RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Books

Say Goodbye to Dietland

Plum Kettle is fat, and she doesn’t want to be. She spends her days in solitude, dreaming of the day she’ll be thin after her scheduled bariatric surgery and buying clothes for her future thin self—that’s when she’ll be happy and finally start living the life she wants. But there would be no story here if that’s what happened to Plum; instead, an encounter with a mysterious woman leads Plum to discovering an underground faction of fierce feminists who challenge how Plum sees herself and the whole wide world. The book jacket describes Dietland as “part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy,” is which absolutely a great description of this darkly funny, feminist novel.


Margaret Atwood

In anticipation of seeing her later this fall in Ann Arbor, I'm trying to catch up on at least part of Margaret Atwood's body of work, starting with The Handmaid's Tale, originally published in 1998. Considered by some as dystopian or fantasy fiction, I had dismissed it before now as something I wouldn't like. Full confession: I was wrong. Between the characterizations, the vivid descriptions of the futuristic setting, and her command of the language (oh my the language), I'm hooked! While I look forward to reading other earlier Atwood titles, I also look forward to seeing her new graphic novel(!), Angel Catbird and her upcoming re-telling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Hag-Seed (coming in October).


The Excellent Lombards

This coming-of-age novel by Jane Hamilton centers on Mary Frances “Frankie” Lombard and her family’s sprawling apple orchard. Her idyllic life on the farm begins to fray in the complexities of family dynamics, love, and loss as the future of the farm becomes increasingly unclear.

Hamilton writes almost a love letter to a threatened way of life. One reviewer says it “takes us back to being a child and believing in one thing wholeheartedly.”

There is much to discuss and appreciate in this novel. It would be a good book group choice.


I Am Princess X

In fifth grade May and Libby created Princess X together. For years after the two continued the story of the princess in the purple dress and red chucks who wields a katana. That is, until Libby and her mom drive off a bridge on a rainy night. Three years later, lonely May discovers a sticker of Princess X on a shop window. No one could have created it, except for Libby. It seems impossible, but May wonders if her friend might still be alive. 
This clever murder mystery trails May on her quest to find out what exactly happened the night that Libby and her mom died, and to find Libby if she did indeed survive. Fans of webcomics, suspense, and puzzles will love this book! I sure did!


While you wait for The Underground Railroad...

Colson Whitehead’s newest novel, The Underground Railroad, was slated to be published next month. But yesterday, in a surprise announcement, Oprah Winfrey named the novel her latest book club selection and the book is actually available for purchase now.

KPL has the book on-order and you can place a hold using the online catalog. While you wait for your copy to become available, check out some of the following titles; some are new, some older, and some are previous Oprah picks:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Grace by Natashia Deon
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
The Coming by Daniel Black
Beloved by Toni Morrison

 


A John Berry Meachum Story

This fictional children’s story was inspired by a real event. In Missouri in 1847 a law was passed that prohibited the education of Blacks, slaves or free. This law was passed by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri and it stated that: “No person shall keep a school for the instructions of negroes or mulattoes, reading or writing in this state.”

A man named John Berry Meachum lived from 1789-1854. He had been born a slave and worked to earn enough money to buy his freedom. In 1826 he became a minister of the first African American Baptist Church in Missouri. Although, educating blacks was against the law it was very important to Meachem. Being a very resourceful and creative person he worked to find ways to defy the unjust law that stated black people could not be educated within the state. He built a steamboat and used it in the middle of the Mississippi River as a school for Blacks.

That’s where the idea for this great story, Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson, came from.


Everything I Never Told You

I am drawn to family dramas and this book is no exception. It follows the Lees, a Chinese-American family in Ohio in the 1970's, immediately after--and leading up to--the tragic drowning of their daughter, Lydia. The multiple points of view in alternating chapters reveal tragic family dynamics and cultural sensitivities that weave their way into every character's psyche. (And the mystery surrounding Lydia's death kept me reading later into the night than I am usually able before falling asleep!) This is a new Book Club in a Bag title and can also be checked out in several formats including digital audio and ebook. It was named a "best book of the year" by several sources including NPR, the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Amazon.


The Girl With All the Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts is the story of a young girl. Melanie is a genius- bright and full of questions, and curious about the world and her place in it. She loves school and her teacher, Ms. Justineau, and loves the stories and fables Ms. Justineau tells the class every day.

Melanie spends the rest of her day locked in her cell, and is strapped into her chair every morning while the Sergeant and his soldiers hold guns to her head. Her classroom is filled with other kids strapped into chairs like hers. She tells the Sergeant she doesn't need to be strapped in; that she won't bite, but he doesn't think this is a funny joke. It becomes clear very quickly that Melanie, the other kids in her class, and the world they live in, are very, very different... Equally terrifying and moving, The Girl With All the Gifts is a Pandora's box of horror and humanity.


The father (Made in Sweden series)


Check out this new thriller (housed along with our mystery books), based on a true story about Swedish bank robber brothers that rose to lives of crime under their father’s violent rule. The father is written by Anton Svensson, a pseudonym for the writing team of Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg, the fourth brother who was not involved in the bank robberies. The brothers known as The Military Gang, were responsible for ten daring bank robberies over a period of 2 years in the early 1990s. Thunberg turned to fiction in order to be more honest about what happened within his broken family, but all events in the book are true, with names being changed. This book is a bestseller in Sweden and is being looked at in the US to possibly be made into a movie.

 


Squid for President!

Jokes about presidential candidates are just too easy this time around so I’m going to skip that part and get right to Aaron Reynolds new picture book President Squid. It is true that no giant squid has ever been president before, but this might be the right time. Squid wears a tie, lives in a big house (a sunken cruise liner), is famous (he’s in a book), does all the talking, and likes to boss people around so he thinks he is perfect for the job. Will he be the fifth president carved into Mt. Rushmore? If you aren’t already having enough fun during this year’s presidential race, check out President Squid for even more laughs. 

 
Speaking of storybook characters running for president, stay tuned for our mock election this Fall where each library location will nominate and campaign for one for president. Of course, Washington Square’s nominee, Dora the Explorer, will win!