Suggested Reading January 11, 2023

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 18, 2023

At Day’s Close: Night In Times Past by A. Roger Ekirch

(Available Format: eBook)

At Day's Close

Engrossing, leisurely paced and richly researched, this history finds Ekirch reminding us of how preindustrial Westerners lived during the nocturnal hours, when most were plunged into almost total darkness. By describing how that darkness spelled heightened risk—of stumbles, drowning, fires and other dangers—Ekirch accounts for the traditional association of nighttime with fear and suspicion, illuminating the foundations of popular beliefs in satanic forces and the occult. He also describes how the night literally provided a cloak of darkness for crimes and insurrections, and how fear of the night sometimes led to racist blame and accusation. A professor of history at Virginia Tech, Ekirch ranges across the archives of Europe and early colonial America to paint a portrait of how the forces of law and order operated at night, and he provides fascinating insight into nocturnal labor—of masons, carpenters, bakers, glassmakers and iron smelters, among many others. The hardest nocturnal workers were women, Ekirch writes, doing laundry after a full day’s domestic work. Ekirch also evokes benign nighttime activities, such as drinking and alehouse camaraderie; the thrill of aristocratic masquerades; the merrymaking of harvest suppers and dances. A rich weave of citation and archival evidence, Ekirch’s narrative is rooted in the material realities of the past, evoking a bygone world of extreme physicality and preindustrial survival stratagems. – Publishers Weekly

Bruno’s Challenge: And Other Stories of the French Countryside by Martin Walker

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Bruno's Challenge

Fans of The Coldest Case and Walker’s other novels set in the little French market town of St. Denis will savor this inviting story collection featuring Bruno Courrèges, the town’s genial chief of police. As St. Denis is in the Périgord, the culinary heartland of France, a thread of gastronomy and bonhomie plays a significant part in all 14 tales. Walker smoothly integrates recipes into the text, beginning with the title story, which finds Bruno throwing together a golden wedding anniversary feast for friends on short notice and includes easy to follow instructions on how to prepare Poulet à l’estragon. Prehistoric cooking methods figure in “Boeuf Neanderthal,” as Bruno prepares a menu for the Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord. “The Green Army” describes biodynamic viticultural techniques, and “Sugar Lumps” reveals the proper way to drink absinthe. The area’s rich history and traditions are explored at every turn. Any crimes are relatively minor—nasty anonymous letters, spates of vandalism—and are resolved by cooperation, conviviality, and Bruno’s clever intervention. Culinary mystery aficionados won’t want to miss this one. – Publishers Weekly Review

Code Name Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed by Jim Poplin

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout audiobook; Print Book coming soon!)

Code Name Blue Wren

Investigative journalist Popkin’s engrossing debut tells the story of Ana Montes, an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government who, probably before she joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1985, was spying for Cuba. In 1998, the efforts of her sister, Lucy, an FBI analyst, to bring down a Cuban spy ring in Miami led to clues about a highly placed U.S. citizen working for Cuba. The FBI and DIA spent more than two years investigating, but came up short due to a lack of cooperation between the agencies. It wasn’t until they finally shared information that they identified the spy as Montes. She was arrested 10 days after 9/11, which explains the lack of headlines her capture received. Montes pleaded guilty to one count of espionage, receiving 25 years in prison. Popkin thoroughly explores her upbringing—an abusive father divorced her mother—but never really explains why she became an ardent supporter of Fidel Castro to the extent that she risked her high-level position at the DIA and ultimately her freedom. This is a must-read for espionage fans. – Publishers Weekly Review

Even This I Get To Experience by Norman Lear

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

Even This I Get To Experience

This is, flat out, one of the best Hollywood memoirs ever written. In most Hollywood bios, we skip through a lot of sections, waiting to get to the good stuff, but here it’s all good stuff. Lear, the creator of the classic TV series All in the Family and Maude (among many, many others), had numerous jobs before he fell into television writing: he was a PR man, a door-to-door salesman, an inventor, a radio operator aboard a B-17 bomber, and each of these stages of his early life easily could be a book unto itself, so entertainingly does Lear write about them. And the story of how he came to be one of television’s top producers reads like the script for a really good movie: Lear teams up with a buddy to write comic songs; they parlay this into a gig writing sketches and routines for Danny Thomas, which leads to writing full-time for legends like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, which leads (for Lear, anyway) to writing movie scripts, which leads to Lear’s changing the landscape of television in the 1970s with his truly revolutionary approach to the types of characters and themes that could appear on the small screen. Now in his nineties, Lear writes about his own life with a sort of can you believe it? approach, and at times you can see him opening new doors in his own memory (as, for example, when he realizes that he’s spent most of his life trying to whitewash the truth about his father, who was a fraud and a liar but also a pretty likable guy). An absolute treasure. Starred Booklist Review

A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friend, Emmett Till

(Available Formats: eBook)

Few Days Full of Trouble

Parker is the last living witness to the abduction of his cousin Emmett Till, whose 1955 lynching in Mississippi lent momentum to the Civil Rights movement. Here, with the help of Benson, a lawyer and former features editor for Ebony, he recalls the event, the impact on his family, and efforts over the decades to secure justice for Till. – Library Journal Review

Freedom: Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Right by various authors, published by Amnesty International USA

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


Thirty-six authors ranging widely in nationality have contributed to this tribute to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With an introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu discussing literature as an expression of humanity and a moving epilog by Henning Mankell, this compilation includes stories inspired by each of the declaration’s 30 articles. The writers, who include Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, David Mitchell, Ariel Dorfman, Banana Yoshimoto, Yann Martel, Paulo Coehlo, Nadine Gordimer, and Rohinton Mistry, among many others, interpret the articles as they consider culture, government, religion, law, gender, race, and media in relation to human rights. For instance, in “The Kind of Neighbor You Used To Have,” James Meek writes effectively of a man detained without habeas corpus and confronted by a neighbor who himself has been taken in to custody to persuade the detainee to confess to his crime. Kate Atkinson’s satirical and frightening “The War on Woman” focuses on an apolitical woman whose mundane existence is altered by an increasingly aggressive enforcement of a law against women.

