Our 2021 One Book, One City reads are all about Monarch butterflies, tracing their travels, and learning about the importance of their journey. Monarchs are amazingly beautiful, but are just one of many pollinators that are threatened by decreasing habitat and climate change. If you remember one thing, remember that pollinators support our food crops – and finding ways to decrease habitat destruction or build new habitat will provide sustenance to future generations.
Native plants and their varying cultivars have evolved together with pollinators, and so have ideal flower sizes and shapes to support the many pollinators we need. And because they’re from Ohio, they’re easy to grow – no picky plants in the bunch! Here at Rocky River Public Library, with the help of the Beach Cliff Garden Club and library volunteers, we put in a pollinator garden that is officially certified by Monarch Watch. We’ve called our garden “Monarch Trails & Tales” and it includes milkweed for Monarchs, their only food, as well as numerous native perennials. Take a look at it the next time to visit and see what kinds of pollinators you spot – there’s butterflies and bees of course, but also small flies that are essential to pollination!
Lots of local nurseries sell native plants, and the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District sell native plants in groups of 50 for a reasonable cost. If we all sacrifice a little lawn or even plant containers of native plants, we can grow and nurture our pollinator population, creating pollinator pathways and beautiful gardens at the same time.
As Douglas Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware and author of numerous books about the intersection of plants, animals and humans, writes “…we humans have disrupted natural habitats in so many ways and in so many places that the future of our nation’s biodiversity is dim unless we start to share the places in which we live –our cities and, to an even greater extent, our suburbs — with the plants and animals that evolved there”
The theme for the 2021 Cleveland Humanities Festival is Identity, and RRPL has embraced this theme by offering the Book Club Kit, Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar. This book was chosen as one of the NYT’s Best Books of the Year 2020, one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020, and best book of 2020 by the Washington Post and O Magazine.
Check out our Book Club Kits for 6 weeks and you will receive 8 book copies, a set of discussion questions and other pertinent information about the author and title, all inside a canvas library tote. Inquire at the Adult Reference desk for more information.
It’s young adult fantasy fiction about a young woman who discovers that she has unique magical powers that may be the key to saving her country. It’s billed as dark fantasy but it’s mostly fluff with a love triangle, but sometimes fluff is what you need to read! Shannon
Continuing my year of biographies and memoirs I recently read The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This graphic novel is about the author’s childhood and young adulthood. Her family is Iranian. Religious extremists take over her country. Her liberal minded family has a hard time adjusting to the years of war. From a very young age Marjane has always been outspoken and tends to get in trouble with teachers or other authorities for speaking out about inequality or injustice. She is sent to school in Europe for her safety, but being alone and coming of age in a whole new environment takes its toll. She finds her way back home, but it is no easier to fit into the traditional role her conservative society expects of her. Art and drawing and ultimately telling this story is what she needs to do. I watched the French animated movie based on this after reading it. I like the book just a bit better for providing details that are cut out of the film. Byron
Published in 1894 this early work of “weird” fiction by Machen was a great read. A short novel, this story pertains the consequences of investigating beyond the physical realm and the ripple effect that occur. The story begins with an experiment to see the spiritual realm by Dr Raymond, an act the Doctor notes the ancient called “seeing the great god Pan”. I won’t give more away about the plot as part of the joy of reading this story was watching it unfold. Recommended to fans of horror and supernatural fiction. Greg
After hearing multiple rave reviews of this fresh, feminist translation of Beowulf I’m finally reading it for myself! Fifty years after the translation of Beowulf that myself and many others were forced to read in high school, this new version is described as a “radical new verse translation” that brings to light elements of this classic tale that have never been translated into English. I just added this to my Kindle and am only on the introduction but looking forward to diving into the story. Nicole
