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Adult Fiction

  • 6 degrees header 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    Today's books: Housemaids and housemates. 

    housemaids and house mates

    SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
    by Siri Mitchell
    (2010)

    In this Christian historical romance set in the Gilded Age, Clara Carter’s father insists that she marry New York’s most eligible bachelor, the De Vries heir.  When Franklin De Vries and his brother return early from Europe, Clara receives a crash course in etiquette and appearances, only to discover that she may not want what her family wants for her.

    MAID TO MATCH
    by Deeanne Gist
    (2010)

    Told from the perspective of a housemaid, this Christian historical romance set in the Gilded Age goes behind the scenes at Biltmore Estate.  Tillie Reese is thrilled to work at the largest private home in the country and aspires to become a lady’s maid, but an attractive footman may get in the way.

    LONGBOURN
    by Jo Baker
    (2014)

    Though readers may think they are familiar with Longbourn and the Bennet family, Jo Baker’s retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE shares an entirely new story.  Told from the perspective of housemaid Sarah, Longbourn goes behind the scenes to explore class issues.

    THE SECRET DIARY OF LIZZIE BENNET
    by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
    (2014)

    More than just a retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, this novelization is an adaptation of an adaptation (wrap your head around that!).  For viewers who just couldn’t get enough of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bernie Su and Vlog Brother Hank Green’s Emmy Award winning YouTube series, The Secret Diaries of Lizzie Bennet reveals more about Lizzie’s adventures in grad school, at home with her two sisters, and at Pemberley Digital.

    THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
    by John Green
    (2014)

    John Green, the second half of the YouTube’s Vlog Brothers, based this tale of teen cancer and love in part on the experiences of real life cancer patient Esther Earl.  In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (which takes its title from William Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR), Sixteen year old Hazel attends a cancer support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer patient who will change her life forever.

    A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
    by William Shakespeare
    (Sometime between 1590 and 1597)

    One of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM describes a series of mishaps during a night in an enchanted forest. Hermia’s father insists that she marry Demetrius even though she loves Lysander.  Her best friend Helena, meanwhile, loves Demetrius with all her heart and is crushed that he has rejected her.  When mischievous fairies interfere, hilarious chaos ensues. 

  • Six Degrees 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    We're celebrating Shakespeare this week (it's his birthday, after all!), and you might surprised with how easy it was to connect him to some of our favorite stars of THE OFFICE. 

    FATES AND FURIES
    by Lauren Groff
    (2015)  

    This novel is a portrait of a marriage with the various secrets and deceptions of the husband and wife unfolding as the story progresses. The first half focuses on the husband, Lotto, a struggling actor who achieves considerable success writing plays instead. The second half focuses on Matilde as she grapples with tragic loss and her own dark past.

    THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR
    by Arthur Phillips  
    (2011)  

    Arthur and his sister Dana are presented with a play, purportedly written by William Shakespeare, by their dying father, still serving prison time for fraud. Their father’s dying wish is for his children to publish this never before seen work.

    WILL IN THE WORLD: HOW SHAKESPEARE BECAME SHAKESPEARE
    by Stephen Greenblatt
    (2004)

    This book explores the rise of William Shakespeare from his humble background to become the most famous and influential English playwright in the world. The author paints this portrait within the context of the Elizabethan world in which he grew up and which shaped his theatrical works.  

    BORN WITH TEETH 
    by Kate Mulgrew  
    (2015)

    Starting with her upbringing in Iowa, Kate Mulgrew tells her story of moving to New York to study theater, getting her first television role in the soap opera RYAN’S HOPE and later, her most famous role as Captain Janeway in STAR TREK: VOYAGER. However, she places more emphasis on her personal life, relationship challenges and her attempts to reconnect with the daughter she gave up for adoption.

    IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT BUT ME? (AND OTHER CONCERNS) 
    by Mindy Kaling
    (2011)

    Mindy Kaling, television writer and actor best known for her work in THE OFFICE, offers an array of humorous observations about her work, family, relationship challenges and her struggles with body image issues.

    ONE MORE THING: STORIES AND OTHER STORIES 
    by B.J. Novak
    (2014)  

    Well known for his writing and acting in the television series THE OFFICE, this is a collection of short stories varied and brilliant. The titular story is about a young boy who wins a sweepstakes contest only to discover that collecting the winning may prove more harmful than good for him and his family.

  • time and tempests 01 

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    This time around: time limits and tempests. 

    FIVE DAYS LEFT
    by Julie Lawson Timmer
    (2014)

    Two stories run parallel in this novel of heartbreak and hope.  Mara has five daysleft before she plans to kill herself before her Huntington’s Disease becomes more than she can bare.  Scott has five days left as guardian to an 8-year-old foster son whose mother is being released from prison and plans to take custody.  This book chronicles the five days that each has left with the ones they love.

    A MAN CALLED OVE
    by Fredrik Backman
    (2014)

    A lonely old man is planning to kill himself now that his wife is gone and he finds he has little to live for.  But the annoying new neighbors, old estranged friends, and a stray cat all interject themselves into his life and, unintentionally, find ways to foil his suicidal plans. While it sounds depressing, it is actually very funny and heartwarming.

    THE HISTORY OF LOVE
    by Nicole Krauss
    (2005)

    Leo Gursky is a lonely old man who survived the holocaust but is now nearing the end of his life and worries that no one will notice when he is gone.  Alma Singer is a fourteen-year-old trying to help her mother fight loneliness and depression. An obscure novel helps to bring these two strangers together where they may find salvation and peace.

    THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
    by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    (2004)

    Daniel Sempere is the son of a bookstore owner during the 1950s in Barcelona.  He discovers an obscure novel, and begins a quest to uncover the many mysteries surrounding the book and its author.  Zafon vibrantly creates a dark and mysterious Barcelona with a magical world lurking beneath the surface.

    ALL TOGETHER DEAD (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood #7)
    by Charlaine Harris
    (2007)

    Sookie Stackhouse has a telepathic gift.  But as a small-town waitress in Louisiana, her gift really only gets in the way.  In this 7th book in the series, Sookie gets entangled in vampire politics which are especially dangerous since the local vampire queen has been weakened by the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.  Harris presents a supernatural South where magic lurks beneath the surface.

    FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL: LIFE AND DEATH IN A STORM-RAVAGED HOSPITALF
    by Sheri Fink
    (2013)

    An investigative journalist delves into what happened at New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina.  Inadequate planning left doctors and nurses without power, leadership, or a way to getting patients and personnel to safety.  Over the five days they survived in the aftermath of the storm, life and death decisions had to be made.  The fallout from those decisions eventually caused several of the staff involved to be charged with second-degree murder. 

