Pride Month: Fiction Spotlight

This week for Pride Month, I pulled some books that focus on LGBTQ+ representation in fiction! 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

What if a service existed to let you know you had 24 hours left to live? Would you do anything differently? Reckless Rufus and anxiety-ridden Mateo become unlikely friends after meeting on their last days alive and set off to enjoy themselves, and maybe do a few things they wouldn’t normally. Through adventures, tough goodbyes to loved ones, and virtual reality travels, Rufus and Mateo build a deep, emotional and romantic connection that reminds us to always tell people we love them and to make every day count. The title tells us exactly what we’re getting into, but it doesn’t make the ending any less heartbreaking. 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston 

A meet-cute on public transportation is pretty much the most classic, ideal love story. For August, a cynical 23-year-old woman, New York City seems like the perfect place to confirm her beliefs that the world is just not a romantic place. But like a scene from a movie, August begins to fall for punk rock Jane on the subway during her commute. Turns out, though, that Jane is from the 1970s, having been displaced in time. August sets off to rescue Jane, while gaining insight into the queer culture of New York City in the 70s and trying to make subway dates fun. Full of pop culture references, witty characters, and lots of heart, McQuiston’s sophomore novel is an absolute delight. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Being in the public eye and scrutinized at every turn makes it a challenge to be true to oneself. For Evelyn Hugo, the bombshell Old Hollywood actress, she kept up the false narrative of a maneater to keep her and her true love, Cecilia, a secret from tabloids. Finally ready to tell her story, she recruits unknown journalist Monique Grant to tackle the tale and reveal her authentic self. Is the price of fame worth it when Evelyn couldn’t step on the red carpet with her partner, instead having to attach herself to men she didn’t always love? Reid wrote a beautifully intricate story that sucks you in, unable to put the book down until you finally find out just how it all fits together. 

Some other LGBTQ+ novels to check out are:  

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat 

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin 

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

-Linnea

New and Upcoming Graphic Novels

Spring is in the air, the sun is making it’s slow but triumphant return to Northeast Ohio, and there are great new graphic novels being published! We’ve got some stellar new fiction and non-fiction titles making their way to our graphic novels shelves. Below you’ll find five new graphic novels or soon to be published books that you should add to your to-be-read pile ASAP.

The Me You Love in the Dark by Scottie Young

Writer Skottie Young, author of the fantastic I Hate Fairyland series, and artist Jorge Corona, follow up their critically acclaimed series Middlewest with a haunting new tale. An artist named Ro retreats from the grind of the city to an old house in a small town, hoping to find solace and inspiration—only to realize that the muse she finds within may not be what she expected. Fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this beautiful, dark, and disturbing story of discovery, love, and terror.

Request the print book here or read it on hoopla here.

Fine by Rhea Ewing

For fans of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Meg-John Barker’s Queer, Fine is an essential graphic memoir about the intricacies of gender identity and expression. As Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in their quiet Midwest town, where they anxiously approached both friends and strangers for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, their project has exploded into a fantastical and informative portrait of a surprisingly vast community spread across the country.

Fine won’t be out until April, but you can get on hold for the book now!

Karmen by Guillem March

Spanish writer and artist Guillem March, best known for his work on Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, takes up his pen for a cutting-edge story about a highly unconventional angel named Karmen and the young woman she takes under her wing when heartbreak strikes too hard. Packed with intriguing twists and metaphysical musings, this gorgeously drawn series brings tenderness, heart, and humor to the delicate and difficult matters of life and death that we all face.

Karmen is set to be published early in May, so keep your eyes peeled for this title.

Crushing by Sophie Burrows

This quiet, wordless book is artist and author Burrows’ graphic-novel debut. A young woman, pale and rosy-cheeked with a straight black bob, lives alone in London—except for her cat. One night she runs down to the local kebab and pizza shop in her pajamas and encounters a young man, pale and freckled with floppy red hair, also wearing pajamas. Unfortunately, they don’t notice each other surreptitiously noticing each other and head their separate ways. The story conveys life as a series of small indignities, slight misses, and minor connections but ends on a hopeful note. The backmatter includes mental health organizations and crisis lines and a note from Burrows referencing inspiration from missed connections columns and pandemic isolation. 

Request a copy of Crushing here.

Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic by Didier Fassin and Frederic Debomy; Translated by Rachel Gomme

Adapted from the landmark essay Enforcing Order, this striking graphic novel offers an accessible inside look at policing and how it leads to discrimination and violence. What we know about the forces of law and order often comes from tragic episodes that make the headlines, or from sensationalized versions for film and television. Around the time of the 2005 French riots, anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin spent fifteen months observing up close the daily life of an anticrime squad in one of the largest precincts in the Paris region. This ethno-graphic is chilling in the parallels that can be seen in the struggles of Black people in the United States, exemplified by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Request a copy of Policing the City here.

Happy reading!

Infinite Goodness: Pi Day

Lemon, peach, apple, 3.14159, oh my! Pi Day, which falls on Monday, March 14, is fast approaching! Pi day is an annual holiday devoted to celebrating the infinite mathematical constant π, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter that starts off as 3.14. This Pi Day, indulge with a slice (or two, or three!) of your favorite pie and some of the books below.

How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng: What is math? How exactly does it work? And what do three siblings trying to share a cake have to do with it? Using insights from the kitchen, professor Eugenia Cheng provides an accessible introduction to the logic and beauty of mathematics.

Pie Academy: Mastering the Perfect Crust and 255 Amazing Fillings by Ken Haedrich: Here’s the only pie cookbook you’ll ever need. Novice and experienced bakers will discover the secrets to baking a pie from scratch with step-by-step photos and recipes, advice about tools and ingredients, tips for gorgeous fluted and lattice pie tops, and more.

The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies by Erin Jeanne McDowell: Start with the basics, including ways to mix pie dough for extra flaky crusts, storage and freezing, and tips for decorating, before diving into dozens of recipes for all different kinds of pies: fruit, custard, cream, chiffon, cold set, savory, and mini.

Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker: Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses, and mathematical mishaps involving the Internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, an Olympic team, and even the Roman Empire, stand-up comedian Matt Parker uncovers the ways math trips us up and how essential math is in everyday life.

One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon: What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-financé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. But when her first catering job takes a distasteful turn, Mia must find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder before her fresh start comes to a sticky end.

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman: When her efforts to pursue a professional culinary life away from her family’s northern Michigan orchard end in disappointment, Sam spends a summer working for the family pie shop and begins to understand the women in her life, her family’s history, and her passion for food as she prepares beloved ancestral recipes.

The Curse of the Cherry Pie by Amy Patricia Meade: When Tish Tarragon’s friend pulls out of the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth Bake-Off, an anxious Tish reluctantly takes her place. As the bake-off gets underway, Tish learns that her signature bake, a frangipane cherry pie, has played a deadly role in the previous two competitions. Is the curse of the cherry pie about to strike again?

Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate by Lauren Ko: Whether you want to impress at the holidays or just spruce up a family meal, Pieometry is your guide to transforming a traditional dessert into a modern masterpiece. The pie-making genius behind the popular Instagram account @lokokitchen reveals how to build 50 sweet and savory pies from crust to top. Look for butternut bacon macaroni and cheese pie, lavender blackberry cream pie, honey ricotta tart, grilled cinnamon pineapple pie, and more.

Pie all the Time: Elevated Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion by Taylor Harbin: Whether you’re craving comfort food, an exciting new flavor, a quick treat, or a celebratory indulgence, the answer is always pie. Taylor Harbin, the creator behind the blog “All Purpose Flour Child,” offers familiar classics, inventive flavors, and easy methods for flawless pies every time.

Sweet as Pie by Alicia Hunter Pace: The path to true love isn’t quite as easy as pie, but it sure is sweet in the end. Jake Champagne is looking forward to a new team, new town, and clean slate in Laurel Springs. After a disastrous year, the hockey hotshot is leaving his past behind – even betting his best friend that he can stay away from women. But he’s happy to reconnect with a piece of home when he visits childhood friend and now successful baker Evie. Between slices of Mississippi mud pie and chicken potpie, Jake starts to remember what a fool he was to let Evie get away.

March is Women’s History Month

From pioneering scientists to determined suffragists to avant-garde artists to mothers, Women’s History Month celebrates the accomplishments of ordinary and trailblazing women in American society. You can celebrate by reading the works of female authors throughout the month. Below is a list of 31 inspiring, empowering, and entertaining titles by some of the most current female authors. Read one each day this month or throughout the year!

