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Winter Reading Ideas: Staff Favorites of 2020

FAVT Staff Favorites 2020 header

We would not dream of celebrating the start of a new year without first cheering the reads that proved exciting company during the last. Choose one of these 2020 staff favorites to kick off your own Winter Reading season, and let us know if you agree! Most are available in both physical and digital collections. Contact us for help with access or to request a title hand-picked just for you.

 Top Favorite!
House in the Cerulean Sea book coverLiz, Al, Denise, and Kelda recommend
The House in the Cerulean Sea
TJ Klune

Vanished Birds book coverAl recommends
Vanished Birds 
Simon Jimenez
Witch Hat Atelier book coverAbby recommends
Witch Hat Atelier series
Kamome Shirahama
Dont Go Without Me book coverJohn recommends
Don’t Go Without Me
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
From Scratch book coverJenny recommends
From Scratch
Tembi Locke
Frankly in Love book coverAndrea recommends
Frankly in Love
David Yoon
When All Is Said book coverLaura recommends
When All Is Said
Anne Griffin
Foul Is Fair book coverCathleen recommends
Foul Is Fair
Hannah Capin
Anxious People book coverDenise recommends
Anxious People
Fredrik Backman
narrated by Marin Ireland
Sellout book coverChelsea recommends
The Sellout
Paul Beatty

 

Nothing to See Here book coverNancy recommends
Nothing to See Here
Kevin Wilson
narrated by Marin Ireland
Stamped: racism, antiracism, and you book coverAndrea recommends
Stamped
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
narrated by Jason Reynolds
Ninth House book coverLiz recommends
Ninth House
Leigh Bardugo

 

Leave the World Behind book coverKelda recommends
Leave the World Behind
Rumaan Alam
narrated by Marin Ireland
Slaughter House-Five book coverJohn recommends
Slaughterhouse-Five
Ryan North
illustrated by Albert Monteys
story by Kurt Vonnegut
Charming as a Verb book coverJenny recommends
Charming as a Verb
Ben Philippe

Winter Reading: Warm Up With Reading! Starting January 1st

warm up with winter reading

Winter Reading starts early this year — January 1 – February 28 — and for your convenience is again online in Beanstack. If you participated this summer, log in with the same information used then or, if this is your first time, easily create a new account at Beanstack. During Adult Winter Reading, you choose how you will participate: curl up with books of your choosing or opt for a mini-reading challenge to broaden your reading horizons. Questions about Beanstack or online Winter Reading? Visit our Winter Reading webpage for more information.

Find Your Next Winter Read  

For those of you who like to browse to find your next read, we suggest perusing our Lists & Suggestions. There are an assortment of Winter Reading-related lists to get you started! See below to preview some of the Winter Reading lists’ offerings. As always, you are welcome to email us at readers@mppl.org or give us at call at 847/590-4070 for personalized reading recommendations, challenge category suggestions, or help finding books online.

Expand your reading horizons, if you like, with Winter Reading: Author or Genre You Haven’t Read Before

Antkind book cover

 

Found on the above list is Antkind by Charlie Kaufman

A neurotic and underappreciated film critic becomes sole witness to a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core.

Unconventional; Thought-provoking

 

Perhaps you’d like to browse books on different topics – Winter Reading: Social Justice

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City book cover

 

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore

An account of the 2015 police-brutality killing of Freddie Gray retraces key events from the perspectives of seven insiders, including a conflicted Baltimore Police Department captain, the victim’s sister and the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

Compelling; Disturbing

 

Winter Reading: Native American Authors features a variety of genres and flavors, including:

Winter Counts book cover

 

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

A vigilante enforcer on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation enlists the help of an ex to investigate the activities of an expanding drug cartel, while a new tribal council initiative raises controversial questions.

Crime Fiction; Suspenseful

 

Looking for lighter options? We have them sprinkled in lists like the one below in Winter Reading: Black Authors

Get a Life, Chloe Brown book cover

 

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Emerging from a life-threatening illness, a fiercely organized but unfulfilled computer geek recruits a mysterious artist to help her establish meaning in her life, before finding herself engaged in reckless but thrilling activities.

