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

Book Review: Lark Ascending by Silas House

In a future where fires ravage a North America that is run by extreme right-wing fundamentalists, 20-year-old Lark and his family have hidden away in the mountains of Maine for several years undisturbed. When ecological disasters begin to threaten their safety, their group secures passage on a boat headed to Ireland. After a terrible voyage they land, but only Lark has survived. Alone, he begins a harrowing journey by foot in search of Glendalough, a camp rumored to provide asylum. Along the way, Lark gains two companions – a dog named Seamus and Helen, a local woman who is familiar with the roads and the dangers of traveling them.

Lark Ascending by Silas House is a post-apocalyptic novel that is gorgeously written. Told by Lark at age 90, this novel about climate change, human behavior, resilience, survival and love will break your heart a few times on the way to its ultimately hopeful conclusion. Fans of Station Eleven and The Road should put this at the top of their to-read lists.

-Carol

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

Book Review: The Couple at the Table

Newlyweds Jane and William are enjoying their honeymoon at the beautiful Tevendon Resort. But when William’s ex-wife Lucy shows up with her new partner Pete, Jane accuses them of ruining their getaway. Jane receives a note to “beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours.”

She immediately blames Lucy, but at dinner that night she’s surprised to find that the tables are all equally spaced…which means that every other couple is also a potential suspect. In a tirade Jane leaves the dining room only to end up dead within hours.

Sophie Hannah brings her loveable crime-solving duo Simon and Charlie back for another case, and this time they’re witnessing the crime firsthand. As guests at the resort, Simon and Charlie quickly pack up their vacation vibes and step into the role of investigators.

This book is a whodunnit-style mystery where motive, means, and opportunity are explored through multiple narrators. Sophie Hannah is one of my must-read authors, and while this book wasn’t my favorite, it was still an enjoyable read!

Request a print copy here or download a digital copy here.

-Melinda

Happy Birthday, Dolly Parton!

Dolly Parton has long been considered an icon. Even before she was a teenager, Dolly was singing on local radio stations in their small Tennessee town. And at 13 years old, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry and met Johnny Cash. After high school, Dolly immediately moved to Nashville to hone her talents and live her dream. I think we all know how that panned out—Dolly Parton is a household name with the records to support it, but her legendary status doesn’t stop with just music. 

Dolly is a well-known philanthropist, through her Dollywood Foundation. It originally provided scholarships to local high school students then continued to grow and provide other charitable support as well. Her Imagination Library provides books to pre-school-age children in over five countries; one book per month from birth until they enter kindergarten. (For more information, visit our Children’s Department webpage!) During the 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, she organized a telethon and gathered about $9 million for those impacted by the fires. She’s also donated to medical centers and specifically pediatric programs.

Even if you swear that you’re not a country music fan, it’s easy to find something to appreciate about Dolly Parton. Check out some of these books to pique your interest and then maybe you’ll feel inspired to listen to one of her albums! 

Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton by Lydia Hamessley 

Dolly Parton: Songteller, My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton 

Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson 

(And if you want some music to listen to while you read, Dolly wrote an album of the same name to accompany the novel!) 

She Come by It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh 

Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection  

-Linnea

Stay In…With a Laugh Out Loud Read

Ms. Demeanor
by Elinor Lipman

Jane Morgan, a 39-year-old attorney, is caught having sex on the roof of her high-rise Manhattan apartment at midnight by a nosy neighbor with binoculars. Jane is charged with indecent exposure and is both fired from her firm and sentenced to six months of home confinement.

Jane’s perpetual cheerleader and current bill payer, her identical twin sister Jackleen, encourages Jane to use this down time to embrace her love of cooking by demonstrating old fashioned recipes on TikTok. When Jane discovers and introduces herself to (coincidentally) a neighbor who is also under house arrest, Jackleen prompts Jane to charge him for three home cooked meals a week.

Perry, who wears a less-than-fashionable location-monitoring ankle bracelet of his own, is intrigued by Jane as they spend time together over her meals. Eventually, the two begin to share in other evening activities —making things awkward when Jackleen decides she wants to date Perry, too.

