Like mysteries and thrillers, but find yourself stuck in a never-ending loop of Patterson’s and Baldacci’s? Check out our list of the best mysteries and thrillers of 2017 that have flown under the “best seller” radar. Whether you like historical mysteries, psychological thrillers, or detective procedural- there is something for everyone!
Toledo Lucas County Public Library
Tarell McCraney’s having a pretty good couple of years. He’s the playwright who last year won an Oscar for writing the daring screenplay for the exquisite movie Moonlight, and next year he’ll see his play Choir Boy open on Broadway.
He’s also part of a long tradition of African-American playwrights who have long been at the forefront of pushing the art form of the American theater into new artistic, political, and popular territory. Whether the plays are doggedly realistic, bitingly satirical, or wildly expressionistic, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has on its shelves a variety of examples from this tradition that are well worth reading. A selective compendium follows.
The first African-American playwright to reach Broadway with a non-musical play was Willis Richardson with The Chip Woman’s Fortune in 1923, a play you don’t hear about too much anymore. But Lorraine Hansberry was the first African-American woman to hit Broadway (collaborating with Lloyd Richards, a black director), and the play she took there in 1959 has been enormously influential. A searing family drama about class and race and community pride, A Raisin in the Sun is a cornerstone of American literature and continues to dialogue with successive plays and writers to this day.
As disquieting as the economic realities exposed by Hansberry were, the naturalism and domestic setting of her play made her uncompromising vision of the world digestible to a broad audience. Just a few years later, the playwright LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) took a very different approach. His 1964 play Dutchman is starkly allegorical and viscerally violent, following the tumultuous interaction between a white woman and a black man on a subway car.
James Baldwin, of course, is a colossal figure in American thought and literature, known primarily for his bracing prose. But he also wrote plays. Most notable is his 1964 play Blues for Mister Charlie, a history play inspired by the horrific murder of Emmett Till.
Vastly different in style is Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy, which shared the Obie award with Dutchman in 1964. Ambitious and exhilarating and occasionally exhausting, Kennedy’s play about racism and stereotypes is absurdist and dreamlike, featuring masks and hair loss and an enormous statue of Queen Victoria. Even though she emerged on the scene decades ago, Kennedy is still relevant; the University of Toledo produced Funnyhouse as recently as 2003, and her latest play He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box just opened in New York last month.
Meanwhile, Charles Gordone was the first African-American playwright to receive the Pulitzer Prize for drama, in 1970, for his play No Place to Be Somebody. Inspired by what he observed in his job as a bartender at a Greenwich Village watering hole, the play’s story of struggling urbanites chasing broken dreams seems descended from Hansberry and O’Neill, but with the sordid and flashy elements of gangsters and gunplay mixed in to goose the action.
Gordone’s play has a rough poetry to it, but for a play that takes lyricism to a whole other level check out Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf. Shange calls this theatrical work, a collection of twenty poetic and idiosyncratically punctuated monologues, a choreopoem, because each character’s speech – some about very difficult subjects and upsetting experiences – is composed to be paired with music and choreography.
Samm-Art Williams’s 1978 play Home was originally produced by the Negro Ensemble Company and transferred to Broadway where it was nominated for a Tony. Like some of the other plays on this list, Home – a kind of staged bildungsroman – chronicles the experiences of a character who enters an urban milieu and is buffeted by crime and economic woes and poor choices. What differentiates the play from a lot of serious issue-oriented theater is its sense of humor and its ultimately sunny outlook; this protagonist, when things are going poorly, merely hypothesizes that God must be “on vacation in Miami.”
Charles Fuller’s 1982 Pulitzer-Prize-winning A Soldier’s Play, by contrast, doesn’t have much humor, but it does do interesting things with genre, appropriating the conventions of a murder mystery to explore violent bigotry and internalized racism. With its use of flashbacks and multiple locations, Fuller’s play is thoroughly cinematic, and it made an effortless leap to the screen in a film adaptation featuring Denzel Washington.
Before George C. Wolfe became one of the most celebrated and influential theatrical directors in the country, shepherding major works by other writers like Tony Kushner to the stage and running the Public Theatre, he wrote The Colored Museum, an exuberant and bitingly satirical series of sketches best remembered for “The Last Mama-On-The-Couch Play,” an irreverent parody of A Raisin in the Sun.
There are few more towering figures in American theater than the playwright August Wilson. His ten-play oeuvre, The Pittsburgh Cycle, chronicles the twentieth-century black American experience decade by decade in plays that range from rambling kitchen-sink naturalism to magic realism while always maintaining a remarkable tonal unity. Probably the most famous of these plays is Fences, which Denzel Washington turned into an award-winning film.
Encouraged in college to become a playwright by James Baldwin, Suzan-Lori Parks exploded onto the scene with early plays like The America Play, which established her as someone who writes for the stage with a grammar and orthography that are all her own. She explores about race and America and history by approximating a heightened version of Black English and telling unconventionally theatrical stories about characters with evocative names and symbolic resonance.
With two actors playing multiple roles, Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith explores how being dark-skinned or light-skinned influences its characters’ experiences of the pressures exerted by race and class – and shapes their relationships with one another. Orlandersmith is currently in New York performing a new play of hers, Until the Flood, about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Lydia Diamond often writes about affluent African-Americans, in plays that typically open with congenial interactions among friends and colleagues until conflicts over issues like race and poverty boil to the surface. Check out her play Stick Fly.
And Passing Strange, an acclaimed musical by a playwright and performer who calls himself Stew, combines autobiography, allegorical drama and rock & roll into a highly entertaining mélange.
One of the most significant writers in the American theater today is Lynn Nottage, a prolific and eclectic playwright who’s also the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama twice: in 2009 for Ruined, a riff on Brecht’s Mother Courage that interrogates the human capacity for resilience and compromise amidst the unrelenting brutality of wartime in Congo; and in 2017 for Sweat, a portrait of working-class malaise in the 21st-century American heartland.
The playwright Katori Hall has written a number of plays and won several awards, but thus far has attracted the most attention for her slyly metaphysical two-hander The Mountaintop, which imagines an interaction between Martin Luther King and a hotel housekeeper on the night before his assassination. Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett played the roles on Broadway, and the play helped initiate a conversation about theatrical representation of race when another theater produced the play with a white actor in the King role.
Thomas Bradshaw, meanwhile, is a provocateur, writing plays about violence, sexual aberrations, and racism that are designed to make the audience uncomfortable. His (possibly ironically titled) play Intimacy, about pornography, is no exception.
And then there’s one of the most striking success stories of the recent American theater, the self-made writer/director/actor Tyler Perry. He went from writing, self-producing, and starring in his own plays at community theaters to making feature films and being named the highest paid person in entertainment by Forbes magazine. But his plays are where it all began, and several are available in their theatrical form on DVD from the library, including Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Marriage Counselor, Madea’s Big Happy Family, The Haves and the Have Nots, Neighbors From Hell, and Madea On the Run.
Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Eric P. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/plays-by-african-american-playwrights.
The most jarring thing about “A Good Day,” by Kevin Henkes, is the first page, the way it begins:
“It was a bad day…”
Kind of seems like false advertising, yeah? I mean, look at the title. The title, Henkes! There were promises made!
But indeed, the first half of the book is all about characters having a real bummer of a day.
Things get better. And by the end, the way they get better intersects unexpectedly with the events of the first half of the book, an elegant overlap that may satisfy fans of “This is Us” or, depending on your tastes, “Pulp Fiction.”
The plot’s overall simplicity is part of the book’s genius. Things were bad, things got better. Meaning what? Things aren’t as bad as you think they are? You should sit tight and wait for improvements to happen? Life is an unpredictable mosaic of suffering and joy? The fact that Henkes doesn’t tell you what it’s all supposed to mean is another part of the book’s genius.
