Online Reading Challenge – February Wrap-Up

Hello Readers!

How did your February reading go? What wonderful, magical, mind-twisting book did you discover this month? Or was it the opposite and nothing caught your fancy?

I’m afraid I fell into the second category, somewhat. I failed to finish The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – it just wasn’t working for me. It felt very dark and very sad to me and I just couldn’t finish it (it doesn’t help that a kitten was killed early in the book) Harm/abuse of children or animals will keep me away from any book, no matter how good it’s supposed to be. I also have no trouble not finishing a book if it’s making me unhappy – there are too many good books out there that add value than to continue to read just for the sake of finishing!

However, I did finish a book that fits very neatly into the Neil Gaiman magical-realism read-alike category – my reserve for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab came in and I couldn’t put it down. Thoughtful, intriguing and surprising with a twisting storyline that keeps you guessing (and hoping). One of our librarians, Stephanie, wrote a blog post about it last month with an excellent summary and examination of it’s appeal. Go read it for more details!

So, while I might not have read what I had planned to, I still finished this month’s challenge!

What about you – did you finish this month’s challenge? (Remember, no judgement if you didn’t – there are no Library Police!)

Introducing the 2021 Online Reading Challenge!

Welcome to the 2021 Online Reading Challenge!

We’re back for another year (our 6th!) of reading recommendations with our super-casual, low-stress reading club. Each month I’ll introduce a new subject, suggest several reading choices and pick a title for myself. At the end of the month I’ll report back with what I read and encourage you to share what you read. And that’s it – no pressure, no being forced to read a book you’re not interested in, no obligation to host a bunch of strangers!

Our theme for 2021 is Read-Alikes! I’ve chosen 12 popular and critically acclaimed authors, one for each month. During that month you can read books by that author (especially if you haven’t yet but have been meaning to) or books by authors with similar writing styles (so if you’ve read everything by the author-of-the-month, this will give you a chance to explore more authors!) Of course, as always, you may do as you please – there are no Library Police! So if you wish to skip a month, or read more than one book in that month or read a book from a different month – go for it! No one will drag you off to Library Jail if you chose your own path!

Here is the schedule of Read-Alikes:

January – Kristin Hannah

February – Neil Gaiman

March – C.J. Box

April – Jojo Moyes

May – Toni Morrison

June – Alice Hoffman

July – Jodi Picoult

August – David Baldacci

September – Ann Patchett

October – Philippa Gregory

November – Chimamanda Adichie

December – Lisa Gardner

OK, let’s get started! January’s author is Kristin Hannah, who writes fiction highlighting strong female characters. She’s written a number of books that have been very popular including The Nightingale and The Great Alone which is quite a range! Here are a few suggestions.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Island House by Nancy Thayer

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

White Houses by Amy Bloom

That’s a great list of both contemporary and historical fiction, all centered on strong women. Clicking on any of the titles will take you to our catalog and a brief description of the book.

I haven’t read very many books by Hannah (just The Nightingale which is excellent) so I’m going to try The Great Alone which comes with lots of great reviews.

Now, what about you? What will you be reading this month?

Downton Abbey is over?! Now what do I do??

da coverSeason 5 of Downton Abbey is over. Season 6 is in production, but doesn’t have a release date. What are we supposed to dooo?? If you’re wondering just what you should read next or watch next so you keep the Downton spirit, never fear! One of our librarians has created a guide to help you find something similar called “If You Like Downton Abbey…”. Click through to explore.

If you’re new to Downton Abbey, this guide lists all the seasons available within the library, as well as books about the show and music from the different seasons. Downton Abbey on TV lists the seasons and other related materials the library owns.

Maybe you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Downton Abbey and other English homes in general. Did you know that the Downton Abbey estate is an actual place called Highclere Castle? Lady Cora is also based upon the Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon, who lived at Highclere Castle. Check out the Downton History and Castles portion of the guide to learn more!

This guide also features a nonfiction section about downstairs and upstairs lives, another section with novels similar to Downton Abbey(this page also lists parodies and a graphic novel version!), as well as other related television shows and movies. Stroll through this guide and find something to tide you over until Downton Abbey season 6 comes back on the air.