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BPL Podcast Programs

Black Performance and the Music of Sharon Udoh

by Adult Services Library Associate Christian

Photo taken from Counterfeit Madison’s second record, Opposable Thumbs.

Last week we had Sharon Udoh on the BPL Podcast where she spoke with adult services librarian Jeff about her professional career as an Enrollment Coordinator at ACPA (The Arts & College Preparatory Academy) and diversity in education. While we got to know about what she does in the daytime, Udoh is an enigmatic figure that has multiple layers to her artistry.

Sharon Udoh is a person known well throughout the art and music scene of Columbus for her various ventures as a musical performer. She is best known for the work in her band Counterfeit Madison, where she has put out two records and several EPs and singles. (available through the CLC or bandcamp). On the podcast she discussed a third album, stating “…when I recorded my third album, which hasn’t been released yet and I don’t know if it ever will be” with laughter. Despite the purgatory state of new Counterfeit Madison material, Udoh has still kept busy with other projects in the musical landscape.

She is seen continuing the legacy of Black performance by covering the likes of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, and Sade–musicians that reflect the truth of American life through their underrepresented voices. While discussing the work of Nina Simone, Udoh declares “it is my undeniable belief that we cannot move past these American fears without deep personal and individual revolution.” Through her artistry, Udoh is adding to the narrative of black performance as a movement of liberation and equity.

Still image from Sharon Udoh’s appearance in the music video for Clipping’s song, “All In Your Head”.

Udoh has also appeared on experimental hip hop group Clipping’s record, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, on the song “All In Your Head”. As the song crescendos, Udoh’s sings her beautiful gospel over the drones and buzzes within the song’s production, showcasing her diverse range of musical identity.

There’s no way to box Sharon Udoh. Much like her eclectic professional career (wherein she has bounced from C++ coder to dancer instructor), her exploration in music is boundless. Her musical identity is reflective of the legacy of Black performance.


For more…

Sharon Udoh has recently collaborated with Chamber Brews, composing a piece entitled “Dig”, which can be found the Johnstone Fund for Music’s facebook page.

For more more on Black artistry, be sure to check out our Black Performance in America: A Celebration program with speakers Hanif Abdurraqib, Dionne Custer Edwards, Dr. Mark Lomax II, and Paisha Thomas on Thursday, April 8, 7:00pm – 8:00pm.

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Booklists Online Resources Recommendations

Literary Losses

by Adult Services Manager Whitney

Two literary legends, Larry McMurtry and Beverly Cleary, died last Thursday, March 25. Both were prolific and influential, and driven to write books that better reflected their lives than the stories they grew up reading. 

Cleary wrote many books about kids and their adventures, but is most famous for her books about Ramona Quimby and her family. She wrote books that realistically portrayed middle class kids, rather than the books she’d grown up with, which tended to be about rich, British children. “I wanted to read funny stories about the sort of children I knew, and I decided that someday when I grew up I would write them.” (New York Times, 3/26/21). Cleary’s books about the Quimbys and other characters from Klickitat Street are available on Libby and Hoopla, including some Spanish translations

Beverly Cleary signs books at the Monterey Bay Book Festival in Monterey, Calif., on April 19, 1998. (Vern Fisher / The Monterey County Herald via Associated Press)

McMurtry was known for writing “anti-westerns;” his stories were more realistic and based on his experience growing up in Texas, rather than romanticizing the American West. He described himself as “a critic of the myth of the cowboy.” While he may be best known for Lonesome Dove, his Pulitzer Prize winning book and popular mini-series, he wrote more than 30 novels, and many memoirs, essays, nonfiction books, and screenplays. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay of Brokeback Mountain (based on a Annie Proulx short story), and several of his books became movies, including Horseman, Pass By (Hud), The Last Picture Show, and Terms of Endearment.

The author Larry McMurtry in 1978 at home. In a career that spanned more than five decades, he wrote more than 60 novels and screenplays. mage via Diana Walker/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

If you’re curious about McMurtry, we’re lucky that his prolific catalog is available through BPL not only in print, but on Libby and Hoopla. In fact, Lonesome Dove: The Complete Miniseries, is available on demand through Hoopla. Be sure to check out these titles, available in either print or digital format:

Categories
Bexley History Programs Recommendations

Pizza in Bexley

by Local History Librarian David

One of Bexley’s oldest businesses, Rubino’s, was established in 1954 by Ruben Cohen, who adapted his Jewish name to sound more Italian as the name of his pizzeria and spaghetti restaurant. There were only ten places in Columbus for pizza at the time, and Cohen made Rubino’s special for its thin crispy crust and “fairly secret” sauce recipe.

