Tag Archives: Best of 2018

Five Book Friday!

Happy Friday, beloved patrons!  And very hearty congratulations to Jokha Alharthi, author of Celestial Bodies who was awarded the 2019 Man Booker International Prize this week!  The ceremony posted this video on Twitter to share the event with all of us:

Alharthi is not only the first Arab woman to win the Man Booker International Prize, but she is also the first female Omani novelist to have her book translated into English.  Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society which is slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present. Elegantly structured and taut, it tells of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.

Arabic author Jokha Alharthi (L) and translator Marilyn Booth after winning the Man Booker International Prize for Celestial Bodies in London on May 21, 2019
Via The BBC

Alharthi shares the award of £50,000 ($63,000) with her translator,  American academic Marilyn Booth.  In a statement quoted by the BBC, Alharthi said “I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture…Oman inspired me but I think international readers can relate to the human values in the book – freedom and love.”

We are delighted for both Jokha Alharthi and Marilyn Booth!

And now, on to some of the wonderful books that have graced our own shelves this week:

Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America: Descendants of a prominent slaveholding family, Elizabeth, Grace, and Katharine Lumpkin grew up in a culture of white supremacy. But while Elizabeth remained a lifelong believer, her younger sisters chose vastly different lives. Seeking their fortunes in the North, Grace and Katharine reinvented themselves as radical thinkers whose literary works and organizing efforts brought the nation’s attention to issues of region, race, and labor.  Utilizing decades of archival research and interviews with the family, National Humanities Award–winning historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall follows the divergent paths of the Lumpkin sisters, tracing the wounds and unsung victories of the past through to the contemporary moment, Hall revives a buried tradition of Southern expatriation and progressivism; explores the lost, revolutionary zeal of the early twentieth century; and muses on the fraught ties of sisterhood.  Kirkus Reviews gave this work a starred review, applauding how these “Sharply etched biographical portraits focus a compelling history.”

The Scent of Murder: Fan-favorite author Kylie Logan launches a new mystery series that moves away from her previous cozy mysteries into a more hard-boiled procedural that is sure to earn her a wealth of new fans.  The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about―Jazz is a cadaver dog handler. Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school. She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face. The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth. An intense, engaging mystery, with a phenomenal sense of place, this is a series to watch!  Booklist agrees, noting that “The city itself is a character, transforming from its usual stereotype of a flyover city to a setting of intrigue. Dog lovers will enjoy the relationship between Jazz and her pets, and they’ll learn something about cadaver dogs as Jazz brings a killer to justice.”

Springtime in a Broken Mirror: The late Mario Benedetti’s work has been celebrated as among the best of his generation, drawing comparisons with other Latin American writers as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes.  This book, which is finally available in an English translation, deals with Santiago, a political prisoner in Uruguay, who was jailed after a brutal military coup that saw many of his comrades flee elsewhere. Santiago, feeling trapped, can do nothing but write letters to his family and try to stay sane. Far away, his nine-year-old daughter Beatrice wonders at the marvels of 1970s Buenos Aires, but her grandpa and mother—Santiago’s beautiful, careworn wife, Graciela—struggle to adjust to a life in exile.  This is a powerful book that sheds light on the ways in which world events shape and influence the lives and relationships of individuals, told in tender, heartfelt, and wrenchingly honest prose. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, calling it a “rich, heartbreaking novel. . . . Benedetti’s tender yet unflinching portrait of a family in the crushing straits of history is a welcome addition to the small (and hopefully growing) catalogue of his work that has been translated into English.”

The Confessions of Frannie LangtonSara Collins debut novel is drawing comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, which is reason enough for us to look forward to reading it, but the description of this book grabbed our attention all on its own.  All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey. The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore. But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship. Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself. Collins confronts the darkest parts of history and our humanity in this book with heart and integrity, and her work has earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who called it “a bold and vibrant jolt to both the gothic and historical fiction genres. . . . Most of all, she has created in her title character a complex, melancholy, and trenchantly observant protagonist. . . . [a] gripping, groundbreaking debut.”

