WA Secretary of State Blogs

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa.

Thursday, April 21st, 2016 Posted in Articles, Washington Reads | No Comments »

your heart is muscle the size of a fistYour Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. By Sunil Yapa. (New York, NY: Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, 2016. 312 pp.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

This is not a nice book. This is not a pleasant book. But it may be an important one. Parts of it are quite horrific, just plain awful. The descriptions of police brutality will curdle your blood, at least they did mine. This novel tells the story of the protests that accompanied the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle in 1999, and the violent police efforts to clear the streets of what began, at least, as a peaceful demonstration.

Most of the reviews and blurbs I encountered prior to reading the book, tend to focus on one main character, a teen who gets caught up in the protest almost by accident. But the story is actually told from the perspective of several individuals, including two or three of the protesters, several of the cops, including the Chief of Police, who turns out to be the teenager’s father (!), and one of the diplomats, hailing from Sri Lanka, who plans to attend the meetings. We get right inside their heads, and experience what they were thinking and feeling as the events unfold.

The book is well-written–the prose is poetic, even beautiful in many instances. You have to admire the author’s skill and his dedication, and his willingness to tackle a topic of this kind, even if reading it was an effort, and not something I would willingly put myself through again. But for anyone who wants to really experience this important episode in Seattle history, and can tolerate graphic descriptions of violence to get there, it is a powerful read, and one you won’t soon forget.

ISBN: 978-0-316-38653-1

Not yet available at WSL Northwest Collections or Washington Talking Book & Braille Library.

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Washington Reads | No Comments »


My Sister’s Grave. By Robert Dugoni. (Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2014. 410 pp.)

Recommendation by Carolyn Petersen, Assistant Program Manager, Library Development

Tracey Crosswhite became a detective with the Seattle Police Department as a result of her younger sister’s murder. Tracey never was convinced that the man convicted and serving time for her sister’s murder was the true perpetrator. When Sarah’s remains are at last discovered, Tracey thought justice would be served at last.  Instead the repercussions for the small town in the Cascade Mountains where Tracey and Sarah grew up are not at all what Tracey expected.   This title is an engrossing cross between a murder mystery and a legal thriller. If you like books by Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille, then author Robert Dugoni is an author you should investigate.

ISBN-13: 978-1477825570

Available in the Pacific Northwest Collection at NW 813.6 DUGONI 2014
Braille and Digital Book editions available for Washington residents unable to read standard print through WTBBL.

Thurs. December 11th Book Talk – JOHN TORNOW

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For the Public | No Comments »

tornow book
Courtesy of the Author


Washington State Library will host author Bill Lindstrom at a book talk featuring his recently published novel John Tornow: Villain or Victim? The untold story of the “Wildman of the Wynooche”.

“The book is about John Tornow, alleged killer of six men. The author introduces a far more compassionate individual seeking to be left alone in the solace of the woods he so much enjoyed.”
–XLibris, publisher.

Join us for this fascinating book talk:

Thursday, December 11 at 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Washington State Library
6880 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501

Books will be available for purchase at this event.

For more information, call 360-704-5221.

Read more about the author.




What would you do on a rainy day?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For the Public | No Comments »

From the desk of State Librarian Rand Simmons

Graphic from the National Weather Service Graphic from the National Weather Service

It isn’t unusual to have rain, even constant rain, in Western Washington this time of year. But the current predictions are a bit more extreme. We are expecting one to three inches of rain in South Puget Sound area and Mason County may have flooding. So, I pondered this morning as I drove in to work, what I would do if I had the time off on a rainy day. I posed the same question to my staff and here are some of their answers in the order received:

  1. Read the entire “F” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia cover to cover. [Me: seriously?]
  2. Re-read some historical fiction, such as My Antonia, by Willa Cather or Scott Odell’s Sara Bishop, from my early teen reading classes.
  3. Read Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith. It will get you through any rainy day.
  4. Curl up with a good book or someone who has read one!

Did I mention all these people work in a library?

  1. Read your favorite books from childhood! Matilda by Roald Dahl and a cup of hot chocolate makes any rainy day cozy.
  2. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes. They never get old.
  3. I always snuggle up with a Nancy Drew Mystery.
  4. One of my rainy day favorites: Ella Fitzgerald and The Inkspots – “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”.

Now we’re groovin’.

  1. Light a fire in the fireplace, bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and have a family read aloud.
  2. Heat milk, add Nestlé’s syrup, find your miniature marshmallows; have yourself a cup of hot chocolate while curled up in your most comfy chair reading a favorite quick read and escapist adventure, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Food and reading, always a good choice, but remember to wash your hands before you turn pages.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some other staff ideas. In the meantime, tell me, what would you do on a rainy day?

The Drifter by Susan Wiggs

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 Posted in Washington Reads | No Comments »


The Drifter. By Susan Wiggs (Don Mills, Ont. : Mira, 2003?. 376 pp. Reprint Ed.)

Recommendation by:
Carolyn Petersen, Assistant Program Manager, Library Development, Tumwater, WA.

The town of Coupeville on Whidbey Island in 1894 is the setting for this historical romance.  Coupeville residents have reluctantly accepted female physician Leah Mundy as they don’t have many other options.  Leah guards her reputation and her heart until she wakes up to find a gun barrel in her face.  On the other end of the gun is Jackson Underhill who drags her to his sailboat to heal his female companion.  Both Leah and Jackson have secrets which complicate a budding romance. Susan Wiggs is a capable author who provides a good mix of historical detail, attractive characters and a strong plot to produce a sensual romantic read to enjoy on a cold winter evening.

ISBN-13: 978-0778300038

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 WIGGS 2003?
Available as an eReader edition.
Not available as an talking book, or as a Braille edition.

Free Noontime Event at State Library, 4/25/2013

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Raising Livestock in Washington & the State Wolf Management Plan

Thurs. April 25th, 2013 @ 12 p.m.; Washington State Library Point Plaza East 6880 Capitol Blvd., Tumwater, WA.  Room 221 – doors at 11:45


Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA) Executive Vice-President Jack Field, along with former WCA President and Thurston County rancher Rick Nelson, will speak on issues related to raising cattle and ranching under the Washington State Wolf Management Plan.  They will also discuss rancher’s concerns for their livelihood as wolf packs increase throughout the state.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association was established as the Washington State Cattle and Horse Raiser’s Association in 1926 in Okanogan County where the first county cattlemen’s association had been organized in 1915.

The WCA has provided a unified voice for Washington beef producers for over 80 years. The association promotes innovative rangeland and livestock management and works to protect and preserve the cattle industry in Washington.

For more info or to RSVP, call or email the Washington State Library, 1-360-704-5221

EveryoneOn, Libraries, and Digital Literacy

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

The EveryoneOn launch is Thursday, March 21, 2013.

Teacher and students in college EveryoneOn is a national campaign powered by Connect2Compete, a national nonprofit organization bringing together leaders from communities, the private sector, and leading foundations. Through EveryoneOn programs and the power of technology, the lives of Americans will be improved – regardless of their age, race, geography, income, or education level.

The use of technology to access educational content is necessary to ensure future generations can compete in the global economy and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

Connect2Compete will help Americans access technology through three exciting offers: free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers.

View the April 25th C2C PSA video at http://everyoneon.org/about-us.

EveryoneOn has the reach to distribute PSA materials to 33,000 media outlets nationwide.

EveryoneOn has an SMS text-based message response program to help people find free computer and Internet training. 

English speakers text CONNECT to 30364. Spanish speakers text CONECTA to 30364.

EveryoneOn has a toll-free 1-855 phone number to help people find free computer and Internet training. 

People can call 1-855-387-9166 to find free computer and Internet training classes near them.

EveryoneOn has a website where people can use an online training locator tool.

Computer users can link to EveryoneOn.org, type in their zip code or their city and state to find free computer and Internet training classes near them. http://everyoneon.org/ and http://www.connect2compete.org/

All of the TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs from the EveryoneOn campaign direct people to one or more of the resources named above and will connect people to local digital literacy training providers.

EveryoneOn also has a Facebook presence and is on Twitter too.

Find EveryoneOn at http://www.facebook.com/EveryoneOn and #EveryoneOn

Libraries have been key players in providing computer and information literacy training and now are key players in ensuring the residents of their communities have access to digital literacy training.

EveryoneOn has a national reach but will also be very visible at the local community level during the three-year campaign. Libraries need to continue to be seen as meeting community needs in these very important ways. Entering information about your library’s digital literacy services into the EveryoneOn training tool will create additional awareness of your library for all of your community to see.

Want to learn more?

The EveryoneOn campaign toolkit is now available!

The Ad Council has created resources to describe the importance of EveryoneOn and to promote digital literacy in local communities. Libraries can begin using these materials at any time if they are ready and interested. Additional resources will continue to become available in the coming months. The toolkit currently includes:

  • Background information
  • Downloadable posters and graphics
  • Tips on using the campaign materials and spreading the word

NEXT STEP:  In the coming weeks, libraries will be invited to view a webinar that will discuss EveryoneOn, the toolkit materials and how they can be used to support these efforts.

