Each week a staff member will share a glimpse into their reading shelf in hopes that you will discover that next great read.
Are you in need of a good laugh? I’m sure most of us are seeking humor more than usual during this difficult time and one of my favorite ways to be heartened is cozying up with a hilarious book. I just finished Shit, Actually by Lindy West, a collection of scathing and laugh out loud funny reviews of popular films, which was exactly what I needed this past week.
If you are interested in women’s comedy, which has long been a prime spot for women to talk back and break taboos in mainstream popular culture, join us tonight on Zoom for Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics at 7 pm Eastern. This sure to be engaging virtual program with Linda Mizejewski, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor in Ohio State University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Department, is an overview of women’s comedy beginning with Mae West and ending with the new generation of women comedians such as Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres who flout the pretty-versus-funny dynamic, targeting glamour and in some cases making it clear that in popular culture, “pretty” almost always means “white.” Click here to register!
There are a plethora of fabulous titles out there by my favorite funny women, and I’ve selected ten of my top choices for you below.
March is Women’s History Month! Did you know that Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981? Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. You can read more about Women’s History Month here.
To celebrate, I’m sharing some great graphic novels that highlight women authors, illustrators, women’s stories, and more! Take a look below to see my ten picks for graphic novels you should read this month to celebrate Women’s History Month.
In typical librarian fashion, I am always reading a book or two, in addition to having a plethora of books sitting in various to-be-read piles in my house. Back in the days of spending time at my library office desk, I would always keep a book there to read during my meal breaks (stares nostalgically out window thinking of my desk…). Of course, now that I’m home most of the time I keep a book in the dining room to read during lunch breaks. There is always a book on my night stand (usually my Kindle hangs out there) as well and a book on my coffee table, so I’m prepared for reading at all times. Take a look below to see what I’m currently reading and what I have lined up for the next couple months!
I was so excited to snag an ARC of this book from NetGalley! I’m only about halfway through but it is great so far. After escaping a dangerously strict religious compound, where she was forced to marry the nefarious leader Reverend Sherman, teenage Vern escapes to the woods pregnant and alone. She gives birth to twins in the forest and tries her best to survive the harsh realities of this isolated life, all the while being pursued by a mysterious fiend, odd hallucinations, and experiencing uncanny changes in her body and abilities.
You can read a full review of this novel from my colleague Shannon by clicking here!
Collecting issues #6-10 of this horror comic series, readers catch up with monster killer Erica Slaughter after she has slain the beast who was terrorizing the small town of Archer’s Peak. The only problem is that the monster had babies and now they are loose in the town. A mysterious man from The House of Slaughter arrives (is this the monster slayer version of a Watcher?) to help clean up the mess but seems to make matters worse.
I am not usually an audiobook person, but every once in a while I check out an audiobook on Hoopla to listen to while I’m in the kitchen. I adore Shirley Jackson but have yet to read all her short stories and this audiobook has been a joy to listen to. Humorous, dark, and sometimes tragic, this powerful collection of haunting stories is read by a variety of voice actors making for an interesting and engaging experience.
What’s next for me? I have Tender is the Flesh by Agustina María Bazterrica, on deck, which was recommended by multiple authors in a recent Women in Horror author panel I viewed. It’s been on my want to read list for a while but after hearing some amazing authors highlight it as one of their favorite books of last year, I knew I needed to bump it up the pile! Another book that was shared in the panel and recommended to me by a friend is Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation. I just got the ebook loaded on my Kindle thanks to OverDrive and can’t wait to start it. Finally, I’m patiently waiting for a digital copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain to arrive for me!
What is on your to-be-read pile? What are you currently reading? Share in the comments and happy reading!
Scarlet Witch has been a favorite character of mine since childhood. I’m sure there is still a late 90s era Scarlet Witch action figure at my parent’s house somewhere, in all her red and pink spandex glory. Disney+ recently launched a new streaming series all about Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and her love Vision, entitled WandaVision. The show is an entertaining blend of era-specific sitcoms, think I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, etc., shrouded in mystery and ominous tones reminiscent of the best of The Twilight Zone.
