Posted in Adult, Fiction, Mystery, New & Upcoming, Romance, Science Fiction

LibraryReads Picks: January 2022

Looking for a good book to tide you through the coldest months? Here are 10 books coming out this month that librarians are especially excited to pick up.

Top Pick: The Maid by Nita Prose

A socially awkward hotel maid finds herself at the center of a murder investigation when she discovers a wealthy hotel guest dead in his bed one day.

Molly loves her job, loved her recently deceased grandmother, and cherishes the way the rules of her work let her blend in with others. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. But Molly’s orderly life is turned on its head the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself very dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s odd demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect and she finds herself in a web of subtext and nuance she has no idea how to untangle.

What to read while you wait:
The Lazarus Hotel: another locked room mystery set in an upscale hotel
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: about an isolated young woman and the friendships she develops after she and a coworker help save an elderly man who collapses
Pretty as a Picture: a locked room mystery with a protagonist who also just wants to do her job

Continue reading “LibraryReads Picks: January 2022”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Uncategorized

New Year’s Resolutions: is 2022 the year you decide NOT to go on a diet?

It seems that every January we are inundated with ads, articles, and conversations about diet, weight, and body size. As we take some time to reflect on the last year and make plans for the upcoming one, can we resolve to reject the dieting cycle in favor of truly improving our mental and physical health? The following books can help you shift your relationship to food, exercise, and body image and their connections to mental health in positive ways. 

Also, consider some self-development goals that are not connected to diet or exercise: sign up to learn a new skill with Gale Courses, enroll in one of many Great Courses through Hoopla, or learn a new language with Rosetta Stone.

Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison

Over two-thirds of Americans have dieted at some point in their lives– and upwards of 90% of people who intentionally lose weight gain it back within five years, often gaining more weight than they lost. Harrison shows that diet culture, a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health and moral virtue, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, and demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It’s sexist, racist, and classist– and embedded in the fabric of our society. Harrison exposes all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. She provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter.

Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions: is 2022 the year you decide NOT to go on a diet?”
Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Film, Magazines

Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge 2021 Wrap-Up

Well, it certainly has been a bit of a year, hasn’t it? While things were a little too pandemic-y and censorship-y around the country to make this year a pleasant one to remember, I do not think it was completely without merit. Take, for instance, reading challenges. More specifically, Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge, that, when complete, makes the player eligible for FABULOUS PRIZES. Readers still have until the first week of January to submit their bingo cards at the first floor desk. Those who completed a row across, down, or diagonally will receive a stylish and useful Mead tote bag. In addition to this, those who were able to complete the entire card will be entered into a drawing for $50 Chamber Cash. Wow! Talk about fabulous! 


Above: Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo card. Download and print your own HERE

Did you miss the bingo boat this year? Do not despair. You have a couple options. The first of which is to engage with Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge 2022 for a whole new year of challenges to complete. 

The second option is to spend the next two holiday weekends completing at least one row of the bingo card. Here’s how I would do it:

Top row middle: Read a Book Recommended by the Staff on the MPL Blog

Mead staff has been posting book, movie, magazine, website, and more, recommendations for roughly the past three years. Books for all ages, really. Many to choose from and many of which can be read in one easy sitting. No one will fault you for reading a book from a post about children’s books. If you feel like this is cheating (it’s not; children’s lit is worthy and excellent), certainly no one will fault you for reading a book in audio form while you finish last minute holiday preparations around the house or drive to and from work, etc. I would listen to something with a full-cast reading like Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede or maybe the highly-acclaimed The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, both of which were blogged about by yours truly a couple years ago. Super fun series, honestly. 

Second row middle: Read a Book that is Connected to the Winter Solstice

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Hmmm, if only there were a holiday, or several holidays, that landed on or around the Winter Solstice. What I am getting at, and what you may have gathered from my advice about the first square, is that reading challenges are a perfect opportunity to bend some rules. Greenglass House by Kate Milford takes place over a boy’s winter break. It’s a snowed-in mystery that, while not specifically about the Winter Solstice, is definitely solstice-adjacent. Get creative. Is the book set in winter? I bet you could shoehorn that thing into this bingo square.