  • Book giving

    Nothing makes me happier than giving someone the absolute perfect gift. I don’t manage it all the time, but it is something I take pride in. Whenever I’m asked for gift giving tips, I always say the same thing. It takes time. It can seldom be achieved last minute. You have to pay attention to what people say and do all the time and then pick up on the little clues that tell you what they need that they don’t even know they need. Then, and this is very important, you have to write it down somewhere so that you remember what it is when a gift giving holiday or event presents itself.

    Basically, being a great gift giver is hard work! Unfortunately, we don’t always have that kind of time to spend and, without fail, Christmas just tends to sneak up on us so that here we are, just a few weeks from the big day, and we have no idea what to get all those amazing people on our lists. They deserve the best! We want to give them the best!  But what is that best thing?

    It’s a book! Obviously! But which book can sometimes be the kicker. So, I’ve put together a Librarian’s Guide to Book Giving this holiday! I hope it helps!!

    For your fiction reader who:

     

    Watched A QUIET PLACE in the theater 4 times-

    12.13 The Woman in the WindowTHE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
    By A.J. Finn 
    (2018)

    Anna Fox lives alone, drinks too much, and likes spying on her neighbors. Then one day she thinks she sees something horrible happen in the house next door and her sanity comes under scrutiny to the point that she questions her own memory. Who is really in danger?

     
     

    Loves to read about manly men living in the woods-

    12.13 BearskinBEARSKIN
    By James McLaughlin 
    (2018)

    Rice has a new job protecting the Virginian Appalachia. It’s lonely, hard work but when he finds the carcass of a bear killed on his territory he begins a dangerous search for the poachers.

     
     

    Loves mythology-

    12.13 CirceCIRCE
    By Madeline Miller 
    (2018)

    This lovely novel follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings.

     
     

    Loves historical fiction involving doomed romances-

    12.13 Love RuinLOVE & RUIN
    By Paula McLain 
    (2018)

    This is the story of the passionate, stormy marriage between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, a fiercely independent and ambitious young war correspondent. 

     
     

    Enjoys a creepy little mystery with an endearing protagonist-

    12.13 The Death of Mrs. WestawayTHE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY
    By Ruth Ware 

    Hal is in desperate need of money, and when a strange letter arrives telling her she has inherited a substantial fortune, she decides to take advantage of the executor’s mistake. Unfortunately, lying was never her strength and she quickly finds herself in far over her head.

     
     

    Likes politically charged adventures (co-authored by former U.S. Presidents)-

    12.13 The President is MissingTHE PRESIDENT IS MISSING
    By James Patterson & Bill Clinton
    (2018)

    How can a U.S. President be kidnapped from the most guarded residence in the world? This is a thriller that confronts the darkest threats that face the world, with the highest stakes conceivable.Loves an engrossing, heart wrenching story of survival-

     
  • Book giving

    Not sure what gifts to give this holiday season? We've got you covered. This week and next, be on the lookout for book recommendations for every type of reader.

    Yesterday, we shared some of the best new fiction books for adult readers, and today we have a few more to suggest.

    For your fiction reader who:

     

    Loves an engrossing, heart wrenching story of survival-

    12.13 The Great AloneTHE GREAT ALONE
    By Kristin Hannah 
    (2018)

    At the age of 13, Lenora’s unconventional parents move the family to an isolated homestead in Alaska. They are ill prepared to weather the long, cold winter but are able to lean on their new community and their own endurance to build a new life for themselves.

     

    Needs a new version of a classic fairy tell-

    12.13 Spinning SilverSPINNING SILVER
    By Naomi Novik 
    (2018)

    This is a fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairtale. Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender attracts the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood. Quickly she learns that words have power, and the fate of a kingdom lies in her golden touch.

     

    Enjoys a story that can change your perspective-

    12.14 UnshelteredUNSHELTERED
    By Barbara Kingsolver 
    (2018)

    How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, and still end up destitute? This question is asked as the novel shifts between two stories tied together by a piece of land and the need for a roof to shelter from the storms. 

     

    Loves a heartwarming stories of the fragility and wonder of life-

    12.14 Virgil WanderVIRGIL WANDER
    by Leif Enger 

    This is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart.

     

    Misses THE HIGHLANDER and loves the thought of living forever-

    12.14 How to Stop TimeHOW TO STOP TIME
    By Matt Haig 

    Tom may look like an average 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. What does a man who can live forever learn in life?  To carefully guard his identity and his heart. This is a wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself and the inevitability of change.

     

    Needs a little proper romance-

    12.14 Promises and PrimrosesPROMISES & PRIMROSES
    By Josi S. Kilpack 

    When Elliott undertakes a ‘marriage campaign’ to see his wayward nieces and nephews securely married, he has no idea it will lead to a reunion with his own lost love.

     
  •  Judging a Book By Its Cover 628

    A while back, I shared one of my favorite librarian hobbies – spotting copycat book covers. Since then, I’ve kept an eagle eye out for more, and I’ve discovered a surprising and strangely specific trend in 2017 and 2018 cover art: the shiny bug.

    This past publishing year has produced a handful of gorgeous covers featuring intricate, stylized, metallic insects. It’s an unlikely trend, but a beautiful one.

    10.12 Dreadful Young LadiesDREADFUL YOUNG LADIES: AND OTHER STORIES
    By Kelly Barnhill
    (2018)

     

    10.12 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017) 

     

    10.12 Bruja BornBRUJA BORN
    By Zoraida Cordova
    (2018)

     

    10.12 The Moth PresentsTHE MOTH PRESENTS ALL THESE WONDERS
    By Catherine Burns
    (2017)

     

    Like just about everything, book cover art follows trends (we’re capitalists, y’all). In the 80s and 90s, chick lit, with its pastel illustrations, dominated YA.  During my teen years in the early 2000s, it was all about bright, solid colors, à la THE PRINCESS DIARIES and SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (tangent, but Rachel Hawkins recent book ROYALS seems to harken back to that style). More recently, books like THE LUXE and THE SELECTION spawned a seemingly endless parade of ball gown-centric cover art.

    So where’d all these glittery bugs come from? I see it as part of a larger trend that I’m pretty jazzed about:  a move away from depicting characters and towards gorgeous lettering. I’ve written about a few of my favorite covers in this style before, and I plan to share more soon.

    So, what are some of your favorite book covers? Have you noticed any recent trends in cover art?

