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Walker's Bookshelf

Kicking Off Mystery Month with the Queen of Mystery

The month of May is Mystery Month. We are celebrating a bit early by highlighting several authors. Each week we will be featuring a sub-genre in mystery.

To kick things off, we are highlighting Agatha Christie, the Queen of Mystery. Here are a few things you may not know about Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie mysteriously disappeared for eleven days.

December 1926 was a tumultuous time for Christie. Her first husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, admitted to an affair, her mother died, and Christie herself mysteriously disappeared. Eleven days later, police found her staying at a hotel under an assumed name. She never spoke about what happened during those eleven days. Some believed it was a publicity stunt for her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Next to the Bard, Agatha Christie has sold the most books.

Christie has sold more than 4 billion copies of her books. She wrote 85 books, most of which were detective stories.

Aside from whodunnits, Agatha Christie also wrote plays and romance novels.

Under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels, which she kept secret from the public for twenty years. Christie was also a successful playwright. Her play, The Mousetrap, still plays at theaters across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Agatha Christie, being the sleuth that she was, kept Hercule Poirot’s last case a secret.

Christie kept Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case in a bank vault. She intended to publish the book after her death. Ultimately though, she was persuaded to publish the book in 1975. Interestingly, Hercule Poirot is the only fictional character who has had his own obituary. The New York Times published Hercule Poirot Is Dead; Famed Belgian Detective in August 6, 1975.

Article taken from the New York Times. Photo from tainted-archive.blogspot.com

Upon reading a Japanese translator’s list of favorite Agatha Christie books, Agatha Christie decided to create her own list of favorites.

Here’s her choices, taken from a letter written in 1972 (from agathachristie.com):

“My own ten would certainly vary from time to time because every now and then I re-read an early book for some particular reason, to answer a question that has been asked me perhaps, and then I alter my opinion – sometimes thinking it is much better than I thought it was – or not so good as I had thought.

At the moment my own list would possibly be:

*And Then There Were None – a difficult technique which was a challenge and so I enjoyed it, and I think dealt with it satisfactorily.

*The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – a general favourite.

*A Murder is Announced – I thought all the characters interesting to write about and felt I knew them quite well by the time the book was finished.

*Murder on the Orient Express – again because it was a new idea for a plot.

The Thirteen Problems – a good series of stories.

Towards Zero – I found it interesting to work on the idea of people from different places coming towards a murder, instead of starting with the murder and working from that.

*Endless Night – my own favourite at present.

*Crooked House – I found a study of a certain family interesting to explore.

Ordeal By Innocence – an idea I had had for some time before starting to work upon it.

The Moving Finger – which I have re-read lately and enjoyed reading it again, very much.”

*All titles with an asterisk are available in the library. Click on the title to request the book.

For the full list of Agatha Christie titles that we have in the library, go to this link ➡ CATALOG.

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Walker's Bookshelf

The Friend, A Meditation On Writing and On Life

“What we miss – what we lose and what we mourn – isn’t it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are. To say nothing of what we wanted in life but never got to have.” – Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

Sigrid Nunez’ The Friend follows the story of a woman who has lost her dear friend and mentor. When he died, she adopted his Great Dane, Apollo. Together, they help each other overcome their shared grief.

The Friend, though, is much more than a simple dog story. The non-linear narrative explores themes of life and death. Nunez delves into the protagonist’s thoughts as a writer, a teacher, and on becoming the new owner of a Great Dane. Despite making few appearances, Apollo’s presence poignantly resonates throughout the book. We discover that Apollo, like his current owner, has an affinity for literature and loves to be read to.

Nunez’ writing is witty, solemn, and sparse. The result is soothing. The Friend is a mesmerizing meditation on writing and on life. I highly recommend this book to those who love literature and/or dogs.


More books about the bond between human and animals

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope–a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.**

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper’s son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain (WorldCat.org).

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.**

**Book descriptions are taken from publisher, unless otherwise specified.
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Walker's Bookshelf

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout

I could easily see why Radioactive by Lauren Redniss was a finalist for the National Book Award.  It is a combination of art, science, history, and life story that not only informs, but engages the reader emotionally through the colors and drawings. You don’t need a science background to find this book fascinating.

The text moves from the Curie’s laboratory discoveries of Radium and later Polonium in the early 1900’s to developments that grew out or those discoveries both good and horrific. They include the atomic bomb, power for submarines, cancer treatments, x-ray technology, nuclear power plants, and many other uses. Devastating outcomes include Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

The long years of hard work and discovery are underpinned by their intensely loving partnership as they were also solidly united in their research goals. After Pierre died, Marie formed a similar relationship with the brilliant physicist Paul Langevin (Paul’s wife was not at all happy about it and it led to a great public scandal).

The pages of the book have an eerie glow, much like the beakers of radium that the Curie’s kept unshielded on the tables and shelves of their daily work space. They both died of some form of radiation sickness. The reader can almost feel it coming as the page colors reflect the text. I happened to get up in the night in my totally dark room and realized that the yellow glow I was seeing was this book!

Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes and was the first woman professor at the Sorbonne in 650 years. Her daughter Irene and her husband won a Nobel Prize for the creation of artificial radioactivity. There is so much of interest in this book that I plan to read it a second time.

Book review by Martha


Read-alikes

 

Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie by Barbara Goldsmith

Through family interviews, diaries, letters, and workbooks that had been sealed for over sixty years, Barbara Goldsmith reveals the Marie Curie behind the myth―an all-too-human woman struggling to balance a spectacular scientific career, a demanding family, the prejudice of society, and her own passionate nature. Obsessive Genius is a dazzling portrait of Curie, her amazing scientific success, and the price she paid for fame (from publisher).

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is whimsical, unusual, and irresistible (from publisher).

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death (from publisher).

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Walker's Bookshelf

Portrait of an Iconoclast

In Jasmin Darznik’s Song of a Captive Bird, she explores the life of Forugh Farrokzhad, one of the great Iranian poets of the 20th century. Farrokzhad’s poetry is known for its simplicity, fierceness, and boldness. At a time when women were expected to be silent, Farrokzhad unapologetically wrote about women’s desires and emotions. She often criticized and challenged the patriarchal attitudes of contemporary Iranian society.

As someone who was personally inspired by Farrokzhad’s writings, Jasmin Darznik presents a well-researched, fictionalized account of Forugh Farrokzhad’s life story. In the author’s note, she mentioned “embracing the unique power of fiction to illuminate the past.” Darznik does more. She takes the reader into Iran, with its rich culture and history, and presents the powerful story of Forugh Farrokzhad, who in life was as unyielding and bold as her poetry, and just as complex.


READ-ALIKES

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family until a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and move with her to Japan, in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

From 1995-97 in Iran, Azar Nafisi gathered with seven of her former students, all young women, to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Reserved at first, the women soon learned to speak their minds and share their repressed dreams.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Recounting the story of her life to her granddaughter, octogenarian Addie describes how she was raised in early-twentieth-century America by Jewish immigrant parents in a teeming multicultural neighborhood.

**Descriptions from NoveList Plus**

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Walker's Bookshelf

Rising to Shine Like Stars : Biographies of Strong & Inspirational Women

One of my favorite authors, Octavia Butler, once wrote, “In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.” It’s a quote about resilience and empowerment. So here are some of the biographies of women who, like a Phoenix, rose to shine like stars.

THE QUEEN OF HEARTBREAK TRAIL : THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARRIET SMITH PULLEN PIONEERING WOMAN by Eleanor Phillips Brackbill **Westbrook author**

The story of Harriet Smith Pullen’s early life, from her childhood journeys by covered wagon to her family’s subsistence in sod houses on the Dakota prairie where they survived grasshopper plagues, floods, fires, blizzards, and droughts is a narrative of American migration and adventure that still resonates today. But there is much more to the legendary woman’s life, revealed here for the first time by Eleanor Phillips Brackbill, her great-granddaughter, who has traveled the path of her ancestor, delving into unpublished material, as well as sharing family stories in this American story that will capture the imagination of a new generation (publisher’s description).

SHIRLEY JACKSON : A RATHER HAUNTED LIFE by Ruth Franklin

Reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the American author, demonstrating how her unique contribution to the Gothic genre came from a focus on domestic horror drawn from an era hostile to women.

LOUISA : THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF MRS. ADAMS by Louisa Thomas

An intimate portrait of the British-born wife of John Quincy Adams details her significantly different upbringing from her husband, their tempestuous marriage, their wide range of residences and her efforts to forge her own sense of self.

MADAME PRESIDENT : THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF by Helene Cooper

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2005 Liberian presidential election, she demolished a barrier few thought possible, obliterating centuries of patriarchal rule to become the first female elected head of state in Africa’s history. Madame President is the inspiring, often heartbreaking story of Sirleaf’s evolution from an ordinary Liberian mother of four boys to international banking executive, from a victim of domestic violence to a political icon, from a post-war president to a Nobel Peace Prize winner (publisher description).

THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR : AN ORAL HISTORY OF WOMEN IN WORLD WAR II by Svetlana Alexievich

This absorbing oral history, a Nobel Prize-winning author compiles firsthand reports of Russian women in military service during World War II. Many were reluctant to discuss their experiences; while they often performed similar duties as men (for example, as snipers or tank drivers) their perceptions and experiences differed significantly. Weaving their accounts into a vivid tapestry, The Unwomanly Face of War spotlights previously unnoticed ordeals and historical achievements. — Description by Katherine Bradley Johnson (from NoveList Plus).

LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY : THE LIFE, LOVES, LOSSES, AND LIBERATION OF JOAN RIVERS by Leslie Bennetts

A portrait of the influential comedienne explores her enduring cultural legacy, discussing subjects ranging from her husband’s suicide and her feud with Johnny Carson to her numerous cosmetic surgeries and her controversial death in 2014.

 

ELEANOR AND HICK : THE LOVE AFFAIR THAT SHAPED A FIRST LADY by Susan Quinn

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok—a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women’s lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history (publisher description).

THE LAST GIRL : MY STORY OF CAPTIVITY, AND MY FIGHT AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE by Nadia Murad

A human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee traces the harrowing and ultimately inspiring story of her captivity by the Islamic State, describing how militants massacred the people of her Iraqi farming village, killing most of her family members and forcing her into prostitution before she escaped and became an advocate for human rights.

BLACK LOTUS : A WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR RACIAL IDENTITY by Sil Lai Abrams

Sil Lai Abrams always knew she was different, with darker skin and curlier hair than her siblings. But when the man who she thought was her dad told her the truth–that her father was actually black–her whole world was turned upside down. Raised primarily in the Caucasian community of Winter Park, Florida, Abrams was forced to re-examine who she really was and struggle with her Caucasian, African American, and Chinese identities. In her remarkable memoir, she shares this journey and how it speaks to a larger question: Why does race matter?

 

RUSSIAN TATTOO by Elena Gorokhova

After she left the Iron Curtain and her mother for a new life in America, Elena Gorokhova, had to adjust to the life of an immigrant, making mistakes and adapting to her new surroundings.

BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND : HARRIET TUBMAN PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN MIND by Kate Clifford Larson

Draws on extensive genealogical resources and new archives and materials to capture Harriet Tubman’s complex life and personality, revealing her personal life, accomplishments, and influence.

THE HOME THAT WAS OUR COUNTRY : A MEMOIR OF SYRIA by Alia Malek

In The Home that Was My Country, Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek chronicles her return to her family home in Damascus and the history of the Jabban apartment building. Here, generations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Armenians lived, worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters. In telling the story of her family over the course of the last century, Alia brings to light the triumphs and failures that have led Syria to where it is today.

**Descriptions from NoveList Plus, unless otherwise specified.**

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Walker's Bookshelf

What It Means To Be Free

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is a literal and figurative exploration of the historical Underground Railroad of mid-19th century America.  Whitehead takes the reader on-board a literal underground railroad that takes slaves from one unknown destination to the next. The railroad serves as a metaphor for the harrowing realities encountered by slaves fleeing bondage. The story follows a runaway slave named Cora as she travels from Georgia to Indiana. Throughout her journey, she witnesses how slaves who yearn for freedom and liberty often end up bloodied, beaten, and dead.

The Underground Railroad is not just any modern slave narrative. The message it sends is fierce, audacious, and grand. Colson Whitehead holds a mirror to modern-day America and asks us what it means to be free.


READ A-LIKES

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved (publisher’s description).

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin (publisher’s description).

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters

A tale set in a modern America where the Civil War never happened and the country has forged a dubious agreement with four states that still enforce slavery follows the experiences of a talented black bounty hunter who makes discoveries about his mysterious past while infiltrating an abolitionist group to catch a high-profile runaway (Minerva).

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Youth Services

Award-winning Books for Kids & Teens

Here are some of the award-winning books for kids and teens that you can check out now.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (YA FIC Colbert)

Returning home to Los Angeles from her New England boarding school, Suzette considers staying home for good so that she can be near her friends, her crush, and her recently diagnosed bipolar brother, a situation that is complicated by her growing feelings for the girl her brother loves.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA FIC Lee)

Two friends on a Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe stumble across a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt shaped by pirates, highwaymen and their growing attraction to one another.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (YA FIC Taylor)

Presents the story of a guilt-ridden hero, a dreamer librarian and a girl with dangerous powers who all combat monsters and treachery in the aftermath of a war between gods and men.

Noodleheads See the Future by Tedd Arnold (JUV E Arnold)

Inspired by folktales about fools from around the world, brothers Mac and Mac Noodlehead exasperate Uncle Ziti, are fooled by their friend Meatball, and make a garden for their mother.

A Different Pond by Bao Phi (JUV PIC Phi)

As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam (Publisher’s description).

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar (JUV FIC Behar)

A semi-autobiographical story about a multicultural girl’s coming-of-age in the 1960s describes how Cuban-Jewish Ruthie Mizrahi emigrates with her family from Castro’s Cuba to New York, where a devastating accident challenges her perceptions about mortality and strength.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA FIC Thomas)

After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (YA FIC Reynolds)

Pressed our lips to the pavement and prayed the boom, followed by the buzz of a bullet,didn’t meet us.After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago (description from WorldCAT).

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (YA FIC Slater)

Tells the true story of an agender teen who was set on fire by another teen while riding a bus in Oakland, a crime that focuses on the concepts of race, class, gender, crime, and punishment.

**Descriptions from NoveList Plus unless otherwise specified**

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Walker's Bookshelf

New Books To Look For

Here are some of the new titles to look for in the library and add to your Mt. TBR (to-be-read list).

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

A story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.
The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion (publisher’s description).

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

Kit is a librarian who closes herself off from emotions and people until she meets Sunny, assigned to the library for community service. Add in a group of regulars in thelibrary and the result is an absorbing story of developing friendships and the unveiling of secrets. Kit’s story unfolds as we meet many quirky characters in this story of love, loss, and hope. — Ellen Firer for LibraryReads.

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

A  novel about the trailblazing Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied society’s expectations to find her voice and her destiny
All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel and tradition seeks to clip her wings.
Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews, this novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran (publisher’s description).

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In this novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom (Publisher’s description).

The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura

Yurika is a freelancer in the Tokyo underworld. She poses as a prostitute, carefully targeting potential johns, selecting powerful and high-profile men. When she is alone with them, she drugs them and takes incriminating photos to sell for blackmail purposes. She knows very little about the organization she’s working for, and is perfectly satisfied with the arrangement, as long as it means she doesn’t have to reveal anything about her identity, either.
But when a figure from Yurika’s past resurfaces, she realizes there is someone out there who knows all her secrets: her losses, her motivations, her every move. There are whispers of a crime lord named Kizaki—“a monster,” she is told—and Yurika finds herself trapped in a game of cat and mouse (Publisher’s description).

In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo

Karen Karbo’s In Praise of Difficult Women explores what we can learn from the imperfect and extraordinary legacies of 29 iconic women who forged their own unique paths in the world. Smart, sassy, and unapologetically feminine, this illustrated book is an ode to the bold and charismatic women of modern history (Publisher’s description).

I Can’t Breathe by Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi’s deeply reported retelling of these events liberates Eric Garner from the abstractions of newspaper accounts and lets us see the man in full—with all his flaws and contradictions intact. A husband and father with a complicated personal history, Garner was neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family, bedeviled by bad luck, and ultimately subdued by forces beyond his control. I Can’t Breathe drills down into the particulars of one case to confront us with the human cost of our broken approach to dispensing criminal justice (Publisher’s description).

I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.
Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots (Publisher’s description).

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more (Publisher’s description).

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame (Publisher’s description).

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Leni and her troubled family embark on a new way of life in Alaska’s wilderness in 1974 – hoping this is finally the solution for her troubled, POW father. In Alaska, Leni and her family are tested and when change comes to their small community her father’s anger threatens to explode and divide the town. This is a beautifully written novel, descriptive and engaging with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place. — Alissa Williams for LibraryReads.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith

Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection [of essay by Zadie Smith] poses questions we immediately recognize. Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive–and never any less than perfect company.

Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Framed by corrupt enemies within the NYPD and forced to serve a decade in prison, private detective Joe King Oliver receives a confession from a woman who helped set him up, a situation that compels him to investigate his own case at the same time he assists a black radical journalist who has been wrongly accused of murdering two corrupt cops (NoveList Plus).

Brotopia by Emily Chang

Reveals how male-dominated Silicon Valley became sexist despite its utopian ideals and decades of companies claiming the moral high ground, and how women are finally starting to fight back against toxic workplaces and sexual harassment (NoveList Plus).

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together (Publisher’s description).

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Walker's Bookshelf

A Quest to Save the Swans

Set in Ankara, Turkey, Ece Temelkuran’s The Time of Mute Swans follows the lives of two children, Ali and Ayse, as they try to comprehend the changing world around them. Though separated by social standing, one poor and one well-to-do, both Ali and Ayse’s family embrace leftist political beliefs, which leaves both families vulnerable to threats from those who stand in opposition.

By alternating the perspective between Ali and Ayse, the story embodies a fable-like quality. Both children see the world in colorful idyllic imagery – a stark contrast to the brash reality both family’s live in. Temelkuran shows how personal lives were affected in the days leading up to the 1980 coup—neighbor turning against neighbor; people taking their own lives to avoid being tortured.

The Time of Mute Swans provides a compelling narrative with two captivating protagonists on a mission to save the swans. Ece Temelkuran’s first fiction novel is very much worth reading.

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Walker's Bookshelf

Escape From Syria: A Graphic Novel with a Powerful Message


Samya Kullab’s Escape From Syria recounts the struggle of Syrian refugees caught amidst the 2013 Syrian civil war. The story follows a family’s journey from war-torn Syria to Canada. Amina, the story’s heroine, together with her family, are forced to flee Aleppo and take refuge in a Syrian refugee camp. Within the camp, Amina and her family live in abject poverty; illness and disease spread quickly; and they encounter girls, some as young as 12 years old, being forced into marriages dictated by circumstance. Many Syrians risk their lives to escape the nightmarish conditions of the camp. Upon escaping the harsh world of the refugee camp, many Syrians discover they are not wanted anyplace else. The racial, social, and political tensions Syrian refugees encounter are never-ending.

Kullab sends a powerful message that is very relevant today. Escape From Syria is an unforgettable and important graphic novel. It comes highly recommended.


6 New Graphic Novel Titles to Look For

Archangel by William Gibson

The political leaders of 2016 have destroyed the world. Now they want a bright new reality to corrupt.
To do it, they’ll abuse the power of humanity’s last hope: the Splitter, a colossal machine that will allow them to travel back into the past to entrench their hold on the future. With his characteristic grim sarcasm and militaristic pragmatism, Gibson leads us from the toxic environs of the present to war-torn 1945 Berlin, where RAF officer Naomi Givens will persevere against inconceivable, ruthless future forces, with the fates of epochs at stake (publisher’s description).

Boundless by Jillian Tamaki

Jenny becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks away to nothingness, the world around her recedes as well. The animals of the city briefly open their minds to us, and we see the world as they do. A mysterious music file surfaces on the internet and forms the basis of a utopian society–or is it a cult?

Boundless is at once fantastical and realist, playfully hinting at possible transcendence: from one’s culture, one’s relationship, oneself (publisher’s description).

First Year Out by Sabrina Symington**

From laser hair removal and coming out to her parents, through to dating, voice training and gender reassignment surgery, this intimate and witty graphic novel follows the character of Lily as she transitions to living as her true, female self. Providing support and guidance on a range of issues such as hormones, medical procedures and relationships, the story traces the everyday thoughts, emotions and struggles many trans and non-binary people face and seeks to empower those who are starting to question their gender as well as promoting wider discussion about the complexities of gender and identity. Based on the author’s own experiences as a trans woman, this honest and powerful work is a testament to being who you are and a celebration of gender diversity (publisher’s description).

**Note: You will also find First Year Out in our YA Graphic Novel collection (YA GN Symington).

Mudfish by Ed Piskor

From the creator of the New York Times’ Best-Selling series, Hip Hop Family Tree, comes a personal graphic novel about a teen boy struggling with an undiagnosed illness and finding his place in his neighborhood. Mudfish is a revealing biographical study of one boy, Rod Spike. It’s an unflinchingly unsentimental depiction of the confusion and anxiety brought on by adolescence; a frank depiction of growing up in a mixed race household in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh; a harrowing story of suffering from a long-undiagnosed disease that at times seemed certain to cut a life way too short; and a story of a young man whose burgeoning intellectual and creative curiosity makes him acutely aware of a deck stacked against him despite his determination to transcend those limitations. It is one of the most brutally frank and darkly comical depictions of childhood and adolescence ever depicted in the comics form (publisher’s description).

Run For It by Marcelo D’Salete

This graphic novel tells unforgettable stories about Afro-Brazilian slaves who rebelled against oppression. Run For It ― a stunning graphic novel by internationally acclaimed illustrator Marcelo d’Salete ― is one of the first literary and artistic efforts to face up to Brazil’s hidden history of slavery. Originally published in Brazil ― where it was nominated for three of the country’s most prestigious comics awards ― Run For Ithas received rave reviews worldwide, including, in the U.S., The Huffington Post. These intense tales offer a tragic and gripping portrait of one of history’s darkest corners. It’s hard to look away. Black & white illustrations throughout (publisher’s description).

You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis

In 2016, cartoonist and illustrator Eleanor Davis documented her cross-country bike tour as it happened. The immediacy of Davis’ comics journal makes for an incredible chronicle of human experience on the most efficient and humane form of human transportation (publisher’s description).