December Reads 2022

Staff Picks!

A collection of DPL staff book recommendations and favorites from 2022

FICTION/HISTORICAL FICTION

The Making of Her – Bernadette Jiwa
An unforgettable debut novel about family secrets, falling apart, and coming together. Dublin 1996. Joan Egan lives an enviable life. She and her husband, Martin, and daughter, Carmel, are thriving in Dublin at the dawn of an economic boom. But everything changes when Joan receives a letter from Emma, the daughter who she and Martin gave up for adoption thirty years before, asking for a life-or-death favor. While Joan grapples with the guilt over giving up her baby long ago, she must confront her present as the cracks in her marriage become impossible to ignore and simmering tension with Carmel boils over. Meanwhile, Carmel and Emma must come to terms with the perceived sins of their mother, to imagine a future for their family before it is too late. Spanning the nineties and the sixties, with Dublin as its backdrop, The Making of Her is the tender and page-turning story of marriage, motherhood, a culture that would not allow a woman to find true happiness–and her journey to finally claim it.

Marrying the Ketchups – Jennifer Close
An irresistible comedy of manners about three generations of a Chicago restaurant family and the deep-fried, beer-battered, cream cheese-frosted love that feeds them all–from the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses

Our Little World – Karen Winn
July, 1985. It’s a normal, sweltering New Jersey summer for soon-to-be seventh grader Bee Kocsis. Her thoughts center only on sunny days spent at Deer Chase Lake, evenings chasing fireflies around her cul-de-sac with the neighborhood kids. But when Max’s little sister Sally goes missing at the lake, Bee’s long held illusion of stability is shattered in an instant. The story of an idyllic childhood ruptured by secrets, the way that split-second decisions can have reverberating impacts, and the damaging impact of rivalry between siblings, which is only matched by the enduring love.

The Book Woman’s Daughter – Kim Michele Richardson
In the ruggedness of the beautiful Kentucky mountains, Honey Lovett has always known that the old ways can make a hard life harder. As the daughter of the famed blue-skinned, Troublesome Creek packhorse librarian, Honey and her family have been hiding from the law all her life. But when her mother and father are imprisoned, Honey realizes she must fight to stay free, or risk being sent away for good. Picking up her mother’s old packhorse library route, Honey begins to deliver books to the remote hollers of Appalachia. Honey is looking to prove that she doesn’t need anyone telling her how to survive. But the route can be treacherous, and some folks aren’t as keen to let a woman pave her own way. If Honey wants to bring the freedom books provide to the families who need it most, she’s going to have to fight for her place, and along the way, learn that the extraordinary women who run the hills and hollers can make all the difference in the world.  
ROMANCE
Book Lovers – Emily Henry
A by-the-book literary agent must decide if happily ever after is worth changing her whole life for in this insightful, delightful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. Nora Stephens’ life is books–she’s read them all–and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laid-back dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away–with visions of a small town transformation for Nora who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again–in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow–what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

One Italian Summer – Rebecca Serle
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone. But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life. And then Carol appears–in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue. Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

The Hotel Nantucket – Elin Hilderbrand
Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?  

The Summer Place – Jennifer Weiner
When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market. But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is–questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been. When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

Adult Assembly Required – Abbi Waxman
When Laura Costello moves to Los Angeles, trying to escape an overprotective family and the haunting memories of a terrible accident, she doesn’t expect to be homeless after a week. (She’s pretty sure she didn’t start that fire — right?) She also doesn’t expect to find herself adopted by a rogue bookseller, installed in a lovely but completely illegal boardinghouse, or challenged to save a losing trivia team from ignominy…but that’s what happens. Add a regretful landlady, a gorgeous housemate and an ex-boyfriend determined to put himself back in the running and you’ll see why Laura isn’t really sure she’s cut out for this adulting thing. Luckily for her, her new friends Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob aren’t sure either, but maybe if they put their heads (and hearts) together they’ll be able to make it work.
 
MYSTERY
The Lies I Tell – Julie Clark
Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She’s a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be. A college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. But nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you want to hear, and by the time she’s done, you’ve likely lost everything. Kat Roberts has been waiting ten years for the woman who upended her life to return. And now that she has, Kat is determined to be the one to expose her. But as the two women grow closer, Kat’s long-held assumptions begin to crumble, leaving Kat to wonder who Meg’s true target is. The Lies I Tell is a twisted domestic thriller that dives deep into the psyches and motivations of two women and their unwavering quest to seek justice for the past and rewrite the future.

The Violin Conspiracy – Brendan Slocumb
Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream–he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.   When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition–the Olympics of classical music–the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Without it, Ray feels like he’s lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself–and the world–that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.

The Maid – Nita Prose
A charmingly eccentric hotel maid discovers a guest murdered in his bed, turning her once orderly world upside down–and inspiring a motley crew of unexpected allies to band together to solve the mystery–in this utterly original debut. Molly Dunn is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and interprets people literally. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has had to navigate life’s complexities all by herself. No matter–she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. But Molly’s orderly life is turned on its head the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself very dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s odd demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect and she finds herself in a web of subtext and nuance she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, a medley of friends she didn’t realize she had refuses to let her be charged with murder–but will they be able to discover the real killer before it’s too late? A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different–and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

The Paris Apartment – Lucy Foley Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there. The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question. The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

A Flicker in the Dark – Stacy Willingham
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath. Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?
 
NONFICTION/BIOGRAPHIES
We’re Going to Need More Wine – Gabrielle Union
Union launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies. When she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault, she urged compassion for victims of sexual violence. In this moving collection of essays, Union tells astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. She discusses her experiences with bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood; growing up in white California suburbia, and coping with the divorce of her parents. Throughout, she reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.

Godzilla – Graham Skipper
Godzilla: the ultimate illustrated guide unites fascinating information and stunning imagery from more than 60 years of movie mayhem to show off the Earth’s most enduring monster as never before. This book is the ultimate illustrated reference work to all things Godzilla, from the early days in black and white in Japan to the biggest blockbusters of the 21st century. Never before has a work united the full gamut of Godzilla incarnations. Facts and figures, actors and locations, co-starring monsters and plenty of superb illustrated material add up to make this a rampaging beast of a book!

Hello, Molly! – Molly Shannon
A candid, hilarious, and heartbreaking memoir of resilience and redemption by comedic genius Molly Shannon. At age four, Molly Shannon’s world was shattered when she lost her mother, baby sister, and cousin in a car accident with her father at the wheel. Held together by her tender and complicated relationship with her grieving father, Molly was raised in a permissive household where her gift for improvising and role-playing blossomed alongside the fearlessness that would lead her to become a celebrated actress. From there, Molly ventured into the wider world of New York and Los Angeles show business, where she created her own opportunities and developed her daring and empathetic comedy. Filled with behind-the-scenes stories involving everyone from Whitney Houston to Adam Sandler to Monica Lewinsky, many told for the first time here, Hello, Molly! spans Molly’s time on Saturday Night Live – where she starred alongside Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Cheri Oteri, Tracy Morgan, and Jimmy Fallon, among many others. At the same time, it explores with humor and candor her struggle to come to terms with the legacy of her father, a man who both fostered her gifts and drive and was left with the impossible task of raising his kids alone after the loss of her mother. Witty, winning, and told with tremendous energy and heart, Hello, Molly!, written with Sean Wilsey, sheds new and revelatory light on the life and work of one of our most talented and free-spirited performers.

How To Be Perfect – Michael Schur
From the creator of The Good Place and the co-creator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world”– Provided by publisher. It’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”– especially in a world filled with complicated choices and bad advice. Schur starts off with easy ethical questions and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face– and does it with wit and deep insight, so that we can sound cool at parties and become better people.
 
COOKBOOKS
Smitten Kitchen Keepers – Deb Perelman
The long-awaited new book from the best-selling and beloved author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook–a collection of essential recipes for meals you’ll want to prepare again and again. Deb Perelman is the author of two best-selling cookbooks, the OG of the culinary blogosphere, the homegrown brand with more than a million Instagram followers, the self-taught cook who obsessively tests her recipes until they’re perfect. Here, in her third book, Perelman presents 100 new recipes (plus a few old favorites from her site) that aim to make shopping easier, preparation more practical and enjoyable, and food more reliably delicious for the home cook. What’s a keeper? It’s a brilliantly fuss-free lemon poppy seed cake. It’s Perelman’s favorite roasted winter squash. It’s an epic quiche. It’s a slow-roasted chicken on a bed of unapologetically schmaltzy croutons. It’s the only apple crisp she will personally ever make. It’s perfect spaghetti and meatballs. These are the fail-safe, satisfying recipes you’ll rely on for years to come–from Perelman’s forever files, to yours.

First Generation – Frankie Gaw
In this stunning exploration of identity through food, the blogger behind Little Fat Boy presents 80 recipes that are rooted in his childhood as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in the Midwest.

Savory Baking – Erin Jeanne McDowell
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Book on Pie and The Fearless Baker, a savory baking book for delicious baked goods at any time of day. Savory Baking is the next best thing to a private baking and pastry class from star food stylist and baking expert Erin Jeanne McDowell, given in her signature fun and reassuring style. Not only are each of her recipes intensely crave-able, they also offer inventive inspirations and variations for endless, out-of-the-box customizations and more flexibility. Take her Buttermilk Biscuits, for instance, which comes together in a single bowl. You can cut them in different shapes–Erin prefers squares so there’s no scrap dough left. And she suggests adding cheese (or fresh herbs or bacon) for bolder flavor. Or substituting the buttermilk with sour cream or creme fraiche for a je ne sais quoi tang. Or adding her green chile gravy when serving. Or make a monkey bread made of biscuit dough! And for those who can’t shake the sugar, there are “sweet tooth breaks” throughout. With Erin’s can-do encouragement, expert tips, and “Prep School” features to get you equipped with basic techniques throughout, this sweeping and beautifully photographed guide to savory baking will exponentially expand your savory baking repertoire with a ton of delicious fun.

