Love. Romance. Sex. There are books about every aspect of human experience from flirty rom-coms to erotica. The paperback section boasts ‘cozy’ romances that are heavy on the morals and werewolf romances that are less so. Us librarians are happy to make recommendations on all genres including romances, so don’t be afraid to ask for a new read.
Nicholas Sparks, for example, has a reputation for writing love stories that rend your heart strings into a satisfied mess of fibers. Those who have experienced love often have a hard time describing it, but Sparks doesn’t. You’ll forget you’re breathing when his newest book, ‘Every Breath’, sparks somethings in your heart.
If you like your romance with a dollop of remembrance, try Julia Kelly’s new ‘The Light Over London’ or ‘Becoming Mrs. Lewis’ by Patti Callahan Henry. ‘The Light Over London’ zips back and forth between time periods driven by the stories found in relatively common artifacts. Cara Hargraves finds a fetching photograph that draws her into a gripping story of a woman in WWII whose suitor and love interest both went to war. She chooses to become a ‘Gunner Girl’, and the rest, well, all of it, is history. So is the story of Mrs. Lewis. Joy Davidman was an outspoken women, skilled author, thinker, atheist, and the woman the world thought was the least likely match for C.S. Lewis, until she proved them wrong in that too.
If you can’t decide whether you want a book set in the future, present, or past, try ‘Hazards of Time Travel’ by Joyce Carol Oates. In a dystopian future, a 17-year-old speaks out against an oppressive regime only to be exiled 80 years into the past for ‘reeducation’. Now in 1959 Wisconsin, she balances survival with new found love. Yes, it is that cool.
How are you at suspension of disbelief? If you can’t do it, then skip down to the next paragraph. If you can, try ‘The Dinner List’ by Rebecca Serle. Sabrina has imagined what five people she would most like to have dinner with. She didn’t imagine that she would get that chance, but there she is at her thirtieth birthday dinner with her father, her philosophy professor, her bestie, her on and off again lover, and Audrey Hepburn. She suspends her own disbelief to enjoy the strangest, most romantic, and most enlightening meal she’s ever had.
‘Not Quite Over You’ by Susan Mallery is a light read with clear signals. ‘Dark Sentinel’ by Christine Feehan is a similarly overt romance, but the supernatural setting could not be more different. Lisa Gabriele’s ‘The Winters’, on the other hand, is a romance driven by the allure of secrets, passions, and family history. After quickly falling for an ambitious and recently widowed father, a young woman finds herself caught between his dangerous hunger for power, his maniacal daughter, and the memory of his deceased wife.
Whatever your taste in romance, there is a book to match. Swing by the library to see for yourself, or browse online!
“What is a ‘diverse’ book?” We get asked about diverse books so frequently that I think it’s time to talk about it here. People ask because they hear about diverse books from places like Amazon, NPR (and NHPR), the digital library collections, and national organizations like ‘We Need Diverse Books’. ‘Read a Diverse Book’ is also a frequent line in the Library’s reading challenges and summer reading programs. So, what is it?
We need to start by talking about diversity available from book vendors and on library shelves. Diversity on the shelves means having a wide range of topics, perspectives, settings, author culture and heritage, writing styles, mediums, and all kinds of characters. To have a diverse shelf you need to easily find books set in places across the world (even on other worlds! Go Sci-Fi). A diverse set of books will have characters of all races, cultures, languages, beliefs, socioeconomics, genders, and abilities portrayed authentically. Any writer knows that it is difficult to authentically portray a diverse character without lived experience, which is why it is so important that publishers and libraries seek out authors from many cultures and heritages.
Diversity on the shelves serves two purposes. Firstly, readers, kids most of all, want to see themselves in the characters of stories. More than that, they want to see themselves in the star characters, well portrayed, not just as side roles, or worse, as a caricature. By having a diverse collection of books we can guarantee that all readers find at least a few books that speak to their experiences. It helps to affirm what they feel and what they believe, while also offering language to describe their experience.
Secondly, diversity on the shelves means that readers can find stories that expand on their own experiences. Reading a good story driven by a character unlike you or in a setting or culture that is different from your own experience can open your eyes to the ways in which other people live and how they see the world. It can be fascinating. It’s almost always fun. Learning about other cultures and experiences helps to grow empathy, compassion, and understanding.
Having diverse books on the shelves is the best kind of win-win. All readers, even those who have a hard time seeing themselves in a majority of books on the shelves, can find enough books that speak to their experiences and puts someone like them in the star role. Once satiated by the craving for self-recognition in a story, readers can find books about experiences unlike theirs on the same shelf to learn about how others have encountered the world.
When we put ‘Read a Diverse Book’ on a challenge, we are challenging you to read a book by an author with lived experience that is different from your own. We are hoping that you will engage with a character, setting, and/or culture different from your own. Books are extraordinary in their ability to convey emotion and experience without actually living it. On our shelves are many stories than any one of us literally cannot imagine, until we read them. Let’s get to it.
For weeks we’ve been talking about cozy reads, resting, hygge, and generally taking time to relax and collect oneself. Well, we’ve done that, so now it’s time to get up and do something! Let’s get moving. It’s a brand new year and we’ve got goals--let’s make them happen.
But, where do we start? Say you’ve decided to run a 5k in March, or you want to learn how to cook, or you’ve decided to go to back to school. In all cases the first thing you need is information. See where this is going? We have books and digital resources to help you get started on your new goals. If you are serious about reaching your goals, these books can help you set out a plan to learn efficiently. ‘Teaching yourself’ can work, but it tends to be inefficient. Take less time away from the rest of your busy life by learnly intelligently. Instead of just running, learn how to adjust your diet, lifestyle, and running technique to enable your running to improve quickly. Don’t just look up a dish and try following the recipe, get a book on a cooking style, read about how it works and then practice it. Research different course programs, what schools are looking for in their applications, and then cater your application to their expectations. In all these cases there is good and bad information out there. We can help you sort through it all to quickly get the best information available.
‘Happy Runner’ by Meghan Roche is the type of resource we’re talking about. It neither describes a one-size-fits-all method for running nor addresses only a niche demographic. It offers advice on how to thrive at running based on how you think, and to maximize the aspects of running that are most enjoyable. If you’re determined to run a 5k, might as well love it!
‘Real Life Dinners’ is exactly the type of cookbook title that a learner might look for too. Rachel Hollis, the author, is not for everyone, but if she speaks to you then her cookbook will too. A learner who is more into chemical processes instead of emotional ties might look to ‘Food Lab’ instead.
Mix these passions together and try ‘Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow’ by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. Their first cookbook was a hit, but this one focuses on quick dishes for those who do anything else besides cooking. The food is healthy, delicious, and possible. There is even motivation for athleticism and nutrition.
For those thinking about higher education in the New Year, we have current resources on standardized tests, college comparisons, choosing programs and majors, and straightforward books like ‘Paying For College’. It’s all here ready for you to utilize.
So, whatever new thing you are looking to try this year, come learn about it at the Library. We look forward to learning with you!