The Organs of Sense: Adam Ehrlich Sachs’ fiction debut is a delightfully absurd, joyfully imaginative romp through a re-imagined historical moment that will hold appeal for fans across a number of genres.  Set in 1666, the story begins when an astronomer makes a prediction shared by no one else in the world: at the stroke of noon on June 30 of that year, a solar eclipse will cast all of Europe into total darkness for four seconds. This astronomer is rumored to be using the longest telescope ever built, but he is also known to be blind; both his eyes having been plucked out some time before under mysterious circumstances. Is he mad? Or does he, despite this impairment, have an insight denied the other scholars of his day These questions intrigue the young Gottfried Leibniz―not yet the world-renowned polymath who would go on to discover calculus, but a nineteen-year-old whose faith in reason is shaky at best. Leibniz sets off to investigate the astronomer’s claim, and over the three hours remaining before the eclipse occurs―or fails to occur―the astronomer tells the scholar the haunting and hilarious story behind his strange prediction: a tale that ends up encompassing kings and princes, family squabbles, obsessive pursuits, insanity, philosophy, art, loss, and the horrors of war. This is a surprisingly deep little novel that hides its wisdom inside a tale rife with humor.  Library Journal adored it, giving it a starred review and celebrating how it is “filled with delightful tales of palace intrigue, sibling rivalry, and extensive forays into empirical thought and logic. Deep philosophy is applied to nearly everything that pops up, including the eating of soup. Yet despite these heavy themes, Sachs applies a liberal does of clever humor throughout; nearly everyone is a charlatan in what might be the most lighthearted work about the history of science ever published.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

The 2019 Shirley Jackson Award Nominees!

Last week, the nominees for the 2019 Shirley Jackson Awards were announced in Boston, and we are over the moon to add so many sensational titles to our “To Be Read” lists!

As we’ve noted here in the past,  the Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2007, and named after the beloved and revered author of such seminal works as “The Lottery” (among a phenomenal collection of short stories), We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Haunting of Hill House.  In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.  The final winners are determined by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors, who are charged with selecting the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories:  Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection and Edited Anthology.  The final announcement of the winners will be made at Readercon, right nearby in Burlington, MA!  You can click on this link here for more information on Readercon itself.

So here is a selection from the categories of winners and nominees for the 2019 Shirley Jackson Awards, with links to the titles in our catalogs.  We hope you find some new books to add to your list here, and would love to help you find even more dark fiction to add to your summer reading!

NOVEL

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION

Be sure to check out the Shirley Jackson Awards website for a full list of nominees and more information about the awards!  And, as ever, a hearty Free-For-All congratulations to all the nominated authors.  We can’t wait to see who is crowned the winner at Readercon in July!

The Women’s Prize Shortlist is here!

And we could not be more excited!

Via https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/reading-room/news/announcing-the-womens-prize-for-fiction-2019-longlist

Just as a reminder, The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award that specifically celebrates fiction by women.  It was founded in 1996 to ” celebrate originality, accessibility & excellence in writing by women and to connect world-class writers with readers everywhere.”

Over the years, the Prize has had several sponsors, the most recent of which was Bailey’s.  From 2018, however, the prize has moved to a collaborative sponsorship model, which means that it is now just “The Women’s Prize for Fiction,” and we must admit, we like that name!

In this year’s shortlist, feminist revisions of history seem to be dominating, with chronological settings as diverse as ancient Greece and the Northern Irish Troubles.  For those eager to get reading, note that the final award will be announced on June 9, giving you plenty of time to take in these incredible novels, and make your own predictions on the winners!  And now without further ado, the shortlist for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction are:

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker


My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite


Milkman by Anna Burns


Ordinary People by Diana Evans


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


Circe by Madeline Miller

A big, huge, Free For All congratulations to all the shortlisted authors!

The Wellcome Book Prize Short List!

As in past years, beloved patrons, we are celebrating awards that bring us diverse reading materials, authors, and funds that celebrate the written word.  Today, we are delighted to bring you the shortlist for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, which was announced this morning in London.

The Wellcome Institute was originally funded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (pictured at right), a fascinating entrepreneur, born in Wisconsin in 1853, whose first business was peddling invisible ink (it was lemon juice).  He later went into pharmaceuticals, where he revolutionized medicine by developing medicine in tablet form, though he called them ‘Tabloids’.  Upon his death, Wellcome vested the entire share capital of his company in individual trustees, who were charged with spending the income to further human and animal health, and even left specifics in his will as to the building in which the collections were to be housed.  Today, the Wellcome Trust, which funds all this gloriousness, is now one of the world’s largest private biomedical charities.

Yay for Science! (From the Wellcome Collection)

I cannot recommend exploring the Wellcome Collection online to you enough.  Because of their dedication to education and engagement, a surprisingly vast amount of their exhibits have online components, and a good deal of their archives and library are digitized, making it possible to access their treasure trove of educational riches from the comfort of your living room (or local Library!).  Their exhibits range from the emotional and contemporary, such as videos and talks on military medicine, to the sublimely bizarre, like this gallery on curatives and quack medicine.  Throughout their work is a very firm dedication not only to education, but to sparking a love of learning in their visitors, and that work pays huge dividends.

And, as part of their outreach efforts, and in the hope of encouraging more quality and creative writing in the sciences, the Wellcome Trust also funds one of the largest book prizes around, providing 30,000 GBP (right now, about $37,500) to it chosen author.  As described on the Wellcome Book Prize site, all the books that are nominated have “a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.”  While this dedication to science is wonderful, the Wellcome Prize also recognizes art, standing by its core principles by recognizing that such books “can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci-fi and history.”  Thus, their list includes both non-fiction and fiction, in order to celebrate those works that “add new meaning to what it means to be human.”

Image result for wellcome book prize
The Wellcome Book Award, via FMcM

The winner of the Wellcome Book Prize will be announced at an evening ceremony on Wednesday 1 May at the Wellcome Collection headquarters in London, and it will be our pleasure to bring you the headlines as soon as they are printed!  Until then, let’s take a look at the Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist Honorees:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? It’s the year 2000, and she lives in a city full of potential, wealth, and glamor.  She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. So what could be so terribly wrong?  Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas McBee: In this groundbreaking new book, the author, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing—learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body—McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in society, and its effects on the smallest details of our lives, McBee’s tale is ultimately a story of hope, tracing a new way forward, a new kind of masculinity, inside the ring and outside of it.

Murmur by Will Eaves: Please note, this title will be released April 9, 2019. In this intense, hallucinatory story, Will Eaves, a celebrated poet,  brings us into the brilliant mind of Alec Pryor, a character inspired by Alan Turing. Turing, father of artificial intelligence and pioneer of radical new techniques to break the Nazi Enigma cipher during World War II, was later persecuted by the British state for “gross indecency with another male” and forced to undergo chemical castration.  This novel unfolds in the weeks leading up to Turning/Pryor’s suicide, and offers a glimpse into not only the life of one remarkable human being, but into the very nature of consciousness, as well as an unflinching look at the systems of prejudice and privilege that seek to limit human expression in all its forms.

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar: For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. But as cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar shows,  it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live. Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African American doctor who performed the world’s first open heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient’s circulatory system to a healthy donor’s, paving the way for the heart-lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker―by accident. Jauhar deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent.

The Trauma Cleaner : One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein: Homicides and suicides, fires and floods, hoarders and addicts. When properties are damaged or neglected, it falls to Sandra Pankhurst, founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning (STC) Services Pty. Ltd. to sift through the ashes or sweep up the mess of a person’s life or death. Her clients include law enforcement, real estate agents, executors of deceased estates, and charitable organizations representing victimized, mentally ill, elderly, and physically disabled people. In houses and buildings that have fallen into disrepair, Sandra airs out residents’ smells, throws out their weird porn, their photos, their letters, the last traces of their DNA entombed in soaps and toothbrushes.  The remnants and mementoes of these people’s lives resonate with Sandra. Before she began professionally cleaning up their traumas, she experienced her own. First, as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home. Then as a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, and trophy wife. In each role she played, all Sandra wanted to do was belong. Sarah Krasnostein brings Sandra’s life of light in all its complexity, and, in so doing, forces us to reckon with the experiences that set us apart, and those we all share in common.

Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning: Please note, this title will be released on October 1, 2019. Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some 10 years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in trouble with the law, and homeless in London. Drawing on his own memories, the recollections of people who knew him when he was at his worst, and medical and police records, he has produced a beautifully written, devastatingly intense account of madness—and recovery, to the point where he has not had any serious illness for over a decade and has become an acclaimed playwright. Fanning conveys the consciousness of a person living with mania, psychosis and severe depression with a startling precision and intimacy, providing insight that has the potential to change our thinking about these conditions, both medically and socially.

The Man Booker International Prize Longlist is here!

‘Tis the season for sensational book awards, beloved patrons, and yesterday, the longlist for the Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the best novels written in a language other than English, and the translations that makes them accessible to us as English readers. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator.  This years’ list is a celebration of independent publishers, women’s voices, and diverse forms of story-telling, and we can’t wait to add these books to our reading lists!

Via https://themanbookerprize.com/international/news/2019-longlist-announced-man-booker-international-prize

Bettany Hughes, chair of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said:

This was a year when writers plundered the archive, personal and political. That drive is represented in our longlist, but so too are surreal Chinese train journeys, absurdist approaches to war and suicide, and the traumas of spirit and flesh. We’re thrilled to share 13 books which enrich our idea of what fiction can do.

The shortlist for this award will be announced April 9th and the winner will be announced May 21st.   This will, incidentally, also be the last year that the prize is known under this title.  Next year, the prize will be known as the International Booker Prize, as the sponsorship from the Man Group comes to an end and the prize’s new sponsor, Crankstart, begins.  We’ll be bringing you all the highlights and announcements, as ever.

Home

Just so you know, where these books are available, links have been provided to the NOBLE catalog.  Otherwise, information on when the title may be available is provided.  You can always check with your friendly public service staff for further information.  And now, without further ado, here is the 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist!

Author (Original Language –Country/territory), translator, title 

  • Jokha Alharthi (Arabic / Omani),  Marilyn Booth, Celestial Bodies This title is currently unavailable
  • Can Xue (Chinese / Chinese), Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Love In The New Millennium 
  • Annie Ernaux (French / French), Alison L. Strayer, The Years 
  • Hwang Sok-yong (Korean / Korean), Sora Kim-Russell, At Dusk This title will be released on July 16, 2019
  • Mazen Maarouf (Arabic / Icelandic and Palestinian), Jonathan Wright, Jokes For The Gunmen 
  • Hubert Mingarelli (French / French), Sam Taylor, Four Soldiers Available via ComCat–please check with a public service staff member for details
  • Marion Poschmann (German / German), Jen Calleja, The Pine Islands This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Samanta Schweblin (Spanish / Argentine and Italian), Megan McDowell, Mouthful Of Birds 
  • Sara Stridsberg (Swedish / Swedish), Deborah Bragan-Turner, The Faculty Of Dreams This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Olga Tokarczuk (Polish / Polish), Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead Available via ComCat–please check with a public service staff member for details
  • Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish / Colombian), Anne McLean, The Shape Of The Ruins 
  • Tommy Wieringa (Dutch / Dutch), Sam Garrett, The Death Of Murat Idrissi  This title is currently unavailable–please check back later for updates.
  • Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish / Chilean), Sophie Hughes, The Remainder This title will be released on August 6, 2019
An enormous Free-For-All congratulations to all the nominated authors and translators!

Announcing the NOBLE Book Awards 2018!

Who better to give tips on great books than your local librarians? This year, we all decided to get in on the fun of Book Awards by celebrating our favorite reads of 2018.  After a nomination Library staff voted for their favorite books of 2018 for different age groups and categories.  Here’s a list of the winners and runners up, and a link to the shortlist of nominated books, all linked to the library catalog to make it easy to find and request them!  Stop by any NOBLE library for more information on these excellent books, and to talk to staff members about their favorite reads!


First place

The woman in the window : a novel by A.J. FinnIt isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . . Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Runners-up

An American marriage by Tayari Jones: When her new husband is arrested and imprisoned for a crime she knows he did not commit, a rising artist takes comfort in a longtime friendship only to encounter unexpected challenges in resuming her life when her husband’s sentence is suddenly overturned.  An insightful look into the lives of people who are bound and separated by forces beyond their control. By the author of Silver Sparrow.