Matrix by Lauren Groff: Cast out of the royal court, 17-year-old Marie de France, born the last in a long line of women warriors, is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey where she vows to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters: A trans woman, her detransitioned ex and his cisgender lover build an unconventional family together in the wake of heartbreak and an unplanned pregnancy.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry: Nearly three centuries after their coastal community’s witch trials, the women athletes of the 1989 Danvers Falcons hockey team combine individual and collective talents with 1980s iconography to storm their way to the state finals.

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs: Much has been written about Berdis Baldwin’s son James, about Alberta King’s son Martin Luther, and Louise Little’s son Malcolm. But virtually nothing has been said about the extraordinary women who raised them, who were all born at the beginning of the 20th century and forced to contend with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson: The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller: Drawing on archival documents in a narrative account, Geller explores how her family’s troubled past and the death of her mother, a homeless alcoholic, reflect the traditions and tragic history of her Navajo heritage.

Love and Fury by Samantha Silva: In August of 1797, as her midwife struggles to keep her and her fragile daughter alive, Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of the famous novelist Mary Shelley, recounts the life she dared to live amidst the impossible constraints and prejudices of the late 18th century.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: Beginning in the 1950s, Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation.

Circe by Madeline Miller: Circe follows the banished witch daughter of the Titans as she practices her powers for an inevitable conflict with one of Olympus’ most vindictive gods.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia: An affluent Cuban immigrant reckons with her daughter’s drug addiction and her own culpability in their self-destructive choices.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich: Based on the life of Erdrich’s grandfather, The Night Watchman traces the experiences of a Chippewa Council night watchman in mid-19th century rural North Dakota who fights Congress to enforce Native American treaty rights.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall: In this collection of essays, Kendall explores how feminism has not acknowledged the many ways in which race, class, and sexual orientation intersect with gender. Through a biographical lens, Kendall examines how issues like food security, access to education, safe housing, and healthcare connect to feminist concerns, and ponders why they continue to be ignored by mainstream feminists.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay: The best-selling author of Bad Feminist presents a frank memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed one’s hunger in healthy ways.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore: Moore recounts the struggles of hundreds of women who were exposed to radium while working factory jobs during World War I, describing how they were mislead by their employers and became embroiled in a battle for workers’ rights.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel: In this memoir graphic novel, Bechdel offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, a funeral home director, a high school English teacher, and a closeted gay man.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach: Join Roach on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet. What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A grizzly bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? As Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh: In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Brosh’s debut chronicles the many “learning experiences” she has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child. Possibly the worst child. For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Fighting an ugly custody battle with an artistic tenant who has little regard for the strict rules of their progressive Cleveland suburb, a straitlaced family woman who is seeking to adopt a baby becomes obsessed with exposing the tenant’s past, only to trigger devastating consequences for both of their families.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family, until a minister offers to marry her and move with her to Japan in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: Coming out of exile to ascend her rightful throne, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, with a cadre of soldiers and the magical Tearling sapphire to protect her, makes a daring decision that evokes that wrath of the evil Red Witch, forcing her to embark on a quest to save her kingdom and fulfill her destiny.

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

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn: In an effort to keep himself footloose and single in spite of the efforts of the town’s matchmakers, Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, begins a sham courtship with Daphne Bridgerton.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean: Orlean reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution: our libraries.

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

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: 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-America, becoming a professional musician, and caring for her terminally ill mother.

The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin: Haunted by dreams of the dead who seek to invade Earthsea through him, the sorcerer Alder enlists the aid of Ged, a former Archmage, who advises him to find the holiest place in the world, which holds the key to preserving Earthsea.

The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago by Judy Chicago: In this provocative and resonant autobiography, world-renowned artist and feminist icon Judy Chicago reflects on her extraordinary life and career.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado: Women and their bodies, and the violence done to them, occupy the center of Machado’s inventive, sensual, and eerie debut horror collection. These stories use situations at once familiar and completely strange to reveal what it is like to inhabit the female body.

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby: Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. In her second collection of essays, Irby explores what it means what it means to be “fat and black.”

Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman: The presidential inaugural poet and unforgettable new voice in American poetry presents a collection of poems that includes the stirring poem she read at the inauguration of President Biden.

Fiona and Jane

Request a copy of Fiona and Jane from the Library here.

