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book recommendations

Reading is My Business, And Business is Good!

There are so many great business and leadership books out recently that appeal to even the most un-business-y readers! Take a look…

Business, Entrepreneurship and Industry

Valley of genius : the uncensored history of Silicon Valley, as told by the hackers, founders, and freaks who made it boom / Adam Fisher
Wisdom @ work : the making of a modern elder / Chip Conley
Fins : Harley Earl, the rise of General Motors, and the glory days of Detroit / William Knoedelseder

Valley of Genius: the Uncensored History of Silicon Valley, as Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made it Boom by Adam Fisher

Lively, fascinating, and educational, sometimes a book sneaks up on readers, prompting us to realize that its topic is a lot more interesting than we might have thought. This is an oral history of Silicon Valley and the rock-star legends in the industry, told by the people who were there from the beginning.

Wisdom at Work: the Making of a Modern Elder by Chip Conley

Experience is making a comeback. At age 52, newly retired hotelier CEO Chip Conley received a call from the young founders of Airbnb, asking him to help grow their start-up into a global hospitality giant. He had the industry experience, but Conley was lacking in the digital fluency of his 20-something colleagues. Roughly twice the age of the average Airbnb employee and reporting to a CEO young enough to be his son, Conley quickly discovered that while he’d been hired as a teacher and mentor, he was also in many ways a student and intern. What emerged is the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker: learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve, all hallmarks of the “Modern Elder.”

Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit by William Knoedelseder

Chronicles the birth and rise to greatness of the American auto industry through the remarkable life of Harley Earl, an eccentric six-foot-five, stuttering visionary who dropped out of college and went on to invent the profession of automobile styling, thereby revolutionized the way cars were made, marketed, and even imagined. His impact was profound. When he retired as GM’s VP of Styling in 1958, Detroit reigned as the manufacturing capitol of the world and General Motors ranked as the most successful company in the history of business.

Billion dollar whale : the man who fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the world / Tom Wright and Bradley Hope
Dear founder : letters of advice for anyone who leads, manages, or wants to start a business / Maynard Webb
Crashed : how a decade of financial crises changed the world / Adam Tooze

Billion Dollar Whale: the Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright

True-story thriller about a man who managed to swindle over $5 billion with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others that exposes the secret nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood, and politics from two award-winning Wall Street Journal reporters. In 2009, with the dust yet to settle on the housing bubble financial crisis, a seemingly mild-mannered Wharton grad began setting in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude–one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. An epic true-tale of hubris and greed, Billion Dollar Whale reveals how this young social climber pulled off one of the biggest heists in history–right under the nose of the global financial industry.

Dear Founder: Letters of Advice for Anyone Who Leads, Manages, or Wants to Start a Business by Maynard Webb

Wise, practical, and profitable letters to entrepreneurs, leaders, managers, and business owners in every field—from a leading executive, investor, and business founder. More than 600,000 new businesses are launched each year. How does an entrepreneur build and manage a workplace—and create a lasting legacy? Maynard Webb has helped found, fund, and grow dozens of successful companies, and has driven strategic change at Salesforce, eBay, Everwise, and Visa, among other worldwide corporations. Known for offering savvy insight, encouragement, and a dose of reality in the form of engaging personal letters to a select group of business leaders, Webb now shares his lessons with the rest of America’s aspiring entrepreneurs—at any age and stage in their careers.

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World by Adam Tooze

From a prizewinning economic historian, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today. In September 2008, a dramatic economic cascade of global significance spiraled around the world, from the financial markets of the US and Europe to the factories and dockyards of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, forcing a rearrangement of global governance. It was the greatest crisis to have struck Western societies since the end of the Cold War, but was it inevitable? And is it over? Finally, Tooze asks, given this history, what now are the prospects for a stable, sustainable and coherent world order?

Cousins Maine Lobster : how one food truck became a multimillion-dollar business / Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac ; with Blake D. Dvorak ; foreword by Barbara Corcoran
The gambler : how penniless dropout Kirk Kerkorian became the greatest deal maker in capitalist history / William C. Rempel
The bonanza king : John Mackay and the battle over the greatest riches in the American West / Gregory Crouch

Cousins Maine Lobster: How One Food Truck Became a Multimillion-Dollar Business by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac

In early 2012, Jim Tselikis visited L.A. and met up with his cousin Sabin Lomac. Over a few drinks they waxed nostalgic about their childhood in Maine, surrounded by family, often elbow deep in delicious lobster while gathered around the picnic table. From this strong memory was born the very first Cousins Maine Lobster food truck. Smart, authentic marketing, and sustainable, delicious ingredients helped turn that one food truck into an overnight sensation. Then, in just three years, they went from a single food truck to a nationally-franchised legion of trucks, an online delivery service, and a brick-and-mortar restaurant, grossing over $15 million dollars in sales a year.

Start-up fever has taken hold of America, and there are hundreds of books to teach readers how to become an entrepreneur; this is the first book to answer the question: What’s next? At each step, Jim and Sabin were faced with hard decisions—opening each new food truck carefully instead of rushing to meet the demand; turning down a six-figure franchise offer because it came from someone who didn’t support their vision; turning down “Shark Tank” (twice) until they could insist on participating only if Barbara Corcoran was one of the Sharks. Now Jim and Sabin teach readers how they, too, can reach the next level of success in their own businesses, without having to compromise themselves.

The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History by William C. Rempel

The rags-to-riches story of one of America’s wealthiest and least-known financial giants, self-made billionaire Kirk Kerkorian—the daring aviator, movie mogul, risk-taker, and business tycoon who transformed Las Vegas and Hollywood to become one of the leading financiers in American business. Kerkorian never put his name on a building, but when he died he owned almost every major hotel and casino in Las Vegas. He envisioned and fostered a new industry —the leisure business. Three times he built the biggest resort hotel in the world. Three times he bought and sold the fabled MGM Studios, forever changing the way Hollywood does business.

In this engrossing biography, investigative reporter William C. Rempel digs deep into Kerkorian’s long-guarded history to introduce a man of contradictions—a poorly educated genius for deal-making, an extraordinarily shy man who made the boldest of business ventures, a careful and calculating investor who was willing to bet everything on a single roll of the dice.

The Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Riches in the American West by Gregory Crouch

Born in 1831, John W. Mackay was a penniless Irish immigrant who went to California during the Gold Rush and mined without much luck for eight years. When he heard of riches found on the other side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1859, Mackay abandoned his claim and walked a hundred miles to the Comstock Lode in Nevada.

Over the course of the next dozen years, Mackay worked his way up from nothing, seizing control of the most concentrated cache of precious metals ever found on earth, the legendary “Big Bonanza,” a stupendously rich body of gold and silver ore discovered 1,500 feet beneath the streets of Virginia City, the ultimate Old West boomtown. But for the ore to be worth anything it had to be found, claimed, and successfully extracted, each step requiring enormous risk and the creation of an entirely new industry.

When Mackay died in 1902, front-page obituaries in Europe and the United States hailed him as one of the most admired Americans of the age. Featuring great period photographs and maps, The Bonanza King is a dazzling tour de force, a riveting history of Virginia City, Nevada, the Comstock Lode, and America itself.


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!
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Good Day, Good Reads

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.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

But then…

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

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin henkes
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Old Bear by Kevin Henkes
Egg by Kevin Henkes
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
A Parade of Elephants 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

I Hate Everyone by Naomi Danis
Are You Scared Darth Vader by Adam Rex
I'm Sad by Michael Ian Black
Penguin Problems by Jory John
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket
I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett
Mr Particular by Jason Kirchner
Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt
Now by Antoinette Portis
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
Grump Groan Growl by bell hooks
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney

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.

Originally posted by Eric P. at ToledoLibrary.org/Good-Day-Good-Reads

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10 Genuinely Funny Funny Fiction Books You’re Sure to Love

Welcome to our funny fiction series. We’re highlighting a variety of humorous fiction novels to help our readers find that next great read (and hopefully a few laughs along the way).

Humor is a funny thing (pun intended). Pinpointing what an individual will find funny isn’t an exact science. There are so many different types of humor, but what constitutes funny is a matter of opinion. David Sedaris is fairly popular, but his type of humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea (even though he is a comedic genius). After all, tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes develop over a lifetime based on a variety of life experiences.

Looking for reading recommendations? Below, you’ll find a small selection hand-picked, entertaining and utterly enjoyable books. Hopefully you’ll think they’re funny too! Stay tuned for more blog posts featuring funny fiction.

Funny Fiction Recommendations

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

1. Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

A crossover series by the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum mysteries introduces pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, who is recruited by Diesel to track down a cache of priceless ancient relics while keeping them out of the hands of his criminal mastermind cousin.

Borrow it from the library: BookLarge Print, Audio, eBook or eAudio

Bridget Jones's diary : a novel / Helen Fielding

2. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

A hilarious journal chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single, thirty-something woman on a perpetual quest for self-improvement, as she struggles to cope with relationships, weight control, and the other baffling complexities of modern life.