Third row middle: READER’S CHOICE!!!!!!!!!

Okay, is THIS cheating? It is not. Any book you read gets this square crossed off the list. May I humbly suggest a little Murderbot?

Fourth row middle: Read a Magazine on Overdrive/Libby

Our 2021 reading challenge saw some changes to Mead services over the course of the year. Primary of these to effect Bookish Bingo was the absorption of RB Digital into Overdrive/Libby. RBD used to be the place to check out e-magazines and audiobooks until mid-2021, so if you read your magazine there, feel free to mark off the square. Latecomers should head to Overdrive/Libby. I really dig on America’s Test Kitchen so I would probably read an issue of their Cook’s Country magazine. 

Fifth row middle: Watch a Film with Subtitles on Kanopy

Kanopy can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection. I use the Roku app and it’s pretty slick. To find the film with subtitles, head to “Browse” and then select “World Cinema”.  Watch Parasite (2019) if you haven’t yet because buddy, you are missing out. 

Everyone at Mead hopes everyone reading our blog enjoyed participating in this inaugural reading challenge. What were your favorite squares? What were the most difficult? What do you wish we would do differently? Click HERE to download your last-ditch 2021 bingo card and stay tuned for access to the 2022 edition. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help troubleshooting tech stuff, for last minute book recs, or anything else, really. Enjoy the holiday season, and to those of you attempting to complete a bingo row over two holiday weekends, best of luck, you can do it!

Posted in Adult, Award Winners, Fiction, Uncategorized

Library Reads: Top 10 of 2021

Every December, hundreds of librarians from across the country vote for their favorite books of the year. This year’s picks include a thriller about what happens to the survivors after the credits roll in a horror flick, a historical novel about an abandoned mother who works to save her family during the Dust Bowl, and a fantastical love story between a ghost who needs to cross over to the other side and the ferryman responsible for transporting the souls of the dead.

Top Pick: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Elsa Martinelli has two children, an unhappy marriage, and a farm that she stubbornly helps tend. But when the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl hit, the family’s relations are stretched to the brink. Abandoned by her husband, faced with dying livestock and failing crops, Elsa must choose whether to stay with the land she loves or flee in search of a better life for her and her children.

Continue reading “Library Reads: Top 10 of 2021”
Posted in Adult, Poetry

Recent Poetry I’ve Loved

I guess I should start by saying that this isn’t necessarily “recent poetry” – it’s poetry that I’ve discovered recently and loved. But I’ve been trying, for the past few months, to read at least a little poetry every day (which also means working through my backlog of unread poetry books), and I’ve run across some books that I’ve really thought were great. So here we go, four recommendations from me for books that are objectively (my opinion is objective, right?) great books of poetry.

The Darkness Around Us Is Deep by William Stafford

I am not sure how I had never run into William Stafford before in my reading – I didn’t know anything about him. But he was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970 (the position that is now Poet Laureate), so he’s hardly obscure. I actually had this book on my bookshelf, and when Robert Bly died recently, I noticed that he had written the introduction to this, so it caught my eye.

It’s a fantastic book that also has the bonus of a very good introduction (I always like to hear poets talking about other poets, especially when they knew each other as in this case). And Stafford’s poems are clear yet deep; he looks at the world around us, but he also makes those beautiful leaps that leave you feeling not confused but awed.

Continue reading “Recent Poetry I’ve Loved”
Posted in Fantasy, Film, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, History, Horror

Here Comes Krampus

Krampusnacht is coming up this weekend. It’s the night before St. Nick’s Day when people believe Krampus comes to punish children that misbehave. Krampus wasn’t always associated with the Christian holidays. As Smithsonian Magazine explains, “His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel.” In Europe, every year for Krampusnacht, there will be parades and festivals where people dress up as Krampus. These festivities are spreading to America as well. There is a Krampusnacht that happens in Milwaukee. If you’re not able to go to a Krampusnacht or want to be cautious with the ongoing pandemic, I’ve made a list of items to get you in the holiday mood. One of the items in this blog is honestly one of my favorite Christmas movies. As with my other recent posts, I’ve included the summary from our catalog about each item.

