Posted in Adult, eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Mystery, Teen & Young Adult

Proper Ladies Buck Convention

Take a look at the list of books I have been reading lately. They each feature woman or girl protagonists who are in possession of indomitable spirits and a penchant for solving mysteries. While the books take place anywhere from 1815-1950, they are mostly set in Victorian England, and sometimes the old girl herself makes an appearance. The mysteries are usually murders, and in the cozy tradition, happen “off-screen” and are somewhat sanitary, as far as murders go. Each book listed is the first in a series, often with new titles still being published. 

The Body in the Garden (2020) by Katherine Shellman
Protagonist: Lily Adler
Setting: 1815 Edwardian London
Books in the series: three
Queen Victoria appearance: she wouldn’t be born for four more years
Lily Adler is unconventional because she is a young widow who prefers solving the mysteries of upper-crust London social circles she belongs to, rather than searching for a second husband. Completely cozy series with charming protagonists and ongoing story threads that connect book to book. The mysteries are complex, satisfying, and comfy like a warm bath.
Available on Hoopla in audio and e-book formats

Etiquette & Espionage (2013) by Gail Carriger
Protagonist: Saphronia Angelina Temminnick, age 14
Setting: 1851 Victorian London
Books in the Finishing School series: four
Queen Victoria appearance: yes
Yes, I’ve written about Gail Carriger in the past, and I will write about her again. This book is ridiculous in the best ways possible and the world needs to know. In this awesome steampunk version of Victorian England, vampires and werewolves are real and figure into parliamentary politics and society functions just like their human counterparts. Schools float in the sky. Pets are made of clockwork. Tea cakes are consumed with abandon. I loved getting to know the complex cast of characters over the four-book run, and then delighted in meeting them again in some of Carriger’s later work. The audio version is a particular joy if you enjoy the plummy tones of English society women. And I must ask, who among us does not?
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats

Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975) by Elizabeth Peters
Protagonist: Amelia Peabody
Setting: 1884 England
Books in the series: twenty
Queen Victoria appearance: no, but expect to encounter real-life historical figures such as famous archaeologist Howard Carter.
This is the oldest series on my list, and while I am certain there are books about Victorian ladies striking out to fulfill their unconventional dreams published prior to this, Peters is for sure an OG refiner of the trope. Tropes include: unconventional lady inherits a fortune; has unbendable will; is the smartest person in the room; attracts an irascible male counterpart; is brave and resourceful to an almost sociopathic degree. One of the fun things about the Amelia Peabody books is that she ages from book to book as opposed to being rooted in a static, unchanging timespan. This beloved series is great for those who like a bit of ancient Egyptian history with their cozy mysteries.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

A Curious Beginning (2015) by Deanna Raybourn
Protagonist: Veronica Speedwell
Setting: 1887 Victorian London
Books in the series: seven with the eighth publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: yes
Oh, Veronica, how I adore her. If I had to choose a favorite character on this list it would be a toss-up between Veronica here and Gail Carriger’s Saphronia. Not only is Ms. Speedwell smart, tenacious, cunning, and ribald, she has a libido and a hilarious approach to men and love. Her handsome male counterpart, Stoker, provides a terrific foil to Veronica’s outrageous (at the time) actions and statements. The mysteries are extremely well-constructed and the running storyline is compelling. The audio production is so good I’ve listened through the series twice. 
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

A Study in Scarlet Women (2016) by Sherry Thomas
Protagonist: Charlotte Holmes
Setting: Late 19th century London
Books in the series: six with a seventh publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: unsure, I have not read the whole series. 
One cannot throw a stone in a library without hitting a Sherlock Holmes adaptation (do not throw stones in the library plz). Along with Big Bird, Han Solo, and Frankestein, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable and enduring fictional characters in the western world. We collectively cannot get enough of this prickly, seemingly omnipotent detective. My favorite adaptations gender swap the Holmes and/or Watson character (looking at you CBS’s Elementary) so naturally, I was drawn to The Lady Sherlock series. Part of the fun is recognizing the beats lifted from the source material and how they change from one interpretation to the next. Don’t fret if this Holmes adaptation does not appeal. There are a LOT more where that came from. 
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

The Widows of Malabar Hill (2018) by Sujata Massey
Protagonist: Perveen Mistry
Setting: 1920 Bombay
Books in the series: three with a fourth publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: she had been dead for nineteen years in 1920
This is the farthest afield of the series on this list. Our protagonist, Perveen, is one of the first female lawyers in India. Given that Indian patriarchy persists to this day, her arrival to the legal scene was not met with great enthusiasm and often open contempt. I loved this book because I got to learn about Indian history, religions common to India, and the British Raj. The mystery itself is intriguing and the writing was beautiful.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

Cocaine Blues (1989) by Kerry Greenwood
Protagonist: Phryne Fisher
Setting: late 1920s Melbourne
Books in the series: twenty two
Queen Victoria appearance: nope!
Many are by now familiar with Phryne Fisher from the excellent Australian television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Phyrne is the role model of our dreams. She drinks, dances, has adult dalliances to relieve stress, and carries a gold plated pistol. She’s basically the coolest lady ever. And she’s rich so she can get away with such shocking behavior for a woman of her station. This series gives golden age of detective fiction by taking us from squalid back alleys to glimmering cruise ships to speakeasies and beyond. Phryne might be the most glamorous unconventional lady on the list, and I think she would get on like a house on fire with Veronica Speedwell.
Available on Libby and Hoopla in e-book format

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009) by Alan Bradley
Protagonist: Flavia DeLuce, age 11
Setting: 1950 England
Books in the series: ten
Queen Victoria appearance: of course not, but I believe Churchill shows up sometime down the line
Eleven year old Flavia De Luce has grown up feril in Buckshaw, a crumbling family estate in a quintessentially bucolic English village. Her mother has been missing for years and her father is coping with the loss as well as his WWII experience in the stiff-upper-lip English way. Flavia is a precocious chemistry genius (one might even say mad scientist) who uses her innate curiosity and desire to impress the police Inspector Hewitt to solve baffling murders in the are. Flavia is an appealing character for many reasons, but I love that although she is a chemistry genius she often overlooks aspects of the case that any regular 11-year-old would miss. The forensic descriptions of Flavia’s observations are a little intense, but that’s part of the fun. I do NOT recommend the audio version of this series as the narration did not align with how I characterized Flavia’s voice in my own head at all. Too wistful, I think. Flavia is NOT wistful.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book format

If your reading whims differ greatly, not to fret. Mead Library has this rad book recommendation tool called Your Next Five Books. Take five minutes to fill out & submit and within a few days you will receive a personally tailored list of books based on your favorites. Not digging email as a way to reach out? Call us at 920-459-3400 option 4 to speak to a real live librarian. We can help with book picks, troubleshooting Libby and Hoopla, book requests, you name it. Anything to help you find a book you will love.

Posted in Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult

Best Beach Reads According to ME

Despite preferring to sit very still, even indoor kids like me enjoy summer weather. We might not want to move around very much, but we have our ways of utilizing the longer, warmer, brighter days. For instance, when the weather warms up I go a little bananas and fill my backpack with snacks, a blanket, and books to take with me to the beach. I find someplace in the shade (we burn easily, you see) and make myself comfortable. Since Lake Michigan is conveniently close, and since Sheboygan has minimum three beautiful beaches to lounge on, I never have to think very hard about how to spend my days off. Parking isn’t a problem and my gas bill doesn’t exist because I ride my bike. This is what my low-maintenance summers are shaped like and it never gets old. Below, I listed several fantastic books that pair nicely with summer escapism. For book recommendations that are tailored to a specific taste, please consider using Mead Library’s Your Next Five Books book recommendation service. 

