July Story Hour & Craft for Kids

Chris reads Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol. A perfect picture book for a picture perfect summer day. It has blueberries, sunshine, rainbows, and more. Stop in the library to make a memory jar. Preserve something you don’t want to forget. We’ve got lots of jars and art supplies for you to make a beautiful memory.

🏳️‍🌈Celebrate Pride Month @ SPL

Celebrate Pride Month by reading a book about LGBTQIA+ experience. We have great titles in fiction and non-fiction, plus we are always adding new ones. Celebrate our diversity in all its forms. Love is love!

Every Body: An Honest and Open Look at Sex from Every Angle
by Julia Rothman & Shaina Feinberg & Everybody

Have you ever had a question about sex—whether out of curiosity, desire, or the sneaking suspicion you’re, somehow, different? Every Body will help you feel less alone. It’s a huge collection of anonymous stories, essays, artwork, and expert tell-alls on myriad subjects, all rolled into one. Really, it’s the conversations most of us are too scared to start.

Thanks to talented duo Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg, we don’t have to. The stories, essays, and interviews they’ve compiled touch on a wide array of topics, including first times, open relationships, body acceptance, accidental pregnancies, sex toys, pleasure, fear and trauma, sexual discovery, and more.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg

It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women-of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.

The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard
by John Birdsall

After World War II, a newly affluent United States reached for its own gourmet culture, one at ease with the French international style of Escoffier, but also distinctly American. Enter James Beard, authority on cooking and eating, his larger-than-life presence and collection of whimsical bow ties synonymous with the nation’s food for decades, even after his death in 1985.

In the first biography of Beard in twenty-five years, acclaimed writer John Birdsall argues that Beard’s struggles as a closeted gay man directly influenced his creation of an American cuisine. Starting in the 1920s, Beard escaped loneliness and banishment by traveling abroad to places where people ate for pleasure, not utility, and found acceptance at home by crafting an American ethos of food likewise built on passion and delight. Informed by never-before-tapped correspondence and lush with details of a golden age of home cooking, The Man Who Ate Too Much is a commanding portrait of a towering figure who still represents the best in food.

Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Milk Fed
by Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

One Life
by Megan Rapinoe

In One Life, Rapinoe embarks on a thoughtful and unapologetic discussion of social justice and politics. Raised in a conservative small town in northern California, the youngest of six, Rapinoe was four years old when she kicked her first soccer ball. Her parents encouraged her love for the game, but also urged her to volunteer at homeless shelters and food banks. Her passion for community engagement never wavered through high school or college, all the way up to 2016, when she took a knee during the national anthem in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, to protest racial injustice and police brutality – the first high-profile white athlete to do so. The backlash was immediate, but it couldn’t compare to the overwhelming support. Rapinoe became a force of social change, both on and off the field.

Peaces
by Helen Oyeyemi

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment–and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favorite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.

The Prophets
by Robert Jones, Jr.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

The Queen’s English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases
by Chloe O. Davis

The Queens’ English is a comprehensive guide to modern gay slang, queer theory terms, and playful colloquialisms that define and celebrate LGBTQIA+ culture. This modern dictionary provides an in-depth look at queer language, from terms influenced by celebrated lesbian poet Sappho and from New York’s underground queer ball culture in the 1980s to today’s celebration of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The glossary of terms is supported by full-color illustrations and photography throughout, as well as real-life usage examples for those who don’t quite know how to use kiki, polysexual, or transmasculine in a sentence. A series of educational lessons highlight key people and events that shaped queer language; readers will learn the linguistic importance of pronouns, gender identity, Stonewall, the Harlem Renaissance, and more.

Rainbow Milk
by Paul Mendez

In the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has immigrated to Britain with his wife and children to secure a brighter future. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient, but are all too aware that their family will need more than just hope to survive in their new country.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed hometown in the industrial Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, masculinity and spirituality.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength
by Alison Bechdel

Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the 60s (“Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!”) to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. Readers will see their athletic or semi-active pasts flash before their eyes through an ever-evolving panoply of running shoes, bicycles, skis, and sundry other gear. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. She turns for enlightenment to Eastern philosophers and literary figures, including Beat writer Jack Kerouac, whose search for self-transcendence in the great outdoors appears in moving conversation with the author’s own. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.

Shuggie Bain
by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.