Borrow it from the library: Book or eBook

Everything is illuminated : a novel / Jonathan Safran Foer

3. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Foer

Hilarious, energetic, and profoundly touching, a debut novel follows a young writer as he travels to the farmlands of eastern Europe, where he embarks on a quest to find Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis, and, guided by his young Ukrainian translator, he discovers an unexpected past that will resonate far into the future.

Borrow it from the library: Book, eBook or eAudio

The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy / Douglas Adams

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Chronicles the journeys, notions, and acquaintances of reluctant galactic traveler Arthur Dent, accompanied by never-before-published material from the late author’s archives as well as commentary by famous fans.

Borrow it from the library: Book, eBook or eAudio

Insane City by Dave Barry

5. Insane City by Dave Barry

Astonished by his imminent marriage to a woman he believed out of his league, Seth flies to their destination wedding in Florida only to be swept up in a maelstrom of violence involving rioters, Russian gangsters, angry strippers, and a desperate python.

Borrow it from the library: Book, Audio, eBook or eAudio

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

6. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

The author presents a collection of three animal-themed essays. In The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck, a group of complete strangers bitterly discuss the order of things within the animal kingdom. In Hello Kitty, a miserable alcoholic cat attends AA. In The Squirrel and the Chipmunk, two lovers are torn apart by their quarreling families.

Borrow it from the library: BookAudioeBook or eAudio

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

7. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The world is going to end next Saturday, just before dinner, but it turns out there are a few problems–the Antichrist has been misplaced, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse ride motorcycles, and the representatives from heaven and hell decide that they like the human race.

Borrow it from the library: Book, eBook or eAudio

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

8. The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Embarking on her freshman year at Harvard in the early tech days of the 1990s, a young artist and daughter of Turkish immigrants begins a correspondence with an older mathematics student from Hungary while struggling with her changing sense of self, first love and a daunting career prospect.

Borrow it from the library: Book or eBook

At Freddie's by Penelope Fitzgerald

9. At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald

“Freddie’s” is the familiar name of the Temple Stage School, which supplies London’s West End theaters with child actors for everything from Shakespeare to musicals to the Christmas pantomime. Its proprietress, Freddie Wentworth, is a formidable woman of unknown age and murky background who brings anyone she encounters under her spell — so common an occurrence that it is known as “being Freddied.” At her school, we meet dour Pierce, a teacher hopelessly smitten with enchanting Hannah; Jonathan, a child actor of great promise, and his slick rival Mattie; and Joey Blatt, who has wicked plans to rescue Freddie’s from insolvency. Up to its surprising conclusion, “At Freddie’s” is thoroughly beguiling.

Borrow it from the library: Book or eBook

One More Thing : Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

10. One More Thing : Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak’s “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, “One More Thing” has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element just that might make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.

Borrow it from the library: BookAudioeBook or eAudio

You May Also Enjoy These Great Library Blog Posts

How to Find a Good Book to Read
Includes tips on how to find books you’ll truly enjoy.

Clever With A Side of Sarcasm
Books for fans of clever, absurd and sarcastic humor.

10 Entertaining Novels That Will Put a Smile on Your Face
Novels with light humor and likable characters.


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!
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So You Say You Hate Musicals

Hello blog readers! Allison F and Eric P here to talk to you about something that’s been weighing on us.

So, you say you hate musicals …

Do you really?

Is it the cheesy storylines? Or maybe it’s the way they keep making their characters sing and dance when people don’t really do that. Perhaps they give you a strange, uncomfortable feeling – as if you are embarrassed for the incredibly talented people singing and dancing their hearts out. They look like they’re having the time of their life, but deep down they feel awkward and self-conscious, right? Right?

We get it, musicals are kinda weird. But the thing is, we don’t actually believe you when you say you hate them.

We think maybe you just haven’t discovered the musical that’s right for you.

We think maybe you saw “Fiddler on the Roof” once when you were seven and swore you’d never watch one again. (At an impressionable age, Eric sat through a high school production of “Oklahoma!” in which the title song threatened never to end. It may still be going to this day.)

We think we can convince you otherwise.

So we dare you to keep reading. Let us try and prove to you that musicals are a magical force of fun and excitement just waiting to change your life. Or at least change your mind.

 

Eric says

If you like…

War and peace by Leo Tolstoy
Seekers and finders [music CD] / Gogol Bordello
You're the worst - Television Show, Season 2 on DVD / Bluebrush Productions

 

You’ll probably enjoy

Natasha, Pierre and the great comet of 1812 [music CD] : original Broadway cast recording / Dave Malloy

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

The musical where actors play their own guitars and accordions while navigating love and dysfunction during the Napoleonic wars.

