Jenna Bush Hager October Pick – ‘Leave the World Behind’

Jenna Bush Hager has selected Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam as the October pick for her #ReadWithJenna book club.

Curious what Leave the World Behind is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

Want to make sure that Jenna’s picks are automatically put on hold for you? Be sure to join our Best Sellers Club.

October Biography Pick – We’re Better Than This

The October biography pick for the Best Sellers Club is We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings with Jim Dale.

For more information about what We’re Better Than This is about, check out the following description provided by the publisher.

A memoir by the late Congressman details how his experiences as a sharecroppers’ son in volatile South Baltimore shaped his life in activism, explaining how government oversight can become a positive part of a just American collective.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

The Remix: YA Retellings of Classic Novels

Chances are you’ve seen lists of “books everyone must read” or “books to read before you die”, or something similar. And it’s also pretty likely that you’ve tried to read some of these “essential” or “classic” books, only to find them dense and difficult. Books written in the 19th or 20th centuries often have a very different writing style than modern works, which makes it more challenging to get hooked and keep reading. My secret? I do my best to read the original, and then read a fantastic YA retelling. There are a lot of YA authors taking these iconic stories and making them accessible to modern readers so they get the story’s proper emotional effect. Here are two examples of what I mean.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville is undoubtedly a classic. It has been referenced in plays, movies, and TV shows for years due to its universal themes of obsession, revenge, and their destructive effects. However, this book is also a classic example of a wordy 19th century writing style, and in my opinion Melville tells you way more about the technical aspects of whaling than you need to know. The point of this book for me is in Ahab’s obsession and its deadly effects for innocent bystanders like Ishmael and the rest of the crew. If you agree with me (or just don’t have time to wade through some five hundred pages) another way to experience this story is And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness. It retells the Moby-Dick story from the whale’s perspective: a pod of whales led by Captain Alexandra goes to war with the human Toby Wick, with devastating consequences for all concerned. It maintains the gravitas and the action of the original, but it makes some really effective changes. Among other things, it has beautiful illustrations and the perspective change really highlights the complicated ethical questions hinted at in the original. And it’s shorter, by a lot. Not an action-adventure reader? Not to worry, I have a romantic example too.

Jane Eyre is, to be fair, one of my favorite books even in its original form. The ordinary but strong-willed protagonist who determines her own fate and goes after what she wants is inspiring to me, and the writing style isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. However, for me the book spends the middle section of the book slogging through a fairly irrelevant subplot before returning to the main story, and I have some ethical concerns about Mr. Rochester – this is the main character’s fairly pushy love interest, who (spoiler alert) locks his mentally ill wife in the attic of his house and tries to marry the main character anyway. For these reasons I was delighted to discover Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. It retells the Jane Eyre story with a few improvements – setting the action on a futuristic spaceship, keeping the story’s pace moving, and tweaking a few things to make the love interest less problematic.

These are just two examples of a great trend in YA literature – translating iconic historical works into modern terms so the story and its significance isn’t lost on present and future generations. There are plenty more I could highlight, including remixes of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, and lots of fairy tales. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new stories being written just as well, but there’s something special about rediscovering great stories (and their lessons) so many years later. More than that, I like looking at what gets changed, because it shows me how the world and its systems change over time to be more ethical, inclusive – or just more interesting!

Reese Witherspoon October pick – His Only Wife

Reese Witherspoon has selected His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie for the Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine October pick.

Check out the following description provided by the publisher for more information about this book:

An intelligent and funny debut about a relatable, indomitable heroine: a young seamstress in Ghana who agrees to an arranged marriage, only to realize that some compromises are too extreme to accept, illuminating what it means to be a woman in a rapidly changing world.

If you want to make sure that you don’t miss any celebrity book club picks, join our Best Sellers Club and have them automatically put on hold for you.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

As you might know by now, the things I love in books include: murder mysteries, retellings of iconic works, and ensemble casts. Recently I discovered that One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus ticks all three of those boxes! It’s a twist on the iconic movie The Breakfast Club, featuring a compelling murder mystery, and it features a dynamic and well-rounded set of characters. I devoured this book in a  a day or two, because it’s very compelling reading and I had to know whodunit.