Untamed
by Glennon Doyle

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

We Play Ourselves
by Jen Silverman

Not too long ago, Cass was a promising young playwright in New York, hailed as “a fierce new voice” and “queer, feminist, and ready to spill the tea.” But at the height of all this attention, Cass finds herself at the center of a searing public shaming, and flees to Los Angeles to escape–and reinvent herself. There she meets her next-door neighbor Caroline, a magnetic filmmaker on the rise, as well as the pack of teenage girls who hang around her house. They are the subjects of Caroline’s next semidocumentary movie, which follows the girls’ clandestine after-school activity: a Fight Club inspired by the violent classic.

As Cass is drawn into the film’s orbit, she is awed by Caroline’s drive and confidence. But over time, she becomes troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of art–especially as the consequences become increasingly disturbing. With her past proving hard to shake and her future one she’s no longer sure she wants, Cass is forced to reckon with her own ambitions and confront what she has come to believe about the steep price of success.

 

AAPI Reading List: Patron Favorites

Last month I invited patrons to recommend their favorites titles by and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Patron favorites span many decades and represent a global diaspora of voices. We can borrow any title not in our collection through interlibrary loan.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter
by Amy Tan

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem–ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.

And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities–like the Housekeeper’s shoe size–and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See

Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.

The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan

Four mothers, four daughters, four families, whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s telling the stories. In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, meet weekly to play mahjong and tell stories of what they left behind in China. United in loss and new hope for their daughters’ futures, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Their daughters, who have never heard these stories, think their mothers’ advice is irrelevant to their modern American lives – until their own inner crises reveal how much they’ve unknowingly inherited of their mothers’ pasts.

Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

Till Morning Comes
by Han Suyin

Alone in exotic Chungking, beautiful foreign correspondent Stephanie Ryder is warned to keep silent about the atrocities she witnesses in the city’s teeming slums. Defying a brutal Kuomintang officer, she is swept to an electrifying first meeting with Dr. Jen Yong, a handsome, dedicated and compassionate Chinese surgeon. For Yong, a sexual liaison with an American woman could mean a death sentence. For Stephanie, an affair with an Asian man would cause an irreparable breach with her Texas millionaire father. But just when dangers to threatens to separate them forever, their passion bursts into flame, and carries them on a fabulous romantic journey from the stormy depths of fear and desire, to the moving affirmation that enduring love is truly a many-splendored thing.

June Story Hour & Father’s Day Craft Kit

Chris reads My Cat Looks Like My Dad written and illustrated by Thao Lam. Pick up a craft kit at the library to make a fishing themed Father’s Day card. To all the dads out there, the Stonington Public Library wishes you a very happy Father’s Day!

😷Mask Up, Pop In, Check Out

The Stonington Public Library will continue to require that patrons mask up when visiting the library. Masks are available at the front desk, if you forget yours at home. We consider the health of our community to be our top priority. We reopened to visitors nearly three months ago, and over that time, we have safely welcomed patrons inside to browse our collection and borrow materials without incident. We attribute that success to everyone’s cooperation following safety guidelines. We remain committed to protecting your health, and we appreciate your continued support caring for the community.

We very much look forward to seeing everyone’s smile again, but until then, rest assured that we can see it in your eyes.

Wings, Waves & Woods: New Books @ the Stonington Public Library

Wings, Waves & Woods Festival is back! Island Heritage Trust has planned a full schedule of educational webinars and Zoom meetings, prerecorded experiences, and limited in-person walks and talks (registration required). The 2021 schedule and information on how to register are available online.

To celebrate the festival’s return, the Stonington Public Library compiled a list of new titles around the theme Wings, Waves & Woods for our readers to explore. Join Rich MacDonald on his yearlong quest to chase the birds of Hancock County. Or take a deep dive into the all things lobsters in the latest children’s book from Peter and Connie Roop. You can find titles for everyone from the budding naturalist to the seasoned fisherman in our newest non-fiction and picture book acquisitions. Grab a book to read outside before the winged pests of summer return.

Non-Fiction

Birds of Maine
by Peter D. Vickery

The first comprehensive overview of Maine’s incredibly rich birdlife in more than seven decades, Birds of Maine is a detailed account of all 464 species recorded in the Pine Tree State. It is also a thoroughly researched, accessible portrait of a region undergoing rapid changes, with southern birds pushing north, northern birds expanding south, and once-absent natives like Atlantic Puffins brought back by innovative conservation techniques pioneered in Maine.