As Cooked on TikTok – Emily Stephenson
The first cookbook from the world’s favorite video social media platform, TikTok, featuring both popular and brand new recipes from FoodTok’s most popular creators! For the 29.1 million users who posted cloud bread recipes and the 23 million who participated in the ‘whipped coffee challenge’ here is the cookbook that offers an in-hand version of the hottest, highest trending, and most viral food posts on the platform. Published in partnership with TikTok, a curated list of 45 TikTok Creators (based on highest trending food content and largest platforms) contributed recipes and food hacks to this unique cookbook as well as ‘remember that?!?’ food-adjacent content. The 60 recipes are divided into chapters such as Lowkey Dinners (Ramen Carbonara from @cookingwithlynja), Eat Your Veggies (Grilled Jalapeño Corn Off the Cob from @cookingwithshreen), and Sweet Treats (Cloud Bread from @myhealthydish) all paired with a QR code that, when scanned, leads readers directly to that creator’s platform or to the cookbook-exclusive platform being built by TikTok. Plus, expect TikTok celebs like Ming Tsai (650k) and The Pasta Queen (1.8M) to make guest-star appearances!

Dinner in One – Melissa Clark
Melissa Clark brings her home cook’s expertise and no-fuss approach to the world of one-pot/pan cooking. With nearly all of the recipes being made in under one hour, the streamlined steps ensure you are in and out of the kitchen without dirtying a multitude of pans or spending more time than you need to on dinner. Expect to find a bevy of sheet-pan suppers (Miso-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Sugar Snap Peas), skillet dinners (Cheesy Meatball Parm with Spinach), Instant Pot® pinch hitters (Cheaters Chicken and Dumplings), comforting casseroles (Herby Artichoke and Gruyere Bread Pudding) that you can assemble right in the baking dish, crowd-pleasing one-pot pasta meals (Gingery Coconut Noodles with Shrimp and Greens), vegetable-forward mains, and dozens of tips for turning a vegetarian or meat-based recipe vegan. And since no dinner is complete without dessert, you’ll find a chapter of one-bowl cakes, too–from an Easy Chocolate Fudge Torte to a Ricotta-Olive Oil Pound Cake. These are simple, delicious recipes for weekdays, busy evenings, and any time you need to get a delicious, inspiring meal on the table quickly–with as little clean-up as possible.
 
KIDS PICTURE
The Little Book of Joy – The Dalai Lama
In their only collaboration for children, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu use their childhood stories to show young people how to find joy even in hard times and why sharing joy with others makes it grow. The two spiritual masters tell a simple story, vibrantly brought to life by bestselling illustrator Rafael López, of how every child has joy inside them, even when it sometimes hides, and how we can find it, keep it close, and grow it by sharing it with the world.   Sprung from the friendship, humor, and deep affection between these holy men, the book is a perfectly timed and important gift from two revered spiritual leaders to children. It is a reminder that joy is abundant–no matter what challenges we face–and has the power to transform the world around us even in the darkest of times.

Busy Betty – Reese Witherspoon
From Academy Award-winning actress, founder, and bestselling author, Reese Witherspoon, comes Busy Betty, a story about a creative, curious, and exuberant young girl who has big plans and an even bigger heart. Busy Betty has always been busy . . . even when she was just a baby! When Betty gives Frank a big hug, she realizes he needs a bath, PRONTO! Her best friend, Mae, is coming over, and Betty can’t have the smelliest dog in the whole world! But giving Frank a bath is harder than she thought and just when everything seems impossible, with Mae’s help, Betty learns she can accomplish anything with perseverance, teamwork, and one great idea. From Reese Witherspoon comes a smart and larger-than-life character who encourages young readers to celebrate what makes them unique and realize that anything is possible!

Blood- Not Just a Vampire Drink – Stacy McAnulty
This funny and fact-filled picture book is all about blood: where it’s found, what it does, how it travels, and why vampires shouldn’t drink it. From the four chambers of the heart to the platelets that clot your blood when you scrape your knee, everything you want to know about the cardiovascular system is right inside these pages. Just watch out for thirsty vampires

Anzu: The Great Kaiju – Benson Shum
An adorable picture book about a tiny monster with a big heart trying to follow in his family’s footsteps. All great Kaiju are born with a super power to strike fear in the heart of the city. But Anzu is different. Instead of mayhem, he likes May flowers. Instead of striking fear, he prefers to be sincere. Can Anzu find a way to make his family proud and stay true to his kind self? From Disney animator and illustrator Bensom Shum comes an adorable and heartwarming picture book about making your own way and the unexpected power of gentleness–perfect for fans of Ferdinand the Bull.
 
MIDDLE GRADE
The Swallowtail Legacy – Michael D. Beil
A vibrant contemporary mystery with a classic feel about grappling with grief, righting past wrongs, redefining family, and finding yourself. Twelve-year-old Lark Heron-Finch is steeling herself to spend the summer on Swallowtail Island off the shores of Lake Erie. It’s the first time she and her sister will have seen the old house since their mom passed away. The island’s always been full of happy memories–and with a step father and his boys and no mom, now everything is different. When Nadine, a close family friend, tells Lark about a tragic boat accident that happened off the coast many years before, Lark’s enthralled with the story. Nadine’s working on a book about Dinah Purdy, Swallowtail’s oldest resident who had a connection to the crash, and she’s sure that the accident was not as it appeared. Impressed by Lark’s keen eye, she hires her as her research assistant for the summer. And then Lark discovers something amazing. Something that could change Dinah’s life. Something linked to the crash and to her own family’s history with Swallowtail. But there are others on the island who would do anything to keep the truth buried in the watery depths of the past. A compelling and complex mystery with a classic feel, Wreck at Ada’s Reef is a perfect coming-of-age middle grade novel for fans of The Parker Inheritance, Holes, The Westing Game, and anyone looking for a satisfying puzzle that stretches across decades.

The Aquanaut – Dan Santat
Ever since her father was lost at sea, Sophia has been moping around Aqualand, a marine theme park. But Sophia’s world is turned upside-down when an “aquanaut” breaks into the park’s research lab. To her amazement, Sophia discovers that the aquanaut is not what it seems: inside lives a band of goofy sea creatures! And when they all realize that Aqualand is more sinister than advertised, Sophia is determined to help the aquanaut crew free the park’s captive marine life before it’s too late.

Odder – Katherine Applegate
Odder spends her days off the coast of central California, practicing her underwater acrobatics and spinning the quirky stories for which she’s known. She’s a fearless daredevil, curious to a fault. But when Odder comes face-to-face with a hungry great white shark, her life takes a dramatic turn, one that will challenge everything she believes about herself–and about the humans who hope to save her.
 
TEEN
No Filter and Other Lies – Crystal Maldonado
This insightful, provocative novel–hilarious and raw by turns–is the second book from Crystal Maldonado, author of smash-hit New England Book Award Winner Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. Brilliantly plotted, deeply sensitive, and rich in voice, No Filter and Other Lies deftly addresses FOMO, first love, one-sided love, frayed family ties, raced exclusion on social media, queer awakenings, and learning to live with–and love–yourself. Because the most powerful lies are the lies we tell ourselves.

The Lesbianas Guide to Catholic School – Sonora Reyes
A sharply funny and moving debut novel about a queer Mexican American girl navigating Catholic school, while falling in love and learning to celebrate her true self. Perfect for fans of Erika L. Sánchez, Leah Johnson, and Gabby Rivera.
Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.  After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.  The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?  Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston
After seventeen-year-olds Chole and Shara, Chole’s rival for valedictorian, kiss, Shara vanishes leaving Chole and two boys, who are also enamored with Shara, to follow the trail of clues she left behind, but during the search, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to Shara and her small Alabama town than she thought.  

December Reads 2022

Get Into the Spirit of Giving!

Children
Just Help! – Sonia Sotomayor
This follow up to Just Ask! by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor beautifully explores easy and meaningful acts of kindness and service that help make the world a better place! 

12 Days of Kindness – Irene Latham
There are many ways to be kind. Follow one girl as she expresses gratitude through kind deeds all her own–a smile or encouraging word or even shared snacks–and discovers one act of kindness inspires another. In this heartwarming lyrical text, twelve acts of everyday kindness are set to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Along with vibrant and warm illustrations, this joyous read-aloud celebrates how small acts of kindness can be practiced at any age.
Kindness Makes Us Strong – Sophie Beer
Kindness is a friendly hello. A roaring cheer. A quick boost. Kindness is what makes us strong! This joyful board book shows various children as they extend kindness in all kinds of situations: on the playground, at lunchtime, on a bike path, and on a neighborhood street. This sweet preschool read-aloud shows the way kindness helps build friendship and community.

Circles All Around Us – Brad Montague
The debut picture book from the creator of the viral sensation Kid President is a moving take on how we can create bigger and bigger circles of community and connections as we grow–now a New York Times bestseller! In the circles all around us, everywhere that we all go, there’s a difference we can make and a love we can all show. This is the story of a circle. When we’re first born, our circle is very small, but as we grow and build relationships, our circle keeps getting bigger and bigger to include family, friends, neighbors, community, and beyond. Brad Montague originally created Circles as an Instagram video adorably narrated by his kids, and now this picture book adaptation is the perfect way to start a conversation about how to expand our worlds with kindness and inclusivity–even if it seems scary or uncomfortable. This book makes an ideal new-baby, first-day-of-school, or graduation gift, or any milestone that celebrates someone’s world getting bigger. 

K is for Kindness – Rina Horiuchi
From aardvark to zebra, this delightful cast of animal characters illustrates the many ways to show kindness to others, while teaching the youngest readers their ABCs. Debut author/illustrator and sister duo Rina Horiuchi and Risa Horiuchi have crafted a warm and tender gift that affirms kindness can be found anywhere.

Last Stop on Market Street – Matt De La Pena 
“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.” CJ begins his weekly bus journey around the city with disappointment and dissatisfaction, wondering why he and his family can’t drive a car like his friends. Through energy and encouragement, CJ’s nana helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine. This beautifully illustrated, emotive picture book explores urban life with honesty, interest and gratitude.

