public uproar became a challenge to the young science of detection that took five years to solve.
Nearby, on the “Minnesota/Midwest” shelves, is a book with a table of contents that invites you into the backyards of a hundred Minnesota towns with populations “around 100.” If you’ve driven anywhere in our state, you will likely find that you have passed one of these towns or maybe stopped in for lunch. Manhattan Beach, population fifty-seven (in 2011), is a tourist town that once lured mobsters the likes of Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd to its 1929 lodge, and today that same lodge, on Big Trout Lake, invites summer visitors to fish, party, and enjoy a libation at the tiki bar on the beach. (This writer stayed there in midwinter.) Every town gets a fact-filled, two-page spread, and you’ll find that although they’ve seen better days, there’s life in the old towns yet. Check out Little Minnesota: A Nostalgic Look at Minnesota’s Smallest Towns.
If you’re a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels, you may have missed High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never, which is shelved in “Essays and Columns.” Kingsolver begins her essays with stories from her life and always finds deeper meanings beneath each tale or, in the case of the title story, beneath the hermit crab she accidentally packed in her suitcase before she left the Bahamas. When her school librarian assigned Barbara “Dewey Decimals” as a way to spend her study hall (and also get the library books catalogued and shelved), books “snapped me out of my surly adolescence…books that let me live other people’s lives.” What more do we expect from books than to let us live other people’s lives? Or let us in on other people’s knowledge?
And there is a very recent addition to the “1666 Authors” shelves—Beatrice Scheer Smith’s daughter Merrily has donated New England Pomona: Portrait of a Nineteenth Century Art Glass, a work years in the making that recounts the history of a little-known glassmaker. Studied and collected by Beatrice Smith and illustrated with magnificent photography, Pomona glass is beautiful and rare. Our Merrily undertook the editing of the book and saw to its publication in 2018. It shares a spot on the shelf with Beatrice’s previous book on an early botanical artist. What talent resides on these shelves!
When you wander through our many and various library collections and a title catches your eye, pull out that book and read a paragraph or two. The current pandemic should give us plenty of time for enjoyable solitary pastimes; it will likely not last forever.
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