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Six Books I’ve Read So Far for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

30 Mar

Dear reader, I am now halfway through the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, with 12 of the 24 tasks completed! I am proud to be halfway through the challenge so early in the year. 

Without further ado, here are the books I read to complete 6 more tasks.

The Task: A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

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The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

The only book I could think of to fulfill this task was Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, which I read last year with the Mile Square City Readers Book Club. (A moving book, by the way.) I already had The Woman Next Door checked out, and when I realized the two protagonists were female octogenarians I was excited that this book would complete this task. Hortensia and Marion are neighbors in post-apartheid South Africa whose relationship is contentious, but evolves into friendship and mutual understanding. I read this book in one day.

The Task: A book with a cover you hate

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Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

Raspberry Danish Murder is the latest entry of Joanne Fluke’s Murder She Baked series, which follows bakery owner and part-time sleuth Hannah Swenson in a small Minnesota town with an alarmingly high murder rate. The writing has become almost painful and I read this since I’ve read the other books in the series. I have a sweet tooth, which is what initially drew me to Fluke’s books but the raspberry danish on the cover looks so unappetizing. For that reason, plus the overall decline of this series’ quality, is why I used Raspberry Danish Murder to complete this task.

The Task: A comic written and drawn by the same person

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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I first read The Complete Persepolis in graduate school, and it blew me away. Marjane Satrapi tells her extraordinary story of growing up in Iran before, during, and after the Revolution. My favorite parts were about the lengths Marjane and her friends and family went through to live their daily lives with celebrations, parties, and romance, all while evading government authorities prepared to arrest them for crimes such as women not being properly veiled and drinking at home. The Lady Memoir Book Club I lead at Little City Books discussed this book at our last meeting.

The Task: A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author

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The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

In The Widows of Malabar Hillwe meet Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in 1920s Bombay. A routine estate settlement case becomes complicated for Perveen when the deceased’s three wives who live in purdah (a practice of Muslim women choosing to live in seclusion) sign away their inheritances to charity,  and then a murder occurs in the home. It is up to Perveen to solve the mystery and protect the women’s interests. This book is the first in a series called A Mystery of 1920s Bombay, and I definitely want to read more from Sujata Massey.

The Task: An Oprah Book Club selection

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I finished An American Marriagelast week, and I am still thinking about it. Celestial and Roy are newlyweds when Roy is wrongly imprisoned for rape. This book, told in part by the letters Roy and Celestial write to each other, generated an excellent discussion at a recent Mile Square City Readers Book Club meeting. It raises a lot of questions, too. What is an American marriage? What would you do if your spouse was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit? Oprah made an excellent choice with this book, in my opinion. I plan to read Tayari Jones’ other books.

The Task: A comic written or drawn by a person of color

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Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates

I saw the film Black Panther, and absolutely loved it. Black Panther: World of Wakanda features writing by literary heavyweights Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates, plus other authors. The story begins with the Dora Milaje (the female protectors of the Wakandan royal family), where Captain Aneka and Initiate Ayo fall in love during training, and where Initiate Folami goes rogue. I enjoyed reading about the fierce, strong women of the Dora Milaje, who believe in protecting all Wakandans in addition to the Royal Family.

This will be the last post I write for the Staff Picks blog, as I am moving on from the Hoboken Public Library. It has been wonderful sharing my reading journeys with you in this space. Thank you to those who have read and commented on my work. Feel free to find me on Goodreads. Happy Reading!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Summer Reads: Leviathan Wakes, The Gunslinger, and The Hobbit

6 Sep

The Hoboken Public Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club read some great books over the summer that I wanted to share with our blog readers. (Click here to find out what else they’ve read.)  The group meets one Monday each month to discuss a Science Fiction or Fantasy book picked by group members.  New members are always welcome.  Before the book discussion we also watch either a film adaptation or a movie in a similar genre to the work being read which allows those who are SciFi or Fantasy fans but might be busy to read this month’s selection to still participate in the group.  I hope you will check out some of these books and films and consider joining us in September when we will discuss The Stepford Wives by Ira Levine on September 25 at 6 PM with a movie screening at 4 PM.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

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Several members of the group were fans of TV series The Expanse and wanted to read Leviathan Wakes, which the series the show is based on for our June Pick.  Corey is actually the pseudonym of two authors and the book series started out as first a story line for a video game and then a table top game created by Ty Franck before the collaboration between Daniel Abraham and Franck led to the books.  Interestingly Ty Franck worked for a while as an assistant to George R.R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones, a previous book club pickLeviathan Wakes is set in a future where space travel is common, but faster than light travel has not yet been reached leading people to inhabit Earth, Mars, and an Asteroid Belt, but not yet to have moved beyond our Solar System.  The book has elements of science fiction, horror, and mystery.  It received a very positive response from the group members, several of who braved a severe thunderstorm to get to the discussion.  It was so popular that we may read another of the books in the series in the future.  We complimented the book with a screening of Wall-E, an animated favorite of one of our group members, which has an important environmental message.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

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In July, the group wanted to read The Gunslinger the first in the Dark Tower series before the movie adaptation came out in theaters at the beginning of August.  I’m not always a huge fan of King’s, but I was intrigued by some of the other group members’ enthusiasm and the fact that the idea of the Dark Tower was partially inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.” I appreciate taking part in the group since it pushes me to read outside of my comfort zone sometimes.  The book is a mix of fantasy, horror, western, and mystery and is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Roland, the last gunslinger, is attempting to stop the mysterious and powerful sorcerer, the Man in Black.  The group watched a preview the movie studio had put online and discussed the casting (general consensus was we like the choice of casting Idris Elba for the role of Roland, but were less sure about Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black).  I will be interested to hear what the group members think of it once they see the whole film.

Before the book discussion we watched the 1973 movie Westworld, Michael Crichton’s directorial debut.  Before this I had only seen one episode of the recent TV series which was based on the movie.  The movie immediately felt a lot lighter than the TV series and everyone praised the excellent performance by Yul Brynner.  You can also borrow the sequel to the film Futureworld and the TV Series Beyond Future World from the Hoboken Public Library.

The Hobbit by ‎J. R. R. Tolkien

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You may remember back in January I wrote a blog celebrating that this year was 125th Anniversary of Tolkien’s birth.  We decided to read The Hobbit for our August book.  It was probably about 30 years since I had last read the book as a child and I feel like the book not only held up for me, but I also enjoyed the story even more than when I had first read it.  The other group members seemed to have similar positive experiences upon their rereads.  One of the group was even inspired to reread the books in the Lord of the Ring Trilogy.  The group watched the first in the Peter Jackson trilogy based on the book which many members felt was the best of the three recent adaptations; many of the group members would have preferred that less had been added to the original text to pad out the movies.

If you are interested in other genres, the library has two additional book discussion groups you can join.  Our Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books will meet Wednesday September 20 at 7 PM to discuss Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.  The Mile Square City Readers Book Club takes a page from Oprah’s Book Club this month, and will discuss Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers on Tuesday September 19 at 6:30 PM.  In the fall we are also planning to start a Creative Writer’s group.  The Hoboken Public Library is your source for great books and conversation!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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