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.
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.
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!
Looking for some fresh inspiration in the kitchen this spring? Take a look at some of our latest and greatest cookbooks recently published and hitting shelves in the coming weeks- you’re sure to find something delicious and new!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trail of Harper Lee by Casey Cep is three stories in one, told in three parts. The first part tells of the story of Reverend Willie Maxwell, a southern preacher and serial killer accused of murdering five people in order to collect the insurance money. Maxwell got away with each crime until he was shot to death at his last victim’s funeral by a family member. The second part of the story features Tom Radney, Reverend Maxwell’s attorney who then defended Maxwell’s killer, Robert Burns. Surprise! And with the trial of Robert Burns comes one Harper Lee. Readers learn about the reclusive author from her childhood, college experiences, and the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. By the 1970s is appeared that Lee was destined to never publish another book, until she heard about the murder of Willie Maxwell. Lee had helped her close friend Truman Capote when he wrote In Cold Blood, and she was determined to have her own success with a true crime book. To that end, Lee spent a year back in her native Alabama gathering information and even more time writing her account of the trial of the man who killed the serial killer. And yet, the book never made it to fruition. This book is part biography, part history lesson, and part true crime. It’s an interesting exploration of the life and times of Harper Lee, racial issues in the South, and the judicial system. The case of Reverend Maxwell was news to me and the most engrossing portion of the book.
This month Riverinos will we meeting in person to discuss the case of Dr. Linda Hazzard and the book Starvation Heights. See you Wednesday, March 16 at 7pm if you are interested!
From true crime to history to art, there are some excellent nonfiction books coming out this year. I thought I’d share a few of the titles I’ve added to my endless TBR pile.
Treasured: How Tutankhamun Shaped a Century by Christina Riggs Publication Date: February 1, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. When it was discovered in 1922, the 3,300-year-old tomb of Tutankhamun sent shockwaves around the world, turning the boy-king into a household name overnight and kickstarting an international obsession with Egyptology that endures to this day. Professor of Visual Culture Christina Riggs offers a bold account of the tomb’s excavation, archeology and colonialism, tourism and cultural exhibitions, politics, and more – and all just in time for the discovery’s centennial anniversary. Get ready to have Steve Martin’s “King Tut” stuck in your head for weeks. How’d you get so funky? Funky Tut!
Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth by Elizabeth Williamson Publication Date: March 8, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. On December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A decade later, the Sandy Hook killings have been lumped into a messy cycle of conspiracy theories involving the JFK assassination, 9/11, the 2020 President election, and other events. Some people have insisted the tragedy never occurred or was staged by the government to prompt the passage of gun control legislation. Drawing on hours of extensive research, New York Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson provides a definitive account of the school shooting and the aftermath, including the work of Sandy Hook parents who fought to defend themselves and the legacies of their children against the frenzied distortions of conspiracy theorists.
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton Publication Date: March 29, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in a mental institution. Maud’s father, obsessed with the “purity” of his family bloodline, traced his family back to the Revolutionary War. Diving headfirst into her genealogy, Maud Newton exposes the secrets and contradictions of her ancestors to show the transformational possibilities that reckoning with ancestors has for all of us.
Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments by Erin L. Thompson Publication Date: February 8, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. Since 2020, we’ve witnessed heated debates and outright protests and violent clashes over public monuments. Why do we care so much about hunks of marble? How do we decide which monuments should stay up and which ones need to come down? Erin L. Thompson, Professor of Art Crime at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, takes readers on a journey through America’s turbulent relationship with statues, particularly monuments concerning the Confederacy, slavery, and America’s founding fathers, and how we can better navigate the legal, political, and social concerns involved in our public monuments.
Gentrifier: A Memoir by Anne Elizabeth Moore Publication Date: October 19, 2021. Request a copy from the Library here. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization granted writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a free house in Detroit’s Bangladeshi “Banglatown.” Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to the bungalow where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption.
