Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A list of books that the author feels will help you live better.

What made me pick it up: I had read Schwalbe’s first book, The End of Your Life Book Club, and enjoyed it so I picked this up.

My favorite things: As a librarian I am always interested in what books other people enjoy reading. This list is highly engaging and definitely added titles to my to-read pile. I like how he matched each book to a life lesson it helped him with, and teases just enough of a book to make you want to go pull it off the shelf and see for yourself.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Schwalbe. Book lovers. Those who enjoy books about books. Anyone curious about what someone else likes to read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find The End of Your Life Book Club and Books for Living on Amazon (affiliate links) or at your local library.


The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

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Originally published in: 2008

What it’s about: This is a nearly comprehensive collection of Bechdel’s syndicated strip that ran from the mid 1980’s-2008. It follows a group of politically engaged friends, almost exclusively lesbians, as they navigate societal and personal drama.

What made me pick it up: Although this has been out for nearly a decade, it was new to our library, and I’m a big fan of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs Fun Home and Are you My Mother?

My favorite things: I enjoyed reading this as a sort of queer retrospective on political history from the mid-80’s through the 2008 election. Bechdel’s characters are fun but complicated and both lovable and frustrating.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Bechdel’s other works. Committed Doonesbury readers.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon or see if it’s available at a library near you.


The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Luna is stolen from her mother before she can walk and is rescued and lovingly raised raised by a witch who unintentionally grants her magic. She helps to unravel truth from the lies that mirror it in a battle that pits love and compassion against sorrow and violence.

What made me pick it up: This is the winner of the most recent Newbery Medal – I added it to my TBR list as soon as the award was announced.

My favorite things: The family Luna knows and loves is charming in their absurdity; an ancient witch who is feared and loved and, above all else, misunderstood; a perfectly tiny dragon with the capacity to become simply enormous if only he were ready to grow up; and a bog monster older than time who speaks almost exclusively in poetry. I love Barnhill’s whimsical style and it is sure to help young readers expand their vocabularies.

Who it’s great for: Middle grade and younger readers who like fantasy and can handle a bit of darkness. Those looking for strong female characters will find many here to inspire.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book of poems written in the style of famous poets to celebrate those poets’ work.

What made me pick it up: I had read two of Alexander’s other books and enjoyed them so when I saw he was releasing this project I put my name on the list.

My favorite things: The illustrations in here are amazingly vibrant, not surprisingly since Ekua Holmes’ first illustration project was given a Caldecott Honor in 2016. These images manage to channel each poet just as much as the writing does. And the writing is quite good. I wasn’t familiar with all the poets but the ones I was, I can say for certain that these tribute poems are well done and match the style.

Who it’s great for: Young readers who want to know more about poetry and poets. Fans of exquisite illustrations.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


Reality is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Physics. Historical developments, current view, and future speculations.

What made me pick it up: I’m a bit of a physics reading bender right now. I had read and enjoyed Rovelli’s previous book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, so when I saw this was coming out I placed a hold.

My favorite things: This book has a great audio reader, which makes it all the more accessible. I enjoy this author’s books because I come away actually knowing and understanding more about physics. Both the history of the science and discoveries in it but also current concepts and research. It can be a little mind bending but the way concepts are explained makes sense and it makes it more acceptable that time doesn’t exist.

Who it’s great for: Citizen scientists. Anyone who wants interesting facts to share at dinner parties. The generally curious.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get Seven Brief Lessons On Physics and Reality Is Not What It Seems on Amazon (affiliate links) or at your local library.


 

Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Never Caught tells the story of Ona Judge’s time as a woman enslaved by George Washington, her escape from the President’s home, and the rest of her life as a fugitive.

What made me pick it up: I first read about Ona Judge in the YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalist In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth Davis. When I saw an entire book dedicated to her I knew I needed to know more.

My favorite things: This is a compelling read that is never dry. Dunbar seamlessly weaves Judge’s own account with other recorded details from history to create a well contextualized and more comprehensive report. Dunbar repeatedly reminds her readers that no matter how “good” or “kind” slaveholders were or tried to be toward the people they enslaved, those that they considered property would choose freedom of any kind every time they could.

Who it’s great for: Teens and adults interested in learning more about the reality of slavery and the lives of the fugitives who escaped during the early days of the United States. Readers who struggle to engage with nonfiction and history will appreciate Dunbar’s style of narrative nonfiction.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: What happens lives and drama of suburban teens accidentally collide with the world of superheroes and the larger battle between good and evil?

What made me pick it up: I make sure to scoop of anything I see by Jeff Lemire, and this one is new to our library.

My favorite things: Lemire has a gift for creating believable teens and he does it with such care and understanding that it’s nearly impossible to hold their faults against them. I love the peek we get into Plutona’s life- a single mom and superhero struggling to find a sustainable work-life balance.

Who it’s great for: Fans of  all things superhero. Readers who loved Paper Girls. Older teens who want both realistic fiction and superheroes in action.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A touching picture book about one refugee family’s experience fleeing their home, and the even more unbelievable story of the cat they took with them.

What made me pick it up: It was on a list of children’s books about refugees and as a cat person it piqued my interest so I placed it on hold.

My favorite things: This book beautifully illustrates the hardships that face many families fleeing areas of the world like Syria. I may have been having an emotional day, but it brought me to tears how much something so universal as the love of a pet helped bring people together across countries to reunite this pet with his family.

Who it’s great for: Young readers who want to learn more about refugees. Cat lovers. Those who want a perfect example of how much good there is in the world.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find Lost and Found Cat on Amazon (affiliate link) or at your local library.