Tomorrow I’ll be Kind – Jessica Hische
Immerse yourself in the beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, hope, and positivity alongside adorable illustrations of love and caring. This book is a reminder to all readers, young and old, that the smallest kind gesture can make the biggest difference in the world–we just have to remember to be kind to one another.

Giving Day – Cori Doerrfeld
Every year, the town of Cubby Hill comes together for the Great Giving Festival, celebrating the spirit of giving and community that makes their town such a great place to live. And this year, Cooper Cub has a very special task: delivering his grandmother’s special honey to everyone in town! But with such a big job, can Cooper find a way to help his friends and sweeten up the Festival?

The More You Give – Marcy Campbell
A modern-day response to The Giving Tree, this lyrical picture book shows how family love is passed down from generation to generation

A Bear to Share – Jessica Alba
Tiana loves her teddy bear, Bach. She doesn’t mind that he’s a little worn and somewhat torn. So when her mother suggests she make room for a new bear, Tiana can’t believe her ears! Will Tiana have to lose the one bear she really loves? Or will she find room in her heart for two?
Teen​
Darius the Great is Not Okay – Adib Khorram
Darius is a loveable, nerdy, tea-obsessed, Persian-American teenager who is battling depression, bullying, and feeling disconnected from all the worlds he belongs to. When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, Darius and his family’s visit has a life-changing impact. Though his sexuality isn’t explicitly discussed in the first book, many readers picked up on subtle messages that Darius was questioning, which was confirmed in the sequel- Darius the Great Deserves Better, as we meet Darius’ first boyfriend, Landon. Darius is as absolutely lovely and complicated as any person in your life, and every character feels just as real.

Whiteout – Angie Thomas
In Atlanta, just before Christmas, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life during the storm of the century, which results in a magical moment that changes everything.
Jackpot – Nic Stone
Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide? Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.

Love is a Revolution – Renee Watson
Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday. Tye Brown, the MC is perfect, except– he is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

Together at Midnight – Jennifer Castle
Combining the emotional deftness of Sarah Dessen with the magical spark of New York City in wintertime, this affecting novel will inspire readers to pay closer attention to the world around them. What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets. Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

For Every One – 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. For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The 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 Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. 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. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. 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.

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah

Yes No Maybe So – Becky Albertalli
Jamie Goldberg, who chokes when speaking to strangers, and Maya Rehrman, who is having the worst Ramadan ever, are paired to knock on doors and ask for votes for the local state senate candidate.

Channel Kindness – Lady Gaga
One small act of kindness can change the world. Lady Gaga has always believed in the importance celebrating individuality, acting with empathy, and being kind to yourself and other. She and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, founded Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world a kinder and braver place. Within these pages you will meet young change makers who found their inner strength, who prevailed in the face of bullies, who started their own social movements, who decided to break through the mental health stigma and share how they felt, who created safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, and who have embraced kindness with every fiber of their being by helping others without the expectation of anything in return.

Both Can Be True – Jules Machias
Daniel and Ash cross paths when a pomeranian is about to be euthanized; the sensitive Dan rescues the dog and Ash offers to help on a day when they are female-presenting. As the friendship grows, Ash feels less and less able to be their full self — sometimes male and sometimes female — in front of Dan without knowing that both people find themselves constantly at war with their non-conforming identities.
Adult
How to Be Perfect –  Michael Shur
How to Be Perfect is a humorous exploration of moral philosophy by Michael Schur, the creator of NBCs The Good Place. 2,500 years of philosophical theory are applied to modern ethical dilemmas such as “Do I have to return my shopping cart to the shopping cart rack thingy?” in this work that is just as whimsical and brilliant as the show! Bonus- the audio has narration from some of the main characters!

The Overstory – Richard Powers 
A novel of activism and natural-world power presents interlocking fables about nine remarkable strangers who are summoned in different ways by trees for an ultimate, brutal stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
The Moment of Lift – Melinda Gates
A timely call to action for women’s empowerment by the influential co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation identifies the link between women’s equality and societal health, sharing uplifting insights by international advocates in the fight against gender bias.

Doing Good Better – William McAskill
Most of us want to make a difference. We donate our time and money to charities and causes we deem worthy, choose careers we consider meaningful, and patronize businesses and buy products we believe make the world a better place. Unfortunately, we often base these decisions on assumptions and emotions rather than facts. As a result, even our best intentions often lead to ineffective–and sometimes downright harmful–outcomes. How can we do better?

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’ A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time. Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet-from the QWERTY keyboard and Staphylococcus aureus to the Taco Bell breakfast menu-on a five-star scale. John Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection that includes both beloved essays and all-new pieces exclusive to the book.

Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world. Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them–the bank robber included–desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

The People We Keep – Allison Larkin
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a run-down motorhome, flunking out of school, and picking up shifts at the local diner. But when April realizes she’s finally had enough-enough of her selfish, absent father and barely surviving in an unfeeling town-she decides to make a break for it. Stealing a car and with only her music to keep her company, April hits the road, determined to live life on her own terms. She manages to scrape together a meaningful existence as she travels, encountering people and places she’s never dreamed of, and could never imagine deserving. From lifelong friendships to tragic heartbreaks, April chronicles her journey in the beautiful music she creates as she discovers that home is with the people you choose to keep.

The Best Kind of People – Zoe Whittall
The Woodburys cherish life in the affluent, bucolic suburb of Avalon Hills, Connecticut. George is a beloved science teacher at the local prep school, a hero who once thwarted a gunman, and his wife, Joan, is a hardworking ER nurse. They have brought up their children in this thriving town of wooded yards and sprawling lakes. Then one night a police car pulls up to the Woodbury home and George is charged with sexual misconduct with students from his daughters school. As he sits in prison awaiting trial and claiming innocence, Joan vaults between denial and rage as friends and neighbors turn cold. Their daughter, seventeen-year-old Sadie, is a popular high school senior who becomes a social outcast and finds refuge in an unexpected place. Her brother, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to support the family, only to confront unhappy memories from his past. A writer tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely mens rights activist group attempts to recruit Sadie for their cause.

I Never Thought of It That Way – Monica Guzman
In this timely, personal guide, Mónica, the chief storyteller for the national cross-partisan depolarization organization Braver Angels, takes you to the real front lines of a crisis that threatens to grind America to a halt–broken conversations among confounded people. She shows you how to overcome the fear and certainty that surround us to finally do what only seems impossible: understand and even learn from people in your life whose whole worldview is different from or even opposed to yours. 

November Reads 2022

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month

Children

Front Desk – Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang’s Front Desk is loosely based on her own experiences as a first-generation American whose ambitious parents manage and live in a motel in southern California. Young Mia, our protagonist, uses her wit, heart, and hard work to help her parents succeed in an unfriendly environment.

 
I See You – Michael Genhart
I See You is a wordless picture book that depicts a homeless woman who is unseen by everyone around her – except for a little boy. Over the course of a year, the boy is witness to all that she endures. Ultimately, in a gesture of compassion, the boy acknowledges her through an exchange in which he sees her and she experiences being seen. This book opens the door for kids and parents to begin a conversation about homelessness. In a “Note for Parents, Educators, and Neighbours”, there are discussion questions and additional resources about helping the homeless.

Saturday at the Food Pantry – Diane O’Neill
Molly and her mother, who lost her job, are waiting for the food market to open. Happy to see a classmate in line, Molly calls out to Caitlin, who doesn’t immediately respond, but later whispers what she doesn’t want others to hear, “Gran and I need help.” Molly wonders if there’s something wrong with needing food. Soon the girls are drawing pictures to pass out to people waiting in line and, later, those working at the food pantry. Noticing that Mom looks a little sad, Molly reminds her “Everybody needs help sometimes,” words her mother had previously shared with her. The morning ends cheerfully with Caitlin and her grandmother eating lunch with Molly and her mother. An appended note encourages adults experiencing food insecurity to contact local distribution sites. Magro’s nicely composed pictures illustrate the narrative with verve and finesse. Upbeat in tone but acknowledging the discomfort that many people feel when dealing with new experiences, this precisely worded story features a food pantry, a setting familiar to many children but seldom represented in picture books.

 
Watercress – Andrea Wang
Embarrassed about gathering watercress from a roadside ditch, a girl learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage after learning why the plant is so important to her parents.

 
A Chair for My Mother – Vera B. Williams
A child, her waitress mother, and her grandmother save dimes to buy a comfortable armchair after all their furniture is lost in a fire.

 
Last Stop on Market Street – Matt de la Peña
A young boy, CJ, rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.

 
Our Little Kitchen – Jillian Tamaki

A crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. Includes a recipe and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.

 
A Duet for Home – Karina Yan Glaser
It’s June’s first day at Huey House, and as if losing her home weren’t enough, she also can’t bring her cherished viola inside. Before the accident last year, her dad saved tip money for a year to buy her viola, and she’s not about to give it up now. Tyrell has been at Huey House for three years and gives June a glimpse of the good things about living there: friendship, hot meals, and a classical musician next door. Can he and June work together to oppose the government, or will families be forced out of Huey House before they are ready?

 
Genesis Begins Again – Alicia D. Williams
Thirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family’s troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is.

 
No Fixed Address – Susin Nielsen
Twelve-year-old Felix’s appearance on a television game show reveals that he and his mother have been homeless for a while, but also restores some of his faith in other people.

Teen​

Hey, Kiddo – Jarrett Krosoczka 

Hey, Kiddo is Krosoczka’s graphic memoir in which he illustrates being raised by his outspoken and opinionated, but loving grandparents while his mother dealt with housing insecurity, and poverty related to substance abuse issues. 

Sorta Like a Rockstar – Matthew Quick

Although seventeen-year-old Amber Appleton is homeless, living in a school bus with her unfit mother, she is a relentless optimist who visits the elderly at a nursing home, teaches English to Korean Catholic women with the use of rhythm and blues music, and befriends a solitary Vietnam veteran and his dog, but eventually she experiences one burden more than she can bear and slips into a deep depression.

On the Come Up – Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri hopes to become a great rapper, and after her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, must decide whether to sell out or face eviction with her widowed mother.

The Life I’m In – Sharon G. Flake
Turned out of the only home she has known, Charlese Jones is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking, and while she is frightened, she remains determined to bring herself and her fellow victims out of danger.