Music CD | eMusic

 

Allison says

If you like…

Outlander. Season 1, volume 1 [DVD] / executive producer, Ronald D. Moore
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Synthesis by Evanescence - music album

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Phantom of the Opera - motion picture

The Phantom of the Opera

In which the female lead never once questions the disembodied voice that is teaching her to sing and willingly allows herself to be kidnapped and taken into the bowels of Paris’s underground before panicking and realizing something might not be quite right with the dude in the mask.

DVDMusic CD | eMusic

 

Eric says

If you like…

Lysis ; Symposium ; Gorgias / Plato ; with an English translation by W.R.M. Lamb
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - motion picture
The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars [music CD] / David Bowie

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Hedwig and the angry inch [music CD] : original Broadway cast recording / Music and lyrics by Stephen Trask ; book by John Cameron Mitchell ; directed by Michael Mayer

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The glammy rock opera about love, identity, and sex reassignment surgery in the shadow of the cold war.

Music CD | eMusic

 

Allison says

If you like…

Role models / John Waters
Save the last dance - motion picture
RuPaul's drag race (Season 7) - television show

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Hairspray - motion picture

Hairspray

The upbeat and colorful tale of some plucky teens who just want to dance and aren’t gonna let a little thing like institutionalized racism get in their way.

DVD | Music CD

 

Eric says

If you like…

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Marathon Man - motion picture
Wall of sound [music CD] : the very best of Phil Spector, 1961-1966
The Complete houseplant survival manual : essential know-how for keeping (not killing) more than 160 indoor plants / Barbara Pleasant ; photography by Rosemary Kautzky

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Little Shop of Horrors - motion picture

Little Shop of Horrors

In which carnivorous plants and malicious dentists sing catchy Brill Building pop numbers as the bodies pile up.

DVD | eMusic

 

Allison says

If you like…

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Stand by Me - motion picture
The Very Best of Backstreet Boys - music

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Newsies

Newsies

The story of scrappy turn of the century newspaper sales boys who team up with Teddy Roosevelt to take down the newspaper industry. Also, Christian Bale in a cowboy hat.

DVDeMusic

 

Eric says

If you like…

Ripper Street - TV Show
Symphonie fantastique [music CD] / Hector Berlioz
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Donner Party [DVD] / written and directed by Ric Burns ; produced by Lisa Ades and Ric Burns

 

You’ll probably enjoy….

Sweeney Todd - motion picture

Sweeney Todd

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a darkly Victorian tale of entrepreneurial cannibalism.

DVD | Music CD

 

Allison says

If you like…

Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone / by J.K. Rowling
Hocus Pocus - motion picture
Charmed - TV Show
Kermit the Frog's "It's Not easy Being Green"
Image by Isotastic – flickr

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Wicked

Wicked

The tale of the “Wicked” Witch of the West who it turns out had a greater handle on things than anyone else and also really knew how to rock the all-black look.

Music CD | eMusic
Based on the novel “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire.

 

Eric says

If you like…

Lawrence of Arabia - motion picture
Northern Exposure - TV Show
Omar Sharif - 1963
Photo by Gene Weber – Wikimedia Commons

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

The Band’s Visit

The intimate and heartbreaking show about cosmopolitan Egyptian musicians unexpectedly stranded in a small Israeli desert town.

Music CD | eMusic
Book | eBook
Based on the film by Eran Kolirin.

 

Allison says

If you like…

Antiques Roadshow behind the scenes : an insider's guide to PBS's #1 weekly show / Marsha Bemko
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

 

The Fugitive - motion picture

 

You’ll probably enjoy…

Les Miserables - motion picture

Les Miserables

In which everyone is truly miserable except for two young lovebirds whose self-absorption is so intense they are able to all but ignore the French Revolution. Plus, ghosts.

DVDMusic CD

 

…Did it work? Is your previous antipathy toward musicals dwindling like the box office returns of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?” Do you feel a newfound generosity toward the art form swelling in you like the crescendo of an 11 o’clock number?

Or perhaps your indifference remains unchanged. Maybe you still feel as antagonistic toward the stage musical experience as Leslie Odom Jr’s Aaron Burr felt toward Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton.”

But that’s okay. It just means we haven’t found the right one for you yet. We’ll be back with another blog post with more suggestions, and we’ll keep coming back until you’ve got jazz hands.

I mean, that high school performance of “Oklahoma!” is still going on somewhere, so anything’s possible.

Five-six-seven-eight!

 

Read more from Eric and Allison


 

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!
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No Capes Required: Comics Embrace All Literary Genres!