Which is no surprise: writer/illustrator Henkes has a history of folding complicated emotions into deceptively simple narrative packages.
Picture Books by Kevin Henkes
Above all, “A Good Day” is not so much about luck or fate or fairness – it’s about feelings. Often feelings are directly influenced by outside circumstances, and sometimes you can control the impact of outside circumstances by managing your reaction to them, but the fact remains that sometimes you’re the little yellow bird who lost his tail feather, and sometimes you’re the little brown squirrel who found the biggest nut ever, and either way, there are going to be feels.
And one of the biggest challenges about being human, at least for those of us who are somewhere roughly between the ages of 2 and 115, is confronting and controlling and understanding our feelings. Good thing there are picture books to help us with that.
Picture Books About Feelings
What is the 101 Picture Book Challenge and How Do You Take It?
The 101 Picture Book Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians hand picked the titles on the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.
To get started, register online. You can track your progress online or if you prefer a paper log booklet, pick one up at your neighborhood Library. The books are organized into categories but you can read the books in any order and at your own pace. When you read all 101 titles, you earn a free picture book (while supplies last).
This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.
Whether or not one chooses to gorge on Thanksgiving, fall is a fantastic time to reflect upon the importance of gratitude in our lives. We so often get bogged down in what is “wrong” and needs fixing – take a moment to balance that load and consider the many (many, MANY) good things we have, big and small, to help us through each day. Here are a few ideas to get us started ….
Holiday Cookbooks We Are Thankful to Have
Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Amy H. at http://www.toledolibrary.org/blog/november-thankful-reads.
Make your own beauty products, cleansers, soaps, candles and more at home year-round. These natural products are better for you, the environment and they make great gifts to boot!
Homemade Beauty Products and Natural Cleansers
Tired of wondering exactly what went into her beauty products, holistic health and wellness coach Jules Aron decided to make her own. Whipping up a luxurious face mask using little more than honey, apricots, and coconut oil, and an acne-fighting toner with cooling cucumber and antioxidant-rich green tea, she knew without a doubt that no preservatives or toxic chemicals were used. In Fresh & Pure, Aron explains how to use fruit, flowers, herbs, and minerals to craft healthy beauty products that promote radiant skin, strong nails, and shiny hair. With this helpful guide, readers will be able to pamper themselves from head to toe with aromatic, forward-thinking potions like charcoal soap, strawberry rose facial mist, pineapple sunflower body scrub, and aloe and avocado hair conditioner.
Natural Soap At Home : How to Make Felted Soap, Wine Soap, Fruit Soap, Goat’s Milk Soap and Much More by Liz McQuerry
The creator of the natural skin care line Moon Magic, Liz McQuerry offers here a step-by-step guide for natural cold-process soap crafting. Mostly utilizing kitchen ingredients to create a variety of innovative soap blends-including felted soap, beer soap, and seasonal soaps – McQuerry will put you in touch with your inner alchemist. From body bars to hair care bars, with wonderful tidbits and advice on herbs and essential oil blends, you and your family will enjoy a clean like never before. Here are instructions for: Mermaid Kisses Salty Sea Soap. Golden Coconut Milk Soap. Wine and Rose Soap. Felted Soap Stones. Refreshing Lemon Solid Shampoo Bars. Beard Wash Solid Soap Bars. And more! After you learn to make your own soap, you’ll also discover how to scent, color, design, troubleshoot, and even sell your soap. McQuerry’s soaps make for attractive and personal bathroom and kitchen décor at home, as well as nifty gifts for just about any occasion.
