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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!

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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
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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

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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!

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Bexley History Booklists Recommendations

The Peaceful Transfer of Power in Less than Peaceful Times

by Local History Librarian David Distelhorst

The inauguration of the forty-sixth President of the United States, marked by a deadly pandemic, severe racial divide, and a contested election, is reminiscent of that of the sixteenth President. One hundred and sixty years ago, faced with southern succession, division over slavery, and inevitable deadly civil war, Abraham Lincoln called on “the better angels of our nature” in his first inaugural address.

En route to Washington by special train from Springfield Illinois, then President-elect Lincoln rode by open carriage, in a “triumphal march,” from the depot to the Ohio Statehouse. Thousands gathered along High Street, waving handkerchiefs and miniature American flags, to greet the future President, while in Washington D.C., the counting of electoral votes, sent to Congress by the states to elect the next President, confirmed Lincoln’s election.

Thirty Presidents later, the process of confirming the election, was on January 6, 2021 interrupted by mob insurrection at the urging of the sitting President. Though a similar effort in 1861 was blocked by soldiers before it could breach the Capitol, Lincoln faced another attempt to prevent the democratically elected candidate from taking the oath of office.

Ten days after his visit to Columbus, Lincoln reached the nation’s capital, early and in secret, without the fanfare of the public receptions received all along his route from Illinois. Having changed trains, disguised himself, and travelled by night, an attempted assassination plot, a conspiracy hatched by southerners aimed at preventing the antislavery leader from taking office, was thwarted in Baltimore. 

Four years later, elected to a second term, the rebellion quelled and union restored, Lincoln returned to Columbus once more, aboard his funeral train. Again thousands gathered along High Street, witnesses to the slain President’s body, in a “dead march” from the depot to the Statehouse. There he lay in state beneath the words, from his second inaugural address, “with malice to none; with charity for all.”

To learn more about the peaceful transfer of power, the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth President of the United States and his visits to Columbus, Ohio, explore these titles recommended by Local History Librarian David Distelhorst:

  1. Lincoln Memorial: The Journeys of Abraham Lincoln: From Springfield to Washington, 1861, As President Elect and From Washington to Springfield, 1865, As President Martyred, by William T. Coggeshall Available as a digital download from HathiTrust Digital Library at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=miun.ack8354.0001.001&view=1up&seq=3
  1. The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President-and Why it Failed by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
  2. Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln by Edward Achorn
  3. Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington by Edward L. Widmer
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Booklists Covid-19 Information Recommendations

Mental Health and Your Family

by Adult Services Library Associate Nichole

This Thursday at 7PM, Dr. Parker Huston, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Director of the On Our Sleeves Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will be discussing how children and families are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including ways to talk about mental health with children.

Dr. Huston’s passion is rooted in providing education and opening doors so that children and their families can achieve their maximum potential and feel like they have agency in their lives. He believes that improving children’s mental health is important to set them up for success as adolescents and adults. Focusing on good mental health practices during childhood can create healthy habits throughout the life span. You can learn more about this Zoom event here.

Whether you’re looking for books to read to your children about their emotions and mental health or are wanting to get more in tune with your own, now is a better time than ever and BPL has plenty titles to choose from!

  • Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland | print
  • Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival |print
  • How Do You Feel by Lizzy Rockwell | print
  • Breathing Makes it Better by Christopher Willard | print
  • Bunny Breaths by Kira Willey | print

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Booklists Recommendations Virtual Book Club

Such a Fun Age

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting and facilitating community dialogue and engagement, Bexley Public Library is joining with other central Ohio libraries in a Let’s Talk About Race: One Book – One Community program, which has at its center the book STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You. The program kicked off on November 9 and will conclude with a virtual author talk by Jason Reynolds on January 24, 2021. To complement this ongoing program, the BPL Virtual Book Club is reading Kiley Reid’s debut novel Such a Fun Age; a sharp, witty and provocative exploration of race, class and privilege. Be sure to register for the event and join us for a lively and timely discussion on January 13, 2021!

I first heard of Such a Fun Age while working one January evening at BPL. The book was featured on a list of 2020’s most anticipated debut novels (it made the list despite technically being published in 2019, albeit on the very last day of that year.) After learning a bit more about the novel, I knew I had to read it, and as soon as possible. Luckily enough, CML’s Driving Park branch had a copy available, and so I rushed there immediately after work to grab it – along with a few other titles because, like most of you, I’m incapable of leaving a library with just one book. I started the book the very next morning and once again found myself lucky. I had that whole day off with no other obligations to take me away from reading, and so I read it cover-to-cover in one day. I just couldn’t put it down. Reid offers a thoroughly engaging depiction of the complexities of relationships that cross class and racial lines. The characters are fully-formed, authentic and complex. The lessons imparted are important. And after nearly a year, it’s still a book I think about from time to time. 

