January is a very busy time for publishing, so this month’s list of debut authors is a long one. If you’re interested in seeing a more comprehensive list please visit our catalog.
“Green” by Sam Graham-Felsen
Based on Graham-Felsen’s own childhood growing up in Boston in the 1990s, comes this novel of friendship between David Greenfield and Marlon Wellings. David lives in a gentrified neighborhood and is one of the few white kids in his middle school. Marlon lives in public housing and challenges David’s assumptions about black culture. But as their friendship develops, David becomes increasingly aware of how little he actually knows about Marlon’s life, and he learns to recognize his own privilege.
“The Chalk Man” by C. J. Tudor
In the summer of 1986 childhood friends Eddie, Fat Gav, Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky entertained themselves by leaving each other messages—written with chalk stick-figures—around in their sleepy English village. Events take a grim turn when chalk figures appear which lead them to the body of Mickey’s drowned brother and, later, to the body of a teenage girl. A teacher is accused despite a lack of evidence, and when he commits suicide the case is closed. But 30 years later, Mikey returns home to recruit Eddie’s help with a documentary about that summer which will reveal the true killer. The next day, Eddie discovers chalk figures in his home and Mickey’s body is found, sending Eddie on a mission to uncover the truth of that summer.
Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: January”
Hoping to read more broadly in 2018? The library is hosting a version of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and there’s plenty of time to hop on board! If you know me, you know I read tons of comics, so imagine my excitement to see that of 24 challenge tasks, three of them are comics-specific! Some of my favorites are single-creator, meaning the writing and illustrations result from a single person rather than from several collaborators. This is the subject of task #4: Read a book written and illustrated by the same person. Here are a few recommendations. Continue reading “Single-Creator Comics: Read Harder 2018”
Imagine an America in the throes of an economic depression while around the world nations react to similar circumstances by turning authoritarian — Nazis in Germany and Fascists in Italy. Could it also happen in the hallowed land of freedom, the United States of America? Pulitzer prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis saw such a threat in 1935 and described a chillingly plausible scenario in “It Can’t Happen Here.”
Lewis introduces us to the ridiculously named Berzelius Windrip (you can call him Buzz), a charismatic, plain-spoken politician who appeals to many of those hardest hit by the Depression by making grand promises and exploiting divisions in society. He becomes the Democratic nominee for president by defeating the incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the intent of upending the current way Washington operates. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: It Can’t Happen Here”
“Best Worst American” by Juan Martinez is another delightful and weird collection of short stories published by Small Beer Press. (If you haven’t read the previously recommended works by Kelly Link, I reiterate my recommendation to do so.) (Apologies to Mr. Martinez for immediately hijacking his recommendation to re-recommend another author.)
Proceeding, then, with the career boost this post inevitably provides and which Martinez indubitably deserves, “Best Worst American” will be appreciated by fans of McSweeney’s (where several of the pieces were originally published) and the sort of stand-up comedy performed by people with hip glasses. (Not the glasses you think are hip, the ones that actually are hip: I do not know which glasses these are; though, of course, the monocle will never go out of style.) Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Juan Martinez”
Okay, everyone. We’re back for the second installment of Quintessential Comics. This time we’re going to be taking a look at female-centric comics that, either through plot development or thematics, highlight women. If you have ever found yourself dissatisfied with the lack of female representation in comics, or at the mishandling of female characters, this list might be the remedy.
If you’re looking for a comic series with a comedic element, look no further: “Giant Days” is here to scratch that itch. A series that focuses on three young women rooming together in college, this one is sure to bring a smile to your face due to just how relatable and endearing these characters can be. This is a comic that doesn’t need to rely on grandiose thematics. Follow Esther, Susan and Daisy as they stumble through life just like the rest of us. Continue reading “Quintessential Comics: Top Five Female-Driven Series”
The first national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in 1986, although at that time only 17 states had official King holidays. The intent of the holiday is to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King and remind ourselves of the ideals for which he fought. Observance of a holiday for decades risks becoming a rote exercise that misses the complexities of the person and the historical period. Fortunately, there is a continually growing body of work on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement to keep us engaged with this part of American history and how it connects to our present.
One of King’s most iconic speeches, the “Mountaintop” speech in support of striking black sanitation workers, was given hours before his assassination in Memphis. The progress of King’s thinking on labor and economic justice issues are traced in “All Labor Has Dignity.” This collection of King’s speeches includes the “Mountaintop” speech, as well as other previously unpublished ones in which he advocated for jobs, unionization and other labor concerns. You can also listen to the speeches of the skilled orator in “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Essential Box Set: The Landmark Speeches and Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” Continue reading “Literary Links: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement”
It’s January once again — time for reflection and setting new goals. It’s also time for book challenges! I almost always set a yearly goal of so many books but this year the Columbia Public Library is hosting a year-long program around reading through the 2018 Read Harder Challenge. How could I not participate in that? The very first task on the Read Harder Challenge is a book published posthumously, meaning that it must have been published after the author has died. I have a few that I have read and loved. Continue reading “Posthumously Published Books: Read Harder 2018”
Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this January. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.
James Patterson is moving into true crime in a big way this year. He will release three true crime titles in January. Two of them, “Murder, Interrupted” and “Home Sweet Murder” will coincide with the first episodes of the television show “Murder Is Forever.” The third is “All American Murder,” the story of the professional football player Aaron Hernandez. A fourth is slated for release in February and it would not be surprising to see others announced for later in the year. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: January 2018”
Our list of debut authors is very short this month as December is a quiet time of year for publishing. But quality over quantity, right?
“The Last Suppers” by Mandy Mikulencak
As the daughter of a murdered warden Ginny Polk is familiar with the harsh realities of prison life in the 1950s. Still, as an adult she chooses to return to the Greenmount State Penitentiary in Louisiana, where her father worked, as the prison cook. There she struggles to make peace with her past while serving prisoners on death row their last meals—along with a little compassion and human kindness.
Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: December”
The year is almost over, and the staff here at the library want to share their favorite book of 2017 with you! I hope you enjoyed the first installment. Here are the rest of the best books read in 2017 by your DBRL staff:
“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch
“Fast-paced and suspenseful, this novel is page-turner from the get-go. While categorized in the sci-fi genre, it invokes universal questions regarding the choices you make, the paths-not-traveled and what you would endure for those you love.”
“Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult
“I laughed, cried, and was forced to bear with some very ugly personal truths. ‘Small Great Things’ reads as a fantastic work of fiction, but also as a primer for fundamental conversations about race, privilege, inequality and basic human experiences. This book will grab you by the shoulders and shake you to the core.”
~Mitch C. Continue reading “Best Books Read in 2017, Part 2”