Suggested Reading November 17, 2020

Hi everyone, here are our recommended titles for the week.

After each title is a list of all the different formats that title available in; including: Print Books, Large Print Books, Audiobooks on CD, eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks from the Digital Catalog (OverDrive & Libby apps) and Hoopla eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks (Hoopla App).

*More information on the three catalogs is found at the end of the list of recommended reads*

Weekly Suggested Reading postings are published on Tuesdays.

Almost Maine: A Novel by John Cariani (Available Formats: eBook)

Cariani transforms his popular play into a fully realized YA novel of interconnected vignettes. The third-person narration opens on Ginette and Pete going to look at the stars in their hometown of Almost. Although they are beginning to fall in love, a verbal spat leads to Ginette’s leaving. Every subsequent chapter is a two-person vignette, a short story informed by her walk home past various locations. The couples experience the joys and struggles of love, with a magical realism bent, and not all the stories end happily. Of the ten couples featured-one more than found in the play, and including LGBTQ+ representation-only two characters are teenagers, so this may require some handselling to get YAs to fully connect with the stories. It will be worth it. VERDICT For New Adult sections, theater enthusiasts, and born romantics, a charming and whimsical collection.-Nancy McKay, Byron Public Library, IL



Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla Downloadable Audiobook)

Japanese playwright Kawaguchi’s evocative English-language debut is set in a tiny Tokyo café where time travel is possible. In four connected tales, lovers and family members take turns sitting in the chair that allows a person to travel back in time for only as long as it takes a single cup of coffee to cool. In “Husband and Wife,” a nurse goes back in time to visit her husband before his Alzheimer’s erased her from his memory; in “The Sisters,” a woman visits her younger sister, who died in an accident while trying to visit her, to apologize for not seeing her. Kawaguchi’s characters embark on lo-fi, emotional journeys unburdened by the technicalities often found in time travel fiction—notably, they are unable to change the present. The characters learn, though, that even though people don’t return to a changed present, they return “with a changed heart.” Kawaguchi’s tender look at the beauty of passing things, adapted from one of his plays, makes for an affecting, deeply immersive journey into the desire to hold onto the past. This wondrous tale will move readers. – Publishers Weekly Review



The Boatman’s Daughter: A Novel by Andy Davidson (Available Formats: Print Book)

The remote Arkansas bayou is a swirling kaleidoscope of murder, greed, and dark, ancient magic in Bram Stoker Award finalist Davidson’s second novel (In the Valley of the Sun, 2017).

The rotting Holy Day Church and Sabbath House, where the preacher Billy Cotton held his congregants in his thrall, serves as a painful reminder to 21-year-old Miranda Crabtree of the night 10 years ago when she and her father, Hiram, the boatman, took the midwife (and witch) Iskra there to deliver Cotton’s son. As soon as Cotton laid eyes on the infant’s mottled, scaly skin and webbed hands, he called him an abomination and tried to kill him. Iskra had other ideas, and the baby, whom Miranda called Littlefish, survived. But Hiram disappeared that night, and she’s since dreamed of finding his body (because he’s surely dead) and laying him to rest. It’s Miranda’s love for the mute, goodhearted Littlefish that has kept her going, and with Iskra’s help, she’s spent years running her father’s general store and eventually running dope for Cotton and his cruel and corrupt deputy, Charlie Riddle, to make ends meet. Now, Billy Cotton’s kingdom has crumbled around him and his body is riddled with cancer. Before dying, he’s desperate to appease the angry ghost of his wife, who died in childbirth, but he’ll need a sacrifice. On Miranda’s last run for Riddle, she’s ordered to deliver a young girl to Cotton, which she’s not about to do even though she knows her refusal will start a war she might not survive. But she’s ready, and the time for a reckoning has come. Davidson’s captivating horror fable combines the visceral violence of Cormac McCarthy with his own wholly original craftsmanship, weaving rich, folkloric magic with the best elements of a gritty Southern thriller. The book’s lightning-fast pace doesn’t come at the expense of fully realized, flawed, and achingly human characters. Ample bloodshed is offset by beautiful prose, and the bad guys are really, really bad. Luckily, Miranda, a young woman forged in hardship and grief and buoyed by her love of a very special child, is a perfect foil for the evil she’ll have to face.

