FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS

By Allison Fiscus, Adult Services Coordinator

Is there a book you’ve read that you could not stop talking about?

I have about 10 from last year alone. 

For me, reading is a bit of a competitive sport. I want to read more than I did last year, find more new authors, and be the first person to find *that* book that blows up into the next big thing. 

I also really, really want to share the books I love because when I love a book, I feel deeply connected to it. Be it the characters, the message, the situation—I’m invested and I want you to read it because it means something to me, and I’m hoping it will mean something to you. It’s a form of connection unique to reading and something I’m confident is shared by readers everywhere—a universal truth.

Obviously, not everyone likes the same kind of books (for example, I’m fairly certain many of you would not enjoy That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming, but I thought it was GREAT). Still, when you find a book that speaks to you and the people in your life agree, it’s special. It reveals a bit of yourself you have in common. And that’s pretty cool.

So with that in mind, here is a sampling of TLCPL’s Best Books of 2023. Take this as our offer of connection to you, Lucas County. You’re important to us and we hope you’ll find something you love amongst the things we love. 

Book Jacket: The Baddies

the baddies by Julia Donaldson

The Baddies–a troll, a witch, and a ghost–compete to scare a new neighbor. With fun rhyming verse and bold colorful illustrations, a little girl shows that bravery and kindness can keep the Baddies away. – Cathy Bartel, Public Services

Book Jacket: Big

big by Vashti Harrison

Vashti's elegantly affecting picture book is ostensibly about body image but really it's about words– about how the same word, in different contexts, can empower or demoralize or, when thoughtlessly deployed, can do real harm. The illustrations underline the point through a cunning onset of absurdism. –Eric Pfeffinger, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: Carina Felina

carina felina by Carmen Agra Deedy

What happens when a parrot falls in love with a cat? Find out in this humorous retelling of a Cuban folktale. A funny, rhyming, vibrantly illustrated, cumulative story in the style of "There Was an Old Lady." –Cathy Bartel, Public Services

Book Jacket: Cinderella--with Dogs!

cinderella--with dogs! by Linda Bailey

This book put a whole new spin on Cinderella and the "magic" that a dog can provide in everyday life. This fairy DOGmother does not disappoint in getting Cinderella to the ball in time and helping her find her prince. As it turns out, the royal family loves dogs, too! -Hannah Grohowski, Holland

Book Jacket: A Day With No Words

a day with no words by Tiffany Hammond

A great story of acceptance, inclusion, and celebrating differences. Told from the point-of-view of a young, nonverbal child with autism, we get to tag along on his day with mom, seeing the many different ways they communicate and also how spoken words can hurt. This book has a special place in my heart. – Brooke Cox, Birmingham

Book Jacket: Ice Cream Man

ice cream man by Glenda Armand

Follow along in the early 1800s as a young Gus Jackson, free African American and White House Chef from Philadelphia, sets out to perfect and sell our beloved treat, ice cream! This book is a beautiful showcase of dreams coming true and making people smile for generations to come! Thank you, Augustus Jackson, for making ice cream even better and available for everyone! –Jozi Heckel, Ready to Read

Book Jacket: The Knowing

the knowing by Ani DiFranco

This lyrical work of art is beyond beautiful. From debut author Ani DiFranco and debut illustrator Julia Mathew this book is it. The text, the paintings, and the story are just lovely as a young girl explores what it is to be herself. I'm looking at you, Caldecott! -Jozi Heckel, Ready to Read

Book Jacket: Noodle Conquers Comfy Mountain

noodle conquers comfy mountain by Jonathan Graziano

When the world's greatest oracle passed, I had a small cry in the bathroom. To honor him, I went home and read Noodle's first book to my own pug, Ellie. Now, I'm able to share with her the experience of overcoming mountainous challenges, both literally and metaphorically. Or you could read it to your small human children, too. –Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Plátanos Are Love

plátanos are love by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris

A sweet book detailing the importance of culture and family, encapsulated by plantains and their significance in various Latino recipes. –Cade Clem, Birmingham

Book Jacket: Swimming Toward A Dream

swimming toward a dream by Reem Faruqi

The compelling and courageous true story of Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini and her dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer. -Emily Green, Ready to Read

Book Jacket: Window Fishing

window fishing by DK Dyson

A colorful, fun picture book that reminds us not to take life too seriously and to make time to PLAY! –Jozi Heckel, Ready to Read

Book Jacket: When I Talk to God, I Talk About You

when i talk to god, i talk about you by Chrissy Metz

A beautiful picture book celebrating the unconditional love between a parent and child. With vibrant illustrations and gentle rhymes, this picture book serves as an introduction to the power of prayer. – John Cook, Waterville

Book Jacket: You Are Loved

you are loved by Margaret O'Hair

Inspired by Sofia Sanchez, a girl with Down Syndrome from Ukraine that joined the Sanchez family when she was one, this book shows that there isn't just one way to be a family. -Regina Stevenson-Healy, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Wombats Are Pretty Weird

wombats are pretty weird by Abi Cushman

Wombats are weird. They are marsupials but with backward pouches, square poop, and teeth that never stop growing. That's not all that's weird about wombats. Read this fun, colorful book to find out more. –Cathy Bartel, Public Services

Book Jacket: Buzzing

buzzing

Told through the lens of a tabletop-RPG campaign, this graphic novel is about accepting our eccentricities. I'm not super familiar with depictions of OCD, especially in youth literature, but this felt like a wonderful place to start for any age. –Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Dear Mothman

dear mothman by Robin Gow

A young trans boy copes with losing his best friend by writing letters and poems to his (and everyone's) favorite cryptid, Mothman. Yet another book I wish I had authored myself has been added to our collection! –Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Firefly Summer

firefly summer by Morgan Matson

This novel is full of fun (It’s set in a former summer camp), melancholy (Ryanna’s mom died when she was three and she’s been estranged from her grandparents), and mystery. Where did Ryanna’s name come from? What was her mom like? Can she save the camp from an unscrupulous developer? I loved how the author tied all these threads into a beautiful, heart-warming novel. –Regina Stevenson-Healy, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Food for Hope

food for hope by Jeff Gottesfeld

Food for Hope tells the inspiring story of John van Hengel, the creator of food banks. After his settled life turned upside-down, he dedicated the rest of his life to combat hunger in communities not only around the county but worldwide. Heartwarming illustrations support this impactful tale of how one person can make a difference. –Maria Royuela-Tomas, Sylvania

Book Jacket: Hamra and the Jungle of Memories

hamra and the jungle of memories by Hanna Alkaf

The most interesting retelling of Little Red Riding Hood I've ever read. Very engaging with many little twists and turns and awesomely described characters and worlds to the point where I read all of it in six hours. It also made me cry at my desk. --Katie Fletcher, Maumee

Book Jacket: Listen to the Birds

listen to the birds by Donald E. Kroodsma

Are you curious what sounds certain birds make? Discover 40 North American birds and hear their chirps, tweets, and warbles! Hold your phone (paired with the free Birdie Memory app) to the illustrations, then watch and listen as the birds spring to life and sing! Informative text, too. -Mary Rava Miller, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: That Flag

that flag by Tameka Fryer Brown

Two best friends question their friendship after a field trip to a history museum. A simple yet powerful look at the history and meaning of the Confederate flag and its impact in the present. -Cade Clem, Birmingham

Book Jacket: You Are Here

you are here by Ellen Oh

This book follows twelve kids across one day in an airport as a storm delays their flights, with each chapter focusing on a specific POV and interweaving with one another. – Cade Clem, Birmingham

Book Jacket: Divine Rivals

divine rivals by Rebecca Ross

I could not put this magical book down. Two rival journalists are competing for the same columnist position in the Oath Gazette. While this at the surface seems like a classic workplace enemies-to-lovers trope, @beccajross pushes the plot much deeper. This is a story of fate, war, gods, and the depths of hell told in a style similar to Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. I will be biting my nails on the edge of my seat until book two is released. –Abby Byers, Oregon

Book Jacket: Frontera

frontera

Lost in the Sonoran Desert without water, 17-year-old Mateo is making the difficult journey from Mexico to the United States alone when he is confronted by Border Patrol. When he least expects it, help arrives in the form of a ghost named Guillermo who offers to guide Mateo across the desert and keep him safe, if only Mateo will let him. This supernatural fiction graphic novel teaches empathy and a deeper understanding of the harsh reality of border crossings and the plight of the refugee experience. –Amber Bertram, Sylvania

Book Jacket: Unaccompanied

unaccompanied by Tracy White

Based on extensive interviews with teen refugees, caseworkers, and advocates, this graphic novel tells the story of five unaccompanied teens from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guinea seeking asylum in the United States. Told in a fast-paced narrative style through a series of short stories, this heartbreaking non-fiction graphic novel tells the harrowing true story of the young people who make this journey to escape danger. -Amber Bertram, Sylvania

Book Jacket: Warrior Girl Unearthed

warrior girl unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Boulley's second novel (after huge hit Firekeeper's Daughter) is again set in northern Michigan's Anishinaabe culture. Tribal museum worker Perry Firekeeper-Birch pursues her passion for repatriation of cultural artifacts and investigating missing indigenous women in this compelling thriller. – Amy Hartman, Collection Development

Book Jacket: Wolverine

wolverine

One of the standouts of Marvel’s ill-fated manga-inspired imprint, Tsunami (along with The Runaways), Wolverine: Snikt! by Tsutomu Nihei is finally back in print for the first time in almost 20 years. When everyone’s favorite X-Man is teleported to an apocalyptic future, he discovers that he’s the remaining humans’ last hope against an evil robotic threat. Light on dialogue and heavy on action, this is the perfect manga for fans of American superhero comics. And manga. –Eric Sobel, Computers and Media

Book Jacket: Again and Again

again and again by Jonathan Evison

Totally fiction, with a little bit of fantasy mixed in. Warm, funny at times, and very well written characters. I didn't want this book to end. -Teri Pinkston, Sanger

Book Jacket: Camp Damascus

camp damascus by Chuck Tingle

This psychological horror novel is so much more than the conversion therapy summer camp slasher I thought it would be. It is, instead, a thoughtful look at how cult-like, religious indoctrination weaponizes love. I fear if I go on longer, I will spoil the best parts. If you like horror with LGBTQIA+ themes, please pick it up. –Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: A Council of Dolls

a council of dolls by Susan Power

A Council of Dolls weaves together the girlhood stories of three generations of Dakota women. All three girls had very special dolls whose spirit, comfort, and courage helped the girls face the generational trauma, mental health issues, discrimination, and violence that took place in their lives. -Gretchen Black, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: The Coworker

the coworker by Freida McFadden

If you are in a reading slump, try this book. It's a fast-paced thriller that hooks you from the beginning with dual points-of-view. Dawn is missing and her coworker is acting. . .strange. –Rebecca Mate, Oregon

Book Jacket: Crook Manifesto

crook manifesto by Colson Whitehead

Once again Colson Whitehead makes crime fiction fun in this anticipated follow-up to Harlem Shuffle. We find our friend Carney in a tight spot. After having gone straight for several years, it’s a set of Jackson 5 tickets that set him back on his former, crooked path. “Crooked stays crooked and bent hates straight. The rest is survival." –Rachel Stewart, Holland

Book Jacket: Cruel Seduction

cruel seduction by Katee Robert

Book 5 in Katee Robert's Dark Olympus series does not disappoint! When Aphrodite marries Hephaestus to keep an eye on Olympus's number one sworn enemy, she did not expect that her new husband would be putting her in her place. While these two navigate their precarious relationship, Olympus and its leaders seem to be on the edge of ruin. With Robert's signature sizzling hot scenes and plenty of political dramatics, don't miss this ultimate enemies-to-lovers romance! -Abby Byers, Oregon

Book Jacket: Done and Dusted

done and dusted by Lyla Sage

Small town + cowgirl + brother's best friend = sparks fly. Perfect for those of us who fantasize about living out west with the horses and clean mountain air. – Rebecca Mate, Oregon

Book Jacket: Edenville

edenville by Sam Rebelein

Do you ever read a book so good you can't coherently explain why you're recommending it? Small town legends live just below the surface in this visceral horror debut and they're squeezing the marrow (and more) out of the town's inhabitants–especially its newest arrivals. Go Crows. – Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Enchanted to Meet You

enchanted to meet you by Meg Cabot

I see what you did there, @officialmegcabot. #itworked #speaknowtv –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: Evil Eye

evil eye by Etaf Rum

Dark, insightful maze through what it's like to be trapped in a life with trauma always overhead, love feeling so far away. Palestinian-American author Etaf Rum gives us a story that is outside most of our comfort zones and this is exactly why it needs to be read. –Jennifer Day, Reynolds Corners

Book Jacket: Family Lore

family lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

This book is full of strong female characters who navigate their own life struggles and circumstances. It takes you from the Dominican to the US, through time, across generations, with secrets and a bit of ancestral magic told from the perspective of six women–sisters, cousins, and nieces. – Andrea Vallejo, Lagrange

Book Jacket: Forget Me Not

forget me not by Julie Soto

If grumpy/sunshine is your thing, let me please introduce you to the grumpiest grump around, florist Elliot Bloom (GREAT name). If you're a fanfic reader, you should know that Julie Soto is the one and only LovesBitca8 of Dramione fame. – Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: Fourth Wing

fourth wing by Rebecca Yarros

Rebecca Yarros's Fourth Wing is a breathtaking masterpiece that soars high above the rest. With her signature blend of heart-wrenching emotion and adrenaline-fueled action, Yarros crafts a riveting tale of courage, sacrifice, and unyielding love. Fourth Wing propels readers on an unforgettable journey through the skies, leaving them breathless and longing for more. – Andy Lechlak, Communications, Design, and Analytics

Book Jacket: Happy Place

happy place by Emily Henry

This book is my Happy Place. Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple. . .until they aren't. When ~reasons~ cause them to separate, they don't tell their friend group. They figure they can fake it for their weeklong annual friend vacation, right? Find out in this delightful, yet bittersweet read. – Abby Byers, Oregon

Book Jacket: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

the heaven & earth grocery store by James McBride

A valuable story from an undisputed storyteller. The audiobook version skillfully preserves the author's voice. Full of everyday intrigue and exquisite detail. –Megan Diouf, Kent

Book Jacket: The Invisible Hour

the invisible hour by Alice Hoffman

Raised in The Community with little access to the outside world, Mia finds a secret escape in forbidden library books. Hoffman's sweeping prose blends historical fiction and magical realism in such a way that the story can appeal to anyone. –Lisa Miranda, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: The List

the list by Yomi Adegoke

Ola and her fiancé, Michael, are set up for their happily ever after until The List appears, and Michael is on it. A fierce and forceful tale that takes on the complexities of modern internet culture and the gray area between blind support and proof. – Terri Carroll, Communications, Design, and Analytics

Book Jacket: Lords of Uncreation

lords of uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Classic space opera fair with lots of fun twists! –Andy Scouten, Computers and Media

Book Jacket: Lost in the Moment and Found

lost in the moment and found by Seanan McGuire

A stand-alone adventure as fanciful as a Doctor Who episode. This novella is a short but deep read where we discover with our heroine that not all lost things can be found again. – Megan Myers, Kent

Book Jacket: Love, Theoretically

love, theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

College professor by day, fake dating to make money by night. Elsie Hannaway is finally on track to get a tenured position; she just has to get through this interview that she's trained for. Only one problem, one of the interviewers is her fake boyfriend's brother. . .who knows her as a librarian. . .and doesn't know she's a fake girlfriend. . .and he's. . .good looking?? Need I say more? I didn't think anything would ever beat The Love Hypothesis but here we are. –Madison Lutman, Oregon

Book Jacket: Maame

maame by Jessica George

Maddie was treated like an adult growing up with her Ghanaian parents, and now that she's finally out on her own as an adult in London she feels like a child. As she navigates dating and roommates and work and sex and microaggressions, this profoundly human novel unspools as something both universally relatable and highly particularized. –Eric Pfeffinger, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: The Militia House

the militia house by John Milas

This debut horror novel was written by a former member of the Marine Corps who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. While this isn't a perfect book, it is highly engaging, earnest, and unique–I've never read a haunted house story like it. I'm excited to see what Milas writes next! –Jules Hebert, Holland