 
Runner – Carl Deuker
Living with his alcoholic father on a broken-down sailboat on Puget Sound has been hard on seventeen-year-old Chance Taylor, but when his love of running leads to a high-paying job, he quickly learns that the money is not worth the risk.

 
We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez
Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But, none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life — if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.

 
If I Ever Get Out of Here – Eric Gansworth
Seventh-grader Lewis “Shoe” Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base, but in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and Whites–and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.

 
When We Make It – Elisabet Velasquez
Sarai uses verse to navigate the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn, questioning the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives.
A first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader, Sarai can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. As she questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, Sarai learns to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

 
Find Layla – Meg Elison
Underprivileged and keenly self-aware, SoCal fourteen-year-old Layla Bailey isn’t used to being noticed. Except by mean girls who tweet about her ragged appearance. All she wants to do is indulge in her love of science, protect her vulnerable younger brother, and steer clear of her unstable mother. Then a school competition calls for a biome. Layla chooses her own home, a hostile ecosystem of indoor fungi and secret shame. With a borrowed video camera, she captures it all. The mushrooms growing in her brother’s dresser. The black mold blooming up the apartment walls. The unmentionable things living in the dead fridge. All the inevitable exotic toxins that are Layla’s life. Then the video goes viral. When Child Protective Services comes to call, Layla loses her family and her home. Defiant, she must face her bullies and friends alike, on her own. Unafraid at last of being seen, Layla accepts the mortifying reality of visibility. Now she has to figure out how to stay whole and stand behind the truth she has shown the world.

 
I Wish You All the Best – Mason Deaver
After coming out as nonbinary, Ben must leave home and goes to live with a sister and her husband to finish the last year of high school.

Adult

Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno Garcia
From the author of Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow is an adventure featuring Gods from Mayan mythology set in Mexico City at the dawn of the Jazz Age.

 
A Long Petal of the Sea – Isabel Allende 
In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants, and together are sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda to embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. As unlikely partners, they embrace exile and emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning. Over the course of their lives, they will face test after test. But they will also find joy as they wait patiently for a day when they are exiles no more, and will find friends in the most unlikely of places. Through it all, it is that hope of being reunited with their home that keeps them going. And in the end, they will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

Maid – Stephanie Land
A journalist describes the years she worked in low-paying domestic work under wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them.

 
A Street Cat Named Bob – James Bowen
When London street musician James Bowen found an injured cat curled up in the hallway of his apartment building, he had no idea how much his life was about to change.

Nomadland – Jessica Bruder
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves “workampers.” In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Jessica Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying her irrepressible protagonist, Linda May, and others, from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy–one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable “Earthship” home, they have not given up hope.

 
American Made – Farah Stockman
Shannon, Wally, and John built their lives around their place of work. Shannon, a white single mother, became the first woman to run the factory’s dangerous furnaces at the Rexnord manufacturing plant in Indianapolis and was proud of producing one of the world’s top brands of steel bearings. Wally, a black man known for his initiative and kindness, was promoted to become chairman of efficiency, one of the most coveted posts on the factory floor, and dreamed of starting his own barbecue business one day. John, a white machine operator, came from a multigenerational union family and clashed with a work environment that was increasingly hostile to organized labor. The Rexnord factory had served as one of the economic engines for the surrounding community. When the factory closed, hundreds of people lost their jobs. What had life been like for Shannon, Wally, and John, before the factory closed? And what became of them after the factory moved to Mexico and Texas? American Made is a story about people and a community struggling to reinvent itself. It is also a story about race, class, and American values, and how jobs serve as a bedrock of people’s lives and drive powerful social justice movements. This revealing book is also about this political moment, when joblessness and uncertainty about the future of work have made themselves heard at a national level. Most of all it is a story about people: who we consider to be one of us, and how the dignity of work lies at the heart of who we are.

 
Tightrope – Nicolas D. Kristof
With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an “other America.” The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of these children died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them- Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation’s drug epidemic. Altogether, there emerges a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.

Broke In America – Joanne Samuel Goldblum
Joanne Samuel Goldblum, CEO and founder of the National Diaper Bank Network, and Colleen Shaddox, a journalist and activist, give a book shedding light on the realities faced by those living in poverty across the United States and provide a road map for eradicating poverty via policy changes.

 
Invisible Child – Andrea Elliott
Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolize Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani grows up, moving with her tightknit family from shelter to shelter, her story reaches back to trace the passage of Dasani’s ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. By the time Dasani comes of age in the twenty-first century, New York City’s homeless crisis is exploding amid the growing chasm between rich and poor. In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani must lead her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental addiction, violence, housing instability, pollution, segregated schools, and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system. When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. As she learns to “code-switch” between the culture she left behind and the norms of her new town, Dasani starts to feel like a stranger in both places. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?

 
The Pursuit of Happyness – Chris Gardner
After a rocky childhood with an abusive step-father, Chris Gardner made himself a life promise: I’ll never leave my children. It’s a vow that he kept, despite many hardships. In this painfully honest memoir, Gardner goes from the highs of landing an apprenticeship at one of Wall Street’s toniest firms to the lows of being jobless and unable to pay his rent. Eventually he found himself caught in a web of incredibly challenging circumstances that left him homeless with his toddler son. Gardner never gave in to despair but chose, instead, to persevere, and who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to achieve the American Dream.

September Reads 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month

Children
Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal
A charming picture book featuring Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela, who feels overwhelmed writing her very long name, until her Dad introduces her to all the remarkable people in her family for whom she is named.

  Pepe and the Parade – Tracey Kyle
Pepe, who is Mexican American, enjoys participating in a festival celebrating his heritage and that of his family and friends, who are from Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and many other countries. Includes author’s note about Hispanic American History month and the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino.

Nosotros Means Us – Paloma Valdivia
A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be.  
My Papi Has a Motorcycle – Isabel Quintero
When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there. With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl’s love letter to her hardworking dad and to memories of home that we hold close in the midst of change

  Julian is a Mermaid – 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?

  Across the Bay – Carlos Aponte
Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father.

  Areli is a Dreamer – Areli Morales
In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story of moving from a quiet town in Mexico to the bustling and noisy metropolis of New York City

  Loteria – Karla Arenas Valenti
In Oaxaca City, Mexico, ancient friends Life and Death discuss free will while engaged in a game of chance, with eleven-year-old Clara as the protagonist of their theories and a pawn in their game, moving inevitably towards her ultimate fate. 

  They Call Me Güero – David Bowles
This collection of narrative poetry explores a year in the life of a Mexican-American boy: caring, talented, and irrepressibly mischievous. Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd–reader, gamer, musician–who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails. But trusting in his family’s traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope – He writes poetry.

Merci Suårez Changes Gears – Meg Medina
Merci Suárez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.  
Teen​
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
A unique story based on a real-life event, Clap When You Land is about two girls from different countries who experience a shared trauma and discover they are connected in a way they never could have imagined 

  Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabi Rivera
Juliet, a self-identified queer, Bronx-born Puerto Rican-American, comes out to her family to disastrous results the night before flying to Portland to intern with her feminist author icon–whom Juliet soon realizes has a problematic definition of feminism that excludes women of color

  Furia – Yamil Saied Méndez 
Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan, a rising soccer star in Rosario, Argentina, dreams of playing professionally, in defiance of her fathers’ wishes and at the risk of her budding romance with Diego.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow – Laura Taylor Namey
Seventeen-year-old Lila Reyes, furious when her parents send her to the English countryside to recover from grief and heartbreak, unexpectedly falls in love with a teashop clerk–and England, itself. After graduation, everything Lila Reyes had planned for her life fell apart. Her worried parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila. Until she meets Orion Maxwell. A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion appoints himself as Lila’s personal tour guide. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind– one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

  We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez
Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But, none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life — if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.

  Never Look Back – Lilliam Rivera
A modern retelling of the myth, Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Eury leaves Puerto Rico for the Bronx, haunted by losing all to Hurricane Maria and by evil spirit Ato, and meets a bachata-singing charmer, Pheus. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends. When he meets Eury, all he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love. As the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

  Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet – Laekan Zea Kemp
Told in two voices, Pen, whose dream of taking over her family’s restaurant has been destroyed, and Xander, a new, undocumented, employee seeking his father, form a bond.

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her traditional Mexican-American mom and dad have different plans. Xander Amaro Is a new hire at Nacho’s. For him, the job is an opportunity for a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. When both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself

  Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun – Jonny Garza Villa
Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life. Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown–literally–out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self. Then Mat, a cute, empathetic Twitter crush from Los Angeles, slides into Jules’s DMs. Jules can tell him anything. Mat makes the world seem conquerable. But when Jules’s fears about coming out come true, the person he needs most is fifteen hundred miles away. Jules has to face them alone. Jules accidentally propelled himself into the life he’s always dreamed of. And now that he’s in control of it, what he does next is up to him.

  Where I Belong – Marcia Argueta Mickelson
Guatemalan-American high school senior Millie Vargas struggles to balance her family’s needs with her own ambitions, especially after her mother’s employer, a Senate candidate, uses Millie as a poster child for “deserving” immigrants.

  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sanchez
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
Adult
Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno Garcia
From the author of Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow is an adventure featuring Gods from Mayan mythology set in Mexico City at the dawn of the Jazz Age. 

  A Long Petal of the Sea – Isabel Allende 
In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants, and together are sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda to embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. As unlikely partners, they embrace exile and emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning. Over the course of their lives, they will face test after test. But they will also find joy as they wait patiently for a day when they are exiles no more, and will find friends in the most unlikely of places. Through it all, it is that hope of being reunited with their home that keeps them going. And in the end, they will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.
The Murmur of Bees – Sofia Segovia
From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can — visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats — both human and those of nature — Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will in time, be divined.

  Children of the Land – Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, simple lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.

Sabrina & CorinaKali Fajardo-Anstine
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton
After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution… Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary… Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage–and what it means to be Cuban.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents – Julia Alvarez
In the 1960s, political tension forces the García family away from Santo Domingo and towards the Bronx. The sisters all hit their strides in America, adapting and thriving despite cultural differences, language barriers, and prejudice. But Mami and Papi are more traditional, and they have far more difficulty adjusting to their new country. Making matters worse, the girls–frequently embarrassed by their parents–find ways to rebel against them.