Krampus (Blu-ray/DVD)

“This darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday. The horror-comedy tells the story of young Max, who turns his back on Christmas as his dysfunctional family comes together and comically clashes over the holidays. When they accidentally unleash the wrath of Krampus, an ancient entity from European folklore, all hell breaks loose and beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own.”

Continue reading “Here Comes Krampus”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult

Manifestos: Not Always Terrifying

What even is a manifesto? The very boring dictionary definition of manifesto is “a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate”. For further clarity, I learned this derives from the Latin manifestum which means “clear or conspicuous”. So basically, if one publishes a manifesto, one is clearly defining their stance on some topic for public consumption. For me, the word “manifesto” immediately conjures images of the Unabomber wanted poster, and of Valerie Solanas, who infamously shot Andy Warhol during a dispute over her proto-feminist SCUM Manifesto. In more recent years, spree killer Elliot Rodger left behind hundreds of hours of weblogs detailing why women deserved to die for rejecting him. It seems to me, content being created by violent fringe-dwellers is generally labelled as “manifesto”. This got me wondering if any wholesome manifestos exist, and if so, would one want to engage with them? Below, I listed several library items that contain the word “manifesto” in the title. 

But first, I wanted to demonstrate that not all manifestos are impenetrable screeds detailing the evils of technology. In fact, sometimes they exist as simple lists. For instance, here is the 10-point manifesto Frank Lloyd Wright would give his apprentices:

1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation

Great list, Frank. Love it. Direct, abrupt, to the point, and information-rich. I think if I were walking into an apprentice situation under a living genius, receiving a list like this would be empowering and exciting.

Here are some other manifestos of varying subject matter available in the Monarch catalog that have nothing to do with domestic terror, multiple murders, or the shooting attack of important 20th century artists. Book descriptions sourced from Goodreads:

Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto (2003) by Anneli S. Rufus
The Buddha. Rene Descartes. Emily Dickinson. Greta Garbo. Bobby Fischer. J. D. Salinger: Loners, all — along with as many as 25 percent of the world’s population. Loners keep to themselves, and like it that way.

In Party of One Anneli Rufus has crafted a morally urgent, historically compelling tour de force in defense of the loner, then and now.

Women & Power: a Manifesto (2017) by Mary Beard
In Women & Power, Beard traces the origins of this misogyny to its ancient roots, examining the pitfalls of gender and the ways that history has mistreated strong women since time immemorial. As far back as Homer’s Odyssey, Beard shows, women have been prohibited from leadership roles in civic life, public speech being defined as inherently male. From Medusa to Philomela (whose tongue was cut out), from Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren (who was told to sit down), Beard draws illuminating parallels between our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power—and how powerful women provide a necessary example for all women who must resist being vacuumed into a male template. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?

Custer Died for Your Sins: an Indian Manifesto (1969) by Vine Deloria
In his new preface to this paperback edition, the author observes, “The Indian world has changed so substantially since the first publication of this book that some things contained in it seem new again.” Indeed, it seems that each generation of whites and Indians will have to read and reread Vine Deloria’s Manifesto for some time to come, before we absorb his special, ironic Indian point of view and what he tells us, with a great deal of humor, about U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists.

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (2020) by Valarie Kaur
How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur—renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer—describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead look at others and say: You are part of me I do not yet know. Starting from that place of wonder, the world begins to change: It is a practice that can transform a relationship, a community, a culture, even a nation.

Dear Ijeawele, or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (2017) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today. See also Adichie’s excellent We Should All Be Feminists, Half a Yellow Sun, and Americanah. Everything she writes glows with intelligence.

