Your Library Staff at Home- Reader’s Advisory

March has proven to be quite a surreal month, and I hope all of our Read it Or Weep readers are staying safe and healthy amid the current global COVID-19 crisis. Rocky River Public Library might be closed until further notice, but rest assured that you can still access an amazing array of great titles from home through our digital library. One positive outcome of social distancing and staying home is that you can really dive into that pile of to-read books that has been beckoning you for weeks! Perhaps there is a classic you’ve wanted to read for years or a favorite you’ve been wanting to re-read- now is the time! (Am I the only one who always has at least 6 books waiting to be read?!)

So what have I been reading while camped out at home? Scroll on!

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Yes, this is a zombie story, but it isn’t your typical flesh-eating undead story thanks to amazing literary writing from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Whitehead. I had been re-reading through this book as it was (somewhat ironically) the title I had chosen for my next Novel Scares Book Club meeting in April (which has since been cancelled due to COVID-19). If you are looking to lean in to current events with your fiction reading, I highly recommend Zone One. After a pandemic has ravaged Earth, the living must attempt to rebuild among the living dead. Focusing on life in New York City and the characters who are struggling with Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, this horror novel is a great read.

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

This is Davidson’s second book, but the first I’ve read by him, and I have been absolutely amazed with his writing. This haunting and beautiful Southern Gothic novel takes readers to a town deep in the bayous of Southwestern Arkansas where we meet many complicated characters, including the main protagonist plucky Miranda. Having lost her father as a child one mysterious and tragic evening, she’s been making ends meet ferrying contraband on the river for a corrupt sheriff and a deluded preacher, all the while harboring some serious secrets involving a witch and a rescued child. The story has the feel of a dark fairy tale, and is filled with magical realism. I haven’t finished this book yet, but already it reminds me of one of my favorites: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesymn Ward.

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I read this collection of essays slowly over the past month, processing each essay and thinking it over, before moving on, because it was such a fun book. Reading this felt like having a fabulous conversation with a smart friend and I didn’t want it to end! Nussbaum, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, writes with such an insightful, witty, and conversational tone, providing astute perspectives but still making this accessible to a broad audience. Included in this collection are her profiles of well-known showrunners Jenji Kohan and Ryan Murphy, as well as feminist takes on shows like Sex and the City, True Detective, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and more. Also, it was great to have my endless love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer validated by Nussbaum! Recommended for anyone who loves watching television and a great choice for readers looking for a book that allows them to read short pieces here and there.

Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer

I adore all of Jeff Vandermeer’s books (if you like weird fiction/ sci-fi/ horror/ speculative fiction you must read his Southern Reach trilogy!) and tore through Borne earlier this year, which is a related story to Dead Astronauts, though not necessarily a prequel read. In this story, the all-powerful bio-tech corporation known only as the Company returns as we once again see the destruction they have inflicted upon the unnamed City. Three rebels are introduced who seem to be traveling through time and various dimensions over and over in an effort to thwart the evil Company- but seem to always fail. A mysterious blue fox who can also travel time and space seems to be an important piece of the puzzle, and monstrous genetically engineered creatures are around every turn. I have no idea where this book is going, but that is part of the fun. Vandermeer’s strange and hallucinatory world building keeps me turning the pages with curiosity!

What are you reading at home? Are you reading happy, cozy novels or are you finding entertainment and comfort in stories of post-apocalyptic futures (like me)?

Keep your eyes peeled right here for more updates on what your library staff is reading, watching, listening, and creating at home!

New Fiction Coming in January 2020

 

Still looking for books to read? Ask a Librarian! Ranging from adventure and women’s fiction to literary and historical fiction, these are some suggestions for January, new releases for every kind of reader. Check out some book recommendations here!

 

01/07: Moral Compass by Danielle Steel – At an elite private school in Massachusetts, a wide circle of lives will be forever changed by a devastating series of events in Danielle Steel’s riveting new novel. Steel illuminates the dark side of one drunken night, with its tragic consequences, from every possible point of view.

01/07: Treason by Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington takes on a scheming rebel in this latest action-packed thriller from #1 New York Times-bestselling author Stuart Woods. Upon returning to New York City after a whirlwind British excursion, Stone Barrington is notified of a delicate situation within the country’s administration. A close friend requires his expertise and subtlety to eradicate a destructive presence in a classified agency–only it soon becomes clear that this renegade was sent by a rival Stone has encountered before.

01/07 : Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict – From Marie Benedict, the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room! An incredible novel that focuses on one of the people who had the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill. Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender either to expectations or to enemies.