Crux – Jean Guerrero
A daughter’s quest to understand her charismatic and troubled father, an immigrant who crosses borders both real and illusory–between sanity and madness, science and spirituality, life and death. ¿Papi, dónde estás? Throughout Jean Guerrero’s childhood, her father, Marco Antonio, was an erratic and elusive presence. A self-taught genius at fixing, creating, and conjuring things–and capable of transforming himself into a shaman, dreamcaster, or animal whisperer in his enchanted daughter’s eyes–he gradually began to lose himself in his peculiar obsessions, careening wildly between reality and hallucination. In time, he fled his family and responsibilities–to Asia, Europe, and eventually back to Mexico. He succumbed to drug- and alcohol-fueled manias, while suffering the effects of what he said were CIA mind-control experiments. As soon as she was old enough, Jean set out after him. Now a journalist, she used the tools of her trade to find answers to the questions he left behind. In this lyrical, haunting memoir, Jean Guerrero tries to locate the border between truth and fantasy as she searches for explanations for her father’s behavior. 

Cantoras – Carolina De Robertis
From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find each other as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family. In 1977 Uruguay, a military government has crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In an environment where citizens are kidnapped, raped, and tortured, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression. And yet, despite such societal realities, Romina, Flaca, Anita “La Venus,” Paz, and Malena–five cantoras, women who “sing”–somehow, miraculously, find each other and discover an isolated cape, Cabo Polonio, inhabited by just a lonely lighthouse keeper and a few rugged seal hunters. They claim this place as their secret sanctuary. Over the next 35 years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone. Throughout it all, the women will be tested repeatedly–by their families, lovers, society, and each other–as they fight to live authentic lives. A genre-defining novel and De Robertis’s masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. De Robertis has written a novel that is at once timeless and groundbreaking–a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.

  Infinite Country – Patricia Engel
Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Columbia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the Untied States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family in the north. How this family came to occupy two different countries, two different worlds, comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on North American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro’s deportation and the family’s splintering – the costs they’ve all been living with ever since. Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engle, herself a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, gives voice to all five family members as they navigate the particulars of their respective circumstances. And all the while, the metronome ticks: Will Talia make it to Bogotá in time? And if she does, can she bring herself to trade the solid facts of her father and life in Colombia for the distant vision of her mother and siblings in North America? Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in the United States, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family – for whom every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred. 

  Descriptions in bold provided by DPL

August Reads 2022

August is for Book Lovers

Children
Love in the Library – Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Love in the Library introduces readers to Tama, who works in the library at a Japanese incarceration camp in Idaho, and the love she found over books with George. Beautiful illustrations highlight the joy books and love brought to a dreadful situation. Love in the Library is based on a true story, the young life of the author’s grandparents!

Luna Loves Library Day – Joseph Coehlo
Luna loves library day: that’s the day she spends with her dad. Exploring the shelves they find magic, mystery and even start to mend their own history. An inspiring story from one of the UK’s greatest up-and-coming poets for children, captured in all its flights of fancy by newcomer Fiona Lumbers.
Lost in the Library – Josh Funk 
Steadfast Fortitude and curious Patience are waiting every morning to greet visitors of the Library. That is until, one early morning, when Fortitude finds Patience is missing. The city is about to awake, and the lions absolutely must be in their places before the sun rises. Now, Fortitude must abandon his own post to find his best friend in the Library’s labyrinthine halls.

Dog Loves Books – Louise Yates
Dog loves books SO much he opens his very own bookstore. At first he’s short of customers. But that’s all right, because when Dog is surrounded by books, he is never short of friends—or fun. And when customers begin arriving, he knows just which books to recommend.

The Bookwanderers – Anna James
Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents’ bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favorite stories. One day Tilly realizes that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of ‘book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life.

The Library Book – Tom Chapin
What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library! Based on the hit song by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, here is an affectionate, exuberant, uproarious celebration of books, reading, and—SHHH!—libraries!

Planting Stories – Anika Aldamuy Denise
When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and cuentistas continue to share her stories and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Ban This Book – Alan Gratz
An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!

The Book Itch – Vaunda Micheaux
Lewis’s dad said he had an itch he needed to scratch — a book itch. How to scratch it? He started the National Memorial African Bookstore. It became a center of black culture and a home to activists like Malcolm X.

Matilda – Roald Dahl
Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world… For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will, and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.
Teen​
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
The Fault in Our Stars has not likely escaped your attention as an extremely popular novel by bestselling author John Green, and more recently a blockbuster film about two terminally ill teenagers who fall in love over books and a shared sense of humor.

The Library of Lost Things – Laura Taylor Namey
From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Geekerella – Ashley Poston
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

A Kind of Paradise – Amy Rebecca Tan
Jamie Bunn made a mistake at the end of the school year. A big one. And every kid in her middle school knows all about it. Now she has to spend her summer vacation volunteering at the local library—as punishment. It may be boring, but at least she’ll be able to hide from mean girl Trina, who’s always had it out for her, and beautiful Trey, the boy at the root of her big mistake. Or so she thinks.

Last Chance Books – Kelsey Rodkey
Don’t you just love the smell of old books in the morning? Madeline Moore does. Books & Moore, the musty bookstore her family has owned for generations, is where she feels most herself. Nothing is going to stop her from coming back after college to take over the store from her beloved aunt. Nothing, that is—until a chain bookstore called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to shut them down.

Words in Deep Blue – Cath Crowley
Teenagers Rachel and Henry find their way back to each other while working in an old bookstore full of secrets and crushes, love letters and memories, grief and hope.

We Are Inevitable – Gayle Forman
After losing his brother, mom, and most of his friends, Aaron Stein is left with his shambolic father alone in their moldering secondhand bookstore, but just when he considers selling the store he meets new people and takes on new challenges, helping him come to terms with what he has lost and who he wants to be.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Being consummate fans of the Simon Snow series helped Cath and her twin sister, Wren, cope as little girls whose mother left them, but now, as they start college but not as roommates, Cath fears she is unready to live without Wren holding her hand–and without her passion for Snow.
Adult
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Imagine how different your life would be if you took a different path in college, if you never married, if you chose to live abroad- that’s just what the midnight library does in this fantasy novel by mental health advocate Matt Haig!

The Library Book – Susan Orlean
In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the Los Angeles Public Library fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson
Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn’t mean she’s got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s determination to bring a little bit of hope to the darkly hollers

The Reading List – Sarah Nisha Adams
Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Wembley after losing his beloved wife. He worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries. Aleisha is a bright teenager working at the local library for the summer. She discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird; it is a list of novels that she has never heard of, and she impulsively decides to read every book on the list. When Mukesh arrives at the library seeking to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list. The shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again

Book Lovers – Emily Henry
Nora Stephens’ life is books–she’s read them all–and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laid-back dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away–with visions of a small town transformation for Nora who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again–in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow–what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

The Personal Librarian – Marie Benedict
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret: she was born Belle Marion Greener, daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s alleged Portuguese heritage lets her pass as white, but she will go through great lengths to preserve her carefully crafted identity in a racist world

The Lions of Fifth Avenue – Fiona Davis
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill – Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill’s life may not seem like much, but for a person battling anxiety, it’s more than enough. She enjoys her job at a bookstore and her small circle of friends. Until a visit from a lawyer changes everything… The father that Nina never knew existed has died, leaving behind an enormous extended family. Nina now has innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and cousins all living within a twenty-mile radius–some welcoming and some not so welcoming, but all demanding her attention. If that’s not enough, Nina’s talent for worrying is taking the thrill out of falling in love. Tom, a fellow trivia nerd–who’s totally into her–is obviously too good to be true. Everything is moving too fast for Nina. Caught in a whirlwind of new people, emotions and experiences, she feels the need to protect herself. But maybe opening her world–and her heart–is a risk worth taking.

Last Chance Library – Freya Sampson
Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother. Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way. To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a rare book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas of honey, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a beautiful barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the rare book and in his own life.

All descriptions provided by publisher.

July Reads 2022

Disability Pride Month – Accepting, Honoring, and Celebrating Human Diversity

Children
El Deafo – Cece Bell
This graphic novel is based loosely on Bell’s own experience growing up with a hearing impairment. The protagonist, Cece, is starting at a new school and feeling that what makes her feel different can also be a superpower!

I am Not a Label – Cerrie Burnell
I am Not a Label is a collection of biographies of 34 artists, athletes, and activists with disabilities from the past and present. Each of their stories explore how their disabilities impacted and/or inspired their success and enabled them to make their mark on the world!

Listen – Shannon Stocker
Listen is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of Elevyn Glennie, a deaf percussionist who despite her disability, never gave up on her dream of being a musician.
I am Odd, I am New – Benjamin Giroux
This picture book is an illustrated poem by Benjamin Giroux, in which he explains his experience as a young person with autism and what he wishes people knew about him and others on the autism spectrum.

I Talk Like a River – Jordan Scott
I Talk Like a River is about a boy’s struggle with spoken language using the metaphor of a river to illustrate the feeling of being surrounded by words, but not able to speak them, sputtering and whirling much like a river does.

Hello Goodbye Dog – Maria Gianferrari
Zara’s dog, Moose, is determined to be with her as much as she can, but dogs aren’t allowed at Zara’s school. After a few escapes and appearances at school, Zara and her friends determine Moose can be a service dog for Zara’s mobility impairment!

Not So Different – Shane Burcaw
Not So Different is written by Shane Burcaw, an adult with spinal muscular atrophy and advocate for disability awareness. This book explains how his condition affects his daily life, but also how it doesn’t- he is able to do a lot of the same things people of different abilities can, but sometimes he needs a little help. This book and others by Burcaw encourage readers to ask questions, learn, and be a good friend to a person with disabilities!

Just Ask! – Sonia Sotomayor 
This book was written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to help young readers learn about different abilities. Sotomayor has diabetes and explains her condition, and introduces other characters who experience the world differently. 

