Suggested Reading October 26, 2022

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

*More information on the three catalogs and available formats is found at the end of the list of recommended reads*

Weekly Suggested Reading postings are now published on Wednesdays.

And the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.

Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis That Made a President by Jonathan Darman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Becoming FDR

Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with paralysis made him a great president, according to this searching biographical study. Journalist Darman (Landslide) opens his narrative with Roosevelt a charming, callow, selfish politician who started a fight and showily leaped over chairs at the 1920 Democratic National Convention to get attention from the press. His agonizing bout with polio in 1921, which crippled his legs, changed him drastically, Darman argues, imbuing him with patience, discipline, thoughtfulness, strategic vision, and a genuine empathy for the disadvantaged. (It also liberated his wife, Eleanor, who emerged from his shadow during his convalescence to become a political leader in her own right.) Illness honed Roosevelt’s penchant for evasion and deceit as well, Darman suggests, as he concealed his disability behind displays of cheerful vigor. (During one carefully staged appearance, he chatted with reporters while jauntily smoking a cigarette that aides had to light and place in his mouth beforehand to hide the fact that he couldn’t yet use his hands.) Written in elegant, evocative prose—“The accent was the same, a honking aristocratic lockjaw charmingly discordant with the plain words it pronounced. But his voice was deeper, more grounded, more sure”—this insightful portrait convincingly grounds Roosevelt’s public achievements in painful private experience. Readers will be riveted. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry

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

Be My Ghost

Maureen Doherty—the smart, forthright protagonist of this exceptional paranormal cozy launch from Perry (the Witch City mysteries)—has worked at a Boston department store for 10 years. Shortly after it goes out of business, Maureen receives a letter from a law firm in Haven, Fla., informing her she has inherited Penelope Josephine Gray’s estate, consisting of the century-old, and reportedly haunted, Haven House Inn. Maureen has no idea who Miss Gray is. However, with no other options, she packs up and heads for Haven. Within hours, she discovers a prominent ghost hunter’s lifeless body on the inn’s front porch. The police, led by unimaginative Officer Frank Hubbard, target Maureen and several members of the staff as potential murderers. Maureen is a breath of fresh air in the cozy world: no ruminating on her looks or past tragic loves, no drowning her sorrows in cookies and cake. The ghosts, in a refreshing departure from most paranormal cozies, don’t take center stage, and entertaining subplots, such as her efforts to discover why Miss Gray left her the inn, keep the pages turning. Readers will look forward to Maureen’s further adventures. – Publishers Weekly Review

Bindle Punk Bruja: A Novel by Desideria Mesa

(Available Formats: Coming soon as a print book)

Bindle Punk

DEBUT Rose Lane and her ragtag band of social outcasts take on City Hall, the Mob, and the Ku Klux Klan in Mesa’s debut Prohibition-era historical fantasy. Rose has a secret: she is a Latina, passing as white to provide for her family. But it’s her power as a bruja, an earth witch, that makes the local mob covet her illegal jazz club and her power. They’ll do anything to own her, and she’ll do anything to keep her family safe–even finally using the magic that she’s always seen as more curse than gift. Rose knows the price for being both female and non-white in a time and place that steps on both at every turn. That she wins by embracing her roots, gives the novel a kind of magic that urban fantasy readers will love.

VERDICT Mesa’s debut mixes a bit of Mexican folktale, a chunk of magical realism, and tons of period detail into a page-turning urban fantasy that takes the glitter of Boardwalk Empire and combines it with a story of found family, mob violence, and romance.- Starred Library Journal Review

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

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

The Butcher And The Wren

From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

Dying of Politeness: A Memoir by Geena Davis

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Dying of Politeness

Known for her fierce roles in everything from the swashbuckling film Cutthroat Island to TV’s first female U.S. president in Commander in Chief, Davis didn’t consider herself a feminist until playing one of the iconic duo in Thelma & Louise. In fact, it would take the influence of her gutsy costar, Susan Sarandon, to help Davis find her voice and her spine. Raised in a stoic, conventional New England family, in which good manners were prized above all else, Davis struggled to keep her exuberance for life and desire to be an actress under control. Her ambition too often tempered by that ingrained need to please, Davis found herself reluctantly acquiescing to the norms of a male-dominated industry during her early career. With saucy self-deprecation, robust glee, and touch of goofiness, Davis recounts behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her award-winning film and TV career with a dishiness that only thinly veils the underlying message of empowerment and commitment that enabled her own journey to women’s advocacy for gender equality and opportunity off- and on screen and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to her Academy and Golden Globe Awards.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Davis’ memoir will be hot, given its dual draw of Hollywood tales and urgently needed gender-rights advocacy.