Continue reading “Best Beach Reads According to ME”
Posted in Adult, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

Mid-year Bookish Bingo Check-in

It will be June four days after this post goes up. Almost impossibly, the sixth month of the year is already at hand. How have you treated your time so far in 2022? Did you spend time with the ones you love? Did you learn anything new from watching Wheel of Fortune? Did you mark off any squares on your 2022 Bookish Bingo Challenge? If so, awesome! If not, there is a whole other half a year left to reach your bingo reading goals. 

To keep the bingo challenge exciting, and to assess who is reading the Mead blog, I would like to give the first five people to email me a super secret and valuable prize. Email  publicservices@meadpl.org by July 10th to get in on the prize action. Your email should include at least one book that checked off one square of the Bookish Bingo 2022 card. That means even if you haven’t marked off a single square til June, you can still win a fabulous prize. Just like on Wheel. 

Below, I explore some approaches to crossing off a square on your Bingo card to help get the reading challenge juices flowing:

Little Free Library

Read a book from a Little Free Library

This might be my favorite square. There are no limits beyond the receptacle from which you find your book. It’s hard to walk more than a few blocks in Sheboygan without encountering a Little Free Library. There’s a map one can refer to in order to find the “official” LFLs throughout Sheboygan. This means the LFL “host” has officially registered with the Little Free Library organization. Take a look at the map HERE. It’s not required to register and you will find many fold more “unofficial” Little Free Libraries than the official ones listed on the map. My personal favorites in Sheboygan include the one outside the John Michael Kohler Arts Center on the 6th Street-side, the one on the corner of 7th and St. Claire, and the one near the YMCA. Not to say these are the BEST, they just happen to appeal to me, personally. 

Read a memoir by a comedian

Yes, Seth Rogan was only a standup during his teenage years before landing his first starring role on Freaks and Geeks, but lord was this book good, so I am including it. I LOLed so hard I cried at several passages. Also, if you have the means, I am begging you to listen to this in audio format. The cast of famous voices is staggering and I had to keep looking up if the person I was hearing was the person I thought it was. 

That’s the thing about comedian memoirs, though. They tend to translate very well into audio productions. We see a similar effect with the work of Amy Poehler (Yes Please; 2014), Tina Fey (Bossypants; 2011), and Steve Martin (Born Standing Up; 2007). Below, I listed several other highly acclaimed comedian-penned memoirs that can be found on Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby, in addition to the hard copy:

  • The Last Black Unicorn (2017) by Tiffany Haddish
  • Fresh Off the Boat (2013) by Eddie Huang
  • Why Not Me? (2015) by Mindy Kaling
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (2012) by Jenny Lawson
  • Dear Girls (2019) by Ali Wong

You’re in luck if you enjoy the above work and want more, since most of the authors I listed have published more than one humorous title. In the case of Steve Martin, he’s also published more “traditional” fiction offerings such as his 2000 novella Shopgirl. It never hurts to investigate back catalogs, in any case.

Read a book about food that isn’t a cookbook, or the food memoir, as it were

Cookbooks are excellent for reading, don’t get me wrong, but the food memoir is where it’s at for some deep and delicious narrative goodness. Julia Child was a wonderful writer and the memoir of her time in France is such a delight. The “warbling giantess” is so full of curiosity, humor, warmth, and SNARK! that is not always evident when watching her on one of her many iconic cooking shows. Julia has several non-cookbook-books to her name, but if you aren’t a Child stan like I am, perhaps one of the below titles would be of interest:

  • The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard (2020) by John Birdsall
  • Kitchen Confidential (2000) by Anthony Bourdain
  • How to Cook a Wolf (1942) by MFK Fisher
  • Garlic and Sapphires (2005) by Ruth Reichl
  • The Cooking Gene (2017) by Michael Twitty

If you are in need of a 2022 bingo card stop into the library and ask at the first floor desk. If you have completed a row across, down, or diagonally, submit your sheet at the first floor desk to receive a small prize. Bingo cards that are completely full will be entered into a drawing at the end of 2022 for a big prize. In the meantime, don’t forget to email me at publicservces@meadpl.org for a crack at receiving a mid-year bingo incentive! In lieu of that, we are always happy to help find books that fit bingo squares, or for any reading goal you have in mind. Please also consider using our book recommendation tool Your Next Five Books which can be found HERE.

