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Jan Johnston

book reviewer

Recent Stories

Tinkering primes the creative juices

By Jan Johnston April 13, 2014 6 a.m.

Are you a tinkerer? Do you enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together? Or maybe you get a kick out of repurposing disassembled bits and pieces? If you said "yes" to any of these questions, I'll hazard a guess that this week's book, "The Art of Tinkering," just might tickle your inner "fiddler."

Check it Out: Ideas to celebrate April, aka National Poetry Month

By Jan Johnston April 6, 2014 6 a.m.

If you've recently started humming to yourself, or noticed an extra spring in your step, I'll bet I know why. It's April! Who doesn't like a month when the daffodils pop, robins chirp, and bunnies frolic? It practically cries out for the creation of a "Happiest Month of the Year" award, what with all of the springing forth of animal babies and cherry tree blossoms. Perhaps this is why April is National Poetry Month. Observing the natural world as it escapes from winter's icy grip must surely spark the creative juices of poetry-minded folk.

Check It Out: Readers may burst out in song

By Jan Johnston March 23, 2014 6 a.m.

I can still remember the first record album I bought with my own money: the soundtrack from "The Sound of Music." It was the 1970s, and owning that record thrilled me to no end.

Check it out: Learning about all things Southern

By Jan Johnston March 16, 2014 6 a.m.

What does it mean to be a Northwesterner? I'm not a native, so my perspective might be a tad askew, but after residing in the beautiful state of Washington for nearly 20 years, I think I can claim to have some valuable experience under my Birkenstocks. To me, being a Northwesterner means several things: going about my business in the rain without using an umbrella; never having to travel more than a mile to find a coffee shop (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm sure you know what I mean); and learning to live with slugs and moss. Remember, this is my list. Yours might be different, but I'll bet that rain shows up somehow, somewhere. It binds us together, this rain, and love it or hate it, you cannot deny that our wet climate acts as a mighty powerful symbol of the Pacific Northwest.

Check It Out: It's crystal clear this book is cool

By Jan Johnston March 9, 2014 6 a.m.

Do you ever pick up a book because of its cover? I do, and this week's title is one of my "cover-inspired" checkouts. I know the old adage says, "You can't judge a book by its cover," but sometimes it's worth placing your faith in a book just because it looks so pretty sitting on the shelf.

Check It Out: Book explores creative, dazzling Lego projects

By Jan Johnston March 2, 2014 6 a.m.

I have a confession to make: I didn't play with Lego bricks when I was a child. I was a Tinkertoy kid through and through. Instead of plastic bricks littering the floor, spools, sticks and flags decorated our living room carpet. Usually my creations had a flair for the abstract, but during the times when my older brother was home from college, the structures secured the cool factor with his complicated designs and moving parts. No wonder my brother became an engineer!

Check It Out: Doodling really thinking in disguise

By Jan Johnston February 23, 2014 6 a.m.

Do you doodle? Can you doodle a poodle or a curly pasta noodle? Lest it sounds like I'm about to recommend a Dr. Seuss tale, please bear with me. "Doodle" is one of those words that makes me smile when I say it. So naturally, when I saw this week's book on the shelf at the library, I just had to check it out. Now, not only is "doodle" a favorite word, it will become one of my favorite pastimes thanks to Sunni Brown's compelling argument for a "doodle revolution."

Check it out: Nurturing animals endlessly delightful

By Jan Johnston February 16, 2014 6 a.m.

As you probably know, a couple of big competitions take place this month: the Winter Olympics and the Westminster Dog Show. I've been able to watch highlights from the XXII Winter Olympic games, but, to my dismay, I missed all of the action and drama of America's top canine contest. The winner, a wire fox terrier named Sky, who looks like a very spunky gal, certainly worthy of a trophy, and perhaps a hefty bowl of kibble, made me grin despite not being able to view the events leading up to her crowning achievement.

Check It Out: Book great appetizer before Super Bowl

By Jan Johnston January 26, 2014 6 a.m.

Hey, Seattle Seahawks fans, your team is headed to Super Bowl XLVIII! Next Sunday the Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will battle it out for the NFL's highest honor. It's coming up fast, but for die-hard football enthusiasts, a week can be a long time to wait. To fill in those empty hours before the big game, I have a suggestion. Go to the library and check out a few books about football to tide you over until game time Feb. 2. We have a great selection covering current and historical components of America's gridiron pastime.

Check it out: Quick facts that edify, not fluster

By Jan Johnston January 19, 2014 6 a.m.

The older I get, the more I realize just how much information is out there, and just how impossible it is to take it all in. When I was a kid, lots of things interested me, and I felt that there was an endless supply of hours in which to absorb everything that I wanted to know. Fast forward several decades, and now, instead of limitless time ahead of me for exploration and contemplation, I can barely keep up with current events. Information doesn't just flow into my life; it cascades over me like a cataract.

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