News and Reviews
“Should I watch Dune?” you ask. ABSOLUTELY!
It is a cool twist on sci-fi, if you just think of sci-fi as Star Trek/Wars or the Expanse. There really isn’t much technology, and there aren’t any robots or aliens. The Known Universe is ruled by an Emperor overseeing Dukes that govern entire planets (some of which are in deadly feuds), there are all these mysterious “schools” playing complex politics while providing services to The Imperium, and the there is this crazy drug that like everyone is addicted to, that is only found on one planet! And this planet is a desert with mysterious native people and GIANT WORMS that they ride around on to epic rock music, no big deal. Also did I mention Patrick Stewart is in it? Also, did I mention Sting is in it?
I can’t say much about how representative of a David Lynch movie it is, not having seen any other of his works. But I like the idea of him, cultivated by articles my phone recommends that I only read the blurb for, and I think it fits with that aesthetic pretty well.
The Liar's Dictionary * by a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Eley Williams (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is “simultaneously a love story, an office comedy, a sleuth mystery and a slice of gaslit late Victoriana…” (The Guardian)
Mallory, a young intern and the sole employee of the Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary is tasked by the current director, 70 year-old David Swansby to identify all the Mountweazel (n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference) in preparation for digitization of the second edition. In between, she spends her time memorizing stationary labels in the supply closet while eating her lunch, and fielding phone calls by somebody threatening to blow up the building.
And mountweazel she finds with the help of her “flatmate” (lover), Pip, lots of them. They were the work of Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, who, in 1899 was toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s, “in bored anonymity, speaking with an affected lisp and infatuated with the fiancée of his coworker and archnemesis… Buried beneath the torrents of puns and linguistic riffing is a story about two people from different eras connected by the thread of language, free to invent and repurpose words as they please, but who are less adept at navigating that far more indefinable terrain: the human heart.” (Library Journal)
“The author combines a Nabokovian love of wordplay with an Ali Smith--like ability to create eccentric characters who will take up permanent residence in the reader's heart. This is a sheer delight for word lovers.”(Publishers Weekly)
* = Starred review
Throughout most of the 19th century surgeons performed surgeries in unclean rooms, with tables, tools, and aprons, layered with blood and the remains of past surgeries. The gore was seen as a source of pride, showing off how many surgeries they had performed. Infection was seen as desirable, the discharge that is now recognized as something to be avoided, was then considered part of the healing process. The death rate in hospitals was so bad that they were places to be avoided at all costs; home surgery was performed if one could afford it. This was the state of surgery when Joseph Lister, the subject of Lindsey Fitzharris's The Butchering Art, began his training.
As someone with autism and who has worked with people with autism, media certainly skews to one end of the spectrum. I'm always on the search to find books about people on the other end, who are nonverbal and have higher needs.
I found this last year in Planet Earth is Blue, which presents a refreshing and thoughtful take on autism. While it would win points just for presenting a character who is nonverbal—a rarity in literature, especially fiction—it's also one of the best representations of autism I've read.
The main character is fully fleshed out—she's not just an autistic person, but someone with a full life outside of her disability. Her concerns have little to do with her autism and lack of speech, instead focusing on her missing sister and foster home situation and the upcoming space launch. (That's right, a book about a person with a disability where the book doesn't completely revolve around their disability!)
Some wonderful adult books heave been adapted for kids and AADL has several in the collection. Although these books are meant for children, I have found adults can enjoy them as well. If you don’t have time to read the full version of these, try checking out the youth version. You’ll come away with a good sense of the story and perhaps be inspired to read the grown-up version, one of these days…
Killjoys, the five-season TV show (DVD, Blu-Ray), is a high intensity science fiction adventure full of fight scenes, space travel, and on-point humor. The story focuses on three scrappy bounty hunters who might just save the universe . . . after they make a stop at the bar.
Upon starting the series, you’d be forgiven if you thought you’d missed a few episodes; Killjoys drops you right into the action and bounces from location to location in “the J” star system, where Earth isn’t even a reference point. To get you primed: “killjoys” are interplanetary bounty hunters, “joy” is money, “Old Town” is something of a wild west slum town on the planet “Westerly,” and then there’s the “Qureshi” ruling class, whose dominant apathy toward the rest of the “Quad” is kinder than drawing their draconian attention. Don’t ask how the characters could realistically source all their cool gizmos and giant guns, or their dramatic hair and costume changes--just roll with the dynamic visual punch it packs.
