Suggested Reading August 10, 2021

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

Format Note: Under each book title you’ll find a list of all the different formats that specific title is available in; including: Print Books, Large Print Books, CD Audiobooks, eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks from the Digital Catalog (OverDrive & Libby apps) and Hoopla eBooks & Hoopla 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.

The next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

Americanon: An Unexpected U.S. History in Thirteen Bestselling Books by Jess McHugh

(Available Formats: Print Book)


In a work spanning literary criticism and history, journalist McHugh explores a series of popular nonfiction books that fostered stereotypical American values, such as entrepreneurship, individualism, or fealty to family and community, and also conveyed practical knowledge. She investigates primarily works written by Christian white men’s works whose books were used to encourage assimilation in people who were perceived as “other.”

Her analysis includes works such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Webster’s spellers and dictionaries, the fictional Betty Crocker’s cookbooks, McGuffey Readers, and Catharine Beecher’s A Treatise on Domestic Economy. Notably, she also examines Emily Post’s Etiquette, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, David Reuben’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know about Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask), and the rise of self-help books during the 1980s. McHugh used distribution data to select the 13 prescriptive books of the title, volumes that became part of the national conversation, illuminating social and cultural concerns and pointing to characteristics that came to be associated with American national identity. General readers and history devotees might enjoy this compilation and its use of corporate archival and secondary sources; they might also have additions to suggest.

VERDICT McHugh’s work is distinctive and engaging as it describes American social history through the lens of mainstream nonfiction advice books, and explores how they define or redefine us.– Library Journal Review

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

(Available Format: Print)

Damnation Spring

The giant redwood was named the 24-7 about 100 years ago, when it was 24 feet, 7 inches wide. By 1977, it was more than 30 feet wide. For Rich Gundersen, the 24-7 and the ridge of unfelled forest it inhabits represent generations of dreams, and when he gets the chance to buy it, he takes it. He doesn’t immediately tell his wife, Colleen, younger by 19 years and suffering after the latest in a series of miscarriages. But mysterious skulls, illnesses, mudslides, and threats soon endanger his plans. The couple and their one child, a five-year-old boy, are surrounded by a close-knit timber community, including Colleen’s sister and her brood of six kids, an old friend who leaves his property with a drive-through redwood tree about once a decade but still knows all the goings-on about town, and Daniel, Colleen’s Yurok ex-boyfriend, who comes back into the picture. Their struggles and heartbreaks play out on the richly rendered backdrop of a community on the brink of major change.

Don’t Let It Get You Down by Savala Nolan

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Don't Let It Get You Down

In her book of vulnerable yet voluble personal essays on weight and multiracial identity, Nolan (executive director, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Univ. of California Berkeley Sch. of Law) shares her experiences of feeling “like a spy,” an outsider in the relationships she formed with people whose privilege invests them with “layers of meaning even they didn’t understand because fish never fully understand the water.” She describes her writing as a new cartography–a body mapping of sorts, through which she takes the relentless dislocations that created her identity and transforms them into her own narratives. She writes with humor and power about seeking approval from white men because of their aura of authority, and she telescopes out of specific experiences to explore how we uncomfortably navigate society to carve out our own valuable space within a social hierarchy. Nolan writes that her self-loathing led to a series of destructive romantic and platonic relationships. She’s notably honest about navigating various contradictions in her life and demonstrates how the insistence on “either/or” rigidity limits relationships, both between and within individuals. VERDICT Nolan’s writing on identity and self-worth is captivating from start to finish; her words will resonate long after the last page.- Starred Library Journal Review

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


New to The Hague, an unnamed interpreter works in the International Court, her job “to ensure that there would be no escape route between languages.” Describing herself as “guarded,” she has one close friend and dates Adriaan, who’s in a protracted separation from his wife and children. The day before his departure, Adriaan informs the interpreter that he must visit his family in Lisbon and will be gone for a week, maybe more. As a week becomes a month and his communication with her wanes, she’s assigned the high-profile case of a former president accused of election tampering and ethnic cleansing. The defense team for the accused, inured by now to descriptions of his crimes, in addition to requiring her interpretation skills, exploits her emotions as a barometer for the court’s reaction to them. Like her protagonist, Kitamura (A Separation, 2017) is a master of precisely evocative language. In her work and in her isolation, the interpreter recognizes how familiarity can obscure intimacy, while its lack can yet lead to discomfiting proximity. The novel takes place so deeply within her that it’s truly personlike, at once forthright and mysterious, a piercing and propulsive meditation on closeness of many sorts.

Lighthouse Island: A Novel by Paulette Jiles

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla Instant checkout eBook)

Lighthouse Island

Paulette Jiles, the bestselling author of the highly praised novels The Color of Lightning, Stormy Weather, News of the World, and Enemy Women, pushes into new territory with Lighthouse Island-a captivating and atmospheric story set in the far future-a literary dystopian tale resonant with love and hope. In the coming centuries the world’s population has exploded. The earth is crowded with cities, animals are nearly all extinct, and drought is so widespread that water is rationed. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years, and no freedom, except for an elite few. It is a harsh world for an orphan like Nadia Stepan. Growing up, she dreams of a green vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest. When an opportunity for escape arises, Nadia embarks on a dangerous and sometimes comic adventure. Along the way she meets a man who changes the course of her life: James Orotov, a mapmaker and demolition expert. Together, they evade arrest and head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies beyond the megapolis-Lighthouse Island.

Sea Wolf by Anna Burke

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

Sea Wolf

In the year 2514, the only thing more dangerous than the seas is those who sail them.

Life aboard the mercenary ship Man o’ War is rarely dull as hurricanes, swarms of jellyfish, and man-eating squid pose daily doses of danger. As intrigue and subterfuge from enemies old and new begin to surround its captain, the infamous Miranda Stillwater, even an uncanny sense of direction won’t be enough to help Compass Rose navigate these dangerous straits. As dark secrets bubble to the surface and everything she’s fought so hard for begins to crumble, Rose learns the hard way that she’ll have to rely on the only person who can save her from certain disaster. Unfortunately, that person is Compass Rose herself.

This swashbuckling 26th-century high-seas adventure novel is fast-paced, whip-smart, and quirky, yet it manages to deliver a healthy dose of heart, humor, and humility on every single page.
Readers’ Note: This is the second book in the Rose Compass series; the first book titled simply Compass Rose, is available for instant checkout through Hoopla.

The Stranger Behind You: A Novel by Carol Goodman

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Stranger Behind You

The same night that magazine journalist Joan Lurie, the narrator of this superior thriller from Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Goodman (The Sea of Lost Girls), celebrates the publication of her article exposing newspaper tycoon Caspar Osgood as a sexual predator, she’s attacked outside her Manhattan apartment. With a hefty advance for a book based on her story, Joan moves for her safety into the Refuge, an imposing, high-security building uptown, which once housed unwed mothers who were treated as near prisoners by the resident nuns. Osgood commits suicide in the wake of the exposé, leaving his wife, Melissa, in disgrace with insurmountable debt. Looking for revenge, Melissa moves into the Refuge, planning to discredit Joan’s story. Meanwhile, Joan befriends elderly Lillian Day, a longtime Refuge resident, whose tales of her youth resonate with Joan. Joan’s discovery of a link between her book and Lillian raises the stakes. The plot takes many terrifying twists and turns en route to the surprising climax. Those with a taste for the gothic will be richly rewarded. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Stranger in the Mirror

Another twisty and unsettling domestic psychological thriller (following The Wife Stalker, 2020) from established book-club favorite Liv Constantine, the pen name of sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine. Their previous titles are in development for both TV and film. So who is Addison Hope? She doesn’t even know. Two years ago, she was rescued by a kind driver who found her injured on the side of the road. She does not remember anything that happened before that, but is tortured by intermittent violent images from what she assumes is her earlier life. Addie has made a new life for herself in Philadelphia and is engaged to be married. Her wealthy prospective mother-in-law hires a private investigator to investigate what she fears is feigned amnesia. Meanwhile, a man in Boston wonders what happened to his wife, who disappeared without a trace, leaving him and their seven-year-old daughter behind. At the intersection of their lives there is a shattering truth that unfolds in a toney drama, certain to appeal to fans of the genre. Booklist Review

Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)

Strangers on a Train

In Patricia Highsmith’s debut novel, we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world-where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder. The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, and proved her mastery of depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

(Available Formats: eBook)

The View Was Exhausting

Married couple Clements and Datta use a playful trope to confront weighty issues in their excellent debut, a romance that’s as timely as it is heartfelt. British Indian actor Whitman “Win” Tagore is an A-lister who’s used to keeping tight control of her public image—and lately, she’s been working double time. When her ex-boyfriend has a public meltdown and Win is caught in the fray, it’s Leo Milanowski, her longtime friend and frequent faux beau, who comes to her rescue. For seven years, the white, wealthy playboy has played Win’s on-again, off-again lover for the tabloids, so Win’s publicist arranges for the pair to be spotted having a summer fling on the French Riviera to steal the attention away from Win’s breakup. Leo and Win easily fall back into their established patterns, but just when the line between reality and pretend starts to blur, a secret from Leo’s past surfaces and the validity of their relationship—both personally and professionally—is called to question. The authors’ slow-burning approach to Leo and Win’s relationship and fearless tackling of racism breathes new life into a favorite trope. The characters leap off the page, and their dialogue, whether flirting or fighting, is always believable. Readers will come for the swoon-worthy romance and stay for the beautiful prose. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

The Digital Catalog, a catalog containing eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, Digital Magazines and a handful of streaming videos, 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 checkouts of eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, comic books, albums, movies and TV series. Patron check out limit is 6 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.

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

Have questions or want to request a book?

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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