Did I actually write at the beginning of April that it felt like spring? I take everything back. But you can at least pretend you’re on a nice vacation with The Hotel Nantucket, one of the most popular upcoming releases here at the library. On the non-fiction side, we have a memoir by Delia Ephron – if the name is familiar, she’s Nora Ephron’s sister, and together they wrote the screenplay for You’ve Got Mail. And as always, since both of these books have waitlists, I’ve put a few read-alikes together as well!
Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map.
And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?
Have you ever met anyone who takes it upon themselves to decide what or who does and does not qualify for a particular group or designation? That’s a gatekeeper folks, and they are the worst. Gatekeepers are all over the place, but the first that come to mind exist in fandoms like Doctor Who (CW for language), heavy metal (CW for language), and believe it or not: public libraries. This is counterintuitive, no? Libraries are meant to welcome all. ALL. EVERYONE. So who is doing the gatekeeping? I see gatekeeping pop up in conversations about whether or not listening to an audiobook is “really” reading (it is!) and don’t even get me started about the total lack of respect reading communities have for romance as a genre. There’s also this ongoing literary fiction vs chick lit “debate” because obviously anything women like is less-than /s.
Additionally, these days I have been noticing gatekeepers lurking in our hallowed halls of non-fiction. The narrow view I encounter in the course of my work is that only very SERIOUS books about SERIOUS things like WAR and MEN are “real” non-fiction and everything else is a fluffy nonsensical waste of time. The point being missed by these non-fiction gatekeepers is that non-fiction encompasses all aspects of our lives. Non-fiction as a collection is vast, deep, and wide, and is certainly not limited to dusty academic screeds about World War II and, oh, I don’t know…Ulysses S. Grant. Below, I highlighted several subsections of the non-fiction side of the library that are not only very popular, but full of excellent information. Click on each title to see the catalog listing which often features a brief description.
Invisible (2018) by Stephen L. Carter The subtitle of this true crime book tells us everything we need to know: “The forgotten story of the black woman lawyer who took down America’s most powerful mobster.” I’m in. I don’t even care which mobster is being referred to, I want to read about the smart lady being smart in a world that didn’t make space for people who look like her.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003) by Job Krakauer Y’all. This book. It’s a history lesson on the absolute bananas story of the Church of Latter Day Saints as well as the shocking crime the church’s most controversial tenets helped precipitate. Under the Banner of Heaven is getting the small-screen treatment, and I am going to watch the hell out of it, but this book is not to be missed. Krakauer is kind of a stud in the pop nonfiction world, and most of his titles bear a closer look; Into Thin Air (1997) and Into the Wild (1996) are two of his other most-popular titles, both with well-received screen adaptations.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil(1994) by John Berendt Forget the movie adaptation. It does no justice here. If you have not had a chance to read this book in the last thirty or so years, there’s no time like the present. Midnight is a true crime book that reads like a zany caper novel crossed with the society gossip pages, but people really died. Non-fiction gatekeepers would NOT include this book in their list of REAL non-fiction, and that truly is their loss.
Know My Name: A Memoir (2019) by Chanel Miller A must-read for anyone who is baffled at the unmitigated nightmare of rape culture, and why the justice system is so preoccupied with protecting the perpetrators of rape, but not so much the victims (hint: it’s misogyny).
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (1997) by Anne Fadiman My Sheboygan public school experience in the 1980s and 90s could have been so much richer if lessons about the culture and experiences of our Hmong immigrant neighbors had been incorporated into the regular curriculum. We can make up for this deficit ever so slightly by reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
Men Explain Things To Me (2015) by Rebecca Solnit Solnit is one of the best American essayists of all time, and she’s still in her prime. This 2015 collection features her arguably most famous essay, Men Explain Things To Me (2008) which you can read HERE. Solnit was able to articulate how infuriating it is to be doubted as an expert in your field, often by men, and managed to help coin the term “mansplain”. Real queen shit, you know?
Bad Feminist(2014) by Roxane Gay Another luminary in the essayist community. Gay is an acute cultural observer who writes from the perspective of a black woman of size in a world that wants us to be small and quiet. Gay’s observations on feminism, politics, and popular culture is some of the most engaging writing published so far in the 21st century. Her influence is more profound than one may realize, as she has been writing for the excellent Black Panther: World of Wakanda graphic novel series.
