More Fiction to Read at Home

Happy summer!

With the weather warming up, classes ending, and summertime starting, there’s no better time to find a new book. I understand, though, that finding a new book to read can be tough, so the library is here to help! If you’ve been struggling to pick up a book or can’t decide what to read, here are some great recommendations to start off the summer. All books can be accessed through the library as ebooks or audiobooks. Click titles for catalog access.


Slumberland, Paul Beatty

Booker Award-winning author Paul Beatty’s 2008 novel, Slumberland, tells the story of a Los Angeles DJ who travels to Berlin in search of the perfect person to accompany his latest masterpiece. His journey takes him through the streets of Berlin, where he begins to search for meaning and identity in the world around him. Slumberland is insightful, thoughtful, and, at times, hilarious. Beatty is an incredible writer, and Slumberland is just one novel in an entire catalog of impressive work.

To see other novels by Paul Beatty, click here

 

Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan

McEwan sets his latest novel in an alternate 1980’s London, where England lost the Falklands War, Alan Turing is still alive, and the internet and social media already exist. The story follows Adam–a synthetic human, or android–as he’s acquired by a man named Charlie, who then programs him with the help of a woman named Miranda. McEwan’s novel asks, among several other questions, just what makes us human, and whether machines are capable of understanding human emotion.

To see other novels by Ian McEwan, click here

 

 

All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg

Andrea Bern doesn’t know who she is. Sure, she knows what to tell her therapist, but behind closed doors, she is alone, a drinker, a former artist, and more. While those around her are growing up and having children, she wonders what it really means to be an adult, as she is on a different path than the rest of her siblings and friends. When Andrea’s niece is born with a life-threatening condition, she and her family must come together and reexamine their priorities. Told in a series of vignettes, All Grown Up is a clear demonstration of Attenberg’s skills as a storyteller.

To see other novels by Jami Attenberg, click here

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan

After feeling the effects of the Great Recession, Clay Jannon begins working at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, though he soon learns that there is more to this store than books. Customers are rare, and instead of buying anything, they simply check-out various books from odd corners of the store. Curious, Clay devises a plan to research these folks, but when he eventually brings his findings to Mr. Penumbra himself, Clay learns that more secrets await him in the mysterious bookstore.

To see other novels by Robin Sloan, click here.

Twitter Email

Recommended Reading From Lit Lang

Finding the next book to read can be tough. Sometimes you’re overwhelmed by the available options and can’t pick one. Other times, you just may not know what to read. If this sounds like you, Lit Lang is here to help. On today’s blog post, you’ll find a variety of recommendations from various genres. To find these items in the library catalog, simply click on the title.

The Sellout, Paul Beatty 

2016 winner of the Booker Prize, The Sellout is a satire, following the story of the narrator as he discusses his life in Dickens, a lower-income town outside of Los Angeles. After his father is killed in a police shooting and his city of Dickens is wiped off California maps, the narrator decides to take action. With the help of another resident of Dickens, the narrator puts the town into the spotlight by reinstating slavery and segregation in the schools, landing him in the Supreme Court.

 

 

How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

How to be an Antiracist breaks down the intricacies of racism within society and points the reader towards new ways of thinking about ourselves and others, asking the reader to imagine what an antiracist society looks like and how we can progress towards one through our own actions. Kendi’s 2019 book gives readers the ability to do more than simply acknowledge racism: it gives them the knowledge and tools to help contribute to a truly equitable society.

 

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James

 

A finalist for the National Book Award, Black Leopard, Red Wolf follows a mercenary–Tracker–as he tries to find a missing child. As one of the best hunters in the business, it’s no surprise that Tracker is hired to find the child. But when a group decides to join his search, he must abandon his rule of working alone. Filled with African history and mythology, Marlon James’ fantasy novel is a captivating and illuminating work.

 

Afropessimism, Frank Wilderson III

 

Afropessimism is both memoir and philosophy. Exploring how race impacts every aspect of life and society, Frank Wilderson III’s work draws on works of literature, philosophy, film, and critical theory, all while also recounting Wilderson’s experiences as a Black man. A poignant and thought-provoking work, Afropessimism provides a bit of clarity in a chaotic world.