Book Jacket: Mrs. Nash's Ashes

mrs. nash's ashes by Sarah Adler

This is an adorable, road trip rom-com in which hopeless romantic Millie and grumpy Hollis travel to Florida to deliver Mrs. Nash's ashes to her long lost love. Hijinks ensue involving a rogue deer and a broccoli festival. Adler’s debut novel is funny, sweet, and worth checking out! –Olivia Wortham, Holland

Book Jacket: My Roommate Is A Vampire

my roommate is a vampire by Jenna Levine

This delightfully quirky debut novel is a fun, quick read about Cassie, an artist about to be evicted, and Frederick J. Fitzwilliam, a vampire who needs a roommate for reasons I won’t mention. They get to know each other through the letters they leave for each other around the apartment. Levine had me laughing out loud! –Lauren Dilly, Mobile Services

Book Jacket: The Mysteries

the mysteries

A short tale about the false sense of security that we glean from our technological and scientific advancements, and the ultimate insignificance of humankind in the universe. –Cade Clem, Birmingham

Book Jacket: The Only One Left

the only one left by Riley Sager

This is on track to be my favorite book of the year. In a Lizzie Borden-esque situation Lenora Hope was rumored to have killed her whole family. Now an old lady, Kit has been assigned to be her caregiver, and Lenora is ready to tell her story to Kit. . . well, type it. If you think you know what’s happening in this book, I promise you don't. So many twists and turns! –Madison Lutman, Oregon

Book Jacket: Out on a Limb

out on a limb by Jordan Morris

 A meet-cute accidental pregnancy but secretly they are in love and it’s all going to work out just fine people! –Rebecca Mate, Oregon

Book Jacket: Out There Screaming

out there screaming

This is a timely collection of short stories that highlights Black voices in horror, a genre in which they are grossly underrepresented. Edited by Jordan Peele, award-winning writer and director of Get Out, Us, and other films, Out There Screaming features stories by prominent authors like N. K. Jemisin and Tananarive Due, as well as new and lesser-known authors. –Jules Hebert, Holland

Book Jacket: The Plus One

the plus one by Mazey Eddings

Childhood enemies Indira and Jude are thrust together for their mutual friend’s elaborate wedding. When Indira's picture-perfect relationship ends suddenly (and stickily), she and Jude decide to fake a relationship for the remainder of wedding events. What happens when their façade begins to feel a little too real? –Abby Byers, Oregon

Book Jacket: The Quiet Tenant

the quiet tenant by Clémence Michallon

A woman is kidnapped and held captive by a serial killer. He is a seemingly normal man caring for his dying wife and 13-year-old daughter in a small town. I could not put this book down! –Amber Kroggel, Public Services

Book Jacket: Raiders of the Lost Heart

raiders of the lost heart by Jo Segura

Rival archeologists, enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance, and an MMC who wears GLASSES. Come for the romance; stay for the very timely and eloquent feminist commentary. –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: Romantic Comedy

romantic comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

The most aptly named book I've ever read, this is a perfect mix of smart and funny dialog, interesting characters, and a fascinating look into how a weekly late-night comedy like Saturday Night Live is actually created fresh each week. I liked it so much I listened to the audiobook after reading the print book. –Amy Hartman, Collection Development

Book Jacket: The Seven Year Slip

the seven year slip by Ashley Poston

Ashley has truly outdone herself following The Dead Romantics (my favorite book of last year). This book has everything: forbidden love, second chances, annoying birds. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and did I mention the magical apartment yet? It's everything and more, and once again Ashley Poston is in the running for my favorite book of the year. –Madison Lutman, Oregon

Book Jacket: Silver Nitrate

silver nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Moreno Garcia takes us to 1990s Mexico as the main character tries to complete what is considered to be a cursed horror film. Part love, horror, mystery. . .her books are always a treat! – Andrea Vallejo, Lagrange

Book Jacket: Something Wild and Wonderful

something wild and wonderful by Anita Kelly

The sweetest of love stories set amongst the beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail. As the author puts it - "Wild". . .but make it gay. –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: Starter Villain

starter villain by John Scalzi

The cover alone should win Scalzi an award, and the idea of a guy inheriting his recently deceased uncle's supervillain business (with unionized dolphins, cuddly spy cats, terrifyingly competent henchpeople, and volcano island lair) is a new level of awesomeness. Clever and darkly silly, this is a hoot to read and guarantees we will never look at cats the same way again. –Amy Hartman, Collection Development

Book Jacket: Things We Hide From the Light

things we hide from the light by Lucy Score

She saved the best for last, and his name is Lucian Rollins. Lucy Score knocks (ha!) it out of the park with her final installment of the Knockemout series bringing her best set of characters thus far to emotionally satisfying conclusions all around. –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: The True Love Experiment

the true love experiment by Christina Lauren

Beloved romance author Fizzy Chen is in a slump. While she can write the heck out of a love story on page, she realizes that she's never been in love. Enter Connor Prince III, documentary filmmaker and single dad. When Connor's boss tells him he needs to switch from nature documentaries to reality TV, he's at a loss for what to do. After a chance encounter with Fizzy, he proposes a new reality show concept to her. . .with her in the lead role. Suddenly, sparks aren't just flying on screen. . .but also between the producer and star. – Abby Byers, Oregon

Book Jacket: Unfortunately Yours

unfortunately yours by Tessa Bailey

Love a himbo. Best read when paired with a full-bodied red and envisioning Travis Kelce. –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: VenCo

venco by Cherie Dimaline

This entertaining and magical read will have you rooting for heroine Lucky St. James and her mischievous grandmother through each and every paragraph! When Lucky–whose life up to this juncture has been anything but–stumbles upon a spoon etched with the word 'Salem' on it, she's catapulted toward the city itself initially in search of a job with VenCo. Upon arrival, she learns that rather than arriving for a job, she's been recruited by a coven gathering their final members to complete their circle and defeat a dangerous witch hunter. As Lucky, a modern Métis woman, travels from her home of Toronto to Salem and then onto New Orleans on a mission from VenCo, we get an inside look at her comical yet tender relationship with her along-for-the-ride grandmother. Readers also get glimmers into the lives of the other witches, many of whom transcended marginalized pasts when stepping into their power via VenCo." –Lindsay Williams, Small Business and Nonprofit

Book Jacket: The Wake-up Call

the wake-up call by Beth O'Leary

Izzy and Lucas can't stand one another. When they're forced to work the same shift at the Forest Manor Hotel, and each chapter switches between the two, we get a story that's heartwarming and full of banter. Enemies-to-lovers just in time for the holidays. –Sam Ponke, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: White Cat, Black Dog

white cat, black dog by Kelly Link

This collection of short stories is hard to describe. There are fairy tale re-tellings and stories that read like journal entries. Some are sci-fi, some macabre, others fantastical, others still are romantic. Some have happy endings, though most do not. But all of these stories are written in a unique voice which is sparse yet whimsical. –Jules Hebert, Holland

Book Jacket: Wildfire

wildfire by Hannah Grace

Summer camp but make it way, way better.  –Allison Fiscus, Public Services

Book Jacket: World Running Down

world running down by Al Hess

Living out of his van in the Salt Flats of Utah, Valentine just wants to earn enough money to move to Salt Lake City. In the city, life looks a lot less post-apocalyptic and a lot more high society. There, he can regain access to gender-affirming care. When a sentient android shows up with a job offer that could solve all his problems, Valentine must decide what he is willing to sacrifice for the chance to be who he really is. Written with sweet lightheartedness and clever nuance, this book is a wonderful and fun adventure! – Janet Rhodes, Local History

Book Jacket: The Writing Retreat

the writing retreat by Julia Bartz

During a month-long writing retreat with their inspiration, five writers quickly learn there's a catch–they need to write a completely new novel in the next 30 days, and they're competing with each other for the winning publishing opportunity. Secrets, suspicion, and something otherworldly raise the stakes for our main character, and the twists are sharp enough to give you whiplash. A thoroughly creepy and engrossing read. -Kelsi Roth, Holland

Book Jacket: Yellowface

yellowface by R. F. Kuang

This lively takedown of performative inclusiveness in the publishing industry is part cringe comedy, part white-knuckle thriller–you tear through these chapters waiting for the selfish protagonist's house of lies to explode. –Eric Pfeffinger, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: 50 Pies, 50 States

50 pies, 50 states by Stacey Mei Yan Fong

Gorgeous cookbook with fifty awesome recipes for pies representing all fifty states. Sweet and savory, a road trip in pies! – Adrienne Amborski, Waterville

Book Jacket: 101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murdered

101 horror books to read before you're murdered by Sadie Hartmann

The Ultimate List of Must-Read Horror! Curious readers and fans of monsters and the macabre, get ready to bulk up your TBR piles! Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann has curated the best selection of modern horror books, including plenty of deep cuts. Indulge your heart’s darkest desires to be terrified, unsettled, disgusted, and heartbroken with stories that span everything from paranormal hauntings and creepy death cults to small-town terrors and apocalyptic disasters. Each recommendation includes a full synopsis as well as a quick overview of the book’s themes, style, and tone so you can narrow down your next read at a glance. – Ambrosia Myers, Reynolds Corners

Book Jacket: America the Beautiful?

america the beautiful? by Blythe Roberson

Roberson is a comedy writer who went on an extended, solo road trip to see as many National Parks as she could. Part love story to the parks and part critique, the book is a delightfully witty read. – Regina Stevenson-Healy, Children’s Library

Book Jacket: Baking Yesteryear

baking yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis

Such a fun cookbook! It was a walk down memory lane. –Adrienne Amborski, Waterville

Book Jacket: The Best Strangers in the World

the best strangers in the world by Ari Shapiro

Take a deeper dive into the story of Ari Shapiro, whose iconic voice has delivered us countless stories on NPR's All Things Considered. You'll get an introspective look at Ari's life as a proud LGBTQ+ person, his career ups and downs, stories that have stuck with him over the years, and you'll even hear a little bit about his reporting time in Toledo! –Lucas Camuso-Stall, Administration

Book Jacket: Black Friend

black friend by Ziwe

This book is one of the most relatable, smartest and funniest books I've ever read. Ziwe keeps her sharp humor while talking about real topics. You won't want to put it down. –Holley Jackson, Mott

Book Jacket: Choosing to Run

choosing to run by Des Linden

Des Linden, Olympic athlete and winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon, delves into the upbringing and career moves that made her the independent and determined runner she is today. A mile-by-mile account of the 2018 race with alternating views of her past makes this an interesting and fast-paced read. -Kelsi Roth, Holland

Book Jacket: Fat Ham

fat ham by James Ijames

What if, instead of brooding and violent and melancholy, Hamlet was a rollicking comedy full of joy? And what if instead of Denmark it took place at a southern Black family's backyard barbecue? This play hasn't come anywhere near Toledo yet, so reading it's the next best thing. –Eric Pfeffinger

Book Jacket: Fieldwork

fieldwork by Iliana Regan

Fieldwork follows Regan’s first book to inspire readers both new and repeat. Rather than a romp across big city kitchens, this title takes readers on a journey into the woods of northern Michigan, where the chef now resides with her wife. There, the couple runs the Milkweed Inn; an off-the-beaten-path B&B that takes field-to-table to the extreme. Along the way, readers learn more about Iliana's family history and the joys and perils of foraging. Iliana's honest, raw and descriptive portrayal of this new chapter in the woods makes for a refreshing read. –Lindsay Williams, Small Business and Nonprofit

Book Jacket: The Good Enough Job

the good enough job by Simone Stolzoff

In Western culture, the lines between personal identities and work continue to blur. Stolzoff takes the reader through a brief history of why workers in the U.S. continue to struggle with this separation and how we can empower ourselves to create those needed boundaries. –Lucas Camuso-Stall, Administration

Book Jacket: The He-Man Effect

the he-man effect by Box Brown

Children of the 80s, 90s, (and let's face it, today) will fondly remember the nostalgic bliss of syndicated cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, My Little Pony, GI Joe, Transformers, and more. Of course, these IPs were really strategically placed advertisements to sell us toys and buy our imaginations. In The He-Man Effect master graphic non-fictionist Box Brown sheds light on these psychological approaches to commercializing the modern child. –Franco Vitella, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: I'm So Happy You're Here

i'm so happy you're here by Liz Climo

On the days when you feel like everything is just hopeless stinkiness, Liz Climo can help. This is a tiny book with a big wallop of comfort and encouragement. Climo's sweet and funny illustrations are the perfect illustrated pep talk antidote to the trials of being alive. -Amy Hartman, Collection Development

Book Jacket: The In-between

the in-between by Hadley Vlahos

Part memoir, part narrative nonfiction this best-selling book is a heartfelt look into the world of a young hospice nurse and the patients she cares for during the dying process. -Adrienne Amborski, Waterville

Book Jacket: Knowing What We Know

knowing what we know by Simon Winchester

From the first encyclopedia to Wikipedia, Winchester shares delightful historical anecdotes examining how we create and share knowledge. With so much instantly available at the touch of a button, the necessity of "knowing things" is evolving. No need for map-reading, math, memorization. As we empty our minds, will we one day be incapable of thoughtfulness? –Amy Hartman, Collection Development

Book Jacket: Life in Five Senses

life in five senses by Gretchen Rubin

Rubin takes us on her journey of "getting out of her head and into the world" by exploring her five senses. Along the way she finds a happier and more mindful life. – Michelle Eggert, Computers and Media

Book Jacket: The Longest Race

the longest race by Kara Goucher

Part memoir of Kara's early life and career, part expose on the questionable and abusive practices of Nike's running team leaders and coach Alberto Salazar, this book is a must read for running enthusiasts of all levels. – Kelsi Roth, Holland

Book Jacket: On Drowning Rats

on drowning rats by Rachel Richardson

Two local authors detail how they removed their harasser from his community positions and give a framework for others struggling with harassment at their jobs. –Melissa Luthman, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: Poverty, by America

poverty, by america by Matthew Desmond

By the time you finish reading this compelling, meticulous, and eminently readable book, you'll not only realize poverty is an even bigger problem in this country than you thought, you'll also realize we're all complicit in various ways. –Eric Pfeffinger, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: Quietly Hostile

quietly hostile by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby is the voice inside my head. So funny, so relatable, so so good. –Allison Fiscus

Book Jacket: Reframe your Brain

reframe your brain by Scott Adams

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams reveals the ultimate operating system for improving nearly every aspect of your life. Consisting of over 150 powerful and counter-intuitive perspective shifters, this book will literally change your life. This is the only self-help book you'll ever need to read. –John Cook, Waterville

Book Jacket: A Rome of One's Own

a rome of one's own by Emma Southon

An engaging history of the Roman Empire for Women. Emma Southon’s A Rome of One’s Own is the best kind of correction. This is a retelling of the history of Rome with all the things Roman history writers relegate to the background, or designate as domestic, feminine, or worthless. This is a history of women who caused outrage, led armies in rebellion, wrote poetry; who lived independently or under the thumb of emperors. –Melissa Luthman, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: Sure, I'll Join your Cult

sure, i'll join your cult by Maria Bamford

Stand-up comedian Maria Bamford would be the first to tell you she’s “not for everybody.” When she combines her seemingly stream of consciousness approach to comedy or her frank (and often hilariously enlightening) talk about mental health and well-being, the results are gold. Readers of the audiobook will be treated to the author’s reading, complete with Maria’s trademark character voices and whispers-to-the-side delivery while text readers get a flavor for that through clever uses of typeface and design. –Jason Kucsma, Administration

Book Jacket: Three Rocks

three rocks by Bill Griffith

Part critical appraisal, part biography, part scrapbook, this is one of the more peculiar books of nonfiction you'll ever read. But then it's a book by the guy who created Zippy the Pinhead, about the guy who cared about exactly how many spikes were on Nancy's hair in each drawing, so peculiar is pretty on-brand. –Eric Pfeffinger, Fact and Fiction

Book Jacket: The Upcycled Self

the upcycled self by Black Thought

Black Thought of The Roots is one of the greatest hip hop MCs of all time and now a great author as well. This book is part memoir and part inspirational guide. –James Keith, Kent

Book Jacket: Where Should We Camp Next?

where should we camp next? by Stephanie Puglisi

Camping and RV Experts Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi were inspired by renewed interest in camping to write two guides to answer the question, "Where should we camp next?" In this National Parks edition, find the best outdoor accommodations for your next trip and cross off all the parks on your bucket list. Get your camp gear ready to go before you check this one out! –Abby Byers, Oregon

ARTICLES FROM OFF THE SHELF WINTER 2024