Suggested Reading April 12, 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 –  unless I’m swamped, as I was yesterday! And then sometimes they come out on Wednesdays…

The next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Civil Rights Queen

In this immersive and eye-opening biography, Bancroft Prize winner Brown-Nagin (Courage to Dissent) places the groundbreaking legal and political career of Constance Baker Motley (1921–2005) in the context of the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Raised in a large, working-class, West Indian family in New Haven, Conn., Motley’s intellect and drive inspired a local philanthropist to pay her way through college and law school. After graduation, she took a job as a law clerk at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund under Thurgood Marshall, where she was passed over for promotion and had to push to receive equal pay, even as she played an integral role in arguing Brown v. Board of Education and other landmark civil rights cases before the Supreme Court. After serving in the New York state senate and as Manhattan borough president, in 1965, Motley became the first Black woman confirmed to the federal judiciary and presided over noteworthy gender discrimination cases, including a lawsuit filed by a Sports Illustrated reporter against the New York Yankees for denying her access to the locker room to interview players. Brilliantly balancing the details of Motley’s professional and personal life with lucid legal analysis, this riveting account shines a well-deserved—and long overdue—spotlight on a remarkable trailblazer. Illus. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life by Sutton Foster

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)


Stage, screen, and cabaret star Foster dazzles with this deeply personal debut told largely through crafts ranging from baby blankets to bonbon recipes. After the actor encountered mean girls at age 19 on her first national theater tour—as the understudy for Marty, Rizzo, and Sandy in Grease—she took up cross-stitching as a way to cope. “I call it my gateway craft,” she writes, noting how generations of women in her family have expressed themselves in a similar fashion. The more she cross-stitched, Foster explains, “the less I cared what other people thought about me.” This revelation set her on a path to crafting her way through every production she’s ever starred in—from her Tony Award–winning performances on Broadway to her role on TV’s Younger (where she crocheted a pink dinosaur for her daughter). In prose both brutally honest and deeply empathetic, she writes of her struggle with panic attacks and of knitting, collaging, and baking as a way to ease anxiety about major life events—including a very public divorce—but also as a means to celebrate more joyous moments, such as adopting her daughter, Emily, and marrying her husband, screenwriter Ted Griffin. Those struggling with mental health or family problems will find this incredibly moving. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

How Long ’til Black Future Month? Stories by N. K. Jemisin

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

How Long Til Black Future Month

In 22 powerful and mind-expanding stories, several of which appear for the first time here, Hugo winner Jemisin (The Stone Sky) pushes boundaries, experiments with format and theme, and challenges expectations. While her tales span science fiction and fantasy, certain themes of defiance, feminism, and self-acceptance shine through no matter what the setting or premise. A king devours a dragon’s heart to restore his virility in “The Storyteller’s Replacement,” only to experience unexpected consequences. A gifted chef is challenged to test new recipes by a mysterious benefactor in “L’Alchimista.” In “The Effluent Engine,” a Haitian spy meets her match in an American inventor. In “Walking Awake,” a tale inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, a woman enslaved by parasitic aliens is given a chance to both avenge and free humankind. Throughout these stories, Jemisin’s versatility is on full display, giving her diverse protagonists numerous chances to shine. Though not every story will resonate with every reader, there’s something in this collection for just about everyone, and many of the works are memorable gems. Those who only know Jemisin for her groundbreaking novels will be impressed all over again by her short fiction, and it serves as an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with her work. Starred Publishers Weekly Review.

The Investigator by John Sandford

(Available Formats: Print Book, CD audiobook & eBook)

The Investigator

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine. Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing–and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward. Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on. Kirkus Review

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print & eBook)

Lessons in Chemistry

Cooking is chemistry. When Elizabeth Zott enters a relationship with the brilliant Calvin Evans, she cooks him meals in exchange for sharing his home. They are both scientists at a California research institute in the 1960s, and although she has to fight for basic supplies like beakers, he is celebrated for the funding his work generates. When their relationship is tragically cut short, she turns to cooking and lands a job as the chef of a television show, allowing her to support her daughter, Madeline. Stymied in her scientific career by the misogynistic attitudes of her colleagues, Elizabeth nevertheless persists in this unflinching examination of the hurdles women of the era had to overcome to be valued similarly to men in the workplace. With the help of a forthright neighbor, a loyal TV producer, and an astute dog, Elizabeth forges a path that includes an unexpected hobby as a rower and her no-nonsense cooking show, in which she draws on her knowledge of chemistry. Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel. – Booklist Review

