019) by Caitlin Starling
The Remaking (2019) by Clay McLeod Chapman
The Library at Mount Char (2016) by Scott Hawkins
Behind Closed Doors (2016) by BA Paris


The MYSTERY:


And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie

Summertime is murder mystery time, specifically Agatha Christie time. There’s just something about the warmth and the light that makes me want to read her work. One would think that after being a Christie stan for more than two decades I would have already gotten to this gold-star standard, but no. Along with Death on the Nile, The ABC Murders, and A Caribbean Murder, And Then There Were None is considered among her greatest novels. I have seen minimum one movie adaptation but have since forgotten whodunnit, but should know the solution to the mystery by the end of my vacation, if all goes according to plan. Ideally, picnicking somewhere gorgeous.

And Then There Were None is also a fascinating example of how beloved media can, and should change over time. The original title of this book featured the worst racial epithet I can think of and was also known at one time as “Ten Little Indians”. To read more about the racism subsequent publishers have done their best to purge from Christie’s work, take a look at THIS article. It’s an apt topic to explore and discuss while everyone is so het up about “cancel culture”. Some things should be relegated to the past, and unnecessary and negative portrayals of racial stereotypes is one of those things.

More mysteries to read in the sunshine:


Secondhand Spirits (2012) by Juliet Blackwell (available in Overdrive/Hoopla)
The Devotion of Suspect X (2011) by Keigo Higashino
Murder In G Minor (2016) by Alexia Gordon (Only available on Hoopla)
Naked In Death (1995) by JD Robb

The SPACE OPERA:


The Outside (2019) by Ada Hoffman

This book checks a lot of boxes for me; outer space, giant space station, giant space station disaster, artificial intelligence, neurodivergent protagonist, woman author. The past decade has been a cavalcade of excellent women and femme-penned speculative fiction and scifi, all to the credit of the genre. Reading about far off galaxies and hitherto unknown beings gives me a sense of calm and peace that I can’t articulate. I’m going to read this at an outdoor patio while I wait to be brought something delicious to eat and drink.

And EVEN MORE space operas:

The Empress of Forever (2019) by Max Gladstone
Salvation (2018) by Peter F. Hamilton
The Stars Are Legion (2017) Kameron Hurley
Too Like the Lightning (2016) by Ada Palmer

Will I actually end up reading the books I have picked out? No way to tell. Chances are that I will find many distracting and cruddy paperbacks in secondhand stores while I gallivant far and wide.
All listed titles are available through the Monarch catalog unless otherwise specified. Don’t see any titles that float your boat? Why not give the Your Next Five Books tool a try? Never hesitate to reach out for tech help, book recommendations, or encouraging words. Email publicservices@meadpl.org or call 920-459-3400, option 4. Oh, and have a fantastic vacation.

Posted in Uncategorized

Additional Resources for Helping Kids Process Troubling News Events

It would not be overstating the impact of the last year to think about each day as a fresh catastrophe. No one would try to deny that current events have been especially challenging to negotiate, even as a fully grown adult. What has it been like for children? Their shorter time on the planet means they do not possess the needed context to process the numerous crises that continue to wash over us with each news cycle. We published a resource guide early in January in the wake of the capitol insurgence, which you can read HERE. We also assembled a list of anti-racist resources, which you can read HERE. This post expands upon those resources with a focus on anti-racism and social justice. Let’s give our children the tools to approach the world with knowledge and compassion.

Picture Books for Younger Children

Learn more about the context for this book from a brief interview with the author, Marianne Celano HERE.

Books for Older Readers (8-12)

For Parents

Articles

Websites

A huge THANK YOU to Susan and Erica for assembling this list of resources. All listed books can be found in the Monarch catalog. Do not hesitate to reach out for troubleshooting help requesting material or for additional anti-racist resources.

Posted in Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Film, Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo Challenge: Watch a Movie with Subtitles on Kanopy

I don’t know about you but I have closed captioning on my TV at all times. Whether it’s due to my hearing, or wonky volume settings on the actual television, I can’t make hide nor hair of certain programs without subtitles. Since I like to have CC on anyway, I’m baffled when people won’t watch a foreign film because they “don’t want to read a movie”. Hey to each her own. This leads me to the latest installment of blog posts related to a square on Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo card: Watch a Movie with Subtitles on Kanopy. If you have never used Kanopy before, why not give it a try and knock off a bingo square at the same time? Below, I listed several excellent films that as of this post’s writing, are available on Kanopy.