Banter-filled; Romantic

 

For more Winter Reading ideas: look through our Lists & Suggestions

to find a title that warms you up!

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Favorite Reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books!

Favorite Reads in 2020 from Let's Talk Books

Let’s Talk Books participants share their favorite discoveries of 2020! Let’s Talk Books happens every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm on Zoom (registration required). It’s a bookish hour full of listening to what your neighbors are raving about and sharing your own discoveries! You are welcome to come to every session or just drop in for one. And now, drumroll please, for the favorite reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books participants!

Empty Mansions book cover

 

Julia highly recommends Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

A cousin of Huguette Clark and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist trace the life of the reclusive American heiress against a backdrop of the now-infamous W. A. Clark family and include coverage of the internet sensation and elder-abuse investigation that occurred at the end of her life.

Would Like to Meet book cover

 

Another favorite of Julias as well as Cathleens this year was Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters

Ordered by her film agency to acquire a romantic-comedy screenplay by a jaded writer, Evie relies on the assistance of her friends during a haphazard summer spent trying to prove that true love is real.

 

Vanishing Half book cover

 

Nicole enjoyed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twin sisters, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

 

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents book cover

 

Nicole also recommends Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.

 

Alexander Hamilton book cover

 

Howard relished Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

The personal life of Alexander Hamilton, an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who rose to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, is captured in a definitive biography.

 

the turn of the key book cover

 

Gail thoroughly enjoyed The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware.

When a high-paying nanny job at a luxurious Scottish Highlands home ends with her imprisonment for a child’s murder, a young woman struggles to explain to her lawyer the unravelling events that led to her incarceration.

 

Memorial book cover

 

Janine and Jenny recommend Memorial by Bryan Washington

A Japanese-American chef and a Black daycare teacher begin reevaluating their stale relationship in the wake of a father’s death and the arrival of an acerbic mother-in-law who becomes an unconventional roommate.

 

The Flatshare book cover

 

Another favorite of Janine‘s was The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Entering a flatshare arrangement with a man on an opposite work shift, a heartbroken woman begins exchanging notes with the roommate she has never met and becomes his best friend, and possibly soulmate, through their correspondence.

 

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

 

Denise highly recommends The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place-and realizing that family is yours.

 

The Sellout Book Cover

 

Chelsea enjoyed The Sellout by Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

 

 

Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse book cover

 

Chelsea and Janine recommend The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this book based on his famous quartet of characters, as they explore their unlikely friendship and learn poignant, universal lessons together.

 

New Waves book cover

 

Jenny thoroughly enjoyed New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

Fed up with discriminating bosses, an Asian-American customer service representative and a talented African-American programmer conspire to steal their employer’s user database before an unexpected setback exposes a secret double life.

 

 

Cathleen delighted in listening to The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Recovering from a heart transplant while mourning a best friend who did not make it, Ailsa begins a search for her long-absent father that is marked by personal estrangements and questions about starting over.

 

 

Cheers to us all finding more reading gems in 2021!

New Fiction in December

New Fiction in December

Snow is falling, new books are calling! Just a dusting of what’s new in fiction in December can be found below. A larger snowfall of new fiction may be found in this New Fiction in December list and if you are not seeing any titles twinkling at you: email us at readers@mppl.org or give us a call at (847)590-4070 for some reading suggestions tailored just for you. Curl up with a good book this season!

How to Fail at Flirting book cover

 

How To Fail At Flirting by Denise Williams

Challenged by her friends to start enjoying her life when her university department is cut, a Type-A overachiever embarks on a daring to-do list that involves leaving an abusive ex and pursuing a career-risking fling with a charming stranger.

Banter-filled Romance

 

Lazarus by Lars KeplerLazarus book cover

A mysterious killer is brutally murdering Europe’s most loathsome criminals. When police discover that two of the victims have disturbing connections to Detective Joona Linna, it’s clear that somebody’s trying to send him a message. As the body count rises, the evidence seems to point to a ghost from Joona’s past . . . the most terrifying villain he’s ever had to face.