 

01/21 : American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – Selling two favorite books to an unexpectedly erudite drug-cartel boss, a bookstore manager is forced to flee Mexico in the wake of her journalist husband’s tell-all profile and finds her family among thousands of migrants seeking hope in America. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page.

01/21: A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende – From the New York Times bestselling author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home. A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

01/21: Agency by William Gibson – A sequel to the best-selling The Peripheral finds app-whisperer Verity Jane beta-testing a disturbing AI technology, while a century into the future, an apocalypse survivor discovers his employer meddling in Verity’s influential timeline.

 

~Semanur

 

A Bakers Dozen for 2019

Every year I bemoan the fact that I didn’t read enough, etc, etc., but this year it seems truer than ever! I still, though, found quite a few books to sink into and enjoy; I listened to many through the Libby app. Below is my list, in no particular order.

The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Inland by Tea Obrecht
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Circe by Madeline Miller
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Happy Yule!

~ Dori

Greg’s Top 11 for 2019

Megan’s Favorites of 2019

It’s that time of year, again-the time when we reflect on our year of reading (mostly murder) and make a favorites list (so much murder). I have given up all pretense of creating a Top Ten List and have abandoned descriptions (follow the links for book details), which has helped ease some of my anxiety around this task. If you like mysteries, suspense, and thrillers there are quite a few here!

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Nonfiction

Middle Grade

Happy Reading!

~Megan

Byron’s Top 10 2019

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts  
I loved reading the Wizard of Oz series when I was a kid. The MGM musical is one of my favorite movies. So, this historical fiction novel that traces the life of Maud Gage, later Maud Baum, touches on many themes that I enjoy. We get behind the scenes looks at how the creation of the first book and the classic technicolor movie might have happened. Maud’s mother Matilda Joslyn Gage, the most prolific suffragette writer, has a big influence on Maud and Frank. From the perspective of 2019 when there is a record number of women serving in the U.S. Congress (at 24%) it is fascinating to see the strength of women who fought for early women’s rights. This book really brings the history to life. I enjoyed that the story was told from Maud’s point of view, and I recommend that you check out this book too!

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker  
With a lot of examples professor Pinker proceeds to lay out his case that the world and the human condition are in fact getting better. Or at least with the problem solving tools of the Enlightenment we humans are capable of improving the world’s problems.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel  
This award winning graphic memoir about a father and daughter’s relationship is captivating. The fusion of visual and verbal language is some of the best out there.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig  
A book about Haig’s personal journey with depression. A book that makes sense to those dealing with depression. Short poems, lists, and essays have a refreshing informality.      

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler  
Dana is a black woman living in the 1970s who is mysteriously pulled back in time to the early 1800s. The book is a bit more fast paced than the Outlander series with back and forth time travelling.

Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection  
This is not only a book of essays and archival history about the musician Lead Belly, but a BONUS set of 5 CDs. He was a singer of folk tunes, blues, and an early influencer of rock & roll.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds  
A teen frequently gets in trouble at school because his classmates make fun of the neighborhood where he lives, his ill-fitting clothes, the fact that his mother cuts his hair, everything associated with being poor. Can he adapt to the rules at track practice with Coach and find a place among the other young runners?        

Hell’s Heart (Star Trek: Prey #1) by John Jackson Miller
The Jackal’s Trick (Star Trek: Prey #2) by John Jackson Miller
The Hall of Heroes (Star Trek: Prey #3) by John Jackson Miller  
While waiting for new Star Trek TV content I read this trio of paperbacks. Beloved characters from the existing series and a handful of new well-drawn characters embark on a new adventure involving the Unsung and peril in the Klingon-Federation alliance.      

BONUS Movie:  
The Public written and directed by Emilio Estevez

What we’re reading now….

Secret Historian by Justin Spring

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This the biography of Samuel Steward, a man who would go by many other names in his life. Born in Southeast Ohio, Steward would attend Ohio State University, work as a university English professor, befriend Alfred Kinsey and Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, collaborate and contribute to the work of the Kinsey Institute, begin working as a tattoo artist, be ousted from his university job, move to California, and write gay pulp novels. The story of his career is intertwined with his identity as a homosexual man and his intimate personal life. This book uses the treasure trove of personal letters and personal effects to give a frank depiction. An exploration of Pre-Stonewall and gay liberation that gives the reader a glimpse into this man’s world and life.  Greg