Rolling Warrior– Judith Heumann
This is Heumann’s autobiography adapted for young readers- a story about a girl who fought to be included since the age of five and never stopped fighting for equity and inclusion as an adult. Heumann’s story is inspiring for activists of all ages!
Teen​
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue does a superb job of including disabled, LGBTQ+, and people of color in the oft-monolithic genre of historical fiction. This novel follows Monty, a young and wild aristocrat who is touring Europe with his equally strong-willed sister, and best friend/love interest Percy. 

Love from A to Z – S.K. Ali
This novel features two characters, Adam who has MS and is trying to keep it a secret, and Zayneb, who is trying to keep a low profile, despite her fury at her islamophobic teacher. Each feels they can only be the truest versions of themselves in their journals until they meet one another in person. 

Marcelo in the Real World – Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo is in the summer of his senior year when his father proposes he works with him at his law firm instead of Marcelo’s choice- raising horses on his friend’s farm. In the “real world”, as his dad puts it, Marcelo makes discoveries and moral quandaries that have him questioning how to ethically navigate adult life.
You’re Welcome, Universe – Whitney Gardner
Julia is an artist who attends a school for the deaf and hearing impaired. When she discovers and covers up a slur about her friend on the back of their school, she begins a sort of stealth graffiti art war that has her sharpening her skills and wit!

Unbroken – Marieke Nijkamp
Unbroken is an anthology of 13 stories featuring protagonists with disabilities- written by authors who identify as disabled, a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis. Each story is fiction, but ranges in genre from fantasy, contemporary, romance, and more!

A Time to Dance – Padma Venkatraman
A Time to Dance is a story of resilience written in verse about Veda, a dance prodigy in India who is injured on a bus ride returning from a dance competition that results in the loss of her leg and hope for the future in an art she loves.

The Silence Between Us – Alison Gervais
Attending a hearing school for the first time is an unwelcome adjustment for Maya, a deaf teen who is rigorously planning her future and fiercely advocating for the deaf community who finds herself surprised by the kindness of her new classmates when they begin to learn ASL to communicate with and befriend her!

The Boy Who Steals Houses – C.G. Drews
Sam and his older brother Avery are unwelcome in the homes of any of their known relatives on account of Avery’s autism and Sam is left to his own devices to make a new life for them. Until one day, he is caught stealing from a large and vibrant family that allows them to blend in and find the home they needed.

Finding Balance – Kati Gardner
Finding Balance is based loosely on the author’s experience with childhood cancer that resulted in the amputation of a limb. The protagonists in this story, Mari and Jase are each in remission and struggling to be seen as equal to their peers, but also allowed to be themselves with one another.

Five Feet Apart – Rachael Lippincott
Five Feet Apart is an award-winning and generally beloved YA romance featuring Stella and Will, teens with Cystic Fibrosis, as they navigate young love through physical distance.
Adult
Disability Visibility – Alice Wong
This book is an anthology of 20 perspectives of Americans with disabilities which celebrate disability awareness and acceptance to honor 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
One of the best known and loved works of historical fiction, All the Light we Cannot see explores an era of world history with which we are all familiar, but through the eyes of a unique protagonist- Marie-Laure, a twelve year old blind girl living in Nazi-occupied France. 

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
Hoang is uniquely skilled at writing romance novels with neurodiverse protagonists that are kind, and intelligent, and treated with dignity in her heartwarming love stories. The Kiss Quotient is the first in this series, but all novels can be read as standalones.
True Biz – Sarah Noviċ
True Biz is a unique work of fiction best described by its publisher: “This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, cochlear implants and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection”

Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert
Hibbert’s series of romance novels featuring each sister in the quirky and loveable Brown family are perfectly smart, inclusive, and hilarious. This story focuses on Chloe, a chronically ill computer programmer who has a plan and a plan b for every aspect of her life- including having fun. 

Sitting Pretty – Rebekah Taussig
Sitting Pretty is subtitled as “The View from my Ordinary, Resilient Disabled Body”. It’s a memoir in essays that aim to expand disability awareness beyond its current iterations- as an ordinary, complicated, completely human human.

The Pretty One – Keah Brown
Keah Brown is a disability rights advocate and creator of the #DisabledAndCute hashtag. The Pretty One is a collection of essays on living with Cerebral Palsy, romance, and finding love for oneself as a disabled person of color in the United States. 

A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability – A. Andrews
This comic is written by a disabled cartoonist to help individuals with disabilities and their partners to understand their bodies, improve communication, and lead to more rewarding relationships!

A Disability History of the United States – Kim E. Nielsen 
This is another great addition from the Howard Zinn model of American History books. A Disability History of the United States focuses on the contributions of disabled individuals in American history, activism and legislation aimed at improving accessibility, and much more.

How to Be Human – Jory Fleming
How to Be Human is Jory Fleming’s autobiography, in which he discusses his experiences as a person on the Autism spectrum, looking beyond limitations and into the humanity that connects us all.

June Reads 2022

Freedom to Read – Celebrating LGBTQ+ Identities in Banned Books

Picture Books
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Jill Twiss
This picture book imagines the life of a famous second pet- Marlon Bundo! In this story, Marlon lives happily in love with another boy bunny. Continuing its message of love and pride, all proceeds from this book support LGBTQ+ mental health and wellness organizations.

Prince and Knight – Daniel Haack
Prince and Knight and its equally adorable sequel Tale of the Shadow King are beautifully illustrated stories of a prince finding the person he wants to share his life and his kingdom with in a knight who saves them from a vicious dragon! Regarded as “the premier queer-friendly fairy tale” by Kirkus Reviews, these stories are sure to be beloved by readers of all ages and identities.
I am Jazz – Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings came out as trans at a young age and was fully supported by her family. She wrote this picture book with the co-author Jessica Herthel for other trans kids and their families in hopes to better understand their own experiences.

And Tango Makes Three – Peter Parnell
And Tango Makes Three is one of the best-known picture books of the 21st century and for good reason! It’s based on the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a baby chick at the Central Park Zoo!

This Day in June – Gayle E. Pitman 
Gayle E. Pitman has written several books for children that explore LGBTQ+ topics, and all are bright, informative, diverse, and include a reader’s guide to give parents and caregivers the tools they need to have important and age-appropriate conversations with their children; This Day in June is no exception. It focuses on the experience of a Pride celebration with simple rhyming text and vibrant, heartwarming images by Kristyna Litten. The reader’s guide in this book explains the images and text referring to LGBTQ+ history in a way that is informative and easy to understand. 

The Family Book – Todd Parr
Todd Parr is known for his bright and colorful illustrations which are put to great use in this picture book about family. Parr perfectly illustrates the many ways families can be- two moms, two dads, grandparents, or any combination of. Love is what makes a family!

Jacob’s New Dress – Sarah Hoffman
This picture book explores gender nonconformity and expression through its loveable protagonist Jacob who loves his new dress and wants to wear it to school!

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding – Sarah S. Brannen
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding is a beautiful picture book about Chloe and her conflicted excitement about her beloved uncle’s upcoming wedding- will she still be his favorite? Chloe is delighted to find out the only thing that changes is that she now has TWO favorite uncles who love her completely!

Red: A Crayon’s Story – Michael Hall
Red is the story of a crayon the world saw a certain way and had expectations for that Red just couldn’t match, until one day, he met a new friend who encouraged him to color in a different way. Red is a surprisingly effective metaphor for never feeling right in your own body, and what it means to be supportive of people of all genders.

Worm Loves Worm – J.J. Austrian
Worm Loves Worm is a sweet and perfectly-written book that celebrates love in all its forms! Readers are invited to attend the wedding of Worm and Worm, surrounded by their winged, invertebrate, and many-legged loved ones.
Middle Grade
Melissa – Alex Gino
Alex Gino’s groundbreaking novel, George, was recently republished with the title “Melissa” to honor its protagonist’s identity as she begins to live a complete life as the girl she always knew she was.

Sex is a Funny Word – Cory Silverberg
This book explores the changes young people experience as they grow up and learn about their bodies. This book is intended for kids ages 8-10 and explains the processes their bodies are going through in an age-appropriate and accessible way- through illustrations and simple facts, that encourage discussion between children and their caregivers.

Drama – Raina Telgemeier
Chances are, the young people in your life have read and loved Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels Smile, Sisters, or Guts. Drama does a fantastic job of introducing young readers to the complicated parts of growing up and navigating friendships and love interests.
Better Nate Than Ever – Tim Federle
This middle-grade fiction novel introduces Nate, whose personality and aspirations are larger than life- certainly larger than his middle school in the small town of Jankburg, PA! Join Nate on his brave journey to NYC to audition for a Broadway show that could be his chance at stardom!

The Breakaways – Cathy G. Johnson
This graphic novel features the diverse and wonderful players in a ragtag soccer team known as the Breakaways, as they negotiate their changing worlds, friendships, and love interests! This book is perfect for anyone who read and loved Drama, The Derby Daredevils, or Track!

The Best at It – Maulik Pancholy
Parents might be more familiar with Pancholy from his role as Jonathan on 30 Rock, but his novel, The Best at It, is loosely based on his own experience as a gay Indian American boy growing up in a small US town. This charming debut novel has already been nominated for several awards, including being a Stonewall Honor book in 2020!

It’s Perfectly Normal – Robbie Harris
Young people experience an incredible amount of changes in their lives in an unimaginably short time, and Robbie Harris has one message for them- it’s perfectly normal. It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable in your own body, it’s normal to have romantic feelings for people of your same gender, it’s normal not to have them at all! This book explains the processes undertaken by the human body during puberty in an appropriate and accessible way for young readers. 

Lumberjanes – Noelle Stevenson
This graphic novel series is written and illustrated by a wonderful and diverse collection of authors, and their protagonists reflect that perfectly! The Lumberjanes are adventurous, nonconformist, spirited teens enjoying a Summer of magical quests!

