Books on Democracy and Government

It sure seems like 2020 is back from the dead to plague us in the new year, doesn’t it? If you, like me, would like a refresher on democracy and how our government works, I’ve chosen some books that will educate and inform.

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 Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Plato’s Republic

Democracy in One Book Or Less:
How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think 
by David Litt

You Call This Democracy? How to Fix Our Government
and Deliver Power to the People
by Elizabeth Rusch

Twilight of Democracy: the Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
by Anne Applebaum

A User’s Guide to Democracy: How America Works
by Hannah McCarthy and Nick Capodice

A User's Guide to Democracy catalog link

Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen

Virtual Book Club – Books to Take You to Another World

The past week has been stressful and hard on all of us, so I thought I’d put together a list of books that will sweep you away to another world. There’s something for everyone below: fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, and more. Any one of these books will hold you tight from the first page and won’t let go until the last one. 

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 Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern  catalog link

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern 

This enchanting fantasy novel by the bestselling author of The Night Circus features a secret underground library on the edge of a vast sea. Zachary discovers a mysterious book in his college library which leads to the secret library, where he finds pirates, castles, and magic doors. Choose Morgenstern’s book to take you away to fairy land. 

The Starless Sea Overdrive link

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell catalog link

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Dive into the world of Shakespeare with this fictionalized account of Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes, and their son, Hamnet, who tragically died at 11. This lyrical and unique book will take you into the past and won’t let you go until the last page. 

Hamnet Overdrive link


A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende catalog link

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende 

Driven into exile by the Spanish Civil War, widowed, pregnant Roser and Victor, who is the brother of her deceased husband, flee to Chile on a ship. Allende’s bestselling, epic tale chronicles their lives and struggle as they wait to return to their beloved Spain. 

A Long Petal of the Sea Overdrive link

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

In Jemisin’s latest novel, New York City has just been born as a sentient entity, and for each of its five burroughs, there is a person that represents it, plus one master avatar for the whole city. When cosmic horrors threaten the newly awakened city, the six avatars must come together to New York. 

The City We Became Overdrive link

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Ishiguro imagines a world where certain children are kept at elite boarding schools and only allowed to see the outside world once they come of age. I don’t want to say too much about this one and spoil it – trust me when I say that you need to read it, it may make you cry, and you won’t be able to put it down. 

Never Let Me Go Overdrive link

We hope one of these books will take on a journey to a different world. Join us next week for another virtual book club!

Virtual Book Club – Readalikes for The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult catalog link

Any time a new Jodi Picoult book comes out is an event in the literary world. From My Sister’s Keeper to Small Great Things, Picoult is a perennial bestseller. You may have heard that a new book of hers came out last month called The Book of Two Ways – and of course when you tried to put a hold on it at the library, you’re very far down the list. Below we’ve curated some other introspective women’s novels that should keep you occupied while you wait for Picoult’s newest #1 New York Times bestselling book.

Heard of The Book of Two Ways but don’t know what it’s about? Your friendly librarians have got you covered: experiencing memories of a man other than her husband while surviving a plane crash, an end-of-life doula on the brink of a fateful decision envisions two disparate paths that find her staying with her family or reconnecting with the past. Find The Book of Two Ways 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. 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova catalog link

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Feeling at the top of her game when she is suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Harvard psychologist Alice Howland struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life as her concept of self gradually slips away.

Still Alice Overdrive link


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty  catalog link

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 

No relation to the previous Alice, but this is another book about memory, forgetting, and examining one’s life. Suffering an accident that causes her to forget the last ten years of her life, Alice is astonished to discover that she is thirty-nine years old, a mother of three children, and in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from a man she dearly loves.

What Alice Forgot Overdrive link

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum catalog link

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Enduring private misery in spite of a well-appointed life in suburban Zurich with her distant Swiss banker husband and young children, Anna Benz experiments with unfulfilling hobbies before engaging in a series of surprising sexual affairs.

Hausfrau Overdrive link


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie catalog link

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Separated by respective ambitions after falling in love in occupied Nigeria, beautiful Ifemelu experiences triumph and defeat in America while exploring new concepts of race, while Obinze endures an undocumented status in London until the pair is reunited in their homeland 15 years later, where they face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Americanah Overdrive link

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich catalog link

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

After she discovers that her husband has been reading her diary, Irene America turns it into a manipulative farce, while secretly keeping a second diary that includes her true thoughts, through which the reader learns of Irene’s shaky marriage, its affect on her children and her struggles with alcohol.



All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Did you try one these books? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! Next week we’ll be back with another edition of the virtual book club!

Virtual Book Club – Readalikes for Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Everyone fell in love with Fredrik Backman’s breakout #1 bestseller hit, A Man Called Ove, a few years ago. Backman’s back with a new #1 bestselling book called Anxious People which is taking the literary world by storm. Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers—including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian—discover their unexpected common traits. Find Anxious People on Overdrive here (where there’s another long waiting list!).

While you wait for your precious hold to come in, take a look at these books with a similar feel that you can read while you wait!

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. 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty catalog link

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty 

Gathering at a remote health resort for a 10-day fitness program, nine strangers and their enigmatic host become subjects of interest to a brokenhearted novelist who develops uncomfortable doubts about the resort’s real agenda. 

Nine Perfect Strangers Overdrive link


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson catalog link

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Confined to a nursing home and about to turn 100, Allan Karlsson, who has a larger-than-life back story as an explosives expert, climbs out of the window in his slippers and embarks on an unforgettable adventure involving thugs, a murderous elephant and a very friendly hot dog stand operator.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Overdrive link

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick catalog link

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick 

A shy librarian whose kind heart is often exploited receives a mysterious book of fairy tales from the beloved grandmother she believed dead and embarks on a perspective-changing journey of astonishing family secrets.

The Library of Lost and Found Overdrive link


Night of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy catalog link

Night of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy 

Four strangers, with nothing in common but a need to escape, meet in a Greek taverna high above the small village of Aghia Anna. From Ireland, America, Germany and England, they have each left their homes and their old lives, when a shocking tragedy throws them unexpectedly together. 

Night of Rain and Stars Overdrive link

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe  catalog link

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe  

Taking refuge on a friend’s farm when a hurricane threatens the Southern coast, an eclectic group of evacuees confronts unresolved issues in the face of excruciating losses, discovering new priorities along the way. 

The Summer Guests Overdrive link

All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Check back next week for another installment of the Virtual Book Club!

What to Read During Hispanic Heritage Month

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena-Garcia, a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion. It is also the subject of the December 17th meeting of our horror book discussion group, Novel Scares. Register now to join us, via Zoom.

Virtual Book Club – Readalikes for The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

If you follow publishing news, then you know that the #1 New York Times bestselling Own Voices novel The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett has been generating a ton of buzz in the literary world. But that also means that the holds list for it at the library is long … very long. So while you wait for your prized copy of the book, we thought we’d put together a list of similar titles for you to read!

If you’ve never heard of The Vanishing Half, no problem! The book stars Black twin sisters: one who lives as a Black woman in the town where they grew up, and the other who passes as white, with a white husband who has no idea she is Black. Both have children, and who knows what will happen when their lives intersect. This is a timely novel and deserves all of the praise it’s been getting, but it may be difficult to get your hands on it at the library any time soon.

Click any of the readalike 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. You can find The Vanishing Half on Overdrive here. We guarantee that any of the books below will come in faster!

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In a near-future South where an increasing number of people with dark skin endure cosmetic procedures to pass as white, a father embarks on an obsessive quest to protect his son, who bears a dark, spreading birthmark.

We Cast a Shadow Overdrive link


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.

Homegoing Overdrive link


The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy 

Learning after a half-century of family life that their house on Detroit’s East Side is worth only a fraction of its mortgage, the members of the Turner family gather to reckon with their pasts and decide the house’s fate.

The Turner House Hoopla link

The Turner House Overdrive link

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through the story of three generations of an African American family in New Orleans.

A Kind of Freedom Hoopla link

A Kind of Freedom Overdrive link

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

In 1980s Atlanta, James Witherspoon is living a double life. He has two families, a public one and a secret one. When the daughters from each family become friends, James’ secrets are revealed and lives are changed forever.

Silver Sparrow Hoopla link

Silver Sparrow Overdrive link

All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Join us next week for another installment of the Virtual Book Club!

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Opioid Crisis

With everything going on in the world, it is easy to forget that Ohio is still in the middle of the opioid epidemic. Ohio is considered “ground zero” in the ongoing crisis, so for this week’s virtual book club, we thought we’d spotlight books to start the conversation, as well as local organizations that need your help and further information and reading from various authorities on the matter. 

Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to the library’s catalog, where you can place a hold on any of the books with your library card number and PIN. Links to our ebook service Overdrive have been included where available. 

Books to start the conversation:

Title: This is Ohio : the overdose crisis and the front lines of a new America
Author: Shuler, Jack
Note: This Is Ohio will be released on Sept. 8, 2020.

Local organizations: 

St. Vincent Charity Rosary Hall 

Salvation Army Harbor Light

Hitchcock Center for Women

Stella Maris 

Community Assessment and Treatment Services 

More information: 

Ohio State University Extension has an extensive page of resources on the opiate epidemic in Ohio. You can also find facts on statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse here. Lastly, Ohio Guidestone, an addiction treatment center, has an article with sobering facts on the opioid crisis in Ohio.

