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September Selections – Best reads of the month

26 Sep

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
DeathsofEvelynHardcastle
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m., every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…The twists and turns of this inventive debut make it an instant must read.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the book that I plan to spend the first true Autumnal weekend reading. When the temperature dips nice and low, a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and my black lab Duchess. Bliss!

This title was released on Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print and Audiobook formats.  Hoboken Residents can borrow it as an ebook and a digital audiobook from Hoopla and as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Dinner List
by Rebecca Serle
TheDinnerList
Years ago, Sabrina did that old thing of imagining whom she’d invite to a birthday dinner if she could have any five guests, dead or alive. She never thought her fantasy dinner would really happen, much less turn into the most efficient therapy session of her life. Guest No. 1 is, of course, her best friend, Jessica. Guest No. 2, is Tobias, a former flame, it’s clear he still loves Sabrina. Guest No. 3 is Conrad, her former philosophy professor—the man whose field trip set Sabrina and Tobias’ fate in motion. Guest No. 4 is Robert, her father, who left her in the lurch to start a new family. Guest No. 5: Audrey Hepburn, idolized by everyone at the table except perhaps Jessica. It’s Audrey who makes the impossible seem possible. A bittersweet tale of love, loss, and living with the memories. (Kirkus)

I wasn’t sure I’d like The Dinner List, magical-realism can so easily go pear-shaped in a novel. It was the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn (my favorite actress) that decided it for me. It’s an interesting look at finally resolving your past and moving forward. Leaving us ultimately with the question, who’s on your dinner list?

This title was released in Sept. 11th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print (available October 11th) and Audiobook on CD.  It is available from eBCCLS as an audiobook and ebook.

Sea Prayer
by Khaled Hosseini
SeaPrayer
The Sea Prayer, a slight graphic novel, only 48 pages, was inspired by all too tragic real-life events. Who can forget the haunting images of 3 year old Alan Kurdi, whose body, washed up on the Turkish shore in September 2015. Told in the form of a “poignant letter written by a fearful Syrian father to his son on the eve of a treacherous sea crossing to Europe.” (Kirkus). Hosseini’s lyrical prose and evocative artwork provided by Dan Williams bring us a story of love and hope that we wish for all of our loved one. This novel was beautiful, gut-wrenching and inspiring all at once, it’s worth the tears that will come freely.

This title was released in Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover format.  It is available as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Stylist
by Rosie Nixon
Stylist
So, to end on a lighter note, if you liked The Devil wears PradaThe Stylist is for you.

“Amber Green works at Smith’s, an upscale London boutique. When stylist to the stars Mona Armstrong comes in for a private showing, a mishap on Amber’s part, seen as a genius idea by Mona, results in Amber’s going to work as Mona’s assistant during awards season.” (Kirkus)          A celebrity-filled, jet-setting adventure follows. This a perfect escapist read for an all-too brief weekend and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the celebrities’ real-life counterparts. Fun, fun, fun!

This title was released in Sept. 4th. The library will have this available in Trade Paperback and Audiobook format.

Written by Rosary Van Ingen
Head of Adult Circulation

Two More Read Harder Tasks Down, with a Shared Theme of Adulthood: Tasks 8 and 9

2 Jun

In my last post I wrote about how vacation and illness gave me time to read four books for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. These are the two latest books, All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg and An Age of License by Lucy Knisley, which are about two characters wondering if they’re acting their ages.

These two books are different but share the theme of adulthood, and the theoretical questions that come with it. Am I an adult yet? Am I doing things “right”? Am I where I want to be in this point in my life? I realized the books had similar themes as I was writing this post, a pleasant coincidence.

To read past posts about my experience with the Read Harder challenge, click here.

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All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg

Task 8 was Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location, for which I chose All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg.

My hold request in Cloud Library for this title came through while I was on vacation, and I downloaded the book to the Cloud Library app on my iPhone. (Click here to learn more about what devices support Cloud Library.) The app has a nice, user-friendly interface. In particular, I like the subtle page-turning animation when reading the eBook. I also used the Cloud Library app to listen to How to Murder Your Life, which I wrote about last month. That foresight proved helpful as I finished another book (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which doesn’t fulfill any of the Read Harder Challenge Tasks, but is still a terrific nonfiction read) on the flight home and was able to read All Grown Up on my phone.

All Grown Up follows Andrea, a woman in her early 40s living in Brooklyn (geographically 3 miles from Hoboken) who fumbles her way through men, a job she’s terribly bored at but won’t leave because it pays well, and her evolving friendships–feelings many adults around the world have. Her Brooklyn neighborhood is undergoing gentrification, and she is sad to lose the Empire State Building view she once had from her apartment that is now obscured by a new building. I can relate to that, as two giant cranes now blight the view from my window.

Andrea is a complicated character, and sometimes her behavior can be appalling. For example, she is upset when her mother moves from Manhattan to Vermont to help her brother and sister-in-law care for their severely handicapped child.

Through flashbacks we learn more about Andrea’s experiences, which have shaped who she is in the present and allows the reader to sympathize with her. She aspired to be an artist but abandoned that dream and regrets. This a spare, beautiful novel that features a character with whom you may identify but dislike.

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An Age of License, by Lucy Knisley

For Task 9, Read a Travel Memoir, I chose to read An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. After being invited to participate in a comic con in Norway, Lucy decided to travel through Europe to meet up with friends and pursue a love interest based in Sweden, and her experiences are documented in this graphic memoir.

Lucy features many drawings of food she ate on her travels, which appealed to me as I love trying new food when I travel. (Remember how I wrote about in my last post that reading Crazy Rich Asians has inspired me to travel to Singapore and eat at the food stalls in street markets?) Her drawings of cheese and wine and baguettes she ate while in France made me recall my trip to Paris, which was the best food destination I’ve visited so far. (Maybe until I get to Singapore…)

The title An Age of License comes from what Lucy believed was a French saying about youth being a time when you’re free to do whatever you want. Although the phrase turned out to be folly, it’s an interesting idea to ponder.

I liked this book and following Lucy’s travels through Europe, and plan to read more of her work soon. The author was in her late twenties when she wrote it, and she had a lot of Deep Thoughts about her age and life etc. I will celebrate my 35th birthday later this year and have little patience for the navel-gazing that afflicts many twenty-somethings, so my eyes involuntarily rolled while reading some of these sections. Was I as insufferable at that age? When I’m in my forties will I roll my eyes at thirty-somethings? Time will tell.

Stay tuned for my next post on another completed task.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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