Bookish Oscar Nominations

Photo by RODNAE Productions: https://www.pexels.com/photo/an-actor-holding-his-award-7005636/

And the Oscar goes too…the books behind the movies. It’s officially Oscar season! As we all know, books make great movies- and the Academy Awards agree. Several book-to-movie adaptations received Oscar nominations this year. The Oscars take place on March 12, so there’s plenty of time to pick up a book before the awards ceremony.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Based on All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Request the book.

The testament of Paul Baumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I, illuminates the savagery and futility of war.

Nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, International Feature Film, Production Design, Visual Effects, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, and Sound.

Women Talking

Based on Women Talking by Miriam Toews. Request the book.

After learning the men in the community have been drugging and attacking women, eight Mennonite women meet in secret to decide whether they should escape.

Nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay

Request the movie.

The Whale

Based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter. Request the play.

A six hundred pound recluse hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. 

Nominated for Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Request the movie.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Based on the Black Panther comic series. Request the book.

The Black Panther is not just a super hero; as King T’Challa, he is also the monarch of the hidden African nation of Wakanda.

Nominated for Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Original Song, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Visual Effects.

Request the movie.

Blonde

Based on Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. Request the book.

A fictional recreation of the life of Marilyn Monroe recounts the tale of her rise to stardom, as seen from Marilyn’s perspective.

Nominated for Lead Actress.

The Quiet Girl

Based on Foster by Claire Keegan. Request the book.

An Irish child taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm finds the love and affection she never knew before and begins to thrive.

Nominated for International Feature Film.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Based on Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico. Request the book.

The irrepressible Mrs. Harris finds adventures that take her from her humble London roots to the heights of glamour in Paris

Nominated for Costume Design.

Request the movie.

Other literary nods are included in animated and short film categories, including Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio, Puss in Boots, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, and My Year of Dicks (based on Notes to Boys).

Speaking of awards, stop by the library to enter our Oscar winners contest. Select your predictions for Oscar winners for a chance to win a movie theater gift card.

Enjoy these blockbuster reads!

-Melinda

Bookish Travel-United States Edition

One of my favorite prompts from a past reading challenge was to read a book set in the location of your current vacation. Thanks to this prompt, I read The Wright Brothers by David McCullough while on a trip to the Outer Banks and Learning to Die in Miami by Carlos Eire while soaking up the South Beach sun. Being in the locale where the books took place allowed me to connect with the books in a way that I would not have otherwise.

Whether you’re in the dreaming phase of vacation planning or on vacation as you’re reading this, if you’d like to add a bookish spin to your time away, here are a few options for your next vacation-inspired read.

According to Newsweek these five locations are some of the most popular places to vacation stateside, so I’ve included two fiction and a nonfiction recommendation for each destination.

New York City

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie NYPD cops, are neighbors in the suburbs. What happens behind closed doors in both houses–the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for growing up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. 

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing (Nonfiction)

When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by the most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. 

Hawaii

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion…she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

The Descendents by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive – one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners. Now his luck has changed. 

Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii by James L. Haley (Nonfiction)

Tells the story of King Kamehameha I, The Conqueror, who unified the islands through terror and bloodshed, but whose dynasty succumbed to inbreeding; of Gilded Age tycoons like Claus Spreckels who brilliantly outmaneuvered his competitors; of firebrand Lorrin Thurston, who was determined that Hawaii be ruled by whites; of President McKinley, who presided over the eventual annexation of the islands.

New Orleans

Photo by Aya Salman on Unsplash

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking . . . and The Witching Hour begins. It begins in our time with a rescue at sea.  Rowan Mayfair, a beautiful woman, a brilliant practitioner of neurosurgery–aware that she has special powers but unaware that she comes from an ancient line of witches–finds the drowned body of a man off the coast of California and brings him to life.  

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm. 

