Your Library Staff at Home – Back to the Library!

You may have heard that we are starting curbside delivery service at the library next week. We are as excited to get materials to you as you are to receive some new reads, watches and listens.

Here’s how it’s going to work: from the hours of 11-7 Monday through Friday, we will take your phone calls to request items. We will only be able to place items on hold that are owned by Rocky River Public Library; unfortunately, we cannot get items from other librarys until they open. In the meantime, our library is a full of unknown treasures, so explore the catalog. Use the upper left hand filtering option to choose Rocky River Only. Then search away and find something new! We are also always willing to make recommendations if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

Once you call and ask for the item, you have then have to wait until you are notified with a phone call/email/text telling you that your items are available. Then come to the library, call us and let us know you are here. If you’re in a car, tell us the number of the parking space that you are in. If you’ve walked or biked, let us know – there will be a spot for you to pick those items up as well. All items will be walked out to you by staff with masks on and they will place in the items in the trunk of your car – think Heinen’s or any other curbside pickup service. That’s it!

Speaking of book recommendations, here’s another episode of RRPL Book Harbor – and please send us more at askalibrarian@rrpl.org!

Patrick emailed asking for a few book recommendations. He has previously enjoyed The Expanse series, The Boys in the Boat, and Into Thin Air.

Adult Services Associate Sara responded:

Those are some excellent books you’ve chosen!  Since you enjoyed The Expanse series, here are a few other science fiction series that feature the ideas of colonization, adventure, exploration, and conflict between species. You may enjoy: The Shadow Series by Orson Scott Card, start with The Ender’s Shadow. Old Man’s War Universe by John Scalzi, start with Old Man’s War. Since you enjoyed Into Thin Air and Boys in the Boathere are a few other non-fiction titles that are filled with outdoor adventure, teamwork and overcoming adversity.  The Three Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway, Wild: Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed and The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko.

I can’t wait to take your calls and help you get your library materials. Stay safe and stay home between library trips!

~ Dori

Your Library Staff at Home – Making & Crafting

Last week, I interrupted our regularly scheduling blogging with a post about Book Harbor, RRPL’s personalized book recommendation service. Today, I am resuming my deep dive into making & crafting, with a little book recommendation thrown in – it’s a combo offering!

Spring has sprung and I am busy making my garden sing! I have a shady backyard and a sunny front – and I usually alternate years – one year I work a lot on the front – the next, the back. Well, this year it’s been a backyard effort – a shady, woodland type garden filled with a mix of native plants and non-native shade lovers. Last week, I took a trip to Wilmot, Ohio to the Wilderness Center, where I picked up some native plants that I had ordered in advance. I had never heard of the Wilderness Center, until an internet search brought up their plant sale. It’s a lovely area, surrounded by farms and rolling hills. I will definitely make a trip back there to visit their Interpretive Center and trails when things open up again. I bought Pennsylvania Sedge and Black Cohosh for the back garden and milkweed, liatris and rattlesnake master (such a great name) for the front. I’ve lived in my house for almost 25 years and my garden is, and will always be, a work in progress, but I love it.

Of course, there are many books that I’ve consulted about shade gardening because that’s what I do – I’ve got to read everything I can get my hands on before taking action (it’s a fault, I know). Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden by Jenny Rose Carey is a really good place to start. Then there’s The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change by Ken Druse, who’s considered an expert on natural gardening, and Designing and Planting a Woodland Garden: Plants and Combinations that Thrive in the Shade by Keith Wiley which packs inspiration into every page.

I’ve also been making food – constantly it seems. I’m a member of Fresh Fork Market and we received chicken backs this week to make stock; so I threw them in a pot with some onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme (that I recently planted) and it’s simmering away right now, filling the house with an aroma that’s driving the dog a little crazy – delicious. I like to have to figure out how to cook whatever ends up in my weekly share – to cook seasonally and with whatever you have on hand instead of running to the store. I’ve also been dipping into cookbook/memoirs that I love to revisit. Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums is a memoir of her time after the magazine Gourmet folded, complete with seasonal recipes. Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, is filled with reflection and humor. And of course, check out If I Can Cook/You Know God Can: African American Food Memories, Meditations, and Recipes by playwright Ntozake Shange, who weaves together historical/sociological knowledge with personal experience of people, places and food.

Ok – onto Book Harbor! Please send us your requests at askalibrarian@rrpl.org.

8-year-old Abigail’s favorite books are Harry Potter, the Who Was Series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Shannon, one of our talented Adult Reference Librarians, responded:

My first recommendation would be Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, which is the first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. It features magic, humor, and strong female characters. A princess decides that she doesn’t want to marry any of the princes who ask for her hand, so she goes to live with the dragons. I loved this series as a kid (and still do!) She could also try Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. It’s a lot like Harry Potter, but with a lot more snark. Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius who kidnaps a fairy for ransom so that he can restore his family’s fortune. Third, she could try The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi,  which is the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. In this one, two children go to stay with their great aunt in the countryside and discover a world of fantastical creatures.

Stay safe and stay home!

