Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

November 19, 2020 by


If you loved her first bestselling book “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”, you’ll be totally rapt by this new magical fantasy novel. The Journal Entry format is really clever. And who’s the Other that visits Piranesi from time to time in this infinite labyrinth of halls and staircases? The quest for the Great and Secret knowledge will reveal a terrible truth that finds its source in the journals. And the ending will take you to a whole new place…in your mind. How could the reader be fooled by this magical and imaginary world the whole time? What a performance! You can find Piranesi at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Media of Piranesi

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

November 18, 2020 by


My first thought when i started reading it was: is this sci-fi in a futuristic, almost end of the world way kind of novel? And then a little farther in, I thought no, I got it wrong, this is more a fantasy novel. In the end I couldn’t really define the exact genre other than fiction, and what a spectacular humanistic one. Franny, traveling to remote ends of the world searching for the last birds, but also so much more than that. And all the characters she encounters are also looking for something else other than just the obvious. What a journey! Migrations is available at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Title details for Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy - Wait list

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

November 16, 2020 by


It starts with a bank hold-up and a subsequent hostage taking in the middle of an apartment viewing. But does it really? Or does it start way before that on the side of a bridge? A bridge one can see from the apartment balcony…It is really a tour de force about human nature, empathy, forgiveness and hope for the future. I closed the book and have been thinking about it and its hidden messages since then. You can find Anxious People at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Anxious People

Memorial by Bryan Washington

November 6, 2020 by


Memorial by Bryan Washington is a spare, sensitive, raw, often funny novel that sneaks up on you with its power and depth. It revolves around a young couple, Benson and Mike, who live in Houston. Benson, a Black daycare teacher, and Mike, a Japanese-American chef, are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Things become more strained when Mike decides to go to Japan to care for his estranged, dying father on the same day that his mother arrives for a long visit from Japan. Benson and Mitsuko, who have never met, become awkward roommates while Mike tries to connect with his father in Osaka. The way the book switches between Benson and Mike’s points of view was very effective, particularly given that both Mike and Benson tend to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, and in many ways are mysteries to each other. Benson in particular can be quite aloof and closed off, which is a cause of tension in his relationship with Mike and with his own complicated family. Yet the author manages to make you feel the feelings of these characters in a quiet and almost off-handed way that is quite beautiful at times. I particularly loved the relationship between Benson and Mitsuko. But really there are so many layers of fascinating relationships at work in this book, as well as meditations on deep issues of loss, race, class, and sexuality, all done through small, everyday conversations, and with food. So much is communicated in this book through food! I thought this was a wonderful novel. You can find it at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Book Jacket

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

November 4, 2020 by


There was really no way I wasn’t going to like this book. It contains so many elements that appeal to me – folk tales and witchcraft, the women’s suffrage movement, complicated sister relationships. It takes place in an alternate version of the U.S. in the late 1800s in New Salem, where witchcraft has been seemingly, and brutally, stamped out. But there are rustlings of magic in the air surrounding the emerging fight for women’s suffrage, in the battles of Labor Union organizers, and in the struggle for the rights of Black people. However, when Juniper Eastwood, the youngest of three estranged sisters, arrives in New Salem, that underground magic is suddenly thrust out in the open with potentially catastrophic consequences. This was exactly the book I needed right now – it drew me in immediately and kept me engaged, the characters are interesting and appealing. A great choice for fans of Naomi Novik and Alice Hoffman. The ebook is available on Libby/Overdrive and you can find the book at the Library.

The Once and Future Witches

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

October 5, 2020 by


After having read and loved Yaa Gyasi’s sweeping, powerful multi-generational novel Homegoing, I didn’t know what to expect from this follow up novel. Transcendent Kingdom is a very different book from Homegoing, both in its smaller scale and in its stark tone. It is a very interior book in many ways. The main character, Gifty, is a neuroscientist trying to understand the science of addiction, which killed her older brother, and depression, which is slowly taking her mother away from her. The book grapples with big issues, not just addiction and mental illness, but religion and identity — almost all within the confines of Gifty’s mind, both as a child and an adult. She is a lonely child, then a very closed off adult, trying desperately to make sense out of the changes in her life, and to will it all to be ok. This is another extremely powerful and poignant book by this author that I think will stay with me for a long time. What a talent Yaa Gyasi is!

Transcendent Kingdom can be found at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

September 29, 2020 by


Several of the books I’ve read in the past few months, particularly Deacon King Kong by James McBride, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, revolve around characters who were part of the Great Migration, in which 6 million or so Black people left the Jim Crow South for Northern cities during the period of time between World War I and the 1970s. The Great Migration was not something I had learned about in school. For me this wonderful book offers such important context for understanding the lives of people like the characters in those novels, and more broadly, the history of this country and the devastating impact of slavery and its aftermath. I’m not a frequent nonfiction reader, and when I do read it, I am generally drawn to books like this that feel almost like reading a novel. Wilkerson writes beautifully, and she very effectively focuses this very big story around the lives of 3 people, each of whom left their homes in the South for different parts of the country – one to New York, one to Chicago and one to Los Angeles – during the decades of the Great Migration. The blending of the personal stories and the wider historical context makes it a very readable book. It’s not new – it was published in 2010, but is extremely relevant and very much worth reading. The book is available from the Library, and the ebook is available on Libby/Overdrive.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

September 21, 2020 by


This book has been on my to-be-read list for so long — seven years, it turns out, since it was published in 2013! I remember intending to read it when it first came out, and then every once in a while I’d see it sitting on the shelf and almost grab it, but it was only this week when I saw that Hoopla has the audiobook that I finally took the time to read it. I’m so glad I did! I am a sucker for historical fantasy books to begin with. Give me a book set in turn of the century New York City, add in a blend of Jewish and Arab folklore, and I’m a happy reader. This is a slow-paced, lyrical story that draws you into the strange situation that these two mystical creatures suddenly find themselves in – the golem, a woman made of clay created to be the perfect wife, who suddenly finds herself widowed and alone in a new city, and the jinni who is accidentally released from the flask he has been trapped in for a thousand years. The way that these two characters try to find a place for themselves in this new, unfamiliar human world is quite moving, and their friendship is unexpected and endearing. This is a strange and lovely book, perfect to read on a cold day. You can find the book at the library, and the audiobook on Hoopla and Libby/Overdrive.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

September 9, 2020 by


Deacon King Kong is the latest book by James McBride, author of the National Book Award winner The Good Lord Bird, and it is every bit as rich, funny, deep, and award-worthy. It is set in a Brooklyn housing project in 1969. While the story centers around Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, or Sportcoat, as he is known, it really is the story of this community. The people in the community- from the Church elders who came up to New York from the South during the Great Migration, to the local mobsters, bodega owners, police officers, drug dealers, security guards- all have a story, and their stories are told with humor and a great deal of compassion. Everyone is struggling with the changing world of 1969. And the humor in the book never covers over the real pain, anger, and disillusionment over the poverty and racism and impact of drugs on this community. There are moments of joy and pain and outrage and silliness in this book that will stay with you. James McBride is a wonderful writer and a great storyteller. You can find Deacon King Kong at the Library, and on Libby/Overdrive.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Afterlife, by Julia Alvarez

September 2, 2020 by


Lovely writing – as I would expect from Julia Alvarez. A lyrical story of grief, immigration, small town life, new ideas about family, hope, and love.
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