Not since Game of Thrones (RIP Dany- you will always be my Queen) has a television show inspired me to read weekly AV Club articles, peruse the internet for other fan’s theories and predictions, and talk at length with friends about episodes. It is so much fun.
If you’re enjoying the show, but not well-versed in the comics history of this stellar character, I would highly recommend reading one or all of the graphic novels below! They are collected volumes of some of Wanda and Vision’s best story arcs and would serve as a great introduction to these two. Conversely, if you are an established fan like myself, re-reading these might give you a greater appreciation of the show, in addition to fuel for your plot theories. *wink wink*
The Vision wants to be human and in this Eisner award winning series he decides that family is about as human as it gets. So he heads back to the beginning, to the laboratory where Ultron created him and molded him into a weapon. The place where he first rebelled against his given destiny and imagined that he could be more -that he could be a man. There, he builds them. A wife, Virginia. Two teenage twins, Viv and Vin. They look like him. They have his powers. They share his grandest ambition (or is that obsession?) the unrelenting need to be ordinary. What could go wrong?
In a world full of heroes, villains, and monsters, there are few stranger phenomenons than the marriage of a mutant witch to a heroic synthozoid! As this unlikely couple settles into their home in Leonia, New Jersey, they find themselves at odds with the members of their complex families, including Ultron, the Grim Reaper, Quicksilver, and Magneto. When Wanda uses the power of a village of witches to make herself pregnant, the happy twosome becomes a happy foursome when twin sons William and Thomas are born, the future Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers!
I read this story arc years ago but want to revisit it thanks to WandaVision and some sly Easter eggs that seem to point to this potentially being important to the show’s mysterious plot. In 2005, Bendis and Coipel created the world of the House of M storyline. This was one of the many times that Scarlet Witch changed reality with her powers. The Avengers are trying to determine what to do with Wanda, with some believing they need to kill her. Wanda creates a new world known as the House of M- she said “no more mutants,” and 98% of the world’s mutants instantly lost their powers. Oops?!
Another story arc I read years ago, The Children’s Crusade picks up following Wanda’s actions in House of M. Wanda has disappeared. While some knew where she was, the world soon learned that Wanda was still alive and well, and that sent the Avengers to find her and the X-Men to try and possibly kill her. Eventually, they take her back into the fold of the Avengers and the X-Men are held off for now.
This is the first collected volume of this great series from some of my favorite writers and artists, like Jordie Bellaire (check out her Buffy reboot! SO GOOD.). Witchcraft is broken – and Wanda is on a journey across the globe to fix it. From the back alleys of Manhattan to the serene Greek Isles to the Irish countryside, the former Avenger will face myths and legends from ancient lore, cure curses, and discover there’s is even more to her complex family history than she knew. In Spain she will visit a church where witches like her were once burned at the stake – and be haunted by the ghosts of the Spanish Inquisition!
All the titles above are available via Hoopla or through our catalog! Are you watching WandaVision? Do you have a favorite Scarlet Witch or Vision comic? Share in the comments! Happy reading !
Like many other librarians and avid readers, I have set a reading goal for myself each January for at least the past decade. The book number tends to steadily increase, though I’ve stuck to 50 books for the last couple years. 50 books seemed daunting when I first set that goal, but after realizing I should count everything I read (not just novels) it was definitely an attainable goal. Between the single issue comics I regularly pick up and the plethora of cookbooks I seem to always have checked out, I’m able to get to my goal without too much trouble. This year I’m planning to revisit some old favorites for second or third readings (looking at your American Gods) in addition to a good variety of newly published titled and new to me titles.