~Dori

Your Library Staff at Home- What I’m Reading Now

I’ve been making great usage of both Hoopla and Overdrive over the past couple weeks to satisfy my reading appetite, but have also taken this time at home as an opportunity to pick up some titles in my home library that I’ve never read. Scroll on for some of my just finished and currently in progress reads.

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

Oh how I loved this book! This memorizing horror-fantasy- historical fiction-thriller novel grabbed me and wouldn’t let me put it down until I knew all it’s twisty secrets. Set in colonial New England, readers are led along by one seemingly innocent young woman who finds herself lost in the woods after berry-picking for her husband and son. Her wanderings bring her to meet other women in the woods and it quickly becomes clear not all is as it seems and the truth is hard to discern. Highly recommended if you enjoyed the 2015 film The Witch, or The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Available through OverDrive.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman ; Illustrated by Colleen Doran

This dark retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, by one of my all-time favorite authors, flips the classic story in a fresh and chilling way. Snow, Glass, Apples is narrated by the stepmother, who is actually quite good, and who must protect herself and her kingdom from the King’s monstrous daughter- Snow White. Beautifully illustrated and written, any fan of Gaiman or fairy tales will want to pick this up. Winner of the 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. Available through Hoopla.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

I started reading this a while back and never finished it- probably because I had began this book while on my honeymoon in Hawaii and it’s not really a “beach read” sort of book. But! I am picking it back up and so far it is quite a curious, witty, and weird (perhaps even a bit romantic) mash-up of literary fiction and some magical realism. I think this time around I will finish this! Available through OverDrive.

Bunny by Mona Awad

The great Margaret Atwood tweeted this book was a combination, among other things, of the Witches of Eastwick and Mean Girls, so I was sold. I’ve only just begun this dark and funny novel but am very excited to see where it goes! Available through OverDrive.

Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces by Valerie Villieu; Illustrated by Raphael Sarfati

This heartwarming graphic novel is a first-hand account of the unlikely friendship that blossomed between a home nurse and her 84- year old patient stricken with Alzheimer’s, Josephine. Humor and laughter bring the two together, and readers will enjoy this story of human connection. The story takes place in Paris, but it’s critiques of an overloaded healthcare system and the frustrations of geriatric care easily translate to American healthcare and makes for a story that many can relate to. Available through Hoopla.

What is everyone else reading at home? I hope you have read some fabulous books and that perhaps one of my titles will spark your interest for your next digital checkout. Happy reading and stay safe!

Your Library Staff at Home-Upcoming Graphic Novels

How is everyone doing at home? Though it can seem like the days blur into one another and spring weather might not actually ever arrive, something that I have been focusing on to put me in good spirits is thinking about what I can look forward to in the coming months, rather than focusing on what I can’t do. For example, I’m looking forward to decorating my new home, celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary with my husband, and reading all of the awesome books that will be published!

I’m a huge fan of the graphic novel and comic format, and am particularly excited about some forthcoming titles that I was able to get a sneak peak of earlier this week in a fun Library Journal webinar. Despite being at home, my friend and fellow comic loving librarian Megan and I were able to chat during the webinar and share our excitement in real time! Thanks technology.

Take a look below to see some of the new graphic novels I’m stoked to read!

Don’t forget that while you can’t put items on hold at the moment, you can still add titles to your wishlist, and you can still read plenty of comics and graphic novels on Hoopla (including some stellar bonus borrows that won’t affect your monthly borrow limit!).

What are you looking forward to? Have you read any amazing comics or graphic novels this past month? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Your Library Staff at Home- Book Recommendations from the Couch

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!

What we’re reading now….

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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This is a story about isolation and resilience. Kya, also known as the Marsh Girl, was abandoned by her family in the marsh lands of North Carolina. Alongside the story of her survival in the marsh as a child, an alternate timeline of a murder is unwound throughout the story. The writing is lyrical and descriptive which drags you deep into the marshes of North Carolina. The book is both heartbreaking and triumphant. Beth

The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons  by A.R. Ammons

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American poet A.R. Ammons taught creative writing for years at Cornell, and recently a two-volume collection was published. I’m working my way through the first volume and hope to read the second as well. His poetry is a very intense exploration of the relationship between the natural world and the metaphysical. His voice is charming and unforgettable, and he is able to be funny and profound at the same time. Ammons grew up in rural North Carolina, and some of his most affecting poems (for me) are about his memories as a child, taking care of the animals on his family’s farm. A good, slow, enjoyable and worthwhile read. Andrew

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg

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In Palaces for the People, Klinenberg makes the argument that social infrastructure is fundamental to both the physical and social health of a community. In using the phrase “social infrastructure,” Klinenberg is referencing community places that cause human contact and social connections to form, including libraries, places of worship, parks, and schools. The connections made at these locations create social safety nets and allow for exposure to others; this imparts tolerance and understanding in a society often becoming more divisive. An interesting read; the frequent mentions of how libraries are valuable resources for communities may have influenced my appreciation and enjoyment. Trent


