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Columbus Reads

by Public Service Associate Owen

Our humble capital city of Columbus is one of the nicest places to live in the state, and perhaps even the country! If you’re optimistic enough, that is. Often scoffed at by those who don’t reside here and often underappreciated by those that do, I am here to sing the praises of our state capital and to highlight some of the books that provide insight into what makes Columbus a special place to live. From the Statehouse to the Chill, here are four books about Columbus!

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Booklists Recommendations Staff Book Reviews

Books I’m Thankful For

by Public Service Associate Owen

I find Thanksgiving to be a wonderful holiday, where friends and family can gather with purpose to be thankful for each other and for what has gone well in their lives. This is the time of year where I am most attentive to what good is around me and what has shaped me as a person. This is especially true with books, which have had such a profound effect on how I was raised and how I view the world today. In this blog post, I will briefly elaborate some of the literary works that have had a substantial impact on my life. In doing so, I hope to both open your eyes to some of these monumental works, as well as to encourage you to reflect on some of the authors and books that have affected your life in a positive way.

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Recommendations Staff Book Reviews

Indigenous Heritage Month

by Public Service Associate Owen

November is National Indigenous Heritage Month, and as such it is an honor to use this space to feature some works of prolific indigenous authors. As Americans, it is of vital importance to recognize the peoples of this continent who were here prior to settlers and colonists. By highlighting some great works of indigenous authors, including the one book that brought indigenous literature into the mainstream, I hope to at least pay some respect to those whose voices were often silenced.

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Recommendations Staff Book Reviews Virtual Book Club

Bride of the Sea

by Public Service Associate Nichole

During a snowy Cleveland February, newlywed university students Muneer and Saeedah are expecting their first child, and he is harboring a secret: the word divorce is whispering in his ear. Soon, their marriage will end, and Muneer will return to Saudi Arabia, while Saeedah remains in Cleveland with their daughter, Hanadi. Consumed by a growing fear of losing her daughter, Saeedah disappears with the little girl, leaving Muneer to desperately search for his daughter for years. The repercussions of the abduction ripple outward, not only changing the lives of Hanadi and her parents, but also their interwoven family and friends—those who must choose sides and hide their own deeply guarded secrets.

And when Hanadi comes of age, she finds herself at the center of this conflict, torn between the world she grew up in and a family across the ocean. How can she exist between parents, between countries?

penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/671244/bride-of-the-sea-by-eman-quotah/9781951142452
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Programs Recommendations Staff Book Reviews

Animal, Vegetable, Junk

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

“This is a book about man’s war against nature, and because man is part of nature it is also inevitably a book about man’s war against himself.”

Rachel Carson
Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal by Mark Bittman | print / digital
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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).

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Staff Book Reviews

The Accident by Ismail Kadare

by Adult Services Library Associate Christian

The legendary Albanian author Ismail Kadare is a prolific writer, having written a great amount of novels, poetry, and essays throughout his tenure in the literary world. His 2008 (translated in 2010 by John Hodgson) novel The Accident is no different to the themes conjured throughout his career—having to do with the fracturing of the Balkans, from the end of the People’s Socialist Republic of Alabania to the balkanizing of Yugoslavia; however, this novel is special in the way that it presents this split in South-Eastern Europe, as the novel is centered around a car crash involving a taxi and the mystery behind the couple in the back seat of this taxi that were in a moment of love or hate.

This novel is an intentional mess of structure, moving from point of views, how the novel is styled, and the time period the events are taken place. This uncompromising novel reflects the fractured Balkans through the 20th century (and early new millennium)—a confusing, traumatic century for the people living in this region. This is represented through the symbolic couple of Besfort Y. and Rovena—a relationship based in lies, cheating, and eventually, separation and death. The history of their relationship is just as confusing as the history of the Balkans.

The story is one that aptly represents a time where the state of the Balkans was up the air, and The Hague, a city in the Netherlands known for its International Court of Justice, became a location all too familiar within the news of political officials of the Balkans (and a location present within the latter half of The Accident).

While the novel does not land entirely on its feet in its pace—its story and structure is something that represents a time of horror and uncertainty through a creative flow. Kadare showcases his original voice in an often-forgotten, but still ever-present moment in history.

