Help Me!: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out If Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life by Marianne Power

Book – I love self-help books and so does Marianne Power, author of Help Me!: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out If Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life. There’s something to say about finding a self-help book that truly speaks to you. Even if the book doesn’t necessarily “help” you achieve the goal you’re hoping for, it is nevertheless cathartic reading.

I can especially relate to the following:

So why did I read self-help if it didn’t, well help?  Like eating chocolate cake or watching old episodes of Friends, I read self-help for comfort.  These books acknowledge the insecurities and anxieties I felt but was always too ashamed to talk about. They made my personal angst seem like a normal part of being human. Reading them made me feel less alone. 

After the “worst hangover ever,” and realizing she is desperately unhappy, Marianne embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery: she will read one self-help book per month for an entire year and each month follow the author’s advice to a “T”.  From facing her fears (skydiving and posing nude for an art class) to using Rejection Therapy to face her social anxieties, she hopes to find happiness and fulfillment. Unprepared for the stress and depression that accompany her journey, she is determined to see the project through. With humor and honesty, Marianne shares a deeply intimate and emotional examination of her life, which is therapeutic and relatable.

Marianne read a variety of self-help books along with other resources, including The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham

Cover image for Ross Poldark : a novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787Book – If you are a fan of the PBS series Poldark, then I highly recommend the books in The Poldark Family novels by Winston Graham. These stories beautifully compliment the TV series by giving a better perspective of the complexity of the characters. The reader also experiences the wildness of Cornwall and gets a good sense of this historical period, which was a time of prosperity for the rich and despair for the poor. Beginning with the first book Ross Poldark, our hero returns to Cornwall after being gone from home for years fighting in the American Revolutionary War. The captain’s homecoming is not the joyous event that he anticipated. He learns that his father has died, his family home, farmland, and tin and copper mines have been neglected or are in ruins, and his beloved Elizabeth, who believed Ross was dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross does the only thing he can, he rolls up his sleeves and tries to rebuild his family fortune and gain respect of the community.

The books are action packed, adventurous, and romantic with heroes we love to root for and villains that we love to hate. At the heart is Ross Poldark, flawed but deeply loyal to those he loves. Though a member of high society by birth, he is more committed to the workers in the mines and the local villagers, which causes some friction with people of his own standing. You will be swept up into this saga and you will want to keep on reading!

The Library owns all the books in the series. The next one is Demelza.

Try a graphic novel this summer

Book – Have you ever read a graphic novel? In addition to the big-name superhero comics that inspire blockbuster movies, we offer graphic novel memoirs, histories, character-driven romance and horror stories. Delve into the story of Josephine Baker and lose yourself in the beautiful surrealist artwork, or explore a popular Japanese manga series. The combination of text and artwork is a different type of storytelling worth checking out.

Give a graphic novel a chance and take one home the next time you’re here, or browse our online offerings in Hoopla. We have several collections of graphic novels. Search our catalog or visit us at the Youth or Adult Services Desks to find graphic novels suitable for all ages and interests.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Book– New York Times’ Bestselling author Jodi Picoult does it again with another one of her remarkable novels tackling prominent, arbitrary controversies of today’s times. This novel was so captivating, that I ended up not only borrowing the printed copy from the library, but listened to eAudiobook on the Libby app at every opportunity:  in the car, making dinner, cleaning the house, etc.

Ruth is a single mother of a high school honors student and a Labor and Delivery Nurse of Mercy-West Haven Hospital of 20 years. She is a person of color.

Turk dons a Swastika tattoo, a Confederate flag arm sleeve, oversees a white power website, and is a distinguished leader in the movement. He and his wife Brittany, are white supremacists. She just gave birth to their son, Davis.

After a brief encounter checking Davis’ vitals, Turk and Brittany make a point to remove Ruth from their service. They write, “NO AFRICAN AMERICAN PERSONNEL TO CARE FOR THIS PATIENT,” on a post-it note and affix it to their child’s file. When the unit is short staffed however, Ruth has no choice but to watch over baby Davis while the other nurses handle a medical emergency. But then, baby Davis goes into cardiac distress. Unforeseeable circumstances leave Ruth with two choices: intervene and go against the charge nurse’s orders and the wishes of the parents, or do nothing and break the nurse’s oath.