Fiona and Jane (or Jane and Fiona, depending on who you ask) have been best friends since second grade. Over the years their closeness waxes and wanes, but they’re always within each other’s orbit, offering solace for heartbreak, family crises, identity struggles, and more. Beautiful, ambitious Fiona attracts attention wherever she goes and, having never known her father, keeps her mother close and the memories of their brief time in Taiwan even closer. She moves to New York with her boyfriend after college to attend law school and chase after internships, but a devastating heartbreak, loneliness, and financial ruin sends her back home to California. Jane, quieter and less confident than Fiona, is raised by her demanding and religious mother once her father moves to Taiwan for work. When Jane discovers and reveals her father’s secret, she finds her family changed forever.


Fiona and Jane has received considerable buzz, but I have mixed feelings about the book. I love Jean Chen Ho’s writing style. She packs an emotional punch in such simple language, and the characters are authentic and flawed. Chapters “Korean Boys I’ve Loved” and “Go Slow” are true standouts for how they tangle with the messy emotions of friendship and romantic love; Jean Chen Ho writes about how you can be competitive with a friend, but not jealous, and how you can feel lonely even within close relationships. The friendship between Fiona and Jane feels real. They move away, have misunderstandings, and keep secrets from each other, all while still being deeply concerned and invested in their friendship. Fiona and Jane is written as a series of short stories, with alternating viewpoints and time periods, and this is where the book loses its effectiveness. We only get to see glimpses of Fiona and Jane instead of witnessing their full journey; the book doesn’t offer much in terms of character development. Jane, in particular, could have closure or a full-circle moment when it comes to her father’s death and her queer identity but after spending the first few chapters with her, Jean Chen Ho doesn’t return to Jane until the end and ultimately bypasses the opportunity. We learn a lot about Fiona through her relationships with others, but her identity as she sees it feels largely hidden. Despite the structure, the little moments of friendship that Jean Chen Ho captures are beautiful. It’ll be worth seeing how her work develops after this debut.

Review of Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin

Tell Me an Ending book cover with RRPL catalog link

Nepenthe is a cutting-edge company that specializes in a certain kind of psychiatric medicine. Unlike traditional therapy, Nepenthe doesn’t dispense medication or help you process your memories. Instead, they delete those memories entirely, and can even make you forget that you got a memory deletion in the first place! In Jo Harkin’s debut novel, Tell Me an Ending, five people must grapple with the fallout of memory deletions in their lives: Noor, a doctor who works at Nepenthe; William, a former police officer with PTSD; Finn, whose wife had a memory deleted; Mei, a girl who remembers a place she’s never been; and Oscar, who doesn’t know who he is, why he’s on the run, or how his bank account is full of money.

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. I usually love the juxtaposition of a world-altering scientific breakthrough used for something mundane like deleting painful memories of a break up, but I felt that this novel lacked heart. Harkin’s novel is best understood as an investigation of the morality and ethics of memory deletion, less akin to novel than a philosophy discussion in a textbook. The book does have an emotional payoff at the end, but the characters are almost blank slates until more than halfway through the novel, making it difficult to connect with them. All in all, I wanted Harkin to go for more with this book: push her concept farther, develop her characters more, and steer the plot in a less mundane direction. While Tell Me an Ending can be described as science fiction, this is a literary novel that asks questions about how memories define us and if nature or nurture makes us who we are.

Release date: March 1, 2022

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Lenni is seventeen and terminally ill. Margot is eighty-three and awaiting a series of heart surgeries. They unofficially meet at Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital when Margot, decked out in purple from head to toe, goes dumpster diving for a letter and Lenni distracts a nurse from discovering her. Margot and Lenni officially meet in the Rose Room, a therapy space where hospital patients can create art, when Lenni adamantly insists on joining the eighty and above class. When the two discover they’ve lived an astonishing one hundred years, they set out to create one hundred paintings commemorating the key moments of their shared century. Canvases of first kisses, birthday cakes, a baby in a too-small yellow hat, a night full of stars, and more celebrate their lives. Full of tenderness and quiet observations, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is one you’ll want to finish with a box of tissues nearby.