Posted in Adult, Film, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You

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.

Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Children’s Award Books 2022

The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2022 Youth Media Awards. Materials for children and teens were selected by committees of literature and media specialists under different categories for their excellence. I’ve listed some of these remarkable award winners below with their publisher’s summary, and also included links to our catalog so you can reserve your copies today! Scroll to the end of the post for a link to the full list of this year’s award recipients.

John Newbery Medal

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Continue reading “Children’s Award Books 2022”
Posted in Adult, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

Presenting: Mead Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge 2022

Do not eat these chips fam

New year, new books, amiright? While I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, I love to make a reading resolution. There are many ways to go about resolving to read. Personally, I’m a Goodreads Book Challenge kinda gal. All one needs to do is pick a number and try to read that many books in a calendar year. For those who crave more structure, Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge is a great way to get creative with your reading list and get out of a reading rut. Mead’s reading challenge is a good fit for people who struggle with deciding what to read next or for people who enjoy reading books that might fall outside of their comfort zone. Here’s how to play Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge 2022: Print a bingo card HERE or come into Mead and pick one up at the first or second floor desk. One title can be used to cross off one square. Once you complete your Bingo – down, across or diagonal – please submit your card to publicservices@meadpl.org or in-person at Mead Public Library to receive a small prize and an additional entry in the Summer Library Program drawing for your first Bingo. If you complete the Bingo card, and submit it by December 31, 2022, you will be entered into an additional drawing for a surprise gift. 

I present to you Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge 2022 card:

Pretty sweet, huh?

Key of Terms BIPOC = Black, Indigenous and People of Color LGBTQIA+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Queer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual, and Ally community STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Check back with the Mead Blog throughout the year to get suggestions and encouragement on how to complete a square. Do you like the idea of a reading challenge, but aren’t too crazy about the one we provided? Please take a moment to check out the intense array of reading challenges found throughout the internet HERE and HERE.

As always, we are eager to help you connect with the library material you need, from bingo square to book report. Reach out via call, chat, email, or in-person for book picks, research help, etc. Let’s make it a great year of reading and meeting our goals, perhaps at the same time!

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 Adult, Fiction, Horror, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Horror Fiction Beyond King

By now, most of the people in my inner circle have received their jabs so I’m back to having houseguests. My friend B came to town last weekend. We had a lovely bonfire and ate many cheeses. The nicest time was had by all. There was a moment, however, that I managed to astonish and appall my guest with one statement: I Have Never Read A Stephen King Book. In the past my biggest librarian sin was not having gotten around to reading Harry Potter. Relax, I got that covered in 2019 and it was fine. My friend B, as it turns out, is a HUGE King fan and could not believe that someone who is a librarian, avid reader, and horror fan, has not once thought to pick up something by The Master. Folks, my reading list is well over one thousand titles and while Stephen King has for sure cornered a certain portion of the market, would you believe there are literally THOUSANDS of authors cranking out content at any given moment competing for my attention? I do not actively dislike King. His work is often an emerging reader’s first interaction with a “grown-up” book and extrapolates into a lifelong love of reading and learning. His work is not unworthy, just uninteresting to me, specifically. Below, I have listed several horror authors of note for those of you who have run out of Stephen King books (I understand that is nigh impossible) and for people who love King but aren’t sure where to look next for more great horror.

Mira Grant
Grant has been churning out some of the most genuinely creepy science fiction/horror for the last dozen or so years. She is preoccupied with various iterations of zombie apocoli and eldritch horrors of the deep. Grant is best known for her Newsflesh and Parasitology series and also writes under the name Seannan MacGuire whose catalog is well worth a look. For Grant, start with Parasite (2013) or Feed (2010).

