Check It Out Category: Books

Winter Reading: Social Justice

social justice

Books are a great entry point in learning about social fairness and equality. Social justice is a topic that is broad, diverse, and features subjects that help us reflect upon the society in which we live, learning about experiences different from our own. Issues of social justice are found in many subject areas that may be explored within both fiction and nonfiction. Browse a curated list of books on Social Justice, or look below for some quick recommendations. Any of these would be ideal for your own reading exploration or for the optional mini reading challenge on Social Justice for Winter Reading!

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground book cover

 

A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott

A personal meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America, in an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America.

 

 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman book cover

 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen

A popular BuzzFeed columnist examines the phenomenon of popular provocative womanhood to discuss the rise of such counterculture stars as Amy Schumer, Nicki Minaj and Caitlyn Jenner, exploring why they are popular in spite of negative behaviors and what makes and breaks today’s divas.

 

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.

 

 

we cast a shadow book cover

 

We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In a near-future South where an increasing number of people with dark skin endure cosmetic procedures to pass as white, a father embarks on an obsessive quest to protect his son, who bears a dark, spreading birthmark.

 

 

Good Kings Bad Kings book cover

 

Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

The residents at a facility for disabled young people in Chicago build trust and make friends in an effort to fight against their living conditions and mistreatment in this debut novel from the playwright behind “Mishuganismo”.

 

 

Please See Us book cover

 

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

 

 

1919 book cover

 

1919 by Eve Ewing

Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, and illuminates the thin line between the past and the present.

 

 

 

Join in on the Winter Reading fun on Beanstack!

justice

Winter Reading Ideas: New Fiction in January

New Fiction in January

New year, new fiction! Start 2021 with some fresh new reads and with Warm Up With Reading, our Winter Reading program. There’s a “read what you like” route as well as an optional mini reading challenge. We also have a larger list of new fiction in January and, as always, you may contact us at readers@mppl.org for personalized reading suggestions!

Yellow Wife book cover

 

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Born on a plantation but set apart from the others by her mother’s position as a medicine woman, a young slave is forced to leave home at 18 and unexpectedly finds herself in an infamously cruel jail.

 

 

Prodigal Son book cover

 

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz, 6th book in Orphan X series

Retiring from his Nowhere Man activities in exchange for an unofficial pardon, former government assassin Evan Smoak is entreated by a unlikely client to help rescue a fellow orphan from a dangerous foster home.

 

 

Black Buck book cover

 

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

An unambitious college graduate accepts a job at Sumwun, the hottest NYC startup, and reimagines himself as “Buck” a ruthless salesman and begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force.

 

 

The Prophets book cover

 

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. 

Two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation find refuge in each other while transforming a quiet shed into a haven for their fellow slaves, before an enslaved preacher declares their bond sinful.

 

 

The House on Vesper Sands book cover

 

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

A Victorian-inspired supernatural mystery follows the experiences of a Cambridge dropout and his savvy detective partner, who connect a paramour’s disappearance to a bizarre suicide.

 

 

Siri, Who Am I? book cover

 

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida

Waking from a coma with no memory of who she is, a wealthy millennial tries to piece together her identity through her social-media activity before following leads to a billionaire’s home and the site of a suspicious accident.

 

 

Across the Green Grass Fields book cover

 

Across The Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, 6th book in Wayward Children series

Regan passes through a mysterious doorway before finding herself in a fantastical world of magical equines who expect humans to step up as heroes.

 

 

Nick book cover

 

Nick by Michael Farris Smith

A tale inspired by Fitzgerald’s famous narrator imagines the life of Nick Carraway before Gatsby, depicting a war-traumatized, heavily drinking man who embarks on a doomed journey of redemption from Paris to New Orleans.

 

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
House in the Cerulean Sea 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

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