Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. She is content enough—until a boy with eyes the color of the Atlantic Ocean moves in next door. Their complicated romance begins over IM and grows through a wunderkammer of vignettes, illustrations, charts, and more.

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.*

This critically acclaimed YA favorite is now in theaters as a feature length film. A perfect book club pick!

*Synopsis taken from the author’s website: www.nicolayoon.com

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

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The true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.

I won’t say much more than that simple one-sentence synopsis and a heart-felt plea to PLEASE READ this fascinating account of a group of dedicated African American female mathematicians known as “human computers” who used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. After you’ve read this phenomenal story I would implore you to also watch the film–a fantastic adaptation starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. Highly recommended.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Even before the highly anticipated miniseries premiered on HBO, this book has spread like wildfire–due mostly to word of mouth. However, if you somehow missed all the hoopla surrounding it, this is a friendly reminder to take a look at this well written and entertaining page turner–preferably, before you watch the adaptation.

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Someone is dead and it happened at a school trivia night. The reader finds this out immediately but it is over the course of the book that we find out why and how and ultimately whodunit. Told in alternating points of view, the book follows three mothers whose lives intersect through their school-aged children. Each woman is well-developed and interesting and, as the reader, we care for all of them while still desperately racing to the end of the novel to find out exactly what happened at Trivia Night.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

To kick off a month of blog posts about recent film adaptations of popular books, I’d like to start with a novel that’s in my Top 5 Favorite Books (ever!)–American Gods.

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Shadow Moon is released from prison the day after his beloved wife dies. Unsure of how to proceed with his life, Shadow is hired by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. What follows is a strange journey across America where Shadow encounters divinities who are losing their power because they are no longer believed in (old gods from overseas–like Odin and Anansi–who traveled to the new world with the immigrants who worshiped them) and the dangerous “new gods” of technology, freeways, and television who want the old guard vanquished so they can fully reign. Mythic, poignant, and not to be missed. Read the book before you watch the upcoming series.

 

Favorite New-ish Audiobooks: Nonfiction

Listening to nonfiction books as opposed to reading the print has always been more effective for me. The narrator keeps the pace moving and if the wording is dense I find it simpler to understand it as a listener. There have been many exceptional audio productions of recent nonfiction bestsellers. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him written by David Henry & Joe Henry, read by Dion Graham David and Joe Henry bring Richard Pryor to life both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the influences that shaped both his persona and his art.

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Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America written by Jill Levoy, read by Rebecca Lowman Jill Leovy, crime reporter for the LA Times, examines why the homicide rates for blacks in America are so much higher than any other ethnic group.

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The Gene: An Intimate History written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, read by Dennis Boutisikaris A magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: what becomes of being human when we learn to ‘read’ and ‘write’ our own genetic information?

 

Favorite Audiobooks: Series

Do you have a long commute to work everyday? Or do you find yourself cooking and cleaning at home for long stretches of time? Maybe you’re going on a trip across the country? An audiobook series could be the perfect thing for you.

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The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon In the first and title book of the series, it is 1945, a former combat nurse, back from the war and on her honeymoon, touches a boulder in an ancient Scottish ruin and is instantly transported to a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in 1743. A wonderful mix of genres–historical fiction, fantasy, time-travel–this series is a fan favorite.

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The Game of Thrones Series by George R.R. Martin These books are enormous and perfectly suited for audio. In the first and title book of the series, an enigmatic event forever changed the seasons in Winterfell. Thus the land was blessed with lush summers and simultaneously cursed with harsh winters. Now, Winterfell’s borders are being increasingly encroached, forcing the prominent Stark family to defend its kingdom from enemies both old and new, including the rival Lannister House and a legendary demon.

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The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling Whether you’ve already read about the world’s most famous boy wizard or you’ve always meant to, listening to the audiobooks is a real treat. Jim Dale’s narration is absolute perfection! Begin with Harry’s first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Favorite Audiobooks: From Spooky to Scary

This week we’ll be taking a look at three spine-tingling audiobooks. You will find that with these types of books the narrator makes ALL the difference and you can rest assured that the following narrators are excellent.

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The Graveyard Book written and performed by Neil Gaiman Nobody Owens (aka ‘Bod’) is a normal boy being raised in a graveyard. In a similar fashion to The Jungle Book, Bod is adopted by the inhabitants of his unique home; separate tales are told about Bod’s interactions with ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

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Heart-Shaped Box written by Joe Hill, performed by Stephen Lang Rock star Judas Coyne is a collector of the bizarre and grotesque, so when he sees a ghost for sale on the internet he buys it. It comes delivered in a black heart-shaped box. Entertaining and very scary, with exceptional narration.