After the death of her mother, a young woman’s compulsion to eat earth reveals that once ingested, she receives visions of the person with a connection to that earth. The first earth she eats shows her how her mother died. Abandoned by her adult relatives, she and her brother Walter live alone in the slums of Buenos Aires. Though many of the locales are put off by her ability, more and more people start leaving jars of earth and notes pleading for her assistance. A remarkable novel and the translator skillfully manages to convey a distinctive, youthful patois. Trent
During WWII Olive’s veterinarian father raises prize winning racing pigeons. Olive is very much involved in their care and training. She is contacted by British Intelligence to assist in top-secret missions using the pigeons as messengers. Olive wants to do her part for the war effort and is excited about this opportunity. As part of her cover, Olive dates a British officer which leads to all kinds of speculation in the small town. In addition, a local woman is found dead near the Bright’s dovecote (a structure used to house pigeons or doves). Olive participates in the investigation that uncovers many secrets including some about her family. Mystery, history, and a little romance make for an entertaining read. Emma
This is the story of Afi Tekple, a young seamstress raised in a poor rural village in Ghana. Afi is thrust into an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman, Elikem Ganyo. After moving into one of Elikem’s many residences with very infrequent visits from her new husband, Afi starts to dream up how she can make the most of her new-found lifestyle. Beth
An earlier book by the author of The Sundown Motel, this novel follows the same model of a mystery with a (sort of) believable supernatural twist. Fiona Sheridan, a journalist, is drawn to the location where her older sister’s body had been found 20 years earlier. A mysterious woman has begun renovating Idlewild Hall, a school for “wayward and difficult girls,” that has long been abandoned and is the place where Fiona’s sister’s body was dumped. There is something unnatural about that place- a cold dampness, a constant aura of anxiety and fear, and a legend of a ghost that wanders the grounds. While covering the story of the renovation, Fiona is drawn into the tale of a group of girls at Idlewood Hall in the 1950s, one of whom went missing, presumed dead, and whose body was never found. Fiona learns about the lives of these forgotten girls who were basically abandoned by their families, and at the same time uncovers a secret about her sister’s murder that puts her own life in danger. Sara
For the past twelve years, February has been celebrated as Women in Horror Month, a topic very near and dear to my heart. According to the Women in Horror Month website, “Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.” WiHM aims to help horror works by and featuring women reach a wider audience. This inclusive and positive movement is open to everyone, of course, just as they believe the horror genre should be open to everyone.
WiHM recently announced that as of March 1, 2021 there will no longer be an official WiHM organization, but that they have found there is more than enough content, traffic, and engagement to bring this celebration to communities year round. So, Women in Horror Month might look different moving forward as everyone is now encouraged to choose their own month to celebrate, but I look forward to seeing the creativity and innovation from this community in the years to come!
You can take a look at events going on around the country celebrating WiHM here. Two events I was particularly excited about this month are the “Females of Fright: Zoom Edition” live author panels, both offered for free, thanks to the Horror Writer’s Association! The first panel took place on Friday, February 12th but luckily you can watch it on the HWA’s YouTube channel here. The first panel included Zoje Stage, author of Wonderland, which just so happens to be the next title up for discussion in our Novel Scares book club. Interested in joining us on March 18th to discuss this great creepy novel? Sign up here! The next “Females of Fright” panel is Friday, February 26th at 8 pm (EST) and you can register here.
Looking for more resources for WiHM? Check out two of my favorite blogs, RA for All: Horror, and Ladies of Horror Fiction. Finally, I want to share a recent discovery that is full of dark and horrific literary treasures- including some up and coming women authors- Nightmare Magazine. You can read and listen to full articles for free on their website, and the February 2021 issue includes this *amazing* short story from author E.A. Petricone, “We, the Girls Who Did Not Make It.” I cannot stop thinking about this piece and look forward to reading more from her!
Happy reading and stay safe and warm!