When the red brick building was sold in 1983, over five hundred Bexley citizens signed a petition while others picketed outside of city hall to save Rubino’s. The city denied the new owner’s request for a zoning variance that would convert the restaurant into a meat market, and Rubino’s renegotiated its lease.

In 1988, Cohen sold the restaurant to employees Frank Marchese and Tommy Culley. Operated today by Marchese’s children, little of the atmosphere, neon signs, and dining room have changed: only the competition along Main Street. 

Bexley Pizza Plus was established in 1980 by Don Schmitt. It was originally located in the 2500 block of E Main Street, and relocated next door to Rubino’s in 2006. Brad Rocco, a graduate of Bexley High School, started as a delivery driver at Bexley Pizza Plus, and went on to become the co-owner in 1994. They gained national and international attention in pizza competitions, like competing two years with the U.S Pizza Team, and winning the International Pizza Challenge in 2014.

Read more about the history of pizza in Columbus, Ohio in Jim Ellison’s new book, Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History, available now at BPL and Gramercy Books in Bexley.

To hear more about Bexley Pizza Plus listen to BPL’s podcast, 40+ Years of Bexley Pizza Plus with Brad Rocco.

Join us on Tuesday, March 23 at 7 PM to hear author Jim Ellison discuss his book by registering for Bexley Public Library’s virtual program, A Slice of Columbus Pizza History.

Categories
Online Resources

Resource Spotlight: Streaming Alternatives

by Adult Services Library Associate Christian

The convenience of streaming and the past year has changed the way we consume entertainment. While the physical medium has not died out (especially in the library-sphere, where you can still browse new movies on our website), there is much to be said on how streaming has allowed for even more content (tv, movies, music) to be produced as it does not necessarily have to follow the restraints that physical media bare (such as the cost for the production of dvds, blu-rays, CDs, vinyl).

While streaming does offer a litany of entertainment to consume, it comes with a price. Not only has the cost of streaming gone up, but the amount of streaming services have multiplied–spreading out content among several different platforms. This is why offering free alternatives to paid streaming is important, to allow the consumption of entertainment without the high cost of entry.


TV & Movies

Acorn TV Review | PCMag
For fans of British Mystery, Drama, & Comedy

Been hearing the buzz about Bridgerton? Well, AcornTV is a platform that is loaded to the brim with British dramas, mysteries, and comedies that will satisfy your needs for the television across the pond. Packed with classics, new series, and exclusive content, this free service will make you wonder why you have not been utilizing it any sooner.

hoopla - Stream or download movies, music, audiobooks
An all-in-one streaming service

From audiobooks to movies to music and more, Hoopla does it all. It features brand new films and music, as well as your favorite classics. The versatility and amount of content that is featured within the service is bountiful.

Press — IndieFlix
For the independent film fanatics

IndieFlix is a service that offers thousands of films, shorts, and tv shows from independent, global filmmakers. If you want to see what smaller-budget filmmakers are doing, then this is your destination for independent filmmaking.

As Kanopy's Popularity Grows, Can Your Library Continue to Afford It? |  IndieWire
For fans of documentaries, world cinema, and educational programs

Kanopy is an excellent service that offers high quality documentaries (from the likes of PBS and HBO), world cinema (from distributors such as Criterion Collection and A24), and educational programming (such as The Great Courses). While the Bexley Public Library does not offer this service directly, you can access it with a Columbus Metropolitan Library card.


Music

Qello - Wikipedia
For those that miss seeing live concerts

Qello Concerts is a service that allows you to access archived live concerts from some of your favorite artists. From Miles Davis to Daft Punk, Qello has it all. The eclectic roster of musicians and bands that this service provides will be sure to please a music lover of any kind.

ListenColumbus logo
A collection of full albums from Columbus locals

Listen Columbus is a streaming service that offers a continually-updated collection of records from musicians and bands in the 614. This service is provided graciously by the Upper Arlington Public Library, and can be accessed without a library card.

Bandcamp Says Fans Spent $4.3 Million Friday as Site Waived Its Share -  Variety
For those that want to support artists directly

Bandcamp is a streaming service that houses hundreds of thousands of artists and labels–from some of the biggest independent artists. Bandcamp usually allows fans to listen to the music for free, but downloads and merch come at a price. This service lets you find new music and support independent musicians.