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Doctor Sleep written by Stephen King, performed by Will Patton This sequel to The Shining follows middle-aged recovering addict Danny Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from murderous supernatural forces. A very good book that became a great audiobook.

Favorite New-ish Audiobooks

This month I would like to focus on one of my favorite ways to read–audiobooks! Every week I will focus on some crowd-pleasing new-ish (2015-17) audiobooks. This week’s spotlighted subcategory is “Audiobooks Narrated by the Author:”

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A View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction written and narrated by Neil Gaiman Let’s begin with my favorite author/narrator: Neil Gaiman. Whether he is reading Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe or one of his own children’s books, his voice is simply wonderful. Don’t believe me? Check out A View from the Cheap Seats–a series of speeches, essays, and book introductions Gaiman has written over the years. I won’t be giving anything away if I confide that my favorite selections deal with the wonder and importance of libraries. With the short length of each piece this is the perfect audiobook to listen to on short trips around town.

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Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person written and narrated by Shonda Rhimes Okay, I admit it. I am mildly obsessed with this book. As an introverted librarian in rural CT, I initially questioned what I could possibly have in common with Shonda Rhimes–the hit creator, writer, and producer of mega-hits Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Well, I promise you there will be parts of this eye-opening book that relate directly to your life no matter how far removed you may feel from an iconic television writer like Ms. Rhimes. Give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.

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The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy written and narrated by Rainn Wilson Rainn Wilson is an actor–best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on The Office. Wilson is also the founder of Soul Pancake–a media company that believes in the power of art to bring joy and awareness to the world. Wilson is sincere and very funny in his writing and narration of this book. Add to all this an unusual upbringing and a fascinating look into the Baha’i faith and you have an interesting and highly entertaining audiobook.

Stephen King’s Short Stories

A month of short story posts would not be complete without a week dedicated to Stephen King. For the uninitiated Stephen King is a popular and prolific horror novelist, but for those of us more familiar with his work, he is also a brilliant short story writer. Here are 6 must-read short story collections from the Master of the Macabre:

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Night Shift (1978) Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb. In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more.*

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Skeleton Crew (1986) A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against destruction. A trip to the attic becomes a journey to hell. A woman driving a Jaguar finds a scary shortcut to paradise. An idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil. And a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged.*

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Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993) Featuring twenty short horror stories, a television script, an essay, and a poem, Nightmares and Dreamscapes contains unique and chilling plots including everything from dead rock star zombies to evil toys seeking murderous revenge.*

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Everything’s Eventual (2002) King is in terrifying top form in these short stories, taking readers down a road less traveled (for good reason) in the blockbuster ebook “Riding the Bullet”; bad table service turns bloody when you stop in for “Lunch at the Gotham Café”; and terror becomes déjà vu all over again when you get “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French”—along with eleven more stories that will keep you awake until daybreak. Enter a nightmarish mindscape of unrelenting horror and shocking revelations that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our time.*

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Just After Sunset (2008) Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating—and then terrifying—journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, “The Gingerbread Girl” is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable—and resourceful—as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Wait Until Dark. In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, “N.,” which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient’s irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside…or keep the world from falling victim to it.*

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015) Stephen King has dazzled an entire generation of readers with his genius as a prominent writer of short fiction. Now in his latest collection, he once again assembles a generous array of unforgettable, tantalizing tales—including those that, until recently, have never been published in a book (such as the story “Cookie Jar,” which is exclusive to this edition). There are thrilling connections between these works—themes of mortality, the afterlife, guilt, and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. Magnificent, eerie, and utterly compelling, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is one of Stephen King’s finest gifts to readers everywhere—a master storyteller at his very best.*

Enjoy these briliant and sufficiently scary stories!

*Synopses taken from the publisher.

The Best American Short Stories of the Century

Are you curious about the medium of short stories but aren’t quite sure where to start? Well, if you don’t mind carrying around a big, doorstop-sized book then this is for you!

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Edited by John Updike and released in 1999, The Best American Short Stories of the Century is a perfect introduction to the art of the short story and to some of it’s most prolific writers including Annie Proulx, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, and John Cheever.

Also, feel free to check out any of the yearly Best American Short Stories releases. Every volume is full of fantastic stories written by an array of talented writers and the introduction by each year’s guest editor is absolutely worth a read.

Enjoy!