Readers are challenged to question whether Ruth should disobey the orders she’s been given by the hospital, or care for the baby to try to save him. This riveting story underpins racial discrimination and freedom of choice and expression. It confronts issues of power, privilege, and race in the United State’s justice system and brings to light the realities that African-Americans face every day, which white people often take for granted.

Above all, Small Great Things invites conversation about the implicit biases we hold and how our actions or inactions can ultimately be a disservice to others. Racism is very much alive in the U.S. and this story illustrates the societal ramifications microaggressions play in the lives of underrepresented groups in our country.

This title is available in print book format, Large Print, and as an eAudiobook in Overdrive.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Image result for fingersmith coverBook – As a fan of historical fiction, I was lucky to recently discover the work of Sarah Waters whose novels include: Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith, set in the Victorian era. Additionally, the notable The Night Watch (WWII) and her most recent work The Paying Guests (WWI), are set during or directly after world wars.

Fingersmith tells the story of Sue, a seventeen-year-old orphan living in Victorian London, brought up by and among, professional thieves. A frequent visitor to her home, known to her only as “Gentleman” hatches a plot to steal the fortune of young woman, Maud Lilly. Gentleman proposes Sue help him secure the fortune by posing as a lady’s maid in Maud’s home. Maud lives a secluded life on her scholarly uncle’s country estate, where she acts as his secretary, but otherwise leads a rather aimless, dull existence. Maud agrees to assist Gentleman in exchange for a cut of Maud’s fortune, which Sue hopes to use to pay back her adoptive mother, Mrs. Sucksby. An unexpected bond and attachment forms between Sue and Maud, which threatens Gentleman’s plan as well as the rather meager lives both young women have come to accept for themselves.

This is a novel full of twists, turns and unexpected developments. Fans of Victorian literature (in particular Charles Dickens) are sure to appreciate Fingersmith, not simply because of the Victorian era setting, but because the book reads in the manner of classic Dickens novels, only with a modern twist. Readers familiar with Dickens will find his writing style reflected in Waters’s style: the use of memorable, humorous names, and a talent for creating mystery and suspense. Readers will also note Dickensian themes such as, a focus on social class, a preoccupation with orphans and their misfortune, and complex portrayals of the story’s villains. Fingersmith is long, but the plot twists and character reveals make for a thoroughly engaging read.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas Morris

Book – You can absolutely judge a book by its cover, because I knew as soon as I saw this one that it was going to 1) be incredibly grotesque, 2) talk about one of my favorite historical topics (strange things people used to believe about the human body), and 3) contain exploding teeth. I’m horrified by the very thought, I had to read it.

This is a delightful collection of grotesque and horrifying stories about the strange things people used to believe about the human body, including, yes, exploding teeth. (Maybe. The author suggests some possible alternative explanations.) It covers everything from heroic and unlikely surgeries (saving lives by pinching blood vessels closed with bare hands!) to unlikely and undoubtedly worthless inventions (the tapeworm trap, which you were supposed to bait with cheese, swallow, and then pull out of your throat using the included string). This book is not for the weak of stomach, but if you’ve ever wanted to be enjoyably grossed out by medical history for a while, it’s a fun option. If you’d prefer to be grossed out by medical history in audio form, try the podcast Sawbones, which covers many of the same topics, hosted by a husband-and-wife comedian-and-doctor team.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

BooksThe 57 Bus is a “ripped from the headlines,” true story of one teenager lighting another’s clothes on fire on a public bus in Oakland. Author and journalist Dashka Slater goes beyond the headlines to present the story and characters in great detail and nuance.

Sasha is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and does not identify as male or female, instead using the pronoun “they.” Sasha has supportive parents and goes to a school where they have many friends, but on the public bus ride across Oakland from school back home Sasha’s skirt is lit on fire by Richard. How will this affect Sasha, their family, friends, and community?

Richard’s actions were unquestionably intentional. Sasha spent weeks in the hospital having painful surgeries in an to attempt to repair the burns. Should sixteen-year-old Richard be charged with a hate crime in addition to the obvious charges he faces? Should he be tried as an adult or a juvenile? What are the potential ramifications of these decisions?