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

International Women’s Day

by Adult Services Librarian Leann

With origins in socialist and communist political movements in the 20th century and second wave feminism in the 1960s, the United Nations recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1977. According to the UN, “it is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” March is also recognized as Women’s History Month in the United States.

The world has been ravaged by the pandemic since the last International Women’s Day and in the United States, communities which were already underserved have been especially hard-hit by rates of serious illness, death, and economic hardship. Likewise, there have been shocking, but perhaps not surprising, reports of the myriad ways in which the economic collapse brought on by the pandemic has singularly and negatively impacted women. The Brookings Institution released this report which helps summarize the complex range issues now facing working women, stating bluntly, “COVID-19 is hard on women because the U.S. economy is hard on women, and this virus excels at taking existing tensions and ratcheting them up.” A lack of access to childcare, traditional gender roles inside and outside the home, the fact that women are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs, and a lack of support and critical infrastructure for families and working women are all contributing factors making the impact of COVID-19 especially hard on women.

The dramatic impacts of the pandemic on women in particular highlight how much there is still to address in the United States–and globally–if we hope to achieve gender equity. International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate and reflect on the achievements and struggles of women past and present, and take action for the future.

Here are 6 of my suggestions of books written by women, about women. Enjoy!

Required Reading: Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall | print / digital

From as far back as the movement for women’s suffrage in the United States, mainstream feminism has been plagued by either outright racism and/or the idea that feminism is, can, and should be, a color-blind philosophy. Feminism is bound up with all the other -isms: classism, racism, capitalism, tribalism. They’re inseparable, so talking about them at all can be complicated and overwhelming. Mikki Kendall, however, gets to the point with critical clarity in Hood Feminism stating, “true feminist solidarity across racial lines means being willing to protect each other, speaking up when the missing women are not from your community, and calling out ways that predatory violence can span multiple communities.”

For the History Buff: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell | print / digital

Viriginia Hall’s story is exceptional in the specifics: she was an intelligent, savvy, single young American woman traveling the world and working for a living in the 1920s and 30s, and eventually became the first British spy in Vichy France, establishing its most essential network of informants, which was critical in winning the Allies the war. Her story, however, is all too familiar in the broad strokes for women in a male-dominated profession. Time and time again, Virginia was underestimated, undervalued, and underappreciated for her hard work, dedication, and skill. Nevertheless, through sheer determination and willpower, Virginia pursued the life she wanted for herself with astonishing results.

A Memoir: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado | print / digital

According to the publisher’s website, In the Dream House, “is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.” Author Carmen Maria Machado explores her experience of a traumatic relationship with a charming but volatile woman using second-person narrative and painful honesty. NPR’s Gabino Iglesias says in their review, “this book is a scream that ensures visibility, a chronicle of truth that weights more than a thousand theories and all the efforts to erase the reality of abuse in lesbian couples.” This revolutionary memoir is not to be missed. 

Essays that Hit Different: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino | print / digital

The essays from this collection that I think about the most are called, “Always Be Optimizing” and “The Cult of the Difficult Woman.” Jia Tolentino’s adroit, sharp, and witty essays are a critical commentary on our culture made to feel deeply personal. She structures the book around nine different themes, including: being a person on the Internet, deified productivity, pop Feminism, and so forth. Not every essay is entirely relatable for every reader, but if you are an internet-using human, prepare to feel very seen.

The Multigenerational Family Saga: The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz | print / digital

This debut novel from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Connie Schultz is centered around a small blue collar town in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. To anyone who’s lived in Ohio, Schultz’s novel will immediately feel familiar. The story follows four generations of women in the Anyplace, Ohio town against the backdrop of World Wars and the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s, with attention paid to the setting to make it feel uniquely Ohio. All of the characters in Erietown must face dreams deferred, make hard choices, sacrifice for others, and find identity and meaning in their relationships to each other. Readers of historical fiction and those who like generational family stories will enjoy The Daughters of Erietown

For Fun: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | print / digital

Fast paced and darkly comic, Oyinkan Braithwaite tells a story about sisterhood and the struggle – and power – of being a woman through the lens of an embittered Nigerian woman who realizes her beloved and beautiful sister is a serial killer. My Sister turns the classic competitive sister trope on its head. Sure, one sister is always cleaning  up the other sister’s messes, but in this case, the messes are murdered boyfriends. The plot intensifies when the murderous sister sets her sights on someone a little too close for comfort. Oyinkan’s style will make your heart pound with equal parts dread and delight. 

