Looking for authors or titles new to you? Trying to complete the #BroaderBookshelf challenge and need a reading suggestion from Richland Library staff to complete one of the prompts? Try some of the titles that we've recently read and enjoyed. #ReadFreely
While nothing really like Animal Farm, I couldn't help but compare the two books in that they both seemed like light-hearted, family-read-aloud-ish, could-be-read-to-children, but if you look and read closer, you'll find them to be much deeper and lead to complex conversations. In the polarizing book that is The Alchemist, we follow our humble hero on a journey across Spain and Northern Africa as he embarks of a journey of self discovery while packing in as much wisdom from his mentor as humanly possible along the way.
First in a series, this book follows an ex-artificial intelligence (itself a sufficiently interesting concept to grab my attention) on a self-assigned mission to assassinate the many-bodied head of a vast interstellar empire. I’ll be reading more in this series if only for the worldbuilding, which is fantastic. Leckie has a rare talent for creating societies that feel simultaneously familiarly human (the Radch empire has some Roman flavor to it) and entirely foreign. The plot is complex and makes a lot of time jumps but I didn’t find it difficult or overly baroque. I would compare it perhaps to CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner books in their focus on alien language and culture or NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy in their matter of fact world building, which is high praise from me.
The Fridge (the big bad) kidnaps Eva’s sister, Mari, and blackmails her into doing odd jobs for them. Space battles, deliveries/pickups gone bad, rogue religious conversions, and declarations of war ensue. At one point in the story, there is a literal space opera. Captain Eva Innocente is a hard talking, hard drinking, hard hitting, hard loving captain and while she frequently ends up in compromising situations, she has the brains and gusto to get out of them - mostly. You’ll like this story if you enjoy space exploration, complicated family dynamics and a love story on the side. The narrator Almarie Guerra does a fantastic job expressing the personalities of the characters and expressing urgency throughout the action in the story.
Bonus #BroaderBookshelf credit: “listen to an audiobook.”
This is a fun, interactive book that celebrates creativity and helps readers move past their creative blocks. It reminds me of Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal and Mess, but with stories (and a lot of jokes) between writing and drawing exercises. Embrace Your Weird reminds us to be mindful, self-aware, playful, and brave. It celebrates the fact that we all have our own unique voices, interests, and goals. This book isn't just for "creative types;" we all create in our own ways. It's for anyone who is ready to explore their own creative path.
In this racially charged mystery, a daughter returns to the Mississippi Delta 30 years after her father's death to try to piece together what happened. Billie’s poet father unexpectedly died when she was four, and after a lifetime away from the South, she returns to the ramshackle house she inherited from her grandmother and the scene of her father’s death. This bleak mystery paints a vivid picture of the Mississippi Delta.
This graphic novel is a memoir in a digital collage style. The heart of the book is conversations between Jacob, who is Indian-American, and her mixed race son on current racial politics, family division, and Michael Jackson. It also follows the author’s childhood struggles with racism as a child in New Mexico, with colorism in her parents’ native India, and as an author often pigeonholed by reviewers and publishers because of her ethnicity. I can’t say enough good about this book – it’s funny, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. It tears by in a hurry – I read it on my lunch break – but has a lot to say.
Hollow Kingdom is a fun and refreshing take on the zombie apocalypse trope. The story follows the adventures of a foul-mouthed domesticated crow, S.T., and his goofy partner-in-crime, Dennis the bloodhound, as they seek a cure for the disease that has liquefied the brains of their human companions. Hilarious and tragic in turns, Hollow Kingdom explores what it means to be in community with other beings, and the surprising ways in which all life is connected. Buxton does a superb job at balancing tragedy with comedy – S.T.’s unique and hysterical take on life swoops to the rescue when the collapse of civilization threatens to become too heavy. Animal lovers be warned: there are quite a few dog deaths in this book, which may be a deal breaker for some readers.
Esther Wojcicki, also known as Woj, is the mother of three successful daughters; Susan a YouTube CEO, Janet - a professor of pediatrics, and Anne, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe. Woj is a celebrated educator and a consultant to GoogleEdu and the US Department of Education.
The subtitle – “Simple Lessons for Radical results” really reeled me into reading this book. I can deal with ‘simple’ especially if it can bring in ‘radical’ results! The main message of the book is to treat children as mini adults, to run the home more like a democracy than a dictatorship. Elders should not just rule from a place of authority but also listen to their kids and realize that it is a “two-way street” for learning.