The Book of Eels
by Patrik Svensson

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the “eel question”: Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don’t understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.

Fathoms: The World in the Whale 
by Rebecca Giggs

Fathoms: The World in the Whale blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? Will our connection to these storied animals be transformed by technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendour, and fragility of life? In Fathoms, we learn about whales so rare they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. We travel to Japan to board the ships that hunt whales and delve into the deepest seas to discover the plastic pollution now pervading the whale’s undersea environment.

Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie
by Charlie Gilmour

One spring day, a baby magpie falls out of its nest and into Charlie Gilmour’s hands. Magpies, he soon discovers, are as clever and mischievous as monkeys. They are also notorious thieves, and this one quickly steals his heart. By the time the creature develops shiny black feathers that inspire the name Benzene, Charlie and the bird have forged an unbreakable bond.

Finding the Mother Tree 
by Suzanne Simard

In her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

The Language of Butterflies 
by Wendy Williams

Butterflies are one of the world’s most beloved insects. From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibitions, they are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this groundbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these “flying flowers”—creatures far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for.

Little Big Year: Chasing Acadia’s Birds 
by Richard Wayne MacDonald

Join field biologist Richard MacDonald on a year-long journey to document the birds of Acadia National Park and Downeast Maine. As you read this book, you’ll feel as though you are sitting in Richard’s living room as he shares his adventures in an easy-to-read story-telling style. With each bird, he relates finding the species while weaving in fun facts and stories from his 40+ years of study, birding, and travel from Newfoundland to Antarctica. (Register for our upcoming event with Rich)

Seaweed Chronicles: A World at Water’s Edge 
by Susan Hand Shetterly

In Seaweed Chronicles, Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made. Ideal for readers of such books as The Hidden Life of Trees and How to Read WaterSeaweed Chronicles is a deeply informative look at a little understood and too often unappreciated part of our habitat.

Why We Swim
by Bonnie Tsui

We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.

A World on the Wing
by Scott Weidensaul

Bird migration entails almost unfathomable endurance, like a sparrow-sized sandpiper that will fly nonstop from Canada to Venezuela—the equivalent of running 126 consecutive marathons without food, water, or rest—avoiding dehydration by “drinking” moisture from its own muscles and organs, while orienting itself using the earth’s magnetic field through a form of quantum entanglement that made Einstein queasy. Crossing the Pacific Ocean in nine days of nonstop flight, as some birds do, leaves little time for sleep, but migrants can put half their brains to sleep for a few seconds at a time, alternating sides—and their reaction time actually improves. Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork, in A World on the Wing Weidensaul unveils with dazzling prose the miracle of nature taking place over our heads.

Picture Books

Hey, Water!
by Antoinette Portis

Join a young girl as she explores her surroundings and sees that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. Water can be a lake, it can be steam, it can be a tear, or it can even be a snowman.

Maine Lobster ABC
by Peter & Connie Roop and illustrated by Jeremiah Savage

Learn all about lobsters and lobstermen, their lore and their gear, in this beautifully illustrated book for both children and adults. Peter and Connie Roop are the authors of more than 100 children’s books, including Maine Lighthouse ABC. They put a lot of time into their research for each book, thus providing good information for all ages, along with very silly lobster jokes and a section of “fun facts” about lobsters. Jeremiah Savage illustrated both ABCs. His bold illustrations with vibrant colors and a semi-realistic, cartoony style focus on the diversity and uniqueness of the lobster industry in Maine.

Moth: An Evolution Story 
by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Powerful and visually spectacular, Moth is the remarkable evolution story that captures the struggle of animal survival against the background of an evolving human world in a unique and atmospheric introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.

The Old Boat
by Jarret Pumphrey & Jerome Pumphrey

Off a small island, a boy and his grandmother set sail in their beloved fishing boat. They ride the waves, dreaming, catching fish, and seeing the wonders of the ocean. But soon the boy is sailing the boat himself, venturing further from shore as the waters grow dirty and polluted. When a storm washes him ashore and wrecks the old boat, he sees home in a new light. He decides to turn the tides of his fortune, cleaning the island’s waters and creating a new life with a family to call his own. With an eye-catching design and masterfully detailed illustrations, The Old Boat is an exquisite story about caring for the places we call home.