When I was young, I loved comics. Whether it was the X-Men, Batman or Deadpool, I couldn’t get enough of the emersion and escapism that comics offered. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun branching out from the superhero comics of my youth, and my love and respect for the art form has only intensified.

It may come as a surprise that the world of comics has so much more to offer than spandex-clad muscle men and swooning damsels in distress. Luckily for us there are comics out there to suit just about every taste in literature: there are westerns, science fiction, fantasy and noir detective-style comics. And let’s not forget comics with romance, horror, or comics that have good endings and bad. Comics that are weird. Comics that are queer. Comics that are funny. Comics that are cute. And pretty much everything in between.

Here are 20 of my favorite “no cape” comics – some are stand-alone, many are part of a series – for those of you looking for some alternatives to Marvel and DC. If you haven’t picked up a comic in a while, one of these titles may be the perfect place to get reacquainted. If you think you “aren’t into comics” – I guarantee that at least one of these will change your mind.

 

Graphic novels for people looking for an alternative to superhero comics

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido
Daytripper / by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá ; with coloring by Dave Stewart ; lettering by Sean Konot
Duncan the wonder dog by Adam Hines
East of West. Volume 1 / Jonathan Hickman, writer ; Nick Dragotta, artist ; Frank Martin, colors ; Rus Wooton, letters
Fables: Legends in Exile written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina

 

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales ; ilustrated by Juanjo Guarnido

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.34 stars

Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery and intrigue, digging up the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets during the 1950s Red Scare in the United States. Also available as an eComic.

 

Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.3 stars

Presents key moments in the life of Brás de Oliva Domingos, a Brazilian writer and sometime journalist, and the son of a prominent author, as if each episode would turn out to be the day in which he was about to die. Also available as an eComic.

 

Duncan the Wonder Dog written and illustrated by Adam Hines

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4 stars

What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different?

 

East of West written by Jonathan Hickman ; illustrated by Nick Dragotta

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.92 stars

This is the world. It is not the one we wanted, but it is the one we deserved. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life, lies in DEATH! Also available as an eComic.

 

Fables: Legends in Exile written by Bill Willingham ; illustrated by Lan Medina

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.98 stars

Who killed Rose Red? In Fabletown, where fairy tale legends live alongside regular New Yorkers, the question is all anyone can talk about. But only the Big Bad Wolf can actually solve the case – and, along with Rose’s sister Snow White, keep the Fabletown community from coming apart at the seams. Also available as an eComic.

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola
Joe the Barbarian" by Grant Morrison (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)
King City by Brandon Graham
Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
Monstress: Volume One - Awakening

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola  (Author/ Illustrator), Various (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.12 stars

When strangeness threatens to engulf the world, a strange man will come to save it. Sent to investigate a mystery with supernatural overtones, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins, and his link to the Nazi occultists who promised Hitler a final solution in the form of a demonic avatar. Also available as an eComic.

 

Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison  (Author), Sean Murphy (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.77 stars

Joe is an imaginative young kid of 11 who happens to suffer from type 1 diabetes. Without supervision and insulin, he can easily slip into a delirious, dissociative state that presages coma and death. One fateful day, his condition causes him to believe he has entered a vivid fantasy world in which he is the lost savior — a fantastic land based on the layout and contents of his home.

 

King City by Brandon Graham (Author/ Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.6 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.99 stars

Joe is a catmaster, trained to use his cat as any tool or weapon. His best friend, Pete, falls in love with an alien he’s forced to sell into green slavery, while his ex, Anna, watches her Xombie War veteran boyfriend turn into the drug he’s addicted to. King City, an underbelly of a town run by spy gangs and dark dark magic with mystery down every alleyway.

 

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill  (Author),‎ Gabriel Rodriguez (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.16 stars

“Locke & Key” tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them, and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all! Also available as an eComic.

 

Monstress by Marjorie Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.97 stars

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art
deco-inflected steampunk, 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.

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Pretty Deadly: Volume one - The shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Tales from outer suburbia by Shaun Tan

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.19 stars

Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law
Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. Also available in Audio and eAudio.

 

Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Emma Rios (Artist), Jordie Bellair (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.1 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.82

As Sissy, a girl with a crow head-dress and two different colored eyes, and Fox, a blind old man, travel a fanciful Old West world, they are pursued by Death who seeks Sissy for reasons unknown. Also available as an eComic.

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Artist)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.23

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults. Also available as an eComic.

 

Sandman by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Kieth (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.28 stars

After his seventy-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. Also available as an eComic.

 

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.33 stars

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says… These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan’s many fans will love.

 

Through the woods : stories by Emily Carroll
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way
WE3 : the deluxe edition by Grant Morrison
The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.5 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.91 stars

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to. Also available in eBook.