Hallucinations (2012) by Oliver Sacks Sacks has been gone for seven years now, but I don’t think I will ever stop recommending his work. He dedicated his life to neurology and learning about brain function, eventually becoming a compassionate giant in his field. Sacks’ career was punctuated by publishing collections of what are essentially case studies every few years. Hallucinations was his penultimate work, and I cannot bring myself to read his final book Gratitude, because I do not feel like weeping openly. He wrote Gratitude knowing he would die within months from terminal cancer, so he took the opportunity to document his own brain decline. Oliver Sacks was a generous, patient, brilliant person and the world is poorer without him. His most famous work includes Awakenings, which was adapted into a major motion picture, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (1985), still excellent 40 years later.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot The fascinating tale of how the polio vaccine was developed, as well as an examination of the infuriating and ongoing history of black bodies being used in industry without consent or compensation.
If the inclusion of any of the above listed titles fills you with impotent rage, the gatekeeping is coming from inside the house. Let people enjoy things. I will probably never read anything by Brene Brown, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the value everyone else finds in her work. Let’s stop measuring the perceived worth of the media we love against the media other people love. I think it’s weird that people will go out of their way to denigrate other people’s favorites & this is my small bid to encourage thought before judgement.
As ever and always, do not hesitate to reach out for more book recommendations (consider using the Your Next Five Books tool HERE) or help requesting material. You can reach Mead librarians by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-459-3400. Go on now, go on and git.
April is finally here, and it even feels a little bit like spring today! And with the new month comes another pair of popular upcoming books. This time, John Sandford has a new book coming out (and it’s the beginning of a new series!). On the non-fiction side, it looks like de-cluttering hasn’t gotten any less popular. And since both of these books have waitlists, I’ve put a few read-alikes together as well!
By age twenty-four, Letty Davenport has seen more action and uncovered more secrets than many law enforcement professionals. Now a recent Stanford grad with a master’s in economics, she’s restless and bored in a desk job for U.S. Senator Colles. Letty’s ready to quit, but her skills have impressed Colles, and he offers her a carrot: feet-on-the-ground investigative work, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.
Letty is partnered with a DHS investigator, John Kaiser, and they head to Texas. When the case quickly turns deadly, they know they’re on the track of something bigger. Lorelai and her group have set in motion an explosive plan . . . and the clock is ticking down.
Every month, librarians from across the country pick 10 upcoming new releases that they’re especially excited to read. This month’s selections include the story of a woman who defies the odds to become a chemist in the 1960s, a heist novel that wonders – is it really stealing if it was stolen from you in the first place?, and a collection of science fiction stories from acclaimed musician, actress, and now author Janelle Monáe.
In the 50s and early 60s when women were viewed as little more than chattel for men’s convenience, Elizabeth Zott had the temerity to become a chemist. With complex and wonderful characters, her story is funny, sad, enraging, hopeful, and will have readers cheering for every character and all women everywhere. For fans of Where’d You Go Bernadette?, The Rosie Project, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. —Judy G. Sebastian, Eastham Public Library
Sometimes you want to game. Sometimes you want to eat. Why not take those two things and smash them together? Now you can! Today’s blog post is a collection of geeky cookbooks. I’ve included the descriptions from our catalog under each listing.
“From the D&D experts behind Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana comes a cookbook that invites fantasy lovers to learn about their favorite fictional cultures through their unique cuisines and lifestyles. 80 recipes inspired by the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons–perfect for a solo quest or a feast shared with fellow adventurers.”
What are librarians reading in March? This month’s picks include the story of a delivery boy thrown into an inter-dimensional Jurassic Park, a twisted horror tale set deep in the Mojave Desert, and a thriller about a family forced into Witness Protection.
Meddy Chan is getting married, and the wedding planners are perfect–until Meddy overhears the wedding photographer talking about murdering someone at the reception. Her aunties spring into action, setting into motion a series of madcap misadventures intended to save Meddy’s special day. A charming combo of close-knit family, humor, and light mystery. — LibraryReads review by Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up—to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? —he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
Cinema has been taking a cue from literature since Georges Méliès adapted The Brothers Grimm and Shakespeare for film as early as 1899. Film as a medium expanded the narrative potential and, much like photography, changed art and our collective perception forever. For better or worse, we have been steeped in and obsessed by screen adaptations of the written word ever since.
Screen adaptations have also enriched us with the classic and endless argument: WAS THE BOOK BETTER. Short answer, in general, is “yes”. My go-to example that demonstrates the rule is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The film version won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director in 1976. Objectively, a Very Good Film. In fact Ken Kesey, the author, famously hated the film for the same reason I felt underwhelmed. Milos Foreman chose not to narrate the story from Chief Bromden’s point of view. However, the absence of Bromden’s narration, inner life, and hallucinations were impossible to depict on-screen with the technology available at the time, thus creating a very different tale than Kesey intended, indeed.