VERDICT The stories here are impressive in scope and show that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights can apply to many aspects of the human experience. Valuable reading. – Library Journal Review

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

(Available Formats: Print Book, CD Audiobook, eBook & Hoopla instant check out eBook)

The Redbreast

Shifting effortlessly between the last days of WWII on the Eastern front and modern day Oslo, Norwegian Nesbø spins a complex tale of murder, revenge and betrayal. A recovering alcoholic recently reassigned to the Norwegian Security Service, Insp. Harry Hole begins tracking Sverre Olsen, a vicious neo-Nazi who escaped prosecution on a technicality. But what starts as a quest to put Olsen behind bars soon explodes into a race to prevent an assassination. As Hole struggles to stay one step ahead of Olsen and his gang of skinheads, Nesbø takes the reader back to WWII, as Norwegians fighting for Hitler wage a losing battle on the Eastern front. When the two story lines finally collide, it’s up to Hole to stop a man hell-bent on carrying out the deadly plan he hatched half a century ago in the trenches. Perfectly paced and painfully suspenseful, this crime novel illuminates not only Norway’s alleged Nazi ties but also its present skinhead subculture. Readers will delight in Hole, a laconic hero as doggedly stubborn as Connelly’s Harry Bosch, and yet with a prickly appeal all his own. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Reader’s Note: The Readbreast is the third book in the Harry Hole Mystery Series.

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Vérant

(Available Formats: eBook)

The Spice Master

No matter how small the dish or how simple the preparation, cooking always harnesses Kate’s senses. The feel of pliable dough, the smell of fresh herbs, the sound of sizzling -butter–all of it lights up her every neuron and emotion. Now opening her very own restaurant in Paris’ trendy tenth arrondissement, Kate can channel her love of food to the wider world–or at least her little canal-side corner of it. But when Bistro Exotique threatens to crumble around her, Kate will have to rely on more than her senses to bring her dream restaurant back to its full strength. Vérant brings her signature style to Kate’s story, infusing it with sensuality, romance, and a genuine love of the culinary arts. No mere background player, the City of Lights itself is present in every fish market, chic café, and floury boulangerie that Kate sets foot in on her culinary adventures. Fans of Mary Simses and Kerry Anne King will adore the interplay between food and romance, snobbery and appreciation, and critique and acclaim. – Booklist Review

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


In mid-1970s Belfast, 24-year-old Cushla’s name (from the Irish endearment, “”the pulse of my heart””) instantly marks her as part of the Catholic minority. A teacher at the local parochial school and part-time barmaid in her family’s pub, she occupies a precarious middle ground. Some of the pub’s Protestant regulars won’t acknowledge her family on the street, and her seven-year-old students are on intimate terms with the violence they report on each morning during current events. When Michael, an older, married Protestant lawyer who frequents the pub, asks Cushla to teach him and his friends the Irish language, the two quickly begin an affair. When the father of one of her students is brutally assaulted, Cushla helps the boy’s family. Cushla tries to keep the various strands of her life separate, but eventually they become tangled, culminating in a violent act with lasting repercussions. Kennedy (The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac, 2021) draws on her personal experiences growing up Catholic in Northern Ireland in this debut novel that will appeal to fans of Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain (2020). – Booklist Review

Waypoints: My Scottish Journey by Sam Heughan

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


The male lead of the TV series Outlander takes us on a long Scottish hike while recounting the travails of stage and screen. “I’m not hyperactive, I crave down time, but I feel guilty if I’m not…pushing myself in some capacity,” writes Heughan, who, sidelined by Covid-19 after shooting an abbreviated sixth season of Outlander, decided to walk the West Highland Way. Running from just north of Glasgow along Loch Lomond and up the U.K.’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, before ending along Scotland’s west coast, the trail is not for the faint of heart. Neither, writes Heughan, is acting: He chronicles his unsuccessful auditions for many much-wanted roles–e.g., hoping to bring the James Bond trademark back home, he was beaten out by Daniel Craig. Being hammered by rain and cold and pained by blisters and sore muscles are perhaps no less dispiriting than losing a role, but Heughan writes with generally good humor of his experiences, in which, on the trail, he plays the part of the hapless newbie. Still, he enjoys the bucolic solitude, as when he notes, “There isn’t a single soul around, unless you count a few hardy sheep in the distance bracing themselves against the gusts.” If you want to read solely about tramping around Britain, Robert Macfarlane is the writer you want, but if you have any interest in the art and craft of acting along the way, Heughan offers plenty of notes. “The key to Shakespeare, I learned, is to allow the text to live,” he writes. “It’s the punctuation and poetry that guides the actor, which makes breathing key to delivery.” For all that, it’s a treat, after a winding narrative that ranges from exultant to melancholic, to see Heughan on top of Ben Nevis at last. A pleasure for fans of the author, whisky, and Scotland. – Kirkus 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.

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