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Recommendations staff favorites

Best of 2022: Video Games

by Public Service Associate Owen

I love cats, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to move and explore like a cat. Stray, a game that takes place from the third person perspective of a cat the player controls, gets about as close as you can get to that feline feeling. From darting through narrow passageways and leaping to and from platforms, to bounding up walls and obstacles and scurrying between shuffling feet, Stray really makes you feel like a cat! And it’s a wonderful experience. The main gameplay focuses on solving puzzles to progress the story, but I honestly had the most fun just running around being a cat. You can sleep like a cat, meow for anyone to listen, nuzzle up against strangers who all react to you in different ways, or do my absolute favorite thing: knock objects off of ledges. The environment the game is set in – a tightly-crammed walled city populated by robots – is the perfect space to explore as a cat. It may not have the most moving story or the most exciting gameplay, but at the end of the day it’s a lot of fun to run around the confines of the city as a cat, which is why it has to be one of my favorites of 2022.

  • Raft

Raft is an open-world survival game, and it’s an underrated gem. You start on a 2×2 raft in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by sharks, with nothing but a hook to throw and collect materials with. It’s then up to the player to survive, craft new items, expand their raft, and explore the vast ocean for the game’s storyline. Exploring in Raft is a lot of fun, and since your raft is always moving there’s always somewhere new to go. The game is unapologetic about trapping you on your raft with no context, but slowly figuring out the story bit by bit as you discover new areas makes for a satisfying gameplay experience. Where Raft truly excels is the co-op mode, as surviving on the open ocean is a lot more fun when you’re marooned with a friend. You’ll argue about where to voyage to next, what new items to craft, and how the raft should be designed and upgraded, but it is a lot more fun than going it alone! If you enjoy survival games, especially co-op ones, then I’d highly recommend Raft. Just watch out for the sharks if you decide to go for a swim!

Elden Ring is an action-based role playing game from From Software. Combat, exploration, and character customization are the main features of this game, and it delivers in spades in all three. The most impressive facet of Elden Ring is the map – it’s massive and immense, and the areas of it vary greatly. From large grassy plains dotted with ancient ruins to undead wastelands, there is so much to explore and each area feels intricately connected to the last. The game also features story and lore from A Song and Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin, so Game of Thrones fans will feel at home. 

Much like the Dark Souls series of games that it is based on, Elden Ring is a very difficult game. You will struggle mightily against all manner of bosses and creatures, and will often fail multiple times in a row. It takes practice, dedication, and all manner of items and equipment to overcome the obstacles in your way. This may not sound like a fun game, but the empowering feeling of overcoming what is in front of you is especially satisfying in Elden Ring. When you take down a boss, you really feel like you’ve earned it, and it is this feeling that makes Elden Ring so addictive. With a breathtaking world to explore, a limitless amount of character customization, thrilling combat, and underrated story, It’s a game that is truly epic in scope. No other game from 2022 feels as immense as Elden Ring, and it is this that sets it apart from others. If you can learn to enjoy the challenge, then Elden Ring is absolutely a must-own.

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Recommendations staff favorites

Best of 2022: Music

by Tech Librarian Josh

  • Madison Cunningham – Revealer | CD
    • Sometimes I find a musician who releases such an amazing album that I feel required to listen to all of their subsequent albums. Madison Cunningham released Who Are You Now in 2019 and I was hooked. You can imagine my excitement when she announced Revealer would be released in 2022. The barebones of her songwriting feels familiar and entrenched in 60s or 70s pop, but especially with this album she takes some big swings in terms of arrangement and production. You’ll hear it in this song Sunshine Over the Counter, with its bubbly arrangement made up of woodwind instruments, guitar with these otherworldly effects on and this perpetual rhythm that pushes the song forward.
  • Wilco – Cruel Country | CD
    • Wilco has become somewhat of an institution at this point. They’ve been playing their brand of indie, singer songwriter, alternative rock for almost three decades. For their newest double album they lean into country as a musical style as well as making America the subject of this album, which I think is very clever. A rarity these days: it was recorded with the whole band playing live in the studio and the song I’m highlighting today Falling Apart (Right Now) has a lyric I’m very fond of “Don’t you fall apart while I’m falling apart.”
  • Natalia Lafourcade – De Todas Las Flores
    • A friend recommended Natalia Lafourcade (la-four-ca-day) to me recently and I was sad to say I’d never heard any of her music. She’s a singer-songwriter from Mexico who has been releasing albums and winning awards for the last 20 years. What hit me first was her dynamic voice. She has this way of luring me in with a hushed lyric (that I don’t understand by the way because it’s in Spanish) and then punching me in the face with a beautiful belting tone. Parts of the record, as you’ll hear in the title track, pull from bossa nova which is a soft spot for me, with Jobim-esque melodies, Sergio Mendes like arrangements, and certified Astrud Gilberto coolness.
  • Julian Lage – View with a Room | CD
    • Lastly, Julian Lage’s new album View with a Room is another great jazz trio release with amazing musicians. I’m very fond of the drummer Dave King who has a unique style and sound I don’t hear often. The headliner is obviously Julian Lage and he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time. He has vaulted himself with the likes of  Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt, and Pat Matheny in his relatively short career. It’s all on showcase in their tune, Chavez.
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Recommendations staff favorites Youth Services

Best of 2022: Youth

by Youth Services Librarian Amanda

In the youth services spot, we highlighted some of the best new books across a range of ages from this past year.