To access films with subtitles, log in and click on “BROWSE”. Hover over “MOVIES” and select “WORLD CINEMA” from the drop down menu. The following screen will provide lists of films by world region or interest area such as “Award Winners”.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

Vampire movies are pretty sweet, right? Nothing better UNLESS it’s an Iranian vampire movie with a feminist tilt. Shot in sumptuous black and white, the girl, of walking home alone at night fame, is actually an undead eldritch horror wandering the streets of Bad City and eating people. The compelling and beautiful cinematography is punctuated by alternating scenes of horrific violence and/or tender understanding between adrift souls, and those who lack them. The Middle Eastern Cinema section of Kanopy contains dozens and dozens of movie titles that have probably never played at an American cinema, and certainly not in Sheboygan. I, for one, relish the chance to see a story narrated in an unfamiliar tongue, and still understand what the hell is going on, all praise be to subtitles. 

Here are some other films from the Middle Eastern Cinema collection on Kanopy:

  • Halfaouine (1995) directed by Ferid Boughedir
  • Timbuktu (2014) directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
  • The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) directed by Abbas Kiarostami
  • The Women’s Balcony (2016) directed by Emil Ben-Shimon
  • Women Without Men (2009) directed by Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari

Inferno (1980) directed by Dario Argento

Singling out a Dario Argento film to talk about Italian cinema is kind of fudging things since his productions lacked, how do you say? Ah yes, continuity, when it came to the language being spoken on-screen. His actors would often not speak the language in the script or even be able to talk to one another, and had to phonetically memorize lines only to have them overdubbed in post-production. The result is that single scenes careen back and forth from English to Italian and back without the actors breaking stride. Inferno is Argento at his creepy giallo best. See also: Suspiria (1977), also available on Kanopy. Similar to Inferno, Suspiria is light on plot, heavy on gorgeous color-saturated framing, and an insane prog-rock soundtrack courtesy of Goblin. Oh! And Udo Kier shows up eventually (heart eyes emoji).

Here are some other Italian-language films available on Kanopy:

  • 8 ½ (1963) directed by Federico Fellini
  • The Dinner (2014) directed by Ivano de Matteo
  • Il Posto (1961) directed by Ermanno Olmi
  • Love And Anarchy (1973) directed by Lina Wertmuller
  • Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963) directed by Vittorio De Sica

The Host (2006) directed by Bong Joon-ho 

Ope! Looks like I managed to talk about all horror movies again! Sorry, totally not sorry. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who won a bunch of Oscars for 2019’s Parasite, The Host represents his third outing as a director. It broke screen and attendance records when it was released in Korea and remains one of their top-grossing films to this day. And, much like Parasite, thinking about The Host in hindsight feels like finding new secrets in a puzzlebox. Elements of slapstick, horror, melodrama, political satire, and more are in the fabric of this production. Those who love their monster movies with a huge dose of heart and humor will be delighted by The Host.

Here are some other Korean-language films available on Kanopy:

  • I Saw the Devil (2011) directed by Ji-woon Kim
  • Lady Vengeance (2005) directed by Park Chan-wook
  • Mother (2010) directed by Bong Joon-ho
  • The Royal Tailor (2014) directed by Wonsuk Lee
  • Seoul Station (2014) directed by Sang-ho Yeon

Fear not, Kanopy has non-horror movies for the non-spooky population. It’s just the direction my personal gravity has been pointing these days. Check back with the Mead blog often to get suggestions for other bingo squares throughout the year. As always, do not hesitate to reach out for troubleshooting help with tech stuff, or for additional recommendations. Before you know it, you’ll have a BINGO!

Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult

Bookish Bingo Challenge 2021: Make a New Recipe from a Cookbook

If you haven’t already heard, Mead Library assembled a 2021 reading challenge in bingo form. We think it’s a fun way to push past your reading comfort zone while working towards a goal. Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo cards can be picked up in-house at the first floor desk, or click HERE to download and print at home. If you are interested in more community while working through the challenges, consider joining our Goodreads group HERE

Check in on Mead’s blog periodically throughout the year for reading suggestions that focus on a particular square. I’m getting things rolling today with my personal favorite square, Make a new recipe from a cookbook. I LOVE cookbooks. Like, I’ll just read em like a magazine. What’s not appealing about the big, colorful photos, the possibilities, the kitchen anecdotes, the food history. Love it. Below, I list my recent favorite cookbooks and what it was like to cook a new (to me) recipe from each of them.


Jerusalem: a Cookbook (2012) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Yotam Ottolenghi might not be a household name in every home, but it should be. He and his business/cooking partner Sami Tamimi have been producing gorgeous cookbooks since 2008. The books tend to stick with a similar format but shift in focus. Jerusalem, for instance, explores the food eaten by the authors growing up as an Israeli and Palestinian, respectively, in the city of Jerusalem. Each recipe features a color photo of the dish as well as a diary-like entry contextualizing the food in relation to the authors’ memories. 

I chose to make Mejadra which is considered comfort food in the Middle East. The recipe called for a ton of crispy crunchy onions which are then mixed with lentils, rice, and warming spices that have been bloomed in oil. It was deceptively simple and called for such humble ingredients that it verged on shocking how delicious it turned out. Simple ingredients can yield fabulous results. This is the versatile kind of recipe I could make for a week’s worth of lunches, or serve to a group along with dinner. 

Well Fed, Flat Broke (2015) by Emily Wight

This delightful cookbook first passed through my hands back when I was a library page. One of the many perks of the job was seeing new material come through the building. I would usually have a little stack to take home with me at the end of shift, and Well Fed, Flat Broke caught my attention thusly. I liked the pretty photography of the finished recipes. I liked the chatty, familiar way blogger Emily Wight wrote introductions to chapters and recipes. I liked the concept of cooking great food with inexpensive ingredients. It just grabbed me, you know? I’m still not cool with some of Wight’s staple ingredients, such as SPAM. I just can’t do it. I just can’t. My apologies to the SPAM-stans among us, but it is a bridge too far. 

The recipe I decided to try was the underwhelming-sounding “Breakfast Beans”. I am a bean enthusiast. Beans are cheap, plentiful, tasty, versatile, and shelf-stable. Basically, I had to saute diced celery with garlic before adding a can of white beans, some rosemary, and the surprise ingredient of the day, fish sauce. After adding in a few more things, the whole concoction is served over toast and topped with a fried egg. And brother, I got to tell you, one sure-fire way to get me to eat a thing is just put a fried egg on top. The dish turned out great and I know I have another go-to recipe under my belt for when I don’t want to eat a fried egg all by itself. 

The Enchilada Queen Cookbook (2016) by Sylvia Casares

Mexican food, or more accurately Tex-Mex, is my favorite food to cook. I love the big, bold flavor that comes from chilis and cumin and garlic. I love that the ingredients in Tex-Mex cooking tend to be inexpensive and readily at hand, which is a running theme in my cookbook consumption. I also love the family aspect of Tex-Mex cooking, since most recipes yield quantities meant to feed a crowd. 

In the before-times, I would spend all day, literal hours, making elaborate trays of enchiladas from scratch to feed my loved ones around a big table. While a communal meal is off the (dinner) table for the time being, I found that during Safer-At-Home, cooking huge quantities of food was soothing, and hey, it freezes pretty well, too. The enchiladas in this cookbook are the best I’ve ever made, but I was also pleased to find the non-enchilada recipes to be more than solid. I made Sopa de Fideo, or vermicelli soup for the first time back in the depths of April 2020. It’s basically Tex-Mex Spaghettios but actually good to eat. It’s a really forgiving recipe and does not require the rigor that some of the other recipes call for. Sylvia Caseres’ The Enchilada Queen Cookbook helped take my cooking from tentative to confident, which is what any cookbook worth its salt and seasoning should do.