Stay tuned next Sunday for our next virtual book club post! 

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Incarceration

This week in social justice topics, we’re looking at mass incarceration, reentry, and recidivism. While people of all races are incarcerated, African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites, so many of the books below deal specifically with the Black experience (for more information, see the NAACP’s Crimincal Justice Fact Sheet). To see our past virtual book club post on racism, click here. These two virtual book club posts go hand in hand.

Below we’ve got books to start the discussion, local organizations that need your aid, and further recommended reading. To check out any of the books below, have your library card number and PIN ready, and click on one of the book covers to be taken to Hoopla, one of our ebook services. From there, you can check out your book at any time, with no holds lists and no waiting! 

Books to start the discussion: 

Local organizations to support: 

North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center

Aspire Greater Cleveland

Cleveland Eastside Ex-Offender Coalition

Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry

Oriana House

Further resources: 

The question of mass incarceration is a complicated one. For some quick facts and figures on reentry and recidivism, check out The Challenges of Prisoner Reentry: Facts and Figures from the Urban Institute, a fact sheet on Barriers to Successful Re-entry of Formerly Incarcerated People, and a former incarcerated person’s personal account of reentry from the ACLU.

Check back next Sunday for our next difficult topic in social justice! 

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Immigration

Welcome back to the virtual book club on difficult topics – we hope that these resources have helped spark conversations and new ideas for all of you! This week, we’re looking at another facet in the social justice sphere – immigration. Specifically, that of undocumented immigrants and people of color.  

As always, we’ve got a list of books to start your reading journey, local organizations that could use your support, and more reading to further the conversation. Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to Hoopla, one of our emedia sites. Just log in with your library card number and PIN, and you’re ready to go! 

Books to start the conversation: 

Local Organizations to Support: 

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants

Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland  

The Refugee Response 

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland – Migration and Refugee Services

US Citizenship Privilege Checklist: 

  1. Most if not all of the time I am able to surround myself with people who share a common or collective history, who understand the norms of U.S. society, who speak the same language that I do, and who understand my culture.  
  2. I can see my nation as “default” – it is normal, everybody else is “different”.  
  3. I can view my cultural norms as universal.  
  4. I do not know what is like to have war in my homeland.  
  5. I expect people in other countries to speak my language when I travel abroad.  
  6. I can assume everybody knows, or should know, my culture (for example, “American Idol” contestants).  
  7. I can assume no one else has any of the technological advantages I have (for example, assuming others do not know how to use a computer or oven).  
  8. I can easily ignore the fact that most news stories are told from the USAmerican or Western point of view and are not a universal truth.  
  9. I assume everybody wants to live in the United States, since I have been trained to believe is the best place to live (even without universal health care).  
  10. I see people from other countries as inferior to me, even if they are highly educated and successful. 

The list continues here, in the Examples of US Citizenship Privilege document from the University of Michigan. 

For further reading, check out this summary of key findings on immigrants from the Pew Research Center, a teaching guide on refugees from the UN Refugee Agency, and a lesson plan on asylum seekers from the Advocates of Human Rights

Check back next Sunday for more of the virtual book club!

Virtual Book Club – Week 5 – Book Woman

We can’t believe it’s the final week of our May virtual book club already! So in this last Sunday, we’re going to wrap up the discussion of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

If you’re just finding this post today, no worries! Click the link above to get a copy of the book from Hoopla, where it is always available. If you are a little late to join the discussion, you can always go back and comment on the older posts, too, using the ‘virtual book club’ tag. We are so interested to hear what you think about this fascinating work of historical fiction, so please share! Now, let’s get to the discussion questions:

  • What do you think life was like for the people of Troublesome? What are some of the highlights of living in such a remote place? What are some of the challenges the people on Cussy’s library route face?  
  • Back then, entering into a prohibited or interracial marriage in Kentucky was a misdemeanor that could result in incarceration, and we see these racial tensions attempt to sever Cussy and Jackson’s relationship. Discuss antimiscegenation laws and marriage laws. Do you think this kind of prejudice still exists toward interracial couples?  
  • What do you think happens to Cussy, Jackson, Honey, and the other inhabitants of Troublesome after the story ends? Imagine you were Cussy. How would you feel leaving Troublesome for good? 

Questions from the author’s website.

Thank for you joining us on this journey into the hills of Appalachia! We hoped you learned a lot about life in Kentucky during the Great Depression, the Librarian Pack Horse Program, and about Kentucky’s famous Blue People.  

And please make sure to join us for the Summer Reading Program, starting June 6! Find more information here. Check back here at the blog every week for more summer reading posts, book lists, virtual programs, and lots of other fun stuff!