 

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way  (Author), Gabriel Ba (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.4 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.96 stars

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born to women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world.” Also available as an eComic.

 

We3 by Grant Morrison  (Author), Frank Quitely  (Illustrator)

Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely deliver the emotional journey of WE3 – three house pets weaponized for lethal combat by the government – as they search for “home” and ward off the shadowy agency that created them. Also available as an eComic.

 

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (Author, Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 3.7 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 3.28 stars

In a demented future where humanity is oppressed by the evil Shadowsmen, only a gang of ruthless and powerful children called the Wrenchies can hope to stand against them.

 

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Pia Guerra (Illustrator), Jose Marzan Jr. (Illustrator)

AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars

GOODREADS RATING: 4.11 stars

Yorick Brown and his pet male monkey learn just how valuable they are when they set out across the planet in search of one specific girl in the wake of a strange plague that has killed every man, boy, and mammal with a Y chromosome–except for them. Also available as an eComic.


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Great Summer Reads at the Toledo Library!

Top Librarian Secret:

Best-sellers are SOOO overrated! There are tons of wonderful “mid-list” titles out there that are just waiting to be discovered.

Check these out for some great summer reading options:

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Lost Empress : A Novel by Sergio De La Pava
Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
The Lido by Libby Page
The Elizas : A Novel by Sara Shepard

The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang

This is the perfect summer romance novel, with a sunny California setting and an awkward, tender, and utterly sweet romance between its protagonists. Autistic econometrician Stella and vivacious escort Michael are a very unlikely pair, but when she hires him to teach her how to have a relationship, they’re both astonished to develop a powerful personal connection. Michael’s gentle kindness with anxious, wary Stella will melt any reader’s heart.

Lost Empress” by Sergio De La Pava

A madcap, football-obsessed tale of crossed destinies and criminal plots gone awry, this novel cleverly weaves together a sports drama and a crime story, starring a manipulative mastermind, all told in a style that might best be described as a series of trick plays, fictional feints, and philosophical asides.

Dear Mrs. Bird” by A.J. Pearce

An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist— a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

The Lido” by Libby Page

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove,” “The Lido” is a charming, feel-good novel that follows two women at the opposite ends of life bonding over the closure of a beloved local pool —an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

The Elizas” by Sara Shepard

Unable to convince anyone that she was pushed before she was rescued from the bottom of a hotel pool, a rising author struggling with depression and memory loss begins to question her sanity as elements from her debut novel mix up with events in her real life. By the best-selling author of “Pretty Little Liars.”


Don’t see what appeals to you here?

Try out our Give 3 Give 3 service for personalized suggestions.

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Two Librarians, Too Many Books: It’s Women’s History Month, Y’all!

In an effort to jazz up the typical readers’ advisory list that us bloggers usually find ourselves writing, we decided sit down and have a conversation as stereotypical librarians who don’t-know-how-to-shut-up-about-books-already. Our hope is that you might find value in the fact that our noses rarely venture more than twelve inches from the page or that maybe our ramblings might aid your book search process, even if just a little.

Please enjoy our first installment of …

Two Librarians, Too Many Books


Allison Fiscus: Hey there, I’m Allison and I’m a librarian and manager of the Maumee Branch and I absolutely hate reading. Kidding. I practically live in a house made of books.

Katie Midgley: Hey! I’m Katie and I’m a former children’s librarian and the current assistant manager of the Sanger Branch and I promise I have more to recommend than true crime.

A: Katie, it’s not nice to lie to our readers when they barely know us.

K: So sorry. It won’t happen again.

A: I make no such promises.

It’s Women’s History Month, y’all! I, for one, can’t think of a worthier topic to chat endlessly about. So in celebration, Katie and I decided to get together to talk about the female authors who have captivated us through the written word and inspired us in our own lives. The following conversation is a lightly-edited-for-clarity transcription of our chat. You ready?

K: Where should we start?


Children’s Lit

A: I’ve always thought that the work of female children’s book authors can be some of the most poignant. When I think of the books that left a lasting effect on me, I usually think of the prolific female authors of my childhood. Judy Blume, Sharon Creech and Beverly Cleary always come to mind, mostly because they really knew how to write a story that found a way to express the particular frustrations of being a kid without venturing into a space that condescends. I’ll never forget finishing “Walk Two Moons” for the first of many times and racing to my mom and INSISTING that she read it.

K: Raina Telgemeier is a modern-day example of that. I love all her stuff, but “Smile” does a great job of capturing what it’s like to be a self-conscious kid trying to find your identity amidst a crisis.