Here are some additional popular and beautiful cookbooks to get your culinary juices flowing:

The cookbooks listed above are all available in the Monarch catalog, often in multiple formats. If none of the selected titles are making your brain spark, please note Mead Library and the broader Monarch library system have access to literally THOUSANDS of cookbooks. We can help find the right cookbook for anyone based on regional cuisine, dietary needs, and complexity. As always, we are here to help connect people to the library materials they need, cookbook or not. Never hesitate to reach out for recommendations and troubleshooting, and enjoy your Bookish Bingo odyssey all of 2021.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fake News-Spotting; a Brief How-To

This week has been fraught by intense, rapidly changing news cycles. With so much information being released online at once it can be tricky, verging on the impossible for the uninitiated, to discern fact from fiction. Below, we have compiled some quick tips to help information-seekers hone in on quality online news sources. 

Here are some basic steps to keep in mind when you are evaluating your news source:

  • Consider the source Read more than the article you clicked on. Read the “about us” information. What is the site’s mission? What is their contact information? If these things are lacking it may be a sign that your news source is suspect. 
  • Don’t just read the headlines Headlines often use inflammatory language to get clicks. Make sure to read the article to understand what is really being reported on. 
  • Author check! Who wrote the article? Are they credible? Do a quick check to find out whose words you are reading. 
  • Supporting Sources If supporting sources are given, click the links. Clicking the links allows the opportunity to check if the information being used actually supports the story.
  • DATE CHECK! This one is all-caps shouting because I see this on social media all the time. Old stories do not necessarily relate to or support current events. 
  • Satire check! Are you accidentally reading news from a joke site? Even after a year like 2020, if the information being reported seems too outlandish, it is worth your time to dig deeper. The most famous example of satirical news is The Onion which I have known fully grown adults to fall for as legitimate news. 
  • Confirmation Bias Check! Our beliefs color our perception, so it’s important to reflect on personal opinions that can cloud judgement. 
  • Librarian Check! When all else fails and you still feel uncertain, your friendly local librarians were BORN to help you find quality, reliable news sources. 
Continue reading “Fake News-Spotting; a Brief How-To”
Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

Introducing: 2021 Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge!


Above: Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo card. Pick up a copy at the first floor desk or download and print your own HERE

Returning to work or school after the holidays can be such a complete bummer. Pour some social distancing fatigue, light sedition, and general pandemic horror on top of that and welcome yourself to 2021, or The Year We Hope Won’t Totally Suck. What do we do, however, to get ourselves to look forward and not back? How do we make it through another freezing and drab Wisconsin winter after all that? It is with pleasure that I announce my new favorite distraction: Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge. Here’s how it works: 

List your title, used only once, and submit your completed Bingo – down, across or diagonal – to publicservices@meadpl.org or in-person at Mead Public Library to receive a small prize and an additional entry in the Summer Library Program drawing for your first Bingo. If you complete the Bingo card, and submit it by December 31, 2021, you will be entered into a drawing for a surprise gift.

Continue reading “Introducing: 2021 Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge!”
Posted in Adult, Fiction

New Year, New Books

According to the New York Times list of best selling books, some likely suspect heavy hitters top the list for 2020 including James Patterson and Ernest Cline. While I totally understand the comfort of a favorite author, why not ring in the New Year with some new authors? Below, I listed three best-selling books or authors of the year and their lesser-known read-alike counterparts.

Did you like Ready Player Two (2020) by Ernest Cline? Try Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (2015) by David Wong. 

Ernest Cline hit the big time in 2011 with his massively popular Ready Player One. You read it. I read it. The neighbor kid read it. It was a satisfying, if vacuous bit of distracting fun, and while I haven’t read the sequel, I suspect RP2 is much the same. Where RP1 was heavy on pop-culture references and 1980s nostalgia, David Wong is all about the future, baby! In Futuristic Violence, protagonist Zoey Ashe unexpectedly inherits billions from her estranged father. She and her cat Stench Machine are then forced to contend with a city full of jacked up monster men out to live-stream her demise. I’ve been a fan of Wong since his days as editor-in-chief over at Cracked, and his genre fiction does not disappoint. How funny is this book? Two words: burrito drone. On the other side of the funny coin is some truly gut-churning (futuristic) violence, so a big heads-up to you on that. 

Continue reading “New Year, New Books”