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fiction (25)

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill

library? yes (physical + digital)

historical · magical realism · dark · reflective · slow-paced | 300-400 pages

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.

Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city's underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

library? yes (physical + digital)

fantasy · magical realism · adventurous · mysterious · slow-paced | 300-400 pages

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician #1

library? yes (physical only)

fantasy · young adult · adventurous · mysterious · medium-paced | 200-300 pages

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she's bonded to paper, that will be her only magic...forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane's heart from his chest. To save her teacher's life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane's still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

library? yes (physical only)

historical · literary · mystery · dark · mysterious · fast-paced | 300-400 pages

New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke's sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker's new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie's imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can't be—can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won't rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister's death. Unfortunately, Tillie's addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she's taking more and more laudanum...and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can't bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister's death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it's becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what's real—or whether she can trust those closest to her.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

library? yes (physical + digital)

urban fantasy · magical realism · science fiction | 400-500 pages

The City We Became takes place in New York City, in a version of the world in which great cities become sentient through human avatars. After the avatar of New York falls into a supernatural coma and vanishes, a group of five new avatars representing the five boroughs come together to fight their common Enemy.

recommendation note: "I read the short story 'The City Born Great' by N.K. Jemisin that this novel is based on and thought it was so weird and so fucking good."

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

library? yes (physical + digital)

magical realism · Bildungsroman | 300-400 pages

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine’, and Oumi, ‘blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, ‘white root’, and Kurono, ‘black field’. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it.

One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn't want to see him, or talk to him, ever again.

Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

recommendation note: "This book is a great re-read for me. It's mysterious and dream-like so it sticks in your head all day."

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

library? yes (physical + digital)

feminism · contemporary · LGBTQ+ | 400-500 pages

The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.

recommendation note: "Maybe I can learn something from this book about my own womanhood and I've been seeing it all over book-tok (the subsection of TikTok dedicated to books) so I want to see what the hype is about."

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

library? yes (physical + digital)

literary · LGBTQ+ | 200-300 pages

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

recommendation note: "In case we all feeling like collectively crying for a month!"

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

library? yes (physical + digital)

travel · adventure · family drama | 300-400 pages

This book will transport you not only through time, but to the colorful and lively streets of Cuba. Alternating between Havana in 1958 and 2017, this novel delves into Cuba's tumultuous history and enduring culture. In present-day Miami, Marisol has promised to spread her recently departed grandmother's ashes. So Marisol heads to Havana, where her grandmother's childhood stories come to life, and she discovers more about her own culture than she could have imagined.

recommendation note: "It seemed like an interesting plot. I’m always interested in detailed imagery and novels that focus on identity and family history/ relationships so it sounded like a good option. I found it on a Buzzfeed list."

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

library? yes (physical + digital)

historical · epistolary | 200-300 pages

A real location in the Channel Islands, the descriptions of Guernsey's beautiful coast will have you sipping a warm cup of tea and feeling as though you're there yourself. The year is 1946, and writer Juliet Ashton is embarking across England to promote her latest book. Along the way, she stumbles upon the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Juliet becomes obsessed with the society — and its enigmatic leader — and quickly finds herself intertwined with the complicated lives of its members.

recommendation note: "I’ve heard good things about it from another book club. The dynamic of the characters sounds interesting and I like the idea of a book club reading about a book club."

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

library? yes (physical + digital)

historical · literary · gothic · romance | 500+ pages

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

recommendation note: "Mainly because my cousins took me to the Brontë family home and after we spent like two hours there they asked me what I thought of Jane Eyre - and if that ever happens again I’d like to have soemthing more to say than “oh, it was great!!!!” 🤥🥴"

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

library? yes (physical only)

adventure · thriller · suspense | 300-400 pages

A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller.

recommendation note: "I want to read an adventure novel."

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

library? yes (physical + digital)

adventure | 200-300 pages

The Call of the Wild is a short adventure novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck.

recommendation note: "I feel like it’s one of those books that’s referenced a lot as a sort of classic, but I’ve never taken the time to read it. Also we can watch the movie after! Or movies. I think there are 3? I’ve never seen any of them either."

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

library? yes (physical + digital)

science fiction | <200 pages

In this science-fiction novel by H.G. Wells, published in 1897, the story concerns the life and death of a scientist named Griffin who has gone mad. Having learned how to make himself invisible, Griffin begins to use his invisibility for nefarious purposes, including murder.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

library? yes (physical only)

fantasy · romance · adventure | 200-300 pages

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

library? yes (physical only)

coming-of-age · young adult · Asian stories · Filipinx stories | 300-400 pages

TW: Death, Drug addiction, Sex trafficking (brief discussion)

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

recommendation note: "This book was sort of my doorway to reading more Filipino stories. Felt very good and very strange to be relating to a book about a teenage boy when I was 23/24, but I related to Jay a lot. I think it would be interesting to revisit and would love to hear everyone else's thoughts on it. - Sharmaine"

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

library? yes (physical + digital)

romance · young adult · supernatural | 400-500 pages

a very boring girl falls in love with a mysterious, pale guy who thinks she smells really tasty.

recommendation note: "I think the conversation would be fantastic."