A: Same with Rebecca Stead and in particular the book “When You Reach Me.” I’m convinced that talking about how this is the perfect book for any kid is what landed me my first Children’s Librarian job.

K: Yeah right, it was totally your hair.

A: 90% book, 10% hair. For real though, “When You Reach Me” is a magic book. Short, but full of depth, magical in some respects but also serious. Plus, its emphasis on another of my favorite stories – “A Wrinkle in Time” – practically guarantees that any kid who reads it will want to read that too. Not to mention the story is pure genius. I read it as an adult and it genuinely kept me guessing until the end, so I just know that any kid who reads it will experience one of those magical reading moments that takes your breath away and leaves you in awe.

K: Speaking of authors who write stories that leave you in awe, Katherine Applegate! I love her. I thought she couldn’t get any better after, “The One and Only Ivan,” but then she went and wrote “Wishtree.” It’s told from the perspective of a tree watching over the home of a refugee family new to the neighborhood. She really conquers tough topics in her children’s fiction.

A: I also have to mention the OG author of my childhood, Louisa May Alcott. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “Little Women” and how mad I get every time a certain decision is made by a certain main character (you know who/what I mean…).

K: Do I? I’ve only seen the movie…I might be the worst librarian ever.

A: That’s my sick day movie! Total classic. I love the way the March sisters always had each other’s backs. I think it’s a story women of all ages can relate to and learn from to this day.

 

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
When you reach me by Rebecca Stead
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Memoirs and Essays

K:  Memoirs are the best. I love being able to crawl into someone’s head for a few hours. Makes me feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives.

A: I love that they make me feel like I’m getting to know someone who I’ve admired from afar.

K: I have to start with “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Strayed chronicles her time as a 26 year old woman using her grief and problems with addiction as motivation to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on a quest for healing. THE BOOK IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MOVIE, FYI. No offense to Reese Witherspoon.

A: “Wild” felt to me like a story that was going to be tough to read but that I needed to get through. Required reading for the soul. It was gripping, and moving, and somehow awful and beautiful all at once. I’ve since read Strayed’s “Tiny, Beautiful Things” which is a collection of advice she gave during her time writing the “Dear Sugar” advice column. She’s incredibly wise.

I also need to shout out to the funniest woman of the last century, Tina Fey. This might sound crazy but her memoir “Bossypants” has some of the best career advice I’ve ever read. I’ve used it many times over the years and it never fails.

K: That doesn’t sound crazy, inspiration comes from the most random places. A recent read for me is “Muslim Girl” by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. I wish her book becomes required reading for high school students everywhere. She describes what it’s like to be Muslim in post 9-11 America and somehow manages to do so with both humor and grace. Total icon!

A:We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is number one on my required reading list for teenage girls. Adichie has a way of presenting ideas that are for some reason controversial in a way that seems like simple common sense. I love that she can make light of what she clearly feels passionately about which in turn makes others more understanding of what she’s saying.

K: I’m a big fan of another of her books, “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.” It’s my go-to gift for every baby shower because it’s a practical outline for how to raise a feminist.

A: I love when she talks about how she went around calling herself a “Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men” because every time someone would tell her she shouldn’t or couldn’t do or like something it was because they believed it to be antithetical to feminism. I still laugh every time I read that because it’s so on point with what it’s like to be a female in our world today.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele : or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fiction

A: I’m going to try extremely hard to keep this list limited to my absolute favorites. All 238 of them.

K:  Don’t hate me but I probably only read a handful of adult fiction books a year…

A: Rude.

K: My recent fav is “The First Bad Man” by Miranda July. What if your boss had a moody millennial daughter and you were pressured into letting that daughter move in with you? Crazy right?

A: You can’t move in with me.

K: Weird, you and I are both bosses AND millennial daughters…

A: True, plus I’d let you move in with me in a heartbeat. I could steal all your clothes.

K: You can’t have my boots.

A: Dang…

K: Miranda July is a creative genius and she weaves this bizarre premise into one of my favorite love stories of all time, just be prepared to embrace the weirdness.

A: I have a strang one, too! “Euphoria” by Lily King. It’s actually a Kirkus Prize winner that somehow has flown under the radar. You would love it because it’s (very, very) loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead – with quite a few sensationalized details added in of course.

K: You’re going to be so proud of me…I read my first ever science fiction book. “The Power” by Naomi Alderman.

A: I am proud. Though I’ll be more proud when your reaction to a picture of Princess Leia isn’t “Who’s that again?”

K: Hey, I know about the gold bikini!

A: *Looks to the sky* I’m sorry Carrie Fisher. I’ve failed you.