If you are someone who hasn’t set a reading goal before, or perhaps you’ve struggled with not completing your goal, I’m here to encourage you to give it another try! Most importantly to remind you- if you are setting this reading goal for fun, because you enjoy reading, then make sure you have FUN! I have plenty of friends who seem to beat themselves up for not reading more, but your reading habits aren’t for any awards or competition. Read what you like, as often as you like. If that means 5 books a year, then that is fabulous!
I often hear people putting pressure on themselves to read “important” books. Just the other day my husband semi-jokingly said “2021 will be the year I read Crime and Punishment!” as he grabbed the Dostoevsky classic off our home bookshelf. Is he actually going to read this book? Probably not. Is it a book that he might feel he is supposed to read because #literature? Yes. But who really cares about all that? If all you want to read in 2021 is romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, or heartwarming dog stories, then you do you.
This year, as I ease back into my routine after some relaxing time sequestering myself away during the holidays, I’m looking at what I am most excited to read in the coming months. Below you will find some of the soon-to-be published titles I cannot wait to read in 2021!
Getaway by Zoje Stage (no cover art available)
If you are a horror fan like me I highly recommend checking out this awesome post from Emily Hughes on the Tor Nightfire blog- you can see all the horror books being published in 2021 in a handy dandy month by month list! *heart-eyes emoji*
2020 was obviously a difficult year, and even though there is a light at the end of the tunnel for 2021, we aren’t out of the woods yet so be kind to yourself and read what brings you joy and happiness. What are you most excited to read this year? Share in the comments below!
Yikes – what a year, right? I’ve been caught between not being able to focus on reading at all, with my concentration as slippery as an eel, and total and complete immersion in a book, with a desire to never leave!
What that means in terms of the quantity of books read is that I did not read a lot, but those that I did read I sunk into and they felt like the perfect book to read at the time. Lots of historical fiction, a graphic novel, essays about nature and climate change, and an endearing fable all provided me with an outlet, an escape, or an insightful way to get through this year. I hope you found similar ways to take your mind off 2020. Here’s to getting to 2021!
Hamnet: a Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell: a story about the family of William Shakespeare and the death of his young son, Hamnet, from the plague. The best of historical fiction, O’Farrell tells us the story from multiple perspectives, focusing on Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes.
The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel: sad, but expected, the fascinating trilogy about Thomas Cromwell had to end, but it was a riveting journey.
Weather by Jenny Offill: I read this early in pandemic shutdown time and it just was a perfect fit – a meditative look at a woman and her family and her future; funny and prescient.
Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza: this is the kind of book that I love – it’s narrated by an art historian in Argentina and each chapter she talks about a piece of art that she’s affected by and weaves the story of the artist and artwork into stories about her life and family in Argentina.
Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley: ok, this may seem like a silly book, a book with talking animals, but it’s not at all cheesy, or sickly sweet. It’s Smiley writing well, a lovely story about what all of us need, love, freedom, respect, and to dream.
Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon: I love Yoon’s writing; his latest is set in Cambodia and we see the effects of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War through the eyes of the 3 friends.
Trieste by Dasa Drndic: I picked this up because it was on my list to discard from the collection, then I read about it and took it home and became immersed in the story. I have read many things about the Holocaust, but this one has a new perspective – it’s fiction, but uses historical facts to tell the story of the Holocaust in Northern Italy and children removed from their parents. Challenging but worth it.
Sapiens: A Graphic History, The Birth of Humankind (Vol. 1) by Yuval Noah Harari, Daniel Casanave, and David Vandermeulen: This book is based on the author’s book Sapiens, which I never read (but should now) and is volume 1 of the story of the evolution of humanity – clever and eye-opening.
Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald: MacDonald’s H is for Hawk took the world by storm and this new book of collected essays continues with her focus on the natural world and climate change, with glorious writing to boot.
A joyful holiday season to all –
This year mysteries, thrillers, and true crime book topped my reading list. The Novel Scares book club forced me out of that comfort zone and introduced me to two of the books on my list-books I never would have selected for myself.
A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones
The Good House by Tananarive Due
Good Night Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial
Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Sweet Murder by Tegan Maher
With the exception of Solutions and Other Problems, I listened to all of these books. The House in the Cerulean Sea was my absolute favorite book of 2020. It was the charming and thoughtful book that I needed during this difficult year.
While 2020 was, in many ways, an extraordinarily challenging year, it was, for me, a good year for reading. Once again, new books make up a smaller portion of my 2020 lists, with only a few from this year or last. Instead, I continue to enjoy exploring classics, the crime genre canon, and working through a favorite author’s backlist. Here are the best books I’ve read in 2020.
10. Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Blacktop Wasteland is an old-fashioned heist novel ripe for the big screen staring a modern Steve McQueen style lead. Beauregard “Bug” Montage is the archetypical getaway driver gone straight that gets pulled back into one last job that is too sweet to pass up in difficult times. There is nothing too new in the plot, following typical heist tropes. What Cosby does deliver is plenty of action and character with depth and a good backstory in Bug.
9. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I never thought I’d be an Ann Patchett reader. But, a coworker frequently brought up Bel Canto when we discussed books and told me on multiple occasions I should read it. Since this same coworker badgered me into reading A Gentleman in Moscow, which turned out to be one of the best books I read last year, I figured I’d give Bel Canto a shot. A book that was so excellent; that even with a trash ending, it still ended up on my top ten list. This may sound like faint praise given the “trash ending” portion of the comment, but don’t let that ruin what is otherwise a sublime book for you, and you might even enjoy the ending.
8. Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
I enjoy travel and nature writing, but often I get annoyed with the author’s peevish or moralistic insight or their lengthy rapturous prose capturing the awe-inspiring world we all inhabit. Macfarlane skews hard toward rapturous prose, and clocking in near 500 pages, Underland is lengthy. With that said, Macfarlane does an amazing job making you feel the underworlds he visits. There is one passage that portrayed such a profound sense of claustrophobia that I was unsure if I was going to be able to finish the chapter. Another chapter exploring the catacombs of Paris is among the most fascinating pieces of travel literature I have ever read. Also, the cover art was fantastic, and the sole reason I picked up the book in the first place.
7. Tiamat’s Wrath (The Expanse #8) by James S.A. Corey
I wouldn’t have thought that the eighth book in a nine-book space-opera series would be my favorite one yet. The Expanse has been a remarkably consistent series, both in quality and publishing schedule (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin). More than any other book, the next book in this series is the one I’m most looking forward to reading next year.
6. Monstress, Vol 5: Warchild by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
Each new collection of Monstress continues to blow me away. Foremost because Takeda’s art is stunning. I’ll continue with this series for as long as Takeda does the art. Though progressing unhurriedly, the story continues to excel as well. War arrives early in this volume, and the inevitable devastation follows. This series remains complex, and I’m considering a reread to refresh myself on the early storyline. I am envious of anyone that gets to jump into the series now and can read multiple volumes without having to await the next release.
5. The Likeness (The Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French
I read Tana French’s In the Woods two years back and loved it. However, I couldn’t imagine enjoying The Likeness as much with only some of the characters returning for this book. Needless to say, since it’s on my Best Of list, that I needn’t have worried. A few elements to the storyline seem rather unlikely. For example, Cassie is a perfect doppelganger for a murder victim. However, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can focus on the engaging characters. I learned my lesson with The Likeness and didn’t wait long before picking up Faithful Place, also very enjoyable, the next in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series.
4. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
I’m still working through the oeuvre of Don Winslow, so it’s too early for me to argue that you should read everything by him. However, having read three more of his novels read this year, I have yet to be disappointed with any of his books. The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Death and Life of Bobby Z, to a slightly lesser extent, were a lot of fun, and I would highly recommend them. However, it is Winslow’s Power of the Dog, a fictionalization of the war on drugs, that leads the pack.