Early Childhood

The Hair Book by LaTonya Yvette, illustrated by Amanda Jane Jones |print

This beautiful new board book combines adorable art with the presentation of a diverse array of hairstyles and the people who wear them. The bright, contrasting colors are great for babies and their still-developing eyes and the friendly-looking art style is sure to please any little one.

My Parents Won’t Stop Talking by Emma Hunsinger, illustrated by Tillie Wonder |print

This adorable book covers a topic that every little one has experienced at some point: patiently waiting for their adults to finish a conversation. This book is a humorous take on patience and perspective, and has the cutest illustrations, to boot!

Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deepby Charlotte Watson Sherman, illustrated by Geneva Bowers |print / Libby

Mermaid Kenzie is a beautiful meshing of diverse character design and writing forms, beautiful artwork, and an important message. The book, written in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), discusses pollution and its effects on the ocean, as well as what we can do to help, all in the company of the very endearing Kenzie. If you have a mermaid-loving member of the family, this is a great little primer on how we can help our world. 

Sports Heroes: Inspiring Tales of Athletes Who Stood Up and Out by Mia Cassany and Iker Ayestaran

This book details inspiring stories of athletes overcoming social barriers to come out on top in their sport. This is the perfect book for young athletes and covers a diverse range of professional athletes. Ayestaran’s colorful, quirky illustrations are a great addition and help break up the text so that it’s more readable for children of all sorts of different reading levels.

School-Aged

A Taste of Magic by J. Elle |print / Libby

This is the perfect book for fans of the ‘magical school’ genre. Kyana, a young witch attending Park Row Magic Academy, has to navigate the non-magical world outside of the academy. When the school loses funding, she’s told that her options are to attend another academy that is too expensive and across town or to lose her magic forever! Can a combination of her sharp mind and great baking skills save the school? 

A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser |print / Libby

A wonderful entry in the realistic fiction genre, this book follows a pair of biracial sixth-graders who live in a homeless shelter and the bonds they build together. When their place at the shelter is under threat, the pair team up to keep their place, fighting against all odds. This book is well-written with realistic, diverse characters and an impactful story.

Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl by Julie Kagawa |print / Libby

Written by a popular YA author, this book takes all of the wonderful writing and world-building of Kagawa’s other works and puts it in a middle-grade novel! Based on the Disney fandom and the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, this novel follows Shinji as he turns to the group for aid, tries to find out more about the magical guardian that has taken over his body and stop the people trying to take the guardian for themselves.

Teen/YA

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison |print

A new entry in the wildly popular YA thriller genre. This book explores the social dynamics of community acceptance, friendship and the dating world all around a hard-to-put-down murder mystery plot. Celeste, a new student, builds a friendship with the town pariah, Vivvy over their mutual love of fanfiction. When they try to play out some of the fiction in real life, Celeste ends up kissing the most popular boy in school… and he ends up dead immediately after. Can these two figure out what happened?

Once Upon A K-Prom by Kat Cho |print / Libby

K-pop is huge these days, and whether they’re a fan of BTS or a BLACKPINK enthusiast, there’s no better book to enthrall your local teen K-pop stan than Once Upon a K-Prom. Elena is a teen struggling with finding her path in life, but things start to come together when her former-best-friend-turned-K-pop-star asks her to prom. Will Elena take this chance on a new, glitzy path?

Loveless by Alice Oseman |print / Libby

Alice Oseman is a hugely popular YA writer, and this latest entry of hers is right on par with her other phenomenal works. A teen novel all about romance… that is also not about romance. As Georgia begins her college career, she realizes something about herself: she has never had a crush on anyone, ever. Follow along with her as she navigates what this means for her life right alongside dealing with all the new experiences at the university. 

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao |print / Libby

Technically, this was published at the end of 2021, but with this book receiving both a sequel and a movie adaptation soon, we couldn’t leave it off the list! The country of Hauxia has been under attack by alien creatures called hunduns for hundreds of years and the people have managed to take a stand against them with giant robots (called Chrysalises) crafted from their husks. When Zetian’s sister dies under mysterious circumstances while in the piloting program, she joins herself to enact revenge on the pilot who did it. The following story has intrigue, action, giant robot fights, and a romance subplot like no other. 

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Recommendations staff favorites

Best of 2022: Movies

by Public Services Associate Luke

There were plenty of new releases and great films that came to theatres or found their home on the various streaming platforms, but I will be discussing a few of what I think are some of the best this year.

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Recommendations staff favorites

Best of 2022: Fiction

By Associate Librarian Debbie

I enjoyed so many wonderful books in 2022!  Here were some of my favorites in no particular order..

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Recommendations staff favorites

Best of 2022: Non-Fiction

by Public Services Associate Beth

As we get closer and closer to wrapping up another year, I want to talk about some of my favorite non-fiction books from 2022. Admittedly, this was a difficult task to choose only a couple of books, as I read many excellent books this year. But I chose 3 of my top favorites to share with you here, some you may have heard of, and some that may have flown under the radar. So without further ado…

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Recommendations staff favorites

Staff Favorites 2021

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Welcome to our yearly round up! Each December it’s become Bexley Library tradition to collect a sampling of our favorite releases from the past 12 months. We hope this year’s compilation inspires you this holiday season! For even more great recommendations, listen to our recent podcast episode, “Best of 2021!”