Victor Lavalle
The Ballad of Black Tom (2016), is probably Lavalle’s best known book, but I first encountered him when I read The Changeling (2017). Any threadbare notion of ever having children was burned out of me after reading that book. The horrors of motherhood and more depicted in The Changeling gave me about a week’s worth of sleepless nights. Effective horror fiction, yes, but wow sometimes there are books I wish I could unread. This statement should be taken as an enthusiastic recommendation for the work of Victor Lavalle.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This one. Moreno-Garcia has been hitting it out of the park for years now, but had her breakout to mainstream success with 2019’s Gods of Jade and Shadow, which was an extremely satisfying fairy-tale-like epic based on Mexican folklore. Last year’s Mexican Gothic upped the creep factor by serving Shirley Jackson realness at a secret-filled crumbling mansion isolated in the Mexican foothills. Grade: A+++++++++.

Harold Schechter
Horrific, but not horror fiction. Schechter is a modern true crime master beloved to the true crime/podcast community. I learned about his work because my favorite horror/true crime podcast The Last Podcast on the Left often uses his work as their primary source. I listened to the audio version of The Serial Killer Files (2003) on Hoopla, which is a kind of “heavy hitters” lineup of the creepiest and most notorious serial killers of the 20th century. The solid research and clear prose were only overshadowed by the narrator mispronouncing Ed Gein’s name. My understanding is that we say “geen” rhymes with jean, not “gyne” as in gynecologist. As a daughter of Wisconsin this was glaring to me, which is why I’m having a hard time moving on. Check out Hell’s Princess (2018), one of Schechter’s latest, which details the totally bananas true story of Bell Gunness, butcher of men.

David Wong
Jason Pargin has been writing under the pen name David Wong since before his days as editor-in-chief at Cracked.com and now even that is several years in the past. His first full-length novel, John Dies at the End (2007), was originally written in serial form on the author’s blog. It’s fun to start with this book and work through his catalog chronologically to see how his writing gets better and better. It’s also such a joy to see a personal favorite get so successful. John Dies at the End ended up getting adapted for film in 2012. It starred Paul Giacometti and was directed by horror royalty Don Coscarelli. For non-horror stans, this was a big huge deal and made many fanboys and girls spin off into dorky paroxysms of joy.

Additional horror authors who are not Stephen King:

Max Brooks (World War Z; Devolution)
Octavia Butler (Fledgling; Kindred)
Tananarive Due (The Good House; My Soul to Keep)
Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indian; My Heart is a Chainsaw)
Grady Hendrix (My Best Friend’s Exorcism; The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires)
Joe Hill (Horns; N0S4A2)
T. Kingfisher (The Twisted Ones; The Hollow Places)
Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby; The Stepford Wives)
Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire; The Queen of the Damned)
Riley Sager (Final Girls; Home Before Dark)

As for me, I promised my friend that I would read minimum one (1) Stephen King novel within the next calendar year, so now I have the audio copy of Salem’s Lot waiting in my Overdrive/Libby holds. There are 12 other people ahead of me, so I imagine it will be well past spooky season by the time I get to check it out. Not to worry, because I try to keep that shit in my heart the year-round.

And as for you, what happens if nothing on the list stands out? Do not hesitate to reach out for more book recommendations whether they are for horror fiction, cozy mysteries, amish romance, silkpunk, Nordic noir, cashier memoir, you name it we will help find it for you.

Posted in Adult, Kids 5-12, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Back to School!

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!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

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.

Continue reading “Back to School!”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Science, Teen & Young Adult

Fall Reading Challenge: Conservation!

Starting September 1 and running through September 30, Mead Library is teaming up with the Glacial Lakes Conservancy on their 25th anniversary for a fall Reading Challenge! Watch for it to appear in Beanstack (the same website/app our Summer Reading Program uses). Read books, explore the outdoors, and earn tickets for prize drawings! And mark your calendar, because the challenge will wrap up with an outdoor anniversary celebration from 10am-2pm on Saturday, October 9 at the Willow Creek Preserve.

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!

Books For Adults

Wild Wisconsin Notebook by James Buchholz

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.

Continue reading “Fall Reading Challenge: Conservation!”