While Margot and Lenni are perceptive, funny, and witty, it’s the cast of supporting characters that make this novel come alive. Hospital chaplain Father Arthur and Lenni banter back and forth about faith, loss, watercress sandwiches, and silverfish. Margot’s second husband, Humphrey, is such an enamored astronomer that he stands in the middle of the street, risking life and limb, to better observe the stars. “New Nurse” confides her career insecurities with Lenni and “The Intern” has a satisfying, full-circle moment when it comes to the hospital and the art space. Chicken stories are scattered throughout. Whimsical and sweet, but never saccharine, the novel is a celebration of life and death.

The inspiration behind The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is personal. Author Marianne Cronin suffers from severe migraines; painting lets her temporarily escape the debilitating symptoms. Cronin also wrote her novel while earning a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics after Lenni came to her “as a fully formed voice” in her head. Cronin did an author visit with the Cuyahoga County Public Library last summer that you can watch here. She is also featured on Episode 1109 of the Author Stories Podcast with Hank Garner and Episode 509 of the Reading and Writing Podcast.

A Net for Small Fishes

The court of King James I is a dangerous place, full of fierce political and religious rivalries. Even the slightest whisper of scandal could result in loss of land, position, and life. In the midst of this intensity, Lady Frances “Frankie” Howard marries the third Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, in a political maneuver arranged by her powerful and influential Catholic family. The marriage is a nightmare. Devereux loathes the Howard family (I suppose that’s what happens when your in-laws are partly responsible for the execution of your father) and is increasingly violent and spiteful towards Frankie despite her efforts to make the marriage work and produce an heir. Frankie forms an inseparable, intimate friendship with Anne Turner, a talented albeit struggling fashion stylist and wife of the well-respected Dr. George Turner, when her mother enlists Anne’s services to make Frankie more attractive to her husband. Frankie ultimately wishes to annul her marriage and marry Sir Robert Carr, the King’s favorite, but a difficult, snide Thomas Overbury, royal courtier and Carr’s best friend, stands in her way. After a poisonous plot, the King’s justice seems to ensnare only the smallest of fishes.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Frances Carr before (if you’re unfamiliar with the Jacobean Era or need a quick introduction to Frances, I highly recommend Dana Schwartz’s Noble Blood podcast episode “The Schemes of Countess Frances Carr”), but Lucy’s Jago’s meticulously researched novel is a fresh interpretation. Women are typically absent from the historical record, but when they do appear, they are too often cast like Frances Carr: Scandalous, deviant, and improper. At the heart of A Net for Small Fishes is the story of female friendship, female morality, and women willing to stretch beyond the limitations placed on them by society. Jago gives voice to Carr and Turner, a glimpse into what their true, complex motivations might have been during the Overbury Scandal. Jago does an excellent job of portraying how any accident of fate could send a woman tumbling into poverty or disgrace. Her depictions of Jacobean society, including forbidden magic (the amount of astrology captured in this book makes me happy), aristocratic dress, and the narrow, filthy streets of London, are vivid and immersive. Historical fiction should be this imaginative and emotional. A stunning debut.

Reading the Stars

If you’re having trouble deciding what to read next, let the stars (and the Library!) help you decide. The 12 signs of the zodiac, ancient in origins, help us to understand the complex and emotional journey of being human. If you don’t know your astrological sign, it will be whatever date below corresponds with your birthday.

Aries (March 21 – April 19): Youthful, adventurous, enthusiastic

Yes, Aries is represented by the ram, but if you look at the glyph used to depict the animal’s curving horns it also looks like the first green sprouts you see emerging from the cold, snowy earth in springtime. Being the first sign of the zodiac, Aries always marks the beginning of something, springing into action, and an intense enthusiasm. When looking for books, look for ones with brave and energetic heroes, or fast-paced adventures.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
Honor by Thrity Umrigar
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Lucky by Marissa Stapley

If you’re looking for Aries authors, look no further than Maya Angelou, Leigh Bardugo, Barbara Kingsolver, Anthony Horowitz, Louis L’Amour, and Jennifer Weiner.