The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette (Nonfiction)

New Orleans is the most elusive of American cities. The product of the centuries-long struggle among three mighty empires–France, Spain, and England–and among their respective American colonies and enslaved African peoples, it has always seemed like a foreign port to most Americans, baffled as they are by its complex cultural inheritance.

San Diego

Photo by Andres Garcia on Unsplash

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance – and the subsequent cover-up – will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.

The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg

Set against the backdrop of the deadly 2007 wildfires that forced the evacuation of half a million San Diego residents, the dark side of suburbia is examined–a place where everyone has something to hide.

Alta California by Nick Neely (Nonfiction)

Despite having grown up in California, Nick Neely realized how little he knew about its history. So he set off to learn it bodily, with just a backpack and a tent, trekking through stretches of California both lonely and urban.

Washington, D.C.

Photo by Ridwan Meah on Unsplash

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has “a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs” is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. 

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. 

This Town by Mark Leibovich (Nonfiction)

Washington This Town might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of bug politics, big money, big media, and big vanity. There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation’s capital, just millionaires. That is the grubby secret of the place in the twenty-first century.

Want to continue reading about destinations? Try the Uncorked Librarian‘s America Reading Challenge or Read the World for international recommendations.

Remember that our digital library allows you to pack light! Download a few books from Libby or Hoopla to keep you company.

Enjoy your trip!

-Melinda

Lisa’s Top Ten of 2022

This list of books is all about mom life. Whether is be getting the kids to read for school, what to make for dinner, how to make tedious chores like folding laundry more enjoyable, planning that family vacation, or catching up on the summer best sellers from 5 years ago….. Here are my favorites (or the most useful) picks for 2022.

Getting the kids to read:

Interrupting Chicken Cookies for Breakfast– by David Ezra Stein. This is the latest in the Interrupting Chicken series and makes everyone in my house laugh- and seriously consider eating cookies for breakfast!

Press Start! Game Over, Super Rabbit Boy! by T. Flintham is first in the Press Start! series that have helped young readers in my house get over that mental block from “I can only read picture books” to “I can read on my own!” They are short, easy to read, and have a fun video game theme. Most importantly, they look and feel like short chapter books and help building some reading confidence. The series is now up to 12 books.

What to Make For Dinner:

The Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach. I subscribe to a local CSA (community supported agriculture) and was looking for ways to get my kids to eat more of what comes in the CSA bag.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a miraculous way to make cauliflower so my son will willingly feed it to himself.  But I did appreciate this author’s approach to introduce more vegetables at the table with small plates and tastes.     

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof– by Ina Garten. I have 2 other Ina Garten cookbooks and use them regularly.  I find this one to be a little heavy of the seafood, which I don’t cook with much at home.  But the soups and desserts in this book are delicious and great around the holidays. I love the winter minestrone recipe in this book.

Watched too much Bluey:


Big Little Lies
– by Liane Moriarty. This is more like the Bluey antidote for when you need a story that is darker, more adult, and everyone’s hurt feelings aren’t resolved in 7 minutes or less. It is a suspense book full of scandal and bad behavior of parents in a close knit community.

Keep your hands free for household chores:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. In an attempt to make housework more tolerable, I started listening to the audiobook version of Ready Player One. It’s an action packed adventure to entertain you while folding laundry. Fans of Star Trek: TNG and The Big Bang Theory might get a kick out of listening to Wil Wheaton, who does a great job of making the audiobook not seem so audiobook-ish.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A hit among book clubs and I wanted to give it a whirl. It didn’t disappoint. And who doesn’t want to escape to the golden age of Hollywood while you are cleaning out closets!?!

Mysteries- my weak spot:

The Maid by Nita Prose. This is a good cozy mystery story with a unique narrator. The main character does a lot of growing while solving the mystery, making this a satisfying read.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano. A likeable new series of mystery books. If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich you will like this accidental sleuth who is trying to balance her career and her young family.

Go ahead, plan that dream vacation:

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger & Len Testa. If you are even thinking about a trip to Disney World I suggest you read up.  There is so much to see and do it can make the planning process overwhelming.  There are many guides out there to help you, but this one was my favorite.