The Handmade Mama : Simple Crafts, Healthy Recipes, and Natural Bath + Body Products for Mama and Baby by Mary Helen Leonard
Many of the everyday products we rely on through pregnancy and baby’s first year are actually quite simple to make at home with safe and natural ingredients. Making your own food, homemade skin care products, and everyday objects allows you to choose exactly what you put on and into your body. With help from Mary Helen Leonard, natural lifestyle writer of the blog Mary Makes Good, you’ll create handmade items for mama and baby using sustainable materials. You pick the color. You choose the ingredients. You make adjustments to suit your own tastes and needs. There’s nothing better than custom-made, and when you do it yourself it can actually be affordable! The techniques you’ll discover in “The Handmade Mama” will make cooking, sewing, and planning your own healthy baby projects a breeze. From ginger syrup for upset stomachs to baby powder, changing mats, food purees, teethers, and simple toys, this book is stuffed with useful projects, tips, and sidebars for a natural pregnancy and baby’s first year that you’ll cherish.
Beehive Alchemy : Projects and Recipes Using Honey, Beeswax, Propolis, and Pollen to Make your Own Soap, Candles, Creams, Salves and More by Petra Ahnert
From crayons to cough drops, cookies to candles, “Beehive Alchemy” offers a comprehensive introduction to incorporating the miracle of bees into everyday life. “Beehive Alchemy” is a continuation of Petra Ahnert’s best-selling “Beeswax Alchemy.” With this new book, beekeepers (and bee lovers) will learn about the benefits and attributes of beeswax, honey, propolis, and more alongside a full range of projects and techniques to process and harness the amazing gifts of bees. Whether you keep bees or just love them, “Beehive Alchemy” will become your go-to comprehensive guide for hive-to-home creations.
More ways to inspire your creative spirit …
This is part of a series of blog posts dedicated to creating handmade gifts.
Crafty Library Blog Posts
Give 3 Get 3
Personalized Recommendations Just for You!
Looking for your next great read?Let us help you!Tell us what you’ve enjoyed reading, watching or listening to, and our librarians will give you personalized recommendations.No algorithms, cookies or data mining – just real experts in your community sharing their love of great books, music and movies with you. We call it Give 3 Get 3.Get started today at ToledoLibrary.org/Give3Get!
Originally posted by Amy H. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/make-your-own-natural-homemade-gifts
Over the past few years the comic book industry seems to have re-entered a golden age, at least in terms of quality. There is a comic or graphic novel for almost everybody, and many of them can be found on the shelves of your local Toledo Lucas County Public Library or in one of our many digital collections, like hoopla.
If you’re just getting into reading comics, or looking to read the cream of the crop, here are some of the best new comics and graphic novels from 2018.
Notable Comics and Graphic Novels from 2018
Print / Digital
Berlin by Jason Lutes
In this opus, Jason Lutes examines the intricacies of the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of pre-war Berlin. He shows us their wants and desires in a way that will make you realize that when it comes down to it, people just want to live their lives in the best way possible. Their stories are timely and Lutes demonstrates artistic mastery with a clean black and white art style that engrosses readers in the massiveness of a diverse and bustling city.
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
A woman disappears under mysterious circumstances, leading to an entanglement of characters who would have otherwise had no impact on one another.
In “Sabrina,” Nick Drnaso gives us a harrowing take on conjecture in our era of fake news. This is a personal story about how media can influence the behavior of people at an individual level. Our anxieties can become amplified and our views distorted by missing information.
X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor
Ed Piskor delivers a super-sized love letter to the X-Men in “Grand Design” and “Second Genesis.” Essentially, these two volumes are a crash-course in mutant history. From Namor the Sub-Mariner to the Phoenix Force, this is a great book for newcomers and seasoned comics readers alike.
Piskor accomplishes two things with “Grand Design.” He creates an entry point to the Marvel universe, so if you’re looking for a place to start reading superhero comics, this is the perfect point of departure.
Secondly, “Grand Design” makes sense of confusing lines of comic book continuity. Piskor accomplishes this in a way that stays true to major X-Men themes of oppression, justice, and finding your place in a world that does not always embrace diversity.
Gideon Falls Vol. 1: Black Barn by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
One benefit to reading comics is that you tend to get a sneak preview of what will be coming down the road as far as future TV shows are concerned. And you get just that in Jeff Lemire’s foray into horror, which is in development for a TV series.