Cabin fever gets the best of Jane, and she takes things a bit too far when she learns that her peeping tom (aka the witness to nudity on the rooftop and reason for Jane’s home incarceration) has died. Jane is curious if there was foul play and gets her parents to attend the woman’s wake —resulting in Jane inadvertently orchestrating a “green card” wedding for a Polish expatriate whose Visa has expired.

If this all sounds a bit mad-cap, it is! This novel is equal parts romance, mystery, comedy, and sibling rivalry story. Pick up Ms. Demeanor by the always witty Elinor Lipman. This quick read with its snarky lead character, breezy banter and hilarious hi-jinx will leave you laughing out loud.

-Carol

Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami!

Haruki Murakami turns 74 years old today! He is a prolific author, having written novels, short stories, nonfiction works, and essays that have consistently been published in The New Yorker. While Murakami remains mostly out of the public eye, the reader may get a general sense of who Murakami is when reading his books: a lover of jazz and music in general, a big baseball fan, a collector of random t-shirts, and a dedicated runner. His books incorporate magical realism, a unique brand of humor, and almost always a cat.  

If you’ve never read Murakami before, he has an extensive catalog to choose from! Whether you prefer nonfiction or short stories or hefty novels, he has something for everyone. (Of course, while he is a well-regarded author, his works might not appeal to all!) 

Short Story Collections 

The Elephant Vanishes (1993) 

Containing stories such as “The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday’s Women,” “The Kangaroo Communiqué,” and “Lederhosen,” this is a great introduction to Murakami’s writing style. One of the short stories (“Barn Burning”) even became the basis for the 2018 South Korean psychological thriller Burning. 

After the Quake (2002) 

This collection was written after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. While each short story is independent of one another, they are all connected by the earthquake and its aftermath. 

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2006) 

Quite a few of the short stories in this collection were featured in various English publications before being compiled into one book. Several were in The New Yorker, a few in Harper’s, and one in McSweeney’s. One short story, “Firefly,” was reused in Murakami’s well-known novel Norwegian Wood. 

Nonfiction 

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (2000) 

In 1995, a religious cult attacked Tokyo subway stations with the toxic liquid sarin, injuring over 5,000 people and killing 14. Murakami interviewed over 60 people: witnesses, survivors, family of the victims, and even members of the cult that committed the act, Aum Shinrikyo.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008) 

In this memoir, Murakami discusses his passion for running and how running goes hand in hand with writing. His discipline with the sport and examination of the relationship between running and writing are interesting to read about, even if you don’t run. Plus, reading about all the places he’s run marathons (Greece, Hawaii, Boston) is a treat. 

Murakami T: the T-Shirts I Love (2021) 

Pictures of t-shirts that Murakami has acquired over the years and their origin stories—what’s not to enjoy? 

Fiction 

Norwegian Wood (1989) 

Told from the perspective of Toru Watanabe, he is in his late 30s, reflecting on his days as a college student in 1960s Japan. A deeply emotional novel, the sense of nostalgia and longing are intimately felt throughout. This book helped catapult Murakami into more of a celebrity (to his dismay at the time). 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) 

If you read the short story “The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday’s Women,” then you’ve already tackled the first chapter of the much-longer novel. Full of signature Murakami traits like cats, wells, unexpected phone calls, and mysterious disappearances, this is a great introduction to Murakami’s brand of humor. But forewarning—it is over 600 pages! 

Kafka on the Shore (2005) 

Intertwining narratives make up this magical tale: a 15-year-old boy who runs away to escape a curse and an old man who can talk to cats. Metaphysics, music, suspense, humor, and the mundane make up this brilliantly woven story. 

-Linnea 

Book Review: How to Sell a Haunted House

Louise doesn’t want to go home. Home is filled with memories of the past, and they’re not all warm and fuzzy. Speaking of warm and fuzzy, Louise is dreading opening the door to her mother’s vast puppet collection. Or facing the cabinets full of dolls staring back at her. But at the top of her list of things to avoid is her brother, Mark, the golden child who never grew up.