The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir by Paul Newman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man

Actor, race car driver, and philanthropist Newman (1925–2008) was a deeply private man living an intensely public life; this posthumous memoir features the Hollywood legend’s own voice as he “sets things straight” and “pokes holes in the mythology” that accompanied his celebrity. Adapted from interviews taped with his friend Stewart Stern before his death, Newman’s story unfolds in a humble, sometimes humorous narrative voice—“I’m aware that in some ways it’s my nature to deprecate everything I do”—punctuated with earnest awe of the turns his life has taken, astonishment at the intensity of his passion for wife Joanne Woodward, affection for his children and anguish that he could not shelter them from the vagaries of fame. Newman’s voice is interwoven with transcripts from friends, relatives, and colleagues (including Eva Marie Saint, Tom Cruise, Elia Kazan, and more) whose memories shed light on what transformed the summer stock actor into an international sex symbol and what curbed his struggles with alcoholism and grief from veering into tragedy. As compiled by editor David Rosenthal, these collective perspectives do more than offer a prismatic view of film industry glamour and dirty laundry: they elevate the book from a humble autobiography to a more nuanced, human portrait—with the “semblance of truth” that Newman craved when he went on the record. With equal parts grounded authenticity and inviting charm, this candid memoir captures the life of a legend. – Publishers Weekly Review

Fen, Bog and Swamp: a Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis by Annie Proulx

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD audiobook)

Fen Bog & Swamp

National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proulx’s attunement to the intricacies and vulnerabilities of nature and humankind’s reckless exploitation of the living world shapes her celebrated fiction. Here she defines wetlands and explains how they store carbon and support biodiversity, what role they’ve played in prehistoric and historical cultures, why they’ve been destroyed, and how their decimation makes the climate crisis worse. Referencing a heady array of sources scientific and literary, sharing her own peatland experiences, and writing with her signature vitality, precision, and creativity, she crafts a galvanizing narrative out of a cavalcade of facts, mixing earth science with the long history of Europe and North America’s fenlanders, bog people, and swamp dwellers. Proulx’s concern for the future of life on earth as the planet warms is acute, while her inquiry into the watery places where peat is found balances alarm and despair with wonder and affirmation of nature’s ability to rebound. “A cascade of tipping points is at hand,” Proulx warns, and one of the many efforts we must urgently undertake is the preservation and restoration of carbon-storing peatlands. – Booklist Review

These Ghosts Are Family: A Novel by Maisy Card

(Available Formats: Print Book)

These Ghosts Are Family

Across generations, a family reckons with the ghosts of enslavement’s legacy in this stunning, kaleidoscopic debut. In an opening revelation, readers learn that Stanford Solomon intends to reveal his life’s secret: he used a tragic accident as an opportunity to reinvent himself. Taking his dead friend’s name, he severed ties with the wife and children relying on him in Jamaica and started over in New York, creating a new family. Card invites readers to imagine themselves as a series of characters, one by one, in the moments before this revelation upends their identities, and such inventive narrative techniques continue throughout the novel. Present-day family members are deeply affected by the enslavement and rape of some of their ancestors, perpetrated by other ancestors, in colonial Jamaica. Card relates the messy, complicated, and difficult process of coming into this awareness. A white descendant who benefits from family money is bequeathed an ancestral enslaver’s journal, the stuff of nightmares. What to do with it? Allow scholars to study it? Allow descendants of the enslaved to glean information long denied to them? Card’s clean, readable prose provides an important counterbalance to the dense, heavy problems her broad scope of characters endure. A fantastic debut. – Starred Booklist Review

The Wicked Hour by Alice Blanchard

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

The Wicked Hour

When readers last met Detective Natalie Lockhart (Trace of Evil, 2019), it was her sister’s “deathaversary,” and Natalie was still very much caught up with her sibling’s demise and her mother’s needs. In this second in the series, Natalie has moved on and matured but is still in her hometown of Burning Lake, where Halloween festivities are the event of the year. This year’s post-Halloween cleanup reveals the body of a young woman in a dumpster, and finding out who she was, what happened, and who could be responsible brings to the fore issues surrounding parental wrongdoing, both of the overbearing stage-parent type and of the much more violent kind. References to events in the previous book will likely be confusing for readers who haven’t read it, but, otherwise, this is an absorbing look at small-town politics and relationships set against the intrigue of a mysterious death. Jodi Picoult’s fans will be an apt audience for Blanchard’s chilling latest. – Booklist Review

The Widow of Rose House: A Novel by Diana Biller

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)

Widow of Rose House

Biller’s complex and intriguing debut, set in 1875 New York City, follows Alva Webster, a widow with a dark secret that has nothing to do with the salacious rumors about her that have been splashed all over the newspapers for the past two years regarding her departure from her abusive husband and his subsequent death. After purchasing Liefdehuis, an old mansion she intends to renovate and use as inspiration for a home decorating manual, Alva is annoyed and skeptical when she learns that it’s supposedly haunted. Prof. Samuel Moore, an extremely handsome inventor, wants to study the house in order to learn more about its apparent ghost, but she scorns him and his fanciful notions—at first. The book is part romance, part ghost story, and part period piece with just enough modern sentiment on the topics of feminism, mental illness, and abuse. The plot isn’t particularly original or complicated, but the work is well worth reading for the tender—and sometimes downright erotic—connection that develops between Alva and Samuel. Readers who care about well-drawn characters and don’t mind a predictable story will appreciate this window into late-19th-century New York. Publishers Weekly 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.

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).

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s