AAPI Reading Challenge and Recommendations

May is the month of many celebrations, one of those being Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

To educate on and represent the lives of AAPI individuals, we have put together a list of reading recommendations to celebrate the many heritages uplifted this month.

The library is also conducting a reading challenge in honor of AAPI Heritage Month. Check it out and start logging your reading on Beanstack!

Adult Fiction:

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

“Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society-she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.” –  Publisher

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

“With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the magical realist aesthetic of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Mainland China to Taiwan, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and womanhood.” – Publisher

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

“Inspired by dystopian classics such as 1984, Never Let Me Go, and The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel eviscerates the dominant American parenting culture, while highlighting the tragedy of state-sponsored family separation. Is there one right way to mother? Can a bad mother ever be redeemed? With warmth, heart, and dark humor, the novel tells a timeless story of a mother fighting to win back her child, and her struggle to hold onto her integrity while being indoctrinated.” – Publisher

Adult Nonfiction:

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

Spanning childhood to an elite college in the US and early adult life in New York City, each essay places Lamya’s struggles and triumphs in the context of some of the most famous stories in the Quran. She juxtaposes her coming out with Musa liberating his people from the Pharoah; asks if Allah, who is neither male nor female, might instead be nonbinary; and, drawing strength from the faith and hope of Nuh building his ark, begins to build a life of her own-all the while discovering that her identity as a queer, immigrant devout Muslim is, in fact, the answer to her quest for safety and belonging.” – Publisher

My Life: Growing Up Asian in America

“There are 23 million people, representing more than twenty countries, each with unique languages, histories, and cultures, clumped under one Asian American. Though their experiences are individual, certain commonalities appear. Through a series of essays, poems, and comics, thirty creators give voice to moments that defined them and shed light on the immense diversity and complexity of the Asian American identity. Edited by CAPE and with an introduction by renowned journalist SuChin Pak, My Growing Up Asian in America is a celebration of community, a call to action, and a road map for a brighter future.” – Goodreads

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement

“From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry is a searing examination of the killing and the trial and verdicts that followed. When Ebens and Nitz pled guilty to manslaughter and received only a $3,000 fine and three years’ probation, the lenient sentence sparked outrage in the Asian American community. This outrage galvanized the Asian American movement and paved the way for a new federal civil rights trial of the case. Extensively researched from court transcripts and interviews with key case witnesses-many speaking for the first time-Yoo has crafted a suspenseful, nuanced, and authoritative portrait of a pivotal moment in civil rights history, and a man who became a symbol against hatred and racism.” – Publisher

Graphic Novels:

 Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

“Heartbreakingly funny, moving and vibrantly drawn, Skim is an extraordinary book—a smart and sensitive graphic novel of the highest literary and artistic quality, by and about young women. “Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression. And falling in love only makes things worse…” – Publisher

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

“The Best We Could Do, the debut graphic novel memoir by Thi Bui, is an intimate look at one family’s journey form their war-torn home in Vietnam to their new lives in America. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent–the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through.” – Publisher

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

“With Killing and Dying, Adrian Tomine presents six new stories unlike any he has told before. Unpredictable, darkly funny, and deeply moving, they display an exceptional range of focus and technique. The Village Voice called Tomine “one of the most masterful cartoonists of his generation,” and this is his most ambitious and empathetic work to date.” – Publisher

Young Adult:

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

“Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father–despite his hard-won citizenship–Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.” – Publisher

Shine by Jessica Jung  

“What would you give for a chance to live your dreams? For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right? Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.” – Publisher

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

“Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her. On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer. Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.” – Publisher

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Reading Challenge

Summer Reading might be over, but we have a new challenge open now! September 15th – October 15th, patrons can participate in our Beanstack exclusive Hispanic Heritage Month Reading Challenge. National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15. This year, the theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Honor diverse voices, unique perspectives, and rich cultural traditions through activities and book recommendations. Log your reading and complete activities to earn badges throughout the challenge. Enter your tickets into the prize option of your choice for a chance to win! Visit davenportlibrary.beanstack.com to sign up or join in the Beanstack app!

Unlike past off-season reading challenges, we have prizes for this one! It’s an all ages challenge with two prize drawing options listed below.

Adult & Teen Prize:
A Mercado on Fifth gift basket including

  • a $25 gift certificate to Restaurante El Mariachi in Moline
  • Mercado on Fifth t-shirt
  • Mercado on Fifth cantarito
  • Group O magnetic koozie
  • two books on Latino leadership
  • a Mercado on Fifth lanyard

This prize was generously donated by Maria Ontiveros – co-founder of Mercado on Fifth.

Children’s Prize:
Win a mini home library of picture books by Hispanic and Latinx authors and illustrators including:

  • Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
  • ¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge by Raul the Third
  • Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero
  • ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raul the Third
  • Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika A. Denise
  • Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt be la Peña
  • Islandborn by Junot Díaz
  • Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
  • Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor
  • Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez
  • Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Now Departing for: Paris

Bonjour!

April in Paris! We’re traveling to the City of Light this month in our Online Reading Challenge, a city of art and beauty (and fantastic croissants!) and a long, complex, fascinating history. Who could resist?

First, a confession: I love Paris. I’ve been three times in the past few years and plan to go again and again for many years. I love the museums and the architecture, the cafe culture (and the food!) and the history. I did not expect to fall so completely head-over-heels in love with this city on my first visit, but I did, almost from the first moment I emerged from the Metro station and glimpsed the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Like any big city, Paris has serious issues to deal with and it is far from perfect, but that doesn’t take away from what’s right and beautiful about it either.

There are oodles of books set in Paris – almost too many. I’ve found that some/too many writers use a Paris backdrop as a shortcut to creating mood and atmosphere – everyone has heard about Paris (usually heavily romanticized) so there’s no need to create a world for their novel. I consider this cheating and rather poor writing and it never feels “true”. Another habit I’ve run across is name dropping, for example “she tied her Hermes scarf around her neck, picked up her Louis Vuitton bag and walked down the Champs Elysees to Laduree’s for a macaroon”.  Um, yeah. All of those are very French, but not very “real” – using name dropping and stereotypes is just lazy writing. On the other hand, there are some incredibly good books set in Paris. Here’s a few to get you started:

The Greater Journey by David McCullough tells the story of American artists, writers and doctors that went to Paris between 1830 and 1900 and how what learned and experienced and then brought back in turn greatly influenced American history. McCullough’s writing is as honey smooth as his voice (he’s narrated several of Ken Burn’s films) and the stories he tells are fascinating.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is historical fiction about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley and their life in Paris. This is the time period when Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises and developed friendships with other rising stars such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. But the hard-drinking, fast-living lifestyle of Jazz-age Paris puts a strain on Ernest and Hadley’s marriage and threatens the happiness of their early romance.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Although this is a lighter, happier story, this book has a lot of depth that is a lot of fun to read. Anna is sent to Paris against her wishes for her final year of high school but it becomes a pivotal year in her life as she learns what she is capable of and gains independence and confidence. Paris is beautifully integrated as backdrop here.

A Family in Paris by Jane Paech. This is the true story of an Australian family that moves to Paris for the husband’s job. Their two girls are enrolled in the local school and Jane works to integrate herself into daily Parisian life. Fascinating insights into the lives and rituals of ordinary Parisians, the French educational system and the reality of Parisian bureaucracy. Lots of photos too.

Sarah’s Key by Titiana Rosnay is a novel that brings to light a rarely told, shameful chapter in Parisian history – the deportation of Jews from Paris during the Nazi occupation in 1942. Heartbreaking and often difficult to read, this story shows the suffering, the impossible decisions that had to be made and the guilt carried by the survivors. Long unacknowledged, there is now a memorial in Paris dedicated to the victims of the deportation.

Paris Letters by Janice Macleod. Another story of someone packing up and moving to Paris and finding her happily-ever-after. It’d be kind of annoying except that Janice worked really hard to make it happen and she’s pretty funny. The book also acts as motivation to work for what you want and to hold onto those dreams. Also, lovely hand drawn illustrations.

If you’d rather watch something this month you have nearly as many choices. Three of my favorites:

Hugo is breathtakingly beautiful and magical. That train wreck really did happen (in 1895) and that clock is based on the iconic clock at the Orsay Museum. The book the movie is based on, The Invention of Hugo Cabret won the 2008 Caldecott Award and is well worth reading too.

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris. I’m not always a Woody Allen fan but this movie is gorgeous and fun with just the right amount of fantastical. Paris never looked so beautiful.

Amelie. If you have not seen this, drop everything and find a copy immediately. It’s quirky and delightful and sweetly romantic and very funny. Filmed entirely on location in Paris, you see the “real” Paris beyond the tourist sites. Yes, it’s in French and yes you have to read subtitles – grow up! Read a movie! It is so worth it.

There are so many more books and movies about Paris from classics (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, A Moveable Feast) to mysteries (Cara Black has a series set in Paris) to history (look in the 944 Dewey subject area) to cookbooks (David Lebovitz and Julia Child to name just two) that there is sure to be something that catches your eye. We’ll have displays at all three of our buildings too so stop in and get your ticket (er, book or movie!) to Paris!

Allons-y! (“let’s go!”)

Online Reading Challenge – Year End Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Readers!

We’ve come to the end of another year and the end of the 2016 Online Reading Challenge. I hope you tried something new and found and enjoyed books you might not have otherwise. The main goal of our Reading Challenge is to have fun while expanding our horizons.

Did you read any Holiday themed books this month? I have to confess, I didn’t succeed this month. I tried a couple of titles, but found them dreadful (nothing really wrong with them, just not my cup of tea) and, with all of the other activities going on in December, I didn’t have a lot of time for leisurely reading (I did manage to read – and loved – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman which I blogged about earlier this month, so it wasn’t a complete wash) Some months are like that though and now that the holidays are (nearly) over, I’m looking forward to lots more reading time.

Speaking of more time to read, have you seen the news about the 2017 Reading Challenge? We’re going to travel the world, reading about a different location each month. This time I encourage you to read any genre you’d like including non-fiction, and to watch movies or listen to music. It’s a chance to not only find great new authors and titles, but an opportunity to get a taste of a different culture. Bookmarks listing the lineup for the year will be available at each Davenport Library location beginning January 3rd and I’ll have updates on the blog each month with suggestions and ideas. Also beginning in January you’ll have a chance to sign up for a great new feature, the Info Cafe newsletter! Every few weeks we’ll send out a short newsletter that will highlight some of the most interesting recent blog posts and keep you updated on the Reading Challenge. Watch for more information next week!

Happy New Year from the bloggers at the Info Cafe! May your 2017 be filled with lots of great reading!

 

New Reading Challenge in 2017!

challenge-logo-2017Hello Fellow Readers!

2016 is almost over which means it’s time to start thinking about our next Reading Challenge. In 2017 we’re going to travel the world! Don’t worry about buying plane tickets or packing a bag though, we’re going to explore the globe through the magic of books!

Just like last year, the Reading Challenge is very low-pressure with an emphasis on discovering books and authors you may not have tried yet. You can participate every month, or only the months that interest you. Remember – there are no Library Police that will come knocking on your door if you fail to finish a book each month! Read for fun, for discovery, to learn something new – kind of like travel which opens your eyes to cultures and sights beyond your own backyard.

Unlike last year, we’re going to include non-fiction (great for history buffs), movies and music as part of a well-rounded experience. You can read a book or listen to it on audio, watch a movie or delve into the music of the culture or any combination of these. All without leaving your home! (Well, you might want to plan a trip to the library to pick up your books and movies!)

There will be new bookmarks available at the library beginning in January and we hope to have some free printables for you over the course of the year – more bookmarks, a reading journal, inspirational quotes, etc. Watch the blog for updates.

Here’s the lineup for 2017:

January – Rome

February – Seattle

March – Japan

April – Paris

May – Kenya

June – San Francisco

July – Alaska

August – Texas/American Southwest

September – London

October – China

November – St Petersburg/Leningrad

December – New York City

Looks like fun, doesn’t it? So grab your passport (um, library card!) and join us in 2017!