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

library? yes (physical + digital)

LGBTQ+ · young adult · romance · coming-of-age | 300-400 pages

Told in two voices, when Arthur, a summer intern from Georgia, and Ben, a native New Yorker, meet it seems like fate, but after three attempts at dating fail they wonder if the universe is pushing them together or apart.

recommendation note: "It looks good and we haven't had a lot of LGBTQ+ content thus far."

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

library? yes (physical + digital)

fantasy · young adult · adventure · Greek mythology | 300-400 pages

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

recommendation note: "I think it's been 10-11 years since I've revisited the Percy Jackson series but I was absolutely obsessed with it. All copies in use at the library as of April (because this book is a banger, babe). - Sharmaine"

Hap and Leonard: Savage Season by Joe R Lansdale

library? yes (physical + digital)

mystery · crime · thriller | < 200 pages

Here comes Trudy back into Hap's life, thirty-six but looking ten years younger, with long blonde hair and legs that begin under her chin, and the kind of walk that'll make a man run his car off the road. Here comes trouble, says Leonard, and he's right. She was always trouble, but she had this laugh when she was happy in bed that could win Hap over every time. Trudy has a proposition: an easy two hundred thousand dollars, tax-free. It's just a simple matter of digging it up ...Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, white and black, straight and gay, are the unlikeliest duo in crime fiction. Savage Season is their debut.

recommendation note: "I read the books after watching the tv series starring Michael Kenneth Williams and James Purefoy. It’s fun and I wouldn’t think too hard about it."

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

library? yes (physical + digital)

steampunk · young adult · alternate history | 300-400 pages

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

recommendation note: "There was nothing that enraptured 12 year old me more than a poor (usually white) boy from humble beginnings proving his worth through the goodness of his heart (and mostly luck) to a bunch of people who thought he was absolute shit, including an annoying, classist, "not-like-other-girls-because-i-read" girl with whom he falls in love with (see also the Lightning Thief). Starclimber is the best book in this series but we gotta start at the beginning. - Sharmaine"

Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard

library? yes (physical + digital)

young adult · realistic fiction · homelessness · Canadian | 200-300 pages

Dylan is living on the streets not through any choice of his own, unlike some of the teenagers he meets in the same situation. He’s been cut loose by his unstable mother, and lost most contact with his two younger brothers. He has nothing but his backpack stuffed with a few precious belongings and the homeless kids he meets. At least he has his theories. No one can take those away from him. Like how every fourth person throws him spare change; how no one does anything for anyone without a price; and how he just might be able to find a place in this complicated world.

Disturbing, gritty, painful, hopeful—this is a story of a sixteen-year-old determined to survive against all odds.

recommendation note: "Picked it up in church and it’s an interesting take on homelessness. It’s described as realistic fiction and I think it’s because the protagonist doesn’t follow the typical homelessness trope of alcoholics and drugs addicts."

The Birth House by Ami McKay

library? yes (physical + digital)

| 300-400 pages

The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss Bs apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

recommendation note: "I read it in a women's studies class back in 2015(?) and I think it would have good discussion points."

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

library? yes (physical + digital)

classic · adventure | <200 pages

Embark on an imaginative adventure with Mowgli, a young orphaned boy raised by animals in the jungles of India. In a collection of stories about courage and survival, Mowgli must learn the laws of the jungle to defeat the tiger Shere-Khan. Lively characters and a captivating journey of self-discovery make The Jungle Book an ideal gift for young readers that will be treasured for years.

recommendation note: "I never thought to read it before and it would be interesting to compare it to the movie adaptations."

Under The Tuscan Sun: at Home in Italy by Frances Mayes

library? yes (physical only)

travel literature · memoir · biography | 200-300 pages

Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.

recommendation note: "I would like to compare it to the film adaptation which I am very fond of."

non-fiction (2)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

library? yes (physical + digital) ! long wait (8-10 weeks)

memoir · grief · identity · Asian stories | 200-300 pages

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band—and meeting the man who would become her husband—her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

recommendation note: "Michelle Zauner is the lead singer and guitarist of popular indie rock band Japanese Breakfast! I've seen this book recommended on so many different forums and I've never cried at an H Mart but I've definitely cried at other Asian grocery stores."

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

library? yes (physical only)

memoir · essays · feminism | 200-300 pages

Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly in a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Jia writes about the cultural prisms that have shaped her: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the American scammer as millennial hero; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the mandate that everything, including our bodies, should always be getting more efficient and beautiful until we die.

recommendation note: "I too enjoy partaking in self-delusion as reality is sometimes too overwhelming! Jia Tolentino knows what's up."
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