Valerie, or, The Faculty of Dreams (2019) by Sara Stridsberg
This is not actually a manifesto, but it IS about Valerie Solanas, who I mentioned at the top. Valerie died alone in squalor at the age of 52. This book included the last of her writing as well as biographical information that frames this strange and tragic woman’s life of struggle with mental illness and addiction, in addition to being an enduing radical feminist icon.

I think I have amply proven that manifestos are as diverse as the people who write them, and most of us are probably walking around filled with enough passion, intelligence, and information to create manifestos of our very own. All of the listed titles are available in the Monarch catalog, often in a variety of formats. Not interested in any of these books or manifestos in general? No sweat, there are people, many people, at Mead Public Library who want nothing more than to take a crack at helping you get the books, movies, and music you are looking for. Reach out for reader’s advisory (book recommendations) by calling (920-459-3400), emailing (publicservices@meadpl.org), or consider using Mead’s Your Next Five Books service.

Posted in DIY & How To

It’s Beginning to Look Like Cookies

It’s almost winter time here in Wisconsin. The winds are getting more bitter. Soon there will be snow on the steps. Needless to say, winter is not my favorite season. But, nothing warms up the house like baking some cookies for holidays! So this week’s blog post is a selection of baking books to add to your baking repertoire. I’ve included the publisher’s summaries to give you an idea of what to expect from each book.

Christmas Baking by Joyce & Laura Klynstra

“This collection brings together more than 100 Christmas-inspired recipes, from holiday classics like Dark Chocolate Crinkles and Decorated Sugar Cookies to international treats like Krakelingen, Linzer Cookies, and Alfajores. From festive and fancy to quick and easy recipes. Many favorites will spark fond baking memories, and new flavors will create fresh family traditions.”

Continue reading “It’s Beginning to Look Like Cookies”
Posted in Adult, Audience, Fiction, Romance

Love and Romance!

One of the book displays on the first floor of the library right now is on diverse romance novels, and it’s pretty amazing to see the variety of covers on there! Of course you have your books that are just some model’s shirtless torso – but romance novels are a lot wider than that, too! We see a lot of popular romance books here at the library with protagonists and love interests of different races, sizes, orientations, so I wanted to highlight some of them here!

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

This book is not Sonali Dev’s latest, but a little older (2016) – which is great, because it means that if you like it, you have a bunch more books by her just waiting for you!

Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s novel is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity.

Continue reading “Love and Romance!”
Posted in Award Winners, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, NAFNIP

Bookish Bingo: Read a Book Written by a NAFNIP Author

November is Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I would highlight the Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge to “read a book written by a NAFNIP (Native, Aboriginal, First Nations, Indigenous People) author”.

Native American Heritage Month is a time for all of us to reflect on and celebrate the contributions, histories and cultures of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Island communities in North America. For this article, I would like to celebrate the literary works of a few indigenous authors featured in the Monarch Library System collection.

Joy Harjo is the 2019 Poet Laureate of the United States and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Carole Lindstrom is the author of the New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Award-winning We Are Water Protectors. She is Anishinabe/Métis and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians.

Michaela Goade is the Caldecott Award-winning illustrator of We Are Water Protectors. She is the first Native American to win the award. She is of the Tlingit and Haida tribes.

Darcie Little Badger is an oceanographer and the author of Elatsoe, selected by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 Fantasy books of all time. She is a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas.

Note: Elatsoe will be discussed by the Book to Art Club in January.

Stephen Graham Jones is an award-winning author who has been honored with both the Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction and the Bram Stoker Award for Horror. He is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana.

N. Scott Momaday is author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning House Made of Dawn. He is a member of the Kiowa people.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is the author and American Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology, and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

If you’d like to learn more about Native American heritage, I encourage you to visit the National Congress of American Indians website. There are also wonderful virtual exhibits available for you to view at the Native American Heritage website.

Note: Author details are courtesy of Wikipedia.