 

Circe : a novel, by Madeline Miller
A highly-anticipated follow-up to the award-winning The Song of Achilles follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.  

Shortlist of nominated Adult Fiction


Adult Nonfiction

First place

Educated : a memoir by Tara Westover:  Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Runners-up

I’ll be gone in the dark : one woman’s obsessive search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara:  For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” She pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was, and unfortunately the gifted journalist died tragically before completing this book, which was completed from her notes.

 

Calypso by David Sedaris:  A latest collection of personal essays by the best-selling author of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls and Me Talk Pretty One Day shares even more revealing and intimate memories from his upbringing and family life, as well as his adventures after buying a vacation house on the Carolina coast and his reflections on middle age and mortality. 

Shortlist of nominated Adult Nonfiction


Adult Graphic Novels

First place

Herding cats : a “Sarah’s scribbles” collection by Sarah Andersen:  With characteristic wit and charm, Sarah Andersen’s third collection of comics and illustrated personal essays offers a survival guide for frantic modern life: from the importance of avoiding morning people, to Internet troll defense 101, to the not-so-life-changing futility of tidying up. But when all else fails and the world around you is collapsing, make a hot chocolate, count the days until Halloween, and snuggle up next to your furry beacon of hope.

Runners-up

Anne Frank’s diary : the graphic adaptation: The only graphic biography of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature. This adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl into a graphic version for a young readership, maintains the integrity and power of the original work. With stunning, expressive illustrations and ample direct quotation from the diary, this edition will expand the readership for this important and lasting work of history and literature.

 

McElroy, Clint
The adventure zone. Here there be gerblins by Clint McElroy:  Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.

Shortlist of nominated Adult Graphic Novels


Young Adult Fiction

First place

The poet X : a novel by Elizabeth Acevedo:
Xiomara Batista struggles to navigate her place in the world, with her peers, and in her neighborhood.  As an escape, she pours all her frustrations and passion into poetry, using her words to describe her fears, dreams, hopes, and rages over the injustices that are plainly evident all around her.  And when Xiomara is invited to join the school slam poetry club, she struggles with her mother’s social and religious expectations and her own vital need to be heard,

Runners-up

Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi:  Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak: Upon their father’s return, the five Dunbar boys, who have raised themselves since their mother’s death, begin to learn family secrets, including that of fourth brother Clay, who will build a bridge for complex reasons, including his own redemption.

Shortlist of nominated Young Adult Fiction


Young Adult Nonfiction

First place

(Don’t) call me crazy : 33 voices start the conversation about mental health
Presents an anthology of essays and illustrations that illuminate such mental health topics as autism, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphia, depression, and healing in a straightforward way.

 

Mary Shelley : the strange, true tale of Frankenstein’s creator by Catherine Reef
On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.

 

Americanized : rebel without a green card by Sara Saedi:  In San Jose, California, in the 1990s, teenaged Sara keeps a diary of life as an Iranian American and her discovery that she and her family entered as undocumented immigrants.

Shortlist of nominated Young Adult Nonfiction


Young Adult Graphic Novels

First place

The prince and the dressmaker by Jen Wang:  When Prince Sebastian confides in his dressmaker friend Frances that he loves to masquerade at night as the fashionable Lady Crystallia, Frances must decide if Sebastian’s secret is worth a lifetime of living in the shadows.

Runners-up

Brazen : rebel ladies who rocked the world by Pénélope Bagieu:  With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Penelope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies to forge their own path.

 

Hey, kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka: In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Shortlist of nominated Young Adult Graphic Novels


Children’s Picture Books

First place

Julián is a mermaid by Jessica love:  While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?

Runners-up

We don’t eat our classmates! by Ryan T. Higgins:  When the class pet bites the finger of Penelope, a tyrannosaurus rex, she finally understands why she should not eat her classmates, no matter how tasty they are.

 

Square by Mac Barnett:  When his friend Circle asks him to do her portrait after praising him as a sculptor and genius, Square struggles to carve her likeness from a stone block.

Shortlist of nominated Children’s Picture Books


Children’s Graphic Novels

First place

Unicorn of many hats : another Phoebe and her unicorn adventure by Dana Simpson:  Phoebe and her exceptional hooved pal are back in this all-new collection of comics! Laugh alongside the lovable duo as they question the idea of “coolness,” gain a deeper appreciation for the power of friendship, and put off summer reading assignments for as long as physically possible.

