Life of the Library

What’s new?

Library Love: Staff Picks!

posted: , by Elizabeth Hartsig
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture
Jeanette Nikki Quote

We’re embracing the joy, the cheesiness, and the heartache of love this February at Portland Public Library. The shelves are bursting with love-themed materials for all: Not On Love Alone, a cookbook for newlyweds; Nikki Giovanni’s Bicycles: Love Poems, Jeanne Córdova’s When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution, Ann Patchett’s memoir, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Karl A. Pillemer’s 30 Lessons for Loving, Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece

Here are a few Staff Picks from the library (and some pertinent quotations) to help warm your hearts throughout these cold winter days.

Gary Shteyngart Quote

Let’s kick off the love with a soundtrack to read by! Here’s Jim’s heart-wrenching staff pick: Maria Callas singing O Mio Babbino Caro in 1965.


The Language of Love: Fiction

For lovers of novels, short stories, or novels-in-verse…

Anne Carson


Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, Anne Carson

“Loosely based on the Greek myth of Geryon, a winged creature with a human face, Carson’s novel is about that particular flavor of love that is so easily tangled up with shame, loneliness and fear, that infatuation we are especially prone to as young people. It’s about being a monster and falling hard.” -Hazel 



The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

On Kundera’s novel: “Life is complex. Relationships are complex. We all have different needs.” -Scott



This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz

A favorite quotation from Junot Diaz’s stories of love:

“You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to herYou must remind her that you are there.You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.” 


You can find more fiction recommendations on love here, including Emma Hooper’s fantastic new novel “Etta and Otto and Russell and James,” James Baldwin’s classic “Giovanni’s Room,” Louise Erdrich’s “The Painted Drum” (on healing, and mothers and daughters, and loving oneself), Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood,” and Ali Smith’s myth-retelling, bright-light-of-a-love-story, “Girl Meets Boy.”

Ali Smith Quote

More More More: Children’s & Teen Picks

rosebudRosebud & Red Flannel, Ethel Pochocki

Illustrated by Mary Beth Owens

“The unlikely love story, set on a clothesline, of a delicately embroidered nightgown made in France and a pair of red long johns (irregulars) purchased in an Army/Navy surplus store.”




More More More Said the Baby, Vera B. Williams More more more

“I ‘love, love, love’ More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams. Love abounds and play is paramount when ‘babies are caught up in the air and given loving attention by a father, grandmother, and mother.’ Colorful, multicultural, and diverse, this book is perfect for sharing with your favorite preschooler.”



“A bit of mystery, a pinch of romance, a dash of class intersect with a deeply flawed prince, a beloved uncle, a fae race enslaved in this story about a girl who becomes quintessentially herself as she grows up.  Amid poison, slavery, murder and politics, this surprisingly lighthearted growing-up tale focuses on a girl and her sister as they become the adults they wish to be.”


The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

“Man-eating horses that come out of the ocean are not romantic. But two young teens betting everything on a deadly race while simultaneously falling for each other IS romantic. This book is tender, magical, and empowering, and the writing is superb. The audiobook is also superb (and a treat for fans of British accents).”


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling

HarryPotter.aspx “There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all.That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.”

—Albus Dumbledore

“I memorized this quote when I first read the book.

Love, the most powerful magic of all.

Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from Albus Dumbledore.”



 Love at the Movies: Film Picks


Secretary, directed by Steven Shainberg

“Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader star in Secretary, a date movie for the bondage and discipline crowd. Based on a story by Mary Gaitskill.” -Patti



ShopgirlShopgirl, directed by Anand Tucker

“I don’t often say this but, when it comes to Shopgirl, I liked the movie even more than the book. In this 2005 adaptation of his own novella, Steve Martin plays one part of a love triangle along with Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. The story plays out some insightful differences between personality types and how each character’s love is a wholly different feeling. While diehard Martin fans may grumble that this is not the Steve they used to know, he has only traded a little bit of his nonsense for a dose of reason. A far cry from another, more pointed, comedy that we have all come to love- Roxanne- this is still a worthy film for Valentine’s Day.” -Zeb

