If you're dedicated to a particular book genre (Guilty, I love a good mystery.) and hoping to take a little detour, we have an option that is right up your alley.
Try something new with the 2020 Broader Bookshelf Challenge. Our Research and Readers' Advisory Department has assembled reading prompts to help you discover new authors, genres and books that you might not otherwise select.
Columbia Living Magazine highlighted the challenge in a recent issue. See the prompts and titles that our staff picked and paired together.
This lyrical novel is framed by a woman locked away in solitary confinement, reflecting on her life and how she got there. Born to Palestinian refugees in Kuwait, Nahr and her family struggle to fit in and survive. When their adopted country is torn apart by war, Nahr’s family is forced to flee once again. “Against the Loveless World” is a sweeping story of a young woman who makes hard decisions to support her family and her people. It is also the heart-wrenching story of a torn-apart people who make hard decisions and cherish their culture and roots even under the most oppressive circumstances.
Anyanwu is over 300-years-old, can shape shift and heal herself quickly. Doro is ageless. He changes bodies at will and is always on the lookout for “special” people. He is drawn to Anyanwu, and the story begins. “Wild Seed” is the story of their interactions over the years as Doro works to build a society of people with special abilities and attempts to tame Anyanwu, who refuses to be subdued. This is the first book of the Patternist series. It is a fast-paced tale of survival, love, hatred and the beginning of a new nation.
Fulfill your “read a book about mental illness” prompt with this laugh-till-you-cry memoir from Jenny Lawson of “The Bloggess.” The author details her lifelong struggle with severe depression and anxiety and her strategy of being “furiously happy” out of frustration and spite in a style that’s equal parts funny and heartbreaking. Her honesty and dark sense of humor are compelling, but maybe not for particularly weak-stomached readers. (There is quite a lot of taxidermy.) This memoir will ring a familiar cord for anybody who has struggled to get up, fit in and look normal.
Fulfill your “read a book set in Texas” prompt with a thriller from Attica Locke about love, race and justice in East Texas. Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, on a tip from a friend, makes his way to small-town Lark, Texas to look into the deaths of Michael Wright, a black lawyer from Chicago, and Missy Dale, a local white woman seen talking with Mr. Wright. Ranger Matthews has a lot going on. His marriage is on the rocks, his job is on the line, and he’s trying to investigate two murders that the local cops are in no hurry to help solve. Lark is a town with fracturing racial fault lines and the kind of secrets that bubble beneath the surface waiting to explode, with Darren making waves while trying to plumb those depths in his search for the truth, and hopefully justice. Locke has provided the reader with well-developed characters and a thriller that keeps the tension high. Step into the red dirt of East Texas and enjoy a well-told story.
Still need to complete the “read a celebrity memoir” prompt on your Broader Bookshelf Challenge? Then check out “The Last Black Unicorn,” a heart-wrenching and hilarious read from beloved comedian and actor Tiffany Haddish. The book chronicles Haddish’s astounding journey from her South Central Los Angeles childhood spent in foster care to her meteoric rise to fame. Her down-to-earth honesty, unbreakable spirit and relentless humor will have readers cheering her on as she tells her story. The Grammy-nominated audiobook version, narrated by the author herself, is especially engaging and will have listeners alternately roaring with laughter and wiping away tears. Don’t miss out on this incredible story of beating the odds.