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BPL Book Club in Review; 2022 Preview

by Public Service Associate Beth

2021 was such exciting an year for the BPL Book Club! We read books new and old, discovered authors from around the globe, and, after many months of discussions on Zoom, we finally met in person! Thanks to all those who participated online and in the BPL Quiet Reading Room. Now it’s time to take a look back at what we read in 2021, and to see what we have planned for 2022. And, of course, be sure to join us in the New Year as we embark on even more literary adventures. Whether you’re a regular or first-timer, we’d love to have you!

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?
Booklists Programs Recommendations Virtual Book Club

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? During the month of May, we recognize the contributions and achievements of Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans in history, culture, science and beyond. Celebrate with us this May (and every month) by reading, watching, and listening to the multitude of AAPI authors and artists available to you through the Bexley Public Library and the CLC consortium! See the small collection of films, musical albums and books below to get started. 

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!

Booklists Recommendations Virtual Book Club

BPL Virtual Book Club | Autumn 2020

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

With just less than a month to go, the second meeting of the BPL Virtual Book Club is just around the corner! The upcoming meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 4 at 7PM, and we’ll discuss the book Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. It’s an award-winning book, well received by critics and readers alike, and is sure to generate an engaging discussion. Register to join us! I’m still in the midst of reading the book, but I’m enjoying it so far. It seems like a book I could usually finish in just a day or two, but I’ve been trying to take my time with it. Not only to better prepare for the discussion, but I also have a feeling it is a book I’ll be sad to see end. 

If you’re like me and don’t want to race through the book just yet, you might be looking for another book to absorb yourself with in the meantime. These books share a variety of themes with Shamsie’s: identity, belonging (especially as experienced by an “outsider”), and the nuances of strained/difficult relationships. They follow well-developed, complex and sympathetic (though often flawed) characters. They’re books that evoke a strong sense of place and that attempt to humanize and explore sometimes difficult political stories; i.e., my favorite kinds of books. Indeed, several of these make my list of all time favorite reads!

Booklists Staff Book Reviews Virtual Book Club

Now That You’ve Read The Yellow House…

by Adult Services Library Associate Beth

So you’ve just finished reading The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, and wonder, “What’s next?” Well, first things first: register for one of the BPL Virtual Book Club discussions, scheduled for August 12th at 7pm and August 15th at 11:30am! Also, be sure to check out the BPL-hosted lecture and discussion with Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries of OSU about the intersections of race, class, and Hurricane Katrina. Find this recorded discussion on our Facebook page, YouTube, or the audio version on Podbean.

And after that, if you’re interested in further exploring some of the themes and topics discussed in the book, check out this short list of recommended things to read, watch and listen to. Note that this list includes only things from my own media bubble that I have read, etc., so it is in no way comprehensive. Further, there are many, many other themes this does not cover (issues such as environmental racism/classism and gentrification, just to name a few), so it barely even scratches the surface. But, as always, you can ask BPL librarians for more recommendations on these and related topics! 


“The case of the Willow Street house did not come up again, but I continue to think of it as strange irony for Mom who, of all the things she ever desired, wanted to make a new world with Ivory Mae rules. That is what it meant for her to own a house.”

Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House

“It was clear that the French Quarter and its surrounds was the epicenter. In a city that care supposedly forgot, it was one of the spots where care had been taken, where the money was spent. Those tourists passing through were the people and the stories deemed to matter.”

Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
    • Evicted follows eight families in Milwaukee in their struggle to maintain housing. Desmond explores how a single eviction keeps individuals and families caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, exploitation and insecure housing.
  • The Florida Project
    • The way Broom writes about the New Orleans French Quarter, a section of the city known for revelry and overabundance, reminded me so much of Sean Baker’s film, as it examines poverty and homelessness in the shadow of Disney World. 
  • “The Lost Homes of Detroit” (Reveal Podcast)
    • Told in the intersection of race and class, this podcast episode discusses the foreclosure crisis in the aftermath of the 2008 recession in Detroit, Michigan. Investigators discover that hundreds of millions of dollars of property taxes that were charged to homeowners (for which, the failure to pay resulted in these foreclosures), shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. The podcast forces us to confront what mass foreclosure does not only to the individuals who lose their homes, but also how a community can survive in its wake.

The Storm and the Aftermath

“The government-funded Road Home, intended as a path back into lost homes for the displaced, was frozen in bureaucracy amid heated debates and politicizing about which areas of the city were worth rebuilding.”

Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
  • The Storm; The Old Man and the Storm; Law & Disorder
    • This collection of Frontline documentaries cover, respectively, the governmental response leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, one elderly man’s determination in rebuilding his home after it was destroyed in the storm, and police misconduct in the midst of the chaos.
  • Business of Disaster
    • Frontline’s (if you couldn’t already tell, I love Frontline) investigation into FEMA’s flood protection insurance system explores the profits involved in the insurance system and the failures of the NYC post- Hurricane Sandy ‘Build It Back’ program – a program similar to the Road Home program to rebuild homes destroyed in Katrina.

Levees and Flooding

“This story, that the levees were blown, the poorest used as sacrificial lambs, would survive and be revived through the generations.”

Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House

The following explore the politics, failures, and inequities of levee systems across cities in Missouri and Illinois. The last article also explores how climate change, by contributing to rising sea levels and the loss of wetlands in Louisiana, will mean increasing the frequency and destructive capacity of flooding.

What would you recommend to fellow readers of The Yellow House? Leave a comment on the social media post to share with the library community!

Discussion Guide Virtual Book Club

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom Discussion Guide

As we prepare for our August 12th & 15th Virtual Book Club events, team member Debbie has put together a discussion guide that includes questions about and quotes from the BPL Virtual Book Club pick The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom.