Allynn W. recommends:
It's not really a biography, more a series of humorous sketches, but we've got it under Bio. My absolute favorite - The Night the Bed Fell on Father! From goodreads.com: Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famous sketches and writings. In My Life and Hard times, first published in 1933, he recounts the delightful chaos and frustrations of family, boyhood, youth, odd dogs, recalcitrant machinery, and the foibles of human nature.
Meagan L. recommends:
A memoir from This Is Us star Chrissy Metz about all the ups and downs of her childhood/adulthood and rise to fame. Perfect for fans of the show! I'd recommend listening to/reading along with the audiobook to hear Chrissy read it herself.
A tween novel about a middle school girl who is dealing with many difficult changes in her life such as worrying about her sick mother, having to live with her dad and his new family, and the loss of a friendship. It takes place in Rhode Island and has a bunch of familiar references!
Young Adult Fiction
Cassie S. recommends:
From amazon.com: Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.
Caroline B. recommends:
I LOVE his books. This one is great because he takes pretty complicated concepts and makes them accessible in an interesting and fun way.
From amazon.com: Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body--how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, "We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted." The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.
This one is a combination of mystery and adventure as well as a heartbreaking story about the intense love a dad has for his child.
From goodreads.com: In the tradition of Into the Wild comes an instant classic of outdoor literature, a riveting work of uncommon depth. I'm planning on doing 4 days in the jungle. . . . It should be difficult to get lost forever: These were the haunting last words legendary adventurer Roman Dial received from his son, before the 27-year old disappeared into the jungles of Costa Rica. This is Dial's intensely gripping and deeply moving account of his two-year quest to unravel the mystery of his son's fate.
Betsey M. recommends:
From goodreads.com: Words matter. They wound, they inflate, they define, they demean. They have nuance and power. "Effortless," "Sassy," "Ambitious," "Aggressive": What subtle digs and sneaky implications are conveyed when women are described with words like these? Words are made into weapons, warnings, praise, and blame, bearing an outsized influence on women's lives -- to say nothing of our moods.
No one knows this better than Lizzie Skurnick, writer of the New York Times' column "That Should be A Word" and a veritable queen of cultural coinage. And in Pretty Bitches, Skurnick has rounded up a group of powerhouse women writers to take on the hidden meanings of these words, and how they can limit our worlds -- or liberate them.
Colleen W. recommends:
I highly recommend both the book and audiobook versions of this beautiful novel. The story follows a Vietnamese family through decades of hardships and suffering, yet it remains hopeful and poetic.
You may recognize Eugene Mirman from Flight of the Conchords or his voice from Bob's Burgers, but this comedian also started a bizarre comedy festival meant to poke fun at other comedy festivals. The documentary covers it's tenth and final year, with behind the scenes looks at the popular comedians featured and Mirman's personal life. It's both funny and sad, and also heartwarming.
Tim H. recommends:
While specifics can be slightly dated, because the book was published a few years ago, the concepts of how Big Data and analysis can be misused, misunderstood, and problematic are real, and only growing worse. Whoever you may be and whatever your desire to be involved with technology, these topics are already impacting your life, and the extent to which they are going to do so is only growing. This book is relatively understandable, unlike many that explore the topic without trying to be understandable to the lay person.
From amazon.com: We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.
But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.
Nina W. recommends:
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. I first read it as a teenager and I have read it numerous times since then. The book is about a guy, Si Morley, who lives in the mid-20th century and agrees to be the subject of a government experiment to see if they can transport him back in time by creating a life that mimics the New York City of the past perfectly.
The experiment works, and he finds himself in 1882 New York, and falls in love with the sights and sounds of the city. He also falls in love with a woman and struggles with choosing between his lives past and present.
It is a little bit science fiction, a little bit mystery, a bit of a love story, and a detailed history of Old New York. A true time-travel classic!
Keara B. recommends:
Also watch the 2019 HBO movie!
From goodreads.com: Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.
Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.
Stacy C. recommends:
From amazon.com: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera--the only one on the property--pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
From amazon.com: It all started at a dinner party. . .
A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.
Amanda S. recommends:
From goodreads.com: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
From amazon.com: Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it?
In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings these masters into our kitchens. Through recipes and stories, we cook along with these pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs to middle- and upper-class writers and entrepreneurs. With more than 100 recipes, from classics such as Sweet Potato Biscuits, Seafood Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Pecan Pie with Bourbon to lesser-known but even more decadent dishes like Bourbon & Apple Hot Toddies, Spoon Bread, and Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.
Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
From spin.com: Fetch the Bolt Cutters is definitely the product of cabin fever and occasionally feels claustrophobic but it’s an undeniably fascinating and complex collection of songs. It manages to refine many of Apple’s already good ideas and displays a distinct sonic evolution. This is an album made by an artist in full control of her instrument, even if, in this case, that instrument is a Casio keyboard, the jangling of a dog’s collar, or the ting of a metal butterfly.
Hannah B. recommends:
From goodreads.com: Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David's mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David's colleagues. Soon after she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World's heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.
From amazon.com: A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.
Sandra K. recommends:
The classic claustrophobic horror novel! And of course make sure to see the classic film directed by Stanley Kubrick afterwards to see if you hate the ending as much as King does.
From goodreads.com: Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.