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,
The Angel of Rome: And Other Stories by Jess Walter
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
A dozen stories spell excellent news for fans of the Bard of Spokane. Since Beautiful Ruins, his 2012 blockbuster, Walter has won a legion of readers who have been through the backlist and impatiently gobbled down his two follow-ups–a story collection, We Live in Water (2013), and the excellent historical novel Cold Millions (2020). This second collection of shorts is a glorious addition to the oeuvre, with a much brighter mood than its gloomy predecessor. The title story, which began its life as an Audible original, is a mini Beautiful Ruins, including an Italian setting, beautiful movie-star character, and heartbreakingly adorable but benighted male protagonist, here a blue-collar boy from Nebraska whose year abroad involves church-sponsored Latin lessons at a “papal community college” in a Roman industrial building. This. Story. Is. So. Damn. Funny. And almost ridiculously heartwarming. But the same can be said of many of the others, no matter how apparently depressing their topic. For example, the story about a father who must be institutionalized, “Town & Country,” opens with the fact that “Dad literally could not remember to not screw the sixty-year-old lady across the street,” and creates for the man in question an outlaw assisted living center in a seedy, one-story motel in northern Idaho where the meatloaf is still $2 and all the drinks are doubles. The climate change story, “The Way the World Ends,” brings two very depressed Ph.D. students to Mississippi State University to vie for a position in the geosciences department, then throws them together with a three-weeks-out-of-the-closet, very lonely college student named Jeremiah who’s trying to decide whether it’s worth risking life and limb to march in his first Gay Pride parade. What one of the “climate zealots” says to defend his newfound love of country music resonates through the collection: “Life is hard, the songs seemed to say, but at least it’s funny, and it rhymes.” Not sure why the author is in such a good mood, but it’s contagious. Prepare for delight. Kirkus Review
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
In his Pulitzer Prize–winning bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, geographer Diamond laid out a grand view of the organic roots of human civilizations in flora, fauna, climate and geology. That vision takes on apocalyptic overtones in this fascinating comparative study of societies that have, sometimes fatally, undermined their own ecological foundations.
Diamond examines storied examples of human economic and social collapse, and even extinction, including Easter Island, classical Mayan civilization and the Greenland Norse. He explores patterns of population growth, overfarming, overgrazing and overhunting, often abetted by drought, cold, rigid social mores and warfare, that lead inexorably to vicious circles of deforestation, erosion and starvation prompted by the disappearance of plant and animal food sources. Extending his treatment to contemporary environmental trouble spots, from Montana to China to Australia, he finds today’s global, technologically advanced civilization very far from solving the problems that plagued primitive, isolated communities in the remote past.
At times Diamond comes close to a counsel of despair when contemplating the environmental havoc engulfing our rapidly industrializing planet, but he holds out hope at examples of sustainability from highland New Guinea’s age-old but highly diverse and efficient agriculture to Japan’s rigorous program of forest protection and, less convincingly, in recent green consumerism initiatives. Diamond is a brilliant expositor of everything from anthropology to zoology, providing a lucid background of scientific lore to support a stimulating, incisive historical account of these many declines and falls. Readers will find his book an enthralling, and disturbing, reminder of the indissoluble links that bind humans to nature. Starred Publishers Weekly Review
Deer Season by Erin Flanagan
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)
Winner of the 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel
It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.
A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.
The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon
(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)
A 2020 Edgar Award Winner!
