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Navigate the Dark Days of Winter Through the Public Library

man reading a book while laying on a couch

Surely this is a season like no other. So many of the gatherings and celebrations we usually look forward to at this time of year have been canceled or modified significantly due to COVID. And while most of us are truly grateful for telephones, the Internet, and video-conference technology like Zoom, it doesn’t replace those yearned-for human contacts. There is real grief involved in the losses we are experiencing.

Fortunately, libraries are still places of connection, providing much-needed comfort as well as learning opportunities. Libraries keep our minds active and our spirits buoyed. I, for one, am cozying up with book after book, taking classes online, cooking and playing music.

Here are some suggestions for navigating the long dark days of winter during COVID—books and recordings available through your King County Library System and Seattle Public Library:

  • Eat Joy: Stories and Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers—This book offers a quick but satisfying “bite” of essays and recipes from all over the map. It also gives a fun, personal peek into authors’ lives and kitchens!
  • Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories by Fanny Singer—Singer’s famous mother, Alice Waters, helped start the organic food movement at Chez Panisse, the Berkeley, CA restaurant she opened in 1971.
  • Country Music—this Ken Burns film (DVD) and soundtrack (2-CD format or the 5-CD deluxe edition) embeds tunes and personalities from U.S. culture, which you’ll recognize even if country music isn’t your thing. Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, and Dolly Parton, and more contemporary voices such as Trisha Yearwood await your listening pleasure. The soundtrack is the companion to the popular PBS series.
  • Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics and her new album A Holly Dolly Christmas—I never thought of Dolly as a feminist but the more I learn about her groundbreaking career, the more I am in awe. Her nonprofit Imagination Library book gifting program has sent free books to more than 1.7 million children since its inception in 1995. Wow!
  • The Little Bookshop on the Corner, The Cafe by the Sea, and other tales by Jenny Colgan—I find a wonderful escape in Colgan’s books. Taking place in Scotland and London, Colgan’s tales are heartwarming without being saccharine. While recipes and romance are often present, the windswept landscape and “coming into one’s own” themes draw me in time after time. Somehow, it seems, life just might go on, even amid troubles we’re experiencing.

As we close the year, I encourage you to reach out to the library and grab a good read! Call Ask KCLS at 425-462-9600, fill out a Bookmatch request, or e-mail me at We’re here for you!

Wendy PenderContributor Wendy Pender coordinates programs for older adults for the King County Library System.