 

 

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

 

Queenie is the story of a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, where she works for a newspaper, staffed predominantly by white middle class journalists. As a result, Queenie constantly compares herself to her white peers, and after a tough breakup with her longtime boyfriend, she looks for comfort anywhere she can. As she moves from one choice to another, she begins to question her actions, her reasons, and even her identity. Queenie is a raw, emotional novel exploring what it means to be a modern woman.

Twitter Email

Food in Fiction: Recipes Inspired by Literature

Stressing over finals and needing to relax? Interested in finding a new hobby? Endlessly entertaining (and delicious), cooking and baking are great ways to keep busy and take a break from studying for finals. Plus, once it’s finished, you get to eat whatever you’ve chosen to create! Test your cooking and baking skills or learn a new recipe or two from these dishes, all inspired by food that can be found in fiction.

To see the each recipe individually, click the bold titles. To find the book in the library’s catalog, click on the title of the book at the end of the quote.

Seed Cake, The Hobbit

“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake–seed-cake, if you have any.” –The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Kate Young, creator of the Little Library Café, is an award-winning food writer who has created hundreds of recipes inspired by books, one of which is seed cake, a food taken directly from The Hobbit. A classic English cake, seed cake can be found throughout tons of English literature, but this recipe comes inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, with a cake fit for any Hobbit’s feast.

Clam Chowder, Moby Dick 

“A warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained.” —Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Nothing beats a good clam chowder. Inspired by a recipe from the 1800s,  The Inn at the Crossroads has created a delicious version of clam chowder that would make Captain Ahab proud. And, while you wait for it to cook, you can take a peek at Melville’s Great American Novel, Moby Dick. 

Chocolate Éclairs, Mrs. Dalloway 

“Miss Killman opened her mouth, slightly projected her chin, and swallowed down the last inches of the chocolate éclair, then wiped her fingers, and washed the tea round in her cup.” —Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Chocolate éclairs are a mouth-watering French classic, but might be intimidating to make. Have no fear! The Food Network has a great (but long) recipe for this sweet that will have you baking in no time! Even though it’s a bit of a lengthy process, you’ll be dining as well as Mrs. Dalloway in no time!

Crumpets, Rebecca

“Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins. There was enough food there to keep a starving family for a week.” —Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

There was no shortage of recipes available for Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In just one paragraph there are at least seven mentions of various foods and sweets, all of which sound delicious. The best, by far, though, was the mention of crumpets. A traditionally British treat served at teatime, crumpets are best described as a cross between an English muffin and a pancake that goes well with just about any spread, be it butter, jam, or clotted cream. So give this recipe a try, I’m sure Daphne du Maurier would approve.

Fritelle, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 

“When the famous fritelle arrived, the girls were elated, and so was Pietro, they fought over them.” —Elena Ferrante, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 

Fritelle are a classic Italian dessert served during Carnival. Similar to donuts, fritelle are made of yeasted dough which is then fried and can be filled with various types of fillings and dusted with sugar. It’s no surprise Elena Ferrante decided to include these delicious pastries in her book, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of four books in her Neapolitan Novels. With a simple recipe and intriguing book to go along with it, you’ll be baking authentic fritelle in no time!

Twitter Email

Congratulations to the 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction & Poetry!

After being delayed due to Covid-19, the winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced via livestream on May 5th, 2020. The winner for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction was Colson Whitehead, for his work The Nickel Boys, and the winner for Poetry was Jericho Brown, for his poetry collection The Tradition.

In addition to the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, Whitehead was awarded the Prize once before in 2017 for his novel, The Underground Railroad. Many of Whitehead’s works can be found in the library, plenty of which are available as ebooks and audiobooks. For more information about Colson Whitehead and his works, you can visit his website and twitter page.

Cover Art

Book. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. John Henry Days, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jericho Brown is an American poet and professor at Emory University. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, he has also been awarded the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. For more information on Brown, you can visit his website and twitter page.

Cover Art

Book. The Tradition, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

Book. Please, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

Book. The New Testaments, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

 

 

Twitter Email

Award Winning Poetry Collections You Should Read

On the last day of National Poetry Month, we’re celebrating by recommending some of the best, award-winning poetry collections available at the library.

Sight Lines, Arthur Sze 

Cover Art

Sight Lines, by Arthur Sze. Click for catalog link.

