AFRICAN AMERICAN ISSUES
Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain. Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History for this well-researched and well-written book, Chatelain offers a post‑1960s history of the interrelationship of black communities with McDonald’s and the mixed blessings for Black capitalism.
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb. In this true-crime thriller, a Jack the Ripper-style murderer and trusted physician poisons his lady victims without remorse until newer methods of detection catch up with him. “Effortlessly readable.”
Had I Known: Collected Essays by Barbara Ehrenreich. Selected pieces by the political activist and author of Nickeled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. The winner of the 2021 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, this book will attract readers interested in social justice and in good writing.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les and Tamara Payne. This definitive biography delivers fresh insights into the many facets of Malcolm’s life. “Highest recommendation” (Amazon); winner, 2021 Pulitzer Prize in biography; 2020 National Book Award for non-fiction.
Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang. Yang has collected the stories of some of the many refugees who have landed in the Twin Cities, telling of their struggles to find new lives in a new land.
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. National Book Award finalist Villavicencio offers memory-infused essays on undocumented immigrants’ lives in the U.S., fleshing out for readers the complex narratives of their lived experiences and the impact on their psychological and physical well-being.
Skiing into the Bright Open: My Solo Journey to the South Pole by Liv Arnesen. In 1994, Arnesen made international headlines as the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole. This travel/adventure/memoir explores the author’s outer and inner odyssey.
The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager. This “bewitching” memoir reveals the deeply human side of a renowned MIT astrophysicist—from her deprived childhood, when her fascination with the stars began, through the solace she found in a widow’s group after her husband’s death.
CHILDREN AND TEENS
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo. This medieval tale, by a favorite local author, magically blends love, betrayal, hope, faith and kindness into a heartwarming novel for children (grades 3–6) and for the adults who read to them. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
Bee Love (Can Be Hard) by Alan Page and Kamie Page. When Grandpa was young, he was afraid of bees, that is until he learned about them. Bees are amazing, pollinating powerhouses. This picture book was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Bestselling seven-novel series follows Harry Potter in a struggle against an evil wizard who killed Harry’s parents years ago. Popular with children, teens and adults. DONATIONS FROM AUDREY ESTEBO, EILEEN SMITH AND VICTORIA TIRREL COMPLETE THE LIBRARY’S SET.
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger steps out of Korean folklore, prompting Lily to unravel a family history. Winner of the 2021 Newberry Fiction Award. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. Anne Elliot is brought together with her former fiancé, Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth, seven years after she was persuaded to break the engagement. The scene is set for a second chance at love and marriage. (Published 1817, six months posthumously.)
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. This collection of Papa Hemingway's short fiction contains classic stories like "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," along with seven previously unpublished stories.
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. Published in 1986, this novel depicts PTSD and cultural marginalization on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, and shows how colonization can break the spirit. Native storytelling and ceremony help heal the spirit. Silko is an acclaimed Native American writer.
Aviary by Deirdre McNamer. The author’s newest novel (Milkweed Editions, 2021) is being called a literary thriller that is both funny and serious, exploring in great depth her cast of characters—seniors living in a retirement community. McNamer is a professor of creative writing at the University of Montana. DONATED BY VEENA DEO.
The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel by Pip Williams. Esme is the daughter of one of the lexicographers working on the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. When she learns that many of the discarded words are related to women’s experiences, she sets out to write her very own “dictionary of lost words.” Set at the height of the women’s suffrage movement, with WW I looming. Finalist for the Walter Scott Historical Fiction Award.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. When family tragedy strikes, 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine postpones her dreams of college to look after her fragile mother. She goes undercover for the FBI, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine, to track down the source of drugs that have come into the community. She must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) even if it tears apart her world.
Friend: A Novel from North Korea by Paek Nam-nyong. A tale of marital intrigue, abuse and divorce that unfolds into a broader consideration of love and marriage as it delves into its protagonists’ past, describing how the couple fell in love and then how their marriage deteriorated. It chronicles the toll their acrimony takes on their son and their careers, alongside the story of the divorce judge’s own marital troubles.
Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Vincent is a bartender whose relationship with a white‑collar criminal thrusts her into a charmed existence. When her boyfriend’s Ponzi scheme collapses, she signs up to be a cook on a cargo ship. Mandel focuses on the ease with which a person can slip out of one life and into another.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. In the 1700s, Addie makes a deal with the devil—she will live forever, although her immortality comes with the curse of being forgotten by everyone. Addie moves through time and across continents; learning to survive and even leave her mark on the world. Then one day she meets a man in a bookstore who remembers her name, and suddenly everything changes. Rivals The Time Traveler’s Wife in concept and scope.
Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. Shaara writes a historically accurate account of the pivotal three-day battle at Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863). The epitome of the historical fiction genre, Shaara includes his own interpretation of the private conversations and thoughts of his four principal characters: Generals Lee and Longstreet (Confederate) and General Buford and Colonel Chamberlain (Union), plus a cast of supporting characters. Shaara’s mix of fact and relevant fiction is insightful and riveting. DONATED BY KATIE WEIBLEN.
The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton. A member of the Dutch resistance risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany, a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss, when countries across Europe close their borders to the growing number of refugees.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. A spellbinding tale of psychological suspense about a charismatic professor of Greek tragedy at Cambridge University who’s accused of murdering one of his students.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel by Kawai Strong Washburn. Folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing modern family saga about the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage and the cost of survival. Winner of the 2020 Pen/Hemingway Award.
The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris. Depicts Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction; the tale of two freedmen brothers and the white farmer who hires them.
Telephone: A Novel by Percival Everett. From Graywolf Press comes “part campus novel, part Western adventure,” featuring a protagonist who is a “perpetually dissatisfied geologist/paleobiologist”; his daughter develops mysterious symptoms that he is powerless to resolve. In a quest to deal with loss and grief, he travels to New Mexico to try to find and help whoever has put notes reading “Ayúdame (Help me)” in clothing he buys on eBay. Finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.
Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen. The story of a Vietnamese mother and her two sons who escape by boat to a refugee camp and, eventually, to New Orleans; takes place from 1978 to 2005, ending at the time of Hurricane Katrina. Explores dislocation and resettlement.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. A novel of two sisters, inseparable since birth, who choose to live in two different worlds—one as Black and the other White. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Foods That Fight Cancer by Richard Beliveau, Ph.D. and Dr. Denis Gingras. This book is not only a feast for the eyes but also food for thought. It’s chock-full of practical approaches for harnessing the power of foods to reduce the risk of cancer. The authors have the credentials and have backed up their data with ample references to peer-reviewed journals. SUGGESTED BY A RESIDENT.
The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It by Jason Karlawish. Using case studies, Karlawish treats Alzheimer’s disease with a “big picture” approach, from its history, to the politics involved, to hopeful ways the lives of patients can be made better.
The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War by Malcolm Gladwell. One critic describes this book as “controversial and provocative revisionist history.” Here Gladwell narrates how technological progress and good intentions cause terrible consequences in a war, bringing moral challenges to American military history.
Bull Mountain, Like Lions and Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich. These three sprawling, gritty, tribal, hillbilly noir crime novels are set in a locale awash in moonshine, weed and meth. The characters are rude, crude and socially unacceptable, but totally real. A series as hard to lay down as flypaper. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey. A woman moves to a remote rural community to be closer to her artist son, who is jailed for homicidal negligence. She comes to know her neighbors when she embarks on building a stone labyrinth in an attempt to make sense of the loss and isolation in her life, a plan that will require her to trust and to reckon with her past. The Labyrinth is a story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children. It is also an examination of how art can be ruthlessly destructive and restorative. Winner of the 2021 Miles Franklin Award for Australian Literature. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel by Laura Dave. A gripping mystery about a woman who thinks she has found the love of her life until he disappears. With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists and evocative family drama, this riveting mystery is certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
Lightning Strike: A Novel by William Kent Krueger. This St. Paul mystery writer returns with the latest entry in his Cork O’Connor series. Even better, it’s a welcome prequel to this immensely popular series. Not only the expected page-turner, it’s a look at the Ojibwe people and the historic oppression endured at the hands of Whites. The book is sure to inspire fans to re-read the entire series with a new perspective. DONATED BY A RESIDENT.
The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny. Readers of Penny’s Gamache mysteries will enjoy the latest series installment’s return to the fictional Quebec village of Three Pines, not far from the Vermont border. The Times of London hails it as “an exploration of cowardice and courage in the service of Peace.” DONATED BY VEENA DEO (#17 in the series).
Murder Past Due by Miranda James. Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows librarian Charlie Harris and his rescued Maine Coon cat. He’s returned to his hometown, and soon he’s entangled in a real-life murder mystery of a former classmate. Now he must explore the town’s past to find a killer. (#1 in the Cat in the Stacks series) DONATED BY EILEEN SMITH.
The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. A whodunit with a surreal twist! Every day our narrator wakes up in a different body belonging to someone at an ill-fated party where Evelyn Hardcastle gets murdered every night until the mystery of her death is solved. If you ever wanted the Netflix series Russian Doll to have a baby with the film Gosford Park, this is for you. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cody. Two men—one Black, one White and both ex-cons—are the fathers of two men who were married to each other and were just murdered; the fathers join together to find the killers. Gritty; getting great reviews. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty. The author is a 16-year-old nature writer and climate activist from County Down, Ireland. This 2021 work published by Milkweed Editions is being received as a transformative memoir beautifully written. Winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing. DONATED BY VEENA DEO.
Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. This revolutionary and controversial memoir convincingly portrays the lives of trees, from their evolution to understanding them as part of an intelligent community.
The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman. The youngest inaugural poet for President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, Gorman now has a special-edition book of her inspired poem. The poet implores for unity amid enormous divisions in this country.
Worldly Things by Michael Kleber-Diggs. This debut volume by a St. Paul poet offers clear‑eyed yet warmhearted poems that reflect the difficult truths Black families live through. He shows that community can be created if we treat each other with dignity and care.
WRITING AND READING
Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader by Vivian Gornick. “I sometimes think I was born reading.” In this appealing essay/memoir, Gornick explores the evolving relationship between book and reader, combining original interpretations with self-exploration. A must for the chronic readers and re-readers among us.
September 27, 2021