Woj is also telling Americans to stop hovering around as anxious helicopter parents. She talks about growing up with an older brother who was “pampered to the point of paralysis” and how all that parental devotion can limit your kids from being independent. The acronym TRICK which stands for Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness is her mantra for parenting.
I enjoyed reading this book which has some great practical parenting advice interspersed with interesting family stories and anecdotes.
This fast-paced fantasy by one of the most gifted authors of our time is a modern classic. Dripping with details of the grimy, dark and terrifying underbelly of London, you'll be rooting for the well-developed characters as they race to restore justice in a wicked and twisted version of reality. I later found out about the BBC mini-series adaptation and I think if I saw that first, I would not have read the book!
As a huge fan of Gravity Falls and The Twilight Zone, I couldn't wait to open this book. Fantastically weird short stories come together to give readers a fully-developed fictional town with fascinating characters, recurring settings, and an ever-present pharmaceutical company looming in the background. Tying it all together is our main character, a “socio-anthropo-lingui-lore-ologist” visiting the town and collecting these strange stories.
Matt Tompkins ties all the surreal vignettes together beautifully with dark humor, ultimately showing that we are all a little weird, and sharing that weirdness connects us as humans. Everything is connected, and all our minor, everyday experiences matter.
On a Sunbeam exists in a world where there seem to be only women. The genius of the story is that you barely notice. Two timelines intertwine. One story focuses on two girls at school and their relationship. The other focuses on a crew who travel through space, restoring old and broken down locations. The artwork is the real gem of this graphic novel, beautiful red and purple hues are used for the restoration crew and muted blues are used for the story taking place at school. You’ll fall in love with the background art as well as the storyline – it’s very whimsical and detailed. Family is a running theme – the families we hail from and the families we create. Grab this one if you like epic romance stories.
Fake it until you make it! In this hilarious memoir, a real musician fake plays her way to tuition payments. The author is struggling financially when she comes across an ad to play violin with “The Composer.” She gets the job without even auditioning and ends up touring the country playing gigs at malls and concert venues, including a PBS special, “playing” the violin. Bonus #BroaderBookshelf credit: “read a nonfiction book about music” – Even though music is faked, Hindman does give a detailed description of learning to actually play the violin while growing up in rural Appalachia.
The Starless Sea (2019)
Recommended by Megan M., Richland Library Main
This much-anticipated book by the author of The Night Circus is a bookish and surreal love story set in an underground magical world filled with secrets and intrigues. Zachary Ezra Rawlins finds a mysterious book in his university library that leads him on an enchanted subterranean journey. Also, there are cats! For lovers of books about books such as Thursday Next and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.
T. Kingfisher, the nom de plume of Nebula Award winning author Ursula Vernon, delivers delightfully chilling folkloric horror in her latest release. Mouse, along with her endearingly dimwitted hound dog, Bongo, has been tasked with the job of clearing out her deceased grandmother’s remote cabin in the backwoods of North Carolina. As Mouse works her way through what turns out to be a hoarder house, she discovers her late grandfather’s journals, which warn of horrors lurking in the surrounding woods. The warnings are surely the product of a mind stricken by dementia, or are they? The Twisted Ones was impossible to put down and will hold readers in horrified thrall from cover to cover.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a hauntingly beautiful novel about an abandoned girl who “nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected” when “no one else would.” It is a fascinating read which has a murder mystery, a love story, courtroom drama, lyrical prose, and vivid descriptions. It is a New York Times Bestseller which has received rave reviews from critics and readers. The description of the marshlands in North Carolina is stunningly visual and poetic. The author writes, that autumn leaves don’t fly, “they take their time and wander on, this their only chance to soar.” However the dark murky marsh waters hide many secrets. Kya’s story made me emotional, left alone by her mom and siblings, she spends some time with her alcoholic father before he leaves her too. My heart hurt for that little girl, surviving by herself in solitude. It really saddened me when she is waiting hopefully for her mom on her birthday, naively thinking that surely her mom cannot forget her birthday and will be back. Delia Owens asks the readers to question what is right and what is wrong when she writes, “Never underrate the heart/capable of deeds/the mind cannot conceive.”