 

Sight Lines is the winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. Juxtaposing moments of beauty and grace with those of threats and terror, Sze evokes images of reality with stunning language. In addition to winning the National Book Award for Poetry, he was also a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, with his collection Compass Rose.

 

 

 

Be With, Forrest Gander 

Cover Art

Be With, by Forrest Gander. Click for catalog link.

 

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Be With is a poetry collection separated into several sections. The first draws from Gander’s experience as a translator, where he shares a version of a poem by St. John of the Cross. Next, he takes the reader through a series of multilingual poems examining the history of the Mexico-United States border. Finally, Gander shares the emotional story of grappling with his mother’s Alzheimer’s. Moving, emotional, and evocative, Forrest Gander’s award-winning collection is certainly worth reading.

 

 

Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis 

Cover Art

Voyage of the Sable Venus, by Robin Coste Lewis. Click for catalog link.

 

Voyage of the Sable Venus is the winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. It is split into three sections; the first and third are musings on the roles of desire and race in the construction of the self. The second is the poem the collection is named after: “Voyage of the Sable Venus.” This poem is composed entirely using titles of Western artwork depicting, featuring, or commenting on the black female figure. Lewis’s collection explores the question of when, exactly, did ideas of the black female figure begin, and what role did art play in this creation.

 

 

Indecency, Justin Phillip Reed

Cover Art

Indecency, by Justin Phillip Reed. Click for catalog link.

 

The 2018 National Book Award Winner for Poetry, Indecency is a bold collection of poems focusing on injustice and inequity. Reed experiments with language to critique the social order and culture of white supremacy. Personal and insightful, Indecency takes on the difficult task of discussing masculinity, sexuality, the prison industrial complex, and the failure of societal structures.

 

 

 

Life on Mars, Tracy K. Smith 

Cover Art

Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith. Click for catalog link.

 

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Life on Mars is a soundtrack to the universe. Smith contemplates the oddities, discoveries, and failures of human existence. Using a sci-fi world free of danger, she reveals the realities of the lives lived here on Earth, sharing stories of trauma, celebrity, and innovation.

Twitter Email

Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday With These Spring Plays and Poems!

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!

With the weather clearing up and Spring being well on its way, there’s no better time to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, and no better way to celebrate than by reading his Springtime plays and poems. Below is a list of Springtime Shakespeare hits to read and enjoy! And remember: all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems are available to read for free on various platforms, including the Folger Shakespeare Library and Project Gutenberg.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Cover Art

Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Click for catalog link.

 

Known for their words of love, Shakespeare’s sonnets can woo just about anyone. Several, too happen to deal with the subject of Spring, Summer, and the seasons. So read Shakespeare’s iconic Sonnet 18 for a dash of warmth, or see Sonnet 98 for the beginnings of Spring. Interested in hearing them read aloud? Sir Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day, every day on Twitter.

 

 

 

The Two Noble Kinsmen 

Cover Art

The Two Noble Kinsmen. Click for catalog link.

 

Based on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, Shakespeare’s co-written play begins when Athens defeats Thebes and takes prisoners. Arcite and Palamon, two Theban soldiers, are imprisoned when they spy Emilia, the sister-in-law of the Duke of Athens. From there, a bitter rivalry begins between the two men as they seek to earn her love. Thought to be one of Shakespeare’s final plays, The Two Noble Kinsmen is sure to entertain.

 

 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona 

Cover Art

The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Click for catalog link.

 

One of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, The Two Gentlemen of Verona follows Valentine and Proteus who are sent to court in order to become perfect gentlemen, though they find themselves falling in love when woman named Sylvia catches the eyes of both men. This sends the story spiraling into drama, putting Valentine’s heart and relationship at risk as well as his friendship with Proteus. Though the cast is small, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is certainly a worth a read.

 

 

Love’s Labor’s Lost 

Cover Art

Love’s Labor’s Lost. Click for catalog link.

 

After vowing to have nothing to do with women for several years, four men find themselves regretting their vows when the Princess of France and her court come to visit. Quickly forgetting any promises they’ve made, each man attempts to woo the Princess and her companions. Funny, entertaining, and thought-provoking, Love’s Labor’s Lost might be a lesser known comedy, but it is just as great. Plus, it contains the longest word in any of Shakespeare’s plays!

 

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Cover Art

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Click for catalog link.

