Throughout the past few weeks I slowed down on my reading a bit to dive into some tv shows and films, but now that I’ve nearly finished all three seasons of Hannibal (an amazing show and noteworthy if for nothing other than truly disturbing and beautiful cinematography) I’m getting back to my lengthy to-read list.
Hoopla has gotten some really great new graphic novels that I am so excited to read! Here are my top recently released graphic novels you can read right now on Hoopla- some were new just in the past month and some are releases from earlier this spring that I missed during the chaos that was April and May. Better to read late than never is a mantra I often tell myself.
From sci-fi adventures to superheroes (sometimes hero-ish? looking at you Catwoman) to stories about adorable cats, there is something for everyone in the titles above.
I also just snagged the first five single issues of The Low, Low Woods, a newer comic series put out as part of the Joe Hill presents Hill House Comics of DC. I am quite delighted to crack open issue #1- the series is by the author of one of my favorite short story collections, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado! If you haven’t read Her Body and Other Parties and you like weird feminist fiction- check it out now here on OverDrive! You won’t be disappointed. And since I generally love anything Joe Hill puts out or helps to publish, this should be a stellar series. Volume one is slated to be released this fall if you are more of a “wait for the collected volume” sort of reader *wink wink*.
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.
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 Familiarsby Stacey Halls. Available through OverDrive.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Have you watched all the guilty pleasure reality television you can handle? Re-watched all of your favorite classic films? Caught up on all those Oscar-nominated movies that you missed? If you find yourself struggling to find great viewing at home, I’ve put together a list of five stellar documentaries that you can watch at home right now for free!
This utterly charming documentary was recommended to me a while back by Dori, our Adult Services Manager who always has a great film tip up her sleeve, and I finally got around to watching it last week. This delightful film follows 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR in what is essentially a roadtrip movie through France. Winner of the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Available through Kanopy.
Netflix recently made a variety of educational documentaries available for free viewing on YouTube- you can view all of the free documentary offerings here. The amazing documentary 13th is one of these offerings and a definite must watch. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This critically acclaimed film will leave you with much to think about.
Bombshell shares the inspiring story of Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr as she fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. Viewers learn that behind the glamour and sex appeal was a very talented and inquisitive inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr didn’t receive credit for this achievement but this film looks to give her recognition long past due. Available through Kanopy.
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, the book wasn’t completed and consisted of only thirty pages at the time of Baldwin’s death. Filmmaker Raoul Peck utilizes archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to envision the book he never finished, providing an excellent introduction to Baldwin’s work and an intriguing look at racism in America. Available through Kanopy.
Geek Girls looks at the “hidden half” of fan culture- women! Nerdy ladies open up about their personal experiences in the world of conventions, video games, and other pop culture circles that are burdened by widespread misogyny. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to nerdy women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of geeky women including a feminist geek blogger, a professional gamer, and a NASA engineer. Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Available through Kanopy.
I hope something sparks your interest from my list! Each and every one of these documentaries is thought-provoking and well worth a watch. I guarantee you will learn something too, which is always what I expect from a good documentary. What are some of your favorite documentaries? I’d love to hear your picks in the comments!
As you may have guessed, I love books. My home library includes a little bit of everything- classics, poetry, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and a variety of cookbooks that I’ve been gifted or picked up throughout the years. Traditionally, my home library organization mostly consisted of “put the books wherever they fit” and “let’s start stacking books under the coffee table”… but my husband and I recently purchased a new home and I now find myself with more space and shelving than ever before! I have a dedicated cookbook area in my kitchen, plenty of time to try out recipes that have long sat flagged with Post-it notes, and no plans to leave the house (except for groceries) for some time- could there be a more perfect time to experiment in the kitchen?
Today I’m sharing a few cookbooks I’ve been working my way through, along with links to some favorite recipes I have (successfully!) made myself so you can try at home.
Both The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and the follow-up Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman are fabulous, and Deb writes with such a conversational and encouraging tone, you will feel emboldened to try even her most complicated recipe. She is a home cook from NYC and her tasty comfort food is perfect for the stress we might all be feeling right now. I recommend making her one-pan farro and tomatoes– an easy dish that requires few ingredients and even fewer pots and pans!
I am totally obsessed with Sister Pie bakery. My brother-in-law lives in Detroit and whenever I visit we make sure to schedule a stop at this awesome bakery, snagging pie slices and cookies to take back with us (or consume entirely on the drive back home). I highly recommend making the sweet beet pie or the honey lemon meringue- both are crazy delicious and included in the cookbook!
Liddon’s cookbook is full of healthy vegan recipes and usually utilizes pantry staples and basic ingredients, so you don’t need to go to any specialty stores for ingredients (and nobody wants to go to a basic grocery store now, let alone a specialty store!). Try this quick pantry dal that you can make with basically whatever veggies you have around the house.
