Summer continues to simmer as we fall into Autumn. Our students, teachers, parents and caregivers prepare for another new and unusual year of learning, returning to a school schedule into a new grade – all while still navigating the pandemic. This year brings us a mixture of school anxiety and excitement as we build relationships and grow as we learn together. We wanted to share some books from our Monarch system, as well as local and national online resources to assist in making the transition to this new year a little easier with enjoyable, engaging tools sprinkled in. The books listed below are available for request through the Monarch library catalog. (Descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers.) Be sure to take a look at the additional resources we included as well. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable school year!
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
Below, I’ll share some books pulled together by my coworker, Erica, that would be perfect for this challenge. There are separate sections for adult books and teen books; descriptions have been taken from our catalog or the publisher. If you’re looking for children’s books, check out this previous blog post by Bree, Love Your Mother Earth!
Featuring 144 short and fascinating nature essays grouped by season, this beautifully illustrated volume serves as a trailside companion year-round. Find out about black bears and blackbirds, walleyes and woodchucks, snow geese and snow fleas, all in your own backyard. Nature lovers of all ages will appreciate Buchholz’s breezy style and wealth of outdoor knowledge.
Now that the 2021 (2020?) Tokyo Summer Olympic Games have ended we all have additional time to work on our Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge. Below, I assembled several titles that will let you cross off the square for “Books set in a country that has NEVER hosted the Olympics”.
For instance, did you know that despite having over 50 countries registered with the International Olympic Committee, there has never been a modern Olympic games hosted by any country in the entire continent of Africa? This is largely due to the extreme cost attached to hosting an Olympics. Beijing reportedly spent $40 billion to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. If that big ol’ price tag is a deterrent for wealthy nations, imagine the strain this would have on a developing country. While there is talk of the games coming to Senegal far down the road, we must make due in the meantime.
The titles listed above represent the tiniest sliver of literature produced in un-Olympic-ed nations. From travelogues to groovy science fiction, there is a pantheon of literature to choose from to get this bingo square crossed off.
Do you still need a Mead Bookish Bingo card? It’s not too late to complete a row. Pick up a copy at the first or second floor desk at Mead or print your own out HERE. Would you like a little more community while you work on our bingo card? Consider joining our Goodreads group HERE.
If none of the titles listed appeal, contact us for additional recommendations. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting materials, troubleshooting our ebook platforms, or anything else, really.
In a continuation of last week’s post centered on LGBTQI+ excellence in books and movies, please enjoy this list of graphic novels to celebrate Pride and the inherent talent and diversity within. Below, I highlight four graphic novels that are worth a look whether it’s Pride month or not. Book descriptions were sourced from publisher information.
This series is what it might look like if Nancy Drew liked girls and had non-white friends. 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery utilizing her smarts, random skills, and connections with the hotel staff and various folks in town. Available on Hoopla.
James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Available on Hoopla. Ongoing series.
Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. It didn’t even matter that Tara was a princess… until one day it very much did matter, and Pan had to say goodbye forever. Years later, when a charismatic pair of off-world gladiators show up on her doorstep, she finds that life might not be as small as she thought. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down. Available on Hoopla.
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. Available on Hoopla.
Additional LGBTQI+ graphic novels to celebrate Pride month with:
All of the above titles can be found in the Monarch catalog. Most of the titles are available on Hoopla. In fact, Hoopla is host to hundreds of comic book and graphic novel titles, so no matter one’s interest area there is bound to be something that appeals.
Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting material or troubleshooting tech stuff. As always, we are thrilled to pieces to give reader’s advisory book recommendations whether it’s for Pride month or any other occasion.
Did you know that Stephen King wrote a book set in Wisconsin? I didn’t! I also didn’t know that Neil Gaiman has a home near Menomonie or that YA author Shannon Schuren is a librarian right next door in Sheboygan Falls and YA author Amy Zhang went to high school in Sheboygan Falls! So below, please find some books that have a Wisconsin setting or connection. (Also, you can find an interview in the Sheboygan Press with Shannon Schuren right here!)
Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer traveled to a parallel universe called the Territories to save his mother and her “Twinner” from an agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, Wisconsin. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories, and he was compelled to leave the police force when a happenstance event threatened to awaken those long-suppressed and dangerous memories.
When a series of gruesome murders occurs in western Wisconsin, reminiscent of heinous killings committed several decades earlier, Jack’s buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help find the killer. But are these new killings merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack’s inexplicable waking dreams—if that is what they are—of robins’ eggs and red feathers? As these cryptic messages become impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past.
What’s your favorite coping method? Lately I’ve got two. First, I’ve been daydreaming and scheming over the past 14 months about having a mini road trip adventure. Soon I will leave my dark hovel and re-enter the bright, shining world, and when that time arrives I know which books are coming with. Which leads me to coping mechanism #2; keeping an eternal, endless reading list that will never get shorter, only longer. Always longer. Check out my list below for some summer reading inspiration of your own. What’s that? It’s not officially summer til June 20th? Why don’t you tell someone who hasn’t been living in their head for the better part of a year and a half, because I will never listen.
Below, I list my top three genres and the books I’ve been saving to read on the road, along with their runners-up.
Some will know T. Kingfisher as Ursula Vernon, author of the very popular juvenile graphic novel series, Dragonbreath. She felt the need to create a pen name to distinguish the adult titles from the juvenile titles, and after enjoying work published under both names, I can see why. Kingfisher spins dark fairytale-adjacent stories filled with sinister characters, terrifying big boss-style monsters, and genre-defying badass women. Check out some of her short fiction HERE. I’ll look for a spooky roadside motel near the woods to read this one at night.
Here are some additional titles to make your skin crawl:
Summertime is murder mystery time, specifically Agatha Christie time. There’s just something about the warmth and the light that makes me want to read her work. One would think that after being a Christie stan for more than two decades I would have already gotten to this gold-star standard, but no. Along with Death on the Nile, The ABC Murders, and A Caribbean Murder, And Then There Were None is considered among her greatest novels. I have seen minimum one movie adaptation but have since forgotten whodunnit, but should know the solution to the mystery by the end of my vacation, if all goes according to plan. Ideally, picnicking somewhere gorgeous.
And Then There Were None is also a fascinating example of how beloved media can, and should change over time. The original title of this book featured the worst racial epithet I can think of and was also known at one time as “Ten Little Indians”. To read more about the racism subsequent publishers have done their best to purge from Christie’s work, take a look at THIS article. It’s an apt topic to explore and discuss while everyone is so het up about “cancel culture”. Some things should be relegated to the past, and unnecessary and negative portrayals of racial stereotypes is one of those things.
This book checks a lot of boxes for me; outer space, giant space station, giant space station disaster, artificial intelligence, neurodivergent protagonist, woman author. The past decade has been a cavalcade of excellent women and femme-penned speculative fiction and scifi, all to the credit of the genre. Reading about far off galaxies and hitherto unknown beings gives me a sense of calm and peace that I can’t articulate. I’m going to read this at an outdoor patio while I wait to be brought something delicious to eat and drink.
Will I actually end up reading the books I have picked out? No way to tell. Chances are that I will find many distracting and cruddy paperbacks in secondhand stores while I gallivant far and wide. All listed titles are available through the Monarch catalog unless otherwise specified. Don’t see any titles that float your boat? Why not give the Your Next Five Books tool a try? Never hesitate to reach out for tech help, book recommendations, or encouraging words. Email email@example.com or call 920-459-3400, option 4. Oh, and have a fantastic vacation.
Whether you’ve got a novel in you, or a short story, or a poem… or you like journaling, or you want to write your family history, or you’re curious about any other kind of writing… the library can help! Full disclosure, this blog post is going to have some good writing resources in it, but it’s also an excuse for me to plug the fact that we have some writing programming going on as well! The groups are meeting virtually, of course, but the Sheboygan County Writers Club has two meetings, a large-group meeting and a small-group workshop, every month! Here are the links to the meetings for March: large group here, small group here.
But even if you can’t make it (or aren’t interested in that), there’s plenty of other library resources that can help out with writing. For instance…
Poets & Writers Magazine is one of, if not the, best-known magazines about writing. In addition to having articles and essays about the craft of writing and interviews with all sorts of different writers, they also have an extensive Classifieds section at the end with information about upcoming writing contests, calls for submissions from literary magazines and agencies, people offering editing services, and all sorts of other resources for writing, editing, and publication.
Do you enjoy reading letters, emails, texts, or other people’s diary entries? Then epistolary novels are for you. Plainly explained, an epistolary novel is a story told through correspondence. Written in a series of epistles, meaning missives or journal entries, the reader gets an intimate view of the characters’ innermost thoughts and experiences as the story unfolds. As a reader, you cannot help but connect with these characters and think of them as acquaintances by the novel’s end.
Are you new to epistolary novels and don’t know what to choose? I recommend three of my all-time favorites: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Sleeping Giants, and Griffin and Sabine. The former is a heart-warming, post-war story of friendship, love, and resilience. The middle is a science fiction-mystery-thriller featuring extraterrestrial robot warriors. The latter is filled with exquisite illustrations, and you get to physically open some of the letters which are contained in envelopes between the pages.
Maybe you crave a good heartbreaking but empowering tale like Code Name Verity, the story of two friends caught in the snares of WWII espionage, or Speak, the recount of a teen’s high school struggles post-rape, or The Power, the speculative discussion between two authors on what might have happened when females became the physically dominant gender.
If humor is what you’d prefer, check out The Screwtape Letters, a satire on human foibles discussed through missives passed between a bureaucrat from Hell and his incompetent apprentice; or consider Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, a Bridget Jones’-style tell-all journal of a year in the life of a British teen.
Fancy something a little more scandalous? Try the French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. You might be familiar with the films it inspired: Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions. Of course, there is also The Diary of Anaïs Nin. Yes, THAT Anaïs Nin.