This week in our readalikes corner, it’s libraries, libraries, libraries! It’s a little self-indulgent on our part, but to be fair, The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is one of the most-requested books on our holds lists. Based on a true story, [the book] describes how a lonely, 1980s teenager befriends an elderly neighbor and uncovers her past as a librarian at the American Library in Paris who joined the Resistance when the Nazis arrived.
Sounds really interesting, right? Click the book cover up above to put a hold on it in our catalog.
But you might have to wait a while (it comes out on February 8, 2021), so we’ve curated a list of books that you might like to try in the meantime. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
A New York Public LIbrary superintendent’s wife reevaluates her priorities upon joining a woman’s suffrage group in 1913, decades before her granddaughter’s efforts to save an exhibit expose tragic family secrets.
The Archivist by Martha Cooley
A battle of wills between Matt, a careful, orderly archivist for a private university, and Roberta, a determined young poet, over a collection of T. S. Eliot’s letters, sealed by bequest until 2019, sparks an unusual friendship and reawakens painful memories of the past.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
In 1996, Hanna Heath, a young Australian book conservator is called to analyze the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book that has been salvaged from a destroyed Bosnian library. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in the centuries’ old binding, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
A last-of-her-kind outcast and member of the Pack Horse Library Project braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and hostile community discrimination to bring the near-magical perspectives of books to her neighbors.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
The author reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution: our libraries.
All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.
We know how difficult it is to choose a book for your next book group meeting, and to find enough copies for all the members of your group. We would like to make this easier for you by offering Book Club Kits to our patrons. You will receive 8 copies of the same title, a set of discussion questions and other pertinent information about the book or author, all inside a canvas library bag, to be checked out on the library card of the patron picking up the kit. The loan period for the kit is 6 weeks. We own 18 Book Club Kits, 12 fiction book titles and 6 nonfiction book titles. I’d like to share with you one of our newly selected book titles, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell..
“On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in
Stratford-on Avon takes to her bed with a
fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches
everywhere for help. Why is nobody at
home? Their mother, Agnes, is over a
mile away, in the garden where she grows
medicinal herbs. Their father, a playwright,
is working in London. Neither parent knows
that one of the children will not survive
Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a
famous playwright. It is a story of the bond
between twins and of a marriage pushed
to the brink by grief.
Above all, it is the tender reimagining of a
boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name
was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.”
© Women’s Prize for Fiction
I am currently reading The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin. It’s January 1888
on the Nebraska-Dakota border when an unseasonably warm day turns into a deadly blizzard just when school lets out for the day. Despite heroic efforts 235+ people died that day. Also, I am just starting Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Leonard writes articles for children’s encyclopedias. Paul is a substitute postman. These good friends both in their 30’s live in the parents’ homes. They meet regularly to play board games. I know there’s more to come since this book was highly recommended by a co-worker. Emma
I’m listening to The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. Not only is the French Revolutionary history itself fascinating, but the author reveals the travel and effort he put into the research. This book is about the novelist Alexandre Dumas’s father who was also named Alexandre Dumas. The senior Dumas was the son of a French aristocrat and a Caribbean African slave. He achieved the rank of General in the French military, for a time equal to the up and coming Napoleon. How did this happen? I was clueless about the Civil Rights Movement in Paris in the mid 1700s that allowed former slaves and children of slaves freedom, education, and position in society. This was specific to Paris, did not apply to the American colonies, and the progress would later be undone by a new wave of racist policies. Still, General Dumas was an adventurous swordsman and leader of the cavalry who would repeatedly inspire characters in his son’s novels including the betrayal faced by Edmond Dante in The Count of Monte Cristo. Byron
I started reading The Queen’s Gambit shortly after seeing that Netflix has released a new series based on the book. I had seen some very positive reviews of the book and learned that the author, Walter Tevis, also wrote the novels, and excellent Paul Newman films, The Color of Money and The Hustler. However, I was skeptical that competitive chess would be edge-of-your-seat thrilling material, but The Queen’s Gambit is as much a story of loneliness, addiction, and genius as it is of chess. Had The Queen’s Gambit been just a book about chess, then I would have still been wrong because the chess bits are thrilling. Trent
Agent of the Library Irene is sent to obtain a certain book by any means necessary and is drawn into an art heist, complete with a rag tag team of misfits, carefully laid plans, and secret island lairs. This new chapter in the Invisible Library series is a fun romp through heist movie tropes, with a twist.