The brain is Bronwyn: driven and Ivy League bound. The athlete is Cooper: a baseball player already being scouted by teams and colleges alike. The princess is Addy: the popular girl with the perfect boyfriend. The criminal is Nate: the drug dealer with a broken home and a bad reputation. These four find themselves in detention with Simon, who runs their school’s notorious gossip app and loves spilling everybody’s secrets. But before their punishment is over, Simon is dead and they’re facing a lot of tough questions. Their lives, and their secrets, will never be the same again.

One of my favorite things about this book was the character development. Rather than sticking to their typecast roles, these characters grow, change, and discover new things about themselves through the course of their ordeal. Nobody is quite who they appear to be, in both good and chilling ways throughout the story. It reminded me strongly of the new Jumanji movies in that a dangerous situation is brightened by unexpected friendships made along the way.

Even better – there’s a sequel! One Of Us Is Next is available now, and to my delight it doesn’t immediately put the same characters in danger, derailing all their personal growth and happy endings. Instead, secondary characters from the first novel (including Bronwyn’s hacker younger sister) step into center stage in the second, taking on a whole new mystery and a whole new set of secrets. If you like hopeful mysteries, teen books, great characters, or can’t get enough of The Breakfast Club, I recommend this author’s work whole-heartedly.

October Cookbook pick – The Well Plated Cookbook

Our October cookbook pick for the Best Sellers Club is The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke.

Want to know more about what The Well Plated Cookbook? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Known for her incredibly approachable, slimmed-down, and outrageously delicious recipes, Erin Clarke is the creator of the smash-hit food blog in the healthy-eating blogosphere, Well Plated by Erin. Clarke’s site welcomes more than 3 million visitors a month, and with good reason: Her recipes are fast, budget-friendly, and clever; she never includes an ingredient you can’t find in a regular supermarket or that isn’t essential to a dish’s success, and she hacks her recipes for maximum nutrition by using the “stealthy healthy” ingredient swaps she’s mastered so that you don’t lose an ounce of flavor. In this essential cookbook for everyday cooking, Clarke shares more than 130 brand-new rapid-fire recipes, along with secrets to lightening up classic comfortfavorites inspired by her midwestern roots, and clever recipe hacks that will enable you to put a healthy meal on the table any night of the week. Many of the recipes feature a single ingredient used in multiple, ingenious ways, such as Sweet Potato Boats 5 Ways. The recipes are affordable and keep practicality top-of-mind. She’s eliminated odd leftover “orphan” ingredients and included Market Swaps so you can adjust the ingredients based on the season or what you have on hand. To help you make the mostof your cooking, she’s even included tips to store and reheat leftovers, as well as clever ideas to turn them into an entirely new dish. From One-Pot Creamy Sundried Tomato Orzo to Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken, all of the meals are ready to make when you need them, and so indulgent you won’t detect the healthy ingredients. As Clarke always hears from her readers, “My family doesn’t like healthy food, but they LOVED this!” This is your homey guide to a healthier kitchen.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

By Popular Demand: Scary Recommendations for All Ages

Autumn is a great time of year to read scary stories – so long as you’re safely curled up in a blanket with a hot drink, with lots of lights on. Lately I’ve helped several patrons find their next spooky read, so I wanted to take this opportunity to give my best scary book recommendations for all ages.

These books are roughly sorted in descending order by the age group they were written for, but depending on your mood and the level of frights you want, any of these might do, regardless of your age!

After Stephen King, of course, The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock is a great choice to start with, not least because it was recently made into a film starring Tom Holland and streaming on Netflix. It focuses on a town full of corrupt and sinister characters, including a disturbed veteran, a husband and wife serial killer team, a false preacher, and Arvin, an orphaned young man caught in the middle.