Whatever satisfies your prying inclinations, there is an epistolary novel calling your name, so don’t fight it. Indulge and enjoy it guilt-free. After all, it was written for you, reader.
The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2021 Youth Media Awards. High quality media for teens and children were awarded for their excellence under different categories. I’ve listed some of these remarkable award winners below and included links to our catalog so you can reserve your copies today!
John Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s winner is When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller. In this story, a magical tiger from Korean folklore appears to Lily after she moves in with her dying grandmother. Something was stolen from the tiger long ago and an incredible deal is offered for its return.
If you haven’t already heard, Mead Library assembled a 2021 reading challenge in bingo form. We think it’s a fun way to push past your reading comfort zone while working towards a goal. Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo cards can be picked up in-house at the first floor desk, or click HERE to download and print at home. If you are interested in more community while working through the challenges, consider joining our Goodreads group HERE.
Check in on Mead’s blog periodically throughout the year for reading suggestions that focus on a particular square. I’m getting things rolling today with my personal favorite square, Make a new recipe from a cookbook. I LOVE cookbooks. Like, I’ll just read em like a magazine. What’s not appealing about the big, colorful photos, the possibilities, the kitchen anecdotes, the food history. Love it. Below, I list my recent favorite cookbooks and what it was like to cook a new (to me) recipe from each of them.
Yotam Ottolenghi might not be a household name in every home, but it should be. He and his business/cooking partner Sami Tamimi have been producing gorgeous cookbooks since 2008. The books tend to stick with a similar format but shift in focus. Jerusalem, for instance, explores the food eaten by the authors growing up as an Israeli and Palestinian, respectively, in the city of Jerusalem. Each recipe features a color photo of the dish as well as a diary-like entry contextualizing the food in relation to the authors’ memories.
I chose to make Mejadra which is considered comfort food in the Middle East. The recipe called for a ton of crispy crunchy onions which are then mixed with lentils, rice, and warming spices that have been bloomed in oil. It was deceptively simple and called for such humble ingredients that it verged on shocking how delicious it turned out. Simple ingredients can yield fabulous results. This is the versatile kind of recipe I could make for a week’s worth of lunches, or serve to a group along with dinner.
This delightful cookbook first passed through my hands back when I was a library page. One of the many perks of the job was seeing new material come through the building. I would usually have a little stack to take home with me at the end of shift, and Well Fed, Flat Broke caught my attention thusly. I liked the pretty photography of the finished recipes. I liked the chatty, familiar way blogger Emily Wight wrote introductions to chapters and recipes. I liked the concept of cooking great food with inexpensive ingredients. It just grabbed me, you know? I’m still not cool with some of Wight’s staple ingredients, such as SPAM. I just can’t do it. I just can’t. My apologies to the SPAM-stans among us, but it is a bridge too far.
The recipe I decided to try was the underwhelming-sounding “Breakfast Beans”. I am a bean enthusiast. Beans are cheap, plentiful, tasty, versatile, and shelf-stable. Basically, I had to saute diced celery with garlic before adding a can of white beans, some rosemary, and the surprise ingredient of the day, fish sauce. After adding in a few more things, the whole concoction is served over toast and topped with a fried egg. And brother, I got to tell you, one sure-fire way to get me to eat a thing is just put a fried egg on top. The dish turned out great and I know I have another go-to recipe under my belt for when I don’t want to eat a fried egg all by itself.
Mexican food, or more accurately Tex-Mex, is my favorite food to cook. I love the big, bold flavor that comes from chilis and cumin and garlic. I love that the ingredients in Tex-Mex cooking tend to be inexpensive and readily at hand, which is a running theme in my cookbook consumption. I also love the family aspect of Tex-Mex cooking, since most recipes yield quantities meant to feed a crowd.
In the before-times, I would spend all day, literal hours, making elaborate trays of enchiladas from scratch to feed my loved ones around a big table. While a communal meal is off the (dinner) table for the time being, I found that during Safer-At-Home, cooking huge quantities of food was soothing, and hey, it freezes pretty well, too. The enchiladas in this cookbook are the best I’ve ever made, but I was also pleased to find the non-enchilada recipes to be more than solid. I made Sopa de Fideo, or vermicelli soup for the first time back in the depths of April 2020. It’s basically Tex-Mex Spaghettios but actually good to eat. It’s a really forgiving recipe and does not require the rigor that some of the other recipes call for. Sylvia Caseres’ The Enchilada Queen Cookbook helped take my cooking from tentative to confident, which is what any cookbook worth its salt and seasoning should do.
Here are some additional popular and beautiful cookbooks to get your culinary juices flowing:
The cookbooks listed above are all available in the Monarch catalog, often in multiple formats. If none of the selected titles are making your brain spark, please note Mead Library and the broader Monarch library system have access to literally THOUSANDS of cookbooks. We can help find the right cookbook for anyone based on regional cuisine, dietary needs, and complexity. As always, we are here to help connect people to the library materials they need, cookbook or not. Never hesitate to reach out for recommendations and troubleshooting, and enjoy your Bookish Bingo odyssey all of 2021.