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Daisy is a girl coming of age in the late sixties.  She is a free spirited, beautiful young woman with a fantastic voice.  The Six is a band led by the  brooding Billy Dunne.  Daisy and Billy eventually cross paths in the world of music, and a producer realizes that the key to massive success is to put the two together.  What happens next is the story of rock legends.    Mary

Chapters in the Course of My Life by Rudolf Steiner

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Steiner was a 19th century Austrian philosopher and “Anthroposophist” – anthroposophy is a spiritual movement Steiner founded, that believed there was a spiritual world accessible to human experience.  Steiner was also the founder of Waldorf education, which focuses on the child as a holistic being, with an emphasis on imagination and creativity. His autobiography is absolutely fascinating, both as a chronicle of his own intellectual and spiritual development, as well as a record of the amazing thinkers, poets, and artists that Steiner associated with and learned from. Andrew

Normal People by Sally Rooney

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This book, often touted as a very Millennial love story, follows Connell and Marianne and their shifting relationship as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.  During high school, Connell is a star athlete, popular and well liked while Marianne is an aloof loner.  They begin to grow closer during the times Connell picks up his mother from her work as Marianne’s family’s housekeeper, eventually starting a secret relationship.  As time passes, so does the nature of their relationship and personal circumstances.  Both Connell and Marianne are relatable, though at times, unlikable characters, leading them to make upsettingly poor choices.   A quick read with a lasting impact. Trent

Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

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In 2017 much was being written about the rediscovered classic Mrs. Caliban. That was the year Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water featured a similar story of love between a woman and an amphibious creature. Earlier this year the author died and I decided to add this to my reading list for something a little different. This novella moves along at a fast clip. Despite the character Dorothy’s unhappy marriage and humdrum domesticity in the suburbs, Ingalls writes with a droll voice. The creature goes by the human name Larry although the news reports warn people that he is a dangerous monster. I’ve read analysis that Larry could just be a figment of Dorothy’s imagination, a representation of an exciting liberation from her mundane mechanical life. I tend to think of Larry as real, but until I reach the end I have yet to fully make that determination. What do you think? Byron

Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

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This is the Russian story of Katya who inherits an old Bluthner piano in 1962. She loves music and her piano. Katya marries Mikhail, who becomes a violent drunk, and eventually settles in California. Sadly, the piano is gone. Years later Clara receives a Bluthner piano from her father on her 12th birthday. At 26 years old Clara, suddenly homeless, leases her piano to photographer Greg Zeldin who uses it for a photo series in Death Valley. Greg travels to places he remembers visiting with his mother. Clara follows the adventure ultimately making a connection with Greg, his mother, her father and the piano. This is a beautiful story with lots of attention to detail. Emma

Crimson Lake  by Candice Fox

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Set in a small town in Australia, this series opener stars a disgraced former cop trying to hide from his past and start over.  On the advice of his lawyer he seeks out a local PI who has her own dark past. They make for an odd couple, but they are soon teamed up to work a case involving a missing author. As they work the case Ted and Amanda each start poking around the other’s past. One odd couple, three cases, and a box of geese all make for a fantastic series opener. Megan

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

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This book is a fictional depiction of the very real, very heinous Tennessee Children’s Home Society.   Through alternating timelines we learn about one politically powerful family’s ties to this heartbreaking institution and how so many lives would forever be changed.  Beth

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

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Marie Mitchell is working for the FBI during the 1980s Cold War when she’s recruited to travel to Burkina Faso as a spy to take-down their revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara. Black, female, French-speaking and repeatedly snubbed in her FBI career, she’s the ideal candidate for the job. Marie chose to be an FBI agent to pay tribute to her recently deceased sister, who died mysteriously. Now, still grieving, she’s heading to Africa, knowing she’d been chosen for her looks, not her talent, and questioning whether Thomas Sankara is as destructive as the U.S. claims him to be. Told as a letter she’s writing to her two young sons, American Spy is a fascinating look at espionage, the Cold War, African politics, race, gender and imperialism, with a dose of romance and suspense thrown in for good measure. Bahni Turpin does an incredible job narrating the audiobook! Dori

I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

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Cody Swift is doing a podcast with his girlfriend in an attempt to re-open an investigation into the deaths of his two best friends which occurred twenty years ago when the boys were only eleven years old. As Cody interviews old detectives, parents and witnesses, he frightens someone into threatening his and his girlfriend’s safety. It seems that no one told the whole truth about everything that happened that night. Told in the present, and also through the eyes of 11-year-old Cody in flashbacks, the book is an engaging, page turning read. I felt that the ending had a good twist to it that I did not anticipate, but it was a bit too rushed which made it somewhat anticlimactic. I still would recommend it. Sara