Banned Books

Banned Books Week may have ended on September 24, but it’s important to keep the conversation going as more books continue to get challenged. Most commonly, books by Authors of Color or LGBTQ+ authors get challenged (Publisher’s Weekly).  

While it’s nice to believe that challenged books get a bump in sales and promoted more, that just isn’t the case for the majority (Book Riot). Often, authors don’t even know their book was challenged as very few challenges become newsworthy. It could be as simple as a bookstore choosing to pass on buying a book because it is “subversive” or a school library quietly pulling a book from their shelves.  

One way to help combat challenges is to read! Read banned books, talk about them with friends, and let your local library know that you are glad they have books by Authors of Color, books by LGBTQ+ authors, books that reflect actual communities. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of the most challenged books from 2021 (ALA)

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 
     
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison 
     
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson 
     
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez 
     
  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
     
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
     
  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 
     
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
     
  1. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson 
     
  1. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin 

-Linnea

From Page to Screen: Fall Releases

The storylines of this season’s blockbusters may seem vaguely familiar. Hollywood is drawing inspiration from the book world once again with a slew of streaming shows and movies based on books. From war epics to vampires, fall into the plot of a great book before you see it on the big screen. Here are a few highlights from this season’s upcoming releases.

September

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

The legend of Marilyn Monroe–aka Norma Jeane Baker–comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives–reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.

Coming to Netflix on September 28.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Abby and Gretchen have been BFFs since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different.

And as the strange coincidences and bizarre occurrences begin to pile up, Abby realizes there is only one possible explanation- Her best friend Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not going to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend.

Coming to Amazon Prime Video on September 30.

October

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last–revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door–a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

Coming to Showtime on October 7.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. . . . This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . .  if only he can come out of the war alive.

Coming to Netflix on October 28.

November

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts

It is in 1950’s Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim, gently guiding her through the water in the shadow of the city’s famous pier and Marion is smitten–determined her love alone will be enough for them both.

A few years later near the Brighton Museum, Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted, and opens Tom’s eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world of art, travel, and beauty. Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion and meet Patrick in secret. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed.
 Coming to Amazon Prime Video on November 4.

She Said by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey

For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power.

During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed.

Coming to theaters on November 18.

-Melinda

It’s Fall!

Welcome, Autumn Equinox! As we enter chillier fall days, visit pumpkin patches, and begin to don our cozy sweaters, let’s remember we are also entering spooky season!  

On this day in 1692, the last witches were hanged in the Salem Witch Trials. Seven women and one man were hanged on September 22, 1692, totaling about twenty lives taken. After this set of executions, public opinion began to shift and witch trials subsided. Over 250 years later, Massachusetts formally apologized for the events in the late 1600s. Now Salem has plenty of witchy attractions, to educate and entertain visitors, from the official courthouse documents at the Peabody Essex Museum to the witch wax models at the Salem Wax Museum. 

Embrace your inner witch and get the most out of spooky season with these titles: 

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet 

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill 

The Salem Witch Trials: A Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts by Jenny MacBain 

The Crucible by Arthur Miller 

A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J.W. Ocker 

The Path of the Witch: Rituals & Practices for Discovering Which Witch You Are by Lidia Pradas 

-Linnea

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Today marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which will last until October 15. On September 15, Mexico celebrates their independence from Spain, with most Central American countries celebrating on September 16, and Chile celebrating on September 18. It is a time for the United States to acknowledge and commemorate the contributions and achievements of Hispanic Americans. The influence of Central America is everywhere in the United States, from food to culture to language.  

Interested in cooking? Try these Mexican cookbooks: 

Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo 

Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in México by Ricky Martínez 

Plant Powered Mexican: Fast, Fresh Recipes from a Mexican-American Kitchen by Kate Ramos  

Planning your next vacation? Explore Central America and beyond: 

Lonely Planet’s Best of Central America 

Fodor’s Essential Chile

Footprint: Belize, Guatemala & Southern Mexico

Love history? There’s plenty to learn: 

Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration by Alfredo Corchado 

Diego Rivera by Pete Hamill 

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernández-Armesto 

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson

And of course, there are plenty of authors with rich bibliographies to further expand our appreciation: 

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Violeta by Isabel Allende 

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 

-Linnea

Happy National Secondhand Day!  