The Familiars by Stacy Hall

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This is a fictionalized account of the real life Pendle Hill Witch Trials. It’s 1612, Lancashire, England and young noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth has yet to bear a child after four years of marriage. Each of her pregnancies have ended in miscarriage and the doctor has made a dire prediction-Fleetwood will not survive another pregnancy. And yet, she once again finds herself with child. When she meets Alice Grey, she begins to believe that both she and her baby might survive. Fleetwood places all her trust in her new midwife, who prescribes various herbs to treat Fleetwood’s ailments. While her health improves and her pregnancy progresses Alice finds herself being accused of witchcraft. Can Fleetwood save the only woman who can save her? Megan


Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

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Kindred was pushed up in my reading priorities in February, but as is often the case I don’t usually read books based on monthly themes. I am now part way through listening to it being read by Kim Staunton on my commutes. It has some similarities to the Outlander series, but this book was written 12 years earlier in 1979. 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 with back and forth time travelling. Dana must learn to survive living on a plantation in the slave state of Maryland where she has no rights. She meets a couple of her ancestors and learns about her surprising black and white family tree. She experiences physical trauma similar to the women of several generations past. There isn’t really a science fiction device for the time travelling, so it is more fantasy based. Sometimes time travel stories can be full of loopholes and anachronisms, but Butler has very carefully constructed the plot based on history that the hero Dana cannot so easily change for the better. Byron


American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt by Stephanie Thornton

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This is the story of Alice, the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. Alice is just 18 years old when McKinley is assassinated and her father becomes president. Rebellious Alice is in constant conflict with her father and stepmother. She soon marries Congressman Nick Longworth and must deal with his infidelity and heavy drinking. Alice gives birth to Paulina, who is believed to be the daughter of Senator William Borah. When Paulina dies young, Alice raises her granddaughter. This is an epic story of a strong independent woman way ahead of her time. Emma


Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

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George Washington Black, Wash as we come to know him, is a ten year old slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados in the mid 1800s. When the eccentric brother, Titch, of the exceedingly cruel master, Eramus, comes to stay, Wash is taken under the wing of Titch. Wash is both confused and terrified by such an unlikely kindness extended to him. Titch is a scientist, inventor, explorer and abolitionist. Wash is swept up in the life of such a diversified, yet strange young man. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption. The author deftly talks about slavery, racism and identity. It reads like both historical fiction and adventure. Have patience with this novel, at times, it seems disconnected, but well worth it. Mary

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

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Nine people join at a remote health resort in Australia for different reasons. Some are hoping to lose weight, some are getting over broken hearts, and others have heard it is just the most amazing experience ever. As each of them are cut off from the outside world and required to follow a rigid, individualized schedule prepared for them by the spa’s extremely eccentric owner/director, they begin to wonder what they have gotten themselves into. Should they stay and experience the promised life-changing experience, or should they run while (and if) they still can? Not as good as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies in my opinion, but still a good read with some interesting twists and turns. Sara

When I Spoke in Tongues by Jessica Wilbanks

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This memoir is about a woman who grew up in a very religious yet impoverished rural Virginia community and becomes an atheist. As I read it, I could not help but think of Tara Westover’s Educated. Even though there were many similarities in their stories, When I Spoke In Tongues dealt mostly with the complicated, painful process of leaving one’s faith. The most interesting aspect of the author’s journey away from faith was the way her relationships with family members changed. Jessica Wilbanks holds an MFA in creative non-fiction, and the writing in this book is haunting and beautiful. This book would be important for anyone who decides to depart from the faith tradition they grew up with, as well as anyone who wants to know more about Pentecostalism as a movement. Lyndsey

Waterworks by E.L. Doctorow

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I went back a few years and revisited a 1994 E.L. Doctorow novel, The Waterworks, because it was recommended. Set in post-Civil War New York, the book is narrated by a world-weary newspaperman, McIlvaine, whose freelance writer, Martin Pemberton, has disappeared. Pemberton, smart, rebellious, and scion of the wealthy and recently deceased Augustus Pemberton, had confided to McIlvaine that, though his father had died, he believed he recently saw him passing by in a carriage. McIlvaine enlists the help of Donne, a rare honest police officer during the Boss Tweed era, and the two search for Martin, discovering his half-dead body in a facility where the genius Dr. Sartorious is trying to defeat mortality. Doctorow starts off well, lyrically capturing New York and its inhabitants, the poverty, wealth, power and industry, but eventually the plot becomes too gothic and the characters stereotypically good or evil. Maybe this isn’t one of his best? Dori

Read a book by a “new to you” author

There’s still time to finish that Winter Reading Bingo card and fill your “new to you” author square. A new-to-you author can be just about anyone, but if you typically pick up a bestseller, here are a few books by new or lesser-known authors who may fly under your radar. (We have a flyer named Under the Radar Fiction that comes out each month in the new fiction area of the Grand Reading Room). This list is all recent books, so they will be found in New Fiction. I saw many of these on our shelves just this morning!

The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky

American Spy by Lauren Wilkenson

The Eulogist by Terry Gamble