The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor 
by Amy Alznauer & Ping Zhu

Right from the start young Flannery O’Connor took a shine to chickens. They pecked around her backyard, filled her sketch book, and starred in her stories. Eventually, her early occupation blossomed into a full-blown quest to find the strangest, most unusual bird. At the same time she honed her craft as a writer, observing the true strangeness of life itself.

The Tide
by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Ashley Lindsay

A young girl loves her grandpa so much! When they spend the day at the beach, she holds his hand as they go for a walk, and they build sand castles together. But sometimes, its difficult, because Grandpa has become forgetful. Grandpa’s memories are like the tide, Mommy explains. Sometimes, they’re near and full of life. Other times, they’re distant and quiet. The Tide is a story about families, laughter, and how we can help a loved one with dementia live well.

Whale in a Fishbowl
by Troy Howell & Richard Jones

Wednesday is a whale who lives in a fishbowl smack dab in the middle of a city–it’s the only home she’s ever known. Cars whizz around her and people hurry past; even the sun and moon circle above. But if she leaps high enough out of her bowl, Wednesday can see it: a calm bit of blue off in the distance. When a girl in a paisley dress tells Wednesday “You belong in the sea,” the whale starts to wonder, what is the sea? Readers will cheer–and get all choked up– when, one day, Wednesday leaps higher than ever before and sets in motion a breathtaking chain of events that will carry her to her rightful home. Touching, and ultimately uplifting, here is a story about a lonely creature longing to be free–and longing to find someone just like her.

Woodland Dreams
by Karen Jameson and illustrated by Marc Boutavant

In rhyming text, a little girl and her dog wander through the woods, saying goodnight to all her favorite wild animals before finally arriving at her own cabin for a good night’s sleep.

 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading Lists for Youth

Explore the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in books for youth. From visual representation in picture books and graphic novels to fictionalized historical accounts in juvenile and young adult novels, we have books for all readers. When reading about cultures different from our own, we often learn new things about ourselves and sometimes even discover a new interest that last a lifetime.

Children’s Reading List

A Big Mooncake for Little Star
by Grace Lin

Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?

In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.

A Different Pond
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui

As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.

Dumpling Soup
by Jama Kim Rattigan and illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders

Marisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year. But she worries if anyone will eat her funny-looking dumplings. Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures.

Every Night Is Pizza Night
by J. Kenji López-Alt and illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero

Pipo thinks that pizza is the best. No, Pipo knows that pizza is the best. It is scientific fact. But when she sets out on a neighborhood-spanning quest to prove it, she discovers that “best” might not mean what she thought it meant.

Join Pipo as she cooks new foods with her friends Eugene, Farah, Dakota, and Ronnie and Donnie. Each eating experiment delights and stuns her taste buds. Is a family recipe for bibimbap better than pizza? What about a Moroccan tagine that reminds you of home? Or is the best food in the world the kind of food you share with the people you love?

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong

In this Chinese American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.

Grandfather’s Journey
by Allen Say

Through compelling reminiscences of his grandfather’s life in America and Japan, Allen Say delivers a poignant account of his family’s unique cross-cultural experience. He warmly conveys his own love for his two countries and described the strong and constant desire to be in both places at once: When in one country, he invariably misses the other. His grandfather, he tells us, would understand.

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
by Grace Lin

Ling and Ting are two adorable identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving–people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same.

Love, Sophia on the Moon
by Anica Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Mika Song

Life on earth isn’t always fair, so Sophia runs off to the moon, where there are no bedtimes, no time-outs, and no Mom.

But as Sophia and her mom send letters to each other, Mom has a clever comeback for all of Sophia’s angry notes. Home starts to sound not-quite-so-bad, especially when Mom reports that someone from the moon has moved in to Sophia’s old room, they’re having spaghetti for dinner, and they’re reading Sophia’s favorite story at bedtime.

The Most Beautiful Thing
by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khoa Le

Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States. When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother–a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth–who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.

My Footprints 
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Basia Tran

Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels “double different.” She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully’s taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage – just like Thuy.

Sugar in Milk
by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Khoa Le

When I first came to this country, I felt so alone. A young immigrant girl joins her aunt and uncle in a new country that is unfamiliar to her. She struggles with loneliness, with a fierce longing for the culture and familiarity of home, until one day, her aunt takes her on a walk. As the duo strolls through their city park, the girl’s aunt begins to tell her an old myth, and a story within the story begins.