3. Dead Soon Enough (Juniper Song #3) by Steph Cha
Read everything by Steph Cha. There aren’t as many books by her as I’d like, only four, but they’re all phenomenal. Three Juniper Song Marlowe-inspired PI novels, revitalizing the LA noir tropes in interesting and intelligent ways. Dead Soon Enough being the final of the Song novels. The fourth book is the lauded and award winning Their House Will Pay that revolves around the 1992 LA race riots.
2. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They by Horace McCoy
I had heard of marathon dance competitions, but until reading They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, I never considered them much and certainly not as bleak and miserable experiences. Robert and Gloria, two strangers with nothing to lose in depression-era California, meet and enter a marathon dance competition as partners. They battle extreme physical and mental exhaustion and producers with schemes to create hype and excitement in order to bring in crowds – at the expense of the contestants.
1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
At the onset of World War I, Paul Bäumer and several of this high school classmates enlist in a rush of patriotic fervor, incited largely by their teacher’s impassioned jingoistic speeches. Their enthusiasm is bombarded as soon as they reach the trenches of the front. Remarque masterfully writes the German counterpart to Wilfred Owen’s English poem Dulce Et Deocrum Est. “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori.” (Dulce et Decorum Est)
This week we have a collection of autobiography, horror, historical fiction, and much more for you to choose from. You can also find topics such as health & fitness, sports, and social science… Enjoy!
NYPD Red 6 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp – Available for the first time in print, a sixth entry in the series co-written by the award-winning author of Jackie Ha-Ha continues the story of top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan and his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald.
The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston – This third installment in the Found Things series finds Xanthe taking responsibility for inadvertently transporting the dangerous Benedict Fairfax to her own time, while learning to use her skills as a spinner to keep her and Flora safe.
Future of Nutrition, The: An Insider’s Look at the Science, Why We Keep Getting It Wrong, and How to Start Getting It Right by T. Colin Campbell with Nelson Disla – A follow-up to the best-selling Whole presents a critique of the nutrition institution that identifies the systematic ways that even well-intentioned companies perpetuate misinformation, overlook key nutritional deficiencies and promote unhealthy levels of animal protein dependence.
I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography by John Thompson – Provides the long-awaited autobiography from Georgetown University’s legendary coach, whose life on and off the basketball court throws America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice into sharp relief. 125,000 first printing. Illustrations.
Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States 2021: The National Data Book by Proquest/ Bernan Press – The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the best known statistical reference. As a comprehensive collection of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the country, it is a snapshot of America and its people. It includes over 1,400 tables from hundreds of sources.
Kings of Crypto: One Startup’s Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street by Jeff John Roberts – The author covers subjects such as cryptocurrency, patent reform, blockchain technology, hacking, and privacy in the age of social media for Fortune. His work has also appeared in a variety of other outlets, including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Reuters, Fortune, and the New York Times.
Benedict XVI a Life: Youth in Nazi Germany to the Second Vatican Council 1927-1965 by Peter Seewald – The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI. This necessary companion to Benedict’s own memoir, Last Testament, is the fullest account to date of the life of a radical Catholic leader who has continued to make news while cloistered in retirement in the Vatican gardens.
Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel by Rachel Holmes – On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the definitive biography of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst-human rights champion, and radical feminist ahead of her time. In this enthralling biography, acclaimed author Rachel Holmes interweaves Pankhurst’s rebellious political and private lives to show how her astonishing achievements continue to resonate today.
The Berlin Shadow by Jonathan Lichtenstein – A deeply moving memoir that confronts the defining trauma of the twentieth century… Written with tenderness and grace, The Berlin Shadow is a highly compelling story about time, trauma, family, and a father and son’s attempt to emerge from the shadows of history.
Remina by Junji Ito – Another of Junji Ito’s classics, the sci-fi masterwork Remina tells the chilling tale of a hell star, unfolding on a universal scale.