Hi everyone, here are our recommended titles for the week, consisting entirely of eBooks & downloadable audiobooks available through the Digital Catalog.
Weekly Suggested Reading postings are published on Tuesdays.
After Alice: A Novel written by Gregory Maguire and read by Katherine Kellgren (Downloadable Audiobook)
From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic.
When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?
In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.
Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”
The Answer Is … : Reflections on My Life, written by Alex Trebek and read by Ken Jennings (Downloadable Audiobook)
A RECOMMENDED SUMMER READ BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, TIME, AND NEWSWEEK
Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.
Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.
For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.
The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.
This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.
Chances Are…written by Richard Russo and read by Fred Sanders (Downloadable Audiobook)
One beautiful September day, three men in their late sixties convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college in the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today—Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey is a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971. Now, forty-five years later, three lives and that of a significant other are put on display while the distant past confounds the present in a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are . . . introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga.
The Chain by Adrian McKinty (eBook)
When a mother is targeted by a dangerous group of masterminds, she must commit a crime to save her kidnapped daughter — or risk losing her forever — in this “propulsive and original” thriller (Stephen King).
It’s something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it’s a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn’t do as she’s told, the boy will die.
“You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last.” Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals — and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim , and then commit a horrible act you’d have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago.
But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.
Do Nothing, How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee (eBook)
“A welcome antidote to our toxic hustle culture of burnout.”—Arianna Huffington
“This book is so important and could truly save lives.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
“A clarion call to work smarter [and] accomplish more by doing less.”—Adam Grant
We work feverishly to make ourselves happy. So why are we so miserable?
Despite our constant search for new ways to optimize our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can’t we just take a break?
In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we’re searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won’t find what we’re searching for in punishing diets, productivity apps, or the latest self-improvement schemes. Yet all is not lost—we just need to learn how to take time for ourselves, without agenda or profit, and redefine what is truly worthwhile.
Pulling together threads from history, neuroscience, social science, and even paleontology, Headlee examines long-held assumptions about time use, idleness, hard work, and even our ultimate goals. Her research reveals that the habits we cling to are doing us harm; they developed recently in human history, which means they are habits that can, and must, be broken. It’s time to reverse the trend that’s making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive.
The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (eBook)
“Wise and addictive… The Gifted School is the juiciest novel I’ve read in ages… a suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner and an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class.” –J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers, in The New York Times
Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a previously happy group of friends and parents that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community
This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflicts between achievement and potential, talent and privilege.
Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It’s a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.
Speaking of Summer: A Novel by Kalisha Buckhanon (eBook)
A “powerful song about what it means to survive as a woman in America” (Jesmyn Ward), this “fiercely astute” novel follows a sister determined to uncover the truth about her twin’s disappearance (Tayari Jones).
On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister, Summer, walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again. The door to the roof is locked, and the snow holds only one set of footprints. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing Black woman, Autumn must pursue the search for her sister all on her own.
With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. But the loss becomes too great, the mystery too inexplicable, and Autumn starts to unravel, all the while becoming obsessed with the various murders of local women and the men who kill them, thinking their stories and society’s complacency toward them might shed light on what really happened to her sister.
In Speaking of Summer, critically acclaimed author Kalisha Buckhanon has created a fast-paced story of urban peril and victim invisibility, and the fight to discover the complicated truths at the heart of every family.
Still Lives: A Novel by Maria Hummel (eBook)
Twelve shocking paintings. Eleven famous murders. One missing artist . . . and one woman driven to find her—this Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine Selection is a “stunning achievement” (Los Angeles Times).
Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women―the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others―and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.
As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.
Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala.
Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.
Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert (eBook)
USA Today bestselling author Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When big, brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and former rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact to him, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Suddenly, half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
The easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
“Talia Hibbert is a rockstar! Her writing is smart, funny, and sexy…” – Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Little Bridge Island and Princess Diaries series
One of Oprah Magazine’s 21 Romance Novels That Are Set to Be the Best of 2020, Bustle’s 25 Most Anticipated Books of June, PARADE Magazine’s 30 Beach Reads of 2020, PopSugar’s 35 Must-Read 2020 Books Written by Women, New York Post’s Best Books of the Week, an Essence #SummerReads – 14 Books by Black Authors, and Buzzfeed’s 28 Romance Novels to Read this Summer!
Very Nice: A Novel by Marcy Dermansky (eBook)
“A story of sex and intrigue set amid rich people in a beautiful house with a picturesque swimming pool… Very funny.” -Rumaan Alam, The Washington Post
A brilliantly funny novel of bad behavior in the post-Obama era, featuring a wealthy Connecticut divorcée, her college-age daughter, and the famous novelist who is seduced by them both.
Rachel Klein never meant to kiss her creative writing professor, but with his long eyelashes, his silky hair, and the sad, beautiful life he laid bare on Twitter, she does, and the kiss is very nice. Zahid Azzam never planned to become a houseguest in his student’s sprawling Connecticut home, but with the sparkling swimming pool, the endless supply of Whole Foods strawberries, and Rachel’s beautiful mother, he does, and the home is very nice. Becca Klein never thought she’d have a love affair so soon after her divorce, but when her daughter’s professor walks into her home, bringing with him an apricot standard poodle named Princess, she does, and the affair is…a very bad idea.
Zigzagging between the rarefied circles of Manhattan investment banking, the achingly self-serious MFA programs of the Midwest, and the private bedrooms of Connecticut, Very Nice is an audacious, addictive, and wickedly smart take on the way we live now.
Have a great week and stay cool!
Linda Reimer, SSCL
Note: Book summaries are from the respective publishers unless otherwise specified.
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