I am not good at remembering the specifics of books and movies, nor do I remember the lyrics to many songs. (You really don’t want me on your trivia team.) I like most of the books I read, but ask me to recall the plot and characters a few months later, and we’ll be lucky if I can extract much information.

It’s too early to tell since I only recently read The 57 Bus, but I think my recall of it will be different. The characters and plot are memorable. The journalistic treatment of the story—seeing the perspectives of friends and family of both teens, in addition to getting a glimpse into the workings of the juvenile justice system, made this book a well-rounded and thought-provoking read.

Let’s Get Crafty!: Fun Books to Ignite Your Creative Side

Books – Try one, or all, of these books today to learn a unique craft! From paper plants, to buttons and badges, to cat-lovers projects galore, we’ve got you covered with these crafty books full of DIY ideas!

Handmade Houseplants by Corrie Beth Hogg

If you’re a fan of Origami or other paper crafts, check out Handmade Houseplants and create beautiful works of art for all your favorite houseplants, even cacti and succulents! All of the different plant projects are so beautiful and I always enjoy finding new ways to show my plant love. Use the designs to create your own handmade greeting cards to share with friends and family, too.

Tiny Stitches : Buttons, Badges, Patches, and Pins to Embroider by Irem Yazici

Feeling the need to jazz up a jean jacket, or make crafty accessories to wear and share? Take home Tiny Stitches : Buttons, Badges, Patches, and Pins to Embroider and learn to stitch and sew to your hearts content! There’s something for everyone in this book full of metal pins embellished with embroidery, to patches of all shapes and sizes, and more!

The Cat Lover’s Craft Book : Cute and Easy Accessories for Kitty’s Best Friend by Neko Shugei

Find super cute projects to show your love of cats! Learn new skills, including embroidery and sewing to create tons of things to wear and share. From badges, to bags and purses, to doorstops and pillows, this book has a project for everyone!

Binge Read on a Library Kindle

Join the trend of binge reading and find a new favorite author, character or genre! Our Summer Reading Challenge is the perfect time to binge read with one of our fully-loaded Kindle e-reader devices available to Warrenville Library members. You can read on a Kindle anywhere you’d read a book—the kitchen, backyard, beach or library! In just a few hours you can crank out a book, and within a few evenings or a weekend you might even be able to read an entire series.

Check out the Mystery Kindle to have all of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series at your fingertips, or the Science Fiction & Fantasy Kindle to catch up on the Expanse series. Kids can enjoy the first thirty volumes of the Magic Tree House series on the Elementary School Battle of the Books Kindle.

Our Kindles come with easy-to-follow instructions and charging cables. Find all the themed Kindles we offer in our catalog.

Every book you read on a Kindle between now and July 31st counts toward our Summer Reading Challenge. Log each title on a reading log. The more logs you complete, the more entries you earn for our gift card drawings. For more information on our challenge and to download reading logs, visit warrenville.com.

For more information on our Kindle devices, stop by or call our Member Services Desk at 630/393-1171.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

BookA Gentleman in Moscow is a beautifully written and magical story. Set in Moscow in 1922 and spanning four decades, we meet Count Alexander Rostov, who exudes old world elegance and aristocracy. He is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest for life at the luxurious, Metropol Hotel in Moscow and declared a “Former Person.” Despite the hotel’s grandor, the Count is imprisoned in a small attic room, which he attemptos to make cozy and familiar with a few of his favorite items. These include: two high back chairs, an oriental coffee table, a Louis XVI desk, two table lamps fashioned from elephants, and his grandmother’s set of porcelain plates. He also loves his books. “…the book had been written with winter nights in mind. Without a doubt, it was a book for when the birds had flown south, the wood was stacked by the fireplace, and the fields were white with snow; that is, for when one had no desire to venture out and one’s friends had no desire to venture in.”

Confined indoors, the Count spends his time exploring the hotel and making the acquaintance of staff and guests. His friends include Nina, a precocious young girl seeking lessons on how to become a princess, the chef and maître d of the hotel’s famed restaurant and Anna, a beautiful actress and Alexander’s lover. The author, Towles skillfully brings the world to the Count, since he cannot go out into the world. His encounters with each guest and staff member make for fascinating stories. “By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”

A truly delightful read. Amor Towles is also the author of Rules of Civility.