This found-family of mercs hits as hard as they drink, but they always have each other’s backs, from the tough-as-nails princess/pirate/assassin Dutch, to the goofy-smart Jacoby brothers, to the sassy ship-AI, Lucy. Following the rules isn’t their strong suit—getting into, and out of crazy scrapes is much more their style. All told, the show is a grittier, flashier, stab-y-er version of Firefly.
Happy New Year from AADL! Heading into the first month of 2021, we have a number of updates to share with you about Library services—new and resuming—along with some exciting projects we have planned!
Library lobbies remain open from noon to 8pm seven days a week for contactless pickup service, with contactless locker pickup also an option at all four AADL branches. We thank you for your patience as we adapt to changing public health conditions, and we look forward to resuming full service as soon as we safely can.
January 2021 Service Updates:
Well SHIVER MY APPENDAGES! It's cold and snowy, and yet the AADL BADGE FORGE, located in the mysterious SECRET LAB ANNEX ANNEX, is glowy and bright, and bustling with activity!
HOW CAN THIS BE?
Well, if we're all to be SHUFFLING ABOUT IN OUR SLIPPERS for a few more months, sipping LUKEWARM DRINKS and staring longingly at APPLEBEES COMMERCIALS of all things, then your friendly badgesmiths at AADL said to each other, LET'S FIRE IT UP!
SO! We're shivering with anticipation to introduce you to THE WINTER GAME! New badges every day through March 12, featuring things to WATCH, things to LISTEN to, things to READ, things to DO, and things to SOLVE! All from the comfort of your own PAJAMAS! With Summer Game 2021 points behind every code and badge to get an early start on your POINTS HOARD!
In fact, today we've got SNOWY DOCUMENTARIES and SNOWIER PICTUREBOOKS, an ALARMING PODCAST, an adventure in LEGO and a spooky AFTER HOURS visit to MALLETTS CREEK... and that's just TODAY'S (snow) DROP!
For you Summer Game pros, we're saving LOGGING, REVIEWS, RATINGS, and HOME CODES for the summer. But every day around Noon , we'll drop new badges... and stay tuned for some exciting and mysterious ways that YOU can connect with others through a long, cold winter! AND MAYBE EVEN SOME SPECIAL SHOP AUCTIONS!
So stay tuned for new badges and new details each day, let us know if you have any questions or run into any trouble, stay warm and as always....
THANKS FOR PLAYING!
It’s 2021, which means it is time for something completely new! We figured there wasn’t a better moment to introduce GAMES and PUZZLES. We’re adding all sorts of games to the collection from Betrayal at House on the Hill to Ticket to Ride. We’ve got lots of games you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. If you’re looking for a way to spice up game night, we’ve got your back.
For those looking for a more cooperative, less rules-heavy experience, AADL is also offering jigsaw puzzles. Who doesn’t want more puzzles in their life? With 100, 500, and 1,000 piece puzzles available for checkout, we can meet any sort of puzzling demand, from those looking for a fun, low-key activity to more serious puzzlers who will solve alone, late into the night.
What’s that, you say? You’re a slow puzzler, it takes you days to learn the new rules of a game? That’s maybe the best part of these new additions: we’ll be circulating them for four weeks! That’s right, you’ll have four weeks to find those corner pieces! Four weeks to demonstrate your economic prowess vis a vis sheep trading to your awed family! Four whole weeks to revel in the delight of a new challenge (or more). And once your time is up, you can come back to AADL and start the process all over again.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #762, “Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Among the Booklist’s Top 10 Romance Debuts are these 2 delightful historicals.
Spurned debutante Julia Thistlewaite learns through her brother that The Honourable Mr. Jeremy Malcolm, second son of the Earl of Kilbourne finds her lacking the many qualifications on his well-crafted list for a suitable wife. To exact revenge Julia invites her friend Selina Dalton, a vicar's daughter, to London, planning to tailor her to Jeremy's list, attract his attention, and then reject him for failing to meet the qualifications of her own list. Selina is reluctant to participate in Julia's scheme, especially after meeting the irresistible Mr. Malcolm, who appears to be very different from the arrogant scoundrel of Julia's description.