After a tragic accident kills both of their parents, Louise and Mark are forced to look in every nook and cranny of their childhood home. But they find some oddities. Multiple pairs of eyes follow them at every turn as they find a boarded up attic and life-sized dolls watching television…even though the television was unplugged. And at the center of it all is one raggedy puppet who has always taken on a life of his own- Pupkin.

When I first heard the title of this book I was expecting the same old take on a traditional ghoulish haunting. But as I began to read this book it took a different turn. In the hands of Grady Hendrix, a haunted house in South Carolina becomes the stuff of nightmares. Hendrix sets the scene with lengthy passages describing the spooky occurrences that happen. Normally I’m not a big fan of long narrative passages but in this case it works. Childhood trauma also plays a role in the backstory of Louise and Mark’s fraught relationship. But above it all, the question remains- what is reality and what is childhood imagination?

This book is a great fit for readers who have enjoyed other books by Hendrix. If you haven’t read any Grady Hendrix before, I highly recommend starting with The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires or Horrorstor.

How to Sell a Haunted House comes out January 17.

*I received a review copy from Penguin and Edelweiss. This is my honest review. 

– Melinda

For the Love of Audiobooks

One of the first audiobooks I fell in love with was Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Amy’s improv roots made the audiobook seem like an extended standup routine, and the guest narrators made for a very fun listening experience.

Once I started reading with my ears (because yes, audiobooks do count as reading), I couldn’t stop. Here are a few reasons I love audiobooks:

  1. Audiobooks allow me to multitask. I read while walking my dog, cleaning, or working on a puzzle. Mundane household chores become bearable thanks to the power of a good story.
  2. Audiobooks give the characters a literal voice, which adds depth and nuance.
  3. Audiobook narrators can take a ho-hum story or topic and make it more interesting.
  4. Digital audiobooks allow you to control the playback speed so you can easily slow down or speed up as your reading comprehension allows.
  5. Audiobooks make a car, train or plane ride something to look forward to. Seriously, audiobooks are made for travel!

If you haven’t been convinced yet, try reading the following audiobooks, all of which are winners in my book!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, read by the author

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, read by Bahni Turpin

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, read by Rory Kinnear

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, read by James Cameron Stewart

Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi, read by the author

The Institute by Stephen King, read by Santino Fontana

If none of these titles are catching your interest, try one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2022.

Enjoy a new reading experience and pick up an audiobook today. You can download them right to your phone using Hoopla or Libby or check them out as books on CD or Playaway.

Happy listening!

-Melinda

From Page to Screen: Winter Releases

Time for another round of upcoming book to film adaptations. Whether you’re looking for shows involving witches, time travel, or murder, you may find a new favorite show to binge watch this winter. If you want to compare and contrast or just love a good spoiler, pick up the book to read before you start watching!

December

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon realizes the purpose of her summons to the past: protect Rufus to ensure his assault of her Black ancestor so that she may one day be born. As she endures the traumas of slavery and the soul-crushing normalization of savagery, Dana fights to keep her autonomy and return to the present.

Coming to Hulu on December 13

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor–who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective–is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally–a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. 

Coming to Netflix on December 23

January

Will Trent

Based on the Will Trent series by Karin Slaughter, Book 1 is Triptych

In the city of Atlanta, young women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’s lover before she became his enemy.

Coming to ABC on January 3

Mayfair Witches

Based on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice, Book 1 is The Witching Hour

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.  He is Michael Curry, who was born in New Orleans and orphaned in childhood by fire on Christmas Eve, who pulled himself up from poverty, and who now, in his brief interval of death, has acquired a sensory power that mystifies and frightens him.

Coming to AMC and AMC+ on January 8

February

Not Dead Yet

Based on Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter

When her business goes bust and her fiancé with it, Nell’s happy ever after in California falls apart and she moves back to London to start over. But a lot has changed since she’s been gone. All her single friends are now married with children, sky-high rents force her to rent a room in a stranger’s house and in a world of perfect Instagram lives, she feels like a f**k up. Even worse, a forty-something f**k up.

Coming to ABC on February 8

You Season 4

Based on the You series by Caroline Kepnes

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight–the perfect place for a “chance” meeting. As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way–even if it means murder.

Coming to Netflix on February 9

-Melinda