For the romantic check out this post!

And be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming BPL Podcast episode, Investing in Women w/ CEO Kelley Griesmer coming out March 12 at 12AM! To honor Women’s History Month, in this episode, Leann sits down with Kelley Griesmer, CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, to talk about the wealth gap, the importance of investing financially in women, and the new Enduring Progress Initiative focused on breaking down barriers to racial and gender equity.

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Booklists Recommendations Staff Book Reviews

Monopolized by David Dayen

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

A handful of books published in the past few years illustrate the emergence of a modern anti-monopoly intellectual movement. (‘Monopoly’ referring to the consolidation of market power into one or a small handful of firms/corporations.) Among others, they include: Goliath by Matt Stoller, Break ‘Em Up by Zephyr Teachout, The Curse of Bigness by Tim Wu, and Monopolized by David Dayen (this last book being the subject of this particular review, below).

According to these researchers, experts and journalists, the rapid rise of monopolies drives inequality, causes and intensifies social injustices, and exacerbates the economic and political marginalization among already vulnerable groups. To explore the magnitude of this issue, Bexley Public Library is partnering with Morgan Harper and Pat Garofalo of the American Economic Liberties Project to host a virtual event Corporate Consolidation & Democracy. Harper and Garofalo will provide an overview of the impacts of corporate consolidation, the effects this accrual of power has on individuals, communities and democracy as a whole, as well as offer policy changes at the local, state and federal levels that would address this issue. The Zoom event will take place on March 10, 2021 at 7pm.

Register to attend this important presentation, and be sure to check out some (or all) of the books listed here!

(In addition to working at the AELP, Pat Garofalo is the author of a topically related book, The Billionaire Boondoggle, which is also available through the consortium; check it out!)

In Monopolized, journalist and executive editor at The American Prospect David Dayen shows readers just how far consolidation and monopolization reach into our economy. While many readers are probably familiar with the idea of monopolization in the area of ‘Big Tech’ (Google, Amazon, Facebook), and as important as these companies are to this larger trend, Dayen shows us that this issue extends far beyond just tech companies. Dayen exposes readers to the monopolization in the airline industry, agriculture, media, the pharmaceutical and banking industries, just to name a few. And I really do mean a few. By the end of the book, readers will likely come away wondering whether there are any industries left that haven’t been consolidated to a troubling degree.

The book is thorough in demonstrating how monopolization has crept into almost every nook and cranny of our economy, though at no point does reading become tedious. Indeed, while it examines such a serious and immense issue, the book is incredibly engaging. Dayen expertly weaves technical and policy analysis with personal stories of ordinary people and their experiences navigating monopolized industries. (I’m sure each of us has a horror story to tell when it comes to flying; mine involves racing to an ever-changing boarding gate across concourses in Atlanta’s International Airport, only to have my flight not take off at all, keeping me in the city for another evening.) Between each of the longer chapters, Dayen also includes short vignettes, relating his own experiences that range from the infuriating to the absurd. My personal favorite is his story of staying in a hotel that was housed in the very same building as a second hotel, separated only by a sign and a tiled floor. (Both hotels were owned by the same parent company.)

Though the ideas and concepts introduced are complex, the book is very accessible. It’s also wildly witty and entertaining; I found myself laughing out loud several times in my own reading. Probably no book I’ve read in the recent past has done more to so thoroughly change the orientation of my political thinking, and if I had to choose just one book to recommend, it would likely be this one. And now looking at the bags that my Kroger curbside-pickups come packaged in (listing other grocery stores that the Kroger Company owns: Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, QFC, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, etc.), I can’t help but recall the blurb written by Zephyr Teachout. After reading Dayen’s book, she predicts, “you will see [monopolies] everywhere”.

Check out these titles, available with your BPL card, to learn more on this topic!

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

New Books by Black Authors

by Adult Services Library Associate Nichole

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.

By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month

As we continue celebrating Black History Month, check out these new titles by Black authors!

  • The Devil You Know by Charles M Blow | print
  • You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar | print / digital
  • Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson | print / digital
Categories
Booklists Recommendations

Celebrating Toni Morrison

by Adult Services Manager Whitney

February 18 is Toni Morrison Day, a statewide holiday in Ohio due to legislation passed late last year. It also would have been her 90th birthday.

Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, Morrison grew up in Lorain, and later set two of her earliest books, The Bluest Eye and Sula, in Ohio. Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for Beloved.

She also worked as an editor: she was the first black woman senior editor in the fiction department at Random House, and helped lift up black writers like Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, and Wole Soyinka.

There are many ways to celebrate Toni Morrison Day! Read or listen to her novels, watch a documentary about her life, and read other authors she promoted, admired, or inspired. Check out her books, as well as these titles, available with your Bexley Public Library card:

  • Toni Morrison, The Pieces I Am | DVD / digital
  • The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett | print / audio ebook
  • Who’s Got Game? by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison | print / digital
  • The Source of Self-Regard: selected essays, speeches, and meditations by Toni Morrison | print / digital
  • Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim | print / digital
  • Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays, and Conversations by Toni Cade Bambara | digital
  • Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis | print / digital
  • The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 | print / digital
  • Africa39 by Wole Soyinka | print / digital

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

A Romance for Every Reader

by Adult Services Librarian Leann

Romance books are hitting the mainstream like never before. Have you ever heard of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton book series? No more do we shame people for reading delightful little paperbacks with scantily clad pirates or kilt-wearing-Scottsmen! (Or rather, we shouldn’t.) “Romance” is for everyone. Don’t believe me? Ask bestselling, blockbusting series like The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or Outlander. Try to name a popular TV show, movie, or book that doesn’t include some sort of romance intrigue or love triangle. Even highfalutin literature is mostly about love or love lost or unrequited love. Let’s face it people, Where the Crawdads Sing is a romance novel and that’s okay.

In literature there is a bias against Romance. There is a pervasive belief among readers that a novel, where the driving plot device is a romantic relationship, cannot be considered Literature and is therefore unworthy of their time or critique. Readers often call books with romantic elements their “guilty pleasure.” I’m here to assure you, however, that it’s actually extremely fine to really like romance books. Liking romantic stories and reading romance novels actually does not correlate with intelligence levels among readers. Nor does it discount a book from being well written, plotted, and researched.

Likewise, while there are loads of paperbacks with heaving bosoms queens or 12-pack-ab cowboys taking up a lot of space in the romance zeitgeist, not every romance novel is based on Twilight fanfiction. Romance as a genre is just as varied as any other and we’re here to celebrate it!

Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the warm sultry waters of romance fiction or you’ve been camped out on the banks of Lake Romance for years, here are some of my top romance novel recommendations:

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
For readers who are romance-curious and looking for political escapism.

Request Title | print / digital

If I were choosing a best-in-show for romance, this would be it. This book is all the gay romance you’ve ever wanted wrapped up in a compelling, lovely, spicy package. The set up is a classic rom-com scenario: extremely handsome and quintessentially charming First Son of the United States is in a public feud with the devastatingly gorgeous and properly polite Prince of England. A phony friendship-for-publicity’s-sake ensues and leads to, well, you guessed it, romance.

Red, White, and Royal Blue is for readers who love a bit of drama and lots (and lots) of kissing but also want the story to be well plotted, the characters to be developed, and the writing captivating. Quality does not have to suffer just because a story might be a little outlandish or, in the case of Royal Blue, a fantasy paradise of inclusivity. 

Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft
For readers of historical fiction, star-crossed lovers, and people who like to cry during movies

Request Title | print / digital

Jenny Ashcroft creates gauzy worlds based on real historical times and places. Meet Me In Bombay is the second-latest in her oeuvre of heart wrenching historical love stories where the characters’ interior lives are disrupted by the devastating consequences of circumstances beyond their control. In Meet Me in Bombay, on the eve of 1914 in British occupied India, a young couple falls in love. He’s a soldier and as war unfolds across Europe, he’s shipped off to fight. The woman’s wealthy family encourages our young heroine to move on and forget her soldier. Will the lovers be able to reconnect? When the soldier is injured in battle and loses his memory, that question becomes even more complicated and the answer even more harrowing.

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole 
For readers of thrillers and those who enjoy when the main characters fall in love during their adventure. 

Request Title | print / digital

We know that gentrification is scary, but is it also…sexy? True, this book is actually a thriller, but Alyssa Cole was previously best known for her work as an author of paperback romances! In When No One Is Watching a Brooklyn neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and Sydney, who was born and raised there, finds the prospect disorienting and almost frightening. When Theo, a handsome stranger she’s not even a little bit interested in, butts his way into her research for a historical walking tour, Sydney realizes that not everything is as it seems in the old neighborhood.