“By focusing on a few well-developed characters, screenwriter and debut romance writer Allain make it easy for readers to become emotionally engaged in the progress of these friendships and budding romantic relationships. She also provides a cheeky look at the different expectations placed on men versus women during the Regency Era, revealing the limitations society accords individuals in terms of their family connections and personal wealth and education.” (Library Journal)
“This effervescent love story is a charmer.” (Publishers Weekly)
To Have and to Hoax * * by Martha Waters (eBook, also available as downloadable audiobook) In this hilarious debut Regency rom-com, an estranged couple feign accidents and illness in an attempt to gain attention, and maybe just win each other back in the process.
After a whirlwind romance and a year of wedded bliss, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley are reduced to cold detached politeness. When Violet learns James has been thrown from his horse, she rushes to their country estate, only to find him alive and well at a tavern. Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own which James quickly sees through, but he decides to play along. “ What follows is a series of riotously funny mishaps, pranks, and misunderstandings as the feuding couple weaponize Regency manners for their own ends. Waters gently lampoons genre tropes without sacrificing genuine feeling. Self-aware and brimming with well-timed epiphanies, this joyful, elegant romp is sure to enchant.” (Publishers Weekly)
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Vanessa Riley - this multicultural historical Regency romance is the first in the Rogues & Remarkable Women Series, for fans of Beverly Jenkins, Evie Dunmore, and Alyssa Cole.
Romance burns slow and hot between a rakish war hero and a determined widow in this bewitching Regency series opener. When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband Colin’s mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Hired by Lionel’s unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, as his nanny, Patience all the while, is hatching a foolhardy plan to claim her trust documents and whisk her son to her homeland as soon as possible.
“Riley’s well-researched depiction of 1814 England tells a broad story of life in wartime, the lack of women’s rights, mental health, and suicide, while, with all the difficulties they face, Patience and Busick’s love story feels genuine and deep.” (Booklist)
* * = 2 starred reviews
* = Starred review
For the 13th year in a row, the Ann Arbor District Library earned five stars in Library Journal’s annual ratings of public libraries across the nation. AADL has been a five star library since Library Journal created its America Star Libraries ratings in 2008.
LJ's ratings are based on per capita output measures based on FY18 data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Public Library Survey. Seven measures determined total scores and star ratings in 2020:
Circulation of physical materials
I’ve always enjoyed Corey Strong’s music. His voice is something special: it’s powerful, resonant, and soulful. When he sings, he has a distinct sound that connects with listeners. On the album It’s Christmas, Strong showcases his voice with songs that celebrate the season with joy. He can interpret many styles including pop, Broadway, jazz, and gospel. The album is filled with carols that are spiritual and whimsical, giving a nice balance for all the moods we tend to experience during this time. In one of the album’s highlights, The First Noel, Strong is warm and contemplative against a lush piano. In Oh Holy Night, he’s confident and his voice soars alongside the stirring arrangement. In Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas he sings alongside a jazzy ensemble and the lyrics of this song seem to resonate even more during these challenging times. For those who want something less holiday centered, What a Wonderful World is the perfect choice. Fans of the classic song will enjoy this simple treasure. This album is a perfect soundtrack for whatever mood you’re in this season. Whenever I need to find the holiday spirit, I play It’s Christmas because it gives me joy and I look forward to what Strong will release next. If you’re looking to find the same joy, be sure to give this album a listen.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #761, Award-Winning Debut Short Story Collections in Celebration of Winter Solstice
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories * * by Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa is the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize. “In sparse prose braced with disarming humor, Thammavongsa (born in a Laotian refugee camp) offers glimpses into the daily lives of immigrants and refugees in a nameless city, illuminating the desires, disappointments, and triumphs of those who so often go unseen..." (The Paris Review)
In these 14 stories (among them one short-listed for Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O.Henry Award winner) we meet watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values.
In the titular story a young school girl is embarrassed when she finds her father unable to pronounce simple English words. In the 2019 O. Henry-prized "Slingshot" a 70-year-old woman experiences a summer of sexual reawakening with her 32-year-old neighbor. Red, a chicken factory worker longs for a nose job so she would have a chance at the front office where everyone has “a thin nose that stuck out from her face and pointed upward.” In "Randy Travis," when her mother becomes obsessed with the country singer, a 7 year-old is made to write hundreds of love letters in her name.
Winner of the 2019 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, and hailed by Lauren Groff as “fully committed to the truth no matter how dark or difficult or complicated it may be”, Sleepovers: Stories *, the debut short story collection by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips takes us to a forgotten corner of the rural South, full of cemeteries, soybean fields, fishing holes, and Duck Thru gas stations.
