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SJU Library Blog

Season's Readings 2020

by Anne Krakow on 2020-12-11T13:06:11-05:00 | Comments

This year’s list is full of interesting book suggestions, with something for everyone.

Peruse the list and get that special someone a great holiday gift, find something for yourself, or simply use the list itself as a gift.

Happy Holidays from the Post Learning Commons and Drexel Library! 


Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love

by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker\

Philadelphia Daily News journalists Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker uncover abuse of power and police corruption when Benny, a drug dealing confidential informant, comes to them with a story he’s risking his life to tell.  The story reads like detective fiction except the characters, from the mayor to the chief of police and the head of the F.O.P., will be familiar to anyone who follows the news in Philadelphia. Gritty street characters and dogged, relentless journalists who risk their own safety come to life in this telling by Ruderman and Laker, 2010 winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism.

-Susan Clayton



by Laurent Binet

HHhH is an experimental retelling of the Czech assassination plot against Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the SS secret police and the man responsible for implementing the Holocaust.  The author writes as much about his lady friends and his own struggle with the insufficiencies of history as he does about the plot.  Yet, somehow, these authorial intrusions cultivate a deep compassion for the two assassins.  Fresher, and more immediate in effect than a typical historical novel, HHhH is a pointed reflection on evil and human resistance, and well worth its challenges to read.

-Jenifer Baldwin


Ducks, Newburyport 

by Lucy Ellmann

The running inner monologue of a 40-something woman living in Ohio in the Trump era with her husband, four children, pets and chickens. She bakes pies to sell while watching the news or old movies, ruminating all the while about her family and friends, pioneer history and the worrying state of the nation and the planet. Bonus story of a mountain lion woven throughout. An amazing read! It is nearly 1000 pages, but well worth the time. Read it now while the references are current; future readers of this absorbing novel may need a line-by-line guide like Ulysses.

-Naomi Cohen



Like Crazy: Life with My Mother and Her Invisible Friends

by Dan Mathews

In this memoir, Dan Mathews brings his aging, and--as the title suggests--somewhat unstable, mother to live with him.  Their house is his first foray into home-ownership, a fixer-upper built in 1870, though he knows very little about how to perform the necessary repairs.  Dan's strength is in making friends and creating a community of those friends.  He, his mother, and their friends find the fun in life as she ages, despite her worsening physical and psychiatric issues.

-Sarah Bolce

Accidentally Wes Anderson 

by Wally Koval

One word review: happy.  

I'm a Wes Anderson fan, and my pandemic movie playlist has included Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest Hotel (my favorite), and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Check out the Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson to get an idea, but it doesn't replicate the quality of the images and detailed descriptions in the book.   

If you're not a Wes Anderson fan, I can recommend:

Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders  (there's a children's version, too).     

-Cynthia Slater


American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750-1865

by Jeremy Zallen 

An intriguing socio-economic history of the relentless use of animal, mineral, and human resources in the production and utilization of several prominent (and dangerous) sources of artificial lighting.  Recommended for those interested in the far-reaching webs of production, technology, labor, and commerce that drew upon, and reinforced, one another from whale oil to kerosene.  

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric 

by Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann  

A fast-paced look at the downfall of an iconic American corporation and stock market darling.  Wall Street Journal reporters Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann highlight the roles of accounting maneuvers, corporate reinventions, macroeconomic challenges, and various management decisions that brought General Electric from soaring heights to near collapse.  

-Dan Holden



by Catherine Coulter

If you love solving crime mysteries you’ll really enjoy Catherine Coulter’s latest installment of her FBI series.

Dillion Savich and Lacey Sherlock are FBI agents who not only go after notorious criminals but do it as husband and wife. In Deadlock, a female prisoner is out to get revenge on Agent Savich. She plans on taking from him the things he loves the most: his family. Packages containing puzzle pieces begin arriving at the Hoover building for Savich. A fellow agent notices that the pieces start to form the image of a town she used to live in, sending her on a mission to help Savich solve the mystery before it’s too late. And if that isn’t enough, there is a young woman who must solve a family secret involving her grandfather and a mysterious medium named Zoltan.

-Martha Van Auken


Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI 

by David Grann

New York Times bestselling author, David Grann, precisely narrates an account of brutal U.S. history that you wish could never have happened in our country, but must be told as it brings about the faith-saving actors of our nation who risked their lives to bring about justice for an Indian tribe who suffered greatly.The Osage Indians were chased from their Kansas reservation in 1872 and moved peacefully at the behest of the U.S. government to the rocky, unwanted land of Northern Oklahoma. They lived peacefully until decades later when oil was discovered deep below the earth which brought great wealth and opportunity to the Osage people.  The persistence of a Texas Ranger, and newly developed undercover operations, bring about the truth of what happened to an innocent community, and the birth of the newly developing U.S. entity, the FBI. A historical "whodunit" that will keep you engaged long into cold nights spent in your cozy armchair this winter season. 

-Julia Bodnar O'Donnell

Dark Water by Robert Clark: 9780767926492 | Books

All the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, 16):  Penny, Louise: 9781250145239: Books

Dark Water 

by Robert Clark

This helped me to understand the incredible patience needed by conservators who waited 9 years for a Cimabue crucifix, @1288 to dry out before they could start conservation measures. I have always been inspired by the story of the Florence flood which was the start of the Conservation movement. The author read about the flood when he was 14 years old in Life magazine and he tells an amazing story of living in Florence and seeing evidence of the flood everywhere. It helped my impatience to read this and made this year seem shorter. The photographs are great.

All the Devils Are Here

by Louise Penny

The whole series of mysteries about the small Canadian town of Three Pines are engrossing and interesting. The descriptions of food are amazing and I love that one of the main characters is an archivist. This one takes place in Paris and is wonderful.

-Lesley Carey

Fleishman Is in Trouble

by Taffy Brodesser-Akner 

In Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel, 41-year-old Toby Fleishman is going through a bitter divorce from his wife, Rachel, while working as a hepatologist and raising two children. The story follows his life after his wife disappears for several weeks. Without giving too much away, the book takes unexpected turns once Rachel becomes the narrator. An engrossing novel about love, relationships, and gender narrative.

-Anne Krakow 

Against the Loveless World: A Novel
by Susan Abulhawa
Lately I have been drawn to the stories of refugees, who uproot their lives for reasons no one would choose, without any certainty about returning.  The protagonist in Against the Loveless World is a character who will stick with you, and her story lays bare what it means to choose to flee or fight in impossible circumstances, and what it takes to retain or create a sense of place in the world.

-Deborah Lenert


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