You can reserve The Accident on our catalog.

Similar Reads:

The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovic

Belladonna by Daa Drndi

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Staff Book Reviews

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, and Jason Wordie

by Adult Services Library Associate Christian

“The trouble with paradise…is that the serpent finds its way in.”

In 1972, the city of Detroit is in a state of pandemonium—in the midst of long-running economic decline, police brutality, and now demonic forces, it is up to the titular journalist, Elena Abbott, to bring a light into this dark world. Abbott, a young, Black woman working for a small newspaper company, reports of a case of police brutality, which puts her reputation as a reporter into question—and as this happens, strange things start developing. The beheading of a horse, dead bodies, the missing son of the owner of a diner she frequents, and a mysterious figure with an ancient mask that corners her in an alley—all things that connect to a conclusion where Abbott must face her past and bring a resolve to the city of Detroit.

What Abbott does in its short, five-issue run is create a sprawling world with so much life and character. It feels like seeing a glimpse of an alternative past, but one that would never be recognized in its time. Although this graphic novel began its run two years ago, it feels more relevant than ever. In her story, Abbott states that the city of Detroit is “an environment that has left many of the city’s residents wondering if any part of Detroit can truly be considered safe.” This is a thought that looms within every conversation Abbott has outside her immediate circle of friends and past lovers and one that rings familiar in the current state of the world.

Abbott was written by Saladin Ahmed, a prominent, new voice in comic books. He has been a writer for a lot of popular characters such as Miles Morales, Black Bolt, and Ms. Marvel. His writing style feels like it captures a world that already exists and continues to exist within this short frame of 100-something pages—and it makes sense as Ahmed has written a novel and poetry. His versatility as a writer shines in this graphic novel by showcasing a level of depth in the world and characters he builds.

This graphic novel was brought to my attention while putting together a list for a recent program that we hosted virtually, “Black Power in Comics”. And I am glad I took the chance to read this short-run comic, as it a story that stuck with me and one I wish had not ended as soon as it has. Abbott feels like it could be an ongoing series, but is serves a purpose in the way that it ends. It is a story that represents something that could not be forged in the decade it is based in and a story that is needed now more than ever.

For more graphic novels like this one, I recommend checking out the rest of the “Black Power in Comics” carousel, found on our Black Lives Matter page.

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Booklists Staff Book Reviews

Spooky, Witchy, Thrilling: It’s October!

written by adult services librarian, Leann.

Happy October, Readers! When October rolls around, I love to wrap up in heart warming stories about witches like Practical Magic or The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and bone chilling thrillers like Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway. In this week’s blog post, I’ll highlight five new books that are perfect for the spooky month of October. Enjoy!

Embody Your Magick: A Guided Journal for the Modern Witch by Gabriela Herstik

Witchcraft is, once again, gaining popularity in mainstream culture as a way for all people to find empowerment. Often, modern witchcraft is framed as a way to focus on self-care and self-improvement. In her latest release, self-proclaimed witch and devotee of the Goddess of Love, Gabriela Herstik has created a series of inspirational and creative prompts that will help readers embrace their inner witch. This is a book for anyone interested in what it means to be a modern witch. The book includes journal prompts, meditations, rituals, and more, all in an effort to help readers better connect to the universe and their inner light. 

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik is known for her fairytale-esque stories like Uprooted and Spinning Silver, which center on powerful women who, after embracing their own power, thrive in the face of adversity. A Deadly Education promises to deliver on Novik’s legacy of complicated, nuanced, powerful women. The book is about a magic, and deadly, school and at its center is an unwilling dark sorceress who is destined to rewrite the rules of magic. Fans of The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and any of the popular TV shows about magic schools like Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem will surely find something to delight in with A Deadly Education

