Monday, February 27, 2017

More Grownup Reading

I've posted a few roundups over the past couple of years featuring great adult books that I've been reading. Lately, maybe because of my obsession with Litsy, Book Riot, and The Book of the Month Club, I've been reading more adult books than ever. We've also pressed pause on our giant booktalking program since we've restructured our staff, which takes some of the pressure off reading so many children's books (although of course I still love to read children's and teen books).

And I've been finding and reading some really great books lately, so I definitely wanted to share the love and tell you about what I've been loving lately. Here are 11 more great books for your TBR shelves!



Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Ecco, 2014).

SO SCARY. I'm the first to admit that I'm a scary story wimp, but this psychological horror novel was terrifying in a way that had me turning the pages to see what would happen next. Something is out there, something so terrifying that one glimpse can drive a person mad. The survivors board themselves in and blindfold themselves when they step outside. Now Malorie and her two young kids must attempt escape. So Malorie blindfolds herself and her children and they set off down the river. But how can you escape what you cannot see?



The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2016).

This book was just yummy in every way. It's a light, breezy love story that's perfect for book lovers. After being laid off from her librarian job, Nina decides to follow her dream of opening a bookshop, but intimidated by hiring and managing a staff and a lease, she elects to convert a large van into a mobile bookshop in the Scottish Highlands. This is a love story to books, but it's also a literal love story as a train engineer vies for her attention and her new landlord is mysteriously attractive under his gruff facade. The Scottish village setting was another huge draw for me: I could practically see the scenery Colgan was painting as I read.



Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Spiegel and Grau, 2016; Audible Studios).

I picked up this audiobook when it was offered for free by Audible. I am actually not a huge watcher of The Daily Show, but Noah's memoir of growing up in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa was fascinating. He was born during Apartheid to a black mother and a white father, so his very existence was, in fact, a crime. Noah speaks about race and conflict and poverty and family in a place that I knew very little about. His memoir is not only entertaining, especially the audiobook which he narrates himself, but eye-opening. You know how I feel about celebrity memoirs, and this is one that's definitely worth a read.



Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (Grove Press, 2017).

The title of this short story collection says it all. These stories about women are sometimes difficult to read, dealing with women who are in difficult situations or have to make impossible choices or who are trying to survive tragedies. They are hauntingly beautiful and ugly stories to be savored. This wasn't a book I could read in a weekend, but a book that I picked up and read and then put down to process.



Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (Crown, 2016).

This book made me think and it has not stopped making me think since I read it months ago. It was very, very difficult for me to check my privilege when I started reading this book, but I think I managed it by the end. I get so frustrated by lost books at the library - books that are checked out and then never returned - but reading this book helped me understand a little better some of the reasons that it might happen. All public librarians should read this book, particularly anyone serving an area with any housing instability.



The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, 2015; Hachette Audio).

Looking for a fantasy series you can really sink your teeth into? (Actually.... I am pretty convinced that this is science fiction, technically, but it reads like high fantasy, so I think it could please readers of either.) I am not a huge reader of adult science fiction or fantasy, but I had been hearing so much buzz about this one that I grabbed the audiobook when I saw it on sale. The book drew me in with its multiple storylines and when I started to figure out how they all fit together, I was finding any excuse to listen to my audiobook to see how it would all play out.



Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright, 2016; Highbridge Audio).

Set in sunny Jamaica, this is the story of a family trying to piece together a life as a drought pounds on and poverty seems to build walls around them. Margot works at a gorgeous resort where rich tourists come to spend time in the sand and surf. Margot has accepted her position and the things she must do in order to make a better life for her younger sister Thandi. Thandi is smart. Thandi is their ticket out. If Margot can pull together the resources to put Thandi through school, she will make it out of poverty and bring the entire family with her. But is that what Thandi really wants? Narrated by Bahni Turpin, the audiobook was the way to go for this one, as a bunch of the dialog is written in patois and the audiobook helped me understand it more easily.



Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016).

I had been hearing and hearing about this one and I'm so glad because I don't think I would have picked it up on my own and then I would have lost out on this hopeful story of a girl crossing the country to find herself. I loved the protagonist of this story so much that I found it hard to put the book down, despite the fact that it could have used some more careful editing. Juliet, a gay, newly feminist, college student from the Bronx, takes a summer internship in Portland, Oregon with her idol, author Harlowe Brisbane and her life begins to change. Juliet isn't sure what she wants out of this internship except to spend more time with her favorite author, but she ends up learning a ton about feminism, gender identity, race, and more. If you want a book with a character that you can just really root for and believe in, or if you're looking to educate yourself about gender, feminism, etc., don't miss this one.



A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Atria Books, 2014; Dreamscape Media).

This is a touching story that's stuck with me for a long time. When we first meet Ove, we know he's a recently retired man who feels like he's outlived his usefulness and is determined to off himself, only things keep getting in his way. Backman reveals the whole story gradually and along the way the reader falls in love with Ove. This is just my kind of story - completely character centered with tone that's a mix of humorous and serious. The audio recording is very pleasant to listen to and it's an audiobook that kept me getting my daily walks in because I needed to visit with Ove and find out what happened to him next.



The Mothers by Brit Bennett (Riverhead Books, 2016).

Here is another character-centered gem. When Nadia is a teenager, she falls in love with an older boy named Luke and she befriends Aubrey, a girl new to their community. All three of them are connected by their common church, the Upper Room, but their lives will become more and more entangled as they get older and secrets complicate their lives. The relationships between the characters is what really had me hooked, particularly the relationship between best friends Nadia and Aubrey.



The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown and Co, 2016).

Mounting tension keeps the pages turning in this historical novel set in Ireland in the 1850s. An English nurse is tasked with investigating a supposed miracle - an Irish child who claims not to have eaten in months, surviving off the manna of heaven. This one starts a little slow, but by the halfway mark I absolutely couldn't put it down and I finished it in one night.

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