Nonfiction Roundup: October 2023

Posted on Monday, October 2, 2023 by Liz

Below I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in October. All of the mentioned titles are available to put on hold in our catalog and will also be made available via the library’s Overdrive website on the day of publication in eBook and downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.

Top Picks

The Sisterhood by Liza Mundy book coverThe Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA” by Liza Mundy (Oct 17)
Created in the aftermath of World War II, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on women even as it attempted to channel their talents and keep them down. Women sent cables, made dead drops, and maintained the agency’s secrets. Despite discrimination — even because of it — women who started as clerks, secretaries or unpaid spouses rose to become some of the CIA’s shrewdest operatives. They were unlikely spies — and that’s exactly what made them perfect for the role. Because women were seen as unimportant, pioneering female intelligence officers moved unnoticed around Bonn, Geneva and Moscow, stealing secrets from under the noses of their KGB adversaries. Back at headquarters, women built the CIA’s critical archives — first by hand, then by computer. And they noticed things that the men at the top didn’t see. As the CIA faced an identity crisis after the Cold War, it was a close-knit network of female analysts who spotted the rising threat of al-Qaeda — though their warnings were repeatedly brushed aside. After the 9/11 attacks, more women joined the agency as a new job, targeter, came to prominence. They showed that data analysis would be crucial to the post-9/11 national security landscape — an effort that culminated spectacularly in the CIA’s successful effort to track down bin Laden in his Pakistani compound. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: October 2023”

Staff Review: The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2023 by Karena

“Love, it seems, arrives not only unannounced, but so accidentally, so randomly, as to make you wonder why you, why anyone, believes even fleetingly in laws of cause and effect.”

So writes Michael Cunningham in his 2014 novel “The Snow Queen. It is a gentle novel, the kind that builds slowly, in waves, rather than the kind that whisks you away. But there are moments like this one, observations about love and life that induce a powerful feeling of clarity and reflection, that give the story real weight.

We meet Barrett first, in his own moment of observation. To be more precise, what Barrett observes is a giant light in the sky hovering above Central Park one winter night. The light arrives at a good time — Barrett is recovering from the sudden termination of another relationship, and coping with a general feeling of floundering as an adult human living in the new millennium. The light seems to promise something, though he’s not sure what. At the very least, just bearing witness to such a thing makes him feel like there might be something special, something worth examining about his earthly experience after all. Continue reading “Staff Review: The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham”

Let Freedom Read!

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2023 by Reading Addict

Banned Books Week“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe book coverAll Boys Aren't Blue by George Johnson book coverBanned Books Week is upon us once again: October 1-7. The theme chosen this year by the American Library Association (ALA) is “Let Freedom Read” with the slogan “Free People Read Freely.” I love this theme. I love freedom. And really, who doesn’t? Some of our greatest leaders have supported the idea of the freedom to read. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a commencement address at Dartmouth University on June 14, 1953 in which he said “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in [sic] your library and read every book…” And from across the aisle, upon signing the amendment to the Library Services Act February 11, 1964, Lyndon B Johnson said “The central fact of our times is this: Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” Continue reading “Let Freedom Read!”

Literary Links: Windows and Mirrors

Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2023 by Reading Addict

mirrored windows

I don’t know who first characterized books as “windows and mirrors,” but that is exactly what they are, especially memoirs. Memoirs teach about real worlds and experiences that can be far from our daily realities and thereby expand our lives. Memoirs can also show how someone else has managed a challenge or crisis and allow us to learn what to do — or what not to do. They can show us resilience and perseverance that inspire and empower or give us snapshots of historical perspectives we might’ve otherwise missed. Perhaps most importantly, memoirs can teach empathy, humility, compassion and grace — for others, but also for ourselves. Continue reading “Literary Links: Windows and Mirrors”

Nonfiction Roundup: September 2023

Posted on Monday, September 4, 2023 by Liz

Below I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in September. All of the mentioned titles are available to put on hold in our catalog and will also be made available via the library’s Overdrive website on the day of publication in eBook and downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.

Top Picks

The Six by Loren Grush book coverThe Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts” by Loren Grush (Sep 12)
When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots — a group then made up exclusively of men — had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its blunder and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000 six elite women were selected in 1978 — Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon. In “The Six,” acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic — and sometimes deeply sexist — media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: September 2023”

Q&A With Wanita Humphrey, Author of “Only a Moment Ago”

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 by Decimal Diver

Wanita Humphrey is a mid-Missouri author whose debut book is “.” The book is a fictional romance starring two people who fall in love in rural France, with a time travel twist of one person living in 1952 and the other in 2006. Will they be able to bridge the gap of time or will the years between them separate them forever? The book was named one of the finalists for the Daphne du Maurier Awards for Mystery/Suspense – Published Division, Paranormal Category in 2022. Humphrey is a retired teacher who taught for over 30 years in Missouri’s Public Schools. She was kind enough to take the time to be interviewed via email.

Continue reading “Q&A With Wanita Humphrey, Author of “Only a Moment Ago””

Reader Review: The One and Only Ivan

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2023 by patron reviewer

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate book coverThe first time I read “The One and Only Ivan” it upset me. I grew up spending many, many hours watching Ivan the gorilla at the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington. My grandfather would take me on errands with him, then get himself a coffee and each of us a donut, so we could sit with Ivan for a while before going home. I read all the articles pasted on the walls, saw all the photos, and mostly just enjoyed my time with Ivan. Even as a small child, I knew he didn’t belong there.

Ivan was such a character. Some days he just sat around doing nothing. Other days he threw me balls, wiped boogers on the glass, made faces and played. The days he was quiet I was incredibly sad for him, but the days he was active are some of my happiest memories. He placed his hand on the other side of the glass from mine many, many times. I like to think he recognized us, but that may be a pipe dream. As an adult, I have a sense of guilt about enjoying his captivity as much as I did. I wasn’t the one that captured him. I never teased him, and I always loved him, but I still sat there and enjoyed seeing him. Was that wrong? Probably, but as a child, even though I knew better, my NOT watching him would not have freed him. It’s an eternal dilemma.

My childhood created a lifetime fascination with gorillas. I recently purchased prints of a few of Ivan’s paintings. Upon their delivery, I fell down a rabbit hole of research. This is not the first time I’ve fallen down this particular Ivan deep dive, but it did lead me to reread this book. Having a bit of distance made me more appreciative.

This book upset me the first time I read it because it painted Ivan in abject misery. I didn’t want that to tarnish my happy memories of him. But that’s selfish. How could he have been happy there? I was complicit in his captivity, and although I could have done nothing about it, I can’t be pleased with my nostalgia. Author Katherine Applegate first made me feel guilty, then made me think. That made me mad at first, but isn’t that what good writing is supposed to do? Especially with literature aimed at youth? Continue reading “Reader Review: The One and Only Ivan”

Literary Links: One Read Author Margaret Verble

Posted on Sunday, August 13, 2023 by Seth

When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky by Margaret Verble book coverWhat book combines the obscure art of horse diving, otherworldly hauntings, unusual animals, World War I veterans and Wild West shows, all taking place under the long shadow of Manifest Destiny and racial segregation in America? Look no further than this year’s One Read book, “When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky” by Margaret Verble. The novel, Verble’s third, is a wildly entertaining but also compassionate examination of the treatment of those on the margins of society in early 20th century America, a time when the tenets of a humanistic progressivism were all too slowly supplanting long-held beliefs about race and gender.

In her other novels, “Maud’s Line,” “Cherokee America” and “Stealing: A Novel” Verble does not shy away from offering entertaining narratives and characters alongside unsparingly realistic narratives about the displacement, violence and marginalization aimed at Native Americans in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. Verble herself is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, and each book asks one overarching question: What is it like to be a member of a nation of people, with immense territory and a complex and advanced civilization, and to have all of that stripped away by an often violent, racist and land-greedy government? Continue reading “Literary Links: One Read Author Margaret Verble”

Reader Review: A Cosmology of Monsters

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2023 by patron reviewer

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill book coverA Cosmology of Monsters,” Shaun Hamill’s debut novel, is an instant horror classic. The book is a perfect mix of creature-feature horror and a dark, modern fairy tale. The story keeps the reader guessing — just when you think it’s going one way, the story zags in a whole different direction. Yet, the narration is always easy to follow and neither the pacing nor tension ever slacken. Fans of Eldritch Horror will enjoy all the references to H.P. Lovecraft’s short fiction.

Be advised, possible content warnings include: Suicide, mental health, and an adult/minor relationship. There are also a couple of sex scenes. If the story were a film, I’d give it an R-rating. Although the book deals with dark, disturbing subject matter, these subjects are not described with explicit language or overly gory detail. In fact, the juvenile nature of Hamill’s prose is my only complaint about this book. I often felt like I was reading a YA novel right up until the content reminded me that I was in fact not. “A Cosmology of Monsters” is an unpredictably thrilling novel, perfect for fans of the fantasy/horror genre.

Three words that describe this book: Exciting, Clever, Creepy

You might want to pick this book up if: You’re in the mood for a good horror novel.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. Submit your own book review here for a chance to have it featured on the Adults Blog. 

Tasty Memoirs

Posted on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 by Reading Addict

various toppings for street food in bowls next to a large pot of cooked peanutsI have really been struggling with food and cooking lately. It’s not that I don’t love food (because boy do I love food!) but I just can’t seem to get the energy or inspiration to cook. Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe I’m just bored with the same five things I’ve been making forever. But I’m hungry. And I’m not sure exactly what I’m hungry for. Connection? Community? Comfort? Curiosity? I need inspiration but I just find it difficult to sit down and read a cookbook. I need stories. So here goes my quest for food inspiration through memoirs. Continue reading “Tasty Memoirs”