 

Arguably one of Shakespeare’s most well-known works, A Midsummer Night’s Dream weaves several stories together, all of which revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. First, there are the actors, who are meant to perform at the wedding; next, there are the four Athenians, who find themselves in a love triangle of sorts; finally, there’s the fairies, who not only meddle in the lives of the actors and Athenians, but also have a king who seeks revenge on the queen. Widely performed and celebrated, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a perfect play for those wishing to read of magical lands.

 

 

As You Like It 

Cover Art

As You Like It. Click for catalog link.

 

When Orlando’s brother, Oliver, plans for him to die in a wrestling match, the last thing he expects is for Orlando to emerge victorious. And Orlando certainly doesn’t expect to fall in love with Rosalind right before he must flee his brother’s murderous schemes. Unbeknownst to Orlando, though, Rosalind has been banished, too, donning a male disguise while traveling through the forest with her companion, Celia. A lovable comedy, As You Like It is a delight to read.

 

 

Twitter Email

Literary Fiction to Read at Home

Even though the library’s closed, there are an abundance of resources you can still access online, including ebooks and audiobooks. Below, you’ll find recommendations of award-winning and entertaining works of literary fiction, all of which can be accessed as an ebook or audiobook through the library catalog.

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (Audiobook)

Cover Art

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. Click for catalog link.

 

A Pulitzer Prize winning book, All The Light We Cannot See follows a French girl and a German boy as they each try to survive WWII. When the Nazis occupy Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo, hoping to find some sort of safety. Werner Pfennig is an orphan living in Germany and has a knack for building and fixing radios. When he’s enlisted by the Nazis to track down the enemy, he finds himself struggling to support the cause. Beautifully written, Doerr weaves the lives of Marie and Werner together with powerful prose and moving imagery.

 

 

Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward (Audiobook)

Cover Art

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. Click for catalog link.

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, Salvage the Bones tells the story of a rural, working-class family who must survive hurricane Katrina. In the town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, hurricane season can mean destruction. When a hurricane begins to form over the Gulf of Mexico, Esch and her family must prepare for the potential danger while also facing their own personal struggles. Esch’s father is mostly absent and only concerned about the looming hurricane. Esch is pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is trying to sneak food to a litter of puppies, and her other brothers Randall and Junior are trying to find their place in the family. Following the week leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Jesmyn Ward’s award-winning novel is a powerful and revelatory story.

 

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Ebook)

Cover Art

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. Click for catalog link.

A Booker Prize-winning book, Lincoln in the Bardo takes place in February of 1862. The Civil War has just begun, and Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie is deathly ill. When he passes away a mere few days later, he’s buried in a Georgetown cemetery, which Lincoln has reportedly visited several times. From this, Saunders weaves a story with an astounding cast of characters, including Lincoln’s own son, who finds himself in a bardo, or a place of purgatory. There, ghosts and spirits mingle and communicate with one another, ultimately seeking to help both Willie Lincoln and his father find peace. A moving exploration of love, death, and grief, Lincoln in the Bardo is an utterly captivating story.

 

The Overstory, Richard Powers (Audiobook)

Cover Art

The Overstory, by Richard Powers. Click for catalog link.

 

Written by an alumnus of the University of Illinois and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Overstory is a story about the power of activism and the natural world. Following a cast of characters who each have a special relationship to trees and nature, Powers interweaves their individual stories as they try to fight for the survival of the Redwoods. Their stories show the world beyond ours–a world of beauty, nature, and magnificence.

 

 

 

Women Talking, Miriam Toews (Audiobook) 

Cover Art

Women Talking, by Miriam Toews. Click for catalog link.

 

When a group of Mennonite women learn that they’ve been drugged and attacked by men from their own community, they come together in an attempt to protect one another and their daughters from further harm. While the men are away, these women meet to make a difficult choice: do they stay in the community, or do they risk the danger of running away?  Women Talking is a story of women reclaiming their power despite the odds being stacked against them.

 

 

 

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Audiobook) 

Cover Art

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction, The Underground Railroad follows the story of a woman named Cora, who learns about the Underground Railroad through a man named Cesar. In Whitehead’s novel, though, the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad, with a network of stations, trains, and tracks. Together Cora and Cesar risk escape, fleeing from state to state trying to avoid a slave catcher named Ridgeway. The Underground Railroad is a powerful narrative about the terrors faced by slaves in the pre-Civil War era, and one woman’s fierce determination to escape bondage.