Leo (July 23 – August 22): Social, generous, funny

I like to think of Leos as the equivalent of a fireplace: warm, inviting, the central gathering point for friends and family. Leos have a natural ability to bring people together. Combine that with their sense of humor, flair for the dramatic, and sense of pride, they make easy and exciting friends. When looking for books, go for bold, strong characters that love to stand out and that have a certain charisma that draws people into the fold.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Fight Night by Miriam Toews
If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Famous Leo authors include Madeline Miller, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, Sue Monk Kidd, and Stieg Larsson.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21): Optimistic, opinionated, confident

Sagittarius is the traveler of the zodiac, in all respects. Sagittarians love to visit new places, experience new things, and dive into a variety of philosophies in a never-ending quest for knowledge and discovery. Ever hear the phrase “Shoot from the hip?” Represented by the centaur, Sagittarius rules the hips. Sagittarians are extremely vocal and willing to immediately share their thoughts on anything and everything. When looking for books, choose ones with rich, lush locations and ones with thought-provoking questions.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
God of Mercy by Okezie Nwoka

If you’re looking for a Sagittarius author, try Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Ann Patchett.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20): Patient, determined, sensual

Being an earth sign, Taurus is known for being well-grounded in the physical world. Taurus is all about the senses and curating the best quality stuff. They’re more than happy to indulge in an elaborate meal or bubble bath. A Taurus can be slow to act but once they get the motivation, watch out! Nothing can stop them. When looking for books, go for ones that feature determined characters or some of the sweeter pleasures in life. Work hard, play hard.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
The Gown by Jennifer Robson
A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago

Taurus authors include Harper Lee, Jodi Picoult, Daphne du Maurier, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Terry Pratchett, and Charlotte Bronte.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22): Analytical, reliable, hardworking

Virgos are perfectionists; they love to create order out of chaos. They have keen observation skills, and they can be quite eloquent and thoughtful. A Virgo can piece together details when no one else can or find patterns when there seemingly are none, so look for books that feature a mystery to solve or that illustrate the subtle intricacies of everyday life.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Four Humors by Mina Seskin
The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Virgo authors include Angie Thomas, George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Agatha Christie.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19): Ambitious, practical, independent

If you want something done, ask a Capricorn. Symbolized by the mythological sea goat, there is no mountain a Capricorn cannot scale. Extremely independent and ambitious, Capricorns typically have a list of goals and they enjoy the hustle. Look for memoirs, biographies, or other books that will inspire wisdom and achievements.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Educated by Tara Westover
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Will by Will Smith
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Famous Capricorn authors include Michelle Obama, J.R.R. Tolkien, Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, Nicholas Sparks, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20): Witty, mischievous, adaptable

There’s never a dull moment with a Gemini. Geminis are intensely curious, playful, and cerebral. Geminis are constantly bouncing from idea to idea, entertaining new hobbies and passions, and adapting to new things. I also find them to be the funniest of the zodiac. Being of the mind, new ideas and communication are important to Geminis. Look for books with sharp dialogue or clever plots that will fuel the imagination.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Finder of Forgotten Things by Sarah Loudin Thomas
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
You Feel It Just Below the Ribs by Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson

Famous Gemini authors include Fredrik Backman, Andy Weir, Maria Semple, Louise Erdrich, Adam Silvera, and Ken Follett.

Libra (September 23 – October 22): Charming, fair, romantic

Scales symbolize justice, equality, and harmony. While they love to exchange ideas or join a lively debate, Libras seek the peace and balance of the scales. They’re known for being peacekeepers and mediators since they’re adept at seeing all points of view. Libras can talk for hours, they’re incredibly approachable after all, and they are known to invest deeply in their relationships. Look for books that are idealistic or charming, and that highlight the beauty in relationships.

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Beach Read by Emily Henry
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Still Life by Sarah Winman
Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

Libra authors include Kristin Hannah, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Roxane Gay, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nora Roberts, and Oscar Wilde.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18): Original, friendly, visionary

Every Aquarian is a rebel and a visionary at heart. They have a knack for seeing the big picture and they’re open to a multitude of ideas and experiences. Ready to change the world at a moment’s notice, Aquarius is known for being the humanitarian of the zodiac. If an Aquarius feels they’re meant to change something on the planet, they will. Look for books with a spark of revolution, unusual plots or retellings, and characters with a deep desire to improve the world around them.

