Suggested Reading April 19, 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, April 26, 2022.

Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Ancestor Trouble

“Know thyself,” said Socrates, and Newton takes this directive to heart in a memoir that strives to not only understand her specific personality but identify its development through multiple generations of ancestors. This knowledge of her family’s colorful history, which includes a grandfather who allegedly married 13 times; a demanding, racist father; and a speaking-in-tongues evangelical mother, raises more questions than it answers. Fortunately, the burgeoning industry of internet ancestry research and accessible DNA testing helps Newton affix missing leaves to her family tree. Yet each new data point reveals further avenues of inquiry, rabbit holes that raise doubts about physical traits, emotional vulnerabilities, and mental strengths. In exploring her own background, Newton investigates current theories regarding DNA analysis, inherited trauma, and psychological profiling with Sherlockian verve and an academician’s tenacity. Genealogy sleuths often undertake such quests hoping to discover hidden gems buried deep in those census records, such as a direct link to aristocracy or a Founding Father. Newton is just looking for some peace of mind, and her approach may help others realize what a worthy goal that is. Booklist Review

Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Arabian Nights & Days

The Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade into a novel written in his own imaginative, spellbinding style. Here are genies and flying carpets, Aladdin and Sinbad, Ali Baba, and many other familiar stories from the tradition of The One Thousand and One Nights, made new by the magical pen of the acknowledged dean of Arabic letters, who plumbs their depths for timeless truths.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

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

Body Keeps Score

This title has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for months, and as it seems a timely subject, it is one of our recommendations for this week.

About The Book: Renowned trauma researcher van der Kolk’s book is comprehensive in scope. The author explains in clear terms the physical causes and manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how vast the population of sufferers is, and the devastating repercussions to society in general as a result of inadequate treatment. Anecdotes of patients from all walks of life are used to illustrate how trauma rewires the brain to create dissociated memories. Sufferers do not merely “remember” the event or events but actually relive it, complete with a cascade of excruciating physical and emotional pain. Organizing their lives to avoid triggers can lead to behaviors such as substance abuse that often compound the destructiveness of the original trauma. Inadequate conventional treatments such as talk therapy and pharmaceuticals are being replaced with neurofeedback, mindfulness training, yoga, Internal Family Systems, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapies, helping victims reclaim their minds and bodies and regain self-regulation and personal resilience. VERDICT This valuable work for psychologists, therapists, and public health professionals walks the line between academic medical text and popular nonfiction. More important, it offers hope for the millions of sufferers and their families seeking meaningful treatment and relief from the ongoing pain of trauma.

For a deep dive on the subject, check out New York Times columnist Ezra Kline’s podcast interview with van der Kolk:

Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan

(Available Formats: eBook)


In the summer of 2016, 14-year-old Dubliner Andy Rackard enters Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors at a traveling carnival. Upon his exit, a different Andy emerges, a sullen reflection of the boy who entered, now trapped in a fun house mirror. The ethereal carnie Mona rescues him and, over time, initiates the rechristened Dany into the mysteries of the Carnies’ lore and life. With each revelation about the carnival and its people, Dany more deeply intuits his identity and crucial role in the ancient war between the Carnies and the Dewmen. Ultimately, Dany faces the horrific Captain Mildew, the traitorous Burleigh, and his twin to save the Carnies and his human mother, Eileen, bereft of the beloved boy who disappeared months ago in a hall of mirrors. VERDICT This new work from director/author Jordan is a house of mirrors, reflecting and distorting Celtic fairy tales to reveal new dimensions to timeless stories. Jordan’s seductive narratives are unmatched in modern literature, although many will recognize parallels to Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman. Starred Library Journal Review

Lulu In Marrakech by Diane Johnson

(Available Formats: Print)

Lulu In Marrakech

In her first novel in five years (after “L’Affaire”), Johnson moves operations out of France and south to Morocco. In a “Notorious”-style intrigue, Lulu Sawyer is a CIA spy infiltrating the expatriate community in Marrakech. While undercover, she stays at the villa of her wealthy British boyfriend, where she meets a wide cast of characters who could all be innocent bystanders or double agents. They include her Moroccan contact, a young French-Muslim girl escaping certain death in Paris, a gorgeous Saudi wife, and a brother come to exact an honor killing. Morocco is not an original location for a spy story (think “Casablanca” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much”), but it works well as a showcase for modern issues like Muslim extremists, terrorism, and money laundering. Sprinkled with deception, romances, and quotes from the Qu’ran, this novel makes a good read, despite its rather unsatisfactory ending. Johnson’s Francophile fans may be disappointed with this change in location from her popular Paris-set novels (“Le Divorce, Le Mariage, L’Affaire”), but other readers, particularly those interested in spy stories or mysteries with a strong female protagonist, will enjoy this. Recommended for fiction collections.