P.S. I Miss You – Jen Petro-Roy
Jen Petro-Roy’s debut novel is written through letters from Evie to her sister, who was sent away after her family discovered she was pregnant. Evie is navigating faith, friendship, identity, sisterhood, and questioning her sexuality and desperately seeks her sister’s guidance- if she would only write back…

King and the Dragonflies – Kacen Callender
King and the Dragonflies is a middle-grade novel that explores the complicated grief of losing a loved one, the damage of homophobia on young children, and the meaning of friendship to anyone who needs support. Kacen Callender handles each difficult topic with love, beauty, and a story deserving of all its accolades. 
Young Adult
Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
Fun Home is Bechdel’s graphic memoir, which discusses her rather unique upbringing in a funeral home, returning as an adult after coming out, and discovering her father was also gay.

Lawn Boy – Jonathan Evison
Mike Muñoz is a critical point in his life after graduating high school and discovering who he is, navigating class and cultural discrimination, and making some mistakes along the way in this funny, important, and relatable novel.

All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson
All Boys Aren’t Blue is a Johnson’s memoir written for young adults as they experience and discover truths about themselves and the world they too live in. 
This Book is Gay – Juno Dawson
This book is dedicated to “anyone who has ever wondered”. Dawson was compelled to write this after surveying over 300 individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and sharing their experiences on everything from stereotypes, coming out, and sexual health.

Gender Queer – Maia Kobabe
Non-binary artist and illustrator Maia Kobabe (e, em, eir) allows readers to experience with em eir voyage of discovering eir identity, being misgendered, and becoming who e was always meant to be in this lovingly written, intimate graphic novel. Read this for a better understanding of non-binary identities and how to support people in your life who are questioning.

Beyond Magenta – Susan Kuklin
Beyond Magenta focuses on the experiences of young people who identify as trans or non-binary from when they began to question their gender identity as children, came out to family, and transitioned as teens and adults. This book gives hope for young people who don’t identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, and serves as a helpful guide for all teens and adults who want to create a better world for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Flamer – Mike Curato
Mike Curato is known for his Little Elliot picture book series and as the illustrator of beloved titles like Worm Loves Worm, The Sharey Godmother, and What if, but Flamer is his semi-autobiographical YA debut. It’s a graphic novel about Aiden Navarro as he navigates friendships, bullying, and self-discovery at scout camp. Curato’s simple, but evocative illustrations help explore the teenage years that are difficult for anyone, but magnified for a person who identifies as LGBTQ+. 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club – Malinda Lo
Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a work of historical fiction set in San Francisco in the 1950’s which explores the limits of the LGBTQ+ experience of nightclubs featuring male and female impersonators, the Red Scare, and the intersectionality of being a Chinese American who identifies as LGBTQ+.

More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera
More Happy Than Not is Silvera’s debut novel which discusses family loss, questioning sexuality, and an experimental conversion therapy which threatens to erase the love, identity, and happy memories in an effort to conform with the rest of society.

This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki
This One Summer is an award-winning graphic novel featuring two teens enduring family conflict, uncomfortable interactions with the opposite sex, and self discovery in one everlasting Summer.

May Reads 2022

AAPI Heritage Month – Honoring the Asian-American Experience

Children
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance – Lisa Yee
This middle-grade novel introduces readers to Maizy, a young girl whose family just moved to Last Chance, Minnesota to take care of her grandfather and to help run The Golden Palace, the Chinese restaurant that has been in her family for generations. Maizy soon discovers that there is more to unravel about this town and her family’s restaurant than meets the eye!

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao – Kat Zhang
Amy Wu is so inspired by her family’s ability to make perfectly round, perfectly filled, and perfectly soft and fluffy bao. When she is frustrated with her soggy, too small, or too big, or holey bao, she finds a perfectly Amy Wu solution.

It Began With a Page – Kyo Maclear
This is a picture book biography of Gyo Fujikawa, a Japanese-American illustrator who fought for inclusivity and opportunity for people of color in art and life. Bright and lively illustrations by Julie Morstad tell the story of the contrast in the world Fujikawa helped create.
Finding Junie Kim – Ellen Oh
This story is told in two perspectives, the contemporary with Junie Kim’s experience with bullying and racism in middle school, and her grandmother’s during the Korean War and the courage that reunited her family.

Other Words for Home – Jasmine Warga
This middle-grade book written in verse introduces readers to Jude, an immigrant from her beloved home in Syria as she adjusts to life in the US- missing her brother and father, being new and different, and finding her way.

Front Desk – Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang’s Front Desk is loosely based on her own experiences as a first-generation American whose ambitious parents manage and live in a motel in southern California. Young Mia, our protagonist, uses her wit, heart, and hard work to help her parents succeed in an unfriendly environment.

Sugar in Milk – Thrity Umrigar 
This beautifully illustrated picture book connects a young girl adjusting to life in the U.S. to the story of how Persian refugees came to India promising to bring sweetness to their new country like sugar in milk.

Playing at the Border – Joanna Ho
Playing at the Border is a picture book biography about Yo-Yo Ma highlighting his Bach Project, during which he performed at the border of the U.S. and Mexico to prove “Through music, we can build bridges rather than walls between different cultures”. 

I am Golden – Eva Chen
I am Golden is a picture book that celebrates Asian-American joy and honors the immigrant experience in the U.S. Both the author and illustrator conclude the book with their own stories of cherishing their heritage in a new country. 

Love in the Library – Maggie Tokuda Hall
Love in the Library introduces readers to Tama, who works in the library at a Japanese incarceration camp in Idaho, and the love she found over books with George. Beautiful illustrations highlight the joy books and love brought to a dreadful situation. Love in the Library is based on a true story, the young life of the author’s grandparents!
Teen​
Darius the Great is Not Okay and Darius the Great Deserves Better – Adib Khorram
Darius is a loveable, nerdy, tea-obsessed, Persian-American teenager who is battling depression, bullying, and feeling disconnected from all the worlds he belongs to. When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, Darius and his family’s visit has a life-changing impact. Though his sexuality isn’t explicitly discussed in the first book, many readers picked up on subtle messages that Darius was questioning, which was confirmed in the sequel- Darius the Great Deserves Better, as we meet Darius’ first boyfriend, Landon. Darius is as absolutely lovely and complicated as any person in your life, and every character feels just as real.

All My Rage – Sabaa Tahir
All My Rage is set in two places and times, Lahore, Pakistan with Misbah whose new life is shaken by tragedy, and the present, with Salahudin and Noor, best friends and outcasts navigating islamophobia and other personal issues in their home of Juniper, California. 
Last Night at the Telegraph Club – Malinda Lo
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

From Little Tokyo, with Love – Sarah Kuhn
This is a sweet story of young love that also tackles topics of identity, race and class, and leaving room to dream of a bright future all in a modern fairy tale setting in LA’s Little Tokyo. 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable.

Parachutes – Kelly Yang
Parachutes follows Dani and Claire, unlikely roommates and seniors at an elite high school in California. Coming from very different backgrounds, they both face issues in school and in their personal lives that show them they are better facing adversity together than creating it for one another.

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura
CJ Katsuyama is finally comfortable with her life and optimistic about her future after finding her calling in her family’s flower shop, when an old family rivalry takes a new form and threatens everything she and her family have worked for since WWII.

Displacement – Kiku Hughes
Displacement is a graphic novel that brings our protagonist, Kiku, from her San Francisco vacation in present day, to the Japanese internment camp her grandmother lived in during WWII. This novel tackles the Japanese American experience and intergenerational trauma, in a beautiful art style that feels bittersweet.

Patron Saints of Nothing – Randy Ribay
Patron Saints of Nothing is a coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea – Tahereh Mafi
A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in 2002 at the height of post-9/11 islamophobia. Its protagonist Shirin is doing her best to be invisible and survive high school unscathed, until she meets Ocean, whose kindness and interest in her terrifies her in a new way and she begins to dare to let him into her life.
Adult
The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui
The Best We Could Do is Thi Bui’s graphic memoir in which she shares her family’s journey from Vietnam after the war to a new life in the U.S. This retrospective is deepened after the birth of her son, in whom she hopes for a more peaceful future. 

Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu
Interior Chinatown is a National Book Award-winning work of literary fiction that compels readers through loveable characters to question stereotypes and consider identity in their daily lives. 

They Called us Enemy by George Takei
Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love

Minor Feelings – Cathy Park Hong
Minor Feelings delivers unflinching observations of modern anti-Asian sentiments in American culture through essays of both history and memoir. Minor Feelings is essential reading for deconstructing the stereotypes and institutionalized racism experienced by Asian Americans in the United States. 

The Making of Asian America – Erika Lee
The Making of Asian America is a comprehensive history of Asian immigrants and their experience in the Americas since the 1500’s. This text acknowledges the centuries of Asian American history seldom discussed in classrooms.  

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner
This memoir of the artist best known as the singer in Japanese Breakfast encompasses the grief of losing her mother, feeling disconnected from her heritage, and finding her own identity. 

DMZ Colony – Don Mee Choi
Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said’s notion of “the intertwined and overlapping histories” in regards to South Korea and the United States through innovative deployments of voice, story, and poetics. Like its sister book, Hardly War, it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind.*

Sigh, Gone – Phuc Tran
A memoir about a young Vietnamese boy growing up in rural America at the dawn of punk, navigating racism, and the difference a great group of friends can make on a person. Each section in this memoir is titled by a different literary work which fantastically suits the period described in Tran’s life!

Beautiful Country – Qian Julie Wang
This memoir shares the experience of a family adjusting to life immigrating from China to New York in the 1990’s. Best described by the publisher: “Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.”

April Reads 2022

The Melting Pot – Celebrating cultures, history, and diversity through food.

Children
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance – Lisa Yee
This middle-grade novel introduces readers to Maizy, a young girl whose family just moved to Last Chance, Minnesota to take care of her grandfather and to help run The Golden Palace, the Chinese restaurant that has been in her family for generations. Maizy soon discovers that there is more to unravel about this town and her family’s restaurant than meets the eye!

Measuring Up – Lily LaMotte
Measuring Up is a middle-grade graphic novel about Cici, a 12 year old who just moved from her home in Taiwan and is starting anew in Seattle. Desperately missing her grandmother, Cici enters a cooking competition, focusing on traditional Taiwanese cooking, to win the grand prize and bring her A-má to Seattle! 