The Princess Bride Quotefinal

(Love Is) All There Is: Non-Fiction

all there isAllendeAll There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps, edited by Dave Isay

“An anthology that has such a generous variety of experiences of love in people’s own voices.”  -Priscilla

Paula, Isabelle Allende

“A wonderful memoir about the love between a mother and a daughter. ” -Brandie


You Are Happy, Margaret Atwoodrumi

“I drink tea,/ fingers curved around the cup. Impossible/ to duplicate these flavours…it’s your surprised body,/pleasure I like. I can even say it,/though only once and it won’t/ last:  I want this. I want/this.” -From the poem “There is Only One of Everything,” Brian’s pick from Margaret Atwood’s book of poetry.

 The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

“A thousand halfloves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.” -Raminta

The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, Richard Blanco


“For Love, I recommend ‘The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,’ by the poet Richard Blanco.  It’s a sweet memoir of his childhood growing up with his Cuban immigrant family in Miami, where all his relatives recreate the Cuba of their bittersweet memories.  It’s filled with the longings and dreams of his parents and grandparents to see their beloved Cuban homeland again.  And it’s the story of young Ricki caught between two worlds—one the world of his ancestors and the other his struggle to find his identity as a gay young man in a culture that refuses to accept such a possibility.  This memoir is filled with the love of family, country of origin and the hopes and struggles of young Richard growing up in two cultures.

It’s a great read!” -Sage



Tough Love



He’s Just Not That Into You, Greg Behrendt

“Sometimes you just need to face the truth. #toughlove.” -Sonya


Sadly: there are other kinds of love. Unrequited love. Love and loss. Thankfully: you can mine library materials for wisdom and guidance. For hope: there’s bell hook’s All About Love: New Visions, or Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, which collects her “Dear Sugar” columns on life, love, and relationships. Sugar observes: “You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”


If Music Be The Food of Love: Play On

Tom W. weighed in for music with Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band’s song “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me.” Enjoy the tremendously fine spoon, banjo, and fiddle-playing, as well as the poignant lyrics: “The only blues that’s on my mind, they’re the very meanest kind/The blues my naughty sweetie gives to me.” Here’s the band playing live:

If you enjoyed Jim Kweskin, check out his recording in the library on “Troubadours of the Folk Era.” For more jug band music, try “The Best of the Memphis Jug Band,” or “Ruckus Juice and Chitlins: Classic Recordings of the 1920’s and 30’s.



“Peel Slowly and See,” The Velvet Underground


“I’ve thought long and hard about all of the epic love stories contained within our collection, but I keep going back to The Velvet Underground whose songs so have so perfectly captured every emotion I’ve ever experienced about love – romantic or not: euphoria, melancholy, heartache, lovesickness, happiness, sadness, desperation, contentment.  The library has “Peel Slowly and See” which is comprised of so many of these amazing songs.” -Rachael


Bob Dylan’s song “Not Dark Yet” takes us home. “One of the great songs about love and loss, and no longer being in one’s younger years.” -Wendy

Alice Walker Quote

One Last Confirmation

A last quotation comes from Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty, a book so thick with thoughts on marriage, fidelity, friendship, family, and heartbreak that Smith might have easily titled it…On Love.  Here, the character Jerome is sitting quietly, mulling over his brother and sister. It’s a brief moment in the book, a beautiful recognition of him and them, their world and their being so strongly and simply together, even in the curl of their hair, in a love that might just always sustain them.

Zadie Smith quote

“People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two loves, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel — before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.”


Thanks for reading.

Check out Hoopla’s streaming music collection for your New Year’s Eve celebration!

posted: , by Sonya Durney
tags: Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture

Looking for some tunes to celebrate the New Year? PPL’s got you covered!  Check out these albums from Hoopla and our physical collection, selected by DJ Raminta of InterLibrary Loan.