Trent’s Top 10 of 2022

This year it was slightly easier than usual to narrow down my list to a top 12. I read significantly less this year, and there were fewer standout titles. However, it was still tough to select which of those standouts made the final list. As usual, I have grouped any series that have made my list into a single entry. Additionally, you can click the images to see their availability.

10. Portrait of a Thief – Grace D. Li
9. Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery – Rosalie Knecht
8. Harlem Shuffle – Colson
Whitehead

7. Sinister Graves – Marcie R.
Rendon

6. Big Gold Dream – Chester Himes
5. Murderbot Series – Martha Wells

4. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan
Barry

3. The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec

2. The Spellman Files – Lisa Lutz
1. The Trespasser

Linnea’s Top Ten of 2022

The Ghost That Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City Poltergeist by Daniel Kraus (2022) 

On June 1, 2017, six people were killed at a Burger City franchise off I-80 near Jonny, Iowa. It was the bizarre and gruesome conclusion to nine months of alleged paranormal activity at the fast-food joint—events popularly known as “the Burger City Poltergeist.” 

Presented here is the definitive story of “the most exhaustively documented haunting in history,” including—for the first time ever—interviews with every living survivor of the tragedy. 

The employees of Burger City were a family. They loved one another. At least, at the beginning. 

But love can make you do unspeakable things. 

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum (2022) 

A witty and moving debut. Moving to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, Hoodie Rosen falls for the daughter of the mayor who is trying to keep Hoodie’s Orthodox Jewish community out of town, and when antisemitic crimes turn deadly, he must choose between his first love and the only world he’s ever known.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014) 

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin (2021) 

Chronicling her life in the songs she writes, April Sawicki, after leaving home for good, finds her way to Ithaca, New York where she finally finds a sense of belonging but cannot shake the feeling that she’ll hurt her new friends that way she’s been hurt. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (2021) 

The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother. 

The Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd (2020) 

Josie Lloyd’s fearless novel is a tribute to the power of the human spirit in the face of hardship, based on the author’s own experience with cancer and community. 

A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett (2020) 

Presents an urgent call for justice-system reform in the story of a disadvantaged, African-American single mother from the rural South who was separated from her young daughter and sentenced to life in prison for a first-time offense. 

The Winners by Fredrik Backman (2021) 

As simmering tensions between the towns of Beartown and Hed turn into acts of intimidation and then violence, a 14-year-old boy, increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community, puts in motion a plan to avenge his beloved sister’s death that will leave Beartown with an unimaginable loss. 

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton (2021) 

Accepting a contract from a fledgling record company, a talented music artist in early 1970s New York endures racist responses to her activism, before a reunion interview decades later reveals explosive secrets. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022) 

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, this is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.  

-Linnea

Melinda’s Top 10 of 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, it’s clear that there is no shortage of good books to read these days! In no particular order and with no rhyme or reason, here are the ten books that I enjoyed most this year.

The Cloisters

A circle of researchers uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.

The Sentence

A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store.

The Last Laugh

Tress Montor murdered Felicity Turnado–but she might not have to live with the guilt for long. With an infected arm, the panther who clawed her open on the loose, and the whole town on the hunt for the lost homecoming queen, the odds are stacked against Tress.

Malibu Rising

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives will change forever.

Wintering

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

Six friends. One college reunion. One unsolved murder. Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to her southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake.

Firekeeper’s Daughter

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Normal Family

Chrysta Bilton’s magnetic, larger-than-life mother, Debra, yearned to have a child, but as a single gay woman in 1980s California, she had few options. Until one day, she met a man and instantly knew he was the one she’d been looking for.

The Children on the Hill

1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. When she brings home Iris, she does not behave like a normal girl.

I’m Glad My Mom Died

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor–including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother–and how she retook control of her life.

Wishing you a New Year full of good books!