TV is one thing, but what makes “Gideon Falls” one of the best comics of 2018? It creates a sense of unease and mystery, leaving you wanting more. It also poses a cryptic question, asking readers to ponder what exactly is the black barn, an ominous building that lingers over the multiple plot threads weaved in the series.
Most importantly, “Gideon Falls” is a horror comic that is serious without being too serious. There’s the perfect amount of fun to be had with this book, and fans of TV shows like “Lost,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Dark” will feel right at home.
Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy
What if Batman was the villain and the Joker was Gotham’s hero? That’s the premise of Sean Murphy’s “White Knight,” a book that takes a new spin on the Dark Knight.
Of course, the story is more complicated than that, but what we get on the surface is an homage to Batman’s history – the cars, the gadgets, the movies, the comics – Murphy ties all of it together in a story that is just as exciting as any other Caped Crusader adventure. This is an instant Batman classic that is sure to be remembered for years to come.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson
“All Summer Long” is the comic I wish I had when I was an eleven-year-old mired in the boredom of summer, waiting for the ice cream truck to roll through my neighborhood and for weekly runs to the video store so that I could rent a game for the Nintendo 64.
Alas, the mid-90s are two decades gone, but the riff on teen spirit is alive and well in Hope Larson’s “All Summer Long.” The book follows Bina, a pre-teen who finds herself home alone and without her best friend for most of the summer. Left to her own devices, she messes around on the guitar, discovers new music, and watches TV. But what ensues when she starts hanging out with an older girl is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale appropriate for all ages.
Young Frances by Hartley Lin
If you’re a young(ish) person trying to get by in the global economy, you’ll find a lot of familiar themes in “Young Frances” – work apathy, being late on the rent, constantly trying to figure out your professional life.
Frances, the titular character, is a clerk at a corporate law firm. She can’t sleep, but she works hard, keeps her head down, and is incredibly good at her job. The only problem is that she doesn’t quite know why she’s putting up with the long hours and office politics, especially when her friends are leading completely different lives that appear to be a bit more stress free.
“Young Frances” will speak to anybody who has had a job and felt a bit aimless in their career pursuits – which is probably all of us.
Nancy by Olivia Jaimes
This one isn’t a graphic novel, and you won’t find it on Library shelves or in one of our digital collections – you can find it online or in newspapers nationwide. However, Olivia Jaimes’ take on the comic strip “Nancy” is a revelation and any “Best of” list for 2018 would be remiss for excluding it.
Jaimes’ spin on “Nancy” is modern, hilarious, and speaks to the American pastime of staring at a screen all day. And in a not-so-strange twist, the most famous thing about the current run of “Nancy” isn’t the strip itself, but a single panel where Nancy uses a collection of millenial ephemera while saying “Sluggo is Lit.” This panel and three words have become a meme, forever (temporarily) ingrained in Internet culture.
If you really want to take a serious dive into comics, check out “How to Read Nancy” by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. It provides an excellent breakdown on how to read comics with the help of a single “Nancy” strip.
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Every kid doesn’t fit in at some point during their childhood and almost every kid wants to go away to summer camp. “Be Prepared” combines the awkward time of pre-adolescence with the summer rite of passage that is the mosquito-laden horror of sleep-away camp.
That’s where we find the protagonist of “Be Prepared.” Vera is a 9-year-old daughter of Russian immigrants who is looking for her station in life and when the opportunity to go away to camp presents itself, she begs her mother to send her off.
This middle-grade graphic novel will be right at home with kids and adults alike who have ever felt like they didn’t quite belong.
This is part of a series of blog posts highlighting some of the Best Books of the Year.
Looking for your next great read?
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Tell us what you’ve enjoyed reading, watching or listening to, and our librarians will give you personalized recommendations.
No algorithms, cookies or data mining – just real experts in your community sharing their love of great books, music and movies with you. We call it Give 3 Get 3.