Below, I listed several upcoming book-to-screen adaptations that I am particularly excited about, whether they will outshine their source material or not:
Westerners have collectively lost their shit over Agatha Christie adaptations for the better part of a century now. Reboots can be infuriating, but Christie’s work begs to be told again and again. Lately, Kenneth Branagh has been taking his turn at the helm of good ship Hercule Poirot. Starting with 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh seems to be having a great time starring as Poirot as well as directing the pictures. I’m a David Suchet stan, so while I don’t mind the occasional Peter Ustinov or Kenneth Branagh portrayal, I tend to prefer the PBS version of the funny little Belgian. Will still be watching the ever-lovin’ heck out of this, however mind you. (In theaters now).
This film was supposed to come out in 2019, but got pushed back to 2020 and then SOMETHING happened and it’s still waiting to be released. The screen adaptation stars Ben Affleck, while not a personal favorite, he does excel at playing the oily love interest who may not have his partner’s best interest in his heart ala Gone Girl. Perhaps you saw Ana de Armas in the delightful Knives Out. I adore her and think she’ll shine in this adaptation. (Hulu March 18th, 2022).
I started listening to this book earlier in the week. Got to say, I am hooked. Give me a juicy story about horrible people being horrible to each other and I am IN. Throw in an insane power imbalance, sexual politics, and what I believe is turning into a revenge plot and I’m as happy as can be. I’m going to risk it and say that this is going to make for one hell of a TV adaptation. (Netflix April 15, 2022)
That’s right, it’s time for another ‘Salem’s Lot adaptation. The 1979 version is still a lot of creepy fun, but looks pretty terrible. The 2004 adaptation looks great but never quite ascends to the creep level present in 1979. I’m excited for this redo for one because vampires are fun and gross and two, I promised a friend I would finally read something by Stephen King. I read ‘Salem’s Lot, almost entirely enjoyed it, and now look forward to a new take on an old tale. (In theaters September 9th, 2022).
I listed four projects I am personally excited for, but that is not to say there aren’t tons and tons of additional book-to-screen adaptations slated for 2022. Check out a longer list HERE. Did you notice that Denis Villeneuve is on board to direct Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendesvouz with Rama when he finishes up with the Dune sequel? I wish I cared about Dune, but I just don’t. Rama, now that is a story I would love to see writ large at the multi-plex. What about you? What adaptation are you most excited about? What is your historic favorite? We won’t ask Kesey tho, he’s bitter about it.
The weather has been less than predictable lately. That’s not too unusual for Midwestern winters. But that means I don’t get out much lately, not that I need to with so many new games. Here’s a sample of the games to look forward to in 2022. Under each listing, you’ll find the game’s description from our catalog.
“The Golden Order has been broken. Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between. ELDEN RING, developed by FromSoftware Inc. and produced by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc., is a fantasy action-RPG and FromSoftware’s largest game to date, set within a world full of mystery and peril. A NEW FANTASY WORLD – Journey through the Lands Between, a new fantasy world created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of the influential DARK SOULS video game series, and George R. R. Martin, author of The New York Times best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Unravel the mysteries of the Elden Ring’s power. Encounter adversaries with profound backgrounds, characters with their own unique motivations for helping or hindering your progress, and fearsome creatures. WORLD EXPLORATION IN THE LANDS BETWEEN – ELDEN RING features vast fantastical landscapes and shadowy, complex dungeons that are connected seamlessly. Traverse the breathtaking world on foot or on horseback, alone or online with other players, and fully immerse yourself in the grassy plains, suffocating swamps, spiraling mountains, foreboding castles and other sites of grandeur on a scale never seen before in a FromSoftware title. GENRE-DEFINING GAMEPLAY – Create your character in FromSoftware’s refined action-RPG and define your playstyle by experimenting with a wide variety of weapons, magical abilities, and skills found throughout the world. Charge into battle, pick off enemies one-by-one using stealth, or even call upon allies for aid. Many options are at your disposal as you decide how to approach exploration and combat.”
Every month, librarians from across the country pick the 10 upcoming releases they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a thriller set in Paris, a story about “the other woman” in Agatha Christie’s marriage, two queer romances, and a mystery revolving around the theft of a Stradivarius violin.
Foley hits it out of the ballpark with this solid thriller set in a Paris apartment building. Jess goes looking for her brother, but finds only the smell of bleach and a broken St. Christopher medal lodged in the floorboards. Written in short chapters with multiple points of view and delicious secrets dropped along the way, this gripping, wild ride is impossible to put down. If you like Liane Moriarty or Ruth Ware, pick this one up. —LibraryReads review by Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library