Check It Out Category: Books

Nonfiction: Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing

Electric Arches book cover“Poetry allows for us to lead first with the heart.” –Eve Ewing

If you don’t read poetry often and are curious to read more, Electric Arches is a great place to start. Eve L. Ewing, Chicago essayist and poet, frankly explores contemporary society, sprinkling a little magical what-if into stark reality. The structure and tone vary greatly from poem-to-poem, resulting in a rounded picture of Ewing’s life and heart as she opens the door into her experience as a black girl and woman. An extra bonus for those familiar with Chicago are the references Ewing makes to this city she has grown up in, painting pictures of places impactful to her, such as Logan Square and Fullerton Avenue.

Staff Pick: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Rachel from South Branch suggests The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

The Book of Unknown Americans book coverThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, is written as a series of interconnected stories, each of which could stand on its own. The book tells the story of several immigrant families from countries in Central and South America who end up in Delaware. We learn their backstory, what brought them to the US, and a little about how they got here, as well as getting a vivid picture of what life here is like for them living as immigrants in a country with a culture and language so distinct from their own and one in which immigrants are not always openly welcomed.

The families all live in the same apartment complex, owned by another immigrant, and their lives are at once interconnected and isolated, each family with its own challenges and obstacles to overcome. The core of the stories involve a family who comes to the US to provide educational opportunities to their daughter, who was brain damaged in an accident, and her relationship with the son of another tenant. At the same time, Henríquez interweaves this story with that of the other tenants, who face language barriers, economic hardship, and discrimination, among other challenges.

Henríquez’s writing draws you into the lives of her characters and you feel their disappointments and frustration and their small moments of joy as well. When you finish the book, you will be left hoping there will be a second book so you can continue following their stories.

Like this? Try These!

Girl in Translation
by Jean Kwok
Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by her first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.
A Manual for Cleaning Women
by Lucia Berlin
Taking place in the American Southwest, an anthology of short stories, celebrating the author’s trademark blend of humor and melancholy, finds miracles in everyday life and uncovers moments of grace in cafeterias, laundromats, homes of the upper class and hotel dining rooms..

 

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents book coverHow the García Girls Lost Their Accents
by Julia Alvarez
Forced to flee their native Caribbean island after an attempted coup, the Garcias–Carlos, Laura, and their four daughters–must learn a new way of life in the Bronx, while trying to cling to the old ways that they loved.
We Never Asked for Wings book coverWe Never Asked for Wings
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
After fourteen years of working multiple jobs to make ends meet, Letty Espinosa must learn to be a mother when her parents, who have been raising Letty’s teenage son and six-year-old daughter, decide to return to Mexico.
The Leavers book coverThe Leavers
by Lisa Ko
One morning, eleven-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job and never comes home. Deming is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town. This is a poignant story of a boy who struggles to find his footing in a new world. It’s also an unflinching look at the difficult decisions a mother faces.

Fiction: Mysteries with Indian Detectives

In addition to their love for the whodunit, mystery fans appreciate both a fascinating investigator and a strong sense of place. Most often this may manifest in stories of British detectives or in Scandinavian thrillers, but crime narratives set in all parts of the globe deserve attention. One quieter trend to discover is that of mysteries set in the complex lands of contemporary Southeast Asia. If you have yet to explore the delights of puzzling through a case set in India, use your deductive skills to identify the most likely suspect to spark new curiosity.

Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra book coverThe Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
     by Vaseem Khan
Baby Ganesh Agency Investigations series

A young man found drowned in a puddle of water, an eight-month-old elephant, and the last day before forced retirement all compete for full attention of a longtime police officer. With offbeat charm and obvious affection for Mumbai, this first in a series establishes a winning premise to engage mystery fans.

