Finding Inspiration in Other People’s Bookshelves

22 Apr

If you are an avid reader, you’ve perhaps been a little frustrated by this disruption of your daily routines. No longer able to take a quick trip to the library and stroll through the stacks looking for your next great read, you have probably found yourself looking at your own collection at home. It’s always great to reread the books you love. But what if you’ve already gone through your whole collection? Or what if you just want to read something different? If you’re tired of your own collection at home, look for some inspiration in your friends’ bookshelves!

“But I can’t visit my friends!” you say. “And even if they tell me what’s on their shelves, how am I going to get a copy?”

All great questions, but it seems that you have forgotten about the library’s ebook and digital audiobook collection! If you’re one of those people who have only read physical books, now is the perfect time to try out something new. Trust me, I used to be one of those people, and while I still prefer the feel of a physical book, I have to say, that ebooks have won me over, too.

So let’s start this game. I’ll share some titles off of my shelves and you can check them out from eBCCLS, eLibraryNJ or Hoopla. If you’re not sure how to use these services, you’ll find this information on the Hoboken Library Download and Streaming Web Page which includes tip sheets and how to videos.

Gut by Giulia Enders
If you want a fun and easy way to learn about the body (or well, at least a part of it), I highly recommend Gut by Giulia Enders. If you’re not interested in our digestive system – well, you should be. So many new studies are coming out that demonstrate the importance of our gut and its microbiome, as well as its strong connection to our brain. The gut really affects us more than we think it does. Read this book to learn more about the connection between our gut and our physical and mental health. You can check it out as an ebook from eLibraryNJ and  Hoopla.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
With the Fire on High
I have both The Poet X and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo on my shelf, and while National Poetry Month is the perfect time to highlight The Poet X (you can learn more about that book in a previous post), I’d like to also shine the spotlight on With the Fire On High. If you like stories that incorporate cooking in them, you’ll love this one. This YA novel tells the story of Emoni Santiago, a teen mother who despite all the hardships and responsibilities she has, still dreams of a career in the culinary world. You can find this book (and The Poet X) as an ebook or audiobook on eBCCLS, eLibraryNJ and Hoopla.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Convenience Store Woman
If you’ve ever read anything by a Japanese author, it’s probably been a Haruki Murakami book (no shade, I am a huge fan myself). Now, however, is the perfect time to check out all the other great authors emerging from Japan whose works are finally being translated into English, especially female authors. Sayaka Murata is one of those authors. Her book Convenience Store Woman is a wonderful tale of a woman who struggles to fit into society. She finally finds her place as a convenience store clerk, where she has strict rules to follow and can easily copy her coworkers mannerisms. Her life goes on like this for almost twenty years, until a strange young man walks into the store one day. An intriguing read with sharp observations of society. You can read and/or listen to this book on eBCCLS, eLibraryNJ and Hoopla.

The Odyssey by Homer (Translated by Emily Wilson)
Speaking of translations, how about The Odyssey? I realize this recommendation is a bit out of left field and you may be thinking, “Okay, I expected a classic on this list, but I didn’t think you’d go that classic!” Hear me out. I first read parts of the Odyssey in school, but I happened to have read them in Portuguese. As a fan of mythology, I enjoyed it, so I bought a copy in English. The problem? When I tried to read it again, I just wasn’t into it. It’s the same story, what was wrong? Translations matter. So I’m going to recommend a new translation of The Odyssey – one by Emily Wilson, the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English. I had heard about her translation on a podcast and came across some articles on it. I haven’t yet read it myself, but perhaps it’s time to give The Odyssey another try – this time from a new perspective. You can read Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey from eBCCLS.

Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
If you’ve read any of the blog posts I’ve written in the past, you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of poetry, so of course I had to include something from my poetry collection. Oceanic is a wonderful ode to the natural world. Nezhukumatathil, to me, is a poet in constant awe – in awe of scallops, in awe of love, and yes, even in awe of a perfect manicure. You may find the poem “Love in the Time of Swine Flu” particularly relevant if you are loving in this pandemic. You can let yourself be awed by these poems in ebook format from Hoopla.

Now it’s your turn! What books on your shelves do you recommend?  Share them in the comments!

Written by:
Sam Evaristo
Circulation Assistant



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