A stunning supernatural Southern gothic. – Starred Kirkus Reviews



Cobble Hill: A Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar (Available Formats: Print Book)

This amusing romp from von Ziegesar (the Gossip Girl series) centers on an ensemble cast of self-aware, alienated couples in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill. Roy Clarke, famed British novelist of the cult hit Rainbow series, functions as the book’s center, arriving in Cobble Hill at the insistence of his critical wife, Wendy, who had hoped moving from London to New York City to take the features editor job at a fashion magazine would give her life a new direction. Roy, along with Wendy and their awkward adolescent daughter, Shy, hoped to “slip into Brooklyn and discover it quietly, be discovered by it quietly,” and in Roy’s efforts to overcome his six-year writing drought, he finds inspiration in his new neighborhood’s oddball residents: lonely Tupper Paulsen, a commercially successful but superficial artist; Tupper’s eccentric, seldom-seen performance artist wife, Elizabeth; sexy, dimpled Peaches, an English-major dropout and public school nurse with unrealized drummer dreams; Peaches’s awkward teenage son, Liam, who is self-diagnosed with Asperger’s and in love with Shy; and Stuart Little, a former rock star determined to be a good dad and a good husband to his wife, Mandy. The roiling tensions within and between families break into the open during the Bonfire Night party Roy throws for the neighborhood. Von Ziegesar’s quirky novel of lovable misfits will appeal to fans of Tom Perrotta. –Publishers Weekly Review



The Cowboy Way: Stories of the Old West by Elmer Kelton (Available Formats: Print Book)

No one writes the old west like Seven-time Spur Award-winning author Elmer Kelton. In The Cowboy Way, Kelton captures the action, adventure, brotherhood and betrayal of the old west, chronicling the highs and lows of cowboy life in these sixteen stories, collected together for the first time.

Note to Audiobook Fans: There are numerous downloadable audiobooks by this author in the Hoopla catalog!



The Decameron Project: 29 New Stories From the Pandemic edited by Victor LaValle (Available Formats: Print Book)

A stunning collection of new short stories originally commissioned by The New York Times Magazine as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, from twenty-nine authors including Margaret Atwood, Tommy Orange, Edwidge Danticat, and more, in a project inspired by Boccaccio’s “The Decameron.”

When reality is surreal, only fiction can make sense of it.

In 1353, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote “The Decameron”: one hundred nested tales told by a group of young men and women passing the time at a villa outside Florence while waiting out the gruesome Black Death, a plague that killed more than 25 million people. Some of the stories are silly, some are bawdy, some are like fables.

In March of 2020, the editors of The New York Times Magazine created The Decameron Project, an anthology with a simple, time-spanning goal: to gather a collection of stories written as our current pandemic first swept the globe. How might new fiction from some of the finest writers working today help us memorialize and understand the unimaginable? And what could be learned about how this crisis will affect the art of fiction?

These twenty-nine new stories, from authors including Margaret Atwood, Tommy Orange, Edwidge Danticat, and David Mitchell vary widely in texture and tone. Their work will be remembered as a historical tribute to a time and place unlike any other in our lifetimes, and offer perspective and solace to the reader now and in a future where coronavirus is, hopefully, just a memory.

Table of Contents:

“Preface” by Caitlin Roper

“Introduction” by Rivka Galchen

“Recognition” by Victor LaValle

“A Blue Sky Like This” by Mona Awad

“The Walk” by Kamila Shamsie

“Tales from the LA River” by Colm Tóibín

“Clinical Notes” by Liz Moore

“The Team” by Tommy Orange

“The Rock” by Leila Slimani

“Impatient Griselda” by Margaret Atwood

“Under the Magnolia” by Yiyun Li

“Outside” by Etgar Keret

“Keepsakes” by Andrew O’Hagan

“The Girl with the Big Red Suitcase” by Rachel Kushner

“The Morningside” by Téa Obreht

“Screen Time” by Alejandro Zambra

“How We Used to Play” by Dinaw Mengestu

“Line 19 Woodstock/Glisan” by Karen Russell

“If Wishes Was Horses” by David Mitchell

“Systems” by Charles Yu

“The Perfect Travel Buddy” by Paolo Giordano

“An Obliging Robber” by Mia Couto

“Sleep” by Uzodinma Iweala

“Prudent Girls” by Rivers Solomon

“That Time at My Brother’s Wedding” by Laila Lalami

“A Time of Death, The Death of Time” by Julián Fuks

“The Cellar” by Dina Nayeri

“Origin Story” by Matthew Baker

“To the Wall” by Esi Edugyan

“Barcelona: Open City” by John Wray

“One Thing” by Edwidge Danticat



Deception by Gaslight: A Gilded Gotham Mystery by Kate Belli (Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla eBook, Hoopla Downloadable Audiobook)

