While I fell short of my personal reading challenge this year, I can say my top ten books of this year I thoroughly enjoyed. The Ferrante quartet I simply fell in love with, the historical fiction choices captured the details of the time period with eloquence, the thrillers kept me engaged and the nonfiction moved me beyond words. I took my time with each book and found moments of pause and new meaning in a world that can be overwhelming, and admiration and gratitude for sharing their story, albeit fiction or truth. Happy holidays and my best for a peaceful and bright 2021.
Discover RRPL’s Shared Shelf. Each week a staff member will share a glimpse into their reading shelf in hopes that you will discover that next great read.
I did it! I finished the Neopolitan Quartet, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante, and I already feel lost without “my” girls, Lila and Lenu, Ferrante’s main characters in this sweeping series of a lifelong friendship within the backdrop of a poor neighborhood of Naples, Italy.
I need to rely on some wonderful quotes from a review by Ella Alexander found at https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/culture/a25122947/elena-ferrante-neapolitan-novels-female-friendship/ to give an essential understanding of Lila and Lenu’s story. “We place a lot of emphasis on romantic love because of the narratives that we’re fed from such a young age. But the relationships and love we have for our female friends, especially during childhood, are equally as emotional and charged…But it’s not always rosy. There’s the jealousy, competitiveness and cruelty that people only dish out to those they love the most, and when we’re children, teenagers and even in our early twenties, we don’t understand yet how to rationalize those feelings or to temper them… It is a reminder that we never lose the love for someone who we were once so close to, and of how far someone can push another before deciding that a friendship brings more sadness than joy.”
I believe most readers will find a friendship, somewhere within their lifetime, that will cause reflection and raw emotion to surface, while reading about the journeys of Lila and Lenu. As a reader, as well as both the main characters, you come full circle and find some understanding and peace as to how we got here.
If you choose to go on this journey with Lila and Lenu, which I highly recommend, it will be lengthy, but take your time, absorb, digest, reread, if necessary. I also watched the HBO series while reading the books and found that each format, reading/watching, complimented each other very well, and ultimately enhanced the story for me.
While I will miss “my” girls”, I look forward to jumping into Ferrante’s new novel, The Lying Life of Adults, to be released September 1st, 2020.
Have You Heard About RRPL’s Little Library?
Our Little Library is located near the front entrance, right next to the bench. I’m sure many of you have heard of “Little Free Libraries” and may have seen one in your own neighborhood. The philosophy of the “Little Free Library” is simple: take a book, leave a book. Here at RRPL we encourage our community to simply take a book, no need to contribute books, we’ve got that covered. This is a small collection of books ranging from adult book selections to books for children. We refresh our selections weekly, along with a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep you safe. If you would like to browse a larger collection, come into our lobby and peruse our ongoing Book Sale. Donations for your choices are always appreciated and can be left at the Greeters Desk. I love tending to the books housed in this little gem, and I can’t help but smile when I discover these books have found a new home. So, if you find yourself taking a stroll near the library, take a peek inside our Little Library, who knows, maybe you will stumble upon that next great read!
Struggling with what to read next? This can be overwhelming, especially with the constant barrage of best seller lists readily available anywhere, yet ever changing. Joining a celebrity or popular book club can be a great way to discover new books and possibly dive into some meaningful discussion. This can be a great option if you can not physically attend a book group.
Here are 4 celebrity or popular book groups you should consider joining now:
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, Hello Sunshine. The book choices in her club focus on books written by female authors. Reese’s current book pick is The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Jenna Hager Bush, co-host of NBC “Today Show”, Read With Jenna Book Club. The book choices in her club are generally contemporary novels with a compelling plot. Hager explained her book tastes in an interview as, “No matter what, you have to have a great, compulsively readable plot. Something where you cannot wait to figure out what’s going to happen.” Jenna’s current book pick is All Adults Here by Emma Straub.
Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club, Oprah’s Book Club. Oprah deserves the ultimate round of applause for popularizing book clubs across the county. Oprah unveils her pick each month, and then features an interview with the author. Oprah’s current book pick is Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker.
Now Read This, a book club from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. This is a staff created book list in which they choose a book that, in their own words, “helps us makes sense of the world we’re living in — fiction, history, memoir, and more.” The current fiction book choice is Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips.
I’ve been making great usage of both Hoopla and Overdrive over the past couple weeks to satisfy my reading appetite, but have also taken this time at home as an opportunity to pick up some titles in my home library that I’ve never read. Scroll on for some of my just finished and currently in progress reads.
Oh how I loved this book! This memorizing horror-fantasy- historical fiction-thriller novel grabbed me and wouldn’t let me put it down until I knew all it’s twisty secrets. Set in colonial New England, readers are led along by one seemingly innocent young woman who finds herself lost in the woods after berry-picking for her husband and son. Her wanderings bring her to meet other women in the woods and it quickly becomes clear not all is as it seems and the truth is hard to discern. Highly recommended if you enjoyed the 2015 film The Witch, or The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Available through OverDrive.
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman ; Illustrated by Colleen Doran
This dark retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, by one of my all-time favorite authors, flips the classic story in a fresh and chilling way. Snow, Glass, Apples is narrated by the stepmother, who is actually quite good, and who must protect herself and her kingdom from the King’s monstrous daughter- Snow White. Beautifully illustrated and written, any fan of Gaiman or fairy tales will want to pick this up. Winner of the 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. Available through Hoopla.
I started reading this a while back and never finished it- probably because I had began this book while on my honeymoon in Hawaii and it’s not really a “beach read” sort of book. But! I am picking it back up and so far it is quite a curious, witty, and weird (perhaps even a bit romantic) mash-up of literary fiction and some magical realism. I think this time around I will finish this! Available through OverDrive.
The great Margaret Atwood tweeted this book was a combination, among other things, of the Witches of Eastwick and Mean Girls, so I was sold. I’ve only just begun this dark and funny novel but am very excited to see where it goes! Available through OverDrive.
This heartwarming graphic novel is a first-hand account of the unlikely friendship that blossomed between a home nurse and her 84- year old patient stricken with Alzheimer’s, Josephine. Humor and laughter bring the two together, and readers will enjoy this story of human connection. The story takes place in Paris, but it’s critiques of an overloaded healthcare system and the frustrations of geriatric care easily translate to American healthcare and makes for a story that many can relate to. Available through Hoopla.
What is everyone else reading at home? I hope you have read some fabulous books and that perhaps one of my titles will spark your interest for your next digital checkout. Happy reading and stay safe!