It’s no surprise then that the book was Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize – though I am surprised it didn’t at least make the Shortlist, if not win the prize outright. The book also won Best Debut Novel in the Goodreads Choice Awards. Though I personally voted for Reid’s book to win the latter, 2020 was a great year for debut novels; making it a difficult choice. And so, if you find yourself having finished Such a Fun Age, and are looking for that next great read, I’ve also included here a list of my other favorite 2020 debut novels. (You can also find a more in-depth reviews for Russell’s My Dark Vanessa in an older post on this blog, as well as a Book Chat video for Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line on our YouTube channel.)

Happy reading, happy holidays, and see you all in the New Year!

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Booklists Recommendations

‘Tis the Season

by Adult Services Library Associate Nichole

While the holidays feel different this year, I’m incredibly grateful that the library has helped me keep up the cheer with books, movies and music!

When I’m not listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album Evermore (currently available on Hoopla!) these are the albums I have playing on repeat:

  • A Christmas Album by The Drifters | digital
  • Christmas with the Rat Pack | CD / digital
  • The Christmas Album by Leslie Odom Jr. | CD / digital

My holiday book picks are sure to make you miss the ones you love, but they’ll also make you appreciate any “me time” you get this season!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I always watch the same Christmas movies every year; Home Alone, The Santa Clause, Krampus (we all have our favorites!). But this year, with so much time spent at home, I’m finding new holiday favorites to throw into my yearly rotation. Even better, the following titles are available on Hoopla so you don’t even have to leave your couch to find some Christmas cheer!

From all of us as BPL, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!   

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Bexley History Booklists Recommendations

A Century Before Covid-19, Bexley’s First Pandemic

by Local History Librarian David

Research for this article contributed by Scott King-Owen, Ph.D, Teacher, Bexley City Schools.

One month before the First World War ended a second wave of the deadly Spanish Influenza pandemic, initially spread in military encampments by troop movement, found its way into the civilian population of central Ohio. Like Covid-19, a century later, the absence of medicine for treatment or a vaccine for prevention necessitated avoiding crowds, through isolation or quarantine, to control spread of the respiratory virus. 

By order of state health officials on October 11, 1918, all schools, colleges, churches, theatres, and places of public gathering in towns with populations of 3,000 or more were closed. Despite Bexley, only a decade old, having a population less than half of that requiring action, local officials followed suit with its more populous neighbor, Columbus.

Christ Lutheran Church suspended services for three weeks until the state allowed local officials to determine when to lift restrictions. Gathering for worship again required adequate ventilation, avoiding overcrowding, and those sick or with ill family members to stay home. 

Drug stores including Stuckey Drug Store at the northeast corner of East Main Street and South Drexel Avenue, later renamed Wentz Drug Store, were permitted to remain open after 8:30 P. M. as long as they only sold drugs. All other retail businesses and restaurants were ordered to close early.

Closed just over a month, schools were permitted to open in mid November. However as cases increased and more students were absent most closed again by early December. The Bexley School Board elected to keep students out of the classroom until the new year.  

At Capital University, young men uniformed and following military discipline had been housed at Loy Gymnasium, converted into barracks for the newly formed Student Army Training Corps. When the deadly influenza spread among their ranks the Bexley chapter of the local Red Cross stepped in to furnish and supply a hospital room on campus staffed by two trained nurses.

For one Bexley family the impact of the pandemic was particularly devastating, as Anna Schneider and her five children were all admitted to St. Anthony’s hospital ill with influenza. Only her husband Peter was spared and within one week the couple lost two daughters, Margaret, age 4, and Anna, 15 months old. Their deaths occurred in mid March of 1919 as the third and final wave of the pandemic dissipated.

From government orders, closures of schools, business, and churches and the need to avoid public gatherings and crowds the pandemic of 1918 was experienced in ways similar to that in 2020. Masks, the most effective way of preventing the spread of Spanish Influenza and Covid-19, came to symbolize both pandemics and just as gauze for face coverings was hard to find in 1918, personal protective equipment is in short supply today.

To learn more about the 1918 Spanish Influenza and today’s Covid-19 pandemic explore these titles recommended by Local History Librarian David Distelhorst:

  • The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry | print / digital
  • America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 by Alfred W. Crosby | print
  • Pale Rider: the Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney | print / digital
  • COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie | print
  • How We Live Now: Scenes From the Pandemic by Bill Hayes | print
Categories
Booklists Recommendations

Hanukkah Sameach!

by Adult Services Library Associate Nichole

Hanukkah is right around the corner, so what better time to dive into our collection and find books that will help us celebrate this special time of the year. 

If you’re looking for books to sharpen your hosting skills or to learn more about Hanukkah, look no further than these titles:

If you’re looking for books to share with the little ones to teach them more about the Festival of Lights, check out these titles: