Originally published in: 2017
What it’s about: The last living dinosaur and the little girl who lives next door and is trying to prove he exists.
What made me pick it up: A coworker gave this five stars on Goodreads so I had to see what all the fuss was about.
My favorite parts: No one has ever really noticed a dinosaur living nearby. Why not? Because they are too busy! It was a gentle reminder to look up once in a while and really notice what’s going on around you. You might see a dinosaur! I also like the tenacity of the little girl. No one believes the dinosaur she keeps talking about exists but she doesn’t give up. Parts of this are hysterical and I won’t ruin the dinosaur’s best joke for you. It’s more illustration heavy than text heavy, which is perfect for beginning or struggling readers. And for avid or older readers, it goes very quickly. I finished it in like 20 minutes tops. Then I immediately checked it out to Abby. It’s so good it must be shared.
Who it’s great for: All ages, but especially curious, imaginative, and/or literacy-challenged young readers.
Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Originally published in: 2015
What it’s about: A chronically drunk punk in his late twenties goes on a quest to eat every pizza in Manhattan and blog about it. His love for New York deepens and he finds meaning for himself and reasons to sober up along the way.
What made me pick it up: Erica left this on my desk for me because I talk about eating pizza a lot.
My favorite things: Okay look, I didn’t grow up in New York so I don’t think that they have the greatest pizza on Earth, but at some points he almost had me convinced. Hagendorf strikes a good balance between backstory, pizza reviews, and the Harvesting experience. He’s self-deprecating but fun.
Who it’s great for: Fans of food memoirs. People with strong opinions about pizza. Greaseballs, dirtbags, true weirdos, and the people that love them.
Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.
Originally published in: 2017
What it’s about: An 85-year-old woman walks around New York City on New Year’s Eve 1984 reminiscing about her 60 years there.
What made me pick it up: It got really good reviews. It had good cover art.
My favorite things: This book wonderfully balances the present Lillian’s experiences in 1980s NYC and Lillian from times gone by. I really liked the spirit of the character – an independent woman when that was still a difficult thing to be, who gets caught off guard by unexpected love, and then sidetracked completely by mental illness. She is feisty and strong and I appreciated her attitude and her indomitable will. You’ll want to be friends with Lillian Boxfish.
Who it’s great for: Fans of New York City. Anyone who has had a feisty grandmother whom they love. Readers looking for a strong female lead and a historical bent in their next novel.
Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.
Originally published in: 2011
What it’s about: Perfectly mediocre Mark Spitz is part of a small civilian zombie hunting unit tasked with clearing the dead from Long Island. (No, not the Mark Spitz. Although the reference is intentional.)
What made me pick it up: I got impatient waiting for my hold on Whitehead’s National Book Award-winning latest novel, The Underground Railroad, so I grabbed one of his earlier books. I had actually forgotten this one was about zombies.
My favorite things: Whitehead somehow wrote literary fiction about zombies. He asks a lot of interesting questions about what it really means to live in the post-apocalypse having experienced what came before. The characters are plagued by PASD (post-apocalyptic stress disorder), and Whitehead uses his dark humor to consider the emotional and mental toll taken on the zombie hunting survivors. Despite the fact that this is a book about killing zombies, it feels like its about something much more human.
Who it’s great for: Zombie aficionados looking for something a little bit different. Horror fans. Literary readers who want to ease into genre reading.