-Melinda

Shannon’s Top Ten of 2022

It’s that time again! All this week, your favorite RRPL librarians will be sharing their Top Ten best books of 2022. I read a lot of good books this year, so it was tough to pare down my list to just ten titles – but here they are, my best of the best for 2022!

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.

Cover image and RRPL catalog link
10. Chainsaw Man
(continuing series)
by Tatsuki Fujimoto
cover image and RRPL catalog link
9. Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfeld
cover image and RRPL catalog link
8. Iron Widow
by Xiran Jay Zhao

cover image and RRPL catalog link
7. The Jasmine Throne
by Tasha Suri
cover image and RRPL catalog link
6. Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution
by R. F. Kuang
cover image and RRPL catalog link
5. Siren Queen
by Nghi Vo

cover image and RRPL catalog link
4. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
by Kate Beaton
cover image and RRPL catalog link
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
cover image and RRPL catalog link
2. Nettle & Bone
by T. Kingfisher

And my favorite book of 2022 is:

cover image and RRPL catalog link
1. Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

For those that may remember my first Top Ten list waaaay back in 2020, this choice for my favorite book of 2022 should not be much of a surprise. I love Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb series, and the first book, Gideon the Ninth (often delightfully described as “lesbian necromancers in space”) was my number one favorite book back in 2020. I actually preordered this book and was so excited to read it when it came in the mail, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.

Tamsyn Muir’s latest addition to the series is about a new character, Nona, who is possibly the sweetest person on any planet. All she wants for her birthday is to have a party with all of her friends and her favorite dogs, but intergalactic politics keep getting in the way. And there’s an ominous blue entity hanging in the sky above the city where she lives, which definitely isn’t good. I can’t say more without spoiling the plot, but Muir has outdone herself once again. This book made me laugh, cry, and want to throw it across the room – all in the best way, of course! Muir’s books are always challenging, deep, and deeply felt, and once again her characters have stolen my heart. A note – while you technically could pick this up and read it as a standalone, it will be extremely confusing. Go back and read the first two books, then try this one. If you aren’t addicted after that, this series just isn’t for you.

So that’s a wrap on 2022! Be sure to keep checking back – there will be new Top Ten lists from our librarians out every day this week!

Short on Time? Pick Up a Short Book!

We’ve all been there. It’s January 1st and we think we can read 100 (or 24, or 52) books in the new year. We set lofty reading goals and have every intention of reaching them…

…and then all of the sudden it’s December and you’re coming up a few books short. I may be speaking from personal experience here. If your heart is set on reaching your reading goal, here’s a pro tip: start reading shorter books. Shorter books can help with short attention spans, reading ruts, or those mad dashes to reach 85 books in the next four weeks. If you need to add a few more books to get closer to your reading goal, here are a handful of titles to consider.

Under 200 Pages

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Tokyo resident Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. In the store, unlike anywhere else, she understands the rules of social interaction–many are laid out line by line in the store’s manual.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.

How To Be A Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals–Sy’s friends–and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home–a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse–but John’s not there. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Under 300 Pages

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

A reclusive bookseller begins to feel the discomfort of love again. Two college roommates have a devastating middle-aged reunion. A proud old man rages powerlessly in his granddaughter’s hospital room. A writer receives a visit from all the  men who have tried to suppress her voice. 

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Leah is changed. A marine biologist, she left for a routine expedition months earlier, only this time her submarine sank to the sea floor. When she finally surfaces and returns home, her wife Miri knows that something is wrong. Barely eating and lost in her thoughts, Leah rotates between rooms in their apartment, running the taps morning and night. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home.

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

Almost every afternoon, the Woman in the Purple Skirt sits on the same park bench, where she eats a cream bun while the local children make a game of trying to get her attention. Unbeknownst to her, she is being watched–by the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, who is always perched just out of sight, monitoring which buses she takes, what she eats, whom she speaks to.

