Tag Archives: books

LGBTQIA Staff Picks

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne Adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple who remind him that he is not a real member of their family, Cyril embarks on a journey to find himself and where he came from, discovering his identity, a home, a country, and much more throughout a long lifetime.

My Real Children by JoWalton Remembering two different pasts that reflect contrasting historical events and relationships with different people, an elderly Patricia Cowan wonders about her identity while gazing at a moon that might house benign or malicious technologies.

This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel A family reshapes their ideas about family, love, and loyalty when youngest son Claude reveals increasingly determined preferences for girls’ clothing and accessories and refuses to stay silent.

 

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri Twenty-eight-year-old New York lawyer Katie Daniels finds her life upended when she is dumped by her fiancé, but a new friendship with Cassidy Price, a self-assured and sexually promiscuous woman, changes everything Katie thought she knew about sex and love.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, fourteen-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle’s grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu A married man and woman in India who hide their gay orientations from their conservative families find their arrangement compromised when one of them returns home to care for a family member, only to reconnect with a beloved ex whose marriage to a heterosexual stranger has been arranged.

Boy Erased by Gerrard Conley A poignant account by a survivor of a church-supported sexual orientation conversion therapy facility that claimed to “cure” homosexuality describes its intense Bible study program and the daily threats of his abandonment by family, friends and God, an experienced that transformed the author’s relationships and self-understandings.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith Trapped in a boring, dead-end day job in a department store, stage designer Therese Belivet finds her life forever changed when she encounters–and falls in love with–Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the midst of a divorce.

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka Hired by the sister of a man on death row who swears he is innocent of the murders of his missing girlfriend and her parents, private investigator Roxane Weary links sightings of the missing girl to one of her late father’s cold cases.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters Forced to take in lodgers in economically challenged 1922 South London, widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter find their lives profoundly and disturbingly changed by the arrival of a modern young couple

Fun Home by Allison Bechdel A memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father–a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

-posted by Donna, Readers” Services

Book Review: The Good Neighbor

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Times of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

This was a very interesting book about a very interesting man who, if you are like me, knew him as a TV personality with a show for children. However, after reading the book, I learned that he was much more than I ever knew.

He was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1928 to his parents, James and Nancy. His father was a successful businessman and Fred led a very privileged life. He was an only child until his parents adopted a sister, Elaine, when he was 11. As a child he was bullied because he was overweight and as a result wound up spending a lot of time by himself. He would often entertain himself by playing with puppets and stuffed animals in imaginary worlds.

His parents appreciated music and as a result, Fred started piano lessons when he was 5 years old. As he matured, he grew out of his shyness and was a leader in high school being the student council president and yearbook editor. Upon graduation he went to Dartmouth College for a year before eventually getting his degree in music composition from Rollins College in Florida. He eventually went on to become an ordained minister in The United Presbyterian Church in 1963.

After graduating college, Fred became interested in television. He was disappointed in the types of shows that were on the air at the time but also saw how powerful a medium it was.

He began working in local TV in Latrobe and eventually ended up in NYC working for NBC for a short time. It was at this time he attended University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development and met noted child psychologist Margaret McFarland. She would become his advisor who would help him in many of his future ventures.

Fred began to develop short programs geared to children using puppets. These eventually led to Mister Rogers Neighborhood which started in 1968 and ran for 895 episodes. It aired out of Pittsburgh on NET which eventually became PBS.

The unique aspect of Mr. Rogers was that his show wasn’t like many of the educational kid programming of the time. There was not an emphasis on learning skills as such. There was more of an emphasis on feelings: recognizing them, accepting them and dealing with them. He allowed children to venture into the imaginary and helped them deal with the realities of life such as death, divorce and even birth. He encouraged children to be inquisitive in how things worked.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it revealed an individual who was much more complex than I ever thought. Fred Rogers was an extraordinary man filled with kindness, compassion and love.

-posted by Dona, Acquisitions Services

Pulitzer Prize 2020 Winners and Finalists

Fiction:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption. On Overdrive.*

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper)

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. On Overdrive.*

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

A tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right. , a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression, and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the New Right. On Overdrive.*

Biography:

Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)

An authoritatively constructed work told with pathos and grace, that captures the writer’s genius and humanity alongside her addictions, sexual ambiguities and volatile enthusiasms.  On Overdrive.*

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Alfred A. Knopf)

Draws on firsthand writings in a narrative portrait of the influential American diplomat that explores how his achievements over half a century of history were complicated by his political ambitions.

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, And Me by the late Deirdre Bair (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

A memoir of the author’s experience writing biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir.

History:

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)

A masterfully researched meditation on reparations based on the remarkable story of a 19th century woman who survived kidnapping and re-enslavement to sue her captor. On Overdrive; hoopla has audio book.*

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (University of North Carolina Press)

Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. Hoopla has ebook and audio book.*

The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

A sweeping and beautifully written book that probes the American myth of boundless expansion and provides a compelling context for thinking about the current political moment. (Moved by the Board from the History category.) On Overdrive.*

General Nonfiction (2 winners):

The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

A sweeping and beautifully written book that probes the American myth of boundless expansion and provides a compelling context for thinking about the current political moment. (Moved by the Board from the History category.) On Overdrive.*

The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

An elegant and unforgettable narrative about the brutality of illness and the capitalism of cancer care in America. On Overdrive.*

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson (Bloomsbury)

A geriatrician, writer and professor of medicine challenges the way people think and feel about aging and medicine through stories from her twenty-five years of patient care as well as from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life. On Overdrive.*

Solitary by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George (Grove Atlantic)

The life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—for a crime he did not commit. On Overdrive.*

-posted by Donna, Readers’ Services

*Syosset Public Library patrons can use their library cards to access Overdrive and Hoopla.

 

The Library of Congress & its Book Festival

The Library of Congress is simply one of my favorite places. President John Adams signed a bill in 1800 establishing a reference library in the new capital city of Washington, DC. The legislation provided that it contain “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress — and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…”

Photo by Shawn Miller.

Originally, it was housed in the Capitol. During the War of 1812 the British invaded and set fire to the Capitol Building burning most of the collection. Retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal collection which he had amassed over 50 years, and which was considered to be one of the finest in America.

I will try to curtail my enthusiasm for the architecture and my personal fondness for the building! However, a little information seems to be in order. The Library is comprised of three buildings, The Thomas Jefferson Building, the john Adams building and the James Madison Building. The Jefferson Building (1897), located next to the Supreme Court and across from the U.S. Capitol, is impressive. If you are interested, take a virtual tour of the building.

But on to books and reading. You have probably heard of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. It was started by then First Lady Laura Bush and the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington with the inaugural event in 2001. This year’s event is scheduled for August.

The Library has been sponsoring an ongoing .. and online!…celebration of the Festival with daily features of videos of the thousands of authors who have appeared at the Festival over the past nearly 20 years. Mondays focus on topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literature; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir, Thursday: popular fiction and Friday: authors who write for children and teens.

Check out the fascinating talks with such authors as Neil Patrick Harris, Colson Whitehead, Patricia Cornwell, Tara Westover, Edmund Morris, and Jacqueline Woodson to name a few of the thousands who have participated.

-posted by Brenda, Reference  Services

What I’m Reading…

I just finished the book Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner which is a new release. Jennifer is one of my favorite authors and loves to connect to her fans on all forms of social media. When her publisher decided to move UP the date of publication, it was not expected as many other books were pushed back. It does not disappoint.

Instagram influencer Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh comes back into her life six years after huge fight.  Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is speechless but agrees to do it.

About halfway through the book there is an interesting twist and I don’t want to ruin it but I was shocked because I did not see it coming. Along the way Weiner touches on topics like Instagram filters, weight and the complexities of both female friendships and family.  I highly recommend it for a good summer escape.

Big Summer is available in ebook and audiobook formats in Overdrive.

-posted by Lisa H., Readers’ Services

2020 Edgar Award Winners

The winners of the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America and honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television published or produced in 2019, are:

Best Novel: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder; a high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature. To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary : Hallo Clare. You don’t know me. Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. ON OVERDRIVE (ebook only).

Best First Novel by an American Author: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)

A dramatic murder trial in the aftermath of an experimental medical treatment and a fatal explosion upends a rural Virginia community where personal secrets and private ambitions complicate efforts to uncover what happened. ON OVERDRIVE (audio and ebook), AUDIO IS CURRENTLY ON HOOPLA.

 

 

Best Paperback Original: The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)

Thirty-one years after workers first broke ground, the magnificent Hotel Neversink in the Catskills finally opens to the public. Then a young boy disappears. This mysterious vanishing—and the ones that follow—will brand the lives of three generations over the course of this novel. At the root of it all is Asher Sikorky, the ambitious and ruthless patriarch whose purchase of the hotel in 1931 set a haunting legacy into motion. His daughter Jeanie sees the Hotel Neversink into its most lucrative era, but also its darkest. Decades later, Asher’s grandchildren grapple with the family’s heritage in their own ways: Len fights to keep the failing, dilapidated hotel alive, and Alice sets out to finally uncover themurderer’s identity. Told by an unforgettable chorus of Sikorsky family members—a matriarch, a hotel maid, a traveling comedian, the hotel detective, and many others—The Hotel Neversink is the gripping portrait of a Jewish family in the Catskills over the course of a century. With an unerring eye and with prose both comic and tragic, Adam O’Fallon Price details one man’s struggle for greatness, no matter the cost, and a long-held family secret that threatens to undo it all. ON OVERDRIVE ebook only

Best Fact Crime: The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Grand Central Publishing)

Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early ’90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age of the Internet, when identity theft became more commonplace, so authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help Axton’s parents. Axton’s family changed all of their personal information and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Axton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. Axton learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, and once went as far as chasing a plumber off their property with a knife. As a result, Axton spent her formative years crippled by anxiety, quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. She began starving herself at a young age in an effort to blend in—her appearance could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family. Years later, her parents’ marriage still shaken from the theft, Axton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined. This is Axton’s attempt to untangle an intricate web of lies, and to understand why and how a loved one could have inflicted such pain, bby breaking the unwritten rules of love, protection, and family. ON OVERDRIVE (audio and ebook)

Best Critical/Biographical: Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)

In Hitchcock and the Censors, author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films.

 

 

Best Short Story: “One of These Nights,” from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)

“One of These Nights”, has more shocking twists than most full-length mystery novels and they spring, like goblins, when you least expect it. But the protagonists are not goblins, they are adolescent best girlfriends with a dangerous, sly agenda. (from GoErie.com)”

 

 

Best Juvenile: Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Paula Wiseman Books)

Alternates between the detective work of middle-schooler Jesse and her new friend, Springer, after her father is accused of stealing, and post-tornado rescue efforts of Jesse and her Pomeranian, Sam-Sam. ON OVERDRIVE (only ebook)

 

 

 

Best Young Adult: Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)

Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. ON OVERDRIVE (only ebook).

-posted by Donna, Readers’ Services

Books to Films

credit: S.Grgas

Who doesn’t love a good story? Whether it’s a book or film. Books such as Gone With The Wind** or Game Of Thrones* were not only literary successes but were blockbuster films. During this time of staying at home I’ve been binge watching some TV series.

Some of my recommendations are:

· My Brilliant Friend** is an HBO series based on the novel of the same name by the author Elena Ferrante. Set in the 1950’s in a small town on the outskirts of Naples. It’s a tale of friendship between 2 young girls, Lila and Elena, that spans a lifetime. We watch how the girls grow and change as they confront life and a changing culture.

· The Last Kingdom, a Netflix series based the book The Last Kingdom** by Bernard Cornwell. It’s an epic tale of courage, treachery, duty, politics, religion and love. Set in the late 9th century as Saxons, Britons and Danes fight for control of the land. The story revolves around King Alfred’s dream of uniting kingdoms to form England.

· I Know This Much Is True,* an HBO series released in May. Also based on the novel of the same name by Wally Lamb. The main character is Dominick Birdsey, a man full of anger and hate. He has an identical twin, Thomas who is a paranoid schizophrenic. Dominick both loves his brother deeply and resents him. The story tells a tale of how Dominick finds his roots and eventually learns to accept his fate in life.

Stay safe. Looking forward to the day we’ll see each other at SPL.

-posted by Betty P., Reference Services

Books available on **Overdrive and Hoopla or *Overdrive only.  Overdrive and Hoopla can be accessed through the Syosset Public Library website – all you need is a library card!

What I’m reading during Quarantine

I just finished the book Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots – a 2012 memoir by Deborah Feldman. There is a new Netflix mini series based on this book so I thought I’d read it before watching it.

Deborah grows up in the Hasidic community of Satmar in Brooklyn and feels like an outsider her entire life. Her mother is no longer with the community and her father is described as having a Intellectual disability so the author is raised by her grandparents. Her aunt Chaya also helps to raise her but doesn’t seem to enjoy it at all. When Deborah is 17, a match is made to marry Eli, a man who seems too attached to his family and is not a great fit for the rebellious young lady who dreams of leaving him. The author has a son with Eli at age 19 and secretly goes on birth control after that.

I read an updated 2​020 version with a few notes at the end – the last one explains her life now and how living in Berlin reminds of her youth In Brooklyn.

I recommend reading this book before or after watching it on Netflix!

This book is available on Overdrive in both ebook and audiobook formats.

-posted by Lisa H., Readers’ Services