10 Great Biographies & Memoirs to Celebrate the 19th Amendment

Did you know that 2020 marks 100 years of women having the right to vote in the United States? You can find more information, including great reading lists for all ages, educational videos, and how to get involved in the celebration at www.womensvote100.org and www.2020centennial.org. Special events have been happening all year! On August 26, 2020 buildings and landmarks across the country lit up in purple and gold as part of the nationwide Forward Into Light Campaign, named in honor of the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.”

One way you can help to celebrate this awesome and important anniversary is to read a book about a suffragist! Below you will find 10 great biographies and collected biographies that reveal more about U.S. suffragists of note and a few contemporary feminist titles as well.

If you are a fan of biographies and memoirs, we have an exciting virtual event next week with Eliese Colette Goldbach, the talented and acclaimed author of Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit. There are still spots open for this Zoom program- register here!

Your Library Staff at Home-Racism In the News

As regular readers of my ramblings know, my focus during this quarantine has been on anxiety and uncertainty. As we are slowing transitioning back to library for some of our shifts there will still be anxiety and uncertainty, but I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces in a familiar setting. So I want to use my final Your Library Staff at Home post to present readers with a list of books that I have found helpful in my own personal quest to learn more about race and racism in America. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but I have found them to be easily accessible.

If you only have time for one book, I highly recommend it be White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo coined the term white fragility to refer to the tendency for white people to become defensive when confronted with their racial advantage. I appreciated this book so much that after listening to it I ordered a print copy to have to refer back to. It IS hard to talk about racism. This book can help make it easier.

So, you’re ready to talk about race. That’s a great start. Yes, it’s just a start. This next book was an eye-opener for me. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is another fantastic social justice read. Kendi asks readers to think of what an antiracist society looks like. He digs into history and science as he outlines many different types of racism. He thoughtfully examines his own past thoughts and behaviors that he deemed to be racist. This is an engaging look at race and provides many excellent topics of discussion as well as practical ideas to implement in order to create an antiracist society.

Finally, I recommend Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, argues “The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.”

These are just a few of the nonfiction titles that have had a profound effect on me. One of the things I love about books is that they are a safe way to confront tough topics and they can give us the tools we need to grow.

We are all in this together. Let’s be kind to one another.

~Megan

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

Megan’s Favorites of 2019

It’s that time of year, again-the time when we reflect on our year of reading (mostly murder) and make a favorites list (so much murder). I have given up all pretense of creating a Top Ten List and have abandoned descriptions (follow the links for book details), which has helped ease some of my anxiety around this task. If you like mysteries, suspense, and thrillers there are quite a few here!

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Nonfiction

Middle Grade

Happy Reading!

~Megan

Winter Book BINGO: Spotlight on Graphic Novels

So you need to read a graphic novel in order to complete a BINGO, but you don’t know where to start. Let me help you. My own introduction to graphic novels was Bill Willingham’s Fables series. This epic series is a very grown-up retelling of classic fables and fairy tales. It’s still one of my favorite series. But you aren’t ready to jump into a 22-volume, Eisner Award winning series? No problem!

Try something cute, light, and funny:

Or maybe a graphic biography or memoir? We have books about familiar figures as well as ordinary people. Here are some of my favorites:

Ready to jump into a series? Let’s do it!

Maybe you’d like to try a classic:

Finally, let’s not forget the superheroes:

If none of these strike your fancy, come on in and browse our collection. Graphic novels are visual, you might just have to see them to find the one that’s right for you.

~Megan

Megan’s Favorites of 2018

Fourteen Fantastic Reads of 2014

This annual post combines two of my favorite things: making lists and talking about amazing books. Of course, it is always a challenge to winnow the list down. A quick look at my first draft of my list (yes, there are multiple drafts), tells me that I read and enjoyed a lot of mysteries and memoirs and a TON of YA. That being said, my final draft has more variety. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite reads of 2014:

1. The Secret Place by Tana French. I think this is the third year in a row that Tana French has made it onto my end of the year Top Reads list. She is amazing.

secret place

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Last year my list included The Husband’s Secret, which was full of family drama, hidden secrets, suspense, with a touch of romance and humor. That pretty much describes this latest offering. The audio is fantastic.

 

big little lies

3. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Are you looking to feel better about your own quirky family? Check out the hilariously dysfunctional Foxmans!

this is where i leave you

4. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. If someone forced me to pick only one favorite of 2014, I think this would the one.

i'll give you the sun

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Nonfiction always surprises me. Who knew a book about rowing would be a favorite?!

boys in the boat

6. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. Quirky characters and an unlikely friendship!

universe versus

7. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. This French import is a book about a book…and a murder. Plenty of twists and turns. Read the book before it hits the big screen!

harry

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Humor and heart! This is another one that is fabulous on audio.

rosie

9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Superpowers and moral ambiguity abound in this dark and dangerous read.

vicious

10. Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys. New Orleans in the 1950. A murder threatens to derail a young girls dreams of a better life. Heartbreaking and lovely.

out of the easy

11. The Storied Life of A.J. Fickery by Gabrielle Zevin.  A love letter to book lovers.

a.j.

12. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. The prolific Mr. King takes a stab at a cat-and-mouse police procedural.

mr. mercedes

13. 10% Happier by Dan Harris. A non-intimidating, practical look at meditation.

10

14. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. A new-to-me series full of wizards and magic and good vs evil. And a skeleton detective. LOVE.

skulduggery

I can’t wait to see what all of my coworkers put on their lists. Be sure to check back all week for more fun lists!

Happy Reading!

∼Megan

 

Bonus: Memorable Memoirs of 2014

yes not my father nph love

 

 

 

Graphically Speaking

If you are a reader of graphic novels you don’t need me to tell you how wonderful they can be. There is something refreshing (and maybe just a bit nostalgic?) about reading a story told in both words and pictures. But don’t dismiss graphic novels as fluff or kids stuff just because they are illustrated. I have found many graphic novels that are entertaining, powerful, and moving. I personally love a series, but I have also found a number of enjoyable standalones. My introduction to graphic novels was Bill Willingham’s Fables series, and it not only remains a favorite, but it is also a series I love to recommend. Here are some more of my favorites:

Memoir/Biography/Historical

1. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is a charming memoir that is sure to delight all you foodies out there.

relish

2. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh is a hilarious and heartbreaking glimpse into the world of depression. The book is a compilation of new material as well as material previously published on the author’s blog.

hyperbole

3. Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer is a coming of age story about a girl moving away from her small town and finding herself in a big city. This is the perfect gift for the high school graduate in your life.

little fish

4. The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming is a biography of her great-grandfather, China’s greatest magician. This is a fascinating look at Chinese culture and the early world of vaudeville. Definitely worth picking up.

long tack sam

5. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston is a novel told in pictures and tells the story of a young girl coming of age in the 1920s. Her dream is to be a writer, but life seems to have other plans for her, until she is swept off her feet by a handsome young man. Loaded with vintage postcards, magazine ads, letters, and fashion spread, this book pairs perfectly with The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

frankie pratt

Humor

6. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, My Dog: The Paradox, and Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants by Michael Inman are all ridiculous, irreverent, and absolutely hilarious. Inman is the creator of The Oatmeal.com, the internet home of his comics. His humor isn’t for everyone, but if it IS your style, these books will leave you in tears!

dolphins cat plotting my dog grizzly bears

7. Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami will make a cat lover out of even the staunchest nay-sayer (I should know, I was one of them!). These tiny, darling books chronicle the author’s adventures in adopting a street kitten.

chi

Sci-Fi/Horror

8. Locke & Key by Joe Hill follows the Locke family as they move into their family’s ancestral home, a Victorian mansion called Lovecraft. Bad things happen. The story is dark, disturbing and utterly addictive. Joe is certainly giving his father, Stephen King, a run for the title of King of the Macabre!

locke & key

9. Y: the Last Man and Saga by Brian Vaughan are two offerings from a Cleveland native. Y: the Last Man follows Yorick, the lone survivor of a plague that kills all the men. Saga is his newest offering and it is just plain bizarre, in an awesome way! Interplanetary wars and star-crossed lovers!

y last man saga

10. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman…do I really need to explain this one? Actually, I gave up in the show after the first season, but the books are fantastic. They are so much more horrifying than the tv series and after the first book, they books and television show are two entirely different things. I think it’s safe to read and watch simultaneously.

walking dead 1

And just so that I am not ending on that horrific zombie note, here’s a nice bonus:

Eric Shanower’s Oz series is a must-read! This graphic adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz series is one of my favorite discoveries. The story is fresh and illustrations are amazing. Every time I look at them I want to take them apart and frame the pages. I encourage you to venture to the Children’s Department and rediscover Dorothy and her band of misfits as they have adventures in the land of Oz.

oz 1oz 2oz 3oz 4oz 5

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

At the Beach with Tina Fey

After submitting my beach read for this very site the other day, in which I invited my favorite, funny author (David Sedaris) to share my beach blanket, I thought how much fun it would be to spend my month of blogging inviting more of my favorite funny authors to catch some rays. Of course, I had to invite the witty, charming, infinitely amusing Tina Fey, who recently authored Bossypants—a wonderful, warm memoir that’s filled with good times. After all, how could anyone possibly be bored with the woman who created all those hilarious SNL skits and silly 30 Rock shows? And when she shows up as Sarah Palin, a fun day at the beach doesn’t get any better.

~Chris