Runners-up

Dog Man : lord of the fleas by Dav Pilkey:  When a new bunch of baddies bust up the town, Dog Man is called into action — and this time he isn’t alone. With a cute kitten and a remarkable robot by his side, our heroes must save the day by joining forces with an unlikely ally: Petey, the World’s Most Evil Cat. But can the villainous Petey avoid vengeance and venture into virtue?

 

Baby Monkey, private eye by Brian Selznick:  Baby Monkey, private eye, will investigate stolen jewels, missing pizzas, and other mysteries–if he can manage to figure out how to put his pants on.

Shortlist of nominated Children’s Graphic Novels


Children’s Fiction

First place

Sunny by Jason Reynolds:  Sunny, the Defenders’ best runner, only runs for his father, who blames Sunny for his mother’s death, but with his coach’s help Sunny finds a way to combine track and field with his true passion, dancing.

Runners-up

Louisiana’s way home by Kate DiCamillo: 
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)

 

Front desk by Kelly Yang:  Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang’s parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants–not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao’s son, Jason.

Shortlist of nominated Children’s Fiction


Children’s Nonfiction

First place

Hidden figures : the untold true story of four African-American women who helped launch our nation into space Margot Lee Shetterly:  Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Drawing on the oral histories of scores of these “computers,” personal recollections, interviews with NASA executives and engineers, archival documents, correspondence, and reporting from the era, Hidden Figures recalls America’s greatest adventure and NASA’s groundbreaking successes through the experiences of five spunky, courageous, intelligent, determined, and patriotic women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine. Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the world — and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.

Runners-up

Morales, Yuyi
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales: 
An illustrated picture book autobiography in which award-winning author Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story.

 

Lights!, camera!, Alice! : the thrilling true adventures of the first woman filmmaker: Mara Rockliff:  Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies–some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure, and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators.

Shortlist of nominated Children’s Nonfiction


Poetry

First place

Can I touch your hair? : poems of race, mistakes, and friendship by Irene Latham: 
Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, present paired poems about topics including family dinners, sports, recess, and much more. This relatable collection explores different experiences of race in America.

Runners-up

For every one by Jason Reynolds:
Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world. Jump Anyway is for kids who dream. Kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason, a self-professed dreamer. In it, Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. He inched that number up to eighteen, then twenty-five years old..Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish–because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith and…jump anyway.

 

Wade in the water : poems by Tracy K. Smith:  A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, using her signature voice–inquisitive, lyrical and wry–mulls over what it means to be a citizen, a mother and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men and violence, boldly tying America’s modern moment both to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting.

Shortlist of nominated Poetry

 

Congratulations to all our winners!!

The Best of 2018 from the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library!

We are enormously lucky to be part of NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange).  As many of you know, the NOBLE network allows you, our beloved patrons, to borrow books from the other libraries around us–including academic libraries at North Shore Community College and Salem State University–and utilize the programs and resources at our fellow NOBLE libraries.  It’s a fantastic system that we all value enormously.

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations! This week, we bring you the Lucius Beebe Library of Wakefield’s list of the Best Books of 2018!

vIA http://www.wakefieldlibrary.org/about/about-the-library/#Building-Photos

The town of Wakefield was known as South Reading until 1868. During the early part of the 19th century, there was a library in South Reading known as the Social Library.  That Library was a subscription library (meaning that people had to pay to take out materials), and held mostly divinity books.  It turns out that, even in the 19th century, divinity books were not the most scintillating of reads, and the Social Library closed due to lack of support.   However, you can’t keep a good library down, and the town’s first public library was established in 1856, with a $300 budget to buy books.  Within three years, that initial $300 investment had grown into a library with some 1,678 volumes.  Lucius Beebe was the first chairman of the Board of Library Trustees.

In 1868, when Wakefield became…well, Wakefield, the Library  Cyrus Wakefield, after whom the town was named, donated a house to be used by the city, with one half dedicated as the new library space.  Lucius Beebe (pictured below, left, via the Beebe Library website) donated $500 to the purchase of new books and, as a result, the town renamed the library as the “Beebe Public Library.”

