Happy 1894 Day!

Note to Shelf: March 30th Edition

Welcome to our second edition of our weekly Note to Shelf. We hope everyone is well. What an unusual time we are experiencing! Even those of us who relish our quiet time may miss the day-to-day interaction with people. Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp certainly help but there is a lot of time to fill. We suppose you could take the opportunity to do a Marie Kondo clean, but putting all of my clothes in a pile and then going through them to see what gives me joy would probably push us over the edge.

We have a few less extreme suggestions. After binge watching all the shows that were on your Netflix list, try some other online options. YouTube is a wonderful resource. We’ve watched many British TV shows and documentaries on it. Another great resource is Internet Archive – there you’ll find free audio books, movies, music and podcasts. And you can tune in at 8 p.m. each night as Spain’s citizens applaud their health care workers. Bravo! Stay safe and healthy everyone.

You can find these titles and more in our digital catalogs: Hoopla and Libby by Overdrive. Also don't forget to check out our featured Humor Booklist that shows laughter is the best medicine.

Brittany

Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a fantastic read for fans of science fiction and those who like novels that explore ethical issues. For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar gift each other an experimental procedure designed to rejuvenate their minds and bodies. But the hope of a longer future together is crushed when the procedure results in intellectually and physically superior clones of themselves who are barely recognizable as human. This story is just begging for book club discussions on ethics, biomedicine, and what it means to be human. It grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go. Ezra Claytan Daniels' art already makes this an atmospheric and haunting read but if you'd like to turn it up to an 11, play the soundtrack on Hoopla as you read. I recommend this book to anyone interested in medical research, bioethics or philosophy, too.

Diane

And They Called it Camelot: a Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy by Stephanie Marie Thornton is a compelling biographical novel featuring an intimate portrait of Jackie O. The author gives us a richly-imagined first person account of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ early years when she met John F. Kennedy, was swept off her feet, and married into the famous Kennedy family. Jackie reflects on her struggles during the first few years of marriage: her miscarriages, her bouts of depression, and JFK's notorious infidelity.

The narrative delves into the renovation of the White House, JFK's assassination, and Jackie O’s close relationship with Robert Kennedy after the tragedy. Jackie talks candidly about her highs and lows during her glamorous marriage to the Greek-Argentine shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis. Sixteen years after JFK’s death, when the John F. Kennedy Library is unveiled, we find that Jackie O is at last pursuing her own dreams. The author’s portrayal of Jackie O is such that the reader feels Jackie is finally telling her unfiltered story. A wonderful read on many levels.

Ann

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is the heart-breaking story of Shuggie and his two older siblings who live with their alcoholic mother, Agnes, in public housing in 1980's Glasgow. The children struggle under their mother's abuse and rages when she drinks, but they know she has enormous love for them. Agnes' philandering husband, Hugh, cannot deal with her drinking or her constant calls to him while he’s at work as a taxi driver. He tells her he has found a new place for them to live in a mining town. Hugh drops his family off in government housing and then abandons them. Agnes will do what she can to survive, including stealing and being with "uncles" who give her money.

Shuggie, a young boy of eight, begins to realize that he is different from other boys. He is tormented by the neighborhood children because of these differences and at home he is tormented by his mother's drinking. Eventually Shuggie's older siblings leave home because they can no longer deal with their mother’s demons. The author beautifully portrays Shuggie’s fierce protectiveness and love for Agnes despite his dysfunctional environment. This is not an easy story to read and your heart will break; however, you will cheer for Shuggie as he struggless to survive. All in all, a wonderfully written debut.

Note to Shelf, Jr.

Catherine

Recently, one of my children asked, “What are grown-ups afraid of?” My answer, tempered for a young audience, was essentially this: “We are all scared of those things that make us feel the most vulnerable.” The newly awarded Newbery honor book, Scary Stories for Young Foxes, by Christian McKay Heidicker takes that idea to heart, with a series of thrilling tales that would chill the heart of any young fox (and perhaps some young humans as well). Told within a frame story about seven young fox kits, these spooky stories will enthrall readers, along with the kits, as they encounter the myriad of ways life can be dangerous for a young fox. The dangers the foxes face include a rabid teacher, a skin-stealing witch, and a ghost that hunts them through the snow. This collection of tales will engage readers young and old from chilling start to hair-raising finish!

Note to Shelf, Teen

Krishna

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Karir Nelson is a remarkable book. Alexander’s ability to make words flow is effortless and impactful in his latest poetic turn. He shows us that words have the ability to remind, to wound, and to lift up. This work is a true love letter to America, the beautiful and the ugly, and to a past we cannot escape but should never repeat. By weaving in iconic lyrics and lines, the text treats its reader as a part of the narrative of America. The beautiful lush photorealistic illustrations by Kadir Nelson complement the poetry. This is a book for all, especially the undefeated.

You can find these titles and more in our digital catalogs: Hoopla and Libby by Overdrive. Also don't forget to check out our featured Humor Booklist that shows laughter is the best medicine.

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