 

 

Case of the Missing Servant book coverThe Case of the Missing Servant
     by Tarquin Hall
Vish Puri Mysteries series

If Agatha Christie’s iconic Hercule Poirot were Indian rather than Belgian, he would look a lot like Vish Puri, a careful investigator with amazing deductive skills and keen powers of observation. The search for a missing woman, a suspected victim of foul play, provides introduction both to the vibrancy of Delhi and to a celebrated series.

 

 

Six Suspects book coverSix Suspects
     by Vikas Swarup

When playboy Vicky Rai was acquitted of a senseless murder committed in front of 50 witnesses, riots broke out. So it is no surprise that he himself is murdered at the very party he throws to celebrate his release. However, when six different guests are found to have guns in their possession, stories need to be heard. Presented in alternating points of view, this satirical yet tightly constructed mystery invites the reader to play the role of detective against the backdrop of modern India.

 

Perfect Murder book coverThe Perfect Murder
     by H.R.F. Keating
Inspector Ghote Mysteries series

Not quite as contemporary but with the time-tested credibility of a long-running series, the first case in the classic Inspector Ghote series presents a perplexing death in Bombay complicated by misinformation, incompetence, and corruption.

 

 

MPPL Staff Favorites of 2017

Staff Favorites HeaderTake a moment to reflect: what did you love this year?

As 2017 is drawing to a close, MPPL staff took time to look back on everything they watched, read, listened to, and played throughout the year in order to choose some of their favorite items they experienced. With forty staff members sharing, you’re bound to find plenty to add to your own reading, listening, watching, and gaming lists!

 

Picture of ErinAudiobook: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Book: Her Right Foot
by Dave Eggers
Book: The Empty Grave
by Jonathan Stroud
Picture of ChelseaAudiobook: Touch
by Courtney Maum
Audiobook: The Fix: Volume 1
by Nick Spencer
BookBrief Histories of Everyday Objects
by Andy Warner

 

Picture of JoanneCD: Colors
by Beck
Book: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
Book: This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare

by Gabourey Sidibe
Picture of LaRaieAudiobook: I’m Just a Person
by Tig Notaro
DVD: Insecure: The Complete First Season
CD: Something More Than Free
by Jason Isbell
Picture of JessicaBook: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
DVD: Bleach anime series
Book: Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
retold by Jon Scieszka

 

Picture of ClaireBook: Moxie
by Jennifer Mathieu
Book: Auma’s Long Run
by Eucabeth A. Odhiambo
DVD: I Am Not Your Negro
Picture of AnneDVD: Lion
Book: A Casualty of War
by Charles Todd

 

 

 

 

Picture of KeldaBook: The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
CD: Life Love Flesh Blood
by Imelda May
Audiobook: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

 

 

Picture of CaitlinBook: The Talisman
by Stephen King and Peter Straub
DVD: Power Rangers
CD: Strange Desire
by Bleachers
Picture of ChrisBook: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Book: Artemis
by Andy Weir
Book: The Empty Grave
by Jonathan Stroud
Picture of MichaelBook: A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories
by Lucia Berlin
Book: The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
CD: Travelogue
by Blues Traveler

 

Picture of FrankBook: The Alexandria Quartet
by Lawrence Durrell
Book: Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace
by Leonard Mlodinow
Book: A Legacy of Spies
by John Le Carré

 

 

Picture of TaylorBook: Storm Front
by Jim Butcher
Book: Cinder
by Marissa Meyer
DVD: The Newsroom: The Complete First Season
Picture of RebecaAudiobook: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Book:The Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Haddish
Book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez

 

 

Picture of LindaBook: Defending Jacob
by William Landay
Book: Out of the Silent Planet
by C. S. Lewis
Book: The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman
Picture of AmyCD: Joanne
by Lady Gaga
Audiobook: The Boy on the Bridge
by M. R. Carey
Book: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
Picture of JohnCD: Drunk
by Thundercat
Book: Spinning
by Tillie Walden
DVD: Twin Peaks

 

 