 

A recent release worth trying for some chills is Sisters by Daisy Johnson. This haunting tale depicts two sisters who are very close — too close. They have recently relocated to an isolated house after a sinister event in their hometown. In their new life, as dread and unease rises in the house and in their relationship, the sisters’ darker impulses push them to the brink, and nothing will ever be the same.

 

If you’re looking for something more speculative, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland might be the historical zombie novel for you. The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, it follows two young women traveling west in an 1880s America plagued by the restless dead. Jane and Katherine are looking for a safe haven, but find only more conspiracy, danger, and lies – not to mention the undead.

 

Another recent release worth trying – if you like scary clowns – is Clown In A Cornfield by Adam Cesare. Quinn and her father moved to a small, boring town to get a fresh start. But the town is struggling after the loss of their factory and its income, and has now divided into a conflict of adults vs. kids. This battle might destroy the town, so the town mascot (a creepy clown, of course) decides to eliminate the problem by getting rid of the troublesome kids for good.

 

After Neil Gaiman (of course), I’d recommend readers of middle-grade novels check out Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall. It’s a recent publication, and it has echoes of both Stranger Things and Coraline. Eleanor, haunted by her mother’s disappearance in a fire, moves to too-perfect Eden Eld, where 3 children disappear every 13 years. This year, it’s her turn. It’s up to Eleanor and her two new friends to solve the mystery and save themselves before it’s too late.

 

This Town Is Not All Right is another middle grade read worth checking out. It evokes Stephen King, especially in the setting: it’s set in a  Maine fishing village, the very region Stephen King has made iconic in his books.  Twins Beacon and Everleigh, newly arrived with their father, can’t help feeling there’s something off about the town – even before Everleigh is recruited into the mysterious group The Gold Stars. Beacon must then find the chilling truth or risk losing his sister forever.

 

Finally, a personal favorite of mine: The Gates by John Connolly is a great spooky book for all ages, packed with humor, science, and (of course) terrifying evil. Three days before Halloween, precocious Samuel Johnson and his dog stumble onto his neighbors calling forth the devil in a flirtation with the underworld gone wrong. Now, the gates of hell could open, and only one eccentric little boy can stop it. This is a hilarious and thoughtful read, packed with action and some pretty complex ideas.

Other great authors of scary books include Dean Koontz, Jo Nesbo, Ruth Ware, Victoria Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Ransom Riggs, Patrick Ness, Tamsyn Muir, Mary Downing Hahn, R.L. Stine, and K.R. Alexander.

Virtual Book Club – ‘Catherine House’ on October 14th

On Wednesday, October 14th, Virtual Book Club will be meeting to discuss Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. This book club meets virtually every week to discuss a new book. Information about how to join is listed at the end of this blog.

Curious what Catherine House is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years–summers included–completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/215406549

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 215-406-549

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/215406549

Book Club @ Night – ‘American Street’ on October 14th

It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!

On Wednesday, October 14th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing American Street  by Ibi Zoboi. Information about how to join is below.

Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.

Curious what American Street is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

This book is also available in the following format:

The November meeting will not take place on November 11 as the library is closed on that day in observance of Veterans Day. The November program will meet instead on November 18.

Book Club @ Night
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/664704165

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212

Access Code: 664-704-165

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/664704165

October True Crime Pick – American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club October True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

Published in July 2019, this bestselling book investigates the heinous crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. While not as infamous as other serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, Keyes is described as being one of the most “ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history.” Living in Alaska as a construction worker and as a father to his only daughter, Keyes would travel across the country to bury “kill kits,” which contained cash, weapons, and tools used to dispose of bodies; he planted these supplies in preparation for whenever he had an urge to act upon his sadistic desires in a particular place. He is thought to have murdered at least eleven people before his arrest in 2012, but stayed under the radar for fifteen years, as the first crime he committed was in 1997. I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, as well as due to my surprise of never hearing of Keyes before finding this book, despite him committing these crimes in relatively recent history. I am excited to share this selection with you and hope you enjoy this pick!

Want to know more about American Predator ? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!