Each story focuses on individuals in the same rural, hardscrabble North Carolina town. In "Shania," a 7 year-old is awed by her friend named after the country music star. As blood sisters they know little about each other’s family circumstance, and their friendship is cut short after domestic violence erupts in Shania's decrepit house. In "The Locket" Shirley, a 60-year-old pool custodian with a painful childhood befriends Krystal, a teenage babysitter with an impressive dive, and offers up her only treasure, with devastating consequences.
"Phillips demonstrates an impressive ease at depicting transition, trauma, and loss, brilliantly evoking a close-knit world held together by the strength of friendship. This collection stands out in the field of current Southern fiction.” (Publishers Weekly)
Anthony Veasna So, Author on the Brink of Stardom, Dies at 28. The author of crackling, kinetic and darkly comedic stories that made vivid the lives of first-generation Khmer-Americans. Death was sudden and unexpected. (The New York Times)
So’s first book, Afterparties: Stories (eBook), a collection of short stories have been described as a “history-haunted comedy of Cambodian-American manners,” is to be published by Ecco next August, after a fierce bidding war.
One of the stories in the collection (that first appeared in the literary journal n+1) “Superking Son Scores Again” is that of “hapless, hopeful and striving teenage skater boys, clad in too-large T-shirts, eager for heroes, even fallen ones like Superking Son.“ In “The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” which The New Yorker published in February, Mr. So writes of two sisters, Kayley and Tevy, typical preteen and teenage Cambodian-American children. They are working the night shift one summer with their mother at the family’s restaurant, chafing at the ever-present burden of their parents’ hideous past trauma, flicking it away with black humor.
* * = 2 starred reviews
* = Starred review
AADL holiday hours for all locations:
December 23: Noon-8pm
December 24: Closed
It’s been a long year, and we know we can’t be the only ones getting tired of the walls of our homes. Have no fear, the Art Print collection is here to save your interior decorating needs with an infusion of new works to spice up your home. We’re introducing six new artists to the collection, with multiple works for you to check out and take home.
For those that miss our Letterpress Labs or just want a bold splash of color to shake up a room, Amos Kennedy’s prints are a great choice. These letterpress prints feature words to live by, or at least think about, overlaid over bright colors. From Art Lives! to War, Kennedy never loses sight of the final work, so the viewer is treated to a poster that gives the impression of words coalescing out of the chaos of life.
Anusree Sattaluri perfectly captures the coziness of quiet moments. The focus on the simple details, the small things in life that make a moment special, lend her works a calming, comforting presence. Sattaluri creates worlds you just want to step into for a relaxing day. There's no stress in these works, they're suffused with a delightful sense of warmth and home.
When you're pregnant, there's pressure to create a birth plan. One of the options when creating your plan is whether you want a natural or hospital birth. Not many people stop to consider that they could have both.
Written by a Washtenaw County doula (who I worked with preparing for my own birth), Natural Hospital Birth discusses how to create a birth plan step by step and what issues are important to address when planning a natural hospital birth. There is information on how the birth process works and why it is important to have your needs met, as well as tips on advocating to make sure they are.
What's extra special about this book is that there is no judgment. When it comes to natural vs. medicalized birth, the debate can be heated as to which is best. Gabriel makes the answer clear: Whatever YOU want.
Many of our European ancestors spent the cold, dark nights of winter huddled together around a fire, cozy in the warmth and light, sharing stories. And everyone knows the best fireside stories are ghost stories.
Charles Dickens was far from the only 19th century author penning spectral tales. M.R. James is perhaps best remembered for his ghost stories, and his "Dinner for One" is included in the modern collection Ghosts of Christmas Past. Other Progressive Era authors included in the anthology are E. Nesbit ("This Beautiful House") and Jerome K. Jerome ("The Ghost of the Blue Chamber").
Many of us delved deeper into the world of home cooking than ever before in 2020. Although I didn’t ever jump on the bread-baking wagon, I did enjoy trying out dozens of new recipes from all over the world this past year. And now that it looks like we’ll be spending another winter cooking at home, I’m looking for new cookbooks to peruse and get inspiration from! Cookbooks also make lovely holiday presents, so what better time to check out some of the best releases of the past year and place some on hold for yourself or purchase one for a loved one? Here are some of the best cookbooks of 2020:
In Bibi’s Kitchen is a beautifully photographed cookbook of recipes from eight different eastern African countries. Chef Hawa Hassan, who was born in Somalia and immigrated to Seattle when she was a child, interviewed a variety of African women (“bibi” means “grandmother”) to hear about the recipes that they’ve cooked throughout their lives. Hassan says that her intention in creating the cookbook was to “sustain a cultural legacy,” and now cooks can honor these African food traditions at home, with the help of In Bibi’s Kitchen.
