Suggested Reading December 21, 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, December 28, 2022.

30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

30 Things I Love About Myself

Nina Mistry would be the first to tell you that she’s a bit of a mess. She just broke off her engagement, her friend group may be ghosting her, and she’s celebrating her thirtieth birthday alone. After she runs out to get a much-needed birthday treat, through a series of events Nina finds herself instead spending her birthday in jail. Despondent at hitting rock bottom, Nina asks for some reading material to distract her and is given a self-help book about self-love and fixing your life. Thinking it can’t get any worse, Nina decides to take the book’s advice. As she navigates life’s ups (viral fame, new friends) and downs (family drama, viral infamy), with the book as a guide, Nina learns to love herself and her life. Sanghani’s latest (after Not That Easy, 2015) is a sweet and funny contemporary novel about learning to embrace yourself, flaws and all. Discussions on racism and depression add depth, keeping the tone from becoming saccharine. Readers will be inspired to create their own self-love lists. -Booklist Review

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Carlota, the beautiful and brilliant daughter of Dr. Moreau, lives on an isolated estate on the Yucatan Peninsula in the 1870s, where her life revolves around her father’s hybrid human-animal creatures. Montgomery, a troubled man running away from his past, was hired as Moreau’s new overseer by his patron, the wealthy Lizalde, when Carlota was 14. Six years later, he is a vital part of their grotesque utopian “family.” But outside the walls of the estate, instability and violence rule as colonial powers, the Mexicans of Spanish descent, and the Mayans are vying for control of the country, and an unexpected visit by the handsome son of Lizalde brings the turmoil of the outside world in. Told from Carlota and Montgomery’s points of view and clearly inspired by H. G. Wells, this wholly new novel paints a vivid picture that is as alluring as it is unsettling, filled with action, romance, and monsters. However, it is Moreno-Garcia’s ability to mesh the unease of the scientifically created beasts with the real-life terrors of a life on the margins and the horror of colonialism that elevates this story. Readers will fall into this tale immediately, enchanted. -Booklist Review

The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Escape Artist

Guardian columnist Freedland debuts with a harrowing account of Rudolf Vrba’s escape from Auschwitz and his quest to hold Jewish leaders accountable for failing to prevent more people from dying in the Holocaust. Born Walter Rosenberg in Czechoslovakia (present-day Slovakia) in 1924, Vrba was sent to Auschwitz at age 17. Hoping to escape and prevent more Jews from passively boarding trains to their death, he kept a mental tally of arriving transports and how many people were selected for forced labor or sent directly to the crematorium. In April 1944, Vrba and another prisoner escaped by hiding in a wood pile for three days and nights (using gasoline-soaked tobacco to mask their scent from guard dogs), then crawling underneath a wire fence. After a harrowing journey to Žilina, they met with leaders of the Slovak Jewish Council and compiled a report including transport numbers, estimated deaths, maps, and the names of S.S. officers. Unfortunately, delays in translating and distributing the report resulted in the failure to save hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews who were deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. Vrba, who blamed Hungarian Jewish leader Rezső Kasztner and other Jewish officials for the delays, became a controversial figure, often ignored in histories of the Holocaust. Drawing on interviews with family members and former colleagues, Freedland presents a warts-and-all portrait of Vrba, and vividly captures the horrors of Auschwitz. The result is a noteworthy contribution to the history of the Holocaust.- Publishers Weekly Review

Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Fellowship Point

Dark (Think of England) celebrates women’s friendships and artistic mentorship in this expansive yet intimate novel. At the age of 80 in the year 2000, Agnes Lee is thinking about her legacy, especially following her third breast cancer diagnosis. While celebrated for writing a series of feminist children’s books centered on a plucky character named Nan, Agnes is also secretly the author of a literary series for adults, published under a pseudonym. The fifth volume is due, but she’s suffering from writer’s block. Meanwhile, Agnes seeks support from her lifelong best friend, Polly, on her mission to donate a valuable stretch of land along the Maine coast held jointly by their families, rather than pass it to the next generation and risk it falling into the hands of developers. Blunt and self-reliant Agnes, who has no children, finds herself at loggerheads with Polly, who has several—and who, much to Agnes’s everlasting frustration, invariably defers to her husband. The families and their grudges and grievances fill a broad canvas, and within it Dark delves deeply into the relationships between Agnes and her work, humans and the land, mothers and children, and, most indelibly, the sustenance and joy provided by a long-held female friendship. It’s a remarkable achievement. – Publishers Weekly Review