Meadowland by Elizabeth Jeffrey

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


Fans of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs will be captivated by Jeffrey’s latest, which is set in England during WWI. In the Meadowlands manor, twins James and Ned Barsham have completely different reactions to the news of war. James immediately enlists in the army and is sent to Flanders. Ned refuses to kill another person and is widely condemned as a coward instead of the conscientious objector he is. Their mother, Lady Adelaide, acts as though nothing has changed, demanding the same luxuries she has enjoyed her entire life. Her husband, Sir George, leaves for London, happy to be away from his spoiled, pampered wife. Daughter Millie signs up as an ambulance driver, while daughter Gina starts a soup club for the families thrown into poverty when husbands and fathers are killed or wounded. Things then fall apart at the manor when the staff resigns en masse, enticed by the lure of higher wages at the munitions factory. With compelling characters, interesting historical facts, realistic situations, and wonderfully sharp attention to detail, Jeffrey brings readers right into Meadowlands. Let’s hope a sequel is in the works! Starred Publishers Weekly Review.

The Sleeper by J. Robert Janes

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

The Sleeper

A schoolteacher enters a war of shadows to save his daughter from the 3rd Reich
David Ashby spent the last war killing Germans, and the years after falling in love with one. By the time Hitler comes to power, David has a half-German daughter, Karen, whom he loves more than life itself. So when Europe begins to slide toward war, and it becomes unsafe for an American to stay in the Fatherland, David does the only thing he can: He flees—and takes his daughter with him.

David takes refuge in England, becoming a teaching master at a quiet country boarding school, and places Karen with friends on the Cornwall coast. But Hitler will not part with a daughter of the 3rd Reich so easily. German intelligence sends a sleeper, a dormant agent awakened, to finish off David and recover his child, drawing the mild-mannered schoolteacher—and the British intelligence services—into the thick of a secret war. Caught between 2 armies of spies, David will do whatever it takes to preserve Karen’s freedom.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Summer Book

In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.

Tove Jansson, whose Moomintroll comic strip and books brought her international acclaim, lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in The Summer Book, and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world.

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Tea Planters Wife

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • 1920s Ceylon: A young Englishwoman marries a charming tea plantation owner and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences

In this lush, atmospheric page-turner, nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper has married Laurence, the seductively mysterious owner of a vast tea empire in colonial Ceylon, after a whirlwind romance in London. When she joins him at his faraway tea plantation, she’s filled with hope for their life together, eager to take on the role of mistress of the house, learn the tea business, and start a family. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbors and her new sister-in-law treacherous. Gwen finds herself drawn to a local Sinhalese man of questionable intentions and worries about her new husband’s connection to a brash American businesswoman. But most troubling are the unanswered questions surrounding Laurence’s first marriage. Why won’t anyone discuss the fate of his first wife? Who’s buried in the unmarked grave in the forest? As the darkness of her husband’s past emerges, Gwen is forced to make a devastating choice, one that could destroy their future and Gwen’s chance at happiness.

The Wise Women by Gina Sorell

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Wise Women

Sorell continues her focus on mothers and daughters in this witty novel that’s more lighthearted than Mothers and Other Strangers (2017). Advice columnist Wendy Wise hands out pithy but outdated guidance to her dwindling readership. Wendy’s elder daughter, Barb, resents her mother for choosing her career over her daughters and forcing Barb into too much responsibility at a young age–a trend Barb has continued as an overworked architect, distressed over her role in gentrifying New York neighborhoods and spread financially thin (a fact she hides from her girlfriend). Meanwhile, Barb’s younger sister, Clementine, has embraced Wendy’s advice to let her husband handle the finances, and is now paying the price: he used the down payment for their house on his start-up, meaning Clementine and their son may have to leave their beloved home, school, and neighborhood. Wendy, avoiding her own issues, swoops in to help as the three women must confront their past, present, and future. While things maybe tie up a bit too perfectly, this is a breezy, fun read with just enough heft. – Booklist 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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