It's our annual roundup of recommended books! Peruse the list and get that special someone a great holiday gift or find something for yourself.
Happy Holidays from the Post Learning Commons and Drexel Library!
The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs.
Somewhat predictable, but deeply satisfying. Natalie Harper finds herself running her deceased Mother's cherished bookstore, where customers are family, and for every person the "right" book. Struggling to try and keep the bookstore open, caring for her aging Grandfather, Natalie embarks on a journey of self-reflection that transforms her life for the better. A book of twists, turns, laughter and heartache!
- Mary Ann McMenamin
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
Musician Michelle Zauner, of the group Japanese Breakfast, details her experience taking care of her mother during her terminal illness. The memoir is not simply an outline of her experience during this difficult time but demonstrates her reconnection to her Korean culture through food. As she learns more about food, Zauner is creating new memories and rituals with which to remember her mother.
Our Country Friends: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
It was only a matter of time before a book about the quarantine appeared. Alexander (Sasha) Senderovsky invites close friends to shelter with him, his wife, and daughter at his bucolic house in the Hudson Valley. Reviewers have likened the novel to Boccaccio’s The Decameron, in the way the group gathers to wait out the threatening plague. As can be expected, pandemic stress, failed romances, and past mistakes create a funny and engaging read.
- Anne Krakow
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
This was a good year to find a smart series of novellas that made me both laugh and think. The Murderbot Diaries series includes the Hugo and Nebula award winning titles All Systems Red, and Network Effect. The central character is a self-aware, soap-opera addicted, security android who struggles against its role as a killing machine for a nefarious corporation. When Murderbot gets assigned as protection for a band of thoughtful scientists, it must grapple with its evolving sense of identity, and the challenges of human relationships.
- Jenifer Baldwin
Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci
For those who enjoy food and travel (most of us), the CNN series "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" (season 2 will arrive in 2022) was a pandemic joy. This is a food-focused memoir. He has published cookbooks The Tucci Cookbook (2012) and The Tucci Table (2014). Taste is a book of anecdotes, and though spotty in covering the author’s life (don’t expect an autobiography) it’s a charming little book for fans and foodies.
- Cynthia Slater
The most dangerous book : the battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham
The story behind Ulysses tracks uncannily with current events: a novel written through a pandemic, polarizing political and social upheaval, then banned amidst a growing panic over books seen as a threat to traditional moral values. Birmingham details the risks undertaken by the women and men who were crucial to bringing Ulysses to readers, from Sylvia Beach, Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats, and the lawyer John Quinn (art collecting contemporary of Albert Barnes) who represented Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, two women charged with violating obscenity laws by publishing the first chapter of Ulysses in their literary magazine. The book connects the artistic movements and personalities of the post WWI period and culminates with the 1933 court decision in United States v. One Book Called Ulysses which granted Random House the right to sell Ulysses.
SJU Library has editions of Ulysses that include the foreword by Morris Ernst (ACLU) and the 5-page court decision that guided the future application of obscenity standards.
- Deborah Lenert
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
I read this during the year the library was closed on the second floor at lunchtime. It is compelling and has a great plot about someone going from a very techy job to a hands- on job. The twist is how out of control natural things like sourdough starter can get. It was a great read during an uncertain year.
Other Minds, The Octopus, the Sea, and the deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey Smith
This was an enjoyable book about the minds of cephalopods who Smith compares to meeting aliens because their consciousness is so different. He quotes “Mischief and craft are plainly seen to be characteristics of this creature.” —Claudius Aelianus, third century A.D.”
- Lesley Carey
Destined: by Choice or Circumstance by Michael D. Brooks
When a starfighter pilot and his gunner are left for dead, they find themselves trapped on a planet, in another universe, in the middle of a war that has been raging for generations. They must decide whether to find a way home or join the fight.
This science-fiction thriller is an enjoyable mix of action, adventure, mystery, surprises, and humor.
I loved Destined by choice or circumstance. I didn’t put it down until I finished it. I hope this becomes a series, and if so, I can't wait for the next book.
-- Martha VanAuken