With such phenomenal support, the Beebe Library soon needed to expand, and in 1916, the townspeople purchased a lot at the corner of Main and Avon Streets for $16,000.  Junius Beebe, son of Lucius Beebe, donated $60,000 toward the construction of a new library building, to be built in memory of his parents, Lucius and Sylenda (to put that into perspective, the annual yearly income in the area at this time was right around $800).  The US entrance into the First World War delayed the construction of the building, but in 1922, the cornerstone for the new library was laid, and the building was dedicated on April 15, 1923.  The architect for the 1922 building was Ralph Adams Cram, who also designed Princeton University.  The Beebe library has continued to grow, and was expanded most recently in 1995.

The Circulation Desk, via http://www.wakefieldlibrary.org/about/about-the-library/#Building-Photos

Today, the Library is a vital part of the Wakefield community, with a number of programs and reading groups–including a reading group that will be meeting at local restaurants!  It was also was the first library in Massachusetts to sponsor a townwide reading program, “Wakefield Reads”.   Check out the Lucius Beebe Library’s website to see all the phenomenal resources they offer, from job hunting to homebound delivery to college resources.  They are also a wonderfully welcoming, friendly Library community.  I can tell you from experience, as a reader who has lingered for way longer than anticipated in the chairs in their beautiful New Fiction section!   So feel free to stop by, enjoy their beautiful space, and check out all this sensational library has to offer!

We are also pleased to highlight the Lucius Beebe Library Staff’s Favorites of 2018!   Don’t forget to check out the super page on their website for the full list!


Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg: Set in the eighteenth century London underworld, this bawdy, genre-bending novel reimagines the life of thief and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard to tell a profound story about gender, love, and liberation. Recently jilted and increasingly unhinged, Dr. Voth throws himself into his work, obsessively researching the life of Jack Sheppard, a legendary eighteenth century thief. No one knows Jack’s true story–his confessions have never been found. That is, until Dr. Voth discovers a mysterious stack of papers titled Confessions of the Fox. Dated 1724, the manuscript tells the story of an orphan named P. Sold into servitude at twelve, P struggles for years with her desire to live as “Jack.” When P falls dizzyingly in love with Bess, a sex worker looking for freedom of her own, P begins to imagine a different life. Bess brings P into the London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with London’s newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of an oncoming plague abound. At last, P becomes Jack Sheppard, one of the most notorious–and most wanted–thieves in history. An imaginative retelling of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, this utterly engrossing and emotional novel blends high-spirited adventure, subversive history, and provocative wit to animate forgotten histories and the extraordinary characters hidden within.


Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan: Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.   Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.   Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this is an audiobook that pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.


The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm: An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm rages and the fog is dense. Her phone is dead. She has no map, no compass, and no food. How she ended up there, and the tragic details of her life, emerge over the course of this novel. We discover that Jane is a novelist with a bad case of writer’s block―she had come to Norway to seek out distant relatives and family history, but when her trip went awry, she tethered herself to a zoologist she met by chance on the plane, joining him on a trek to see the musk oxen of the Dovrefjell mountain range.  At once elegant and gripping, this storyline moves seamlessly between Jane’s life in America and the extraordinary landscape of the Norwegian mountains. As we gradually unpack the emotional debris of her past―troubled Midwestern parents, a loving courtship in New York, and a cruel, sudden tragedy that rearranged everything―we begin to understand what led her to this lonely landscape.


The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell: When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.  This British ghost story was the talk of the town before it crossed the pond, and is now giving American readers the shivers–as well as a deeply well-thought-out and beautifully told tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect—much like the companions themselves.


Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman: This delightful and inspiring cookbook for those who entertain casually and frequently. More than 60 recipes for simple, tasty snacks include suggestions for an accessible wine to pair with each, while vivid color photographs demonstrate how easy these delectable dishes are to prepare. Step-by-step instructions for putting together a first-class cheese plate, creating a generous antipasti platter, or transforming pantry staples into hors d’oeuvres make this an indispensable resource for great party-givings.  We always encourage patrons to try out new recipes, and feel free to let us help you taste test!