Half American by Matthew F. Delmont

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Half American

The persistence of white supremacy in the U.S. means that the nation was not fully victorious in WWII, according to this revelatory history. Highlighting the Pittsburgh Courier’s “Double Victory” campaign, which sought “victory over fascism abroad and victory over racism at home,” Dartmouth history professor Delmont (Black Quotidian) documents the harassment of the 94th Engineer Battalion by white police officers and citizens in Guron, Ark., among other episodes of racial intimidation and violence, and details the role Black newspapers played in warning about the dangers of fascism and celebrating the achievements of African American soldiers. Delmont also profiles the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, an all-volunteer force that fought in “racially integrated units” against Nationalist troops in Spain, and the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black pilots who helped capture the Italian islands of Pantelleria and Sicily, only have their combat performance unfairly questioned by their white commander. Throughout, Delmont makes clear how Black soldiers’ experiences stoked their commitment to fighting for racial justice, noting, for instance, how the preferential treatment of German POWs at U.S. military bases revealed that “Jim Crow segregation and the Nazis’ master-race theory were two sides of the same coin.” The result is an eloquent and essential corrective to the historical record.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print, CD Audiobook, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

It Ends With Us

Best-selling Hoover’s latest valiant and compelling new-adult novel packs her trademark emotional punch in a story of romance derailed by abuse. Lily is starting her dream of owning a flower shop in Boston and tries to forget the sexy doctor she met on a rooftop one evening. When he turns out to be her new assistant’s brother, it seems like fate, and they fall in love. When he hits her the first time, she struggles with her memories of her father hitting her mother. She finds a diary from her teens and remembers the homeless teen she fell for then, and how her father beat him to a pulp. She runs into that person, now a chef, at a nearby restaurant. She returns to her boyfriend and tries to have a normal life and marriage, only to realize that her situation can’t last. The power and pain of the relationship will stay with readers even as Hoover offers hope.

Learning To Talk: Stories by Hilary Mantel

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Learning To Talk

Two-time Booker winner Mantel explores the landscapes of her childhood in this collection, first published in Britain in 2003. The six stories, set in 1950s-70s industrial northern England, read like personal reminiscences but are filtered through a fictional lens. Mantel calls them “autoscopic” rather than autobiographical. The narrators closely observe their young lives amidst adult tensions, including marital scandals and class, racial, and religious differences. Neighborhood conflicts become a microcosm of Protestant-Catholic frictions, and two girls’ experience of getting lost in a junkyard induces musings on emotional rootedness. Standouts are the title story, about elocution lessons for social mobility, and “The Clean Slate,” which delves into the mutability of historical memory through reflections on a drowned village. Mantel carves beauty and meaning out of bleakness, crafting brilliant metaphors with penetrating human insights. “The country through which they move is older, more intimate than ours,” she writes, describing children’s innate knowledge and ability to deduce truths about their world. Read this collection alongside her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost (2003), for more understanding of her life and exceptional creative process. -Booklist Review

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

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

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

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print, CD Audiobook, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

Light We Carry

There may be no tidy solutions or pithy answers to life’s big challenges, but Michelle Obama believes that we can all locate and lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain steady within flux. In The Light We Carry, she opens a frank and honest dialogue with readers, considering the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What tools do we use to address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness? What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?

Michelle Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles—the earned wisdom that helps her continue to “become.” She details her most valuable practices, like “starting kind,” “going high,” and assembling a “kitchen table” of trusted friends and mentors. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print & CD Audiobook)

The Paris Apartment

From the author of The Hunting Party (2019) and The Guest List (2020) comes this exceedingly clever new novel. Jess arrives at her brother Ben’s apartment in Paris to find that Ben seems to have disappeared. She talks to the other residents of the small apartment building, but no one seems to know what might have happened to him, although we know, from chapters written from the residents’ points of view, that something is not quite right. What’s especially interesting about the novel, apart from the deft characterizations and the overall feeling of dread, is the way Foley is cagey about exactly what kind of story this is. Could it be a riff on the Agatha Christie abundance-of-suspects theme? Could it be a twist on the traditional locked-room mystery? Could it be a psychological thriller? Could we be dealing with an unreliable-narrator? Who, exactly, is Ben? What kind of man is he? What is he capable of? The author keeps Jess and the reader guessing right up to the end. A fine suspenser from a writer who consistently delivers the goods.- Booklist Review

Have a great day!

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.

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