Violeta by Isabel Allende
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

Famous authors born under the sign of Aquarius include Toni Morrison, Samantha Irby, John Grisham, Virginia Woolf, Marissa Meyer, and Casey McQuiston.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22): Nurturing, sensitive, tenacious

The crab perfectly represents the sign of Cancer: hard, tough exterior; soft, squishy inside. Cancers are very compassionate, protective, and loyal to the ones they love. Drawn to routines and comfort, a Cancer would much rather snuggle up with a book or have a movie night at home with a loved one instead of going out. Ruled by the Moon, Cancers are very intuitive and can assess the tone of a room instantly. Look for books with sweet, gentle characters, or ones that dive deep into emotion.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Frances Kane
Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho

Authors born under the sign of Cancer include Markus Zusak, Elizabeth Gilbert, David McCullough, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, and Anna Quindlen.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21): Loyal, powerful, resourceful

Some of my favorite people are Scorpios and if you prove your loyalty to them, they make very devoted and passionate friends. Scorpios have an air of mystery and intensity about them that makes them hard to ignore. If you’re looking for a honest answer, ask a Scorpio. Their bluntness has no filter. They’re also great at keeping secrets. Profound thinkers, fearless, and intuitive, when a Scorpio wants something, they don’t hold back. Look for books with broody, intense characters or look for dark, moody mysteries.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw
The Spanish Daughter by Lorena Hughes
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Scorpio authors include Anthony Doerr, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Liane Moriarty, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Holly Black.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20): Imaginative, empathetic, intuitive

If you’re a Pisces, you may have been called an old soul a time or two. Pisces are magical, soulful, and dreamy. They seem to have an endless source of creativity and empathy for others, and a sense of wisdom that runs incredibly deep. The glyph associated with Pisces is two fish swimming in opposite directions, reflecting the duality and internal struggle of this water sign. Pisceans want to chase big dreams, but they can easily wander and be pulled in different directions. Look for books that feature magical realism, fantasy, or beautiful language that you can get lost in.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Authors born under the sign of Pisces are Rainbow Rowell, Gillian Flynn, Sally Rooney, Khaled Hosseini, Lindy West, and Amanda Gorman.

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land | Book by Anthony Doerr | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster

I drove over two hours in 2016 to see Anthony Doerr, as one does when one is nerdy and obsessed with an author and in school to become a librarian. I remember clutching my copy of All the Light We Cannot See and being completely enamored. For an exercise in curiosity, Doerr presented a slideshow full of close-up pictures and asked us to guess the everyday objects. He described how a dropped call on the subway in New York City in 2004 was the inspiration behind All the Light We Cannot See, and how he spent ten years researching and writing the book, including studying the history of radio and Nazi art looting. When he signed my book, I remember him taking the time to ask about my weekend and wishing me a happy birthday. So needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Cloud Cuckoo Land is ambitious novel, spanning multiple centuries, places, characters, and even genres. There’s Anna, an orphan who lives and works in an embroidery house in 15th century Constantinople with her sickly older sister. She learns Greek in secret and during her quest to uncover even more words, she discovers a ruined library. Having a cleft palate and believed to be cursed or even demonic, Omeir is exiled to a remote part of Bulgaria and is raised by his whimsical, sweet grandfather. He is conscripted into the Ottoman army with his oxen to attack Constantinople, putting him directly in the path of Anna. Seymour lives in present-day Idaho and his only comfort is the natural world. He befriends an owl that lives in the woods behind his home but when the forest is destroyed for a new housing development, Seymour becomes a radical eco-warrior and crosses paths with Zeno in a devastating way. Zeno is an octogenarian, amateur translator, and Korean War veteran attempting to put on a play with a small group of children. Lastly, there’s Konstance. Konstance is trapped on a spaceship in the future with an infinite library meant to preserve humanity’s knowledge for a new, unspoiled planet. All five stories are connected through an ancient book following the fantastical and humorous adventures of a poor shepherd. Doerr’s writing is just as lyrical and rich as in All the Light We Cannot See. The novel is a clear ode to libraries, language, and the art of storytelling. While I wasn’t as invested in the characters as with All the Light We Cannot See, no one can illustrate the interconnectedness and beauty of our worlds like Anthony Doerr. Cloud Cuckoo Land is an epic worth diving into.

Don’t miss the chance to see Anthony Doerr this spring. Doerr is part of the 2021-2022 William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series presented by the Cuyahoga County Public Library. He’ll be speaking at the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Monday, May 2, 2022 at 7:30 pm. A virtual ticket option is also available. Find more information about Doerr’s visit here. Also, Doerr has a wonderful booklist on his website if you’d like to dive into worlds similar to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Check out the list here. Cloud Cuckoo Land is available at the library here.