When No One Is Watching has all the elements of a modern psychological thriller paired with adroit social commentary and, you guessed it, plenty of steamy romance. This book is in the same tradition as Get Out, in the vehicle of Rear Window, with a classic odd-couple romantic intrigue. 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
For seasoned romance readers and new-to-the-genre readers who want something that’s light but still grounded in reality.

Request Title | print / digital

Can romantic comedies centering a straight relationship feature strong, capable, career-driven women who have a realistic and supportive network of friends and families? Can they have a main character who views romance, not with either cynical skepticism or dogged devotion, but as an enhancement to life? Can romantic comedies be light-hearted and heart-warming but also offer nuanced representation of multiracial relationships and modern love? Let me introduce you to author Jasmine Guillory. You might know her for her 2018 work, The Wedding Date and she’s been churning out lovely, readable, steamy, upbeat romantic comedies ever since.

Party of Two features an independent young black woman who moves to LA to start her own law firm. She meets a cutie at a bar and, oops, it turns out he’s a well-known senator. Party of Two follows the lovebirds as their initially secret romance hits the front pages and their bond is tested by intense media scrutiny, and the pressures of celebrity and politics.

The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1 by Nora Roberts
For readers who want a bit of fantasy with their romance or a bit of romance with their fantasy.

Request Title | print / digital

Nora. Roberts. Does. Dragons. Now. Yes, that Nora Roberts! You can’t do a romance list and not include Nora Roberts and lucky for us in the same way that steamy romance is becoming less declassé for the masses, so too has fantasy risen from the murky depths of nerdom to claim its rightful place at the front of the Popular Media race. It doesn’t really even matter what the story is about exactly, because as previously stated: Nora Roberts + dragons.

Here’s what you need to know: The Awakening involves two worlds—one with magic and one in Philadelphia, there is a young woman in her twenties who discovers some real wild secrets about herself and her family. Then, we go to Ireland, a place we all know is lousy with magic portals and fairies, etc. Oh, and she’s been dreaming about a silver-haired elusive man who she’s never met who calls her by a different name and tells her to “come home.” That sounds like an excellent set-up for a steamy paranormal romance to me!

Categories
Booklists Recommendations

12 Books to Look Forward to in 2021

by Adult Services Library Associates Beth & Christian

Christian’s Pick

In the Land of the Cyclops by Karl Ove KnausgaardJanuary 5

Coming off of a prolific hot streak of the My Struggle series and the Seasonal Encyclopedia quartet, Karl Ove Knausgaard delivers a collection of essays that reflect on life and art–touching on Ingmar Bergman, Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, and Madame Bovary. This is not his first book where he has analyzed art in this way, as he published a book on the artist Edvard Munch, titled So Much Longing in So Little Space, two years ago, but this is the first time Knaugaard has released a collection of essays in English. With his deeply personal and spellbinding writing, this is a collection of essays I look forward to reading.

Beth’s Pick

The Survivors by Jane Harper February 2

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

Beth’s Pick

We Can Only Save Ourselves by Alison WisdomFebruary 2

With echoes of The Virgin Suicides and The Fates Will Find Their Way, Alison Wisdom’s debut novel is the story of one teenage girl’s unlikely indoctrination and the reverberations in the tight-knit community she leaves behind. Alice Lange’s neighbors are proud to know her—a high-achieving student, cheerleader, and all-around good citizen, she’s a perfect emblem of their sunny neighborhood. The night before she’s expected to be crowned Homecoming Queen, though, she commits an act of vandalism, then disappears, following a magnetic stranger named Wesley to a bungalow in another part of the state. There, he promises, Alice can be her true self, shedding the shackles of conformity.

Beth’s Pick

Made In China: Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia PangFebruary 2

In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foam headstones had been $5 at Kmart, too good a deal to pass up. But when she opened the box, something fell out that she wasn’t expecting: an SOS letter, handwritten in broken English by the prisoner who’d made and packaged the items. The book follows the life of Sun Yi, the Chinese engineer who wrote the note after finding himself a political prisoner, locked in a labor camp where he worked alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and anyone else the Chinese government decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day.

