Friday, October 21, 2016

Brand new books we would binge-watch if they were streaming shows

How about this one: Readalikes for TV watchers?

Why not?

Maria Semple's laugh-out-loud Seattle stories, the 2012 epistolary Where'd You Go, Bernadette and her latest (also sort of an epistolary), Today Will Be Different, could easily translate into a series full of quirky, likable but totally unrelatable characters delivering droll zinger after droll zinger. I could see fans of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt diving into a weekend of uninterrupted viewing, with candy (and snark) for dinner. Until it gets optioned for two seasons on Netflix, check it out at the library! I did read it mostly in one sitting--so technically I binge-read it.

Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel, naughty parts and all, would translate PERFECTLY to the small screen. For readers I highly recommend the audiobook version over the text--the text is great but the audiobook narrator totally nails Foer's jokes with serious comedic skill. I could not stop listening to this while completing a seemingly never-ending bookshelf building project on my porch even though, out of context, the aforementioned naughty bits would be pretty blush-inducing if overheard by my neighbors. This is a story of a family in crisis and everything that came before and will be after, paralleled by a disaster in the middle east after a massive earthquake hits Israel. Not convinced? Give it 100 pages. Fans of Arrested Development will want lock the doors and turn off their phones until this is over.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The last man on earth heard a knock at the door.

(Don't you just love the shortest scary story/scariest short story in the title?)

This time of year, when the night is getting longer and the days shorter, pumpkins are proliferating and leaves are turning, I pull out all my sweaters and scary stories, and start planning my Halloween costume. Don't you? Anyway...hello, horror fans!

Chills! Thrills! Bills? All the scariest things you could possibly need are on the new books shelf right now:

by Chuck Wendig

"Earth is home to more than twelve thousand species of ants." If that fact isn't enough to give you the creeps, get on Invasive, equal parts high-tech espionage thriller and creepy crawly horror story. Seems made for fans of Before the Fall, The Ruins, and the Area X trilogy.
Wolf Road
by Beth Lewis

Shaping up to be one of my favorites books of the year, this post-apocalyptic, western-style stalker thriller has something for fans of The Road, The Revenant, and True Grit.
The Binding
by Nicholas Wolff

Fans of Peter Straub and The Fog will enjoy this horror story about a small town seemingly ravaged by a rare mental disorder, and something in the town's dark past may be the answer.
Disappearance at Devil's Rock
by Paul Tremblay

From the author of A Head Full of Ghosts comes another terrifying tale, this time a mystery involving a missing teenager and the strange series of events that follow, haunting the search for the truth.

Speaking of scary things, have you guys been following this clown-sighting business on the news lately? 

Friday, September 30, 2016


I'm a big fan of Banned Books displays in libraries and bookshops around this time of year (Banned Books Week is coming to a close on Saturday). They are by nature provocative, another thing I enjoy--especially in books. When we put together these displays we are provoking a conversation about censorship and intellectual freedom (a big deal to librarians) that we need to keep having, year after year. Book challenges in the United States continue, with the same books popping up on the lists over and over. They are removed or attempted to be removed from public and school library shelves and from course curricula. A number of book challenges have made the news this year, including a proposed (and vetoed) bill right here in Virginia, and while we see a lack of diversity in the publishing industry, the list of book challenges year to year are rather diverse.
How many of your youthful favorites on this table?

"Criminalizes the Foresting industry"?!  

This year the official Banned Books Week Facebook page posted a poll asking people to vote on which character from a banned book they would most like to have lunch with.
Willy Wonka won by a substantial margin. I personally find him to be too unsettling to dine with.

2015 saw a lot of challenges to books with LGBT themes. From the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 are:

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

  • Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James

  • Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).

I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

  • Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin

  • Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

  • Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).

The Holy Bible

  • Reasons: Religious viewpoint.

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel

  • Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).

Habibi, by Craig Thompson

  • Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter

  • Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.

Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan

  • Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

*Note the burning books
A little history*: The Decameron, a 14th century Italian collection of short stories, was one of many books (see also Candide by Voltaire, and The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer) banned from US mail under the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law) of 1873, which banned the sending or receiving of works containing "obscene," "filthy," or "inappropriate" material.
*Thanks, Wikipedia.
I thought I'd share with you my top ELEVEN (I will not be oppressed by this global obsession with round numbers) favorite challenged books. These come from the ALA OIF list of the top 100 challenges of the past 25 years (as long as they've been keeping track).

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
*I was devastated when the new edition of this series came out a few years ago without Stephen Gammel's haunting, disturbing, creepy as anything illustrations.
The Witches, by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

Many more of my favorites are on these lists, most of them childhood favorites from the hours and hours spent hiding in a corner of my neighborhood branch captivated by a stack of picture books. I can't imagine my life without them.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mind: Blown. (Or, The top ten GIF reasons you need to check out Dark Matter immediately)

I can't actually tell you anything about this book except to call it a "literally mind-blowing physics-based romance that sci-fi fans and EVERYONE else in the world will love" without giving away a bunch of spoilers because pretty much everything after the first 20 pages is a mind-blowing thrill ride. I mean it--it could do permanent damage. Consider wearing a helmet because this book is a wild trip through space, time, and love.

1. The best use of Schrodinger's Cat in a book ever?


4. The string!

5. Jason(s)!
6. That feeling when your ebook expires with, like, 50 pages left and IT IS GETTING REALLY REAL

7. #TFW your reading twin texts to tell you her mind was so LITERALLY BLOWN by this book that she can't even use words anymore and just sends you a bunch of emoji only your hold hasn't come in yet so you still haven't finished it

8. That feeling when you're not at work the day she sneaks you her copy through interdepartmental mail and all you can think about all day is that book sitting in an envelope on your desk but you just moved and have so many boxes left to unpack and then you finally get to read it and can't put it down and then THAT SCENE IN WISCONSIN OMG (you'll see)
9. Best use of Reddit in a book ever?

*Thanks TT

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekend Rx:Take two and call us in the morning...

...because you're going to need more.

The critically acclaimed debut novel, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is completely, totally, indisputably perfect--a must-read for absolutely EVERYONE. This is a compulsively readable, gorgeously crafted story of two families separated by centuries, oceans, and slavery. It's an epic American story with roots in 18th century Ghana, a sweeping multi-generational family saga that will get into your soul and stay with you forever.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Set in 2007, this must-read is the tale of a young family from Cameroon who find their immigration status tenuous after Lehman Brothers collapses and Jende loses his job. His heart pulled in two directions, back to his home in Limbe or to stay in New York with his wife and children, Jende and Neni must decide where they belong.

When I say prescription, I say it as a professional book-prescriber. Trust me, your heart needs these books.