Staff Picks- August

One of the best things about working in a public library is being exposed to so many different books! I know I can be guilty of sticking to my reading comfort zone, but thanks to the eclectic readership we have on staff, I’m always hearing personal recommendations and reviews from my amazing colleagues, including a wide variety of genres.

This month Adult Services staff shared some current favorites, including a discussion worthy nonfiction title, an updated classic with a fantasy twist, and a stand-out autobiography. Take a look below for our five staff picks!

Hop on over to our digital library to snag one of these titles now! Ilhan Omar narrates the audiobook version of This is What America Looks Like, which was highly recommended by our staff, so if you are an audiobook fan don’t miss out on this great title.

Staff Poetry Favorites

Welcome back to our final installment of Staff Poetry Favorites in honor of National Poetry Month 2021. This week we look at some of our favorite poetry collections!

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

blud by Rachel McKibbens

The end of April is quickly approaching and thus the end of National Poetry Month. Hopefully you have been inspired to continue reading poetry throughout the year! We have a great selection of poetry on our shelves at Rocky River Public Library, and don’t forget you can access our digital shelves via OverDrive for more poetry titles from the comfort of your couch.

Staff Poetry Favorites

As we continue to celebrate National Poetry Month here at Rocky River Public Library, I’m sharing some more staff favorites with you today. Last week we heard from our Outreach Department and this week we will hear some favorite poems from some of our Adult Services Department staff.

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

The Hill We Climb

by Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Selected by Shannon, Adult Services Librarian

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in)

by E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Selected by Shannon, Adult Services Librarian

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Good Bones

by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Selected by Dori, Adult Services Manager

Check back next week for our final National Poetry Month post featuring a list of recommended poetry collections!

Staff Poetry Favorites

April is National Poetry Month and in honor of this special celebration of poetry, I asked my colleagues to share some of their favorite poetry with me. For the next couple weeks I will highlight these selections on the blog. This week we hear from members of our Outreach staff on their favored works.

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Fog

By Carl Sandburg

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

“For me, poetry is a good way to connect with how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking about in a certain time and place. There are so many poems and poets, the style and content can be so different, it’s like there’s always a piece of candy that catches my eye. 

If Fog by Carl Sandburg were candy, it would be my perfect mix of caramel, chopped nuts, nougat, and chocolate. In just a few words, the poet creates an image and atmosphere, including a touch of whimsy with an accurate cat vibe. Thank you, Mr. Sandburg, for the gift of this poem!” Stacey, Outreach Coordinator

Image from The Poetry Foundation.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

by Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

” ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ by Maya Angelou is my pick this year. I’ve been chanting it to myself lately (for obvious reasons)!” Carol, Outreach Librarian

10 Recommended Funny Books by Women

Are you in need of a good laugh? I’m sure most of us are seeking humor more than usual during this difficult time and one of my favorite ways to be heartened is cozying up with a hilarious book. I just finished Shit, Actually by Lindy West, a collection of scathing and laugh out loud funny reviews of popular films, which was exactly what I needed this past week.

If you are interested in women’s comedy, which has long been a prime spot for women to talk back and break taboos in mainstream popular culture, join us tonight on Zoom for Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics at 7 pm Eastern. This sure to be engaging virtual program with Linda Mizejewski, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor in Ohio State University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Department, is an overview of women’s comedy beginning with Mae West and ending with the new generation of women comedians such as Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres who flout the pretty-versus-funny dynamic, targeting glamour and in some cases making it clear that in popular culture, “pretty” almost always means “white.” Click here to register!


There are a plethora of fabulous titles out there by my favorite funny women, and I’ve selected ten of my top choices for you below.

Hop on over to our Overdrive catalog to snag one of these fabulous titles now, or request a print copy, and let the laughter begin! Happy reading all.

Love WandaVision? Read These Graphic Novels

Scarlet Witch has been a favorite character of mine since childhood. I’m sure there is still a late 90s era Scarlet Witch action figure at my parent’s house somewhere, in all her red and pink spandex glory. Disney+ recently launched a new streaming series all about Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and her love Vision, entitled WandaVision. The show is an entertaining blend of era-specific sitcoms, think I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, etc., shrouded in mystery and ominous tones reminiscent of the best of The Twilight Zone.

Not since Game of Thrones (RIP Dany- you will always be my Queen) has a television show inspired me to read weekly AV Club articles, peruse the internet for other fan’s theories and predictions, and talk at length with friends about episodes. It is so much fun.

If you’re enjoying the show, but not well-versed in the comics history of this stellar character, I would highly recommend reading one or all of the graphic novels below! They are collected volumes of some of Wanda and Vision’s best story arcs and would serve as a great introduction to these two. Conversely, if you are an established fan like myself, re-reading these might give you a greater appreciation of the show, in addition to fuel for your plot theories. *wink wink*

The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King

The Vision wants to be human and in this Eisner award winning series he decides that family is about as human as it gets. So he heads back to the beginning, to the laboratory where Ultron created him and molded him into a weapon. The place where he first rebelled against his given destiny and imagined that he could be more -that he could be a man. There, he builds them. A wife, Virginia. Two teenage twins, Viv and Vin. They look like him. They have his powers. They share his grandest ambition (or is that obsession?) the unrelenting need to be ordinary. What could go wrong?

Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch- A Year in the Life by Steve Englehart

In a world full of heroes, villains, and monsters, there are few stranger phenomenons than the marriage of a mutant witch to a heroic synthozoid! As this unlikely couple settles into their home in Leonia, New Jersey, they find themselves at odds with the members of their complex families, including Ultron, the Grim Reaper, Quicksilver, and Magneto. When Wanda uses the power of a village of witches to make herself pregnant, the happy twosome becomes a happy foursome when twin sons William and Thomas are born, the future Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers!

House of M by Brian Michael Bendis

I read this story arc years ago but want to revisit it thanks to WandaVision and some sly Easter eggs that seem to point to this potentially being important to the show’s mysterious plot. In 2005, Bendis and Coipel created the world of the House of M storyline. This was one of the many times that Scarlet Witch changed reality with her powers. The Avengers are trying to determine what to do with Wanda, with some believing they need to kill her. Wanda creates a new world known as the House of M- she said “no more mutants,” and 98% of the world’s mutants instantly lost their powers. Oops?!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg

Another story arc I read years ago, The Children’s Crusade picks up following Wanda’s actions in House of M. Wanda has disappeared. While some knew where she was, the world soon learned that Wanda was still alive and well, and that sent the Avengers to find her and the X-Men to try and possibly kill her. Eventually, they take her back into the fold of the Avengers and the X-Men are held off for now.

Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road by James Robinson, Vanesa Del Rey, Jordie Bellaire & Cory Petit

This is the first collected volume of this great series from some of my favorite writers and artists, like Jordie Bellaire (check out her Buffy reboot! SO GOOD.). Witchcraft is broken – and Wanda is on a journey across the globe to fix it. From the back alleys of Manhattan to the serene Greek Isles to the Irish countryside, the former Avenger will face myths and legends from ancient lore, cure curses, and discover there’s is even more to her complex family history than she knew. In Spain she will visit a church where witches like her were once burned at the stake – and be haunted by the ghosts of the Spanish Inquisition!

All the titles above are available via Hoopla or through our catalog! Are you watching WandaVision? Do you have a favorite Scarlet Witch or Vision comic? Share in the comments! Happy reading !

Nicole’s Top Ten of 2020

This year I stayed quite nicely tucked into my reading comfort blanket of weird, atmospheric, and dark reads for the most part. I read more than one collection of short stories, and one novella, which reflects my unpredictable ebb and flow of reading ambition the past ten months: some days I couldn’t focus on reading for more than fifteen minutes, while others days I was inspired to plant myself on the couch and read all weekend. Below you’ll find my ten favorite books I read this past year: including some supernatural thrillers, weird and beautiful science fiction, horror short stories, literary fiction, and more!

Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror Edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

The Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer

Bunny by Mona Awad

Circe by Madeline Miller

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

RRPL Gift Guide- 10 Best 2020 Cookbooks

Ah, the kitchen. The heart of the home, the place with the snacks, and the location where you have probably spent much more time this year compared to last year. Maybe you devoted hours of sheltering at home time to baking, perhaps you took this as an opportunity to try that elaborate new recipe you never felt you had the time for, or maybe you just have gotten tired of takeout and decided to try and recreate a fancy restaurant experience at home.

If any of these sound like you, or your nearest and dearest, take a look at my picks for the ten best cookbooks to come out in 2020! I love to gift my favorite cookbooks during the holiday season. If you are lucky they will share some of their successful and hopefully delicious results with you after they try out some recipes! *wink wink*

Each of these titles would make a wonderful gift for a family member, friend, or a lovely book to add to your own cookery library. Don’t forget to order from Bookshop.org so you can support your local, independent booksellers this holiday season!

Happy holidays and I hope you stay happy, healthy, and safe this season!

My Top 10 Favorite Horror Graphic Novels

As promised, I’m back this week to share some of my all-time favorite scary, spooky, and otherwise guaranteed to keep you up late at night books. It was so difficult narrowing this down, so I decided to share my top ten favorite horror graphic novels this week- saving my favorite traditionally formatted prose novels for next week.

Below you’ll find melancholy stories of hauntings and witches, disturbing tales of otherworldly creatures, horrific murder mysteries, and more tales that will leave you contemplating whats lurking in the shadows long after you close the book’s covers.

  1. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn
  2. Wytches by Scott Snyder
  3. Clean Room by Gail Simone
  4. Revival by Tim Seeley
  5. Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge
  6. Black Hole by Charles Burns
  7. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa
  8. Outcast by Robert Kirkman
  9. Locke & Key by Joe Hill
  10. Redlands by Jordie Bellaire

Check out one of these great book today at the library or pop on over to Hoopla to read graphic novels without ever having to leave your couch!

Favorite Horror Films on Kanopy

Spooky season is finally here! Personally, I enjoy all things supernatural, spooky, and scary year-round but October is the month I can recommend my favorite books and films to those who reserve their scares just for the month of Halloween.

Kanopy has some really great horror films available for viewing right now, including some of my favorites from the past decade or so. Including an atmospheric German witch tale, a deeply disturbing story of grief and possession, and an Iranian vampire western (yes, you read that correctly) there is an amazing variety of top-notch scares waiting for you. So dim the lights, warm up some apple cider, and queue up on of these films.

Keep your eyes peeled here next Thursday to read about some of my most favorite horror books. If you love reading horror too (it is truly a wide ranging genre full of such talent!) join me later this month for Novel Scares book club where we will be discussing The Good House by Tananarive Due on Zoom.

What are some of your favorite scary movies to watch around Halloween? Share in the comments!