Under the guise of Polly Palmer, a journalist for the Globe in New York City in 1888, Genevieve Stewart is an intrepid investigator. Still, she’s uneasy when she follows several men down an alley in Five Points. She’s hoping to uncover information about a thief known as Robin Hood who robs the rich and claims to give the proceeds to the poor. As part of Mrs. Astor’s 400, Genevieve knows some of the thief’s victims. She feels ridiculed, though, when she runs into one of the men from the alley at an exclusive party. Daniel McCaffrey, who inherited the Van Joost fortune, swears he’s not Robin Hood, and he wasn’t slumming. He’s after bigger game. If they have to pretend to be courting to find the truth about an influential group formed for housing reform, Genevieve and Daniel can set aside their mutual distrust. Neither expects Genevieve to be attacked, physically and in print, as they close in on the answers. VERDICT The riveting, carefully researched, well-plotted mystery introduces two well-developed characters, one determined to succeed despite her social position and the other determined on reform. Fans of Alyssa Maxwell’s “Gilded Newport” mysteries will appreciate the historical, social, and political aspects of this debut.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN. Starred Library Journal Review



Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton & Robert K. Oermann (Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla eBook)

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend.

As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton’s personal and business archives.

Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics.

  • Packed with never-before-seen photographs and classic memorabilia
  • Explores personal stories, candid insights, and myriad memories behind the songs

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics reveals the stories and memories that have made Dolly a beloved icon across generations, genders, and social and international boundaries.

Containing rare photos and memorabilia from Parton’s archives, this book is a show-stopping must-have for every Dolly Parton fan.

  • Learn the history behind classic Parton songs like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” “I Will Always Love You,” and more.
  • The perfect gift for Dolly Parton fans (everyone loves Dolly!) as well as lovers of music history and country

Add it to the shelf with books like Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles, and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.



The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

A girl searching for her father finds a whole secret world in 1980s London. Eighteen-year-old Susan Arkshaw goes up to London ahead of her studies so she’ll have time to hunt down the identity of the father she’s never met. Her first night in London, dangerous encounters pull her into the wild world of the booksellers–in between selling books, they’re tasked with policing interactions between what we know as reality and the more mythic levels of existence. Her guide is Merlin, an attractive gender-questioning boy (for now). As the Old World of magic seems to be targeting Susan, Merlin and the booksellers take interest in her as well, especially in helping to solve her mysterious parentage. The worldbuilding is exquisite, hopping from an ’80s punk aesthetic and Margaret Thatcher references to wide-ranging supernatural threats and the customs they uphold; the bookstores themselves are sure to please readers. While certain plot elements may be somewhat expected–Susan’s special by way of birth; Merlin has a personal mystery that eventually ties in to the main plot; and there’s a conspiracy storyline that becomes quickly apparent–the broad, immersive world and the specific rules for types of booksellers maintain a sense of discovery, and Susan and Merlin, the heroic protagonists, have vibrant, entertaining personalities (and a realistic romantic storyline). Susan and Merlin are White; the booksellers are ethnically diverse. Readers will beg for more adventures in this London.



A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Available Formats: Print Book, Audiobook on CD, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Plot descriptions are from the publisher unless otherwise specified.

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

The Digital Catalog has two companion apps, Libby & OverDrive. Libby is the app for newer devices and the OverDrive app should be used for older devices and Amazon tablets.

All card holders of all Southern Tier Library System member libraries can check out items from the Digital Catalog.

Hoopla Catalog:

The Hoopla Catalog features instant check outs of eBooks, downloadable audiobook, comic books, albums and streaming videos. Patron check out limit is 4 items per month.

Hoopla is a Southeast Steuben County Library service available to all Southeast Steuben County Library card holders.

The Hoopla App is available for Android or Apple devices and most smart TVs & media streaming players.

StarCat: The catalog of physical/traditional library materials:

Card holders of all Southern Tier Library System member libraries can access StarCat to search for and request materials available at libraries through out the Southern Tier Library System.

The StarCat app is called Bookmyne and is available for Apple and Android devices.

Also feel free to call the Southeast Steuben County Library and request titles via tel 607-936-3713.

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer, SSCL

Note: Book summaries are from the respective publishers unless otherwise specified.


The catalog of physical library materials, i.e. print books, audiobooks on CD, DVDs etc.


You can access one-copy-one-user digital library content, i.e. eBooks & downloadable audiobooks, on PCs, Macs and mobile devices via the Digital Catalog found at or by using the companion apps Libby (for newer devices) and OverDrive (for older devices and Kindle tablets)

Have questions?

Feel free to call the library! Our telephone number is 607-936-3713.

Tech Talk is a Southeast Steuben County Library blog.

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