Suggested Reading March 15, 2022

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 (Libby app) 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.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

The Abbot’s Tale by Conn Iggulden

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

The Abbott's Tale

Dunstan of Glastonbury, a bright but selfish young man, finds himself hanging from a cliff. Encouraged to fall by his tormentors, who are crushing his fingers as he dangles, Dunstan requests a priest for a final confession. Pulling this “man of the cloth” over the edge with him, he uses the cleric’s body to break his impact. Such perceived miracles inform the course of his life until a childhood chum, a grandson of Alfred the Great, suddenly becomes King of England through an untimely death. Visions of a future united England come quickly once Dunstan has the king’s ear. Now, a well-placed abbot, Dunstan can unleash his ambitions and raise the funds to build empires for God. However, perpetuated lies come with a consequential price. Best-selling historical novelist Iggulden (“War of the Roses” series) offers a well-paced, believable peek into the brutal and often outright cruel world of tenth-century Europe. His attention to detail is illuminating and never tedious. VERDICT This gripping saga will appeal to historical fiction buffs, fans of Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Stories” series, as well as anyone who yearns for a compelling, well-told story.—Library Journal Review

Binstead’s Safari by Rachel Ingalls

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Binstead's Safari

A feminist, fabulist, magical realist romance set in London and Africa, originally published in 1983.After Mrs. Caliban (1982), an electrifying story of passion between an oppressed suburban housewife and a sexy green sea monster, Ingalls wrote this novel, featuring another underappreciated heroine whose claustrophobic life is about to blow wide open. Millie Binstead has begged to come along with her husband, Stan, minor academic and major creep, on a research trip to London and then Africa. When she offers to pay her own way from New England out of a recent inheritance, he is forced to agree. As soon as they get to London, he dumps her at the hotel and goes off to “work” with a colleague. Finally on her own and out in the world, Millie is not timid and miserable but wholly reborn. Everyone she meets is struck by how insightful, funny, and attractive she is; she is having the time of her life. By the time they get to Africa, Stan is wondering what the hell happened to his mousy, subservient little wife, who will now barely give him the time of day. At this point, the book becomes a deliciously gossipy take on colonial safari culture: the guides, the drivers, the rich tourists, the natives, the boozy, raunchy, sometimes-gory goings-on in town, out in the bush, and up in the sky in hot air balloons. Stan’s plan is to investigate the local myths about a Lion God, a man with “supernatural powers in battle and medicine, and love,” who can turn himself into the king of beasts when the going gets tough. If such a creature exists, he may be a con artist; Stan is on his trail. As much as it is a love story, this is also a story of revenge, which Stan defines from the perspective of primitive folklore: “the ceremony in which you reproduce the previous act in a slightly altered way or with a reversed outcome, and then it cancels what took place before.” Yup, Stan, that’s it. Another witty, elegant story from a writer whose atavistic vision of romantic love is resonant and deeply satisfying. Escaping the overblown egos and endless self-indulgence of the males of their own – Starred Kirkus Review

Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport That Changed Their Lives Forever by Kareem Rosser

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

Crossing The Line

Readers who think of polo–one of the world’s oldest equestrian sports–as merely a pastime for royalty and the very wealthy should prepare to be surprised. This is a contemporary memoir about the first African American polo team to win, against formidable odds, the National Interscholastic Polo Championship, in 2011. Rosser shares his story of growing up in a tough West Philadelphia neighborhood called the Bottom, where he found refuge and structure at an equestrian program for urban youth called Work to Ride. Program founder Lezlie Hiner has dedicated her life to helping at-risk kids, giving them a chance to learn how to ride horses and play polo. Rosser’s older brothers participated in the program and proved talented players but eventually succumbed to the lure of crime. Hiner, a surrogate parent for Rosser, helped him take advantage of opportunities to earn scholarships at Valley Forge Military Academy and then Colorado State University, where he became Intercollegiate Polo Player of the Year. This is a marvelous addition to the literature of inspirational sports stories. It’s an occasionally heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story about the bonds of brotherhood and the unique healing powers capable of being generated between humans and horses. – Booklist Review

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks

(Available Formats: Print Book)

From Strength To Strength

The roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age, from bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic’s happiness columnist Arthur Brooks.

