Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Last month the Cannon Beach Library announced that overdue book fines would return on August 1, after a long period of not applying fines during multiple Covid outbreaks. At its most recent meeting the board acknowledged that the plague is once again blooming in Clatsop County. In light of this, the board plans to reconsider their earlier decision about fines for late books.

Although the library board members are looking at every means of returning to what once passed for normal, it intends to rethink whether fines even make any sense, which is why so many public libraries have discontinued a practice that many libraries view as inhibiting library patronage.

In pursuit of normalcy, the library is now open for limited browsing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Masks still are required for everyone entering the library.

Computers, indoor WiFi and printing services are again available. A 30-minute time limit and normal usage fees apply. The Children’s Room, as of July 7, is again open, and the area devoted to used book sales has expanded.

Library holdings, fines or no fines, continued to grow in August with the addition of twenty new titles: eight novels, eight mysteries and four nonfiction books.

The new novels added to the collection are “The Forest of Vanishing Stars” by Kristin Harmel, “The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix, “The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu” by Tom Lin, “It’s Better This Way” by Debbie Macomber, “Such a Quiet Place” by Megan Miranda, “The Therapist” by B. A. Paris, “The Cellist” by Daniel Silva and “Sleeping Bear: A Thriller” by Connor Sullivan.

Newly added mysteries include “The Heathens” by Ace Atkins, “Fallen” by Linda Castillo, “Razorblade Tears” by S. A. Cosby, “The Night Hawks” by Elly Griffiths, “Tender Is the Bite” by Spencer Quinn, “The Bone Code” by Kathy Reichs, “False Witness” by Karin Slaughter and “The Man with the Silver SAAB” by Alexander McCall Smith.

The four new nonfiction titles are “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” by Anne Applebaum, “The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer” by Dean Jobb, “Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night” by Julian Sancton and “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy” by David Zucchino, which rexceived the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Zucchino’s prize-winning work about the 1898 insurrection in Wilmington, then North Carolina’s largest city, tops this columnist’s must-read list. Wilmington was a city of mixed-race governance and successful business enterprise.

Through stuffing ballot boxes, suppressing votes and threatening voters, white supremacists won control of the North Carolina legislature. A Democratic politician called for white voters to support candidates who would protect Southern womanhood from attacks by newly liberated and increasingly successful black residents.

In response, Alexander Manly, a young black editor of The Record, an African American daily, published an editorial that argued relationships between white women and black men often were consensual.

Manly’s editorial in The Record only served to further enrage white supremacists, especially after Democratic activists reprinted Manly’s commentary in newspapers across North Carolina. Supremacist Democrats counted on just such a reaction, which they then used to generate Wilmington’s 1898 race riot and run re-elected black politicians from office.

At least sixty black residents were murdered openly on the streets of Wilmington, many were wounded and black officials fled the city. Fearful black families hid in the swamps outside this prosperous city.

The riot is seen by historians as marking the establishment of Jim Crow in the former Confederate states. “Wilmington’s Lie” is definitely on my reading list, as is Anne Applebaum’s “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.”

Another new green-dot book I just consumed and recommend is “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth” by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford. Check it out.

For those who grew up watching John Wayne and Fess Parker playing the role of Davy Crockett in a world shaped by Walt Disney, “Forget the Alamo” presents a cast list of the scallywags, horse thieves, slave traders and con men defending the Alamo against legitimate Mexican authorities.

The authors never let readers forget that anticipated profits from expanding the production of cotton for a booming world market and the extension of the institution of slavery motivated the war for Texas independence from abolitionist Mexico.

In the 13-day siege of the Alamo nearly 1500 Mexican soldiers died. Only 189 Texian (sic) defenders died, but fewer than 200 Texians were defending the Alamo. Alamo enthusiasts compare the Battle of the Alamo to that of Thermopylae, in which 298 Spartans died while killing 20,000 Persians.

Others compare the Battle of the Alamo to the victory of King Pyrrhus over the Romans. Every time King Pyrrhus defeated his Roman opponents, he claimed if the Romans lost another battle, he would be ruined. That’s the very definition of Pyrrhic victory.

On Wednesday, August 11, at 7 p.m., the World of Haystack Rock Library Lecture Series will host Selina S. Heppell, department head and professor of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. Dr. Heppell will present “What Can Citizen Science Tell Us about Puffin Declines and North Pacific Climate Change?”

Dr. Heppell’s presentation celebrates “The Year of the Puffin.” Friends of Haystack Rock, a nonprofit organization focused on keeping Haystack Rock healthy and thriving, promotes the preservation and protection of the intertidal life and birds that inhabit the Marine Garden and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Haystack Rock.

Members of Cannon Beach Reads who met via Zoom July 21 to discuss “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s  Court” by Mark Twain also discussed meeting in-person for our next discussion.

In no more than a week, though, Covid took off seemingly everywhere including Clatsop County. So, CB Reads will again meet on Zoom for a discussion of “Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everyday and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks” by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Kathy Bell will lead this Zoom discussion, Wednesday, August 18, at 7 p.m.

Advance notice. Members of Cannon Beach Reads, led by Mary Lloyd, will discuss “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future” by Richard Attenborough, probably via Zoom, Wednesday, September 15, at 7 p.m.

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