A Place at the Table – Saadia Faruqi 
Sara and Elizabeth are classmates in both their school and a new cooking class taught by Sara’s mom. When they are paired up to make a new dish, they learn about one another’s families and experiences which brings essential and unusual understanding.
Pie in the Sky – Remy Lai
This graphic novel illustrates the difficult experience of moving to a new country and feeling like an outsider, but with the humor and wit of any other 11 year old boy! Jingwen and his little brother find a familiar comfort in baking cakes and imagine a future opening the bakery their grandfather dreamed of, a Pie in the Sky!

Every Night is Pizza Night – J. Kenji Lopez
Every night is pizza night for Pipo and her family since pizza is objectively the best food ever… until she tries her friend’s favorite meals (for science) and discovers a literal world of best foods ever!

Hot Pot Night – Vincent Chen
Hot pot encourages everyone in the neighborhood to share what they have and come together for a delicious meal! This book contains a recipe at the end for a gathering of your own! 

Delicious – Julie Hofstrand Larios
Each spread in this book features a different street food from places all over the world, with illustrations and poems that honor the cultures that created them!

Fry Bread – Kevin Noble Maillard
This story beautifully celebrates fry bread, which has fed a culture for centuries, brought families together, and is meaningful as a tradition to link generations of indigenous peoples.

¡Vamos! Let’s Go eat! – Raúl the Third
This is the latest book in Raúl the Third’s award-winning Little Lobo series- this one exploring the delicious offerings of food trucks from tacos, tortas, dulces, churros, and much more! ¡Vamos! Let’s Go eat! continues the warm, bright illustrations, sense of humor, and fun details on every page expressed in each of the Little Lobo books.

What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street? – Felicita Sala
This beautifully illustrated picture book contains recipes for the delicious meals each family at 10 Garden Street is cooking, and concludes with a delightful image of a huge table outside where everyone gathers to share food and spend time with their neighbors!
Teen​
Bloom – Kevin Panetta
Despite his parents’ best efforts (and guilt trips), high school graduate Ari has no interest in putting his world-touring band adventures on hold and running their seaside restaurant. That is, until they hire a handsome new baker who shows him a new appreciation for his hometown.

With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo
Aspiring chef Emoni is in an elite culinary track at her high school that promises new adventures and opportunities, if she can manage them and being a teen parent, relationships with her family, and her new love interest!

Notes From a Young Black Chef (Adapted for YA) – Kwame Onuwachi
Chef Kwame Onuwachi shares his story of growing up in the Bronx, Nigeria, and Louisiana and how each experience shaped his professional career as an award-winning chef based in LA!
A Pho Love Story – Loan Le
This Romeo and Juliet-style romance is told through Linh and Bao, teens from families of competing Vietnamese restaurants who connect and unravel their family histories.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet – Laekwan Ze Kemp
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is a contemporary romance told in two perspectives- through Penelope (Pen), a determined aspiring baker and Xander, a new employee at Pen’s parent’s restaurant who is sensitive and inquisitive- as they navigate love, identity, and community through food.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors – Sonjali Dev
This Pride and Prejudice retelling is set in an over-achieving Indian-American family in San Francisco. The familiar story is enhanced by creative interpretations and delicious-sounding Indian food and deserts!

Hungry Hearts – Caroline Yung Richmond
This anthology brings together diverse short stories about food from celebrated YA authors that range from contemporary, romantic, fantasy, and horror for fans of all genres. 

Food-Related Stories – Gaby Melian 
This memoir in food is part of the Pocket Change Collective of small books with big ideas. In this book, chef Gaby Melian shares life lessons and stories about how food has shaped her perspective and experiences over the years.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow – Laura Taylor Namey
This fun romance is balanced with considerable helpings of heart when its protagonist Lila faces a series of catastrophic events that result with having to leave a Summer of food and friends in Miami for a “restful vacation” in Winchester, England. Lila discovers a change in scenery with the help of a new friend with a tea shop could be just what she needed to start over.  

The Music of What Happens – Bill Koningsberg
The Music of What Happens is a love story featuring polar opposites Max and Jordan and how they come together over a vintage food truck and Arizona desert temperatures.
Adult
Taste Makers – Mayukh Sen
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food journalist who sought to tell the story of 7 women who changed the way America eats. Each of these women have a thoughtfully-written and well-researched brief biography detailing how they pioneered aspects of food and cooking and brought what was regarded as “women’s work” to the professional and male-dominated world of professional cheffing. 

Black, White and the Grey – Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano
This is the complicated history of an ambitious restaurant start up in Savannah called The Grey. Business partners Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano collaborate to share their stories which differ in their perspectives and foster essential conversations about racism, violence, and the American South- all over delicious food.
Relish – Lucy Knisley 
Relish is one of celebrated graphic novelist Lucy Knisley’s first memoirs, this one focusing on her love of food- lessons throughout her life are highlighted by her favorite foods, many of which are illustrated recipes for readers to enjoy!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
This book documents a year Kingsolver and her family spent eating only food they grew or could trace origins to the farms of their friends and family. What came of this experience was an understanding of the country’s complicated relationship with food, the Earth, and the heart of family life. 

Mango and Peppercorns – Tung Nguyen
This unique food memoir explores the life of Tung Nguyen, a refugee from Vietnam who came to live in the home of grad student Kathy Manning and eventually opening a restaurant whose signature is their mango and peppercorn sauce- a metaphor for Tung and Kathy’s contrasting personalities. 

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner
This memoir of the artist better known as Japanese Breakfast encompasses the grief of losing her mother, feeling disconnected from her heritage, and finding her own identity through traditional Korean food and family. 

Buttermilk Graffiti – Edward Lee
In this cookbook, Edward Lee travels the country with the culinary pursuit of defining the fabled “melting pot” of America through food. This book seeks to illustrate modern American cuisine, understanding its many influences and the cultures that enrich ours. 

Jubilee – Toni Tipton-Martin
Jubilee is a cookbook that celebrates the culinary traditions of African Americans with more than 100 recipes from over 200 years of history. James Beard Award winning culinary journalist Toni Tipton-Martin shares recipes, stories, techniques and ingredients from the rich history of African American cuisine.

The Immigrant Cookbook – Leyla Moushabeck
This unique cookbook is best defined by its publisher: “In these times of troubling anti-immigrant rhetoric, The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes that Make America Great offers a culinary celebration of the many ethnic groups that have contributed to America’s vibrant food culture. This beautifully photographed cookbook features appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts—some familiar favorites, some likely to be new encounters—by renowned immigrant chefs from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Europe.”

Khabaar – Madhushree Ghosh
Khabaar entwines the complicated history of immigration in Ghosh’s life with food from the places she has called home. She shares her personal stories with recipes and memories of food in South Asia in this unique culinary memoir.

March Reads 2022

Fresh Starts – Stories that blossom with great opening lines

Children
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”

Front Desk – Kelly Yang 
“My parents told me that America would be this amazing place where we could live in a house with a dog, do whatever we want, and eat hamburgers till we were red in the face. So far, the only part of that we’ve achieved is the hamburger part, but I was still holding out hope. And the hamburgers here are pretty good”

Look Both Ways – Jason Reynolds
“This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky.”

Circus Mirandus – Cassie Beasley
“Four small words. That was all it took to set things in motion” 
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – Percy Jackson
“Yeah, I know you guys are going to read about how I died in agony, and you’re going to be like ‘Wow! That’s cool, Magnus! Can I die in agony too?’”

What About Will – Ellen Hopkins
“My big brother always had a short fuse but now it’s permanently lit”

The Season of Styx Malone – Kekla Magoon
“Styx Malone didn’t believe in miracles, but he was one”

Because of Winn-Dixie – Kate DiCamillo
“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog” 

Chomp – Carl Hiaasen
“Mickey Cray had been out of work ever since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head”

The Monsters of Rookhaven – Padraig Kenny
“Mirabelle was in the garden feeding bones to the flowers when Uncle Enoch came for her”
Teen​
Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson
“This is the story of how my best friend disappeared. How nobody noticed she was gone except me. And how nobody cared until they found her… one year later”

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
“12:22 A.M. Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a lifetime- I’m going to die today”

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
“One summer night I fell asleep hoping the world would be different when I woke”

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I never left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death”
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
“First the colors. Then the humans. That’s how I see things. Or at least how I try”

Blood, Water, Paint – Joy McCullough
“Everything begins from here: the viewing point. The place where you stand, your eye level. That single point on the horizon where all other lines converge”

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
“It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost didn’t notice I’m being blackmailed”

The Voting Booth – Brandy Colbert
“I don’t like it when people make hyperbolic statements, so I really mean it when I say I’ve been waiting for this day my entire life”

The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan
“My mother is a bird. This isn’t like some William Faulkner stream-of-consciousness metaphorical crap. My mother. Is literally. A bird”

Elatsoe – Darcy Little Badger
“Ellie bought the life-sized plastic skull at a garage sale (the goth neighbors were moving to Salem, and they could not fit an entire Halloween warehouse into their black van)”
Adult
Under the Whispering Door – T.J. Kiune
“Patricia was crying. Wallace hated it when people cried. Little tears, big tears, full on body-wracking sobs, it didn’t matter. Tears were pointless, and she was only delaying the inevitable”

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
“History has failed us, but no matter”

Something in the Water – Catherine Steadman
“Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double that”

People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry
“On vacation, you can be anyone you want. Like a good book or an incredible outfit, being on vacation transports you to another version of yourself”
Becoming – Michelle Obama
“I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving”

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down”

The Library Book – Susan Orlean
“Even in Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of remarkable hairdos, Harry Peak attracted attention” 

Anxious People – Frederik Backman
“A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think. All it took was one single really bad idea”

The Body: A Guide for Occupants – Bill Bryson
“Long ago, when I was a junior high school student in Iowa, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up the human body can be purchased at a hardware store for $5.00 or something like that”

Know My Name – Chanel Miller
“I am shy. In elementary school for a play about a safari, everyone else was an animal. I was grass”
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