How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister (2018) Audio
McAllister spins a painfully familiar story about a school shooting into something else - an observation of a falsely accused teacher’s descent into madness, the audacity of judging victims, and a sharp rebuke of the country’s love of guns. Through Anna’s eyes and words, the world of Seldom Falls, Pennsylvania, is a fearful and unreliable place. Amy Landon’s narration perfectly captures Anna’s spiral, and the helplessness of those around her.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (1938)
Rebecca is a moody thriller with a daydreaming, nameless narrator whose sudden marriage to a mysterious older widow brings her to his rambling manor, Manderley. There she is obsessed with thoughts of her husband’s late wife, Rebecca, a popular socialite beauty who drowned a year ago. It’s quietly suspenseful story that leaves the reader with a deliciously foreboding and eerie feeling, and thinking about topics such as gender, identity, and ego.
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith (2016)
This blend of science and philosophy looks at our strange friends the arthropods, which includes octopuses and cuttlefish. The extraordinarily different evolution of sea creatures is profiled and explored. We learn about arthropods’ exceptionally interesting minds that exhibit capacity for novelty and curiosity, but also their short life spans (the decaying cuttlefish are quite upsetting). Strange and thought provoking, this book explores the intersection of science and philosophy through animal consciousness and how similar and different it is from our own.
The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner (2016)
“I, too, dislike it,” says Marianne Moore. Plato also isn’t a fan. Lerner himself is on the fence in a sort of love-hate relationship, and details that succinctly with this well researched and spot-on observational little book that captures big ideas. Readable in one sitting, this essay looks at what about poetry makes people cringe, as well as its grand ideals that keep it ever-appealing and revered. Lerner is direct and knowledgeable about poetics and what poetry does and means in the past and our contemporary times.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (2017)
Family separations are happening across this country and this book hits on these timely issues. A heartbreaker about motherhood and immigration, Lucky Boy contrasts two immigrant experiences in the United States and questions the notions held about what is acceptable or legal means of immigrating and what is not. Quite long, but expansive, taking us all over the US and Mexico and into various settings (the tech world, a small village, train-hopping through the desert, a Berkeley sorority), there is a lot going on here. Relational parallels and themes of parenthood and privilege tie the whole thing together.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)
This is such a sweet little graphic novel about friendship and loyalty and expectations. I really loved the illustrations and the resolution might have made me tear up a little bit. (I’m not crying, you are… )
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (2017)
Roxane Weary is a policeman’s daughter, and like her father she is a hard drinking but relentless investigator. A new case has come across her desk, one that should be easy enough to accomplish, even in her addled state. Brad Stockton is on death row, for the murder of his girlfriends' parents and a suspect in her disappearance. His execution date has been set and now his sister wants to reopen the investigation to prove his innocence. What should be a pretty cut and dried investigation becomes a rats nest of red herrings and more dead girls.
A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (1982)
Originally published in 1982 (the same year incidentally as the VI Warshawski books) Kinsey Millhone was one of the first female PIs in popular fiction. She runs an independent office out of an insurance company who foots most of her bills, but she also takes on cases of her own. She’s about to close up shop for the day, when into her office walks Nikki Fife, the coldly beautiful convicted killer of Laurence Fife. Nikki has just gotten out of jail after serving 8 years for La, but she has always maintained that she was innocent and now she wants Kinsey to prove it. Kinsey is a great protagonist, hard drinking, hard living, lackadaisically fit, carries a firearm and knows how to use it.
Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (2013)
When the pressures of early 1800s westward expansion and debt threaten to destroy everything he's built, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran embarks on an audacious plan involving setting one of his male slaves as his breeding sire.
Hemingway in Love: His Own Story by A. E. Hotchner (2015)
This is Hemingway as few have known him: humble and full of regret. To protect the feelings of Ernest's wife Mary (also a close friend) and to satisfy the terms of his publisher's cautious legal review, Hotch kept the conversations to himself for decades. Now he tells the story as Hemingway told it to him. Hemingway in Love puts you in the room with the master as he remembers the definitive years that set the course for the rest of his life and stayed with him until the end of his days.
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan (2016) Audio
The grace of a parable and the force of an epic. A majestic story of speed and hunger, racism and justice, this audiobook is an astonishment from start to finish (families, horses, horse breeding). A vital new voice, C. E. Morgan has crafted an American myth, a contemporary portrait of the scars of the past that run through a family, and our desperate need to escape our history, to subsume it with pleasure, or to rise above it with glory.
Extra Medium’s Picks:
Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe (2015-present)
I’m generally not a sports manga kind of person, but I am a bike geek which is why I picked this series up. It focuses on Onoda, an otaku who rides his really heavy granny bike to Akihabara (a 45 km ride with a lot of hills) once a week to buy manga. Imaizumi (a fancypants roadie) is infuriated by Onoda because he can climb hills with little effort on a heavy clunky beast of a bike. Imaizumi and another cyclist, Naruko, decide he’s the dark horse the school cycling club needs. Full of heart, dedication to craf,t and friendship, this series is both hilarious and really sweet. Also: I learn new things about cycling with each new volume.
Birding is My Favorite Video Game by Rosemary Mosco (2018)
This illustrated science explainer covers topics from global warming to the death of salamanders to myths about who is actually a bee. Cute and accessible, Mosco also adds links to information about science so if you want to learn more, you can. You might also like Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker which is cuter but less science-y.
A Study in Honor by Claire O'Dell (2018)
Watson and Holmes like you've never seen them before--2 Black women living in a near-future Washington, DC, while the US is in the midst of the Next Civil War. Watson is a surgeon recently back from the front after losing an arm to a sniper. Holmes is investigating the deaths of veterans. I can't wait to read more of the adventures of this team.
Kristen A.’s Picks:
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan (2015)
Who wouldn’t love a murder mystery where the main character has just inherited a baby elephant sidekick? Even better, Baby Ganesha, named for the elephant-headed Hindu god, is embroiled in a bit of mystery himself. In this first book in the Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation series, Inspector Chopra (Retd.) works to untangle the threads that led to a boy’s death in Mumbai, as Ganesha struggles to adjust to his new life and figure out how he can help. A delight!
The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories by Osama Alomar (2017)
Spare writing creatively delivers the world with sneaky emotional vignettes sure to spark all sorts of feelings and philosophical pondering. Stories range from 10 to 600 words and underscore how much can be said with less.
Special Feature--City Librarian Michelle’s Pick:
I'm just starting The Awkward Squad (2018) by Sophie Hénaff, recommended to me by one of our Books and Borrowing librarians. I ran into her while picking up some Donna Leon Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries. She recommended this after I told her I enjoy mysteries set in other countries and that I was soon traveling to Paris.