Juvenile Reading List

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
by Lenore Look

Here are some thing you should know about Alvin Ho:

1. He is afraid of everything. Trains, bridges, substitute teachers, girls, school. Everything.

2. He is from Concord, Massachusetts, which is hard to spell.

3. He loves Aquaman, Wonder Woman, all the superheroes of the the world. In fact, he is a superhero himself–Firecracker Man!

4. He is trying very hard to be a gentleman, like his dad, but there are a lot of rules and they are hard to remember.

5. He can talk at home and on the school bus, but never, ever at school. It is just too scar. (See #1.)

And there’s a lot more to learn about this amazing kid, so meet Alvin Ho…

Dragon Pearl
by Yoon Ha Lee

Thirteen-year-old Min c omes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.

Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

Heart of a Samurai
by Margi Preus

In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852
by Lawrence Yep

In 1852, during the height of the California Gold Rush, ten-year-old Wong Ming-Chung makes the dangerous trip to America to join his uncle on his hunt for a fortune. The true treasure for Ming-Chung, though, is America itself. In the midst of the lawless, often hostile environment, he is able to forge an international community of friends.

Kira-Kira
by Cynthia Kadohata

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason and so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare, and it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow, but when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.

Measuring Up 
by Lily LaMotte and art by Ann Xu

Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.

Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food.

On the Horizon
by Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  Composed of poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror.

Prairie Lotus
by Linda Sue Park

Prairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America’s heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople’s prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

Stargazing
by Jen Wang

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?

Under the Blood-Red Sun 
by Graham Salisbury

Tomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats.

But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Young Adult Reading List


Boxers & Saints
by Gene Luen Yang

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

The Downstairs Girl
by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

Monstress, Volume One: Awakening
by Marjorie Liu and art by Sana Takeda

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Skyhunter
by Marie Lu

The Karensa Federation has conquered a dozen countries, leaving Mara as one of the last free nations in the world. Refugees flee to its borders to escape a fate worse than death—transformation into mutant war beasts known as Ghosts, creatures the Federation then sends to attack Mara.

The legendary Strikers, Mara’s elite fighting force, are trained to stop them. But as the number of Ghosts grows and Karensa closes in, defeat seems inevitable.

The Sun Is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

They Called us Enemy
by George Takei, Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and art by Harmony Becker

Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

The War Outside
by Monica Hesse

It’s 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado–until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.

Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a “family internment camp” for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day, and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother’s health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.

With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone–even each other?

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading List for Adults

One month is way too short to fully explore the diverse history and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. You could devote years of study to understanding a heritage as wide as the Pacific and as large as Asia. Make a commitment to read one book in May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. All recommended titles are in the Stonington Public Library collection. Lists for younger readers will follow soon.

Don’t see your favorite book about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on our list? Email us with your choice, even if it’s not in our collection, and we’ll share a composite list of patron recommendations later this month.

Chemistry by Weike Wang

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama

Daniel Abe, a young doctor in Chicago, is finally coming back to Hawai’i. He has his own reason for returning to his childhood home, but it is not to revisit the past, unlike his Uncle Koji. Koji lives with the memories of Daniel’s mother, Mariko, the love of his life, and the scars of a life hard-lived. He can’t wait to see Daniel, who he’s always thought of as a son, but he knows the time has come to tell him the truth about his mother, and his father. But Daniel’s arrival coincides with the awakening of the Mauna Loa volcano, and its dangerous path toward their village stirs both new and long ago passions in their community.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee

If you think McDonald’s is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese), Jennifer 8 Lee, traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped our country.

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience.

Inhabiting four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption—this novel captures and capsizes over a century of our history, showing that even as family bonds are denied and broken, a community can survive—as much through love as blood.

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of belonging and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque adventure — at its heart, it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and our ideals have been sacrificed to the gods of finance, where a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds of 9/11 wreak havoc around the world.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it?

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him, in today’s America.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

The Resisters by Gish Jen

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet–the new face of government–is “Aunt Nettie”: a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair “Netted” still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on the water if they’re not.

An astonishing story of an America that seems only too possible, and of a family struggling to maintain its humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value–even their very existence.