All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work by Hayley Campbell Publication Date: August 16, 2022. It’s still a little too early to request a copy of this gem, but keep checking back with the Library as we move closer to summer! Inspired by a her longtime fascination with death, Hayley Campbell embarked on a three year trip across the US and the UK to met with a variety of professionals in the death industry to see how they work. She encountered funeral directors, embalmers, former executioners, anatomy students, homicide detectives, and more, and asked them the same question: Why choose a life of working with the dead? Campbell is already getting comparisons to Mary Roach so don’t miss this one.
A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them by Neil Bradbury Publication Date: February 1, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. As any true crime fan can tell you, poison is one of the most enduring and popular weapons of choice for a scheming murderer. It can be slipped into a drink, smeared onto the tip of an arrow or the handle of a door, or even filtered through the air we breathe. But how exactly do these poisons work to break down our bodies, and what can we learn from the damage they inflict? In a fascinating blend of popular science, medical history, and true crime, Dr. Neil Bradbury examines this most morbidly captivating method of murder from a cellular level.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith Publication Date: June 1, 2021. Request a copy from the Library here. Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads readers through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history and ourselves. From Monticello to Whitney Plantation to Angola Prison to Blandford Cemetery, Smith shows how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain sight and how we can better reflect on the roles of memory and history.
What happens when you are accused of fabricating the worst night of your life? How do you deal with the fact that the people meant to help you think you’re the criminal? This case is wild! With a stranger abduction, rape, mistaken identities, secret organizations, cops with tunnel vision, it’s no surprise that this case was referred to as the real life Gone Girl. Victim F follows Denise and Aaron through Denise’s abduction, the tragic aftermath, and ultimately their recovery efforts as well as lawsuits. A fantastic true crime read.
I’m not sure I can really do my 2021 reading list justice with a list of only ten books. So with some emotional support from my co-workers, and after a long talk with my cat, I was finally able to take a deep breath and chose twelve.
Reflecting over the past year, each one of these books takes me back to a time and place of extreme joy and extreme pain. Each one is a mile marker that reminds me to keep breathing, keep moving, and when all else fails- shut out the world and grab a good book.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin: Reunited over bingo after 45 years, these two grandmothers find that their love for one another never faded. Hope, love, and realizing that it is never too late to live authentically and with all your heart!
Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson: True crime set across the decades in Cleveland, Ohio, this is the story of a still unsolved murder and the longest wrongful incarceration of three men and their fight for justice.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: A young woman sets out to find community and herself. What she discovers is the true meaning of intersectionality and standing in her own self-love.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole: A thriller that is a little bit ‘Rear Window’ and a little bit mole people. Gentrification, murder, evil pharmaceutical companies, and the most unexpected heroes.
The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymulina: This short thriller is narrated by a young girl, who happens to be a ghost trying to help her father get justice for another young girl. Part murder mystery, part Australian Aboriginal tale, this story will sit with you long after you finish the book.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: A darkly humorus story about two sisters- the beautiful and popular one and the responsible one. They have nothing in common, including how they deal with their traumatic childhood. One sister becomes a serial killer, the other learns how to clean up a crime scene.
Skye Falling by Mia MacKenzie: A Black queer woman in her 30’s enjoys her life of no attachments and no responsibilities until the 12 year old egg she donated to a friend she’s lost contact with shows up one day. You will laugh just as much as you cry while you go along for a truly amazing ride!
The Deep by Rivers Solomon: How did the mermaids in the Pacific Ocean come to be? This is their origin story. Beautifully written, Solomon speaks to community, healing, and reclaiming your identity.
The Push by Ashley Audrain: A psychological drama about motherhood, family, and murder (?) that will have you holding your breath and gasping out loud.
The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur: A young female impersonates a man in order to find her father and solve ongoing murders. Set 600 years ago in Korea, this story will pull you in and not let go until the final word.