Suggested Reading December 28, 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, January 4, 2023.

American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis by Adam Hochschild

(Available Formats: Print Book)

American Midnight

President Woodrow Wilson’s call for the U.S. to enter WWI to make the world “safe for democracy” ironically set the stage for an unprecedented attack on Americans’ civil liberties, according to this expert and eye-opening account. Historian Hochschild (Rebel Cinderella) notes that increasing numbers of immigrants from Italy, Eastern Europe, and Russia during the early 20th century provoked nativist resentments and violent attacks from Americans whose Protestant ancestors came from England and northwestern Europe. Even more common, however, was violence against coal miners, steel workers, and other laborers attempting to unionize. Hochschild documents how new laws ostensibly passed to protect America’s national security, including the Espionage and Sedition Acts, were weaponized against the foreign born, labor activists, and pacifists. Though few records remain, Hochschild cites claims by one lawyer that between 1917 and 1921, 462 men and women were jailed by the federal government for a year or longer for their written or spoken words. He also documents outbreaks of racial violence, anarchist bombings, and the 1919 Palmer raids, which targeted the Union of Russian Workers. Meticulously researched, fluidly written, and frequently enraging, this is a timely reminder of the “vigilant respect for civil rights and Constitutional safeguards” needed to protect democracy and forestall authoritarianism. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Book Lovers by Emily Henry

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

Book Lovers

Henry’s latest is a witty, rapidly unfolding novel set in New York’s publishing world, where literary agent Nora Stephens is known as a shark. Scary, precise, and organized, she works tirelessly. She is someone people can count on, whether they’re her clients, her colleagues, or her sister, with whom she’s spending August in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. Charlie Lastra is a talented editor with a reputation for brusqueness, broodiness, and acerbic editorial comments. He craves complete honesty at all times. While wanting to understand how things work in the world, he has learned not to trust it. They meet over Nora’s client’s book, which Charlie badly wants to edit after rejecting her former book. He, too, is in Sunshine Falls, and as they work together, their initial hostility sparks romance. They are both true big-city workaholics who appreciate each other’s ethics and brilliance, but both struggle with insecurities and the sense that they will always be watching life from the outside. Like Henry’s two previous runaway bestsellers, People We Meet on Vacation (2021) and Beach Read (2020), Book Lovers is poised to capture readers’ hearts and minds. – Booklist Review

A Book of Days by Patti Smith

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Book of Days

Rock star Smith (Year of the Monkey) unfurls a vibrant photo scrapbook created during the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired by the “exploding collage” of social media culture. The photos include selections from Smith’s personal archive, as well as cellphone snapshots and Polaroids. There is one photo for each day of the year, and the short accompanying text often references cultural figures, whether William S. Burroughs or Greta Thunberg. Smith also recounts moments from her own life, including riding her first bike as a child and outtakes from her 1970s punk heyday. Recurring figures include her late partner, Robert Mapplethorpe, and her daughter, Jesse, who encouraged Smith to join Instagram. The captions often take the form of straightforward descriptions (“The desk of the great writer Jorge Luis Borges lives in the National Library in Buenos Aires”), but Smith’s personal photos provide moments for deeper introspection (“This is my thinking chair. I sit and let it take me where it will, as if it were a small wooden ship”). Below a photo of One World Trade Center, Smith writes, “A city of burning days and consecrated nights, utterly transformed from the New York I once knew.” Wrapped in a nostalgic glow, this will be an inspiration for Smith’s fans. – Publishers Weekly Review

Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory

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

Drunk On Love

Two years after returning home to Napa, CA, Margot Noble still feels a strong need to prove her worth as co-owner of her family’s winery. Margot’s hard work has left little time for pleasure, but her best friend convinces her to explore the instant connection she feels with Luke Williams. At a crossroads in his tech career, Luke views the job he spontaneously took at Noble Family Vineyards as something interesting to do while pondering his future. Neither knows who the other is when they hook up. Although Luke wants more than one night, Margot is torn, but their working relationship gives them the chance to get to know each other. Their professional scenes crackle with sexual tension and, once they are free to be together, it’s a pleasure to witness them be each other’s refuge. Still, the clandestine nature of their relationship’s beginning colors how they interact and leads to some momentous revelations about themselves and their families. VERDICT Guillory’s (By the Book) latest, imbued with her signature heat, wit, and scene-stealing secondary characters, is sure to be popular. -Starred Library Journal Review

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Funny You Should Ask

Entertainment reporter Chani Horowitz is ecstatic and nervous when she is assigned to interview gorgeous movie star Gabe Parker. She is instantly charmed, and a whirlwind weekend ensues but ends with an awkward parting. Chani writes a flattering article about Gabe that goes viral, solidifying her writing career. A week later, Gabe elopes with his costar Jacinda, while Chani ends up marrying her boyfriend and leaving Los Angeles for New York. Ten years after their first encounter, both Chani and Gabe are divorced, and Gabe is trying to revive his acting career after getting sober. Hoping to recreate the magic of that first article, Gabe’s agent arranges for him to be interviewed once more by Chani. Sparks fly when Gabe and Chani meet again, but there’s a decade of hurt and misunderstandings in the way.