  • magical circuses

     

    Read-alikes: library jargon for “If you like this, you’ll probably also like this other thing!” Those of us who work at libraries are constantly on the hunt for read-alikes both as a professional courtesy to our patrons and as a way to satisfy our own voracious reading appetites. 

    (We have a variety of resources to find great read-alikes; the easiest way to find them is to click on the “Reading Suggestions” tab of our website). 

    One read-alike game I like to play is to find similar books across audiences. Can I find the writing qualities and characteristics of adult fiction authors I love in a middle-grade book? What about a book for teens? It’s a little bit like watching fiction grow up. So today I have for you three books that I feel like share some striking similarities even though they’re written for vastly different audiences. Three books; three audiences; three magical settings rich with detail and complex characters. Magical realism for all ages. 

    MIDDLE-GRADE 

    11.2.17 Circus MirandusCIRCUS MIRANDUS
    By Cassie Beasley
    (2015)

    Micah Tuttle has grown up hearing stories of a magical circus his grandpa visited as a boy. Now that his grandpa is dying, he sets off to find the mysterious circus in order to save his grandpa’s life. The narrative jumps back and forth between present day Micah and his new friend/school project partner Jenny on their quest to save his grandpa and his grandpa’s experiences as a boy at the circus. Kids with vivid imaginations will love the lush description of Circus Mirandus. 

     

     

    YOUNG ADULT

    11.2 CaravalCARAVAL
    By Stephanie Garber
    (2017)

    Okay, this one isn’t exactly a circus, but it is a magical, carnival-like setting. With an arranged marriage on the horizon, Scarlett figures this is her only chance to realize her dream of seeing Caraval, a legendary audience-participation event. When she and her sister arrive, things get much more complicated than they imagined, and the consequences turn dire fairly quickly.

    As is the case for most young adult books, we trade the innocent guy/girl helpful friendship of the middle-grade years for a fast-paced, “I hate you/I love you” storyline.There is banter; there is kissing; there is action, and adventure, and magic, and a carousel that my imagination loves to ride again and again. 

    ADULT FICTION 

    11.2.2017 The Night CircusTHE NIGHT CIRCUS
    By Erin Morgenstern 
    (2011) 

    I could go on and on about THE NIGHT CIRCUS; I read it about a year after its release, and I’ve honestly been looking for adequate read-alikes ever since. It wasn’t until this year that I’ve actually felt like I found them (hence this post!). Reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a sensory experience; not many novels can hold up to occasional second-person narration, but it’s perfect here. When I read it, I crave caramel popcorn and hot chocolate. The descriptions of the circus are rich and vivid and I’m always sad it doesn’t exist for real. 

    THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a long, magical game, pitting two champions, Celia and Marco, against one another in a magical battle to the death (though it takes years of competing to realize this). In THE NIGHT CIRCUS, we trade that fierce, instant love of teenage years (CARAVAL takes place over just three days!) for a nuanced relationship born in intrigue and cultivated through hearty and beautiful and, ultimately, deadly competition.

    I should also mention that I’ve listened to all three of these as audiobooks, and I actually recommend that if you’ve got the time and resources (which you do, thanks to the library!). This is especially the case with THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which is read by Jim Dale and is just delightful.

  • dan wells

    Provo City Library is a great place for fans to meet some really great authors—check out our AuthorLink page to see some of the exciting authors we’ll be hosting in the coming months. However, over the last few months, I was reminded that Barnes and Noble has author events as well. In my hunt to see who was coming to Utah Valley, I was reminded of an old favorite: Dan Wells. He is a local author that came to Barnes and Noble the first weekend in March.

    If you haven’t heard of Dan Wells, I would definitely recommend him if you are keen on the supernatural or horror. Of the 14 books he’s written, I’ve read and would highly recommend the following:

    4.11 I am not a serial killerI AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
    (2010) 

    This book follows high school teen, John Cleaver. He recognizes in himself things he’s noticed in the serial killers he obsesses over; So he creates a set of rules that he lives by to not concede to the monster inside. When he learns that there is a serial killer in town, he has to embrace the inner monster to save his town. I generally describe this series as teen Dexter meets Supernatural. This was especially amusing to read while on public transit in Seattle. My coworkers would look at me with concern and ask if it was a self-help book. 

     

    4.11 The Devils Only FriendTHE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND
    (2015)

    This book is the first in a second series that follows John Cleaver. It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away pertinent details of the first series, but basically, John hunts demons and works for a special government kill team. 

     

    4.11 The Hollow CityTHE HOLLOW CITY
    (2012)

    The Hollow City is the story of Michael Shipman who has paranoid schizophrenia. He is haunted by voices and stalked by faceless men. He has been linked to a series of killings and no one believes his plea of innocence. The book is told from Michael’s point of view and the unreliable narrator has you questioning which experiences are his paranoid delusions and which are the real monsters he should be running from. 

     

    3.11 Extreme MakeoverEXTREME MAKEOVER: APOCALYPSE EDITION
    (2016)

    Amazon’s summarizes this book as “Dan Well’s Extreme Makeover is a satirical new suspense about a health and beauty company that accidentally develops a hand lotion that can overwrite your DNA.” With that teaser alone I was so intrigued that I couldn’t help but take it home with me from my Barnes and Noble trip… but not before getting it signed. 

     

    During the book signing I learned a couple things from Dan Wells that you should know too:

    1. All of his current series are complete! While there are a couple series he would like to possibly write more for, there will be no cliff-hangers or waiting to read the next one.

    2. You can just binge straight through.  He is working on a trilogy with Brandon Sanderson about heroes that go from earth to earth in parallel universes to save them from the end of the world. I am stoked by just the premise, and it is an excellent combination of writers. 
  • best books 15 adults

    Fifty seems like such a huge number but when I looked through my list of books read last year, whittling it down was brutal! There were so many amazing titles published in 2015 and I was able to read a whole bunch of them thanks to my recent attempts to limit my television time….possibly a case of trading one vice for another?

    Hopefully we will have a lot of people attend our “Best Books of 2015” event next week as we share our favorites.  With this post, I decided to give you my top five 2015 books that did not make it to my list of 20 I get to share at the program.  These books were very enjoyable and just barely missed the cut.

    Secret ChordTHE SECRET CHORD
    By Geraldine Brooks

    As with all Brooks’ novels, this is a richly detailed piece of historical fiction which presents a unique twist on events or people already familiar.  THE SECRET CHORD tells of King David’s rise to power and subsequent fall from grace.  While I enjoyed the novel, I did not love it as much as I have some of the author’s previous works such as YEAR OF WONDERS and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (which I recommend frequently).

     

     

     

    Other DaughterTHE OTHER DAUGHTER
    By Lauren Willig

    Another favorite author of mine, Willig writes mainly historical romances.  Her PINK CARNATION series first caught my attention years ago.  However, she also writes stand-alone novels that I look forward to reading.  They are light and fast-paced with fun, relatable characters. THE OTHER DAUGHTER tells the story of Rachel Woodley, the illegitimate daughter of an English Earl, and her attempts to confront her father with his abandonment of her and her mother.

     

     

     

    Precious OneTHE PRECIOUS ONE
    By Marisa De los Santos

    THE PRECIOUS ONE is also a book about a daughter looking to come to terms with her father’s abandonment.  Taisy hasn’t been in contact with her father in over a decade, so when he calls her and asks for her help in writing his memoir she reluctantly agrees.  The story is told with alternating narratives between Taisy and Willow, Taisy’s teenaged half-sister who seems to have all the love and attention Taisy’s father was never able to give her.  A great novel about family and forgiveness. 

     

     

     

    NeurotribesNEUROTRIBES: THE LEGACY OF AUTISM AND THE FUTURE OF NEURODIVERSITY  
    By Steve Silberman

    This is a groundbreaking book about the history and future of autism.  What I really admired about this book was the author’s ability to present the science and history of the topic in a very personal and conversational manner.  He tells of people and their stories which made it a riveting read.

     

     

     

     

    Natural Born HeroesNATURAL BORN HEROES: HOW A DARING BAND OF MISFITS MASTERED THE LOST SECRETS OF STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE  
    By Christopher McDougall

    McDougall is best known for writing BORN TO RUN which seemed to start an entire movement of barefoot running.  In this new book he searches other areas of history to find the secrets to history’s greatest heroes and athletes.  With a bit of World War II history, a fascinating look at the island of Crete, and inspirational stories of amazing physical abilities, this is a great choice for armchair athletes like me.

    Please join us next week for even more recommendations from 2015! Plus, there will be cupcakes. Come for the books, stay for the cupcakes. 

  • BB 2016 FB

     

    On Wednesday, February 22nd we will present our annual Best Books event!  This consists of three presentations (though participants only have time to visit two) on the best children’s, teen, and adult books our librarians read in 2016.  We’ve been reading furiously all year to compile our lists and are so excited to talk about them.

    For the next few days we will be giving you a little preview. Below is a list of five books that ALMOST made it into my best adult books of 2016.  Last year I read over 100 books and so many of them were amazing.  These five books were great….just not as great as the 20 I will be talking about on the 22nd.

    The DollhouseTHE DOLLHOUSE 
    by Fiona Davis
    (2016)

    I love books that weave stories from history with those in present times.  THE DOLLHOUSE is a wonderful example of this popular writing style.  Here a journalist becomes obsessed with the life of a neighbor in her rent controlled New York apartment building. The more she learns about the building, its history, and its tenants, the more desperate she becomes for more and more personal details.  The mystery, drama, and history of the story kept me reading to the last surprising twist.

     

     

    Curious Charms

    CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER
    by Phaedra Patrcik 
    (2016)

    Arthur Pepper’s life is precisely orchestrated just as it was before his wife Miriam died. However, on the one-year anniversary of her death, Arthur discovers a charm bracelet he’s never seen before and begins a journey of hope and healing.  This is a great choice for those who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY and A MAN CALLED OVE.

     

     

    City of Mirrors

    CITY OF MIRRORS
    by Justin Cronin
    (2016)

    This is the last volume in THE PASSAGE trilogy.  I have loved every installment of this epic post-apocalyptic horror series.  The final volume was an exciting and satisfying conclusion.  Since I already talked about this series in previous years’ Best Books events, I decided to leave it off this year to be able to highlight other stellar 2016 publications.  But for horror readers, this really was a standout conclusion and shouldn’t be missed.

     

    Lab GirlLABGIRL
    by Hope Jahren 
    (2016)

    I agonized over not including this specific title in my list because it really is a wonderfully written memoir.  Jahren tells about her adventures as a female scientist in a very male dominated academic environment.  She talks about her special friendship and collaborative relationship with lab partner, Bill.  Add to that an amazingly honest and revealing description of her struggles with mental illness and you begin to see why this is such a special book.  Maybe I should swap it out on my list….ahhhh, I can’t decide!!

     

    Frontier GritFRONTIER GRIT: THE UNLIKELY TRUE STORIES OF DARING PIONEER WOMEN
    by Marianne Monson 
    (2016)

    Twelve amazing women who helped to settle the west are spotlighted in this cumulative biography.  Two of my favorite sketches were about Nellie Cashman who, in her 80s, mushed a dog sled 750 miles in seventeen days and Martha Hughes Cannon who became the first female State Senator in the United States, defeating her own husband who was also on the ballot.  These women are inspiring and I loved reading about their nonconventional lives and pioneering spirits.  

      

    It is so hard to pick favorites with so many talented writers supplying us amazing books for every taste.  Hopefully you can join us on the 22nd to see our complete lists.  We will have delicious cupcakes and exciting door prizes as well, so bring a friend or two!

     

     

  • Hamilton

    Confession: after listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time, I sobbed in my car for ten minutes.

    I had gone back and forth, listening first to the audiobook of the Ron Chernow biography that inspired the play and then to the soundtrack until I caught up chronologically with my reading. By the time I had finished the biography, I was deeply invested in the stories and personalities of early American history, but when the final song shifted focus to Eliza … I was a goner. It was quiet, unexpected, meaningful, and so incredibly moving. I think it’s the best final number in musical theater history, and I will fight you on that.

    There was no going back for me. I was obsessed.

    If you care about musical theater at all, you already know that Hamilton is coming to town. The national tour arrives in Salt Lake City in just a few short weeks, and the digital fight to get tickets was a bloodbath. Whether you were one of the lucky few to get tickets or you’re now considering selling a kidney in order to afford one on craigslist*, the library provides plenty of ways to become the ultimate Hamilton fan.

    1) Read the biography

    3.1 Alexander HamiltonALEXANDER HAMILTON
    By Ron Chernow
    (2004)

    The book that started it all. Lin-Manuel Miranda read ALEXANDER HAMILTON while on vacation in 2008 and spent the next several years gradually crafting the music, lyrics, and book for his musical juggernaut. Even if you’re not a big history buff, rest assured that Pulitzer prize winner Chernow is a master biographer who makes history come alive in an accessible, compelling way. 

     

    2) Listen to the soundtrack

    3.1 SoundtrackHAMILTON: ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING
    Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    (2015)

    If you haven’t listened to the soundtrack yet, stop reading and place a hold on it now.

    Seriously. Now.

     

    3) Learn the backstory

    3.1 Hamilton the RevolutionHAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION
    By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
    (2016)

    Now that you’re knee-deep in the world of HAMILTON, it’s time to dive a little deeper. HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION, also affectionately known as the Hamiltome, gives an insider’s look into the making of the musical. Part of what makes HAMILTON so accessible to so many people is the way it blends hip hop with classic musical theater styling. It has so many subtle nods to rap and musical theater history, and the Hamiltome is the best way to catch them all. 

     

    4) Sing (and play) along

    3.1 MusicHAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL
    Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    (2016)

    Even if you don’t have the velvety voice of Leslie Odom Jr. or the lyrical speed of Renée Elise Goldsberry, you can take your best shot at the music. We have both the standard piano/vocal music and an easy piano version for you to try. 

     

    5) Keep reading

    3.1 I Eliza HamiltonThe popularity of the musical has led to an explosion of Hamilton-related fiction in the past couple of years. For adults, there’s I, ELIZA HAMILTON, THE HAMILTON AFFAIR, and (later this year) MY DEAR HAMILTON, and teens can read ALEX AND ELIZA, HAMILTON AND PEGGY! A REVOLUTIONARY FRIENDSHIP, or ALEXANDER HAMILTON: THE GRAPHIC HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN FOUNDING FATHER.

    Everything you need if you're not quite ready to leave Hamilton behind.

     

    *The Provo City Library does not endorse selling human organs, even for Hamilton tickets.

  • lds fiction genre

    Are you looking for novels with LDS standards? For the last year and a half, I have been the librarian responsible for purchasing the LDS Fiction books. Since there are so many books published each year, there is no way for me to read everything. So, I rely on publishers to give me a helping hand. The three main publishers of LDS Fiction include Deseret Book, Covenant, and Cedar Fort, along with their imprints. Many of these publishers have stated in their submission guidelines that they only accept books that meet LDS Standards.

    The LDS Fiction market in years past mainly focused on books with LDS characters at the forefront. However, now many of these publishers are putting out books that may not necessarily have LDS characters in the book, but they still follow LDS standards. At the Utah Library Association Conference in May, I attended a session about LDS Fiction where several authors spoke about their experiences writing for the LDS market. Several of them mentioned that one of the reason they like writing for smaller Indie presses is that they are not pressured to make their books edgy; they can adhere to LDS standards and be proud of what they have written.

    So how do you find these books at the library? When you are here at the library it is easy to browse the shelves looking for the LDS sticker.

    Picture 1

     

    Recently we added an LDS Fiction genre tag to the catalog records for these books and now you can easily browse for titles from home too.

    Picture 2

    You can click on the LDS Fiction genre tag link to browse all of the other titles with that tag.

     

    Alternatively, you can do an advanced search on the catalog.

    Picture 3

     

    Type “LDS Fiction” into the “Find items that have: All these words” search bar and click on “Advanced Search."

    Picture 4

     

    As you can see, we have over 2,000 items with the LDS Fiction genre tag!

    Picture 5

     

    We hope this genre tag will help our patrons find some great new reads! If there is an LDS Fiction title you would like to suggest we purchase, you can fill out the Purchase Suggestion Form on our website.

  • better world

    Recently, I’ve felt bombarded by news of violent clashes around the world. I know I am not alone. I am saddened when I see victims and frustrated when it seems to only get worse. I want to do something but I am a confirmed introvert.  Rallies and demonstrations are far outside my comfort zone. But I think I have uncovered a strategy to, in my own small way, make a difference…by encouraging everyone to READ!

    That’s right. I plan to fight intolerance with stories.

    I’m a librarian. I’ve been pushing books at people for almost two decades. I recommend all types of books, and I’m always trying to find something that appeals to each patron. But I would like to extend a new type of reading challenge. Go pick up a book that represents a different perspective from what you know. Find a book that challenges you. Find a book that leads you through experiences of people you may never meet or, maybe more powerfully, through experiences of people who may live right next door.

    It’s proven that reading can build empathy. And doesn’t the world desperately need more empathy? Books are often praised for how they help us imagine fantastic worlds beyond our own. They also help us image the real world beyond our own experiences.

    Join me and fight the fear and the anger that is threatening our society by picking up a book that will stretch your horizons. Talk about these books in your book clubs and with your friends and family. Encourage your children to read about other kinds of people living other kinds of lives. Discover the world and the amazing diverse populations that people it. Open your eyes to vistas you may never see and embrace individuals you may never meet! 

    Below are a few books that have powerfully affected my world view over the past few years:

    8.29 LaRoseLAROSE 
    By Louise Erdrich
    (2016)

    Tragedy strikes a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation when and the whole community must deal with the aftermath. (Fiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 HomegoingHOMEGOING 
    By Yaa Gyasi
    (2016)

    Beginning in 18th century Ghana, HOMEGOING tells of two half-sisters who take diverging paths that lead their posterity from the Gold Coast to 20th century Harlem. (Fiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 In the Shadow of the Banyan TreeIN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN 
    By Vaddey Ratner
    (2012)

    Civil war in Cambodia leaves a young girl in a brutal forced labor camp where she clings to the myths and legends told to her by her father. (Fiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 The Book of Unknown AmericansTHE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS 
    By Cristina Henriquez
    (2014)

    A family moves to America from Mexico to aid the recovery of their daughter who suffered a near-fatal accident. (Fiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 AmericanahAMERICANAH 
    By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    (2014)

    Two young Nigerian sweethearts are separated as they study abroad in America and England only to be reunited in their homeland 15 years later. (Fiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 I Am MalalaI AM MALALA 
    By Malala Yousafzai
    (2016)

    Malala tells of her fight to attend school in a Taliban controlled area and the resulting violence that nearly cost her life. (Nonfiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 No One Cares About Crazy PeopleNO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE 
    By Ron Powers
    (2017)

    What is it like to suffer from mental illness in the United States?  Ron Powers presents a powerful narrative using his own sons who suffer from schizophrenia. (Nonfiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 A Thousand Miles to FreedomA THOUSAND MILES TO FREEDOM 
    By Eunsun Kim
    (2015)

    After escaping from North Korea as a girl, Un-Ju relates her nine-year journey to freedom. (Nonfiction)