The disappearance of a child at a Catskills resort hotel in the 1950s eventually opens the door on a secret family history that threatens to undo the hotel and with it a family’s legacy. Jeannie Sikorsky and her son, Len, run the Hotel Neversink, an unfinished mansion purchased by her immigrant father, Asher, and turned into a hotel that becomes one of the jewels of the Borscht Belt. By the late 1960s, it has fallen on hard times owing to cultural changes and the continuing disappearance of children in the area, leading Len to concoct increasingly desperate schemes to try to restore the hotel’s prominence and the family’s fortunes. Complications arise when cousin Alice, who was attacked and left for dead by the killer at the hotel in the 1970s, becomes determined finally to discover the identity of her attacker and by doing so save her own life. VERDICT Told by a cast of family members that spans generations, this is a family saga with a mystery at its heart and a Doctorow-like take on the rise and fall of a particular era of American life and the American dream. Price (The Grand Tour) has written a compelling chronicle of grand dreams and dark secrets. Starred Library Journal Review
The Girls In Queens: A Novel by Christine Kandic Torres
(Available Formats: Print Book)
Torres debuts with an incisive and keenly observed story of girls and women navigating life in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens. In 2006, narrator Brisma, a shy aspiring screenwriter raised by a single Puerto Rican mother and about to graduate from college, runs into her high school boyfriend Brian, now a college baseball player, at a Mets game. Later, as Brisma starts thinking of rekindling their romance, she learns he has been accused of sexual assault, which leads her to reconsider her relationship with him back in the ’90s, which began when she was 15, and to reflect on other sexual predators she knew of in her youth. Her past and present are both tangled not only with Brian but with her best friend, Kelly, an outgoing woman whose Colombian father has returned to his native country and whose Irish mother is in prison. Their resilient but volatile friendship forms the heart of the story and is tested after Kelly takes a different view of Brian’s accusers by offering him support, which makes Brisma feel betrayed. Even more impressive is the vibrant portrait of Queens, where gender, skin color, and ethnicity are prime factors in shaping the characters’ social positions. Torres hits every note perfectly.
The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson
(Available Formats: Print Book)
In this deviously volatile, deliciously creepy thriller from the #1 New York Times bestseller, the lone survivor of a brutal family massacre must uncover the awful truth about the fateful night that left her forever marked…
Has she already had her last chance to be the final girl?
All her life, she’s been the girl who survived. Orphaned at age seven after a horrific killing spree at her family’s Oregon cabin, Kara McIntyre is still searching for some kind of normal. But now, twenty years later, the past has come thundering back. Her brother, Jonas, who was convicted of the murders has unexpectedly been released from prison. The press is in a frenzy again. And suddenly, Kara is receiving cryptic messages from her big sister, Marlie—who hasn’t been seen or heard from since that deadly Christmas Eve when she hid little Kara in a closet with a haunting, life-saving command: Don’t make a sound.
As people close to her start to die horrible deaths, Kara, who is slowly and surely unraveling, believes she is the killer’s ultimate target.
Kara survived once. But will she survive again? How many times can she be the girl who survived?
A Light Beyond The Trenches by Alan Hlad
(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)
By April 1916, the fervor that accompanied war’s outbreak has faded. In its place is a grim reality. Throughout Germany, essentials are rationed. Hope, too, is in short supply. Anna Zeller, whose fiancé, Bruno, is fighting on the western front, works as a nurse at an overcrowded hospital in Oldenburg, trying to comfort men broken in body and spirit. But during a visit from Dr. Stalling, the director of the Red Cross Ambulance Dogs Association, she witnesses a rare spark of optimism: as a German shepherd guides a battle-blinded soldier over a garden path, Dr. Stalling is inspired with an idea—to train dogs as companions for sightless veterans.
Anna convinces Dr. Stalling to let her work at his new guide dog training school. Some of the dogs that arrive are themselves veterans of war, including Nia, a German shepherd with trench-damaged paws. Anna brings the ailing Nia home and secretly tends and trains her, convinced she may yet be the perfect guide for the right soldier. In Max Benesch, a Jewish soldier blinded by chlorine gas at the front, Nia finds her person.
War has taken Max’s sight, his fiancée, and his hopes of being a composer. Yet despite all he’s given for his country, the tide of anti-Semitism at home is rising, and Max encounters it first-hand in one of the school’s trainers, who is determined to make Max fail. Still, through Anna’s prompting, he rediscovers his passion for music. But as Anna discovers more about the conflict’s escalating brutality—and Bruno’s role in it—she realizes how impossible it will be for any of them to escape the war unscathed . . .
