Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Nonfiction

While You Wait IV: The Hotel Nantucket and Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life

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!

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

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?

Continue reading “While You Wait IV: The Hotel Nantucket and Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction

GATEKEEPING in Pop Non-Fiction

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.

TRUE CRIME

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. 

BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR

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.

Essays

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.

POPULAR SCIENCE

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. 

The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer (2010) by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Massively, perennially popular, book club pick til the end of days. Read it to learn what all the heartbreaking fuss is about. Why is science so often heartbreaking?

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 publicservices@meadpl.org or call 902-459-3400. Go on now, go on and git.

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait III: The Investigator and Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff

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!

The Investigator by John Sandford

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.

Continue reading “While You Wait III: The Investigator and Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff”
Posted in DIY & How To, Fantasy, Nonfiction, Science Fiction

You Find a +1 Spatula

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.

Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook by Kyle Newman

“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.”

Continue reading “You Find a +1 Spatula”
Posted in Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait II: The Paris Apartment and From Strength to Strength

I’m back with two more popular upcoming books, one in fiction and one in non-fiction! They both have waitlists, of course – but I’ve included a few similar titles that you could grab while you wait!

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

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.

Continue reading “While You Wait II: The Paris Apartment and From Strength to Strength”
Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction

While You Wait: The Maid and Enough Already

Two of the most popular upcoming books are the novel The Maid by Nita Prose and the memoir Enough Already by Valerie Bertinelli. You can check them out below – but while you’re waiting (because they do both have waitlists), also check out a couple of similar books that you might enjoy!

The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended 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 unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect.

Continue reading “While You Wait: The Maid and Enough Already”
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, 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 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.