Twitter Email

The International Booker Prize Shortlist Has Been Announced!

Since 2004, the International Booker Prize has served as a complement to the Booker Prize. Celebrating translated international literature, the award committee selects a longlist, which is then narrowed to a shortlist. From the shortlist, a winner is selected. Last year, the winning book was Celestial Bodies, by Jokha Alharthi, translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth. This year, the International Booker Prize shortlist features five authors, five different languages, and a vast variety of themes.

Cover Art

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, by Shokoofeh Azar. Click for catalog link.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, Shokoofeh Azar, trans. by Anonymous (Farsi)

Set in Iran, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree follows a family as they live through the fallout and chaos of the Islamic Revolution. Through magical realism and traditional Persian storytelling, Azar weaves a heartfelt tale of love and sorrow, life and death, and politics and religion.

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

The Adventures of China Iron, by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Click for catalog link.

The Adventures of China Iron, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, trans. by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh (Spanish)

Cámara’s novel follows the journey of Mrs. China Iron as she travels across the Pampas (South American lowlands). Traveling by wagon, she finds a companion in Liz, who exposes her to the injustices of the world as they move through beautiful flora and fauna. Their adventures bring them to new cultures and peoples, languages, and, unfortunately, political strife. This postcolonial novel is a delightful romp through the Argentinian landscape, while also exposing the effects of British Colonial efforts.

 

 

Cover Art

Tyll, by Daniel Kehlmann. Click for catalog link.

Tyll, Daniel Kehlmann, trans. by Ross Benjamin (German)

Tyll Ulenspiegel is a traditional German folktale, reimagined by Daniel Kehlmann in Tyll. Kehlmann’s novel follows the trickster as he runs across battlefields, goes on quests for royalty, witch-hunters, and nobility, and exposes the wisdom of fools and folly of kings. Placing the German legend in the context of the Thirty Years’ War, Tyll is humorous-yet-dramatic retelling that will certainly entertain readers.

 

 

 

Cover Art

Hurricane Season, by Fernanda Melchor. Click for catalog link.

Hurricane Season, Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes (Spanish)

Hurricane Season begins with the death of a local witch, who had been helping citizens of La Matosa, a rural Mexican village. The novel explores the events leading up to the woman’s death from multiple perspectives. Though it appears to be a typical mystery, the novel is so much more. Instead of wondering who killed the woman, the book focuses on the why. Brutal and beautiful, Hurricane Season is Melchor’s first novel to be translated into English.

 

 

Cover Art

The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa. Click for catalog link.

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa, trans. by Stephen Snyder (Japanese)

Things disappear. People are forgetting. On an unnamed island, a group called the Memory Police make sure that anything that disappears is forgotten. Most islanders don’t remember the objects that disappear, but there remains a select few who live in fear of the Memory Police. Who fear what would happen if it was discovered that they can still remember forgotten things. When a young novelist learns that the Memory Police are after her editor, she hides him in her floorboards, risking both of their lives. Emotional and thought-provoking, The Memory Police is a stunning exploration of a police state.

 

Cover Art

The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijnveld. Click for catalog link.

The Discomfort of Evening, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. By Michele Hutchinson (Dutch)

When Jas, daughter of a devout family, finds herself angry at her brother for leaving to go on a ski trip, she makes a devastating plea to God. When her brother never returns, the family is devastated. While they grieve their loss, Jas descends into darkness, imagining disturbing fantasies that threaten the very core of her family. Raw and moving, Rijneveld’s debut novel is striking and unforgettable.

Twitter Email

World literature tour

Still need a New Year’s Resolution for 2012?  How about undertaking a World Literature Tour? UK’s Guardian newspaper blogged a “world literature tour” throughout 2011. Each tour “stop” begins with a blog post about the country’s literary landscape. Subsequently, Guardian readers participated by offering reading suggestions and reviews. These recommendations are summarized in a second post on each country. The recommendations are usually a mix of native authors in translation as well as English language books about the country of interest.

All suggested books are listed in spreadsheets for easy downloading, so take advantage of these recommendations if you are looking for international reading for general audiences.

The World Literature Tour page is available here.

Twitter Email