Welcome to PCRBPL Book Picks!
By Patty Monaghan
Welcome to PCRBPL Book Picks, the official blog of the Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library! Have you ever had trouble finding the perfect book to read? Do you want to explore genres that are new to you? Are you looking to discover a new favorite author? We’ve got the book picks for you!
Every month, Reference Librarian Patty Monaghan will recommend intriguing books to fulfill the wants, needs, and interests of the beautiful communities we serve. We look forward to becoming your go-to book recommendation station. Happy reading!
Something Witchy This Way Comes
By Patty Monaghan
Spooky season may be coming to an end, but the chilly autumn days ahead are ideal for stories brimming with witchcraft. From gothic historical fiction to fantastical romance, these four works
of spellbinding fiction revolve around witches and the magical mystique that accompanies them.
Enchanted to Meet You by Meg Cabot
Meet the ever unpopular Jessica Gold, a plus-size witch from the village of West Harbor who is frowned upon by the snobby townsfolk and banned from the World Council of Witches for a long-ago spell gone wrong. When sinister otherworldly forces threaten to overtake West Harbor, however, it is up to Jessica and a handsome stranger named Derrick Winters to save the village. As their unexpected collaboration blossoms into love, Jessica must choose between trusting Derrick and protecting herself from potential heartbreak.
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
It is 1821, and the Montrose family has just fled Boston in the wake of a scandal. Their safe haven is Willow Hall, a seemingly idyllic country estate. Before long, a subtle menace containing remnants of the home’s dark history begins to seep through the walls. Quiet terrors prey on the three Montrose daughters, irrevocably changing them all by forcing them to confront powers they never knew they possessed. This gripping novel by Hester Fox will keep readers entranced until the final page.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
When graduate student Connie Goodwin is put in charge of selling her late grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, the last thing she expects to find is an ancient key hidden inside a Bible from the 17th century. This mysterious discovery launches Connie on a fascinating quest that dates back to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. As pieces of her family’s haunting history begin to fall into place, Connie fears that she may be more connected to Salem’s dark past than she could have ever imagined.
The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab
For Lexi, the tale of the Near Witch has always been a bedtime story told to frighten children. When the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, Lexi begins to wonder if there are hidden truths about the fabled Near Witch. As the search for the missing children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to learn about the witch. What she discovers along the way will fill readers with thrills and chills. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman will be utterly captivated by this incredibly well-written debut that is equal parts fairy tale, love story, and mystery.
Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!
By Patty Monaghan
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15th to October 15th in order to honor the cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans throughout history. Spice up your celebrations by trying out some mouthwatering recipes from these delectable cookbooks. Better yet, pair your meal with a film or documentary from Kanopy’s Hispanic Heritage Month collection.
Black Rican Vegan: Fire Plant-Based Recipes from a Bronx Kitchen by Lyana Blount
In this new and noteworthy cookbook, Lyana Blount puts a vegan twist on the dishes she grew up eating in her Puerto Rican and Black household. Sixty incredible recipes are included, from birria tacos and beefless guisado to plátano tostadas and pastelón. Don’t be surprised if Blount’s ingenious plant-based swaps become new dinnertime staples for you and your family.
Mexican food is a beloved cuisine in millions of American households. Learn how to transform your Tex-Mex cooking from appetizing to amazing with the recipes and wisdom of the Enchilada Queen herself, Sylvia Casares. In this incredible resource that will inspire hundreds of family dinners, Casares shares the simple tricks and techniques behind her famous sauces, fillings, seasoning blends, and side dishes.
Explore the exotic flavors of Mexico’s regional cooking without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen. A leading authority in vegan Mexican cuisine, Executive Chef Jason Wyrick shares over 100 plant-based recipes that capture the essence of Mexico’s diverse regions, from Oaxaca and Veracruz to Baja and Distrito Federal. Standouts include sweet potato corn cakes with lentil tinga; tofu and tortillas in red salsa; smoked and grilled seitan in pumpkin seed tomato sauce; and flan with apricot preserves.
Summer Reading Bingo Recommendations
By Patty Monaghan
It’s not too late to register and complete our Adult & Teen Summer Reading Bingo program! If you’re seeking recommendations to help fulfill the prompts on your Bingo Board, look no further than these four outstanding titles. Don’t hesitate to visit the Information Desk for more suggestions from our wonderful staff!
Camera Girl: The Coming of Age of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
Set primarily between 1949-1953, this illuminating new biography of the young Jackie Bouvie Kennedy sheds light on her late college years and early adulthood as a writer and photographer for a Washington, D.C. newspaper. Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian and leading expert on First Ladies, explores previously unseen archives of Jackie’s writings from this formative time in her life. Also included are valuable insights gleaned from interviews Anthony conducted with Jackie’s friends, colleagues, and family members.
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
For the first time in years, the Darker family has assembled at the family matriarch’s crumbling gothic house on a cozy tidal island. When the tide rolls in, they are stranded from the mainland for eight hours. At the stroke of midnight, the eldest Darker relative turns up dead. Trapped, the rest of the family must figure out who among them is a murderer. This outstandingly twisty mystery by bestselling author Alice Feeney is fast-paced, atmospheric, and utterly unforgettable.
Weyward by Emilia Hart
Debut author Emilia Hart tells a spellbinding story of female endurance, hidden power, and magic in this brilliant and exhilarating work of literary fiction. Mystical witchcraft and dark secrets are the primary themes in this enthralling read that weaves together the experiences of three extraordinary women across five centuries. Hart’s stunning ability to combine the natural world with a fantastical legacy is at once brave, intricate, and completely unique.
A Short History of Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce by Massimo Montanari
Coming in at just over 100 pages, this bite-sized work of nonfiction traces the history of one of the world’s most beloved dishes. An esteemed scholar of agriculture and nutrition, author Massimo Montanari examines the intricate histories of each ingredient that is used to create this timeless meal. The result of his outstanding research will take readers on an incredible culinary adventure while also providing them with a new and fascinating perspective on cultural identity.
By Patty Monaghan
Summer is here, which means it’s time for beach read recommendations! Whether you’re basking in the summer sun or pulling up a seat in front of the air conditioner, we guarantee that these terrific books will keep you hooked for hours on end. Pour a glass of your favorite iced beverage, and get ready to read!
Don’t want to lug around a physical book on your summer vacation? Check out hoopla’s Summer Road Trip and Summer Sci Fi e-book collections! Additionally, cool down by binge-watching your way through Kanopy’s Summer Reading from Book to Screen catalog.
The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray
A summer house party transforms into a thrilling whodunit in this brilliantly imagined locked-room murder mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary couples. When the notorious Mr. Wickham turns up dead, it’s only a matter of time until the homicidal house guest is discovered. Author Claudia Gray’s storytelling is sharp and mesmerizing, thus creating a fast-paced reading experience that fans of Agatha Christie will thoroughly enjoy.
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
In the summer of 1945, best friends Marjorie Hart and Marty Garrett arrived in New York City from the University of Iowa determined to find summer jobs as shopgirls. When they are hired as the first women to ever work on the sales floor at Tiffany & Co., the makings of a magical and unforgettable summer are set in motion. Hart’s charming account of this glorious time in her life is lighthearted, insightful, and full of fun.
Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project, discovers a surprising path to a life filled with more energy, creativity, and love in this eye-opening work of non-fiction. Described as a journey of self-experimentation, Rubin explores the five senses as guideposts to a happier and more mindful life. Readers searching for an inspiring and practical guide to living in the moment should look no further than this delightfully fascinating book.
One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
Cleo Wilder is celebrating her 30th birthday with a solo retreat on a remote Irish island. Mack Sullivan is exploring his ancestry on a soul-searching endeavor that brings him to the same island. When the two discover that they’ve both reserved the same cottage on the same dates, their independent adventures grind to a halt. While they wait for the next weekly ferry to arrive, however, Cleo and Mack realize that they don’t mind each other’s company as much as they thought they would. This dreamy story of unexpected love will leave readers swooning.
The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
Bestselling authors Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White join forces in this expansive novel set among the summer mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. From the Gilded Age to the present day, readers follow three unpredictable heroines as they uncover a wealth of dark secrets laced with drama, espionage, and passion. This engrossing and sumptuous tale of romance, mystery, and murder represents the collaborative talents of three historical fiction powerhouses.
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Pride Month is a time to honor and celebrate the incredible achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. Looking for digital resources centered around Pride Month? Check out Hoopla’s collection of LGBTQ+ Stories & Experiences. Additionally, don’t miss Kanopy’s impressive LGBTQ+ Cinema catalog, which consists of feature films, short films, and documentaries. Whether you’re a member of the community or a supportive ally, we recommend picking up these four fabulous books that offer valuable insight into a wide variety of LGBTQ+ experiences.
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Ike Randolph is stunned to find out that his son, Isiah, has been murdered, along with Isiah’s husband, Derek. Ike and Derek’s father, Buddy Lee, decide to band together in order to hunt down the monsters who killed their sons. Both hardened ex-cons, Ike and Buddy Lee embark on a heart-pumping quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life. Along the way, they are forced to confront their own prejudices as they unleash bloody retribution on those responsible for the deaths of their boys.
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource by and for Transgender Communities edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth
The collective knowledge base of dozens of transgender and gender expansive experts is compiled in this magnificent reader-friendly guide for transgender people and those who wish to learn more about transgender life. An award-winning resource, each of its 23 chapters guides readers through important issues, from race, religion, and employment to mental health, relationships, and the transition process. Hundreds of viewpoints from the transgender community are represented in this comprehensive and unquestionably necessary book.
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy & Madeline D. Davis
This essential work of LGBTQ+ nonfiction traces the evolution of the lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the mid-1930s through the early 1960s. Authors and researchers Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis spent 13 years collecting the poignant and complex oral histories of 45 women in order to construct a bold, tender, and timely exploration of working class lesbians. Their work resulted in the creation of a groundbreaking, eye-opening, and extraordinarily insightful book that will fascinate readers to no end.
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
This coming-of-age novel set in the 1990s follows Paul Polydoris, a bartender at the only gay club in a college town. Though his life may seem average, Paul has a secret: He’s a shapeshifter. When a cross-country adventure allows him to transform his body, gender, and sexuality at will in an effort to deepen his understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience, he decides to fully immerse himself in the opportunities that lay before him. Non-binary author Andrea Lawlor has penned an unforgettable story that is equal parts restless, playful, and liberating.
It’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
By Patty Monaghan
May is Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! Expand your reading horizons by learning about the cultures and experiences of four amazing AAPI authors in these exceptional books. From moving works of fiction to thought-provoking nonfiction, these reads will be sure to captivate and inspire you.
Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang
Influential chef and restaurateur David Chang grew up in a deeply religious Korean-American household. After college, he journeyed to Japan in an effort to find himself. While there, he discovered his life’s purpose: the cooking and sharing of food. In this inspiring and intimate memoir, Chang details the series of events that led him to the top of his profession. Readers will marvel at his honesty and soulful self-awareness.
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
College students Phoebe and Will are battling inner demons that threaten to consume them in this dark debut by Korean-American author R.O. Kwon. Wracked with guilt for her mother’s recent death, Phoebe joins a North Korean extremist cult disguised as a religious group. When the cult leaders unleash a terrorist attack, Phoebe disappears and Will devotes himself to finding her. This profoundly fractured love story flickers with passionate intensity and unsettling vulnerability.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
This deeply moving story follows the lives of an estranged Indian-American family as they gather together for the wedding of their eldest daughter. As parents Rafiq and Layla reckon with their long-held traditions, their three children struggle to balance their authentic selves while also remaining loyal to their South Asian heritage. In a narrative that spans decades, this epic family saga triumphantly examines love, family, faith, and betrayal through wondrous and thought-provoking prose.
Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang
This extraordinary memoir documents five years in the life of Qian Julie Wang, who illegally immigrated from China to New York City with her parents in 1994. From poverty and racism to sweatshops and language barriers, Wang’s Chinese-American childhood was nothing short of difficult. Through her eloquent and engaging writing, Wang explores the ways in which she and her family were forced to reckon with the harsh reality of the American Dream they had originally sought. Readers will be utterly amazed by her unforgettable charm and strength.
Celebrate National Library Week!
By Patty Monaghan
For 65 years, the American Library Association has observed National Library Week during the month of April. This year, National Library Week will be celebrated from April 23rd through April 29th. During this time, libraries and librarians around the country are honored for their contributions to the communities they so proudly serve.
If you would like to extend your gratitude to our library in honor of National Library Week, please consider purchasing items from our Amazon Wishlist, or make a donation to the Friends of the Library. We greatly appreciate your generosity!
Soak up all the library love this month by checking out these four superb library-centric works of fiction.
The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
Jess Metcalf’s perfectly ordinary life gets turned upside down when her grandmother passes away and she unexpectedly loses her job at the local library. With her grandmother’s book collection in tow, Jess moves to a tiny cottage in a downtrodden country village. There, she transforms an old public telephone box into a library that positively revitalizes the community. This literary-themed book beautifully intertwines themes of family, friendship, kindness, and romance into an uplifting story that will warm the heart of every reader.
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslian Charles
In 1939, Parisian librarian Odile Souchet joins the Resistance to stop the Nazis from destroying her beloved library. In 1983, Montana teenager Lily befriends Mrs. Gustafson, her elderly neighbor from Paris with an impressive book collection. Told through alternating timelines, this powerful work of historical fiction explores unforgettable themes of friendship, family, and the ways in which literature can bring us together in the darkest of times. Janet Skeslian Charles’ writing is irresistible and compelling.
The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
Librarian Martha Storm has always felt invisible. That all changes when a mysterious book of fairy tales appears on Martha’s doorstep with a dedication to her by her long-dead grandmother. When Martha discovers a clue within the book implying that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to track down the truth about her family’s past. Author Phaedra Patrick’s writing is charming, tender, and poignant in this heartwarming ode to the ways in which books can change our lives for the better.
Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman
The last thing Regency widow Lily Adler expected while visiting a family friend was to stumble across a corpse in the library. When Lily discovers evidence that the victim may have been murdered, Constable Simon Page insists that she help him solve the crime. She is understandably reluctant…until another member of the household turns up dead. Katharine Schellman has penned an elegant and thoroughly engrossing mystery about an amateur sleuth that will delight book-lovers from start to finish.
Happy Earth Day!
By Patty Monaghan
Spring has arrived, which means that the cold and dreary outdoors is becoming green and lush once more. Get ready for Earth Day by delving into some environmental books! These four fascinating reads range from a work of speculative fiction about the relationship between humanity and Earth’s natural resources to a real-life global adventure concerning our planet’s food supply.
Appleseed by Matt Bell
This thrilling novel by Young Lions Fiction Award finalist Matt Bell is a meditation on climate change unlike any other. From the 18th century to 1,000 years in the future, readers will be taken on an unforgettable adventure that encapsulates the most complex problems facing humanity today. Bell’s magnificent ability to weave myth, science fiction, and ecological warning into a sweeping and audacious work of literature is not to be missed.
Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
Rich Gundersen’s family has been in the logging business for generations. When Rich spends his family’s life savings on a swath of ancient redwoods, he is unprepared for the environmental issues that doing so will unearth. From fertility issues caused by the logging company’s herbicides to mudslides altering the landscape of his beloved community, Rich’s plans for his family’s future begin to crumble. Readers will devour this masterful family saga that brims with compassion, love, and grief.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer
The future of our planet is in our hands, yet the majority of us are reluctant to make necessary changes that will positively impact the lives of generations to come. Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer tackles the global dilemma of climate change head-on in this informative and accessible work of non-fiction. Through compelling essays and attention-grabbing factoids, Foer argues that collective action is the only way for us to save our planet from meeting a disastrous end.
From Scratch: Adventures in Harvesting, Hunting, Fishing, and Foraging on a Fragile Planet by David Moscow & Jon Moscow
In this remarkable book of global culinary adventures, father-son team Jon and David Moscow take readers on an exploration of our planet’s complex and interconnected food supply in order to provide a better understanding of how food sustains culture and community. From Italy and Iceland to the Philippines and the Long Island Sound, this engaging and highly informative travel journal examines a wealth of environmental issues and concerns within the context of the urgent need for sustainability.
Happy Women’s History Month!
By Patty Monaghan
In honor of Women’s History Month, devote your reading to books written by and about women. From historical fiction and magical realism to feminist literary fiction, these four incredible books about female empowerment exemplify what it means to be a woman. Immerse yourself in the female experiences contained in the pages of these memorable reads.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Thandi is a young African American woman who is struggling to find her place in the world. Told through a series of exquisite and emotional vignettes, readers follow Thandi as she copes with the death of her beloved mother, explores her heritage, and searches for love in other forms. Debut author Zinzi Clemmons soars in this thought-provoking meditation on race, womanhood, and the strength it takes to continue living after suffering a tremendous loss.
The Change by Kirsten Miller
Nessa, Harriett, and Jo have one thing in common: their midlife crises have brought them unexpected magical powers. It isn’t until their newfound abilities guide them to each other that the women realize that it’s up to them to figure out who is murdering teenage girls in their wealthy beach town. Fans of Big Little Lies and Practical Magic will devour this suspenseful feminist fantasy novel that projects powerful themes of rage, revenge, and justice.
The Manhattan Girls by Gill Paul
Set in 1921 in New York City, this Jazz Age novel provides a fictional look into the lives of writer Dorothy Parker, reporter Jane Grant, Broadway actress Winifred Leniham, and novelist Peggy Leech. After forming a bridge group, these four groundbreaking and influential women become confidantes. The extraordinary friendship that blossoms across the pages of this riveting novel is a direct result of author Gill Paul’s prowess for seamlessly blending fact and fiction.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Greer Kadetsky is a college freshman with big dreams. Feminist icon and activist Faith Frank has spent decades fighting for women’s rights. When Faith becomes Greer’s mentor, the young girl is introduced to a world of empowering and rewarding opportunities that threaten to lead her away from a life with her high school sweetheart. Bestselling author Meg Wolitzer has crafted a powerful coming-of-age story that superbly examines loyalty, ambition, and womanhood.
Celebrate Spring with Self-Care!
By Patty Monaghan
The arrival of springtime never fails to bring fresh opportunities for self-improvement. Take a break from spring cleaning and make some time to take care of yourself this season. These four books will provide you with the motivation to boost your self-care habits in a number of areas, from meal prep and sleep to organization and wellness.
The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen
If “What’s for dinner?” has become a dreaded question in your household, then get ready to make your life easier and your meals more enjoyable! This amazing cookbook features 25 weekly meal plans with menus, grocery lists, pantry lists, and organizational guidelines that will save you time and money. Mouthwatering recipes include lemon-herb pork tenderloin, glazed strip steaks, roasted chicken thighs, and tortellini and vegetable soup. Substitutions for all of your family’s dietary needs are also included in this essential addition to your kitchen.
High-Vibe Feng Shui: 11 Steps to Achieving Your Best Life by Ashley Cantley
Uncover a modern approach to the ancient practice of Feng Shui with this remarkably readable book as your guide. Certified Feng Shui practitioner Ashley Cantley provides meaningful insight on how to declutter and redecorate your physical space in order to cultivate positive energy. Achieve balance in all areas of your life by intentionally incorporating various elements into your personal surroundings, from colors and scents to crystals and artwork. Cantley’s tips and guided exercises are entirely customizable and full of eye-opening possibilities.
Sleep: Harness the Power of Sleep for Optimal Health and Well-Being by Petra Hawker
Want to sleep better, but don’t know how? Pick up this soothing guide by sleep specialist Petra Hawker, and let the dream of better sleep become a life-changing reality. More than 40 sleep strategies are included in this well-organized book, as well as coping mechanisms for various medical conditions and special circumstances. Calming illustrations and concise text come together with ease in this outstanding book of self-care that readers will reach for again and again.
Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation by Dalia Kinsey
Dietician, nutritionist, and wellness coach Dalia Kinsey has penned a glorious guide to body positivity specifically for members of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. This impactful book addresses the intersectional challenges of racism and homophobia that have negatively impacted the health and well-being of marginalized individuals. Short chapters, journal prompts, mindfulness tools, and affirmations beautifully intertwine to form a unique road map to body acceptance and self-care.
Happy Black History Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Black History Month is a time to celebrate and honor one of the world’s most vibrant cultures. For centuries, African American authors have utilized remarkable creative expression and vast knowledge to make impressive and long-lasting contributions to literature. The following works of fiction and non-fiction exemplify the contemporary Black experience by showcasing vital aspects of Black history and culture.
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
This brilliant satirical novel by debut author Mateo Askaripour begins when 22-year-old Darren has a chance encounter with the CEO of Manhattan’s hottest tech startup. When Darren is hired, he quickly realizes that he is the only Black person in the company. After a tragic turn of events, Darren decides to create a training program that will help young people of color succeed in America’s workforce. The result is a hilarious and original work of fiction that casts a sharp eye on the impact of racial issues on workplace culture.
You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience by Tarana Burke & Brené Brown
Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, and writer Brené Brown have compiled essays from such notable Black writers, actors, and activists as Jason Reynolds, Laverne Cox, and Imani Perry in this breathtakingly expansive and intimate anthology on Black shame and healing. As a cumulative safe space to process trauma and vulnerability, this outstanding collection presents readers with the opportunity to affirm the fullness of Black life and Black possibility.
It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan
Loretha Curry is 68 years old and, contrary to what her family and friends say, she believes that the best days of her life lay ahead. When an unexpected loss leaves her reeling, Loretha realizes that she’ll need to call upon the resourcefulness and strength that she’s built up her entire life in order to heal and thrive. Featuring a remarkable cast of strong Black women, bestselling author Terry McMillan has penned a truly heartwarming story of the power of friendship
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
In this groundbreaking and necessary exploration of the fraught relationship between race and science, theoretical physicist and feminine theorist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein thoroughly exposes the systems of oppression and marginalization that have structured how humanity has been taught to view the universe. Prescod-Weinstein’s impressive knowledge of science and society will leave readers with a revitalized understanding of the ways in which space theory and Black lives converge.
Swoon Over These Rom-Com Novels
By Patty Monaghan
Take the chill out of February by bringing some laughter and romance to your reading list. Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day by cozying up with a rom-com novel! You’ll fall head over heels for the fictional couples in these four funny and lighthearted literary romantic comedies. The best part? They all live happily ever after.
Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall
Arabella Tarleton has always been expected to marry Duke Valentine Layton, but she flees in search of her own independence after his proposal. Valentine, with the help of Arabella’s twin brother Bonny, is determined to pursue Arabella in order to prove himself as a worthy suitor. Though Bonny – short for Bonaventure – can be an overdramatic and unreasonable travel companion, Valentine finds himself becoming hopelessly enamored with the man. The more time they spend together, the more Valentine questions everything he thought he knew about himself, about love…and about which Tarleton twin he should really be pursuing.
The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson
Romantic feelings develop faster than film in this luscious debut novel about Cassie Harris, a body-positive photographer who strives to make people of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful and empowered. When Cassie’s best friend is in need of a model for the launch of her plus-size lingerie line, Cassie finds herself in front of the camera rather than behind it. However, her confidence falters when she realizes that the photographer is Reid Montgomery, her longtime rival. How will the two balance their competitive streaks with their undeniable chemistry?
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Florence Day ghostwrites romance novels for a living, but she no longer believes in love after a humiliating and tumultuous breakup. When devastating news calls Florence back to her hometown, the last thing she expects to see is the ghost of Benji Andor, her devilishly handsome editor, standing on the front porch of her childhood home. Neither of them know why Benji is there, but it’s up to Florence to help him resolve his unfinished business while also coping with her own hardships. Along the way, she discovers that true love may still exist after all.
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Solange Pereira and Dean Chapman are total strangers and polar opposites. When Solange’s cousin, a wedding planner, persuades her to crash Dean’s wedding to ensure that he doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life, a chaotic whirlwind is set in motion. In a moment of panic at the altar, Dean claims to be in love with Solange. Before long, the pair find themselves in a hilarious fake-dating scenario that can’t get any more complicated…or so they think. Find out what happens when their unmistakable connection transforms from performance into reality.
New Year’s Reading Resolutions
By Patty Monaghan
The start of a new year brings all of us fresh opportunities to improve our lives. While New Year’s resolutions typically pertain to physical and mental health, we can also resolve to enhance our reading lives. If you are looking to expand your literary horizons in 2023, we encourage you to start right here. Happy reading!
Want to join a Book Club this year? Information Services Librarian Stacey Harris leads a monthly book club discussion for adults, both in person at the library and via Zoom. More information can be found here.
If you’d like to devote more time to reading ebooks and audiobooks, check out OverDrive, Libby, hoopla, and Freading. These free digital services give you access to thousands of materials that you can explore with your library card. If you need help navigating any of these services, contact the library and we’ll be happy to assist you. Here are some great books to help you widen your reading life in 2023!
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
You can never read too much translated fiction! Kick off the New Year with this charming and comforting book narrated by a pet cat named Nana and his owner, Satoru. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, this novel uses simple yet descriptive prose to convey the relationship between two companions as they embark on a journey across Japan. Gabriel’s thoughtful and engaging translation makes for a reading experience that will fill you with warmth and gratitude.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
If you typically shy away from non-fiction, step outside of your comfort zone and pick up Pulitzer Prize-winning author H.G. Bissinger’s timeless account of a high school football team. Set in 1988, this engrossing book follows a season of the Permian High School Panthers in Odessa, Texas, and their journey to the state championship. The bestselling book also provides a revealing sociological perspective on small-town America that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Challenge yourself to read a book with more than 500 pages this year. If you’re intimidated by such lengthy novels, pick up this spellbinding literary thriller about an investigative journalist as he probes the strange circumstances surrounding an apparent suicide. In addition to her hypnotic prose, bestselling author Marisha Pessl cleverly incorporates news articles, photographs, and other forms of evidence into this suspenseful book. You won’t believe how quickly you’ll find yourself devouring all those pages!
Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon
While it’s true that plays are meant to be seen, they can also be read! Why not start with a critically acclaimed play that happens to be set in Westchester? This funny and insightful family drama by the immensely talented Neil Simon takes place during World War II, when two young brothers are sent to live in Yonkers with their formidable grandmother. Winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four Tony Awards, this play has captured the hearts of readers and theatergoers for over 30 years.
Where to Start with Novellas
By Patty Monaghan
What’s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel? A novella! Ranging from 60 to 180 pages in length, these bite-sized literary morsels are an excellent way to tackle your reading goals when the bigger books on your shelves seem a bit too daunting. We recommend the following novellas as great starting points for readers seeking satisfying one-sitting reads for cozy winter nights.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
Bestselling author Fredrik Backman has become known for his heartfelt and poignant stories, and this slim novella is no exception. Coming in at just under 80 pages, this utterly moving book offers a glimpse into the mind of an elderly man who is coming to terms with memory loss while his family tries valiantly to care for him. Backman’s deep understanding of human nature will resonate with readers as they take in this wise and heartbreaking story.
Different Seasons by Stephen King
This gripping book collects four novellas by the famed storyteller, including the inspirations behind the wildly successful films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. Also included are Apt Pupil and The Breathing Method, both of which are hypnotic pageturners. While each novella can be considered its own entity, the four are bound together by the changing of seasons, providing readers with the opportunity to experience King’s work at any time of year.
The Box Jumper by Lisa Mannetti
Escape artist and illusionist Harry Houdini is presented in a mystical and fascinating light in this work of historical fantasy told from the perspective of his assistant, Leona. Local author Lisa Mannetti, who has won the Bram Stoker Award for her work, cleverly interlaces fact and fiction in this well-researched and beautifully written novella. The layers of haunting intrigue that unfold along the way will have readers on the edges of their seats until the final page.
Heartstones by Ruth Rendell
In this gem of a psychological thriller, Edgar Award-winning author Ruth Rendell plunges readers into the mind of Elvira, a 16-year-old girl who has just lost her mother and is determined to prevent her father from remarrying. With each turn of the page, Elvira’s downward spiral into madness subtly becomes more unhinged. Fans of Patricia Highsmith and Edgar Allan Poe will revel in the Gothic tone and haunting atmosphere of this spine-tingling novella.
2022 Fiction Releases You May Have Missed
By Patty Monaghan
This year brought a whirlwind of new and outstanding fiction releases to the literary world. If you found yourself gravitating to the lists of bestsellers, then some fantastic reads may have flown under your radar. Bring 2022 to a close by checking out these four works of underrated fiction by wildly talented authors.
The Catch by Alison Fairbrother
James Adler had children from all three of his marriages, but twenty-something journalist Ellie has always been his favorite…or has she? After receiving the tragic news of her father’s sudden death, Ellie is sure that she will be entrusted with a prized possession that they both cherished. When that possession is instead left to a complete stranger, Ellie is left wondering who could have meant more to her father than she did. What follows is an absorbing and entertaining family drama about the mysteries left behind in death and the secrets that are kept by the living.
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour
In her first novel for adults, Nina LaCour tells the tender and gratifying love story of Sara and Emilie, two young women who are trying to escape the past traumas of their vastly different lives. When they meet at their workplace, the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. However, the emotional baggage that both women carry threatens to pull them apart again and again. Can their love withstand their troubled pasts? LaCour’s gorgeously detailed writing is soulful and decadent, making this a truly mesmerizing read.
Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera
When demolition begins on a tenement building in her family’s predominantly Dominican neighborhood, Eusebia Guerrero becomes intent on preventing the destruction of her beloved community. Her husband, however, is hoping to return back to their native country and is secretly designing a retirement home in the Dominican Republic. To make matters worse, Luz, their daughter, finds herself falling for the handsome developer that’s in charge of the demolition her mother so vehemently opposes. Debut author Cleyvis Natera has woven a beautifully layered tapestry of culture, sacrifice, and family in this electrifying novel.
On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi
In this dazzling debut novel, readers follow Angela Appiah, a Ghanaian-American medical student who is facing a quarter-life crisis of epic proportions. She has flunked the most important exam of her medical career, disappointed her immigrant parents, and been dumped by her seemingly perfect boyfriend. Just when Angela begins to question all of her life choices, she crosses paths with free-spirited graphic designer Ricky Gutierrez. Will their friendship steer Angela’s life in the right direction, or will it only make things more complicated?
2022 Non-Fiction Releases You May Have Missed
By Patty Monaghan
New and noteworthy non-fiction topped bestseller lists all year, from works of true crime and social justice to humorous essay collections and celebrity memoirs. With so many excellent works of non-fiction released in 2022, there are a few you may have missed. Expand your knowledge and get inspired by picking up any of these four fascinating books.
The Haunted History of Pelham, New York by Blake A. Bell
Get your fix of spooky local history with this collection of factual ghost stories researched and written by former Pelham Town Historian Blake A. Bell. History and folklore combine in these spellbinding accounts of the spirits that have spent centuries roaming Pelham, City Island, and the Long Island Sound. Numerous historical references, photographs, illustrations, and maps accompany each ghostly tale. Bell’s captivating writing sheds light on how local lore can help us understand the history and culture of New York’s metropolitan area.
The Tears of a Man Flow Inward: Growing Up in the Civil War in Burundi by Pacifique Irankunda
Writer and native Burundian Pacifique Irankunda spent his childhood surrounded by a civil war that devastated his homeland. While the rich traditions of his family and culture were being stripped away by colonialism, Irankunda and his loved ones demonstrated compassion, kindness, and resilience in order to survive. Drawing on his own memories and those of his family, Irankunda has written a moving and unforgettable memoir of what it means to come of age in the darkest of times.
The Essential Home Skills Handbook by Chris Peterson
Did you become a new homeowner in 2022? Are you planning to tackle some home projects in the New Year? If so, make sure to get your hands on this DIY home improvement book that is full of beginner-friendly solutions for common household headaches. This indispensable resource contains plain-language directions for dozens of home repairs and maintenance tasks, from fixing squeaky doors and dripping faucets to installing closet doors and replacing ceiling light fixtures. Your house will be transformed into a home in no time!
Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Dana Stevens
In this genre-defying work of cultural history, longtime film critic Dana Stevens tells the story of Buster Keaton, the legendary actor and filmmaker most known for his silent film work. While many books have been penned on the life of this iconic American figure, none have been able to provide the wit, grace, and insight that Stevens presents here. Using an outstanding combination of biography, history, and essay, Stevens examines the seven decades of Keaton’s life in the context of his time and explores the illustrious actor’s impact on modern media.
By Patty Monaghan
Are you hosting your family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year? Looking to try out some recipes that are new to you? Perhaps you’re in charge of preparing a dish for a loved one’s potluck gathering. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, these four cookbooks are bursting with delicious Thanksgiving recipes that will have your guests coming back for seconds.
The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen
Celebrate the season’s bounty with warm, cozy, and savory meals that abound at this time of year! If you would like to bring some soul-satisfying eats to your Thanksgiving table, look no further than this incredible cookbook full of scrumptious recipes for the colder months. Some standouts include: herb-crusted roast beef tenderloin; slow-cooker pork loin with fennel, oranges, and olives; cider-glazed root vegetables with apple and tarragon; sweet potato fritters with cheddar, chipotle, and cilantro; spiced-citrus bundt cake; and ginger-cranberry-pear streusel pie.
Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner & Pies by Audrey Dunham
Learn how to “veganize” your classic Thanksgiving spread with vegan recipe creator and blogger Audrey Dunham. In this cookbook, you’ll discover how to transform all of your favorite Thanksgiving dinner and dessert classics into delectable vegan dishes. Dunham’s delicious recipes leave no stone unturned, from roasts and casseroles to mashed potatoes and pies. Also included are instructions for making most recipes gluten-free, as well as a series of tips and guidelines for being the ultimate Thanksgiving Day host.
Thanksgiving: Recipes for a Holiday Meal by Lou Seibert Pappas
Host a memorable meal using tips and recipes from this easy-to-follow cookbook. Each of its nine chapters focuses on a different aspect of the Thanksgiving feast, from organizing an impressive menu and prepping the turkey to creating fresh and fun side dishes and making the most of your leftovers. Coming in at just over 100 pages, this slim volume is packed with traditional and contemporary recipes that will ease your holiday stress and make your cooking duties less daunting.
The Friendsgiving Handbook by Emily Stephenson
Thanksgiving is a time to not only show gratitude to our families, but also to our friends. Use this encouraging guide to celebrate and honor your closest friends with a Friendsgiving gathering. Author Emily Stephenson breaks down how to host an unforgettable Friendsgiving feast from start to finish in this nifty handbook. Included are 25 mouthwatering recipes, turkey tips, ideas for setting the table, and encouraging words of advice that will help you through every step of this joyous occasion.
Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month!
By Patty Monaghan
National Native American Heritage Month is observed throughout November. During this month, we celebrate and honor the cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples. Take some time to learn about the triumphs and hardships of Native Americans throughout history by picking up these groundbreaking and eye-opening books.
We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth edited by Dahr Jamail & Stan Rushworth
This innovative work of research and reportage places Indigenous voices at the forefront of conversations about today’s environmental crisis. Themes of reciprocity, kinship, and responsibility resound in this timely and necessary book. Composed of 20 heartfelt testimonies from people of various North American Indigenous cultures and communities, this thought-provoking book encourages readers to challenge colonial assumptions and pay attention to the Native-sourced wisdom that may provide solutions to the problems facing humanity.
Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present by Adrienne Keene
This powerful and informative collection highlights the achievements of 50 Native Americans throughout history, from professional basketball player Kyrie Irving and civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich to Congresswoman Sharice Davids and filmmaker Sterlin Harjo. Additionally, author Adrienne Keene provides crucial primers on Indigenous issues ranging from colonialism and land rights to cultural appropriation. Exquisite illustrations by Ciara Sana complement every page of this outstanding work of nonfiction.
Chronology of Native Americans: The Ultimate Guide to North America’s Indigenous Peoples by Greg O’Brien
From ancient settlements to contemporary reservations, this rich and informative book tells the story of North American Indigenous peoples such as the Sioux, Cherokee, Iroquois, Algonquin, and Navajo. The writing of historian Greg O’Brien is thoughtful, captivating, and extremely well-researched. More than 300 illustrations and photographs are featured throughout the volume’s glossy pages, along with a helpful timeline that details key events in Native American
history from 75,0000 BC through 2006.
This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman
Award-winning essayist, historian, and professor David J. Silverman reveals the unsettling history behind Thanksgiving in this gripping Native-centered narrative of the complex relationship between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag people. Silverman’s exhaustive research results in a remarkable and sobering account of friendship and betrayal that has led to the Wampanoags’ ongoing struggle for self-determination. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever questioned the legitimacy of the First Thanksgiving.
Have a Spooktacular Halloween!
By Patty Monaghan
Cozy mysteries are the quintessential reading material for this spooky time of year. From tea shops and haunted houses to Halloween parties and lighthouse libraries, there’s loads to uncover as you bob for books in this barrel of cozy recommendations. Grab a blanket and a hot beverage, and get ready to fall into these bewitching books.
Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs
It’s the week before Halloween. When tea shop owner Theodosia Browning attends the grand opening of a literary-and-historical-themed haunted house, she doesn’t expect to see a real corpse dangling from a rope. After her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, is shot and wounded while investigating the murder, Theodosia decides to take on the case herself. Will the tea sommelier be able to find the culprit before someone else gets hurt…or worse? Author Laura Childs’ perfect blend of cozy fun and clever plotting will fill you with tasty suspense.
A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford
Sisters Bernadette and Libby Simmons are thrilled that they’ve been asked to cater a haunted house fundraiser at the old Peabody School. Rumors that the school is haunted by the ghost of Bessie Osgood are ramped into overdrive, however, when the body of a wealthy socialite is found dead on the premises. When the Simmons sisters are called upon to solve the case, they soon discover that Bessie and the socialite may have had more in common than anyone ever realized. If you need a snack while devouring this book, check out the scrumptious recipes included in the back!
The Spook in the Stacks by Eva Gates
Halloween has arrived at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The spooky season takes an ominous turn, however, when librarian Lucy Richardson discovers a dead body in the rare books section. As Lucy and her colleagues try to figure out who could have committed this horrific Halloween homicide, strange things begin happening that can’t be explained. Does the killer have tricks up their sleeve, or could the library truly be haunted? Find out in this wicked page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross
Visit small-town Maine in this trio of cozy Halloween mystery novellas by bestselling authors Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross. All three spooky tales surround Halloween parties that have gone awry. While most of the partygoers are in for a night of festive fun, some attendees are more than willing to reap a harvest of murder. If you aren’t already, prepare to become hooked on the cozy mystery genre after experiencing the writing talents of these brilliant authors.
October is Positive Attitude Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Did you know that October is Positive Attitude Month? If your glass has felt half empty lately, then you may be in need of an attitude adjustment. Having a positive outlook is essential to leading a happy and fulfilling life. For tips, life lessons, and pick-me-ups, we recommend checking out these positively inspirational books.
Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg, PhD
As the world’s leading expert on habit formation, BJ Fogg knows a thing or two about the large impacts of small changes. In his outstanding book based on 20 years of research, Fogg provides valuable insight on how readers can live happier, healthier lives by incorporating tiny habits into their daily routines. Fogg’s seamless use of simple language, helpful graphics, and plentiful examples make for a reading experience that has the potential to positively transform your life.
Like Streams to the Ocean: Notes on Ego, Love, and the Things That Make Us Who We Are by Jedidiah Jenkins
In this moving and thought-provoking essay collection, travel writer and entrepreneur Jedidiah Jenkins explores the eight themes all of us face as we find our way in life: ego, family, home, friendship, love, work, death, and the soul. While these universal themes may come with hardship, Jenkins urges readers to embrace them with grace and intention. His honest and authentic writing brims with wisdom and the genuine faith that a good life is truly attainable.
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Before Hamilton skyrocketed him to international fame, award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda inspired his Twitter followers with daily messages of witty encouragement. Those motivational tweets have been compiled in this charming and comforting collection. Coupled with delightful illustrations by acclaimed artist Jonny Sun, this whimsical book of poetic greetings will boost your mood in a matter of moments.
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey
If you’re struggling to figure out how you can achieve personal contentment, start your journey with the help of global media leader Oprah Winfrey. This awe-inspiring book encourages self-discovery through the guidance and wisdom of Winfrey and other renowned luminaries such as Mitch Albom, Cheryl Strayed, Iyanla Vanzant, and Gary Zukav. Breathtaking nature photographs provide an immersive backdrop for this beautiful compilation of personal stories and insightful messages.
September 21st is National New York Day!
By Patty Monaghan
Start spreading the news…National New York Day is this month! Expand your knowledge of the land we call home by checking out any of these incredibly interesting books about our great state.
Interested in visiting New York State’s exquisite parks, lakes, and beaches? Borrow our Empire Pass! The Empire Pass can be borrowed for seven days and can be reserved up to one month in advance. The pass allows free admission for one vehicle to access numerous outdoor areas throughout New York State, including Jones Beach, Bear Mountain, and Niagara Falls. Full guidelines and a complete list of where to visit can be found here.
We are also excited to offer complimentary passes to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum located in Hyde Park, New York! Each pass entitles one family (defined as a group of up to five individuals) free admission to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. Please note that this pass does not include access to the President’s Home or any other Roosevelt sites. More information can be found here.
Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York by Justin Davidson
Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Justin Davidson takes readers on seven walking tours of New York City in this brilliantly crafted book. Each chapter describes a different route through the Big Apple, from the High Line and the Upper West Side to 42nd Street and the Financial District. Block-by-block directions are provided for each walking tour, though the book also serves as an exceptional form of armchair travel. Davidson delves into the history of the landmarks encountered along each route, offering both first-time visitors and lifelong residents a unique look at the city that never sleeps.
The Landmarks of New York III by Barbaralee Diamonstein
This monumental coffee table book is the third revised, updated, and expanded edition of The Landmarks of New York. This edition contains photos and descriptions of all the landmarks designated through the fall of 1997 in the five boroughs. More than 1,000 landmarks are included, from historic mansions and warehouses to iconic skyscrapers and buildings of grandeur. Author Barbara lee Diamonstein is the founder and chair of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, chairperson of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center, and the longest-serving commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family by Leila Philip
In this compelling work of nonfiction, Hudson Valley native Leila Philip shares the sweeping story of Talavera, the property that has been in her family for three centuries. Located in Claverack, New York, the Federal-period house and farm has been populated by manor lords, tenant farmers, and Civil War heroes; it is now a family-run fruit farm named Philip Orchards. Throughout this eloquent memoir, Philip braids Talavera’s history with her own memories in an effort to figure out why generations of her family sacrificed so much in order to hold on to the land.
New York State by Helen Stortini
New York State has an abundance of breathtaking beauty to offer residents and tourists, from the vibrant metropolis of Manhattan and the tranquil waters of the Finger Lakes to the picturesque scenery of Adirondack State Park and the thunderous roar of Niagara Falls. In this stunning photography book, readers will marvel at the full-color snapshots captured of the Empire State. The book’s glossy pages and informative captions will provide readers with an eye-opening exploration of the wonders contained within New York’s 54,556 square miles.
September is Classical Music Month!
By Patty Monaghan
In 1994, President Bill Clinton declared every September as Classical Music Month in order to honor the wide-ranging genre as a “celebration of artistic excellence.” Learn more about the history of this relaxing genre of instrumental music by diving into these great books! If you would like to incorporate more classical music into your life, look no further than then Westchester Library System, which offers vast catalogs of free music via Hoopla and the Free Music Archive. On the go? Tune your car radio to 105.9 FM for WQXR, the New York metropolitan area’s public classical music radio station.
The Classical Music Book by DK Publishing
If you’re interested in learning more about classical music as a genre, then start here. Simple language and bold graphics ensure that the wealth of information presented in this fantastic book will enhance your understanding of classical music, whether you’re an occasional listener or a musical aficionado. More than 90 classical compositions are analyzed by dissecting the historical, social, and cultural context behind each piece, as well as how each composition has contributed to the overall musical canon. Short biographies of famous composers and performers are also peppered throughout the book, making for a truly engaging reading experience.
In Search of Chopin by Alfred Cortot
Frederic Francois Chopin was an outstanding Polish composer and innovative pianist who was known for his intricate compositions and expressive performances. In this extraordinary collection of themed essays, renowned music teacher Alfred Cortot examines Chopin’s impressive catalog of work, as well as his struggles with chronic illness. Additionally, Cortot brilliantly delves into Chopin’s personal relationships, including his friendships with other composers of his time. Originally published in 1951, In Search of Chopin is still considered one of the most enlightening biographical profiles of Chopin’s life.
Leonard Bernstein: A Life by Meryle Secrest
Meryle Secrest’s engrossing and insightful biography sheds light on all aspects of Leonard Bernstein’s truly incredible life, making it easy to see why Bernstein is considered one of the most talented and influential composers in American history. In addition to composing the music for West Side Story and numerous other musicals, Bernstein composed three classical symphonies and worked with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1958 until his death in 1990. Secrest’s writing is captivating and spellbinding in its emphasis on Bernstein’s undeniable impact on the way classical music is perceived and adored today.
Hearing Beethoven: A Story of Musical Loss & Discovery by Robin Wallace
It is common knowledge that Ludwig van Beethoven was able to compose classical music for more than a decade after completely losing his hearing. In this fascinating book, Robin Wallace provides a new and unique perspective on Beethoven’s deafness by intertwining the composer’s experience with that of Wallace’s own late wife. As a result, readers receive a vividly insightful look into how Beethoven adapted to his hearing loss by changing the way he interacted with music. Wallace’s deeply engaging combination of personal memoir and well-researched musicology adds a distinctly human quality to the way in which we view the classical composer.
Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
By Patty Monaghan
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15th to October 15th in order to celebrate and honor the cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans throughout history. The independence days of Mexico, Chile, and several Latin American countries are also celebrated during this 30-day period. Commemorate the stories and experiences of Hispanic Americans by picking up any of these fantastic books!
The Woman I Kept to Myself: Poems by Julia Alvarez
The 75 poems included in this beautiful collection revolve around the two cultures that have shaped Julia Alvarez’s life: the Dominican Republic of her childhood and the America of her adolescence and adulthood. Alvarez’s wise and lyrical poems describe the middle of a woman’s life as she reflects on her past, celebrates who she has become, and ponders the future. Alvarez, a critically-acclaimed poet and novelist, incorporates humor and humanity into her work with an ease that makes this collection particularly intimate and compulsively readable.
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros
This breathtaking collection of award-winning short stories explores life on both sides of the Mexican border through the eyes of vibrant and unforgettable characters. Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros writes stunning stories of childhood innocence, love, marriage, family, and abuse from realistic female perspectives using spare and poetic prose. Cisneros, best known for The House on Mango Street, seamlessly weaves Spanish words and phrases into her stories, adding layers of depth and meaning in a tremendous display of talent and originality.
Between Two Fires: Intimate Writings on Life, Love, Food & Flavor by Laura Esquivel
Laura Esquivel, the bestselling author of Like Water for Chocolate, reflects on family, food, religion, and philosophy in this stunning collection of speeches, short writings, and recipes. The Mexican novelist and screenwriter discusses memories of her unique upbringing, which involved taking yearly trips from Mexico City to San Antonio, Texas, in order to visit relatives. Esquivel’s writing is insightful, thought-provoking, and utterly imaginative. Sepia-toned illustrations border each page, enhancing the overall reading experience of this slim volume.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Debut author Xochitl Gonzalez tells the story of Puerto Rican siblings Olga and Prieto in this electrifying novel about political power, family dynamics, and the American dream. Set against the devastating backdrop of Hurricane Maria, readers follow Olga and Prieto as they encounter the effects of capitalism, corruption, and gentrification on their Latinx Brooklyn neighborhood. A graduate of the illustrious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Gonzalez unveils an remarkable ability for capturing the experiences of immigrant communities..
Read Up on Romance
By Patty Monaghan
Did you know that August is National Romance Awareness Month? That’s right, February isn’t the only time of year to celebrate love. Take a breather from your busy summer schedule, and pick up one of these delightful romance novels. No matter how experienced you are with the genre, we know that you’ll fall head over heels for these love stories.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
How far would you go to save your marriage? When Nashville baseball player Gavin Scott realizes he’s one strike away from a divorce, he finds help from an unexpected source: a secret romance book club composed of Nashville’s top macho men. When the group reads a steamy Regency romance, they team up to help Gavin win back his wife’s heart. The witty dialogue between these utterly likeable characters will have you rooting for Gavin from page one of this fast-paced and adorable second-chance romance.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Told from alternating points of view, this delightful romp follows Delilah Green, who has just returned to her hometown to photograph her stepsister’s wedding. Enter bridesmaid Claire Sutherland, a single mom and bookstore owner who is trying to keep her head above water. When Delilah and Claire are forced to work together on wedding preparations, sparks fly. Fans of Casey McQuiston, Talia Hibbert, and Alexandria Bellefleur will swoon over this clever and steamy LGBTQ+ romance novel by Ashley Herring Blake.
Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
London socialite Francesca Day has been pampered her entire life. When her mother dies and leaves her penniless, Francesca flees to America in a vain attempt to make her own fortune. After a series of mishaps leaves her in Wynette, Texas, Francesca finds herself getting picked up off the side of the road by pro-golfer Dallas Beaudine. Though the two initially don’t get along, they can’t seem to get enough of each other. Prepare for hours of pure unadulterated fun as you take in this sensational and bestselling love story.
Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
Fiction lovers craving a touch of romance in their reading lives will adore this debut novel by Shauna Robinson. Meet Nora Hughes, an overworked and underpaid editorial assistant who is spiraling into burnout. She gets a second job at a rival publishing house to make ends meet, which is where she finds out that bestselling – and single – author Andrew Santos is between publishers. Will Nora be able to figure out where her loyalties lie? Robinson’s ability to pen a compelling love story against the all-too-relatable backdrop of the corporate world is not to be missed.
More Beach Reads!
By Patty Monaghan
Summer is in full swing, and we are back with even more beach read recommendations! Whether you’re basking in the summer sun or pulling up a seat in front of the air conditioner, we guarantee that these terrific books will keep you hooked for hours on end. Pour a glass of your favorite iced beverage, and get ready to read!
We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
This gripping thriller follows best friends Emily and Kristen on an epically ill-fated Chilean backpacking trip. When Kristen kills a fellow backpacker and claims self-defense, Emily immediately becomes suspicious. A horrifying similar situation occurred last summer, also at Kristen’s hand. Forced to confront the past and reckon with the truth, Emily begins to question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. Author Andrea Bartz brilliantly examines the complexities of toxic friendship and boundaries in this heart-pounding and immersive page-turner.
Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers
You can curl up with a cozy mystery at any time of year, but if you’re craving a summery whodunit, look no further than Holly Danvers’ atmospheric Lakeside Library series. In this first charming installment, readers are introduced to Rain Wilmot as she arrives at her family’s summer cabin, which also operates as an informal library. However, things quickly go awry when Rain finds a body on the premises. When Rain realizes that her neighbors suspect her family of foul play, she becomes determined to solve the case on her own.
Home Again by Kristin Hannah
If you’ve devoured Kristin Hannah’s recent releases and want to explore her impressive backlist, start here. This tender, powerful, and thought-provoking novel follows the emotionally complex relationship between Madelaine, a world-famous heart surgeon, and Angel, a bad-to-the-bone movie star. Sixteen years ago, Angel abandoned Madelaine and their unborn daughter to pursue a life of fame and fortune. When Angel suddenly reenters Madelaine’s life as a patient in dire need of help, the two are forced to examine the fragile ties that have always bound them to one another.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Follow two spirited women on their wacky journey to the edge of the world in this spectacularly unforgettable novel about the transformative power of friendship. It is 1950 when Margery Benson and Enid Petty decide to leave London in search of the golden beetle of New Caledonia, an insect that may or may not exist. Together, they embark on a cross-ocean adventure that is filled with intrigue, wit, and poignancy. Fans of Gail Honeyman and Fredrik Backman will delight in Rachel Joyce’s enchanting and insightful prose.
Sundays in August by Patrick Modiano, translated from the French by Damion Searls
Beloved author and Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano transports readers to Nice on the picturesque French Riviera in this masterful work of noir fiction. This short, but impactful, novel follows Jean and Sylvia, who are in hiding in order to keep watch over a precious diamond that is rumored to bring bad luck to its owners. The diamond’s potential value has consumed the young couple, blinding them to the dangers that lurk in their midst. Modiano’s trademark ability to create a beautifully haunting atmosphere in less than 150 pages is rich and undeniable.
By Patty Monaghan
Summer is here, which means it’s time to slather on sunscreen, don your sunglasses, and head outside with a book in your beach bag. Not sure which book to bring along on your sunny excursion? You can’t go wrong with any of these stellar beach reads! Make sure to visit PCRBPL Book Picks again next month for even more beachy recommendations.
Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Elin Hilderbrand is the undisputed queen of beach reads, and our list of recommendations would not be complete without one of her sweeping tales of family and community. This stunning and suspenseful page-turner surrounds the aftermath of a celebratory bonfire on the beach. Zoe has just received the devastating news that her two children have been in a car accident that has left her daughter dead and her son in a coma. As a life-altering Nantucket summer unfolds, she and the survivors of the accident yearn to understand what happened on that fateful night.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
It’s 1983, and Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva are about to throw their annual end-of-summer party. As the four siblings entertain their guests, it quickly becomes apparent that they are each guarding their own secrets about their personal lives. Little do they know, all of their lives will be changed forever over the course of the next 24 hours. Taylor Jenkins Reid demonstrates her immense talent for storytelling in this fast-paced novel about the tangled web of dysfunctional relationships that can exist among the members of one unforgettable family.
Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So
If a novel isn’t calling your name, then consider this debut collection of short stories. Late author Anhony Veasna So provides insight into Cambodian-American life in these nine immersive, tenderhearted, and humorous stories. His characters beam with love, life, and longing as they navigate the triumphs and struggles of race, sexuality, friendship, and family. Most notably, hisvivid writing sheds much-needed light on Cambodian-American queer and immigrant communities.
That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
When suburban wife and mother Daisy Shoemaker starts receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, she finds herself hooked on Diana’s seemingly glamorous single life. When the two women meet and become close friends, however, readers learn that their initial connection may not have been accidental after all. With Jennifer Weiner’s vibrant writing in tow, be prepared to experience a captivating whirlwind of intrigue and secrets with female friendship at its core.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Fifteen years ago, teenagers Eva and Shane spent seven days madly in love. In the present, they are both bestselling Black authors who unexpectedly reunite at a literary event. Their chemistry is undeniable; moreover, they’ve secretly been writing to each other in their books through the years. Over the next seven summer days, Eva and Shane reconnect. Will their love last this time around? Hailed as a “testament to Black joy” by Jodi Picoult, this compelling and steamy novel promises readers a good time as it navigates romance, identity, and contemporary life.
Get Hooked on Historical Fiction!
By Patty Monaghan
Are you interested in learning about historical time periods, but don’t have the time or energy to bury your nose in a dense work of nonfiction? Try out historical fiction, an ever-expanding genre of fictional stories that are set against a virtually endless backdrop of historical settings. Whether you’re seasoned in the genre or just starting out, these four outstanding works of historical fiction will positively transport you back in time.
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
Bestselling author Tracy Chevalier tells the story of a pioneer family on the American frontier in this beautifully crafted novel set between 1838 and 1856. When the Goodenough family settles in northwest Ohio, they decide to buy saplings from Johnny Appleseed and devote their lives to cultivating apple trees. The years of hardship that follow prompt Robert, the youngest of the Goodenough children, to leave his family behind for the excitement and solace of the California Gold Rush. Told through alternating perspectives, Chevalier presents readers with an atmospheric historical drama that is ripe with detail.
The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris
Prentiss and Landry are brothers who were recently freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in this stunning debut novel set in Georgia at the end of the Civil War. Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers who have just returned to their hometown. Both pairs find refuge from the violence of the Reconstruction era on the homestead of George and Isabelle Walker. Readers will find themselves captivated by Harris’ unforgettable cast of characters and the turmoil they endure. Fans of James McBride and Colson Whitehead will absolutely devour this profound novel that is as gripping as it is moving.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Yale Tishman has just hit his stride as the director of a Chicago art gallery when his friends begin dying, one by one. It’s 1985, and the AIDS epidemic is leaving Yale’s world in a state of utter devastation. Thirty years later, his story intertwines with that of Fiona, who is still grappling with the ways in which AIDS has impacted her life. Considered a brilliant work of modern historical fiction, Rebecca Makkai’s masterful novel is immersive, commemorative, and poignant. Makkai’s ability to capture the love, fear, anger, and trauma that was experienced during such a tumultuous – and scarily recent – time makes this book a stunning literary feat.
Park Avenue Summer by Renée Rosen
It is 1965, and Alice Weiss has just landed a big-city job working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of the scandalous bestseller Sex and the Single Girl. Upon her arrival at the office, Alice is astonished by the number of employees who would rather see the magazine fail than have it be run by a woman. This realization only provides Alice with the determination to help Helen succeed. Rosen’s compelling writing perfectly captures the early days of Helen Gurley Brown’s career and the road she paved for women in the editorial industry.
By Patty Monaghan
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved people in the United States. While Juneteenth has been celebrated throughout the country since 1865, it has only been a federal holiday since 2021. Are you interested in learning more about this momentous event in American history? Check out these incredible books!
Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration by Edward T. Cotham, Jr.
In this captivating book, you will learn the facts and legends surrounding the celebratory national holiday known as Juneteenth. Author and Civil War historian Edward T. Cotham, Jr. incorporates decades of research into this essential scholarly work. His passion for American history is evident on every page, as is his determination to provide readers with a stronger understanding of this joyous event.
Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison was arguably one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. Case in point, he spent four decades perfecting this literary masterpiece. In this magnificent novel, he tells the story of a dying senator and the Black minister that he summons to his deathbed. Through their poignant kinship, the two uncover elements of their identities that had long been buried by painful memories. Ellison powerfully evokes themes of jazz and gospel in this stunning tour de force of classic Black literature.
Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction by Eric Foner
Using a wide range of long-neglected documents, historian Eric Foner sheds new light on the post-Civil War era in this groundbreaking work of nonfiction. Foner successfully debunks numerous assumptions regarding America’s years of emancipation and reconstruction, many of which had been whitewashed and rooted in racism. His mesmerizing use of easily digestible language is further complemented by the inclusion of historical illustrations.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Coming in at just under 150 pages, this slim volume beautifully combines memoir with American history. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed expertly recounts the origin of Juneteenth in her home state of Texas, including its personal impact on her enslaved ancestors. Her eye-opening research provides an illuminating and much-needed perspective on the vital and virtually unknown role that African Americans played in the history of Texas.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Pride Month is a time to celebrate the monumental achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge how much work still needs to be done in order to attain full equality and representation. Challenge yourself to read the rainbow this month by picking up any of these four fabulous books, all of which revolve around themes of sexual orientation and gender identity.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
New York Times bestselling author Kristen Arnett focuses on LGBTQ+ parenthood in this candid and provocative novel. Sammie is determined to have the picture-perfect queer family, but her increasingly absent wife, Monika, and their surly son, Samson, are preventing her from bringing this vision to life. Arnett, a self-described “very happily lesbian” writer, uses her characteristic warmth and wit in this successful portrayal of the challenges of love, marriage, and parenthood.
Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement by Christopher Measom
This gorgeously illustrated book serves as a groundbreaking and essential tribute to the LGBTQ+ Pride Movement while also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Covering landmark events and milestones of the past century, writer/photographer Christopher Measom includes more than 120 photographs, posters, ads, and works of art that represent the history of the LGBTQ+ community. Not to be missed are the numerous excerpts from key speeches, articles, and other written media, all of which can be found in the pride-filled pages of this remarkable book.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Gay Uncle “Guncle” Patrick is living a life of luxury in sunny Palm Springs when tragedy strikes, and he suddenly finds himself as the primary guardian of his young niece and nephew. Despite having a set of house rules at the ready, Patrick quickly becomes overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for two children under the age of 10. Through humor and heart, author Steven Rowley soars in this outstanding ode to the power of love, family, and patience.
Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness
You may know Jonathan Van Ness as the grooming and self-care expert on Queer Eye, the hit Netflix series. In this revelatory and rambunctious memoir, the openly gay hairstylist and TV personality shares never-before-told stories of his midwestern upbringing. Readers will learn how the struggles he endured during his adolescence made him into the radiant human he is today. Van Ness’s writing is heartwarming in its positivity and witty in its comedic delivery.
Get Your Grill On!
By Patty Monaghan
Independence Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time to dust off that barbecue grill! If you’re not sure what to make for your 4th of July feast, check out these four fantastic cookbooks. From meat and potatoes to fish and veggies, these cookbooks offer some of the best grilling recipes that are guaranteed to meet all of your BBQ needs.
Guy on Fire: Grilling, Tailgating, Camping, and More! by Guy Fieri
While Guy Fieri’s knack for tracking down the best food joints in America has made him a household name, he is also a tremendously successful chef in his own right. In this cookbook, Fieri provides 130 stellar recipes for outdoor cooking that will take you straight to Flavortown. From bacon-wrapped hot dogs and old-school baked beans to smoked chicken tacos and fire-roasted pizza, Fieri ensures that there’s room on the grill to fulfill everyone’s cravings.
Ultimate Grilling Cookbook by Good Housekeeping
If you’re looking for classic all-American grilling recipes, look no further than the outstanding offerings of Good Housekeeping. The 250 delicious, triple-tested recipes compiled in this book include starters, burgers, meats, sides, sauces, and more! You’ll also find helpful suggestions and advice on meal planning and grilling equipment, as well as easy-to-master grilling techniques from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen.
Great Vegan BBQ Without a Grill by Linda & Alex Meyer
Mother-daughter team Linda and Alex Meyer are here to prove that you can still enjoy good BBQ without animal products or a grill! Featuring more than 70 scrumptious plant-based recipes, this cookbook will teach you how to easily replicate the smoky flavors and textures of classic BBQ dishes using a grill pan or cast-iron skillet. The wide variety of meat-free burgers, entrees, sides, and sauces included in these pages will undoubtedly satisfy everyone at your table.
The Brisket Chronicles by Steven Raichlen
Award-winning cookbook author Steven Raichlen has an undying love for brisket. Hailed as the “Shakespeare of Barbecue,” Raichlen has collected more than 60 mouthwatering brisket recipes in this brilliant cookbook. You’ll learn how to barbecue, braise, smoke, and cure the world’s most epic cut of meat in a variety of delectable dishes, from bacon-smoked brisket and kung pao pastrami to smoked corn beef and double brisket cheeseburgers.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Looking to expand your reading horizons? In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, learn about the cultures and experiences of four AAPI authors in these outstanding books. From award-winning fiction to unforgettable memoirs, these reads will be sure to captivate and inspire you.
Tastes Like War: A Memoir by Grace M. Cho
In this raw and exquisite memoir, Grace M. Cho reflects on her Korean-American upbringing and the struggles of navigating adolescence and adulthood with her schizophrenic mother. Cho delves into the impact that racism, xenophobia, and intergenerational trauma have had on her life in an attempt to understand the social and biological roots of her mother’s mental illness. Readers will be transfixed by this heartbreaking account of one family’s immigrant experience.
My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee
Tiller is an unmotivated college student from New Jersey; Pong Lou is a Chinese American entrepreneur who decides to take Tiller under his wing. When the two embark on a business trip across Asia, Tiller is exposed to a whole new world of cultural immersion. Pulitzer Prize finalist Chang-Rae Lee masterfully alternates between Asia’s effects on a young American man and America’s impact on a Chinese man in this breathtaking and exhilarating novel.
Book | |
Asian Americans in the Twenty-First Century by Joann Faung Jean Lee
Journalist Joann Faung Jean Lee compiled the results of 27 eye-opening interviews with Asian Americans of various backgrounds to form this astonishing and candid collection of oral histories. The stories included in this remarkable book touch on nearly every aspect of life for Asian Americans, from work and education to interracial marriage and cross-cultural adoption. The experiences recounted in these oral histories illuminate a rich mosaic of what it means to be an Asian American in modern society.
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
Winner of the National Book Award, this immensely inventive novel follows Willis Wu, a typical Asian American man who yearns to be more than the stereotypes that are constantly thrown in his face. Author Charles Yu tells Willis’ story in the form of an engaging and wildly original Hollywood screenplay that offers a striking commentary on racism and pop culture in America. Prepare to be hooked on this simultaneously hilarious and heartfelt story.
Book | |
May Is Mental Health Awareness Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Mental health is just as important as physical health. No matter what mental health issues you may be struggling with, it’s crucial to know that you are not alone. The following books discuss topics ranging from depression and PTSD to schizophrenia and can provide the comfort and reassurance you may be seeking.
For additional mental health resources, please refer to the following websites:
Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham
Cartoonist Darryl Cunningham sheds light on the world of mental illness in this groundbreaking collection of 11 graphic stories. Cunningham, who spent many years as a healthcare assistant on an acute psychiatric ward, offers a poignant and sympathetic look at mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Through eye-catching illustrations and minimal language, this powerful book effectively destigmatizes the mental health disorders that afflict 26% of American adults every day.
The Depression Toolkit by William J. Knaus, Alex Korb, Patricia J. Robinson, Lisa M. Schwab, and Kirk D. Strosahl
If you suffer from depression and need help managing your symptoms, this is the book for you! Written by a team of mental health experts, this slim guide provides tips and strategies that are grounded in mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and behavioral action in order to help you break free from the vicious cycle that depression can have on your daily life. The book’s short chapters offer small and impactful bites of advice that will teach you how to move past your negative thoughts and get motivated to live your best life.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Dominick Birdsey’s entire life has revolved around caring for and protecting Thomas, his paranoid schizophrenic identical twin brother. Bestselling author Wally Lamb paints an epic portrait of the impact of mental illness on one family throughout the second half of the 20th century in this monumental multi-generational family saga. Deeply memorable characters intermingle with sweeping themes of loneliness, desperation, and survival in this touching and truly unforgettable book that you will not want to put down.
Book | | |
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
In addition to being a major literary figure of the 20th century, author Virginia Woolf was also a longtime sufferer of bipolar disorder and a fierce mental health advocate. In this legendary novel, we experience one day in the life of British socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares to host a lavish party. Along the way, readers are introduced to Septimus Warren Smith, a World War I veteran suffering from severe PTSD. Woolf’s portrayal of PTSD is haunting in its accuracy and serves as one of the earliest representations of the debilitating mental illness in literature.
Book | | | |
Spring Into These Great Reads!
By Patty Monaghan
Spring has officially sprung! Flowers and trees all around us are in full bloom, and it’s getting warmer outside. To welcome this rejuvenating time of year, pick up one of these four fabulous books and let the spirit of spring sweep you off your feet.
Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank
Holly McNee Jensen is content with her quiet life as a beekeeper and librarian in this warm and heartfelt story. While prepping her hives for spring, Holly catches the attention of Archie, the widowed man next door. As their friendship begins to develop, Holly’s flamboyant sister and mother re-enter her life and upend the serene oasis that Holly has created for herself. Will Holly’s beloved bees provide her with the respite she needs from the chaos surrounding her?
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear
The tales of Beatrix Potter have become synonymous with spring. While you may be familiar with Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, how much do you know about the extraordinary woman behind their creation? In this remarkable biography, horticulturalist Linda Lear delves into the life and lesser-known achievements of the artist, storyteller, and countrywoman known as Beatrix Potter. Lear’s outstanding writing presents Potter as a passionate and independent woman who ultimately sought to bring nature back into the imagination.
Spring: A Novel by Ali Smith
It is said that hope springs eternal, and that is the message at the core of Ali Smith’s contemporary political novel set in modern Britain. From sex trafficking to the refugee crisis, Smith doubles down on these injustices and many more through the perspectives of three unique and memorable characters. As they grapple with society’s seemingly imminent collapse, Mother Nature bursts forth with the determination to provide a fresh layer of greenery over the rubble and ruins caused by humankind.
Book | | |
Chasing Spring: An American Journey Through a Changing Season by Bruce Stutz
Over the course of three months, acclaimed nature writer Bruce Stutz captured the complete unfolding of an American spring season by traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to the Alaskan Arctic. Along the way, he had thought-provoking conversations with scientists and farmers whose livelihoods not only depend on springtime, but are being threatened by the ever-looming force of climate change. Stutz’s writing is witty and gentle as he observes the ways in which animals and landscapes respond to the call of spring, thus making this book an essential work of armchair travel.
April is National Poetry Month!
By Patty Monaghan
Are you interested in reading poetry, but don’t know where to start? Have no fear – our list of recommended starting points is free of the mighty intimidators such as Homer and Shakespeare. Take part in National Poetry Month by picking up any of these outstanding and accessible collections by both classic and contemporary poets.
101 Poems That Could Save Your Life edited by Daisy Goodwin
Poems are wondrous when it comes to easing the harsh emotions that life throws our way. Pick up this anthology, and you’ll find beautiful poems that will provide you with warmth, comfort, and reassurance. This collection is guaranteed to boost your mood on any given day. From Emily Dickinson and Lord Byron to Dorothy Parker and Ted Hughes, you will be introduced to a myriad of poets whose work you’ll want to devour.
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
As the youngest presidential inaugural poet in US history, Amanda Gorman has already made quite a name for herself. If you were captivated by her moving performance of “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, then the poems in her debut collection will leave you utterly transfixed. Gorman’s use of language is luminous and timely, offering hope and healing in an unprecedented time.
Book | |
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the Harlem Renaissance. This collection offers some of the greatest poems of the 20th century. Hughes’ words are simultaneously simple, concise, impactful, and inspirational. Illustrations by Brian Pinkney add a profound visual element to Hughes’ poetry, thus creating a well-rounded reading experience.
Devotions by Mary Oliver
If you consider yourself a nature lover but have struggled to find nature writing that appeals to you, look no further than Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver. This invaluable and treasured collection of her timeless work is the perfect place to start. It contains more than 50 years of Oliver’s poems, all of which revolve around the wonders of the natural world.
The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath
Though she is most well-known for her novel, The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath was also an incredible poet. This monumental collection is an enchanting meditation on life and death. It is also the only volume of poetry that Plath published before her own death in 1963. The 40 poems contained within this slim volume are startling in their imagery and elegant in their artistry. You won’t be able to stop yourself from picking it up again and again.
Happy Earth Day: Gardening Books
By Patty Monaghan
Celebrate Earth Day with these great gardening books! Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your garden, start a garden for the first time, or become more informed on plant life, these books will lead you in a greener direction.
Practical Cactus & Succulent Book by Fran Bailey & Zia Allaway
Are you interested in gardening, but don’t have the time or outdoor space to start one of your own? Creating an indoor garden of cacti and succulents may be your solution. This informative book will teach you everything you need to know about these resilient, low-maintenance plants and how best to nurture them. Photographs of over 200 varieties of cacti and succulents are included, as well as helpful tips on the amount of light, water, and soil they each need.
One Magic Square Vegetable Gardening by Lolo Houbein
Author Lolo Houbein shares four decades of her gardening wisdom in this enchanting guide to vegetable gardening. All you need to get started is a 3-foot-square plot of soil. Houbein expertly intertwines her vast gardening knowledge with personal anecdotes of her experiences. Most notably, this book features over 40 ways to design your 3-foot-square based on what you want to grow, from beans and greens to onions and herbs.
Native Plants of the Northeast by Donald J. Leopold
Did you know that there are nearly 700 species of trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and grasses that are native to the Northeast United States? This book delves into describing a great number of those species, taking care to include color photographs and practical advice on cultivation and propagation. If you want to add native plants to your garden or learn how to restore native plant habitats, this book is an essential resource.
Month-by-Month Gardening in New York by André & Mark Viette
Start your garden at any time of year with this immensely resourceful book as your guide. You will learn the ins and outs of caring for all types of plants throughout the year, from bulbs and shrubs to perennials and roses. Concise tips on planning, planting, pruning, watering, and fertilizing are provided for every month and every type of plant. Additional hints and various gardening projects are sprinkled throughout each chapter for even more inspiration on how you can make your garden grow.
Successful Small Gardens by Roy Strong
Looking to transform your small garden into a backyard oasis? Accomplished gardener and garden writer Roy Strong presents 20 innovative and beautiful garden designs that are organized according to the level of upkeep they require. Stunning photographs and design illustrations of both classic and contemporary gardens fill the pages of this inspiring book. Strong also provides helpful tips on the structure and planting of each garden.
April is National Humor Month
By Patty Monaghan
There is no better time than National Humor Month to settle down with a book that makes you laugh. Humorous books are abundant in every genre, from fiction and mystery to sci-fi and memoir. There’s something for everyone, so what are you waiting for? Pick up one of these hilarious books, and be sure to have your chuckles ready.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
When Arthur Dent is thrust into the galaxy moments before the total destruction of Planet Earth, he knows that it’s not going to be an ordinary Thursday. Join Arthur on his wild and wacky adventures through the galaxy in this beloved work of comedic science fiction. Douglas Adams’ use of sidesplitting satire and wit will make this reading experience truly unforgettable.
Book | |
The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
The 2008 financial crisis has just crushed Charles Wang’s wealth. The patriarch of a fractured Chinese-immigrant family, Charles becomes determined to take his wife and kids back to China in an attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral land. Debut author Jade Chang takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime using the perfect combination of charm and humor.
Book | |
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Meet Thursday Next, a detective who lives in an alternative 1980s Great Britain where time travel is part of everyday life, and people can literally get lost in the pages of a book. When someone kidnaps Jane Eyre from the pages of Charlotte Bronte’s iconic novel, it’s up to Thursday to catch the criminal and restore order to the literary world. You will find yourself grinning from ear to ear as you absorb the delightful wit of Jasper Fforde’s storytelling.
Book | |
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
You may be familiar with Mindy Kaling’s comedic work on TV sitcoms like The Office and The Mindy Project. In this hilarious collection of autobiographical essays, Kaling reflects on herchildhood, college years, friendships, relationships, and – of course – her career. Kaling’s writing is compulsively readable, utterly relatable, and unreservedly funny.
Book | |
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
No list of humorous books would be complete without David Sedaris. The anecdotes included in this particular collection revolve around the deeply amusing elements of a little thing called love. Sedaris’ uncanny ability to transform everyday events into uproariously funny and moving stories is remarkable. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wheezing with laughter as you attempt to read parts of this book out loud to your friends.
Book | |
Women’s History Month: Biographies
By: Patty Monaghan
The accomplishments of women throughout history deserve to be celebrated throughout the year. In honor of this year’s Women’s History Month, we have compiled four biographies of outstanding women who successfully fought for their right to be heard and refused to give up.
All In: An Autobiography by Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King leaves no stone unturned in her intimate and epic autobiography. She details her life as a professional tennis player who successfully fought against sexism and went on to become an out-and-proud activist for LGBTQ+ rights. King’s writing is superb in its candidness, and readers will be left feeling inspired by her unwavering courage.
Book | |
Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
As the first female African environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai is the quintessential embodiment of the power of perseverance and independence. In this gripping and compelling memoir, Maathai recounts her remarkable life, from founding the Green Belt Movement to her ultimate success in saving Kenya’s forests.
Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells by Michelle Duster
This brilliantly visual biography, which includes numerous photographs and illustrations, examines the fascinating life of suffragist and activist Ida B. Wells. Authored by Wells’ great-granddaughter, this unique book examines Wells’ groundbreaking achievements, from her outspokenness on the harsh treatment of African Americans to co-founding the NAACP.
If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) by Betty White
It’s only right that we celebrate the sensational life of TV legend Betty White by recommending her 2011 memoir, which is equally funny and sweet. In the book, White demonstrates her signature humor and class by sharing memorable anecdotes from her decades-long career, as well as her reflections on life, love, and friendship.
Women’s History Month: Adult Fiction
By: Patty Monaghan
Women’s History Month is not only a time to celebrate the achievements of well-known women, but also the triumphs of everyday women. Get ready to settle down with one (or more) of these excellent works of female-driven fiction written by stellar women authors.
Roar by Cecelia Ahern
This dynamic collection of 30 feminist short stories is a fantastically fierce ode to what it means to be a woman in today’s society. These insightful stories provide layers of authenticity and empowerment that will resonate with women readers. Ahern adds whimsical elements of magical realism to the situations presented in each story, making for a truly fun reading experience.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
This vivid page-turner follows the life of Jewish immigrant Addie Baum as she navigates the city of Boston during the early 20th century. Diamant’s writing positively flourishes in this thought-provoking and entertaining novel. Readers will instantly admire Addie’s success in breaking through the barriers that try (and fail) to hold her back.
Circe by Madeline Miller
When Circe, the formidable sorceress from Homer’s The Odyssey, discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, she is banished to a desert island where she must learn to fend for herself. Miller uses mesmerizing language set against the magnificent backdrop of Greek mythology in this epic novel about the strength of one woman in a male-dominated world.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Alice Love is 29-years-old, happily married, and expecting her first child…or is she? When Alice comes to after suffering a fall, she is stunned to realize that she is actually a nearly-divorced mother of three who is about to turn 40. Readers will delight in Moriarty’s captivating and humorous story of one woman’s unique journey through a lost decade of her life.
Women’s History Month: Nora Roberts
By: Patty Monaghan
You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard of Nora Roberts. Since 1991, she has penned more than 215 New York Times bestsellers, nearly 50 of which lay under her pseudonym, J.D. Robb. According to Roberts’ official , 27 of her books are sold every minute.
If you feel a tad intimidated by her massive catalog, you are not alone! From contemporary romance and mysteries to paranormal intrigue, there’s a Nora Roberts book that you are bound to love. We’ve compiled some of the best places to start right here:
Welcome to Harper House, the centuries-old Memphis mansion that has long been haunted by a Harper family ghost. When Stella, a young widow, moves into the house and begins working at the property’s nursery, she isn’t intimidated by the mansion’s spooky history. Rather, she quickly settles comfortably into her new life. Follow Stella on her journey as she develops new friendships, balances motherhood with her new job, and falls head over heels for a luscious landscaper named Logan.
After being falsely accused of murdering his ex-wife, Eli seeks refuge at Bluff House on Whiskey Beach. Upon his arrival, he meets the home’s caretaker, Abra Walsh, who immediately provides him with the nurturing that he so desperately needs. As he tries to solve the mystery surrounding his ex-wife’s death, Eli soon realizes that someone is determined to destroy him. Will Eli and Abra be able to free themselves from the rumors threatening to drag them under?
Following a life-altering traumatic event, Abigail Lowery has built a life for herself based on security and self-control. She lives alone on the outskirts of the Ozarks which, unfortunately, only attracts the attention of Brooks Gleason, the local police chief. He is amazed by her intellect and self-sufficiency, but suspects that she is hiding something behind her determination to keep a low profile. You will be riveted by the events that unfold when Abigail lets Brooks into her life.
The end has come. More than half of the world’s population has been annihilated, and the government has collapsed. The power of technology has been reduced to nothing, and magic is taking its place…both good and bad. Embark on the journeys of a group of survivors as they make their way to a western frontier, encountering friends and foes along the way. Fans of fantastical and dystopian fiction will absolutely devour the pages of this utterly suspenseful novel.