Island Senior: What’s on the Bookshelf?

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.

Posted on April 16, 2020 at 9:27 am by

Categories: Arts, Community, Island Senior
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