East, by Meera Sodha, is a colorful new cookbook featuring vegan and vegetarian recipes from Asia. The recipes are delightfully accessible and feature easy-to-find ingredients that still allow you to create dishes packed with delicious and unique flavors. The book has recipes of all types: sides, main dishes, salads, noodles, curries, tofu, desserts… all inspired by or directly from East Asian countries. I bought this book for my sister for her birthday and I hope she’ll let me borrow it!
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #760, “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.” ~ Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
Translated (by Alison Watts) into English for the first time, Sweet Bean Paste, by former journalist/essayist Durian Sukegawa is a contemporary tale about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.
Once Sentaro Tsujii dreamed of being a writer but now, released from prison, estranged from his family, he fills his day making and selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste and his nights drinking to oblivion. But everything changes on a spring day during cherry blossom season. Into the tiny confectionery shop walks 76-year-old Tokue Yoshii, offering to work for pittance. As the two work together, a friendship develops though Tokue is evasive about herself and where she lives. Despite her disfigured hands, she teaches Sentaro the fine points in making the best sweet bean paste, and business flourishes.
Among the many customers who flock to the shop is Wakana, a lonely schoolgirl who befriends Tokue. But then, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.
“Inspired by the 1996 repeal of Japanese legislation that for more than a century inhumanely confined patients with Hansen's Disease (leprosy), and their families, Sukegawa-enabled by Watts's lucid translation-tells an endearing, thoughtful tale about relationships and the everyday meaning of life.”(Library Journal)
“A bittersweet confection about prejudice and friendship.” (The Guardian)
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is a moving and joyous novel about an elderly woman ready to embrace death and the little girl who reminds her what it means to live.
85 year-old Eudora Honeysett is done enduring the pains, weakness, and indignities of old age. She becomes aware of an alternative from a chance meeting at the local hospital. After a life of grief, disappointments and missed opportunities, her end will be on her terms, with the help of a clinic in Switzerland.
Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, her new neighbor - “a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of sparkling cheer” who, despite Eudora’s resistance, gamely insinuates herself into Eudora's daily routine, and soon, their twosome is joined by recently widowed Stanley Marcham in a series of adventures.
“British author Lyons builds a certain and compassionate case for why her protagonist wants to go through vibrant flashbacks that reveal the depth of Eudora's character and sources of despair. Teeming with curmudgeonly elders and precocious youngsters, Lyons' touching tale of intergenerational friendship is reminiscent of Frederik Backman's A Man Called Ove (2014). Despite the somber underlying subject, this is a thoroughly enchanting feel-good read.” (Booklist)
I work in a library. I'm kind of a book person. So when I was pregnant and preparing to give birth, I looked for books to help me get ready. One unexpected resource was When Survivors Give Birth. The reach of this book goes far beyond its intended audience. Penny Simkin wrote this guide to help people who are pregnant and giving birth after having experienced sexual assault, but it is very informative to anyone who is looking at a birth who might face challenges.
This book speaks to both those preparing for birth and providers helping those who have experienced sexual assault to give birth. It addresses mental barriers as well as physical triggers, with suggestions on finding a provider that will be beneficial, screening patients for past trauma, and working together on solutions like using appropriate language and managing stressful reactions.
Though I have never experienced assault, as a trans and disabled person, this book was one of the most helpful and enlightening ones I found, and I used several suggestions in discussions with my midwives and doulas. It is a necessary resource for providers, and useful for birthing people.
In this crazy, mixed up world we’re living in, escapism is a must. And you can’t do any better than Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air trilogy, made up of The Cruel Prince, Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing. The books, the first of which was published in 2018, follow the character of Jude Duarte, a human girl, as she navigates the beautiful and cut-throat world of Faerie. Over the course of the series, 17 year old Jude deals with court politics, power struggles, and her own feelings. Along the way, she comes into contact with a colorful cast of characters that really give these books a distinctive flavor.