Southern Funkin’ Soul


If you like this try  these suggestions from our physical collection:

James Brown, Foundations of Funk

El Barrio

In Yo’ Face

 I Just Love Jazz Piano

If you like this try:

The Essential Herbie Hancock

The Very Best of Diana Krall

Manhattan Jazz by Dick Hyman

Best of Classic Rock


If you like this try:
The Vault Classic Rock

Only Rock n’ Roll

I love the 80s

A Year of Reading.

posted: , by Elizabeth Hartsig
tags: Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture

booksIt’s the end of the year: a time of thinking over what’s gone by, and of all there is to come.

As 2014 comes to a close, we’ve been revisiting the words we loved this year.  Here’s a simple gathering of quotations (whether funny, thoughtful, beautiful, wry, or otherwise) that were enjoyed by a few of our staff members. We hope you’re reading (or listening, audiobook fans!) and loving words too, and that your new year will be as full of wonderful new words and ideas.






“At the outset, Verna had not intended to kill anyone.”

Book: Stone Mattress

Author: Margaret Atwood





“I call for help in silence; I make signals with the two arms of my soul, which are softer than algae, not, of course, to some friend firmly planted on the ground, but to a kind of crystallization of the tenderness whose seeming hardness makes me believe in its eternity.”

Book: Our Lady of the Flowers 

Author: Jean Genet  (trans. Bernard Frechtman)





“My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”

Book: Lucky Us

Author: Amy Bloom





“And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky–so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.”

Book: The Goldfinch

Author: Donna Tartt





“I want to thank you for coming out of the closet.  Again and again, over and over, for the rest of your life.  At school, at work, at your kid’s daycare, at your brother’s wedding, at the doctor’s office.  Thank you for sideswiping their stereotypes.  I never get the chance to come out of the closet because my closet was always made of glass.”

Book: Missed Her

Author: Ivan E. Coyote

-Emily R




“It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent—lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It’s as simple as that.”

Book: Fair Play

Author: Tove Jansson




“Are you really a witch?”

“No,” said the demon. “A witch is just a girl who knows her mind.”

Book: The Bread We Eat in Dreams

Author: Catherynne M. Valente




“For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat’s blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, and that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.”

Book: The Shipping News

Author: E. Annie Proulx




adichie“If you don’t understand, ask questions.

If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place.

Then listen some more.”

Book: Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie






“We read a lot of books. Children’s books mostly, because they’re always much more truthful than adult books. And much more entertaining,” said Mrs. Bunny.”

Book: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire!

Author: Polly Horvath






“We are not predestined to reach any goal, nor are we answerable to any power but our own. Only wisdom based on self-understanding, not piety, will save us.”

Book: The Meaning of Human Existence

Author: E.O. Wilson

-Steve P.




At the age of 19, Patrick Leigh Fermor walked across Europe in 1933-34.  Here he has just entered a barn in Germany where he will spend a snowy winter’s night:

plf“The composite smell of snow, wood, dust, cobwebs, mangolds, beetroots, fodder, cattlecake and cows’ breath was laced with an ammoniac tang from the plip-plop and the splash that sometimes broke the rhythm of the munching and the click of horns.”

Book:  A Time of Gifts

Author: Patrick Leigh Fermor







“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

Book: Bad Feminist

Author: Roxanne Gay






quiet“That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”

Book: Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Author: Franz Kafka, quoted by Susan Cain




Oh what a pleasant world ‘twould be, 

How easy we’d step thro’ it, 

If all the fools who meant no harm, 

Could manage not to do it!

Author: Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917), Irish soldier/poet

-Tom W


hall“But now the snowplough’s thunder signals itself, and I watch the revolving yellow light reflect upward into white prodigious air, and hear the great bruising barge roar and rumble past the house as a steel plow swooshes high waves of whiteness up and over the gutter almost to the front of the house, and buries the mailbox.”

Book: Seasons at Eagle Pond

Author: Donald Hall




becker“This is how a revolution begins.  It begins when someone grows tired of standing idly by, waiting for history’s arc to bend toward justice, and instead decides to give it a swift shove.”

Book: Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality

Author: Jo Becker




City of Readers

View Posts by Date:
Filter Posts:
Connect with the Library: