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A Curious Beginning Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is the first book in a new series featuring the intrepid Veronica Speedwell, an adventurous lepidopterist and world traveler.  The year is 1887 and in London Veronica fends off an abductor with the help of a mysterious German baron.  His friend Stoker, an ill-tempered natural historian, is asked to look after her (although Veronica does very well all by herself!).  Soon Veronica and Stoker are on the run as they look for the baron’s murderer.  Witty, smart dialogue, a clever sense of humor and a fast pace make this a very entertaining read! Recommended by Rochelle

Greenglass House Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

Greenglass House by Kate Milford won the prestigious Edgar Award for best juvenile mystery. It was a New York Times bestseller, a National Book Award finalist and it received several starred reviews. Milo Pine and his parents own and live in Greenglass House, a huge old rambling guest house with many rooms to rent. It had been a smuggler’s inn in the past. It’s almost Christmas, a blizzard is howling and several mysterious guests have arrived, each one with a strange story and a secret. Objects go missing and it’s up to Milo to unravel the mysteries, with the aid of an old role-playing game. Very imaginative and well-written and perfect for middle-schoolers. Recommended by Rochelle.

Middlesex Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

How long has it been since you've read Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex? If you haven't cracked it since it was a huge hit in 2003 (or if you've never read it at all), now's the time. This gorgeous, generous, and funny novel has two hearts: a story about immigrants, and a story about the perils and difficulties of a complex gender identity in a straight male/female world. It's timely in both respects and has aged very well. The novel's scope is so delightfully huge—to me, some of the best novels are about basically everything—that a short summary is futile. Let the incredible first sentence do the work for me: “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” Reading this near-perfect novel for the first time in years, I was totally blown away. Recommended by Danny.

Island of the Blue Dolphins Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

This book is the ultimate girl's survival story! Karana is a young Nicoleno tribe member, who lives in solitude after having been left on the island accidentally by her family. She is the heroine; she hunts to survive, burns the fat of fish for light, and tames animals for companionship. Karana's story is a real story, girls! May we all have the courage, intensity, and canoe building skills as she! (Skip the movie, please-- its not the same). Recommended by Jenna.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

This book is a collection of women "who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, adventures, and inventors." This is the kind of book I read before I fall asleep at night, and when I wake up in the morning. It features inspirational, incredible, witty, smart, amazing women who continue to prove to us that we can all aspire to do great things with our lives, and that WE SHOULD. This book is about Women who work in STEM, and women who study languages, and everyone in between. What kind of woman do you want to become? Recommended by Jenna.

Cold Pastoral: Poems Cover Image
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017

The epigraph for Rebecca Dunham's fourth book of poems, Cold Pastoral, is a quote by Muriel Rukeyser. It fits. Rukeyser, whose 1938 poem Book of the Dead chronicled the human cost of the Hawk's Nest mining disaster, is a clear antecedent to Dunham's poetry. Centering on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Cold Pastoral investigates the human cost of these calamities with a deft hand. In the collection's final poem, Dunham writes,

Who will witness what follows danger's first aftermath?
Who will document the crisis that bleeds on and on?

In this case, the answer is Dunham herself. Throughout this formally ambitious book, she composes an extended heartfelt elegy for the lives and livelihoods lost to human-caused environmental disaster. For a relevant and clear-eyed book of confident and clear docu-eco-poetry, it's hard to do better than Rebecca Dunhman's Cold Pastoral.

The Gap of Time Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2017

This is a solid retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The characters are modern but every bit as much is at stake. It's a cautionary tale about the danger of jealousy that never loses its relevance. Recommended by Kelly

Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, from Genghis Khan's Mongols to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the Ameri Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2017

This book explores the relationship between the West and the Middle East in a way that can be easily and quickly digested. Polk recreates and explains the US occupation and places an emphasis on the role that oil has played. The author's experience of over 50 years studying the country provides the reader with a hands-on sense of what is going on in Iraq and within the United States. Recommended by Jenna.

In the Darkroom Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2017

In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi is an incredibly smart, probing act of memoir/biography. After a 27-year estrangement, Faludi gets an email from her father. The email says that he, formerly a toxic force of masculine energy, has undergone gender correction surgery and is now living as a woman in her native Budapest. The story of the evolving father/daughter relationship is worth the price of admission alone. But Faludi isn’t content to simply recount contemporary family events. In The Darkroom is a staggering investigation into identity politics, both on the personal and national level. How has the history Hungary tells about itself led to her father’s identity struggles? What is this thing called “identity,” anyway, and what are the surprising ways it can be wielded for violence and danger? I finished this book with a changed mind in many ways. Recommended by Danny

Black Wave Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2017

Michelle Tea’s Black Wave is like no other apocalyptic novel you’ve seen. Its first half is a shaggy, charming, queer coming-of-age story set in 1990s San Francisco that feels (appealingly) like Elieen Myles. Think Chelsea Girls goes west. After slash-and-burning her bridges with friends and lovers, though, protagonist Michelle moves to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, Michelle promptly finds out the world will end in a year. What follows is a lyrical meditation on the environment, dreams, and love anchored by a feminist, ecological sensibility. The book is by turns hilarious (Michelle has a tryst with Matt Dillon, a love scene for the ages) and heartfelt (her relationship with her brother is achingly lovely). Black Wave starts as an intimate story and ends as a memorably distorted mirror held up to our world. Recommended by Danny Caine.

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