With her signature dark, quirky style, Holly Black presents a story full of magic, romance, and swordplay. Whereas many authors shy away from true enemies to lovers style romantic tension, Black leans into it, making these books and characters completely unforgettable. Despite the fantastical setting, Jude’s struggles are relatable and readers are bound to root for her. With a new novella related to the series just released at the end of November, now is the perfect time to dig into this rich world! These books can’t be missed.
Most people have heard of transgender people, and transitioning to male and female. But what about when you're “other”? That's an option! Here are some books to present these identities to others, and to familiarize yourself with the options.
They/Them/Their is a handy guide to those just learning about nonbinary identities. It discusses some of the options and how gender isn't necessarily an either/or option.
While Born Both is about intersex people, it also is a great read for anyone who doesn't feel exactly male or female. Hida Viloria walks through her journey upon finding out she's intersex as she begins exploring all sides to this identity and becomes an advocate for those outside the binary.
The AADL resumes contactless pickup service beginning Wednesday, December 9, at noon at all five AADL locations.
Library lobbies will remain open from noon to 8pm seven days a week for contactless pickup service, with contactless locker pickup also an option at four AADL branches.
Due to high numbers of new COVID cases in Washtenaw County, we are making some adjustments to enable service to continue with fewer staff in the buildings at the same time, to decrease the risk of spread among our staff. This means some services will be temporarily suspended in December. We thank you for your patience as we adapt to changing public health conditions, and we look forward to resuming full service as soon as we safely can.
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is more than a book of recipes; it’s an education, exploration, and exaltation of seasonal, indigenous American food. Author and chef Sean Sherman has worked to decolonize the Indigenous diet by tracing the history of foods and their introduction to the first people. There is no white flour, sugar, or dairy in this cookbook - only authentic Indigenous ingredients that have evidence of being utilized in America before European influence. While there were many unfamiliar ingredients to me - like juniper and sunchokes- there was plenty of the familiar, too, like sweet corn and squash. Chef Sherman encourages homecooks to go out to your local farmer’s market and find ingredients that are in season and close to your kitchen, and incorporate or substitute them into the recipes. The focus stays on the fundamentals of food, with the recipes organized into chapters based on where ingredients are gathered, like Fields and Gardens, and Prairies and Lakes. Even if you don’t plan on making any of the recipes featured, the beautiful photos and Sherman’s informative writing is well worth checking out. I especially enjoyed reading through and seeing the beautiful photography, the special attention paid to every ingredient, and the anecdotes and informative stories sprinkled throughout.
During this live streaming event, the 10 New York Times book editors each gave an impassioned endorsement for their personal favorites that did not make the list. Here they are:
- The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
- The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
- Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankin
- Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght
- Jack by Marilynne Robinson
- Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
- The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
- Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
- Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick
- The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Patrick Henrich
Kirkus Reviews: Best Books of 2020: 100 favorite fiction titles this year, as well as the 100 Best Picture Books for young readers.
Library Journal: Best Books 2020: Worst Year, Best Books, 144 titles across 15 categories will help get libraries and readers through to better days.
In J. Courtney Sullivan's latest novel, Friends and Strangers, she continues to demonstrate her ability to paint complex portraits of women at different stages of life. Sullivan is the author of four well-received previous novels, including Maine, Commencement, The Engagements and Saints for All Occasions. While some of these are set in the present day and some are historical fiction, all ask questions of their female characters that are deeply relevant to women then and now: do I want to become a mother? What if I don't want to become a mother? What if I regret becoming a mother? Should I get married? Should I stay with my partner when things aren't working? How can and should I support myself and my family?
Friends and Strangers asks these questions and more of two main characters, new mother Elisabeth and her college-aged nanny, Sam. Despite coming from very different backgrounds and being over a decade different in age, the two bond quickly. But each woman is dealing with some personal struggles and working to decide what trajectory to take in life. Elisabeth endured a series of brutal fertility treatments to have her first and only child, and now her husband wants another, but she isn't sure, especially because she's keeping a secret from her husband that she wants to share with him but doesn't know how. Sam met an older British man when she was visiting a friend in London and he wants to get married as soon as she graduates from college, preventing her from pursuing her dream career. Over the course of the book, both women make decisions and mistakes that lead to changes in their relationship to loved ones and each other, and ultimately to a surprising rift.
The Night Parade follows the adventures of a young Japanese teenager as she navigates the real and spiritual realms of a traditional village. If you're a fan of films like Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away then you'll find lots to love here.
