Month: July 2021

Check It Out Blog

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Art Books

reading colors your world

In a summer celebration of the many ways in which Reading Colors Our World, we cannot overlook the rich experiences offered by books dedicated to art. Whether illuminating technique, striking pictorials, historical context, tools for interpretation, or a fascinating palette of all, these volumes open our eyes to worlds both observed and imagined. Train your gaze upon these curated standouts from MPPL’s collection, or click here for an expanded gallery of works that merge visual and language.

The Art of Love: The Romantic and Explosive Stories Behind Art's Greatest Couples book cover

The Art of Love: The Romantic and Explosive Stories Behind Art’s Greatest Couples by Kate Bryan

The Art of Love tells the stories of the most fascinating couples of the art world, exploring the passionate, challenging and loving relationships behind some of the world’s greatest works of art.

Art of Love is an art piece itself.” ~Amazon.com review

Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Paris Between the Wars book cover

Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Paris Between the Wars by Michele Greet

The work of Latin American artists in interwar Paris receives overdue attention in this unprecedented survey, which highlights the artists’ significant role in the development of modernism.

“This book goes beyond the study of Latin American art to become a must-read for anyone interested in modern art in the first half of the twentieth century.” ~Katherine Manthorne

Postures: Body Language in Art book cover

Postures: Body Language in Art by Desmond Morris

Never before given such dedicated attention, Postures argues that the gestures portrayed in a work of art can reflect the mores of a particular period in history, the customs of a certain culture, or a fashion in artistic styles.

“Accessible and enjoyable… Most effective when it uses art to draw attention to power dynamics and how behaviors can give insight into social structures.” ~Choice

The Art of Being Bill: The Many Faces of Awesome book cover

The Art of Being Bill: The Many Faces of Awesome by Ezra Croft

The Art of Being Bill is the first illustrated collection of Bill Murray, highlighting the star like you’ve never seen him before: Bill Murray at The Last Supper, Bill Murray as an Indian god, Bill Murray as a knight, Bill Murray as Superman, and numerous other artistic tributes that will amuse and inspire you.

“When you see the cover of this paperback, showing a tattooed Bill Murray looking straight at you, your fingers itch to open it. And what a treat when you do.” ~TwinCities.com

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Kindness & Community Fiction

reading colors your world

Studies have shown that when we witness kindness, we are inspired to be kind to others. Also, reading fiction encourages empathy and increases understanding. Experience for yourself a hopeful combination of these two truths by enjoying stories like these favorites about people and/or communities helping others. For more kindness and community inspired fiction, venture to Lists & Suggestions.

Anxious People book cover

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers—including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian—discover their unexpected common traits.

Witty; Moving

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend book cover

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist–even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books.

Quirky; Charming

Real Men Knit book cover

The Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Determined to keep his late adoptive mother’s Harlem knitting shop open, one of four brothers accepts the help of a craft-savvy businesswoman who is hiding her secret crush on him.

Big-Hearted; Sweet

Bring on the Blessings book cover

Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins

When a post-Reconstruction community succumbs to a desperate need for funds and purpose, its mayor puts the small town up for sale and finds a buyer in Bernardine Brown, who believes the town’s sale to be a sign from God.

Engaging; Heartwarming

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days. But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps…

Hopeful; Offbeat

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune book cover

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim

Inheriting her grandmother’s restaurant in a crumbling San Francisco Chinatown neighborhood, Natalie Tan is advised by the local seer to prepare three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to help their struggling community.

Engaging; Sweet

The Switch book cover

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Ready for an adventure in the months after her husband of 60 years departs, a woman from a picture-postcard Yorkshire village offers to swap places with her burned-out adult granddaughter to pursue romance in bustling London.

Funny; Uplifting

The Thursday Murder Club book cover

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Meeting weekly in their retirement village’s Jigsaw Room to exchange theories about unsolved crimes, four savvy septuagenarians propose a daring but unorthodox plan to help a woman rookie cop solve her first big murder case.

Likeable; Suspenseful

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Science Books

reading colors your world

Astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Read one of these science books for your Summer Reading journey, and learn something incredible! If your curiosity demands more, an expanded list of did-you-know titles is only a click away.

The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think book cover

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

Have you wondered: Which bird impales its prey on thorns, but is also a beautiful singer? Which birds feed their siblings? Which give gifts, or create stunning works of art? Which destroy other birds’ creations? Is it true birds think?

Learn about these and many more idiosyncrasies in the amazing world of birds.

Accessible; Engaging

Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live book cover

Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas A. Christakis

Have you wondered: What will be the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on American society? What will our nation’s recovery look like in the coming years? Was this the worst epidemic ever? Has the pandemic changed the way people view scientific information?

A science-backed look at where America could be headed in the future as the pandemic recedes.

Incisive; Persuasive

Chemistry for Breakfast: The Amazing Science of Everyday Life book cover

Chemistry for Breakfast by Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

Have you wondered: Why does your alarm clock nearly send you reeling from your bed? How does toothpaste work on your teeth? Why do the cookies or cake you bake sometimes turn out dry? What does chemistry have to do with falling in love?

This book shows that chemistry can provide the answers to life’s quirky questions.

Captivating; Accessible

Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going book cover

Cosmic Queries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Have you wondered: How old is the universe? Is there intelligent life beyond Earth? What is our place in the universe? How will it all end?

An enlightening look at these and other perennial questions about our world.

Thought-Provoking; Engaging

The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet book cover

The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann

Have you wondered: Is the best way to fight climate change up to individual citizens? Are we really making a difference by recycling, flying less, or eating less red meat? Are fossil fuel companies just deflecting blame? How can real change be obtained?

Become an informed citizen in the fight against climate change with the ideas in this book.

Compelling; Hopeful

The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth book cover

The Musical Human by Michael Spitzer

Have you wondered: Where did music come from? Why does music play such an important part of our lives? Does music have a connection with the animal world? How did cultural attitudes through the centuries define music?

An in-depth look at the fundamental role music plays in human lives.

Thought-Provoking; Engaging

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind book cover

A Terrible Thing to Waste by Harriet A. Washington

Have you wondered: What is environmental poisoning? Do chemicals and toxins actually lower intelligence? Why are high levels of harmful chemicals disproportionately found in communities of color? What can citizens do to advocate for less toxic environments?

This important book has the ability to provoke outrage and inspire debate about the damage being done to marginalized communities due to high levels of toxins.

Well-Researched; Evocative

Summer Reading Category Spotlight: Positive Change Makers

reading colors your world

The Positive Change-Makers in Nonfiction category for Summer Reading highlights those who have impacted communities and history for the greater good. A few of our favorites are featured below, and even more lives of inspiration may be discovered here.

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman book cover

She Came To Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A lively, informative and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history–Harriet Tubman–looks at a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today.

Engaging; Well-Researched

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love book cover

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love by Jonathan Van Ness

The style-expert star of Queer Eye shares deeply personal stories from his Midwestern childhood, revealing how he channeled his passions and setbacks into the positive energy that shaped his signature brand.

Funny; Upbeat

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke book cover

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

The definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance. Explore the education of Alain Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor.

History; Inspiring

Fearless Women: Courageous Females Who Refused to be Denied book cover

Fearless Women: Courageous Females Who Refused to Be Denied by Toby Reynolds

Profiles thirty-six women who fought for freedom, and forged new paths to help change society, including such notables as Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, and Amelia Earhart.

Thought-Provoking; Well-Researched

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster book cover

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down American’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter

Author Stephen L. Carter traces the story of his grandmother, an African-American attorney who, in spite of period barriers, devised the strategy that sent mafia chieftain Lucky Luciano to prison in the 1930s.

True Crime; Engaging

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare book cover

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblat

A portrait of Elizabethan England and how it contributed to the making of William Shakespeare discusses how he moved to London lacking money, connections, and a formal education and rose to become his age’s foremost playwright.

History; Richly Detailed

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina book cover

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Documents the author’s emotionally dynamic effort to become the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre, describing the harsh family difficulties she overcame including her mother’s highly publicized custody battle to halt her career.

Inspiring; Moving

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time book cover

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations-One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

Traces how the author, having been rescued and resuscitated by Himalayan villagers after a failed attempt to climb K2, worked to build schools that would particularly benefit the young girls who were forbidden an education by Taliban restrictions.

Impassioned; Thought-Provoking

Like These Authors? Try Talia Hibbert…and See Her This Saturday!

The Rom-Com Renaissance in book publishing is still going strong, and readers who are in the mood for meet-cutes, fake relationships, hating-to-dating, and all the accompanying feels have more meant-to-be possibilities than ever before! If you recognize your soul mate in any of the popular authors below, be sure you join us for a live virtual conversation on Saturday, July 17 to hear from Talia Hibbert in an MPPL-exclusive Meet the Author program.

Right Swipe book cover

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Modern Love series

Cynical dating app creator Rhiannon Hunter must decide whether or not to give former pro-football player Samson Lima, who wooed her during one magical night and then disappeared, a second chance despite the fact that his in league with a business rival.

What do the stories have in common?
contemporary issues, passionate sensuality, complex and resilient heroine

Kiss Quotient book cover

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A 30-year-old math whiz with Asperger’s tries to make her love life as rich as her career by hiring an escort to help her with her lack of knowledge and experience in the dating department.

What do the stories have in common?
ability-diverse heroine, steamy encounters, compulsively readable

Worst Best Man book cover

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch: she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.

What do the stories have in common?
enemies-to-lovers theme, culturally diverse couple, both comic and spicy

Headliners book cover

Headliners by Lucy Parker
London Celebrities series

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together–but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

What do the stories have in common?
hating-to-dating theme, banter-filled dialogue, both sweet and saucy

Grin and Beard It book cover

Grin & Beard It by Penny Reid
Winston Brothers series

When a new role takes Hollywood comic actress Sienna to the Great Smoky Mountains but she finds herself continually lost, she’s rescued by handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger Jethro. Can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her heart?

What do the stories have in common?
opposites attract theme, culturally diverse couple, folksiness but with heat

The Wedding Date book cover

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Stranded together in an elevator during a power outage, Drew and Alexa agree to pose as a couple at an ex’s wedding and discover afterwards that they are unable to forget each other.

What do the stories have in common?
snappy dialogue, dynamic characters, interracial romance