AFRICAN AMERICAN ISSUES
The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander. A touching meditation in essays about the pressures on young black boys growing up in the last 25 years, this book expands Alexander’s widely read essay first published in The New Yorker.
Watershed: Attending to Body and Earth in Distress by Ranae Lenor Hanson. [Minnesota Book Award winner, St. Anthony Park author.] Meditation connecting the health of the individual and the health of the ecosystem; follows the streams and tributaries that connect us to each other, especially in the life stories of climate refugee Minnesotans.
Self, Divided by John Medeiros. MN Book Awards Finalist—a lyrical memoir from a MN lawyer of his journey through a tough childhood, HIV/AIDS, participation in an NIH gene therapy study exploring the dysfunctional but enduring connection with his twin.
James Patterson: the Stories of My Life by James Patterson. The master storyteller takes his readers on an amazing life journey--almost died at birth, worked in a mental hospital as a young man, never intended to write, yet hopes to write the "perfect novel."
Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South by Winfred Rembert as told to Erin I. Kelly. This is a Pulitzer Prize in Biography winner story of a well-known artist’s life in Georgia cotton fields, the civil rights movement, his almost lynching, and prison chain gang experience. He begins painting at 52.
His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa. Two WAPO reporters fill in the life behind the 2020 Floyd murder tragedy--tracing his roots through slavery, sharecropping, segregated education, and connecting his life to American crises in housing, criminal justice and policing.
ESSAYS AND COLUMNS
Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South by Margaret Renkl. Essays here span 2017-2020--a challenging time politically, socially with the pandemic taking center stage. Renkl offers voices from the new south and reminds us there is not just one South we think we know. DONATED BY VEENA DEO.
The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad. Sent back to his birthplace - Lahore’s notorious red-light district - to hush up the murder of a girl, a man finds himself in an unexpected reckoning with his past.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The celebrated classic imagines a future society where firemen burn books to prevent people from thinking. This 60th Anniversary edition is augmented with essays by the author and other contributors.
Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close. An irresistible comedy of manners about three generations of a Chicago restaurant family and the love that binds them. Outrageously funny and astute.
Chéri and The End of Chéri by Colette. A poignant analysis of the relationship between a young man and an older woman, related with Colette’s signature style and lack of sentimentality. In a new, “admirable” translation; a preface reveals the extent of her cultural importance in France.
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley. One night in New York’s Chinatown, a young woman runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And...another. Nothing is quite what it seems in this comic, psychological thriller with a surrealist twist.
The Green Road by Anne Enright. The four children of Rosaleen Madigan grow up, and find separate lives, until their mother calls them home again to Christmas in Dublin, where they must face her, and their pasts.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. In 1960s America, chemist Elizabeth Zott can’t find a science lab that will accept her. Unwittingly, she becomes the television star of a popular cooking show, and uses this platform as an outlet for her scientific dreams.
The Old Woman with the Knife by Gu Gyeong-mo. At age 65, everyone expects Hornclaw to retire and live quietly with her dog as companion, but Hornclaw is an assassin, with her own ideas for her senior years. A Korean bestseller.
The Last Gift by Abdulrazak Gurnah. This is the story of Abbas, who fled his East African native country, always to long for it but never to return. Powerful plot and prose from a Nobel Prize winner.
Verity by Colleen Hoover. This suspenseful thriller from a NYT best-selling author features Verity, a popular author, her husband, and a struggling writer who is hired to complete Verity’s latest series. Uh-oh, a ménage-à-trois. All cannot go well!
The Barrens: A Novel of Love and Death in the Canadian Arctic by Kurt Johnson and Ellie Johnson. This father-and-daughter team of Minnesota authors collaborates to tell the story of Ellie’s real-life experiences. The novel is both an adventure story and a coming-of-age tale.
The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin. Through the story of Primrose Hill, a dusty bookshop in the heart of London, Martin shows the power of books, reading, and community. A fresh take on WWII London during the Blitz.
The Colony by Audrey McGee. In the summer of 1979, a Frenchman and an Englishman bring conflict and confusion to residents of this small island off Ireland’s coast at a dark time in Irish history. A novel told with honesty and humor.
Rizzio: A Novella by Denise Mina. An award-winning crime novelist takes us into the world of 16th century Scotland, recounting the events leading to the shocking and brutal murder of David Rizzio – private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots – by a group of assassins.
True Biz by Sara Novic. This bestselling novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf. Personal and political crises arise that will bind three central characters together and change their lives forever.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw. In this story collection, four generations of Black women and girls grapple with conflicts between their own desires and the church’s double standards. Winner of the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award; finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for fiction.
West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Based on a true story of Depression Era America, two giraffes survive an Atlantic hurricane and are transported in a modified pickup truck to the San Diego Zoo, making headlines and changing lives along their path. DONATED BY JEAN ALEXANDER.
The Poet’s House by Jean Thompson. A warm and witty story of a young woman caught up in the dramatic lives of a group of writers. Funny and affirming look at the art world.
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty. From her life in Chicago, Laurel returns to Mississippi to bury her father, traveling with her younger stepmother. She remembers the love, friendship, and heartbreak of her life there, and gains new understanding and respect for herself.
The Black Cake: A Novel by Charmaine Wilkerson. Eleanor’s children learn why their late mother fled to the U.S. from her island home, and explore the secrets revealed in her traditional Caribbean black cake recipe, challenging their understanding of their family and themselves.
FOOD AND COOKING
More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin. Food writing at its best—part memoir, part cookbook and part essay. Colwin, who wrote for The New Yorker and Gourmet, is funny, unpretentious and insightful.
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris. As the world in 2020 settles into a new reality, David Sedaris discovers unexpected, hilarious, and poignant experiences during the Pandemic. Sedaris continues to delight his readers with this collection of personal essays.
Sparring Partners by John Grisham. Large Print. In these three novellas, “by turns suspenseful, hilarious, powerful, and moving,” you will find some of Grisham’s best stories. DONATED BY CAROL VAN WHY.
MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Beating Brain Fog: Your 30 Day-Plan to Think Faster by Sabrina Brennan. A Neuroscientist guides the reader through the science to show how our brains work and how we might avoid experiencing confusion and anxiety.
Settler Colonial City: Racism and Inequity in Postwar Minneapolis by David Hugill. Hognander Minnesota History Award winner, this study illustrates how racial hierarchies of settler colonialism are baked into the urban landscape of Minneapolis. It shows how Minneapolis’s past and present legacies defy its liberal reputation.
Confluence: A History of Fort Snelling by Hampton Smith. Winner of the Emilie Buchwald Award, this powerful history of Fort Snelling covers the Fort’s construction, its role as an outpost, its inhabitants, its evolution with the Cities, and its role in two world wars.
The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci. Baldacci creates a complex character, Travis Devine. The setting is a New York City investment house where mystery is piled upon mystery. Its rapidly moving plot has more turns than a bag of licorice twists. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill. A journalist is murdered in the Boston Public Library, and a mystery writer finds herself caught up in a real-life mystery.
The Berlin Exchange by Joseph Kanon. After 15 years, Keller is surprised to be part of a 1963 prisoner exchange that frees him into East Germany – why does someone think he is valuable? The answer provides an exciting glimpse into Cold War espionage.
Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger. This latest Cork O’Connor mystery pits Cork and Henry Meloux against bloodthirsty mercenaries hunting a strange woman in need of Meloux’s help. DONATED BY RICHARD ZEYEN.
The Oxford Brotherhood by Guillermo Martinez. An Argentinian narrator with the Lewis Carroll Brotherhood and a hired intern, while seeking to answer an old question about the famous author, find their digging has incited murder. This is the second title in the Oxford Murders series.
A Killing in November by Simon Mason. This Oxford thriller brings features of a Christie classic into the 21st century. What was a dead woman doing in the Provost's study, on the night when the college was entertaining an abusive Gulf state ruler?
Shadows of Men by Amir Mukherjee. A mystery set in 1920’s Calcutta featuring police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee shows a great grasp of the social mores of British and Indians during the Raj period.
The Maid by Nita Prose. A cozy whodunit featuring a unique young hotel maid with poor social skills who has an obsessive love of cleaning and etiquette. After discovering a dead guest, she finds herself the lead suspect in a police investigation.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Oxford is full of memories and threats of murder for Harriet Vane as she returns for her reunion. Her life threatened, she calls upon Lord Peter Wimsey for assistance in this classic Sayers mystery. DONATED BY MARGARET GREEN.
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. Mystery writer Harriet Vane is uncomfortably conversant in poisons and on trial for her lover’s murder. The police think they have an ironclad case, but amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey is determined to prove her innocent. DONATED BY EILEEN SMITH.
The Chuckling Fingers by Mabel Seeley. Rediscover a fine Minnesota mystery author in this Depression-era tale of a wealthy family’s dark secrets turning deadly on their secluded Lake Superior estate. Voted Mystery of the Year in 1941. DONATED BY FAYE HEROLD.
The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear. Among the stronger volumes in the popular Maisie Dobbs series. Set in London in 1941, the novel skillfully intertwines Maisie’s personal conflicts with the ongoing challenges of World War II while evoking parallels with our current climate of fear.
Sand County Almanac: And Sketches of Here and There by Aldo Leopold and Barbara Kingsolver. Widely considered a classic on ecology and the environment. Leopold records closely his farm and landscape in Wisconsin, his travels throughout the world, emphasizing the need for human care of the natural world.
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make our World by Merlin Sheldrake. Sheldrake writes as a scientist with the heart of a poet. This book beautifully reveals how mycelium—the fungal network--manipulates the natural world. This invigorating book helps us see how nature and society intersect.
The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: Poems by Joy Harjo. A world broken by cultural genocide, “…is also the land of miracles.” Using Native American myths and prayers, Harjo shows how “[m]emory cannot be broken by violent history.” She explains the occasion for each poem. DONATED BY CAROL VAN WHY
The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón. This is about interconnectedness. She wonders, “What … if we used our bodies to bargain // for the safety of others, for earth?”; offers fresh imagery: bees wear “thick knitted leg warmers / of pollen.” DONATED BY CAROL VAN WHY.
The Hurting Kind: Poems by Ada Limón. Limón writes about loss; shows how observation of the natural world can give our lives meaning; and moments most of us pass by define us. She wants to make “untuned music even death cannot deny.” DONATED BY VEENA DEO.
Oblivion Banjo: The Poetry of Charles Wright by Charles Wright. Stunningly beautiful, imagistic poems catch the truth behind existence made impossible because no language can contain it; it remains an incomprehensible mystery: “If there is one secret to this life, it is this life.” DONATED BY CAROL VAN WHY.
The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel Pink. Pink helps readers see that “no regrets” is not a way to live. Instead, the NYT bestseller helps us see how regret can propel us into happier, more productive, and principled lives.
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong. Every species lives in a unique sensory bubble that it uses to make sense of the world. Yong explores these sensory bubbles and examines how human’s sensory bubbles have impacted other species.
Border Crossings: A Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway by Emma Fick. This illustrated travelogue explores the history and mythology of the great railway as we travel with artist/illustrator Emma Fick on her journey from Beijing through Mongolia to Moscow.
How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them by Barbara F. Walter. As democracies across the world backslide and citizens become polarized, civil wars will become widespread and longer than in the past. This urgent and important book shows us a path back toward peace.
September 3, 2022