Welcome to PCRBPL Book Picks!
By Patty Monaghan
The Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library is proud to present our very own blog, PCRBPL Book Picks! As you may have noticed, we have recently launched our new-and-improved website. With the ever-growing digital age upon us, it is crucial that we devote more time and attention to expanding our online offerings. As always, it is our goal to fulfill the wants, needs, and interests of the beautiful communities we serve.
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? All of these questions and more will be answered right here on PCRBPL Book Picks. We look forward to becoming your go-to book recommendation station. Happy reading!
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.