Picture of JenniferBook: Meddling Kids
by Edgar Cantero
Book: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss
Book: Everything You Want Me to Be
by Mindy Mejia
Picture of ElizabethAudiobook: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Audiobook: Pachinko

by Min Jin Lee
Book: Waking Gods
by Sylvain Neuvel

 

 

Picture of DonnaBook: The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
DVD: The Good Place: Season One
Book: Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Picture of JoeGraphic Novel: The Flintstones: Volume One & Two
by Mark Russell
Graphic Novel: Hot Dog Taste Test
by Lisa Hanawalt
Video Game: The Last of Us
Picture of AllisonBook: The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use It for Life
by Twyla Tharp
Book: Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World
by Rutger Bregman
Graphic Novel: March
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

 

Picture of NancyBook: Born to Run
by Bruce Springsteen
Book: Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson
Book: Today Will Be Different
by Maria Semple
Picture of RosemaryBook: Glass Houses
by Louise Penny
Audiobook: Dovekeepers
by Alice Hoffman
Book: Killing Season
by Faye Kellerman
Picture of EvaDVD: Hidden Figures
DVD: Queen of the Desert
Book: A Column of Fire
by Ken Follett

 

 

Picture of MaryAudiobook:  Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Audiobook: Listen Slowly
by Thanhha Lai
Book: Boy on the Bridge
by M. R. Carey

 

 

Picture of SamAudiobook: First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies
by Kate Andersen Brower
Audiobook: To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Audiobook: Shutter Island
by Dennis Lehane
Picture of EvanDVD: The Good Place: Season One
Book: Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches
by John Hodgman
CD: The Nashville Sound
by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Picutre of JulieBook: In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes
by Deborah Madison
DVD: Séraphine
Song: Piano Concerto no 1 in C major, op 15
composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Tafelmusik

 

 

Picture of DaleBook: Horrorstör
by Grady Hendrix
Audiobook: Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography
by Johnny Marr
CD: Sleep Well Beast
by The National
Picture of JennyBook: Sonata Mulaticca: A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play
by Rita Dove
Book: Home Fire

by Kamila Shamsie
Book: Version Control
by Dexter Palmer

 


Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2014, 2015, and 2016 as their favorites.

We would love to hear from you!
Write to us on Facebook or Twitter and share what your own favorites this year were. If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!

Readalikes for “Cat Person”

Kristen Roupenian’s New Yorker short story that went viral, “Cat Person,” has sparked long arguments on social media, think pieces, declarations that Roupenian is genius for shedding light on something hard to characterize and critiques that her story is too commonplace and not worth the attention. A major draw to the story for many readers is Roupenian’s ability to sink into the mind of a twenty-year-old woman and tell the story of a potential budding relationship with a thirty-four year old man from her perspective. If that close narration was something you enjoyed about “Cat Person,” one of these female-focused story collections is bound to strike your fancy.

Her Body and Other Parties book coverHer Body and Other Parties
by Carmen Maria Machado
An eclectic range of stories exploring womanhood, power, and more.
Single-Carefree-Mellow book coverSingle, Carefree, Mellow
Katherine Heiny
Most of the women in these stories are not single, carefree, or mellow, resulting in a fascinating look at how complex the mind can be.
no one belongs here more than you book coverNo One Belongs Here More Than You
Miranda July
July draws close to the inner workings of her characters in this quirky collection.
Barbara the Slut book coversBarbara the Slut and Other People
Lauren Holmes
Taking slices out of life, Holmes mixes humor with the unexpected for a spread of wildly different personalities and situations.