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

No punches are pulled in Alyssa Cole’s first foray into thrillers and the results are completely engrossing. The lily-white psychological thriller genre welcomes this book as both intense and jaw dropping in turns of jumps and thrills, but also as a clever and insightful commentary on the very real disruption of swiftly gentrifying neighborhoods. Cole uses the genre to deftly illustrate what being displaced through gentrification feels like and how a system of oppression is truly a monster to those within its grasp. When No One is Watching translates the tone and setting of Hitchcock’s Rear Window into Jordan Peele’s Get Out and leaves us with an unapologetic, terrific thriller. And don’t worry, for those fans of Cole’s romance work, she doesn’t leave you high and dry.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The title doesn’t bury the lede: Mexican Gothic is just that, a gothic supernatural horror set in the hills of Mexico. I hesitate to call the book horror, as it isn’t gory and the vibe is tense and suspenseful more than shocking, but it does have some pretty intense elements and supernatural scenes. The protagonist, a young, smart, glamorous debutante named Noemí travels to the distant countryside after receiving a frantic and cryptic letter from her newly-wed cousin. When she arrives at High Place, a dilapidated old mansion in the hills of a rural town, she finds stories of violence and madness and meets her cousin’s alluring but menacing English husband. The question soon becomes: will Noemí be able to leave High Place? Mexican Gothic is for fans of Daphne Du Maurier’s works like Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel as well as those who loved Get Out or Lovecraft Country

The Library of the Unwritten and The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

There’s a library, it’s in Hell, and it’s full of books that their authors never finished. Sometimes, characters in those books become restless and escape and the librarian, with the help of a demon and a muse, must track them down. At least, that’s how things work in the first installment of the Hell’s Library’s books, The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith. Saying she is, “Certainly not an ink witch in a hoodie,” Hackwith is a queer writer of fantasy and science fiction and writes sci-fi romance as Ada Harper. In the second installment of Hell’s Library books, released this year, after a war between Heaven and Hell, mysterious and nefarious ink has started to pour out of some of the volumes in Hell’s library and the librarian, demon, muse, and this time also an angel, must investigate. Fans of the TV show or Marvel comic Lucifer, the books and subsequent TV show A Discovery of Witches, and the books The Bear and the Nightingale, and Uprooted will likely enjoy this series. 

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Recommendations Staff Book Reviews

The Overstory by Richard Powers

by Adult Services Librarian Jeff

The Overstory by Richard Powers is a lot of things, possibly too many, at once. But perhaps its most impressive achievement is how it decenters the human experience while simultaneously unfurling a compelling, complex, and ultimately human storyline via its nine main characters. Being a work of environmental fiction, and in particular being tree-centric, it’s not farfetched to expect a fairly breezy, peaceful read with the end result of appreciating nature a bit more. In reality, The Overstory is fraught with traumatic events and incisive critiques of our relationship with nature.

The Overstory is split into four sections: Roots, Trunk, Crown, and Seeds. In Roots, each of the main characters are introduced via a short story-esque passage that ultimately reveals the role trees play (or have played) in their lives. These range all the way from a dendrologist (someone who studies trees/wooded plants) to a young couple who, for much of their lives, don’t pay any attention to trees. In the book’s second section, Trunk, the narrative hops between storylines and the characters’ stories intertwine in various interesting ways, primarily by means of environmental activism. In Crown and Seeds, the fallout from the narrative climax unravels and the story draws to a close.

Tonally, The Overstory is alternately enchanting and disheartening. Passages describing the social nature of trees and how they communicate with one another inspire awe, but this awe is quickly eroded when reading about the sobering environmental devastation of logging, particularly in old-growth areas like the redwood forests in California. This frames one of the central conflicts of the book: environmental activists versus logging companies. And as the book is set in capitalist America, the victor of these confrontations isn’t exactly a surprise.

It’s difficult to overstate just how much is packed into the 500 or so pages of The Overstory. Existential meditations about humanity’s place on Earth, ruminations on the future of artificial intelligence- it is truly much more than a book about trees. Because of this, the book can teeter toward melodrama, and it loses a bit of steam toward the end. It can also be an exceptionally difficult read emotionally, as a human being and as a consumer. However, in a time where the consequences of climate change ominously loom in our everyday lives, the perspective Richard Powers offers is both welcome and utterly paramount.


For fans of Literary Fiction and Environmental Fiction, including Greenwood by Michael Christie and Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

You can request The Overstory digitally through Overdrive, or request a physical copy or audiobook through the BPL catalog.