Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gettin' nostalgic for...

The 2008 financial crisis?
The Futures by Anna Pitoniak is the ticket back to the financial crisis of '08 that nobody asked for. If you get misty for the days of fallen hedge fund heroes this should satisfy your inexplicable craving for that dismal period of recent memory. Meet Julia and Evan (*eyeroll*), young Yale graduates on the edge of the future. Scrappy small town Canadian Evan gets the privileged and perfect girl of his dreams / Julia is living a privileged and perfect life with her hedge fund manager boyfriend but she just can't figure herself out and *tiny violins* for real. It's a he said, she said-style narrative so of course there's gonna be cheating, which always makes for a good read, and I for one can't resist a good ol' marriage in crisis story. Read it if you're in the mood for a crumbling relationship with a side of crumbling economy!

BTW, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue was the NYC-set book to read about this particular period, also with a marriage at the center, should you feel the sudden need to reminisce about that time when everybody lost their pensions.

Geeking out in the 80s?
Let's hear it for the nerds, am I right? The Impossible Fortress features kids that remind one of the beloved pack of misfits from Stranger Things. What's better than coming of age stories featuring great friendships? And set in the 80s too? The 80s had the best friends.
This book has it all: a geeky trio of misfit guy pals; an impossible quest for a much coveted issue of Playboy; lots of nerding out over programming video games on a Commodore 64; young love. It's funny, and clever, and lovable, and I want to read it again.
Speaking of great 80s kids and formative friendships, half of Swing Time by Zadie Smith is spot on! The other half a little less so--[spoiler alert] when the narrator grows up and goes to work for someone who seems an awful lot like Madonna, but after several eye-rolling chapters of asking yourself "and why do I care?" you'll be nostalgic for the beginning of the book when it was a pitch perfect tale of awesome 80s girlhood and best friends, and when you finish it you'll be nostalgic for On Beauty.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Read Harder 2017: One book to rule them all?

How's your challenge going? Struggling to find the time to read? (ME TOO.) So, looking to check off a few list items with just one book? We've got you covered!

Check out Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran for four challenges in one book!
Those challenges are:
#2: Read a debut novel. (Sekaran's first!)
#4: Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. (This is a bit of a stretch but a good portion of the narrative takes place in Oaxaca.)
#5: Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
#24: Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

While admittedly it gets a teensy bit too sentimental for my liking (heart of stone over here), I think readers will totally fall in love with Sekaran's wonderfully real, flawed, and relatable characters, and the compelling narrative that springs from their (sometimes dubious) life choices.

Solimar, barely 18 and pregnant, has journeyed from rural Oaxaca to California to work for her aunt as a housekeeper. Her situation is tenuous and after a snowballing series of small disasters, seriously in peril. Meanwhile Kavya, a chef in Berkeley, is in her 30s and unable to get pregnant but desperately wants a child. Can you kind of guess where this is going? Their lives and families intersect after a surprising turn of events.

New's Year resolutions are tough. Here's what I'm reading right now:

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga
Guapa by Saleem Haddad
...Because I have to read multiple books at once.

What are YOU reading?

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Check out our "best sellers" from 2016!

Every year we like to share our "best sellers" list from the year before-- the top ten most checked out books in the city of Richmond from 2016. Last year's numbers were interesting for a variety of reasons, especially for the fact that two locations were closed for half the year.

If we look at check-outs at all the branches together, our top ten looks like this:

  1. The girl on the train : a novel / Paula Hawkins
  2. All the light we cannot see / Anthony Doerr
  3. The nightingale / Kristin Hannah
  4. No more Mr. Nice Guy : a family business novel / Carl Weber
  5. The nest / Cynthia D'Aprix
  6. The life-changing magic of tidying up / Marie Kondo
  7. Carl Weber's Kingpins. Cleveland / Brandi Johnson
  8. The last mile / David Baldacci
  9. Go set a watchman / Harper Lee
  10. Carl Weber's Kingpins. Philadelphia / Brittani Williams

However, each of our branches serves a community with their own distinct reading preferences. Click a pin on the map below to see how your neighborhood read last year:

Richmond is for readers!

Friday, January 20, 2017

In which we react to every book President Obama has recommended while in office

...with reaction GIFs, duh!

JUST KIDDING. That is a LOT of great books (86! 5 more GIFs than the law allows).
However you vote, you have to admit that the man is incredibly well read. We'll be reacting to some of the books he recommends, linking to past reviews of some as well. Enjoy this reading list to end all reading lists as we bid farewell to our Bookworm-In-Chief:

*List adapted from a post by Entertainment Weekly. (yeah, we read that too.)

The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Nora Webster, Colm Toibin

The Laughing Monsters, Denis Johnson
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, Katherine Rundell
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
Redwall series, Brian Jacques
Junie B. Jones series, Barbara Park
Nuts To You, Lynn Rae Perkins
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan
H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
All That Is, James Salter
The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch
Gilead, Marylinne Robinson
Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam
The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton
Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
The Quiet American, Graham Greene
Cancer Ward, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Gandhi’s autobiography
Working, Studs Terkel
Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
To the End of the Land, David Grossman
Purity, Jonathan Franzen
A Bend in the River, V. S. Naipaul
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
Lush Life, Richard Price
Netherland, Joseph O’Neill
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie
Redeployment, Phil Klay
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Plainsong, Kent Haruf
The Way Home, George Pelecanos

What Is the What, Dave Eggers
Philosophy & Literature, Peter S Thompson
Collected Poems, Derek Walcott
In Dubious Battle, John Steinbeck
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin
Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris
John Adams, David McCullough
Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, Fred Kaplan
Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, Jonathan Alte
FDR, Jean Edward Smith

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
 Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America,
Thomas L Friedman
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Steve Coll
Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Larry Bartels
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Evan Osnos
Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
Moral Man And Immoral Society, Reinhold Niebuhr
A Kind And Just Parent, William Ayers
The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria
Lessons in Disaster, Gordon Goldstein
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American, Richard S Tedlow
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo

Phew! That's a tough act to follow, sir. Enjoy your time off to read!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Read it right now: Truevine, and other new nonfiction

This week is all about the brand new stuff that readers and critics are loving.

by Beth Macy

In 1899, young albino African American brothers, George and Willie Muse, were taken from the tobacco fields near Roanoke where they worked and made to join the circus as freaks. Convinced their mother was dead they spent decades traveling the world as a popular sideshow attraction: Eko and Iko, the sheep-headed cannibals or Ambassadors from Mars. That, and their mother's fierce fight to get them back, make for an incredible story. Keen and well-researched, Truevine is a fascinating and compelling read.

It looks like Paramount and Leonardo DiCaprio might be trying to acquire the rights to put this story to film. Hmm, I wonder how it will translate to the screen without sensationalizing the Muse brothers' story.

At The Existentialist Cafe
Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails
By Sarah Bakewell

Did your New Year's resolution have anything to do with reading more about philosophy? Really? Well, good! You'll love this book then. It's the lively life story of existentialism, starring Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who was (sort of) inspired by apricot cocktails. Just give it a chance? It's getting rave reviews!

You Can't Touch My Hair
And other things I still have to explain
by Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson, super funny stand-up comedian, host of the Sooo Many White Guys podcast and co-host of 2 Dope Queens, has written this fantastic collection of essays on race, gender and culture in America.

Did I mention she's super funny?

Me, always.

Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, South African comedian and host of The Daily Show, is seriously insightful and funny. This is one of those laugh and cry, cry and laugh kinds of books. Born to a white Swiss father and black Xhosa mother in apartheid South Africa, he spent much of his childhood hidden away indoors as living proof of their crime. Born a Crime is deeply moving and the audiobook happens to be narrated by none other than Trevor Noah himself--well worth a listen.

...And top it off with a slice of Damn Fine Cherry Pie!

The final episode of Twin Peaks aired 26 years ago but it refuses to go away--and that's just fine by me.

(Ok, I don't know if anyone is raving about this but I'm always looking for any chance to throw in a Log Lady gif.) This unauthorized cookbook has all you need to prepare damn fine pie, damn fine coffee (and FYI, David Lynch has his own line of coffee and it is legit), and host your own (damn) Log Lady tea party. #goals