     

     

     

    8.29 Between the World and MeBETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME 
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates
    (2015)

    Written as a letter to his son, this is a view into the experience of a black man in America and his hopes for the future. (Nonfiction)

     

     

     

    And here are a few I plan to read to take up my own challenge:

    8.29 Hillbilly ElegyHILLBILLY ELEGY 
    By J.D. Vance
    (2016)

    The author shares the story of his years growing up in a poor Rust Belt town and a deep look into the struggles of America’s white working class. (Nonfiction)

     

     



    8.29 Born a CrimeBORN A CRIME 
    By Trevor Noah
    (2016)

    The inspiring story of a boy becoming a man during the twilight of apartheid. (Nonfiction)

     

     



    8.29 Home FireHOME FIRE 
    By Kamila Shamsie
    (2017)

    The story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty with devastating consequences. (Fiction)

     

     

     

     

  • fiction

     

    Part two of my favorite books of 2016 consists of five fiction titles.  Lately, I’ve been picking up books from best seller lists without reading a thing about them.  I have pretty much just judged them by their titles, covers, and the fact that at least a few people have liked them.  So far, I haven’t been led too far astray and found these five gems.  I’m not going to tell you very much about them and hopefully when you fold back their covers you will be as surprised and delighted as I have been.

     

    My Name is Lucy BartonMY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
    by Elizabeth Strout
    (2016)

    When I want to read something beautifully written, I pay a lot of attention to award winning authors.  Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer and, while I don’t usually enjoy short stories, I did like reading Olive Kitteridge.  So, I picked up My Name is Lucy Barton and started reading, hoping to enjoy more of Strout’s lovely way of expressing the feelings and thoughts of her dynamic characters.  I did!  This is a wonderful example of her gift as a writer and I loved every word.

     

    Americas First DaughterAMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER
    by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
    (2016)

    The cover of this book displays stately Monticello and a woman in a big dress.  So, when I decided to check it out, I obviously knew it was about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter.  I was expecting a historic novel of some kind but I don’t think I expected Patsy Jefferson to be such a complicated protagonist.  Dray and Kamoie give readers a new perspective on the birth of our nation and everyday life in the colonies from the eyes of a woman in the center of it all.

     

    Black Rabbit Hall
    by Eve Chase
    (2016)

    I honestly knew nothing about this book when I downloaded it to my tablet.  But I did like the cover, with its dark wrought iron gate and stately mansion in the distance.  I was in the mood for something a little gloomy and the image spoke to me.  And…I loved it.  There’s a little romance, a little mystery, a bit of angst, tragedy and deception.  All these things worked together to delight and captivate me.  I can’t wait to recommend it to all my fellow Kate Morton fans!

     

    Everyone BraveEVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN
    by Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    It wasn’t the cover as much as the amazing title of this book that hooked me.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven screams of an amazing story to be told.  There is definitely not a shortage of World War II fiction available, but I believe I liked this better than All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale, though I did really like both of those.  But Cleave’s characters were so relatable and witty that I wanted to keep them as friends forever, despite their flaws and shortcomings.

     

    Rare ObjectsRARE OBJECTS
    by Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    This book definitely grabbed me with its cover.  It depicts a lovely girl in a beautiful dress staring at the camera and made me think of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, which was a favorite of mine a few years ago.  Plus, I don’t read a lot of fiction that takes place during The Great Depression and I like to mix things up sometimes.  This was another random choice that I am very glad I made.  Chris Cleave presents lovely complicated characters and a beautiful message of redemption.

  • adult kid books 

    There are plenty of books in the children’s department here at the Provo City Library that adults love to read. The same is true in reverse. We often send our smaller patrons over to the adult’s department to find a specific title they are interested in. Here are 5 of my favorite titles that kids can enjoy, but which can’t be found in our Juvenile Fiction collection.   

    10.05.2018 SweetnessTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
    by Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    A new favorite character among readers, Flavia de Luce is a witty 11-yr-old sleuth and an aspiring chemist. Previously, Flavia’s time has been spent trying to make her sisters’ lives miserable and being made miserable in return. That’s until she finds a dead man in the garden and realizes she’s finally found something to truly put her mind to. This is the perfect book for young mystery-lovers that need to be challenged just a bit.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: While only 11, Flavia often speaks, thinks, and acts like an adult. There is also a smattering of swearing and the occasional Agatha-Christie-esque murder.   

     

    01.05.2018 Book ThiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)

    As soon as it was published, The Book Thief became an instant classic. The tale of young Liesel Meminger and her hodge-podge family is narrated by Death. He is a thoughtful and beautiful storyteller, following the little “book thief” during the first half of WWII in Nazi Germany. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for the many kids who love WWII historical fiction.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The Book Thief can at times be both a little slow and very sad. It touches on themes of wartime violence and Nazi philosophy. It also has quite a bit of language in it both in English and German. I enjoyed listening to this book because the reader gave those words the appropriate color.   

     

    01.05.2018 To Kill a MockingbirdTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    by Harper Lee
    (1960)

    With over 3 million reviews on Goodreads, most people are familiar with Lee’s tale of childhood antics and the cancer of racism. Scout is an adventurous but naive character who only experiences racism from a distance until it’s thrust violently into her life. Seeing the small southern town through Scout’s eyes can be a wonderful, if gradual, first step into an eye-opening recognition of injustice.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The main conflict of this book is the accused rape of a white girl by a black man. Both the racism and the believability or un-believability of the girl are sensitive topics. There are also the obvious racial slurs, other language, and violent scenes.   

     

    01.05.2018 Hitchhikers GuideTHE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
    by Douglas Adams
    (1979)

    Arthur Dent discovers his good friend is actually an intergalactic hitchhiker when he’s plucked from earth just moments before it’s destroyed. Hilarious and very British, chaos ensues as a ragtag group travels the universe. While this one may be a bit of a stretch for some kids, many enjoy both its hilarity and thoughtfulness. 

    Why it’s on the adult side: To be fair, this is an adult book. It’s both witty and, at times, philosophical. Be prepared for a smattering of language and sexual innuendos of varying degrees.   

     

    01.05.2018 Michael VeyMICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25
    by Richard Paul Evans
    (2011)

    At our library, this book is cataloged as “young adult,” but it’s enjoyed by all ages. 14-yr-old Michael Vey has Tourette's syndrome, but he also has incredible electrical powers. After discovering that one of the most popular girls in school (and his crush) has similar abilities, the two embark on a quest to discover the origin of their mutation. This story is action-packed and a lot of fun.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: Although plenty of kids love this series, I was surprised at the amount of violence. There is also moments of psychological torture that, if really considered, can be quite emotional.   