Scandinavian Crime

 

The Mermaid from Jeju book cover

 

The Mermaid From Jeju by Sumi Hahn

A talented young deep-sea diver from occupied 1948 Korea’s neighboring Jeju Island visits Mt. Halla for her family’s annual trading trip before her romance with a mountain youth is upended by family tragedy and political turbulence.

Historical Fiction; Coming-of-age Story

 

The Arctic Fury book cover

 

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister

Secretly hired by an eccentric Lady Franklin to lead a team of women explorers into the Arctic to recover Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, Virginia Reeve survives a harrowing quest only to find herself on trial for murder.

Historical Fiction; Suspenseful 

 

The Wrong Family book cover

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage – the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade. Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

Psychological Suspense

Instant Holiday Viewing!

Instant Holiday Viewing

Access holiday spirit instantly with our selection of digital seasonal movies! Whether you’re in the mood for a holiday classic, heartwarming endings, or perhaps some festive pups, our curated lists will help add a little more holly jolly to your celebrating.

All you need is your library card and a digital device (computer, streaming stick, smart TV, smartphone, or tablet). Titles are always available–no holds, no wait!–via Hoopla or Kanopy and offer the added convenience of never having to leave your couch.

Browse a sampling of movies below or click the links to our Instant Holiday Viewing lists for even more festive cheer.

 

Nothing like the Holidays DVD coverNothing Like The Holidays

The far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging on their parents’ home in Chicago, to celebrate the season and their brother’s safe return from combat overseas. For Jesse, coming home has rekindled feelings for an old flame, though she won’t forgive him for leaving in the first place. Jesse’s sister Roxanna has been chasing her dreams for years with little to show for it. And to the dismay of their mother, eldest brother Mauricio brings home a high-powered executive wife who would rather raise capital than a child. But when the Rodriguezes learn that one of their own is facing a true crisis, all resentments are forgotten and familial bonds are re-affirmed.

Browse more from Instant Holiday Viewing: Dysfunctional Families

Girlfriends of Christmas Past DVD cover

 

Girlfriends of Christmas Past

Expecting a proposal, Livvy gets dumped instead. She finds two more women her ex wronged and the trio decide on payback. Meanwhile, Livvy meets Carter and sparks begin to fly. Can she forget about revenge and let a Christmas romance bloom?

Browse more from Instant Holiday Viewing: Rom-Coms

 

A Bennett Song Holiday DVD cover

 

A Bennett Song Holiday

Mrs. Song is expecting a baby to add to their diverse roster of 14 adopted children and the family will team up to stop a developer who wants to close down the community center. Love, teamwork, and holiday magic are sure to save the day!

Browse more from Instant Holiday Viewing: Music-Filled Movies 

 

Happy Christmas DVD cover

 

Happy Christmas

When Jenny, a hard-partying 20-something, moves in with her brother’s family to get over a breakup, she and her friend’s carefree perspective causes Jenny’s sister-in-law to question her career and relationship, comically turning the family’s everyday life upside down. A comedy from the director of Drinking Buddies.

Browse more from Instant Holiday Viewing: Adult Comedy

 

Better Watch Out DVD cover

Better Watch Out

When you think the suburbs, you think safety, but this holiday night the suburbs are anything but safe. Ashley thought this babysitting job was going to be an easy night, but the night takes a turn when dangerous intruders break in and terrorize her and the twelve-year-old boy, Luke, she’s caring for. Ashley defends her charge to the best of her ability only to discover this is no normal home invasion.

Browse more from Instant Holiday Viewing: Not Your Average Holiday

 

Browse More Instant Holiday Viewing Lists: 

Instant Holiday Viewing: Christmas Pups

Instant Holiday Viewing: Fantastical Scenarios

Instant Holiday Viewing: Holiday Classics

Instant Holiday Viewing: Lifetime Movies

Instant Holiday Viewing: Romance

Instant Holiday Viewing: Uplifting Endings

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