Check It Out Category: Books

Winter Reading Ideas: Chosen Family Stories

Chosen family stories

Chosen families happen for a variety of reasons, but they always have very special and unique bonds. We’ve collected a bunch of stories that explore chosen families. These books show how diverse the idea of family can be. As these are fictional stories, there are some truly magical selected families as well as self-styled families that can be found in present day or in the past. Choose your pick of a chosen family story!

 

 

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

An award-winning Trinidadian author offers a novel that looks at a complicated marriage, an unconventional family and the shocking secrets that unite them.

Strong Sense of Place; Lyrical

 

 

 

Little Family by Ishmael Beah

A powerful novel about young people in a conflict-scarred land, struggling to replace the homes they have lost with the one they have created together.

Atmospheric; Complex

 

 

 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place-and realizing that family is yours.

Heartwarming; Witty

 

 

In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

A woman in mid-20th-century rural North Carolina, determined to live on her own terms in spite of community gossip, finds unexpected support from a veteran fixer who struggles with an inability to correct his own troubled past.

Historical Fiction; Well-Crafted Dialogue

 

 

My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy

A group of New England islanders come together for a recently orphaned girl, an act that reveals the power of community, as well as dredges up long-buried secrets.

Character-driven; Melancholy

 

 

 

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

Enduring the rampant violence against women and the LGBTQ community in the decades of the Uruguayan dictatorship, five women heartbreakingly unite as lovers, friends and family.

Dramatic; Lush

 

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

After getting dumped by her husband, a woman sets out to prove her worth by entering a ‘best housewife’ pageant in 1970 Palm Springs.

Humorous; Engaging

Winter Reading Ideas: Best Books of 2020

Best Books of 2020 Best Books of 2020

We sifted through a great many of the Best Books of 2020 opinions that have been making the rounds and put some of the more frequent fliers on this curated Best Books of 2020 list. Featured below are some of the books that our staff have heard rave reviews about as well as those consistently on those Best Of indexes!

Deacon King Kong book cover

 

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters.

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family book cover

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

Tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

 

Transcendent Kingdom book cover

 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice.

 

Blacktop Wasteland book cover

 

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Compelled by poverty to agree to a lucrative final heist that will allow him to go straight, a skilled getaway driver finds his efforts complicated by racial dynamics and the ghosts of his past.

 

The Cold Millions book cover

 

The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Enduring a harsh existence as day laborers, orphaned brothers Gig and Rye Dolan are drawn to a feminist activist and a vaudeville singer whose experiences reflect an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

 

 

The City We Became book cover

 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.

 

 

The Only Good Indians book cover

 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

 

Party of Two book cover

 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Going against her better judgement, LA lawyer Olivia Monroe secretly starts dating a hotshot junior senator until their romance is made public and her life falls under intense media scrutiny, jeopardizing everything.

Winter Reading: Social Justice

social justice social justice

Books are a great entry point in learning about social fairness and equality. Social justice is a topic that is broad, diverse, and features subjects that help us reflect upon the society in which we live, learning about experiences different from our own. Issues of social justice are found in many subject areas that may be explored within both fiction and nonfiction. Browse a curated list of books on Social Justice, or look below for some quick recommendations. Any of these would be ideal for your own reading exploration or for the optional mini reading challenge on Social Justice for Winter Reading!

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground book cover

 

A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott

A personal meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America, in an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America.

 

 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman book cover

 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen

A popular BuzzFeed columnist examines the phenomenon of popular provocative womanhood to discuss the rise of such counterculture stars as Amy Schumer, Nicki Minaj and Caitlyn Jenner, exploring why they are popular in spite of negative behaviors and what makes and breaks today’s divas.

 

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City book cover

 

Five Days: the Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore

An account of the 2015 police-brutality killing of Freddie Gray retraces key events from the perspectives of seven insiders, including a conflicted Baltimore Police Department captain, the victim’s sister and the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

 

 

we cast a shadow book cover

 

We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In a near-future South where an increasing number of people with dark skin endure cosmetic procedures to pass as white, a father embarks on an obsessive quest to protect his son, who bears a dark, spreading birthmark.

 

 

Good Kings Bad Kings book cover

 

Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

The residents at a facility for disabled young people in Chicago build trust and make friends in an effort to fight against their living conditions and mistreatment in this debut novel from the playwright behind “Mishuganismo”.

 

 

Please See Us book cover

 

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

 

 

1919 book cover

 

1919 by Eve Ewing

Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, and illuminates the thin line between the past and the present.

 

 

 

Join in on the Winter Reading fun on Beanstack!

justice

Winter Reading Ideas: New Fiction in January

New Fiction in January

New year, new fiction! Start 2021 with some fresh new reads and with Warm Up With Reading, our Winter Reading program. There’s a “read what you like” route as well as an optional mini reading challenge. We also have a larger list of new fiction in January and, as always, you may contact us at readers@mppl.org for personalized reading suggestions!

Yellow Wife book cover

 

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Born on a plantation but set apart from the others by her mother’s position as a medicine woman, a young slave is forced to leave home at 18 and unexpectedly finds herself in an infamously cruel jail.

 

 

Prodigal Son book cover

 

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz, 6th book in Orphan X series

Retiring from his Nowhere Man activities in exchange for an unofficial pardon, former government assassin Evan Smoak is entreated by a unlikely client to help rescue a fellow orphan from a dangerous foster home.

 

 

Black Buck book cover

 

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

An unambitious college graduate accepts a job at Sumwun, the hottest NYC startup, and reimagines himself as “Buck” a ruthless salesman and begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force.

 

 

The Prophets book cover

 

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. 

Two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation find refuge in each other while transforming a quiet shed into a haven for their fellow slaves, before an enslaved preacher declares their bond sinful.

 

 

The House on Vesper Sands book cover

 

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

A Victorian-inspired supernatural mystery follows the experiences of a Cambridge dropout and his savvy detective partner, who connect a paramour’s disappearance to a bizarre suicide.

 

 

Siri, Who Am I? book cover

 

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida

Waking from a coma with no memory of who she is, a wealthy millennial tries to piece together her identity through her social-media activity before following leads to a billionaire’s home and the site of a suspicious accident.

 

 

Across the Green Grass Fields book cover

 

Across The Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, 6th book in Wayward Children series

Regan passes through a mysterious doorway before finding herself in a fantastical world of magical equines who expect humans to step up as heroes.

 

 

Nick book cover

 

Nick by Michael Farris Smith

A tale inspired by Fitzgerald’s famous narrator imagines the life of Nick Carraway before Gatsby, depicting a war-traumatized, heavily drinking man who embarks on a doomed journey of redemption from Paris to New Orleans.

 

Winter Reading Ideas: Staff Favorites of 2020

FAVT Staff Favorites 2020 header

We would not dream of celebrating the start of a new year without first cheering the reads that proved exciting company during the last. Choose one of these 2020 staff favorites to kick off your own Winter Reading season, and let us know if you agree! Most are available in both physical and digital collections. Contact us for help with access or to request a title hand-picked just for you.

 Top Favorite!
House in the Cerulean Sea book coverLiz, Al, Denise, and Kelda recommend
The House in the Cerulean Sea
TJ Klune

Vanished Birds book coverAl recommends
Vanished Birds 
Simon Jimenez
Witch Hat Atelier book coverAbby recommends
Witch Hat Atelier series
Kamome Shirahama
Dont Go Without Me book coverJohn recommends
Don’t Go Without Me
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
From Scratch book coverJenny recommends
From Scratch
Tembi Locke
Frankly in Love book coverAndrea recommends
Frankly in Love
David Yoon
When All Is Said book coverLaura recommends
When All Is Said
Anne Griffin
Foul Is Fair book coverCathleen recommends
Foul Is Fair
Hannah Capin
Anxious People book coverDenise recommends
Anxious People
Fredrik Backman
narrated by Marin Ireland
Sellout book coverChelsea recommends
The Sellout
Paul Beatty

 

Nothing to See Here book coverNancy recommends
Nothing to See Here
Kevin Wilson
narrated by Marin Ireland
House in the Cerulean Sea book coverAndrea recommends
Stamped
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
narrated by Jason Reynolds
Ninth House book coverLiz recommends
Ninth House
Leigh Bardugo

 

Leave the World Behind book coverKelda recommends
Leave the World Behind
Rumaan Alam
narrated by Marin Ireland
Slaughter House-Five book coverJohn recommends
Slaughterhouse-Five
Ryan North
illustrated by Albert Monteys
story by Kurt Vonnegut
Charming as a Verb book coverJenny recommends
Charming as a Verb
Ben Philippe