Beth’s Pick

Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics by Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell PlitnickFebruary 16

Hill and Plitnick provide a timely and essential intervention by examining multiple dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conversation, including Israel’s growing disdain for democracy, the effects of occupation on Palestine, the siege of Gaza, diminishing American funding for Palestinian relief, and the campaign to stigmatize any critique of Israeli occupation. Except for Palestine is a searing polemic and passionate appeal for elected officials, activists, and everyday citizens alike to align their beliefs and politics with their values.

Christian’s Pick

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro March 2

Famed author Kazuo Ishiguro returns with his first novel since being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. Klara and the Sun looks to explore the concepts of artificiality and love–looking at the deepest parts of what it means to be human and blurring it; a principle found in some of his works prior, such as The Buried Giant and Never Let Me Go. Ishiguro has a knack for writing novels that are never seemingly what they appear to be. With his immaculate prose and luring storytelling, Klara and the Sun is a novel I am expecting to push the boundaries of fiction.

Christian’s Pick

A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib March 30

Hanif Abdurraqib is a Columbus-based poet, essayist, and cultural critic. The first thing I read by Abdurraqib was a collection of poetry published in 2016, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much. Something about Aburraqib’s writing caught my attention–his personal experiences and cultural knowledge merging with the genre of poetry was striking and original. A year later, Aburraqib went on to publish They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. Similarly to his poetry, Abdurraqib intertwins his love of music, personal anecdotes, and cultural references into a well orchestrated and sometimes unconventional series of essays. And soon after the publication of this book, he visited the Bexley Public Library (you can find an interview we did with Abdurraqib here) to read some of his essays. This year Hanif Aburraqbid returns–after having published both a New York Times bestseller, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest and another collection of poetry, A Fortune for Your Disaster–with a book that explores the role of black performances in different times and spaces. With Abdurraqib’s enchanting writing style, this is a book that I am definitely excited for.

Christian’s Pick

Crying in H Mart by Michelle ZaunerApril 20

Michelle Zauner, better known for her musical work under the name Japanese Breakfast, putting out critically and commercially acclaimed indie/shoegaze rock records such as Soft Sounds from Another Plant, is releasing a memoir about growing up as an Asian American. Based on her essay of the same name, this book expands on her life and the struggles that come with being half-Korean in a small American town, working in a restaurant while performing gigs, and the cancer diagnosis of her mother. If it is anything like her New Yorker essay, this book will be a sentimentally-doused and beautifully written memoir.

Beth’s Pick

Whereabouts by Jhumpa LahiriApril 21

The new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author is a haunting portrait of a woman, her decisions, her conversations, her solitariness, in a beautiful and lonely Italian city. Whereabouts – first written in Italian and then translated by the author herself – is a meditative and aching snapshot of a life in suspension.

Christian’s Pick

Red Milk by SjónMay 27

Sjón is a critically acclaimed Icelandic poet, novelist, lyricist, and frequent Björk collaborator. While he has been writing since the late 1970s, his work has only recently begun being translated and published in English. Known for his writing baring Icelandic mysticism, this novel diverges a bit from his previously translated works, as it deals with a character by the name of Gunnar Kampen, a young man that grows up in a household that detests Hitler; however, Gunnar revolts against his family’s views and becomes a Neo-Nazi in post-WWII Iceland. I can only assume that this novel reflects a truth of our contemporary political landscape and dissects what brings an individual to fall in line with harmful rhetoric.

Christian’s Pick

Harlem Shuffle by Colson WhiteheadSeptember 14

Acclaimed novelist Colson Whitehead returns with a new novel, hastily following 2019’s The Nickel Boys. With his past few works, Whitehead has proven to be a powerful voice in literary fiction–with his 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. And in 2017 he visited the Bexley Public Library as part of our Community Author Series. Harlem Shuffle, as the name suggests, takes place in 1960s Harlem, where Whitehead orchestrates a family saga bundled within a story of crime and deceit–thematically focusing on class, race, and power. Undoubtedly, this will be a novel to watch out for.

Beth’s Pick

Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious – Antonio DamasioOctober 26

In recent decades, many philosophers and cognitive scientists have declared the question of consciousness unsolvable, but Antonio Damasio is convinced that recent findings in biology, neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence have given us the necessary tools to solve its mystery. In forty-eight brief chapters, Damasio helps us understand the relationship between consciousness and the mind, why being conscious is not the same as either being awake or sensing, the central role of feeling, and why the brain is essential for the development of consciousness. He synthesizes the recent findings of various sciences with the philosophy of consciousness and, most significantly, presents his original research, which has transformed our understanding of the brain and human behavior.