And if you’re not inspired or don’t have time to panic-read, here’s a reminder that it’s okay to not reach your reading goals. We set our goals but life can get in the way. Enjoy the next book you pick up and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. After all, reading is meant to be enjoyable, not a chore. If your challenge is no longer bringing you joy, say goodbye to the pressure and enjoy savoring the story.

-Melinda

Book Club Picks

Are you in a book club? Then you’re one of the 5 million Americans that enjoy getting together with friends and talking books. That’s a lot of readers! Whether you read memoirs, bestsellers or saucy romances, picking a book for your group can be a challenge. Some groups vote on titles while others rotate monthly selectors. If your group is stuck in a reading rut here are recent books making the book club rounds. Or, if you’d rather revisit a perennial book club favorite, I’ve included a few recommendations of tried and true titles.

Recent Titles

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever. Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

With humor and heart, Michelle Zauner tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

Tried and True Titles

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she’s forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. With nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.

Looking for further inspiration? Check out previous selections from celebrity book clubs, including the Good Morning America Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, Oprah’s Book Club, Today Show’s Read With Jenna, Book of the Month, or Belletrist BookClub.

Did you know that Rocky River Public Library has book club kits? Take the guess work out of your next title and borrow a book club kit. Each kit contains eight copies of your selected title as well as discussion questions. Call or stop by the library for more information.

-Melinda

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

Prolific storyteller Neil Gaiman was born on this day 61 years ago. From short stories to graphic novels to nonfiction to screenplays, Gaiman has left no storytelling stone unturned. While a large swatch of his fan base are avid sci-fi and fantasy readers, Gaiman still has mass appeal. Children’s books, such as Coraline, have garnered an adult fan base. Films and television shows have been created based on his books and Gaiman has even written episodes for beloved series like Doctor Who. 

Gaiman has written screeplays, produced films, and directed some too. He has an immense body of work with no signs of slowing down. The Sandman television series (based on Gaiman’s own DC Comics of the same name), a comic adaptation by Colleen Doran (from Gaiman’s Chivalry), and Miracleman comics were all released this year.  

No need to be overwhelmed, though! Here’s a list of offerings in every area Gaiman has his hands.  

Stories 

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions 

Short stories and poems make up this fantastical collection from 1998. Most of the works had been published in magazines, anthologies, or other places prior to being assembled in Smoke and Mirrors. 

Coraline 

It may be considered a children’s book, but this creepy tale can be read at any age. Young Coraline and her parents move to a big, old house converted into apartments. Accompanied by an odd cast of characters, Coraline soon finds another world that is parallel to her own. While it seems perfect, it quickly becomes a nightmare Coraline must escape. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane 

Gaiman, a master of dark fantasy and magical realism, has also proven his mastery of human connection. The narrator, returning to his town to attend a funeral, reminisces on a tragedy that he witnessed as a child. Sometimes recommended as a children’s book, this fares better for an adult reflecting on their childhood. 

Nonfiction 

Adventures in the Dream Trade 

This is a collection of Gaiman’s essays and introductions and includes the original weblog of American Gods, before it was written into a novel. 

Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion 

Not just a companion guide into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a wonderfully absurd science fiction series), this nonfiction work is also a biography of the author Douglas Adams. 

Comics 

The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman 

This comic collection contains Batman, Superman, and Metamorpho. Published in 2016, the comics span from 1989-2013. 

Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days 

This is a collection from DC that includes several hard-to-find works from Gaiman’s earlier days. It includes comics centered around the Sandman, John Constantine, and the Floronic Man. 

Films and Television 

American Gods 

In addition to providing the source material, Gaiman was a writer and executive producer for this television series adaptation. 

As New Gods gain prominence, the Old Gods worry they are becoming irrelevant. Shadow Moon, recently released from prison, becomes embroiled in this world of magic and the mission of uniting the Old Gods to rebuild their status. 

Princess Mononoke 

Originally released in Japan, this is a classic film from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Gaiman wrote the script when it was dubbed for English in 1999. 

-Linnea