Fun fact- Gerard grew up right here in Northeast Ohio! She lives in Colorado now but there are definite Midwest influences in many of her recipes, and she particularly adores broccoli cheddar soup recipes inspired by her childhood love of Panera Bread. Her crinkle top brownies are my absolute favorite brownie recipe, but be warned you may be tempted to eat the whole pan. Exercise extreme caution.
Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
This was one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased (I own the original edition but the 10th anniversary edition has new recipes and updates!) and it is still one of my favorites. With extensive recipes for every occasion and meal, these vegan recipes are so delicious and flavorful you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate them. Time consuming and oh so delicious, I highly recommend making her eggplant moussaka with pine nut cream. It has been my go-to recipe for potlucks and parties for years, but also a great family dish for home because it will provide delicious vegan leftovers for days!
Don’t forget you can access an amazing array of cookbooks to browse as well through our digital library! And most of the cookbooks highlighted above include a recipe link to the author’s blogs, which are full of hundreds of more delicious recipes. Another great place for recipe discovery online is from the New York Times Cooking site, who are currently allowing free access to many more recipes than usual for non-subscribers.
What fun and exciting dishes or baked goods have you whipped up at home these past couple weeks? What do you have planned for April cooking? I’m hoping to try out some more Sister Pie recipes!
Feeling overwhelmed? Slow down. At the very least you can at least control what you are watching and reading. Here are some recommendations, just in time.
If you are looking for something different to binge-watch, “Raised by Wolves” is available via our free Acorn TV service https://rockyriveroh.rbdigital.com/ and is a “pleasantly raunchy British comedy,” according to the The New York Times. Portraying the eccentricities of a home-schooled family of six children, their headstrong single mother, and randy grandfather, this show isn’t for everyone, but its two seasons are refreshingly honest and original and filled with moments of comic gold.
In need of a satisfying page-turner? Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid fits the bill. Deceiving in appearance with its cute title and cover art, this novel about the connections between two women—a twenty-eight-year-old black babysitter and the well-meaning woman who employs her, will make you think about race and privilege, and is reminiscent of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Find a digital eBook or audio copy of the book at https://clevnet.overdrive.com/clevnet-rrpl/content/
If these sound like your cup of tea, enjoy. And, stay safe!
We all have films that we’ve always meant to watch, or meant to re-watch, but never seemed to have the time. For me, many of the films I’ve hoped to give another viewing were new and old classics that I wanted to share with my husband, who is very much not a film buff but enthusiastically watches my picks on movie nights.
One of my favorite digital library resources and an amazing place to find classic films is Kanopy. Using your RRPL library card you can get access to an amazing array of films- typically you are allowed 7 “play credits” per month (once you press play on a video, you will automatically use 1 play credit and have 3 days to watch it as many times as you’d like.) To help us all get through these long days of social distancing, Kanopy is currently offering a variety of viewing that is credit-free! You can take a look at all of the credit-free choices available to you here.
So what are some of my top picks for classics on Kanopy right now? Below you will find my top 5 recommendations!
This suspenseful Italian classic from Dario Argento is a must-watch for any horror fan. Highly stylized, with an amazing soundtrack and inspiring color palette in nearly every scene, this interesting film follows American ballet dancer Suzy after she arrives in Germany to attend a prestigious ballet academy. Murder, secrets, and the supernatural abound, and she soon discovers the school is much more than it seems. If you saw the 2018 remake of this film (which I also recommend!) make sure to watch the original.
I love Charlie Chaplin movies, and my all-time favorite of his is the romantic comedy City Lights, but Modern Times is a joy to watch and currently available on Kanopy! (Unfortunately, City Lights is not at the moment.) This comedic film was Chaplin’s last time playing the iconic Little Tramp and depicts him working as a factory employee who falls for a woman, while also sliding in some Great Depression commentary amidst the humor.
This beautiful French film from Jean Cocteau adapts the classic fairy tale story into a piece of cinematic wonder. We all know the story of a beautiful girl whose love saves the heart and soul of a wild but gentle beast, but the gorgeous cinematography and wonderful performances in this black-and-white version is one of the best adaptations and is a stand-out piece of fantasy film history.
I watched this film for the first time two years ago and was astonished by this touching work from the always impressive Akira Kurosawa. Viewers will follow Kanji, an aging bureaucrat who reassesses his life and priorities after he discovers he has stomach cancer and not much time left. Told in two parts, this movie examines the human condition and will surely leave you with much to contemplate.
Metropolis is a very famous and influential film and warrants at least one viewing no matter where your film interests lie because of it’s historical importance. The movie takes place in 2026 (just 6 years from now!) and is an amazing science fiction film that looks at a divided future in which workers and the wealthy enjoy wildly different lives. Still entertaining, thought provoking, and visually striking, this silent film will not disappoint.
I hope you enjoyed my top 5 classics on Kanopy and that something strikes your fancy! What are some of your favorite classic films? Have you been watching treasured movies you’ve seen many times over or are you using this time at home to watch all the newer movies you’ve missed in recent years? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!