The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

(Available Formats: Print Book & downloadable audiobook)

Paradox Hotel

Time travel has been monetized in this stellar SF thriller from Hart (The Warehouse). The U.S. government charges the 1% “hundreds of thousands of dollars to see the first-ever public showing of Hamlet or visit the Library of Alexandria,” but it’s still losing money on the hyperexpensive operation. That leads to a privatization initiative, and several trillionaires arrive at the Paradox Hotel to make their proposal to buy the Einstein Intercentury Timeport. Their presence is a headache for hotel security head January Cole, who’s suffering deleterious health side effects from entering the time stream frequently and overwhelming grief from the accidental death of her lover, Mena, a waitress at the Paradox. When January sees a stabbed corpse in a guest room that no one else can see, including her smart-ass AI assistant, Ruby, she endeavors to determine whether there’s a real murder to investigate or whether it’s an apparition that’s a symptom of her illness. The twists keep coming without simplifying January’s mental struggles in this impressive melding of creative plotting and three-dimensional characters. Hart remains a writer to watch.

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Allen

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Pay Dirt Road

This mystery, which won the Tony Hillerman Prize for best debut novel set in the Southwest, is that rarity in private-eye fiction: a coming-of-age story. Very often, the fictional PI is older, well established, and cynical. Here, the PI, Annie McIntyre, is young (22), a recent college grad, and doesn’t know what she is. Annie returns to her hardscrabble Texas town, directionless and conflicted. She divides her time between hanging out with her high-school buddies, who never left town, and waitressing at a local café that is filled with farmers and ranchers in the morning, and long-haul truckers, shift workers, and stoned teens at night. One of the waitresses at the café goes missing after a bonfire party that Annie attended. This marks Annie’s awakening, since she identifies with the wild, vulnerable, missing young woman, who is eventually found strangled. Annie then gets a plot-convenient offer to join her grandfather, a former sheriff, in his detective agency. Readers will forgive this ploy as they learn, with Annie, the tricks of the investigating trade, starting with “never ask too many questions” when doing an interview. Annie grows before our eyes, and the Texas landscape, with its falling-apart houses and bedraggled bars, comes alive in this remarkable novel, reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. – Booklist Review

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)

Please See Us

2021 Edgar Award Winner for best first novel.

DEBUT Abandoned by her mother and manipulated by her aunt and guardian to support them, teenage psychic Clara reads tarot cards on the Atlantic City boardwalk. There she meets Lily, an aspiring art dealer who has returned to Atlantic City after a breakup. Emily is struggling to get through college after leaving an overbearing family and a failed attempt at acting. Peaches, a strung-out prostitute, tries to get clean. When Clara has disturbing visions, she realizes they might have something to do with the disappearances of two young women. She and Lily, who works at a dingy casino nearby, team up to find the truth and save others from a serial killer. VERDICT Written in multiple first-person accounts, including the voices of several murdered women, this is a dark, gritty, and cathartic debut with well-developed characters and a compelling plot that will appeal to fans of Attica Locke, Lou Berney, and Jennifer Hillier. Starred library Journal Review

They Don’t Play Fair by Clifford Johnson

(Available Formats: Print Book)

They Don't Play Fair

Papio and Special are back! Their love for one another has withstood the drama and turmoil of their chaotic lives, but their thirst for the dollar has once again set them on a crash course for mayhem. They’ve accumulated a long list of enemies, and now it’s time to do battle. Calling on some strong allies to assist them, they insist that no one will be spared, and no one will get in their way. Papio and Special are going all out to get what they want and what they feel they deserve. Whatever it takes, their goals will be reached. There’s no rules in the game they are playing. They don’t care about rules anyway, because They Don’t Play Fair!

The World Is A Wedding by Wendy Jones

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

The World Is A Wedding

With rare old-fashioned storytelling having a beauty and grace all its own, this sequel to Jones’s The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals offers a wonderful escape to the small Welsh town of Narberth in 1926. The novel opens with Wilfred’s wedding to his beloved Flora Edwards. Soon she is expecting, yet doesn’t feel wholly at ease, even as Wilfred struggles to be a good husband. Meanwhile, Grace, briefly married to Wilfred, has fled to London. The story unfolds events both joyous and tragic, and while Wilfrid ponders their relationship to him, he comes to the profound realization that “everything living was knitted and wedded to the world.” Indeed, Narberth contains the whole world, the contented and frustrated, those who married well and those who withstand abuse, and everyone is joined together like the dovetail joints of a piece of furniture.

VERDICT Delightfully crafted with realistic accounts of places and people and a remarkable sense of time, this novel offers a refreshing outlook on life. A terrific story of life and love told by a writer with a true gift for creating an atmospheric period piece. Starred 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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