Many of us assume that the more successful we are, the less susceptible we become to the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies aging. But the truth is, the greater our achievements and our attachment to them, the more we notice our decline, and the more painful it is when it occurs.

What can we do, starting now, to make our older years a time of happiness, purpose, and yes, success?

At the height of his career at the age of 50, Arthur Brooks embarked on a seven-year journey to discover how to transform his future from one of disappointment over waning abilities into an opportunity for progress. From Strength to Strength is the result, a practical roadmap for the rest of your life.

Drawing on social science, philosophy, biography, theology, and eastern wisdom, as well as dozens of interviews with everyday men and women, Brooks shows us that true life success is well within our reach. By refocusing on certain priorities and habits that anyone can learn, such as deep wisdom, detachment from empty rewards, connection and service to others, and spiritual progress, we can set ourselves up for increased happiness.

Read this book and you, too, can go from strength to strength.

In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Promising Future of Middle Age by Patricia Cohen

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

In Our Prime

Sounding a clarion call for the empowerment of women, Douglas (communications, Univ. of Michigan; Where the Girls Are) blasts the media and cosmetics industry for portraying women over 50 as has-beens, stating that, in fact, feminist boomers are reinventing older age and building up the social infrastructure of child care, eldercare, and public schools. Douglas proposes a model for “intergenerational bridge groups,” in which women share their stories, confront their challenges, identify areas of their lives that need improvement, and band together to make a difference, a task for which they are uniquely qualified. VERDICT Smart, savvy, and informed, Douglas is the perfect guide for women who are sick of the rampant sexism and ageism in our society and are ready to do something about it. – Library Journal Review

The Lightning Rod: A Novel by Brad Meltzer

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)

The Lightning Rod

In this exciting followup to 2018’s The Escape Artist, former military mortician Jim “Zig” Zigarowski does a favor for a friend and agrees to work on the body of a recently deceased lieutenant colonel. The man died a hero, defending his family from a home invasion, but, after Zig stumbles onto something no one was supposed to see, he unearths the dark, hidden side of the dead man’s life. Stranger still, it seems the dead man had a connection to Nola Brown, the enigmatic artist whose near death was the launching point for The Escape Artist. Zig needs to talk to Nola if he’s going to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding the dead lieutenant colonel, but how to find her? That’s a challenge all by itself because Nola Brown is a lightning rod for trouble. Meltzer likes his conspiracy stories, and he puts a lot of work into them, but he seems to love his characters just as much. Zig and Nola are two of his strongest characters, and it feels like there are plenty more stories to be told about them. – Booklist Review

Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band by Christian Staebler

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla comic book edition)


Experience the riveting, powerful story of the Native American civil rights movement and the resulting struggle for identity told through the high-flying career of west coast rock n’ roll pioneers, Redbone. You’ve heard the hit song “Come and Get Your Love” in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, but the story of the band behind it is one of cultural, political, and social importance. Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. They influenced The Doors and jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was “Jimi,” and the idea of a band made up of completely Native Americans soon followed. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward. Created with the cooperation of the Vegas family, painstaking steps were taken to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America’s past. Part biography and part research journalism, Redbone provides a voice to a people long neglected in American history.

A Single Man: A Novel by Christopher Isherwood

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

A Single Man

When Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man first appeared, it shocked many with its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in maturity. Isherwood’s favorite of his own novels, it now stands as a classic lyric meditation on life as an outsider.