The Men by Sandra Newman
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant checkout eBook)
Newman (The Heavens) delivers a smashing feminist utopia (or dystopia) about a young woman whose husband and son go missing along with all the other people in the world who were born with a Y chromosome. While camping, Jane Pearson begins imagining what her life would be like without the burden of a family. Then, in a strange dreamlike flicker, they vanish from their tent. Jane’s first reaction, like the other women portrayed, is one of abject grief. There’s Ji-Won Park, an artist who mourns the loss of her platonic best friend; Blanca Suarez, 14, whose aunt moves her into a house share situation with Alma McCormick, a 40-year-old woman who takes over the Los Angeles mansion where her brother worked as a caretaker; and Ruth Goldstein, a New Yorker who takes a $10,000 flight to be with her daughter on the West Coast. After Jane emerges from the woods, she discovers women adjusting to the new normal with a festive air, Ruth witnesses a harrowing attack on a trans man, and ComPA, a fringe movement Jane founded in her college years with fellow student and lover Evangelyne Moreau, attempts to fill the power vacuum. Evangelyne, a Black woman who, at 14, was convicted of murder after shooting two police officers during a raid on her peaceful cult in Vermont, once shared a special bond with Jane, and now they reconnect. Their backstory enriches the reader’s understanding of Jane’s ambivalence about having a family, and Newman provides powerful insights on the limits of sacrifice. As all the characters converge, the author introduces startling explanations for the mass disappearance. This is a stunner. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review
The Summer Friend: A Memoir by Charles McGrath
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
Alive with the intoxicating magic of summer in New England, former editor of the New York Times Book Review Charles McGrath’s evocative memoir looks back at that sun-soaked season, at family, youth, and a singular bond made at a time when he thought he was beyond making friends.
“To read Chip McGrath’s gentle, elegant memoir … is to lose yourself in your own past summers, especially the ones of your youth, when you imagined there’d be an infinite number of them, and also friends to share those summers with. That both turn out to be numbered makes this book positively ache with beauty and loss.” —Richard Russo
It was early evening and a new acquaintance had come to retrieve his daughter from a play date. Instead of driving up in a minivan, he arrived by water, tacking his sailboat smartly across a squiggly channel in the marsh, throwing a rope overboard, and zipping back home, his gleeful daughter riding in the wake. Who knew you could do such a thing? And how could you resist befriending a man such as that?
Over the course of this rich memoir, McGrath recalls with a gimlet eye the pleasures of summers past: amateur lobstering, 9-hole golf, family costume charades, bridge-jumping, and a friendship forged between two men from different backgrounds who came together late in life.
Recounting the vagaries of summer with such precision and warmth– peeling long strips of sunburnt skin from your shoulder as if “shuffling off your own cocoon,” the outdoor shower curtain blowing open in the breeze, an M80 firework in the mailbox–The Summer Friend is simultaneously a potent evocation of the rhythms and rituals of summer and a stirring remembrance of a friend found and then lost.
A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story by Raphael G. Warnock
(Available Formats: Print Book)
Senator Reverend Warnock made history in 2020 when he won a run-off election that flipped control of the Senate, becoming the first Black senator from Georgia, only the 11th Black senator in U.S. history, and only the second from the South since Reconstruction. His entire life, as told here, is a triumph. He grew up in Savannah’s Kayton Homes housing projects, graduated from Morehouse College, studied at the Union Theological Seminary while serving at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, and at age 35 became the youngest ever senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served. His political activism (from Medicaid expansion to opposing the death penalty) has gone hand and hand with his religious convictions, and in his maiden speech to the Senate, he summed up his life as embodying the pain and the promise of his country. – Library Journal
Have a great week!
*Information on the Three Catalogs*
Digital Catalog: https://stls.overdrive.com/
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: https://www.hoopladigital.com/
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: https://starcat.stls.org
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.