Roughhouse Friday by Jaed Coffin

Coffin washed up in Alaska after a forty-day solo kayaking journey. Born to an American father and a Thai mother who had met during the Vietnam War, Coffin never felt particularly comfortable growing up in his rural Vermont town. Following his parents’ prickly divorce and a childhood spent drifting between his father’s new white family and his mother’s Thai roots, Coffin didn’t know who he was, much less what path his life should follow. His father’s notions about what it meant to be a man—formed by King Arthur legends and calcified in the military—did nothing to help. After college, he took to the road, working odd jobs and sleeping in his car before heading north.

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Alisak, Prany, and Noi—three orphans united by devastating loss—must do what is necessary to survive the perilous landscape of 1960s Laos. When they take shelter in a bombed out field hospital, they meet Vang, a doctor dedicated to helping the wounded at all costs. Soon the teens are serving as motorcycle couriers, delicately navigating their bikes across the fields filled with unexploded bombs, beneath the indiscriminate barrage from the sky.

In a world where the landscape and the roads have turned into an ocean of bombs, we follow their grueling days of rescuing civilians and searching for medical supplies, until Vang secures their evacuation on the last helicopters leaving the country. It’s a move with irrevocable consequences—and sets them on disparate and treacherous paths across the world.

Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The MetamorphosisThe Scarlet LetterThe Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.

The Woman Warrior / China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Woman Warrior is Kingston’s disturbing and fiercely beautiful account of growing up Chinese-American in California. The young Kingston lives in two worlds: the America to which her parents have emigrated, a place inhabited by white “ghosts,” and the China of her mother’s “talk stories,” a place haunted by the ghosts of the past. Kingston learns to fill in the mystifying spaces in her mother’s stories with stories of her own, engaging her family’s past and her own present with anger, imagination, and dazzling passion.

China Men is Kingston’s unforgettable imaginative journey into the hearts and minds of generations of Chinese men in America, from those who worked on the transcontinental railroad in the 1840s to those who fought in Vietnam. Mixing vivid fables and legends, personal stories from her own family, and details of the historical hardships faced by Chinese immigrants in different times and places, Kingston illuminates their long, arduous search for the Gold Mountain.

 

New Monthly Program: Saturday Solve

Photo by Chip Griffin

Join Chris on the first Saturday of every month, starting on April 3, to solve word puzzles together. He’ll focus on crosswords but will also branch out into other formats. Everyone will work together for an hour to solve puzzles. Of course. But we’ll also take a deeper look at the inner workings from grid layout to cluing standards. Give your wordplay muscle a serious workout.

Register on our Events page, or click here. The first Saturday Solve is on April 3 from 11am-12pm. You only need to register once to receive the Zoom invitation for April and all future months.

 

Get a Clue: Word Puzzles for All Ages

The next time you stop by the library, ask our team for a word puzzle. We can hook you up with a puzzle that is just right for your age and solving level. The library doesn’t charge for printing, so all you need to provide is the pencil.

The crossword is by far the most common. Yet even crosswords come in different types and sizes. Most daily puzzles are 15×15 with an average of 75 words. Sunday puzzles increase to 21×21 and approximately 140 words, and the New York Times publishes a jumbo-sized crossword (~50×50) in its annual “Puzzlemania” featuring hundreds of words. For the faint of heart, you can also find minis and midis ranging from 5×5 to 10×10.

There’s a wide world of word puzzles beyond crosswords that range from mindless to mind-numbing. We’d be happy to help you explore. So whether you have the whole afternoon or a few short minutes, there’s a puzzle for you. Solve at your own pace, and seek as little or as much assistance as you like. There are no word puzzle referees, so you make your own rules. The trick is to have fun. Heck, maybe you’ll even learn something along the way.

For kids ages 8 and up, the library offers a wide variety of puzzles from Puzzlesnacks in print only. For adults, you can access free puzzles online, on your smartphone, or in print at the library:

  1. The Atlantic – weekday minis/midis: online
  2. Crosswords with Friends – daily 13×13: app
  3. The Daily Beast – daily 10×10: online
  4. Los Angeles Times – daily 15×15 & daily 5×5: online | mini
  5. New York Magazine – weekly Sunday puzzle: online
  6. Universal – daily 15×15: online
  7. USA Today – daily 15×15: online | app
  8. Vox – daily 9×9: online
  9. Wall Street Journal – daily 15×15: online
  10. Washington Post – weekly Sunday puzzle: online