Books: If You Like The Crown

Season Two of Netflix series The Crown drops today, and you may be inspired to choose your next read based on the drama played out through these fascinating characters and their situations:

Becoming Elizabeth II

Lillibet book coverLilibet
Carolly Erickson
Young Elizabeth book coverThe Young Elizabeth
Kate Williams
Brian Barker

 

Regal Relationships

Elizabeth and Philip book coverElizabeth and Philip
Geoffrey Bocca
Royal Sisters book coverRoyal Sisters
Anne Edwards
Sonia Purnell

 

Fiction about Women of Influence

Victoria book coverVictoria
Daisy Goodwin
Royal Nanny book coverThe Royal Nanny
Karen Harper
Elizabeth Loupas

 

Spotlight on Major Players

Churchill book coverChurchill
Martin Gilbert
Philip book coverPhilip
Tim Heald
Christopher Warwick

 

Staff Pick: This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Joanne from Community Services suggests This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe 

This is Just My Face Try Not to Stare book coverAcademy Award-nominated Gabourey Sidibe became a household name shortly after the release of the movie Precious. Focusing more on her early life as a child of a proud, cab-driving, African father and a free-spirited, teacher-turned-subway-singing mother, this deeply honest memoir will make it seem like you are out to dinner with Gabourey and a couple of girlfriends trying to outdo each other with crazy family stories.

Gabby was constantly getting in trouble for being disruptive and disrespectful due to her laugh. She describes it as more like a shrill scream followed by a loud snort. Everything she did was intense and that sometimes left her lonely. Being different on the outside when everyone else is the same can make you doubt what you are on the inside. She says, “I was Gabourey in a school of Jennifers.”

After a few false starts in college and intense therapy to treat her deep depression, she found steady work using her voice-over talent. Gabourey first read the novel Push five years before auditioning for the role as Precious for the film. It was an act of fate which got her to the audition, but she had the job two days later. The rest is history.

What Books Do Authors Recommend?

It’s been said that readers make the best writers, so it’s no surprise that many authors are themselves voracious readers. We have gathered some solid recommendations from a variety of writers, sourced from articles on the following sites The Guardian, The New York Times, Bookbub and Bookish.

Hanif Kureishi recommends To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite. Kureishi says, “(It’s) the moving story of an educated, ex-air force Guyanese man unable to find work because of racism. He ends up teaching in a new-style “free” school in the East End. There he is racially insulted continually, and we soon understand how abuse works to keep a man in his place for fear he will become a human being who might demand the same pleasures and rights as his white masters. We see the everyday violence that conservatism requires to preserve itself, as well as his struggle to remain sane and decent in horrific conditions.”

 

 

 

John Green says he is “loving Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.” The story “intertwines stories of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the mother and daughter who upend their lives. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.”

 

 

Matt Bellassai recommends Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello. Publisher Simon and Shuster calls this a “memoir reminiscent of Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mixtape and George Hodgman’s Bettyville, Michael Ausiello—a respected TV columnist and founder and editor-in-chief of TVLine.com—remembers his late husband, and the lessons, love, and laughter that they shared throughout their fourteen years together.” Matt Bellassai says he, “just finished crying through all of @MichaelAusiello’s book and if I have to suffer then so should you.”

 

 

 

Kamila Shamsie recommends Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. She says (it) is a great novel: great in its structure, its language, its characters, its intelligence, its engagement with history, its evocation of place, its sensuality, its humanity. How much of this is connected to the Asianness of its Sri Lankan-Canadian writer? Well, you could answer that question by pointing to the character of Kirpal “Kip” Singh, the Indian sapper who has defused bombs for the allied forces through the war only to feel betrayed, broken-hearted, by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – this is the crescendo of the novel, its moral core.”

 

 

Ann Patchett recommends Tom Hanks‘ collection of short stories Uncommon Type. She says “Reading Tom Hanks’s Uncommon Type is like finding out that Alice Munro is also the greatest actress of our time.” Publisher Penguin Random House describes it as, “A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales…”

 

 

Paula Hawkins recommends Hannah Kent’s The Good People, saying it is, “a literary novel with the pace and tension of a thriller that takes us on a frightening journey towards an unspeakable tragedy.” Taking place in Ireland, the story follows Nóra, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumors begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Nóra and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.

Denise’s Pick: Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs

Picture of DeniseAre you looking for a cozy read for the holiday season? Lakeshore Christmas offers a small hometown setting, complete with an engaging romance. You’ll meet Maureen, a librarian trying to save the town’s library, and Eddie a former child star. The pair are putting together the town’s Christmas Pageant and aren’t seeing eye to eye. It is part of the Lakeshore Chronicles Series by Susan Wiggs, so if you fall in love with the characters, you can get more of them!

Book Discussion Questions: Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies book coverTitle: Necessary Lies
Author:  Diane Chamberlain
Page Count: 343 pages
Genre:  Domestic Fiction
Tone:  Compelling, Haunting

Summary:
Set in the 1960s, the little-known North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program is brought to light as twenty-two year old Jane Forrester defies societal pressure and begins work as a social worker. Although they seem worlds apart, she becomes linked with fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart as both are haunted by tragedy and are confronted with the question, “How can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?”

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. In the first chapter, a woman named finds “Ivy & Mary was here” carved in the wall. Where did you think this book was going?

2. Initially we are introduced to Jane, a young woman who is getting married and is applying for a job as a social worker. What did you think about her? Did you find her character relatable?

3. What were your initial thoughts of Robert? Did you feel the same way about him throughout the book?

4. Robert desperately wants Jane to fit in, why do you think that is?

5. Out of Ivy, Nonni, Mary Ella, and baby William, who did you find to be the most sympathetic? The most interesting?

6. If you believe that Mary Ella was mentally challenged, do you think it was in Mary Ella’s best interest to have the procedure?

7. What did you think of Nonni’s ability to raise the family?

8. What did you think of Baby Williams care?

9. Did you think that Baby William should be taken away?

10. Mr. Gardiner did not want the police coming out to look for baby William (he said this was “private farm business”). Why?

11. Initially we did not know who Baby William’s father was, although fingers pointed to Eli. Did you believe that or did you have other theories?

12. Were you surprise Eli was Mary Ella’s brother?

13. How could you compare the Jordan family to the Harts? Which family was better off?

14. Lita had 4 sons and a daughter. People said all her children had a different daddy. Did that line in the book leave you with preconceived notions of her?

15. Why did you think Lita sent Sheena away?

16. What did you initially think of Henry Allen’s relationship with Ivy? Did your perspective change?

17. Jane did not love the idea of eugenics and she definitely didn’t want to do it behind her clients back.  In response to this, the director said “your self-righteousness is getting in the way of your duty to your clients.” What did you think of his comment?

18. Mary Ella wanted more children. She had no idea she had been sterilized. Jane decided to tell Mary Ella that she had been sterilized. Should she have? Why/Why not?

19. Why did Mary walk in front of Mr. Gardiner’s truck?

20. Do you think Ivy would be a legitimate candidate for the procedure?

21. When Ivy is told that she is pregnant she is please by this news after the shock. She says, “thank God for this little baby”. What did you think of her reaction?

22. What did you think of Henry Allen’s reaction to the pregnancy?

23. It seems the only real difference between Henry Allen and Ivy was a class distinction. Do you think things would have worked out differently if they were both of the same socioeconomic background?

24. There was a lot that come out at Mary Ella’s funeral. What did you think when Eli disclosed that Mr. Gardiner was Baby William’s and Rodney’s father?

25. What did you think of Jane taking Ivy to her home?

26. Why was the social worker, Paula, so insistent on finding Ivy and prosecuting Jane?

27. A side story was Jane’s relationship with Lois Parker. What drew her to Lois? What did you think about their relationship?

28. How did you like the ending?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Readers’ Guide for Necessary Lies.
Discussion Questions written by Tosa Book Club
Discussion experience by Whitney Book Bistroy
Book Reporter’s compilation of readers’ comments
Victims of State Sterilization Tell Their Story” (video)
Interview with Diane Chamberlain
“Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States”

READALIKES:

Before We Were Yours book coverBefore We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate

Plain Truth book coverPlain Truth
by Jodi Picoult

The House Girl book coverThe House Girl
by Tara Conklin