On a fateful summer vacation, young Saki leaves her friends and the city behind to visit her grandmother in the family’s ancestral village. Caught between a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine, Saki’s grandmother’s house becomes the jumping-off point in a wild adventure through the human and spirit worlds when Saki accidentally triggers a death curse. Who can you trust when the local spirits and the neighborhood teenagers all have agendas of their own? Can Saki break the curse in time, or will doom fall on her family and on the colorful cast of spirits she’s met along the way? With only three nights to make things right, Saki finds herself locked in a race against time.
Author Kathryn Tanquary deftly mixes the real-world truth of depopulation and decline in rural communities all across Japan, along with tribulations of family life that would be recognizable to everyone who has ever been a kid or a teenager. Added to this is a thrilling, sometimes funny and always heart-warming odyssey through ordinary mountain paths and an infinitely grander, far stranger world hiding just slightly beyond what we can see.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #759, “Roommates are like a box of cheap fireworks, you never know what they will do next.” ~ Kilroy J. Oldster
Overeducated, underemployed Connecticut socialite Clara Wheaton takes an impulsive leap of faith moving cross-country to house-share with childhood crush Elliott Bloom, only to find herself unceremoniously deposited at Elliot’s doorstep as he speeds off to tour with his band. Disappointment becomes resentment when she finds Elliott has rented out his room for the summer. An internet search reveals that her new roommate is none other than heart-throb porn star Josh Darling.
Their easy rapport and budding friendship develops into a no-strings-attached relationship and a new business venture “somewhere between porn and sex-ed,” designed to teach women’s partners how to better please them in bed. “Danan makes this novel premise work with a charming, believable heroine; an offbeat hero with a heart of gold; and snappy, laugh-out-loud prose. Romance fans will especially appreciate that the steamy erotic scenes are used to further character development, rather than just for cheap thrills. This delectable rom-com is both red-hot and fiercely feminist.” (Publishers Weekly)
When Layla Patel returns home to San Francisco jobless, homeless and in shame after a video of her reaction to finding her photographer boyfriend in bed with 2 of his models went viral, her father offers her the office above the family restaurant to start her own business, nevermind that he neglects to tell her that Sam Mehta, the CEO of a redundancy business is the current tenant. As neither of them will vacate, they reluctantly agree to share the space.
Then Layla discovers that her father has posted her marriage résumé on a Indian dating website. To avoid making the same mistakes from her past relationships, Layla agrees to meet the 10 men on her father's list. Sam, with reasons of his own, offers to be her chaperon until one of them wins the bet : if Layla finds a husband among the blind dates, she will surrender the office to Sam, if she doesn't, then Sam must leave the office.
“It's a blast to witness Sam and Layla exchange flirtatious barbs as their snarky chemistry blossoms into something real over the course of Layla's hilariously disastrous dates. Rom-com fans should take note of this fresh, fun offering.” (Publishers Weekly)
Bonus Feature: Unconventional Roommates
Ben(son) and Mike live together in the slowly gentrifying Third Ward of Houston. Ben is black and works as a day-care teacher, while Mike, of Japanese descent, is a cook in a Mexican restaurant. After 4 years together, sex is sporadic and things are rocky between them. Then Mike’s mother Mitsuko arrives from Japan for a visit, but upon hearing that his estranged father is dying, Mike promptly takes off for Osaka, leaving his mother with Ben who speaks no Japanese.
As unconventional roommates, Mitsuko and Benson try to make the best of an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. In the meantime in Osaka, Mike tries to get to know his father Eiju who abandoned the family decades ago. As they share a tiny apartment and Mike helps manage Eiju’s neighborhood bar, he gains a new perspective on their shared history, and a renewed sense of self.
“Tender, funny, and heartbreaking, this tale of family, food (Mike cooks for their Venezuelan neighbors; Mitsuko makes Ben congee), and growing apart feels intimate and expansive at the same time.” (Publishers Weekly)
"A subtle and moving exploration of love, family, race, and the long, frustrating search for home.” (Kirkus Reviews)
* * * * = 4 starred reviews
* * = 2 starred reviews
* = Starred review
Due to positive COVID tests among Library staff and family, all AADL locations will be closed for at least 2 weeks starting Sunday, November 15th.
All AADL Lobbies will be closed to the public and no pickups will be possible.
All items ready for pickup or waiting for a pickup to be scheduled will stay right where they are until we reopen. All scheduled pickups will be canceled and you'll be able to reschedule them after we reopen.