     
  • 1000pages

    With summer ever nearing (and our own Summer Reading Program imminent), it’s time to start considering the books that will occupy your next three months. While many folks will plan a grand stack of books to consume, others would rather take on one or two behemoths of literature. We raise a toast to those brave souls undeterred by doorstop-sized books, so in that spirit, here are 5 classics of world literature that weigh in at over 1000 pages.  

    warandpeaceWAR AND PEACE
    by Leo Tolstoy    

    Perhaps too obviously, this list must start with the book that has practically become cultural shorthand for “a gigantic book.” Tolstoy’s titanic novel of the years before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars is a surefire way to get some serious literary bragging rights. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed midway through, you can decompress by watching the recent (and terrific) BBC adaptation of the novel.   

     

    LesmiserablesLES MISERABLES
    by Victor Hugo

    You may already know this story very well, but Hugo’s novel is a landmark achievement that stands above all its many adaptations. This story of the French Revolution may seem daunting at the outset, but at least there’s a convenient soundtrack for your reading journey.  

     

     

    donquixoteDON QUIXOTE
    by Miguel Cervantes

    Cervantes’ epic journey of a romantic idealist lost in the contemporary world is a perfect choice for any daydreamer looking for a challenge. Recent translations have worked diligently to maintain this story’s unique voice and grasp of language – but bonus points if you conquer it in its original Spanish

     

     

    gonewiththewindGONE WITH THE WIND
    by Margaret Mitchell

    Despite its gargantuan size, GONE WITH THE WIND was one of the most popular novels of its time, which is often credited to Mitchell’s unfussy, simple style. The Depression-era equivalent of a beach read, this book may be huge, but you may be able to get through it faster than it would take to watch the movie!

     

     

    infinitejestINFINITE JEST
    by David Foster Wallace  

    After four historical epics from around the world, here’s a novel of colossal length that confronts what it means to exist in our modern world. Wallace was a singular writer who, despite his verbose work, never wrote condescendingly or ostentatiously. INFINITE JEST is a major literary challenge, but its fans promise a rich, profound experience (and it’s this librarian’s own summer challenge).  

     

    To all summer readers, with books big and small: good luck!

  • trilogies 01

     

    Next Tuesday the final volume of Justin Cronin’s PASSAGE trilogy will be released.  I am VERY excited about it!  So, to commemorate here is a list of some my favorite trilogies!  

    The Passage Trilogy

    THE PASSAGE

    THE PASSAGETHE TWELVETHE CITY OF MIRRORS   
    by Justin Cronin
    (2010, 2012, 2016)  

    You may notice from the publication date that it has been four long years since THE TWELVE was published.  That is why I’m so excited about this final installment appearing on our shelves.  I want to know what happens to Amy and her friends in their post-apocalyptic world filled with the living dead!  This is a dark and gripping story filled with characters I’ve grown to love in a terrifying world I am really hoping gets better by the time I turn the last page in THE CITY OF MIRRORS.   

    mistborntrilogy thumb
    MISTBORN

    THE FINAL EMPIRE, THE WELL OF ASCENSION, THE HERO OF AGES
    by Brandon Sanderson 

    (2006, 2007, 2008)  

    I may love this trilogy mostly because I want alomantic powers more than any other fictional magic I’ve encountered.  It just sounds like fun and I want to fly.  Also, Brandon Sanderson writes great characters that I quickly grow attached to with plot lines that are seldom predictable.  Technically, this trilogy has turned into a series, but the first three tell a great story all by themselves.  

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

    LORD OF THE RINGS

    THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, THE RETURN OF THE KING
    by J.R.R. Tolkien 

    (1954, 1954, 1955)

    I don’t think I really need to defend this choice.  It’s kind of a given.  

    otori cycle
    TALES OF THE OTORI

    ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOORGRASS FOR HIS PILLOWBRILLIANCE OF THE MOON  
    by Lian Hearn 
    (2002, 2003, 2004)  

    TALES OF THE OTORI mixes a little bit of magic with feudal Japan.  It was one of those books that didn’t get a ton of attention when it was first released but I couldn’t put down.  That sounds a little sad, but hidden gems like ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR are a librarian’s best friends.  We rely on them when recommending books to people who have already read “everything”.  And who can resist magical ninjas?  (Again, technically, this is a series, but I didn’t love any of the books after the first three so I pretend they don’t exist.  I can easily recommend people just read the trilogy.)  

    jason bourne
    BOURNE TRILOGY

    THE BOURNE IDENTITY, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
    by Robert Ludlum 

    (1980, 1986, 1990)  

    If you have watched the movies, you will still be surprised by what you find in these classic spy novels.  Beyond an amnesiac assassin named Jason Bourne, the books and the movies don’t have a whole lot in common.  Cold war technology and spy craft may seem a little dated to some, but just think of it like a historical adventure novel and it becomes charmingly retro.  Right?

  • archaeology

    As a former archaeology student, I can’t even keep track of the amount of times someone tells me, “Oh, you studied archaeology? I always wanted to do that!” Archaeology is definitely fun and exciting, calling to mind ancient tombs, exotic locals, lost cities, and ruggedly handsome Indiana Jones-type explorers. While all of those things are certainly perks, one of the best things about the field of archaeology is that you can get lost in all those exciting adventures just by opening up a book!  

    At the library we have all sorts of books to suit your archaeological interests. Looking for books on ancient Rome? Head over to the 937s. Prefer Aztec, Maya, and Native American archaeology? Check out the 970s. We even have books on forensic anthropology (think Dr. Brennan from TV show Bones). We have titles about the ancient celts of Britain and Europe, the Inca, ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and more.  

    So, if you harbor a secret desire to be an archaeologist, check out these and more titles from our library! 

    7.28 The World Encyclopedia of ArchaeologyTHE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARCHAEOLOGY
    By Aedeen Cremin
    (2007)

    This beautiful book is full of colorful photos from the most significant sites to the most important cultural treasures of the ancient world. This is a good place to start if you just want to learn about broad topics or just to pique your interest for more in depth study.  

     

     

    7.28 Nine Mile CanyonNINE MILE CANYON
    By Norma Dalton
    (2014)

    Guess what—Utah is chalk-full of interesting archaeology! Long before pioneers and Ute tribes lived in this area, the Fremont people lived, farmed, and thrived. One of the coolest things that the Fremont left behind is their amazing rock art! And there is no better place to find concentrated amounts of rock art in Utah than Nine Mile Canyon. This site is just northeast of Price, only about an hour and a half drive from Provo, and makes for a great day trip!  

     

    7.28 TimelineTIMELINE
    By Michael Crichton
    (1999)

    Like archaeology? Like medieval knights? Like sci-fi? Odds are, you will like TIMELINE.  A group of archaeologists get sent back in time to medieval France in order to save their professor. This is just the archaeological fiction book that you need for summer. Bonus—there is even a movie starring Paul Walker and Gerard Butler that is just perfect for a fun summer movie night with friends or family.  

     

     

    7.28 Breaking the Maya CodeBREAKING THE MAYA CODE: THE 200-YEAR QUEST TO DECIPHER THE HEIROGLYPHS OF THE ANCIENT MAYA
    Directed by Dave Lebrun
    (2008)

    This documentary is awarding-winning for a reason. It is that good. It could be Sigourney Weaver’s alluring narration, or perhaps the hypnotic visuals. Or maybe it’s the rivalries and colliding personalities involved in unlocking the secrets of Mayan hieroglyphs. Whatever the reason, this documentary is a fascinating look into the history of Maya studies, Mayan writing, and Mayan calendars.

     

    7.28 ArchaeologyARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE
    By Archaeological Institute of America

    Did you know that the library has magazines that you can check out? Among the many amazing periodicals is this gem, with little tidbits and stories regarding current archaeological finds around the globe.

     

     

     

  • rome

    With the coming of that most famous and famously auspicious of days, thanks to Shakespeare, here are some excellent books about or set in ancient Rome. Fiction and nonfiction both.

    spqrS.P.Q.R.: A HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
    by Mary Beard
    (2015)

    Mary Beard, a Cambridge don, presents a fresh and enlightening history of Rome's first thousand years. The author brilliantly combines scholarly insight with engaging storytelling. An excellent book!

     

     

    rubiconRUBICON: THE LAST YEARS OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC 
    by Tom Holland
    (2003)

    A fascinating account of the events of the first century, when the Republic decayed, ushering in the imperial era. Emphasis is placed on the roles and influences of key historical figures, such as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Brutus and Octavian.

     

    imperiumIMPERIUM: A NOVEL OF ANCIENT ROME 
    by Robert Harris
    (2006)

    A tale of ambition, this story traces the life of famous orator Cicero, from his years as a rising lawyer to his entrance into the political arena, facing off against the leading men of the day. This is the first of a trilogy, continued in Conspirata and concluding with Dictator.

     

    first in romeTHE FIRST MAN IN ROME
    by Colleen McCullough
    (1990)

    The first in a series, this is the story of men ambitiously striving for glory and power in the Roman arenas of politics and war. This is for anyone who likes their historical fiction truly epic and rich in historical details.

  • kenya

    Do you have an upcoming trip? Whether it’s for business or pleasure, there’s a sure fire way to increase the awesomeness of your travel experience: Check out a book. 

    But not just any book. Check out a book that was written about the place you’re going. Whether you’re headed to Rome, Hong Kong, or St. George, we have a book that will help you connect with that place, its culture and its history. 

    A couple years ago I spent a few months at a girls school in Kenya. I had a wonderfully immersive experience made only better by the fact that while I was there I was pretty dedicated to reading literature written by people who actually lived, or had lived, in Kenya. Doing this helped broaden my perspective of this young, postcolonial country that I was trying to understand. Here are 5 of my favorite Kenyan books: 

    7.21 Out of AfricaOUT OF AFRICA
    By Isak Dinesen
    (1937)

    This is one of the most familiar Kenyan literature titles thanks to the movie featuring Meryl Streep. Karen Blixen (pen name, Isak Dinesen) writes her biographical memoir of life on a Kenyan coffee farm when Kenya was still a British colony. She was one of many Danes who migrated to Kenya, where the Danish presence remains strong to this day. Her home has been converted into a historical memorial and museum, and while the area that was once her plantation has become part of Nairobi, the locals still refer to the entire area as “Karen.” Blixen’s views are decidedly white-washed, but she still gives a lovely and honest account of what it was like for an educated, single (married but separated) white woman to take up living in a completely foreign environment. 

    7.21 West with the NightWEST WITH THE NIGHT
    By Beryl Markham
    (1942) 

    This is another Kenyan colonial memoir. I picked this up because I was told by a fellow literature BA that it had some of the most beautiful prose she’d ever read. She wasn’t wrong. Both Markham and Dinesen paint a beautiful picture of the fantastic Kenyan landscape that is so foreign to many of us living in the US. This is also another great feminist tale as Markham shares her experiences as a single, woman pilot in the African bush. One of her most intense scenes involves an elephant hunt with a murderous bull elephant. While reading this, the locals had already made sure I was scared to death of these big, beautiful creatures, but this scene solidified that fear. Interestingly enough, if you read Out of Africa and wonder where Blixen’s husband is, you can find him hanging out with Markham in this tale, proving how close knit the white settlers were at this time. 

    7.21 UnbowedUNBOWED
    By Wangari Maathai
    (2006) 

    There’s no way my reading list would be complete without this amazing autobiography by Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Prize winner for her work with the Green Belt Movement. She was the personal hero of many of the girls on campus, and her views gave me important insight into both the environmental and political crises facing the country. Unbowed is the perfect title for this book about a woman who never stepped back from a fight if she knew the cause would help her country.  

    Unfortunately, the Provo library doesn’t own the following two books, but they are still worth looking up. 

     

    7.21 A Grain of WheatA GRAIN OF WHEAT
    By Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo
    (1967) 

    Even though the Provo library doesn’t currently own any of the fictional works of renowned Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, we do have his autobiography, BIRTH OF A DREAM WEAVER: A WRITER'S AWAKENING. A Grain of Wheat is worth a read if you’re at all interested in the Kenyan independence movement of the 50s. It’s an emotion-driven tale of the controversy that overshadowed the personal lives of everyone leading up to Uhuru. For me, this was an important glimpse into the feelings of someone who actually lived through these turbulent times and the resulting aftermath. 

     

    7.21 The River and the SourceTHE RIVER AND THE SOURCE
    By Margaret A. Ogola
    (1995)

    I read this book in tandem with the girls at the school where I was living. This amazing tale follows a family through 4 generations, spanning from tribal life in the bush, through university degrees and life in the city. This tale covers love, loss, disease, and political instability as the family tries to survive and stay true to their roots. Akoko, the first protagonist, is heralded throughout as the matriarch of the family, the source of the river.