Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait VI: The House Across the Lake and Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

Two more popular books with some readalikes! Unsurprisingly, the popular fiction book is a new thriller – it’s one of our most popular genres. The non-fiction book was more of a surprise. It sounds interesting – a woman’s memoir of working as a maid to support her family – but it’s a few years old at this point. I’m not sure why it suddenly has a hold list again, but there you go – perhaps it’s just gotten some very good word-of-mouth!

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.

Continue reading “While You Wait VI: The House Across the Lake and Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive”
Posted in Adult, Fiction, Historical, Horror, New & Upcoming, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers

Library Reads July 2022

Every month, librarians across the country pick the ten upcoming titles they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a deliciously creepy take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the story of an 8 year old girl forced to attend Weight Watchers, and a pair of romance novels that grapple with the intersection of love and mental health.

Top Pick: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, Kingfisher’s latest adds the
creepiest of flesh to the bare-bones tale by Poe. Complete with a scary,
isolated mansion and eerie behaviors of the residents, this version not only
makes perfect sense within the original narrative, but adds a depth of
understanding that suddenly makes all the pieces fall into place. For fans of
Mexican Gothic, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Night Stranger. —Sheri Stanley, Gulfport Library

Continue reading “Library Reads July 2022”
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 Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12

Picture Book Activity Blog w/PBS KIDS

New to the shelves this month, are several stand out titles that are worth checking out. Each book also inspires multiple activities that families can do at home to cultivate early STEM skills.  

In no particular order, here are my top picks for this month. Each title features corresponding activity suggestions to extend learning:

Rafa Counts on Papá by Joe Cepeda

This is the story of a boy and his father who share a love for measuring things. How long, how fast, how tall, how fluffy, fancy or bouncy, Rafa and his papá work together to make comparisons of everyday objects around their home.  After reading this story, try measuring and comparing things around your home.  Give your child a ruler and go on a scavenger hunt to find things that are exactly 12 inches long.  Or use a non-standard unit of measurement and find something that is the same length as your hand, or the same height as your favorite toy.  Other books about measuring that I enjoy are “Inch by Inch” by Leo Lionni and “Ants Rule” by Bob Barner. Make sure to listen to this catchy tune by Ozomatli on PBS KIDS Rock.

Continue reading “Picture Book Activity Blog w/PBS KIDS”
Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait V: The It Girl and Out of the Corner: A Memoir

It’s the start of a new month, and I’ve got another selection of two popular books (with waitlists, of course!) as well as a few things to tide you over while you wait. It’s not surprising that Ruth Ware has another book that everyone is dying to read; if you like thrilling mysteries and intricate plots, you should definitely check this out. And on the non-fiction side, actress Jennifer Grey has a memoir coming out that will take you from 1970s Malibu through 1980s Hollywood and all the way up to her present hard-won life.

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Continue reading “While You Wait V: The It Girl and Out of the Corner: A Memoir”
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, 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 Adult, Award Winners, Fiction, New & Upcoming

Library Reads: April 2022

Every month, librarians from across the country pick 10 upcoming new releases that they’re especially excited to read. This month’s selections include the story of a woman who defies the odds to become a chemist in the 1960s, a heist novel that wonders – is it really stealing if it was stolen from you in the first place?, and a collection of science fiction stories from acclaimed musician, actress, and now author Janelle Monáe.

Top Pick: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

In the 50s and early 60s when women were viewed as little more than
chattel for men’s convenience, Elizabeth Zott had the temerity to become a
chemist. With complex and wonderful characters, her story is funny, sad,
enraging, hopeful, and will have readers cheering for every character and all
women everywhere. For fans of Where’d You Go Bernadette?, The Rosie
Project
, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. —Judy G. Sebastian, Eastham Public Library

What to Read While You Wait: Park Avenue Summer by Renée Rosen

Continue reading “Library Reads: April 2022”