What Book Changed Your Life?

Can you remember a book that changed your life? Perhaps you read something that gave you hope or answered a burning question. Maybe you related to a quirky character or a memorable setting. Or at some point in your life you got lost in a book that simply spoke to you in a way you can’t describe.

Prior to the onset of this worldwide crisis we all find ourselves in, we asked our library visitors to tell us what book changed their lives. This list might look a little different in a few months when people tell us what they’ve read during periods of self-isolation, but for now here is our list of books that changed someone’s life. It includes Youth, Teen and Adult content. The title under the book image links to our catalog. Many of these books are available for free digital download through the OverDrive or Hoopla apps.

If you search our catalog and your only option for a title is to place a hold for a digital download, you will need to establish an account on the app in order to be notified when your “hold” becomes available. For help getting started on Hoopla or OverDrive, visit eBooks & eMedia.

We hope you find a book that changes your life, too!

Once our library reopens and we resume full services, you will be able to place a hold on a book to pick up or request something from our interlibrary loan system.

Chic Knitting Books

Books – I love to knit, I love the calming rhythm of it and the feel of the yarn and the finished product, but sometimes the whole process of picking out a new project is the best part. Fortunately there are a lot of gorgeous knitting books coming out lately that make this even more enjoyable, full of stunning photos of beautiful projects. Sure, I’ll never buy the $400 in luxury yarn they recommend to make that sweater, but I can enjoy thinking about it.

Coffehouse Knits offers a selection of simple projects with just enough fancy details to make them feel special, and the photos are wonderful. I want to move into this book; it looks so comfortable. (I’ll have to settle for knitting that Morning Brew Sweater…someday.)

For those of us who sometimes struggle with fit, Plus Size Knits is a great new collection of sweaters designed for larger figures, no additional math required. And, importantly, they’re extremely cute – a variety of styles, some with lace and some with interesting shapes. There’s something for everyone.

Knitting Modular Shawls, Wraps, and Stoles is a godsend for anyone who likes to knit shawls, because yes, there are thousands of free patterns, but sometimes you can’t find the thing that’s exactly what you need, and this book will help you figure out how to build it. If you like neatly organized diagrams, this is the book for you.

Wool Studio is one of those $400 sweater books, but they’re lovely sweaters (and they would still be lovely in a more affordable yarn). While a lot of knitting patterns are fun to make but difficult to wear, most of these projects are wardrobe staples that I can see wearing for years, and some of them are trendier updates of the same.

Alas, I can’t knit and look at lovely knitting books at the same time, so I’ll have to pick one or the other.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

BookThe Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is one of my new favorite romance novels and an endearing love story! For fans of cutesy, sweet Cover image for The flatshareand awkward romances, this is the book for you! Tiffy is reeling from a bad breakup and has no where else to turn. She needs somewhere to stay, anywhere, cheap and fast!  Against her best friends’ judgement, she responds to an ad to share a flat with a stranger she’s never met–a guy named Leon.  With completely opposite work schedules, it seemed likely they’d never meet face to face. So, sharing the same bed would never be an issue, or so they think. Then a passive aggressive post it note on cleanliness soon develops into a budding friendship.

This is a unique love story with more twists and turns than I anticipated. Tiffy is a bright ball of energy, while Leon is more cold and distant. It’s a slow romance with plenty of awkward encounters and hilarity ensuing around every corner. I enjoyed learning about each of the main characters and past lives, woven throughout the story. Their hardships served to bring them closer together. A heartwarming story of opposites attract, Tiffy and Leon come together as friends and eventually something more.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Book – Becoming is a fascinating biography of former first lady Michelle Obama. We get a glimpse of her tight knit, extended family upbringing on Chicago’s south side. Her mother had high expectations of her children and taught them independence. Her father battled MS, yet took pride in his work for the City. He instilled his work ethic in his children and encouraged Michelle to be outspoken and unafraid. She adored her protective and supportive older brother, Craig and eventually followed him to Princeton. She developed a love of music from her great aunt who gave her piano lessons and her grandfather who always filled his house with music. Her childhood and family support helped mold her into an intelligent, independent woman.

Michelle thrived at Harvard Law School. I did not know that Michelle was a first year lawyer at a prestigious firm when she and Barack met. He was a first year law student at Harvard working as a summer associate hired by her firm. Becoming delves into their career paths, marriage and family life. We see just how unglamorous a life in politics really is and her initially strong misgivings. Michelle eventually supported Barack for his Senate bid and eventually the presidency, because she firmly believed in his vision and ability to make a difference. Themes of love and family are primary to her story. Fiercely supportive of her husband and protective of her daughters, she worked hard for them have as normal a life as possible. Though Michelle touches on the obstacles of being an African American woman, she does not dwell on them and moves forward, inspired. She writes, “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey.” Becoming is an inspiring story of a woman who has soul and substance.

On November 19th Obama will release Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice to accompany her memoir and help others find their voice.

True Grit by Charles Portis

Book – Many will be familiar with the classic western True Grit thanks to the well-known film adaptations, the first in 1969 starring John Wayne and the second in  2010 directed by the Cohen Brothers. While Charles Portis’s novel is straightforward and at times predictable, what makes True Grit so good is the dialogue and the characters, especially the narrator, thirteen-year old Mattie Ross. Mattie’s pluck and perseverance make her one of the most memorable protagonists I’ve encountered in a while. True Grit’s other lead Rooster Cogburn, is a crotchety and perpetually drunk US marshal hired by Mattie to find her father’s killer. Although Rooster and Mattie are disparate personalities in nearly every way, they both have that rarest of traits: true grit. The relationship between the two is the foundation on which Portis builds a novel that is an effective character study, as well as a tension filled adventure.

The audiobook is narrated by Donna Tartt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Secret History and The Goldfinch. I sought out the audiobook mainly due to a curiosity about how one of my favorite authors would fare as a narrator. Tartt gives each character a distinct voice, although her best and most convincing depiction is Mattie. I recommend True Grit not only for fans of westerns, but for anyone interested in an exciting story populated by dynamic, engaging characters.

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

Book – Speaking of Summer is the character driven story by Kalisha Buckhanon told from Cover image for Speaking of SummerAutumn Spencer’s perspective of her missing twin sister, Summer. Autumn embarks on a lonely, determined, and obsessive journey to discover the truth of what happened. We learn of the sisters’ upbringing in small town Illinois and their eventual journey to New York and the unsettling reality of what happens and doesn’t happen, to missing women.

When news of a serial killer who once lived in her Harlem neighborhood surfaces, Autumn delves deeper into whether Summer was one of his victims, or if she fled, wanting to leave love and loss behind her forever. Broken up into four seasons, Speaking of Summer goes by quickly if you are not paying attention. Who survives and how, are a few of the questions revealed in this intriguing tale. Despite minor and easily forgettable literary lapses, Buckhanon writes a beautiful, compelling and poignant story.

Tired of Winter? Check out Speaking of Summer on Hoopla.

 

 

1000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich

Book – As a compulsive maker of to-read lists (you too?), I’ve always been dubious about letting anybody else choose my books for me. Sure, I wanted guidance about great titles I might otherwise have missed, longing for both a roadmap to self-education and advice on what to read for entertainment, but many book lists seemed one-note. Usually such lists contained only dense adult fiction classics, often heavy and depressing, almost universally written by English-speaking Westerners, the vast majority of them men.  Most annoyingly, none of the compilers seemed to remember that reading ought to be fun.

If I doubted that anyone would ever write the to-read list I’d been waiting for, I was delighted to be proven wrong.1000 Books to Read Before You Die is, despite the title, gloriously unpretentious, utterly inclusive and instantly convinced me to trust the author’s taste. Sure, about a dozen Shakespeare plays abound, and includes Waiting for Godot and the Confessions of St. Augustine, but they jostle elbows with Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of her dysfunctional family, multiple picture books by Margaret Wise Brown, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, and even The Da Vinci Code. Mustich’s selections run the gamut from: fiction and nonfiction; children’s, YA and adult; ancient and brand-new; popular entertainment to serious philosophy and everything in-between. From a memoir of the moon landing to the greatest of all children’s novels,  to an anthropologist’s look at Australian Aboriginal culture, a prototypical hardboiled noir to a firsthand examination of race in present-day America--and that’s just among authors whose names start with C. Mustich offers a book for every taste, interest and mood.

My only complaint: it should really be titled:  one thousand and one books. 1000 Books to Read is surprisingly devourable. Mustich’s essays on his book selections are charming, thought-provoking and incisive–that you’ll want to read it cover to cover.

Favorite Children’s and Young Adult Books of 2019

Books – The weather outside is frightful, but reading a new book over winter break can be delightful!  Here are some of my favorite Children’s and Young Adult books published in 2019.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman (YA Fiction)

I don’t usually read much science fiction, but this space-based story caught my attention right away with its compelling characters and adventurous plotline.

Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord (Juvenile Fiction)

A shorter chapter book about the impacts of true friendship–even the friendship of a rabbit!

The Big Book of Monsters by Hal Johnson (Juvenile Non-Fiction)

For fans of the scariest of creatures.

Cheshire Crossing by Andy Weir (YA Graphic Novel)

I am a huge fan of fractured fairy tales, so this book was right up my alley!  What happens when Alice, Dorothy and Wendy meet and their fantasy worlds collide?

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer (Picture Book)

Daniel explores what makes a “good day” for the people around him.

Dear Justice League by Michael Northrup (Juvenile Graphic Novel)

Even superheroes are not perfect.

Sparkly New Friends by Heather Burnell (Beginning Reader)

A unicorn and a yeti become best friends who both love sparkly things.  What is not to love?

The Line Tender by Kate Allen (Juvenile Fiction)

This beautiful, unique story of grief and connection to nature’s mysteries had me sobbing.

Strange Birds by Celia C. Pérez (Juvenile Fiction)

Four unlikely friends team up to protest a revered feathered hat connected to town history.  A story of friendship, civic engagement, and bird facts!

Stargazing by Jen Wang (Juvenile Graphic Novel)

For fans of Raina Telgemeier’s books.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (YA Non-Fiction Graphic Novel)

A powerful and important account of Japanese internment camps during World War 2.

 

 

 

Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream by Jashua Davis

Book – Joshua Davis’ Spare Parts, expands on his 2005 WIRED article “La Vida Robot” to delve deeper into the lives of four undocumented immigrants whose ingenuity led them to a surprising victory at the prestigious MATE 2004 robotics competition. These four young bright students, Lorenzo Santillan, Oscar Vazquez, Cristian Arcega, and Luis Aranda found acceptance and encouragement from two dedicated teachers, Allan Cameron and Fredi Lajvardi.

Davis does an excellent job describing how the boys assemble their underwater robot “Stinky” out of spare parts, junk, humble in all respects, in the middle of a desert and without access to a pool. He also describes the daily struggles in the lives of the teens, how they lived in constant fear of violence and deportation. The book’s bittersweet ending shows the reality of being a bright yet undocumented student. Despite these young men’s incredible potential, their future is stagnated in poverty as their undocumented status bars them from access to engineering programs, academic funding and military service. However you might feel about the current political discussion on immigration you can’t deny that these young men, and others like them, can teach us something worthwhile about resilience and the American dream.

The film Spare Parts, is based on award winning Carl Hayden robotics team, stars George Lopez and Jaime Lee Curtis. The film isn’t bad, it’s great in fact. My only issues are the predictable, feel-good happy ending, that George Lopez’s character is an amalgamation of Allan Cameron and Fredi Lajvardi and that the more poignant events following the boys’ success at the robotics competition covered in Davis’ book, is ignored.

Spare Parts is available on OverDrive for digital download on Kindle and other electronic devices.

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

Book – There are two kinds of language: the formal, official language of grammar guides and English classes, and the way people actually write and talk and communicate. And what better way to see that than on the Internet, where billions of people write everything from formal blog posts to casual tweets to friends on a daily basis? Of course, writing isn’t speaking, which is why Internet users have developed things like the ~sarcastic tilde~ emphasis or the convention that typing in ALL CAPS is the equivalent of SHOUTING (I genuinely couldn’t bring myself to put more than a couple of words together in all caps; it feels so rude).

Gretchen McCulloch is a linguist who studies these things, everything from the differences in Twitter styles between different demographics to the grammatical structure of memes (it’s more rigid than you might think). I first heard of her when she was the Resident Linguist of the now-defunct website The Toast, but her work circulates in Internet circles on a regular basis. Her book is just as funny, insightful, and fascinating as her blog posts and podcast episodes. Anyone who’s interested in language and the way people adapt it to their needs will find Because Internet fascinating; anyone who’s ever sneered at chatspeak or Internet slang may find themselves a little more sympathetic after reading this book.