Island Senior: What’s on the Bookshelf?

Posted April 16, 2020 at 9:27 am by

Island Senior is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae…

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

On Mon­day the Mullis Cen­ter Book Club met for the first time using Zoom. This was also my first time using Zoom so I was hap­py to dis­cov­er how easy it was. The Book Club is facil­i­tat­ed by San Juan Island Library’s Beth Helstien.

Although we were a small group this time, our dis­cus­sion of The High­est Tide by Jim Lynch, a com­ing of age sto­ry tak­ing place on low­er Puget Sound, led to our own sto­ries of tides and sea creatures.

We plan to meet by Zoom again on May 11 at 1:00 pm to talk about our next book, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth L. Oze­ki, anoth­er tale of tides, in this case tides that con­nect the Pacif­ic North­west to Japan via the 2011 tsuna­mi. You are wel­come to join us. Check events on the library web­site.

Outbreak - Bryn Barnard illustration

Mean­while, I’m sure I’m not the only one to peruse my own book­shelf for some­thing to read. When I pulled my signed copy of Bryn Barnard’s Out­break: Plagues that Changed the World off my shelf and opened it up I had to laugh. Bryn wrote, “To Peg­gy Sue, Bryn Barnard, Wash your hands!” It could hard­ly be more time­ly. I also real­ized that I bought the book for its fab­u­lous art­work but had not actu­al­ly read it. This seemed like the oppor­tune time.

If you were here in 2005 you may have seen the exhi­bi­tion of Bryn’s illus­tra­tions at the San Juan Island Muse­um of Art. The book flap says, “High­light­ed with vivid and metic­u­lous­ly researched illus­tra­tions, Out­break is a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the hid­den world of microbes – and how this world shapes human des­tiny every­day”. The book is a beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed series of essays about plagues through­out his­to­ry and their effects on civilization.

1918 - Bryn Barnard illustration

As we quar­an­tine our­selves dur­ing COVID-19 part of our appre­hen­sion is won­der­ing what our new nor­mal might be once we weath­er this pan­dem­ic. Look­ing to his­to­ry puts our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion into con­text. The Black Plague in Europe broke down the feu­dal sys­tem facil­i­tat­ing an emerg­ing mid­dle class. Small­pox defeat­ed native cul­tures in the Amer­i­c­as lead­ing the way for Euro­pean con­quest. Yel­low fever had a hand in end­ing slav­ery. Cholera forced indus­tri­al­ized cities to clean up their crowd­ed and unsan­i­tary slums. How will coro­n­avirus change our world and us? Have we inad­ver­tent­ly found the solu­tion to cli­mate change? Will we ever shake hands again?

While closed for in-store shop­ping the books men­tioned here can be ordered through Grif­fin Bay Book­store. Link to: How to order books from Grif­fin Bay Book­store.

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Categories: Arts, Community, Island Senior

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