The interest in buying secondhand, upcycling, and reducing our spending has risen in recent years. There are plenty of reasons to shop at thrift stores and do our own mending. With the constant changing of trends and being surrounded by new all the time, it can be extremely gratifying to find that diamond in the rough and make it one of a kind. No matter your ability level, anyone can find great pieces by shopping secondhand and learn tricks to jazz up thrift store gems, from home décor to clothing. 

Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures by Lara Spencer 

The Whimsical Home: Interior Design with Thrift Store Finds, Flea Market Gems, and Recycled Goods by Sania Hedengren 

The Refashion Handbook: Refit, Redesign, Remake for Every Body by Beth Huntington 

Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-dye & Love Your Wardrobe by Katrina Rodabaugh 

Re-bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials by Jeannine Stein (As a librarian, I would be remiss to not include a book about books!) 

Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love by Blair Stocker 

The next time you pass a garage sale or find a hole in your favorite socks or want to redecorate, you’ll have plenty of inspiration to create or mend or design while saving money.

-Linnea

National Pinot Noir Day

Today may be National Pinot Noir Day but there are plenty of other wine-related topics to celebrate. If you drink wine, you know that a glass can elevate a dining experience. But between all the varietals and rules, it can be hard to know what exactly you’re drinking and which to drink with which food. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to teach us!  

First off, there is no need to become an expert because as Victoria James’ autobiography Wine Girl explains, the journey to becoming a sommelier (not to mention America’s youngest sommelier!) is quite the intense journey. If that doesn’t scare you off, peruse Rosie Schaap’s book Becoming a Sommelier and really take your wine knowledge to the next level. But if you’d rather take a step back, there’s Aldo Sohm’s book Wine Simple. Sohm takes his expertise and makes it manageable for those of us that just want to know which wine goes best with pizza.

And maybe you don’t want to take it that far and just want to know what wines come from where, learn something, and impress your dinner guests. Around the World in Eighty Wines by Mike Veseth is an excellent resource, broken into continents, countries, and cities, delving into the history and making of their wines. Wine Isn’t Rocket Science by Ophélie Neiman breaks down how to buy and pair every type of wine, so you’re never left wondering if you should have a white or red with dinner.  

And if you’d rather just read wine-themed books, have we got options for you!

Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
The Winemakers by Jan Moran
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

-Linnea

Listen With Pride

June is both Pride Month and Audiobook Month. Let’s get you listening to some fabulous stories starring LGBTQ characters!

A few of my favorite Fiction Titles-an exciting space opera, a whirlwind romance, a heartwarming fantasy, and a charming tale of family and grief.

Check out these nonfiction titles, a mixed bag of humor and heartbreak.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

I love Jason Reynolds. His books are always powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful, and his newest offering, produced with his best friend, does not disappoint. In fact, it is so stunning that after enjoying a library copy I immediately purchased a copy for my personal collection.

Find a copy here

Reynolds penned three long sentences. Griffin filled 300 pocket-sized moleskin pages of art. Together they capture the feelings of fear and uncertainty most of us felt during 2020. Around the world and in our own communities people were isolate, separated. By Covid. By politics. But also, people took to the streets to protest. All the while, we sat glued to the news. Mostly bad news. It was a long, dark year. But not entirely without hope.

This book is almost 400 pages long and weighs almost 2 pounds, but you can read it in 15 minutes. Or linger over each drawing. Or revisit favorite pages. It’s a treasure.

Dedication page

These are a few pages that stuck out to me and I think they are excellent examples of the wide range of feelings expressed throughout the book. The next time someone says they don’t like poetry, hand them this and see if you win them over!

~Megan

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!