VERDICT After writing YA novels (Drawn That Way; Stray; Burn), Sussman makes her adult fiction debut with a smart and sexy tale of second-chance love. The story thoroughly satisfies on a romantic level and packs an emotional punch with genuine characters. -Starred Library Journal Review

Lessons by Ian McEwan

(Available Formats: Print Book & Large Print)


After experimenting with forms and genres in his last three books (Nutshell, 2016; Machines Like Me, 2019; The Cockroach, 2019), McEwan returns to his forte, the sweeping family drama. This novel focuses on Roland Baines, who was born in Libya and then sent to boarding school in rural England at age 11. This traumatic separation from his family is compounded by his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, becoming infatuated with him. The effects of these personal experiences and relentless, dramatic global events lead to Roland’s peripatetic existence: he is, like the places he is drawn to–Berlin before the wall fell and Northern Ireland during the Troubles–struggling to reconcile the many parts of himself. After meeting Alissa, he believes he has settled down, but the opening scenes focus on the aftermath of Alissa’s sudden abandonment of Roland and their son, Lawrence. McEwan is reflecting on his life; like Julian Barnes’ The Only Story (2018) and Jonathan Franzen’s ambitious tomes, this is a tale focused on a few characters that reveals much about the way the world has changed in McEwan’s lifetime. It is a rapturously enjoyable journey and one that demonstrates why McEwan is still one of the most engaging writers around.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: McEwan’s many fans will be thrilled to learn of his return to the saga, one stretching from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic.- Booklist Review

Nightwork by Nora Roberts

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


Harry Booth learned very early in life that he couldn’t afford to play by the rules. To help his mother pay a never-ending avalanche of medical bills, Harry began picking pockets, gradually promoting himself to nightwork, relieving wealthy households of a valuable bauble or two. After his mother’s death, Harry begins roaming around the U.S., changing his name to fit each geographic location. While indulging in his surprising penchant for higher learning, Harry meets professor’s daughter Miranda Emerson and begins seriously thinking of leaving his old life behind. But a sociopathic former client has a different plan in mind for Harry. Ever-popular Roberts’ (Legacy, 2021) latest protagonist may reinvent himself to blend in with his latest locale, but the queen of romance remains true to the traits that consistently work for her, using her immersive storytelling capabilities to create captivating characters and ensnare readers in a carefully crafted plot that splendidly showcases her signature brand of spine-chilling suspense and stylish romance.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: While there are very few sure things in life, readers can bet Roberts’ latest stand-alone will land at the top of best-seller lists everywhere. – Booklist Review

Now Is Not The Time To Panic by Kevin Wilson

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Now Is Not The Time To Panic

If the Coalfield Panic were to happen today, it would dominate the news cycle for 10 minutes before it got subsumed by another, more sensational story. In middle-of-nowhere Tennessee in 1996, Frankie Budge and her new friend, Zeke, create a poster and plaster it all over town as performance art. Unfortunately, the poster catches people’s imagination for all the wrong reasons, and it stays in the larger public consciousness for longer than Frankie and Zeke ever wanted. The signature slogan is Frankie’s, “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.” To the two teenage misfits in Coalfield, the writing sounds subversive yet safe. But once the narrative gets out of control, it creates serious and lasting damage, enough to cast a long shadow on Frankie’s adult life. Wilson (Nothing to See Here, 2020) has developed a story that is a precise capture of adolescence and of two vibrant teens whose everyday dilemmas, weaknesses, and triumphs are utterly endearing. If the denouement feels a little pat, it is more than made up for by the crisp dialogue and the zipping story line that takes us there.- Booklist Review

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

(Available Formats: Print Book)

People Person

Cyril Pennington’s five adult children met as kids when their fun-loving, mostly absent father introduced them all over ice cream so that they wouldn’t ever “”fall in love or have sex or any of dem tings.”” Since then it’s been touch and go (mostly go). Carty-Williams’ second London-set novel follows the whole family, giving the most airtime to sensitive thirty-year-old middle child Dimple, a would-be influencer who opens the story panicking over the dead body of her (recently) ex-boyfriend and, not knowing what else to do, calls uber-competent oldest sibling Nikisha. Soon all five siblings are gathered, but to say much more would be saying too much. Even as relative strangers, Cyril’s kids share something inarguably innate, which leads to consternation, closeness, and, eventually, growth. Combining relationship fiction, dark comedy, and domestic thriller, People Person is ultimately about how Cyril’s absence plays out for each of his kids. As she did so shrewdly in her stellar debut, Queenie (2019), Carty-Williams also weaves astute sociocultural commentary into the Penningtons’ story and their crackling, near-constant dialogue.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Queenie was such a hit, readers are primed for Carty-Williams’ return. – Booklist Review

Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari

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

Stolen Focus

Journalist Hari (Lost Connections) explores a growing “crisis”—people’s inability to focus their attention for extended periods—in this provocative study. He presents data that suggests students switch tasks once every 65 seconds, while adults in offices tend to remain focused on one thing for just three minutes. There are costs to this decrease in attention span, he suggests, from both an intellectual and a productivity perspective, as studies have shown that workers’ IQ dropped by an average of 10 points when they faced frequent “technological distraction” in the form of emails and phone calls. Hari lays out a wide array of environmental factors at play in this decline: technology companies promote innovations to keep people glued to their screens; there’s a large-scale sleep deprivation issue (40% of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived); and overall stress levels have increased—meanwhile, “deteriorating diets and rising pollution” do little to help. Although Hari addresses some actions that readers can take (such as locking phones up in a safe and taking six months off social media), he concludes that the issue is beyond individuals and is a regulatory problem—but his call that people need to band together to build “a movement to reclaim our attention” feels somewhat nebulous. Still, it’s a comprehensive and chilling lay of the land.- Publishers Weekly 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.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s