I have just finished The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington and loved every second of it. Written by the artist and author Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) this collection of stories spans throughout her career. The surreal stories within were best enjoyed when I allowed the narrative to unfold with their own internal dreamlike logic. A great introduction to Carrington’s work. Greg
Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. This book is about a group of magic-filled children, seen as utter misfits by the world, but you will immediately fall in love with each and every one of them. It is about two kind, smart, and brave men who stumble forward into a friendship and gentle love. As TJ Klune has said himself, “it’s important, now more than ever, to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories”. Finally, it is about the false promise of blind faith and the courage to challenge that promise. I simply love this book. I implore you to read it now, you will not regret it. Mary
I just started reading this book on the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend and am very much enjoying this weird and riveting story thus far. Written by one of Japan’s most highly regarded novelists, this book follows Toru Okada as he searches for his wife’s missing cat in a Tokyo suburb. He soon finds himself looking for his wife as well in a strange underworld that lies beneath the surface of Tokyo, full of odd and sometimes menacing people. I have no idea how this will end but look forward to getting there! Nicole
Once upon a time, all women had a little magic- a few words to make dishes sparkle, a rhyme to mend a seam. And some knew stronger things, such as a spell to break a fever, dry up a cough, or help a woman through a difficult labor. But that all changed with the Salem witch trials. Witches were burned at the stake with their children watching; witchcraft was deemed illegal, and women were treated worse than ever with no power to protect themselves. But witching was never completely gone. It was passed on by grandmothers and mothers in fairy tales and innocent sounding nursery rhymes that were actually spells. Spells that could work magic if a woman had the words, the way, and the will. Led by the three Eastwood sisters (magical things always come in threes), the downtrodden women of New Salem have enough will to make up for any lack of words or ways, and they are determined to bring real magic back into the world to set right some of the many, many wrongs they have suffered at the hands of men. Sara
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah doesn’t come out until February 1, but it’s already topping the library’s holds lists. That’s the power of Kristin Hannah, author of bestselling novels The Nightingale and The Great Alone, so it’s understandable that you’ll be chomping at the bit to read Hannah’s newest novel! Rather than World War II or the 1970s, the Four Winds is set during the Great Depression:
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
Your friendly librarians have selected the following books as readalikes for The Four Winds, whether that is because of setting, tone, character, or other factors. You can find the Four Winds on Overdrive here. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available.
I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows
In 1934, as the earliest storms of the Dust Bowl descend on the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma, Annie Bell and her husband and children struggle against hardship as the wheat harvest dries out and people around them pack up to leave.
Promise by Gwin Minrose
Barely surviving an F5 tornado that rips through her 1936 Mississippi hometown, an African-American laundress and great-grandmother searches for her family among the catastrophe’s survivors while bonding with the traumatized teen daughter of a despised white judge.
Some Luck Jane Smiley
Follows the triumphs and tragedies of a farm family from post-World War I America through the early 1950s.
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.
By Starlight by Dorothy Garlock
In early 1930s Montana, in the small town of Colton, Maddy Aldridge struggles to make ends meet during the Great Depression. With her mother long dead, her stubborn younger sister fighting her at every turn, and her father’s arthritis deteriorating so badly that she has to run the family store alone, her desperation grows by the day. Enter Jeffers Grimm with a proposition too great for her to turn down: open an illegal speakeasy in the mercantile’s basement, defy Prohibition, and make enough money to make her worries disappear.
All readalike plot summaries courtesy of Novelist, The Four Winds summary courtesy of author’s website.