REMINDER:  The campaign launches on March 21, 2013, and several cities are working directly with Connect2Compete to host a local event to support EveryoneOn. We look forward to additional activities and roll-outs in communities across the US over the next three years!

Intrigue and Adventure in the Cave of Secrets

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 Posted in Washington Reads | 1 Comment »

Cave of Secrets. By Hal Burton. Lilliwaup, Washington: Hal Burton Publishing, 2002. 224 p.

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Place, specifically the Olympic coast “north of Grays Harbor County, where US Highway 101 turns inland and most of the coastal region along the shores of the Pacific is accessible only by old logging roads and hiking trails” plays a major role in this regional novel. According to the book’s Prologue:

It is speculated, though never proven, that the first explorers to the coastal region of Washington were monks from China. Several accounts have been found in Chinese court records that tell of missionary trips to the Aleutian Islands and as far south as Baja, California.

And on one of those mythical accounts, dating from 499 AD, hangs this tale of adventure and treasure. First off, the story briefly recreates the actual expedition, and what it might have been like for those early intrepid travelers from another continent. Then we shift rapidly to 1981, as Chuck Coolridge, UW PhD student in ancient Chinese history, having found some tantalizing historical records in Taiwan, mounts an expedition to try and locate any possible remnants of the original expedition these many hundreds of years later.

Further complicating the story is the mystery, never solved, of a young man who went missing on the very same stretch of Olympic Peninsula coastline back in the late 60’s. Two of his friends from the time, being familiar with the area, are recruited to help with the current search. Throw in a nosy Seattle newspaper reporter, and a spy working for the current Chinese government (!), and these disparate factors combine for a fast-paced adventure story.

Libraries and librarians often tend to look down their collective noses at self-published books such as this one, and not entirely without justification. While the writing in this book does not always measure up to sophisticated reader’s expectations, the intriguing nature of the story line soon draws the reader in, and the action and suspense carry you on through.

ISBN: 0-9725707-0-5

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 BURTON 2002.
Available in an eBook edition
Not available as a talking book, or as a Braille edition.

New Billy Frank Jr. Biography from the Washington State Legacy Project

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 Posted in Washington Reads | 1 Comment »

Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank, Jr.  By Trova Heffernan. (Olympia, Wash.: The Washington State Heritage Center Legacy Project; Seattle: in association with University of Washington Press, ©2012.)

With his father, Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr. reaches back 10 years before statehood. The long history of Indian people in the Northwest inspired Frank to help unite the state and Indian tribes in the battle for fishing rights. Roughed up and thrown in jail for decades, Frank emerged as a visionary and a bridge builder.  At 81, Frank continues a global crusade to protect indigenous people and salmon.

Drawing from oral history interviews with Billy and those best acquainted with him, Legacy Project Director Trova Heffernan traces Billy’s development from angry young man on the banks of the Nisqually to passionate elder statesman and chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. The book is filled with photographs and contains an extensive family tree.

ISBN: 978 0295991788

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 979.7004 HEFFERN 2012
Available as a free eReader edition.
Not available in Braille or Audiobook editions.

Read more at the Legacy Project’s Oral History site.

Rekindle an appreciation for local farmers with this new PNW memoir.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 Posted in Washington Reads | No Comments »

Kurtwood Farms.  Milking House and Dog.  Used with kind permission of the author.  Photographer: Claire Barboza.

Used with author's permission. Photographer: Claire Barboza

Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land.  By Kurt Timmermeister.  New York : W W Norton, 2011. 335 p.

Recommendation by:
Carolyn Petersen, CLRS Project Manager, Tumwater, WA.

This recent memoir reads like having an interesting friend sit down to relate how he made the intriguingly insane choice to change from being a city guy on Capitol Hill who ran a successful restaurant (He didn’t even know how to drive a car, let alone own one) to establishing and running Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island—with no previous experience whatsoever as a farmer.  Each chapter details a new challenge in his life as a farmer. (Who knew that when  dairy cows are in heat they will try to mount anything—including the farmer leading them from one pasture to the next?) Kurt Timmermeister hopes by honestly sharing his struggles to produce quality products on a small 13 acre farm that consumers will appreciate even more the local produce that comes to market.

ISBN-13: 978 0393070859

Available at the Washington State Library,  NW 630.92 TIMMERM 2011
Available as an eReader edition.
Not available as an talking book, or as a Braille edition.