Get started today at
Blog post originally posted by Franco V. on ToledoLibrary.org/blog/best-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2018
Creativity or creative inspiration may hit all at once or not at all for some writers. Those moments of nothingness are annoying, because they bring all creative projects to a halt, especially when they’re for school or cover topics that aren’t all that interesting. Writer’s block is one of the biggest problems that writers run into, both amateur and professional.
The library is a writer’s best resource, because there’s something for every type of writer. Poets – check out Writing Poetry from the Inside Out by Sandford Lyne if you’re looking for proper formations. If you’re interested in writing a memoir or an autobiography, try Write Your Life Story by Michael Oke. Struggling with ideas? Look into the Story Starter online for randomly generated writing prompts or even Fred D. White’s Where do you get your ideas? to find a concept and bring it to fruition. Just Write by James Scott Bell is another good one for fiction writers. And Writer’s Digest is a great website and magazine that’s highly recommended for general advice from experienced authors. Finally, don’t forget about the mechanics (i.e., grammar and citations). If you would like to become a grammar guru, definitely search for the Owl online for writing those pesky, exhausting college papers or William Strunk’s The Elements of Style.
While people may offer pseudointellectual advice on the subject – the best thing to do is tell yourself writer’s block doesn’t exist – it’s a mental construct. It’s difficult to avoid criticizing your own work, often hating it immediately after it’s written. However, if you just write whatever comes to mind, you’ll give yourself ideas to branch out from. For example, go outside when you feel like all of your creativity has dried up. Note every single thing that nature provides – like the birds flying overhead or the specific tangerine shade of the sky. Write everything and anything you see, think, and hear. Don’t pay attention to whether or not people will like what you write, just write what you would want to read. Try using the resources available to you, and remember, keep on writing, no matter what.
Books on Writing
Writing Resources From the Web
Books for Adults
Books for Children
Books for Pre-Teens and Teens
The First Peoples of North America series by Raymond Bial
This series is great for grades 4 and up.
Looking for more on the topics above? Search the catalog using the following terms:
- Indians of North America
- Indians of North America — Folklore
- Indians of North America — Social life and customs
- Indian Art — North America
- Indian Mythology — North America
- Inuit — Social life and customs
- Native Americans
Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County blogger April S. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/celebrate-native-american-heritage.
Domestic violence is an International epidemic
Defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another; there is no corner of the world where domestic violence does not reach. Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality.The devastating physical, emotional and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime. For women, the threat of death due to domestic violence is very real – especially when they begin to take steps to leave.
Please join the Steinem Sisters Collection at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) as we honor those lost to domestic violence in the Toledo area and raise awareness of the continued fight to end domestic violence.
The Silent Witness Project
In 1990, the Silent Witness Initiative began with a goal to promote education through community-based exhibits in an effort to end domestic violence. It started with a small group of volunteers in one state and grew into an international movement, with projects in all 50 states and 23 countries.
The Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project, which is housed and maintained at the Bethany House of Toledo, currently consists of over 55 Silent Witnesses whose lives were abruptly and violently ended at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner or stalker.
For the month of October, TLCPL’s Reynolds Corners Branch Library will be exhibiting 10 Witnesses in an effort to remember the stories and names of these women.
Library Events in 2018
The Silent Witness Project Exhibit
Oct. 1 – Nov. 2 | During Library Hours | Reynolds Corners Branch Library
Domestic Violence Information Sessions
TLCPL is also partnering with the Bethany House to offer several information sessions about domestic violence. These sessions will focus on 1 of 2 topics and will be held at several branches throughout the library system.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
Oct. 4 | 1:00 p.m. | Waterville Branch Library
Oct. 25 | 6:30 p.m. | Oregon Branch Library
Children and Domestic Violence
Oct. 10 | 6:30 p.m. | Reynolds Corners Branch Library
Oct. 24 | 7:00 p.m. | Maumee Branch Library