Welcome to sunny suburban 1960s Southern California. George is a gay middle-aged English professor, adjusting to solitude after the tragic death of his young partner. He is determined to persist in the routines of his former life. A Single Man follows him over the course of an ordinary twenty-four hours. Behind his British reserve, tides of grief, rage, and loneliness surge—but what is revealed is a man who loves being alive despite all the everyday injustices.

The Talented Ribkins: A Novel by Ladee Hubbard

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

Talented Ribkins

Hubbard shrewdly molds the pop-culture mythology of the comic-book superhero team into a magical-realist metaphor for African-American struggles since the real-life heroic battle against segregation in the middle of the 20th century. You’ve heard of the Justice League? Meet the Justice Committee, an extended family of black crusaders who became legendary for using their extraordinary powers to protect leaders, activists, and their brothers and sisters during the 1960s civil rights movement. When this crafty and wistful debut novel opens in present-day Florida, the committee’s surviving members are scattered about, and one in particular, 72-year-old Johnny Ribkins, seems lost and at loose ends. Which is ironic since Johnny’s special gift is being able to draw precise maps of places he’s never been. (It came in handy when black drivers tried to make their ways safely through the racially segregated South.) But after the committee members drifted apart, Johnny and his brother, Franklin, whose natural wall-climbing skills rivaled those of Spider-Man, merged their talents for high-scale larceny. After Franklin’s untimely death, Johnny jump-starts his cartography gifts to track down buried loot from all their varied heists so he can pay off his debt to a shady real estate mogul. Accompanying Johnny in an antique Thunderbird she characterizes as “junky” is his moody teenage niece, Eloise, who’s been showing off some of her own inherited uncanniness by being able to catch any object thrown at her. With a pair of thugs shadowing them, Johnny and Eloise stop at various points in the Sunshine State, where they meet, among other relatives, Cousin Bertrand, nicknamed “Captain Dynamite” because he could “spit firecrackers”; another speedy, magnetic cousin known (of course) as “Flash”; and yet another nicknamed “The Hammer” because while her left hand looks normal, her right hand…you can probably guess the rest. With each rueful confrontation with people and places of his past, Johnny comes to grips with lost resolutions, squandered opportunities, and the complex history of a family that began with a patriarch whose superb sense of smell made him “The Rib King.” Hubbard weaves this narrative with prodigious skill and compelling warmth. You anticipate a movie while wondering if any movie could do this fascinating family…well, justice. To describe this novel, as someone inevitably will, as Song of Solomon reimagined as a Marvel Comics franchise is to shortchange its cleverness and audacity. Starred Kirkus Review

The Velveteen Daughter: A Novel by Laurel Davis Huber

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

The Velveteen Daughter

It doesn’t take long for author Margery Williams and Italian husband Francesco Bianco to realize that their daughter, Pamela Bianco, is a child prodigy. In 1921, when Pamela is 14, the New York art world goes mad for her debut exhibition of delicately etched works. Margery soon shares the limelight with her daughter when her beloved children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, is published in 1922. Behind the scenes, Pamela fights mental illness for much of her life, a battle triggered by her unrequited love for Diccon, aka author Richard Hughes (A High Wind in Jamaica), and pressure from her father to focus on greater works of art and abandon the children’s illustrations she loves. (A joint mother/daughter book, The Skin Horse, was published in 1927.) The alternating narratives, told over the course of 33 years and enhanced by photographs and pictures of Pamela’s work, is a masterpiece. In a story as exquisitely wrought as Pamela’s intricate line drawings, debut novelist Huber brings to life the challenges of childhood genius, the glittering world of the creative arts in the decades leading up to World War II and beyond, the devastation of mental illness, and the power of unwavering parental love. VERDICT Incandescent, pitch-perfect, and destined for greatness. – Library Journal Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

The Digital Catalog, is an online catalog containing eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, digital magazines and a handful of streaming videos. The catalog, which allows one to download content to a PC, also has a companion app, Libby, which you can download to your mobile device; so you can enjoy eBooks and downloadable audiobooks on the go!

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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