K: So imagine a world where girls are able to produce electricity from their fingertips at the age of 14 and can transfer this ability with just a touch to any other woman on the planet. Chaos ensues, and a matriarchy emerges. It’s amazing.

A: I’m in.

K: I knew you would be.

A: My sci-fi/fantasy pro-matriarchy book of choice is “Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen. I like to describe it as the politics of “Game of Thrones” mixed up with female empowerment of “The Hunger Games” minus the dominant romance story lines that similar books can’t seem to get away from. Plus, the series features a serious plot-twist that I definitely didn’t see coming.

K: Sounds interesting. I love anything that strays away from typical romance.

A: Don’t worry, I’ll force you to read it soon enough.

K: I swear I need a separate GoodReads list just for your suggestions, dude.

A: Best get on that, Midgley. I have so many amazing books that I want to talk about in this category. I think I should probably just do it lightning-round style.

K: Go.

A: “The Red Garden” by Alice Hoffman for anyone who loves magical realism and historical fiction.

The Tiger’s Wife” by Téa Obreht for an example of a truly original and enthralling story that will keep you guessing through to the end.

The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin for one of the best recent sci-fi reads I have had in a very long time.

Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith (cough* J.K. Rowling *cough) for all you mystery/detective story lovers who appreciate a great whodunit.

The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova for a truly well-written vampire story.

And last but not least, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern because outside of Harry Potter, this is my absolute favorite book of all time. For a real treat, listen to the audiobook.

K: You good now?

A: I think so. What’s next?

The First Bad Man: A Novel by Miranda July
Euphoria by Lily King
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Poetry

K: I’m going to call myself out here. I’d never read a poetry book until Rupi Kaur.

A: The last poetry book I read was by Shel Silverstein and I’m pretty sure that was in the third grade. I don’t think you have any reason to feel shame.

K: Now I’m judging you.

A: Totally fair.

K: A friend recommended Kaur’s first book, “Milk and Honey,” to me and I read all 204 pages on a flight to Texas. When I landed two hours later, I had puffy eyes and I have to assume the entire plane was wondering what in God’s name was wrong with me.

A: People think that of me after a plane ride without the puffy eyes or poetry. I may or may not be a nervous flyer.

K: FLYING IS SAFER THAN DRIVING! Here’s one of my favorites, perfectly appropriate for Women’s History Month:

In the spirit of intl women’s day
A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on Mar 7, 2014 at 1:54pm PST

 

A: That’s a beautiful piece of poetry.

K: Do yourself a favor and sit down with both of her books and absorb them all in one sitting. You’ll feel things.

A: I don’t know – it’s hard to beat the poem that follows “Sister for Sale“… I kid. Shel Silverstein is a treasure.

K: I have one more shout out to give here. Jacqueline Woodson is my literary hero. Force the book “Brown Girl Dreaming” into the hands of any child in your life, please. Poetry isn’t her usual medium but she’ll have you thinking otherwise with this book. She writes about the civil rights movement from her childhood perspective, and it’ll break your heart.

 

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Nonfiction

A: Now let me tell you about my home girl Sarah Vowell.

K: Your home girl?

A: Oh yes. I met her once and told her I loved her and had read everything she’s ever written. We’re best friends now.

K: You’ve met everyone. Remember Gloria Steinem? Still haven’t forgiven you for that.

A: Best day of my life, dude. So Sarah Vowell writes mainly American history books from the perspective of a sarcastic, irreverent, mildly-macabre and above all amusing stance.

K: My mom listens to all her stuff on audio. You’ve heard her voice, right? It’s so original.

A: She’s the voice of Violet Incredible. Her dulcet tones are a staple in my house. She’s openly obsessed with death, too, so you’d love her. Her book “Assassination Vacation” is a road trip of all the prominent locations involved in presidential assassinations. It’s very uplifting.

K: Books about death? You know I can never get enough. One of the best is “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” by Caitlin Doughty. I really want to be friends with this author. She took a job at a crematory in LA in her twenties and this book details her day to day life working with the dead.

A: Wait! I think I know her from her column “Ask a Mortician.”

K: YES. She actually ended up starting her own business which offers an eco-friendly burial option (gotta love California). She also created a YouTube channel where she answers people’s questions about death, which is both informative and hilarious.

Now I need to tell you about “Radium Girls.”

A: You’ve tried this before. I don’t know if I can take it, but give me your best pitch.

K: So, in the early 1920s, one of the chicest jobs a woman could get was painting radium dials. The girls would dip the paintbrush into their mouth after each brushstroke to create a fine tip, so they were ingesting a ton of radium… they’d even paint their teeth with radium before a date so they could have a glowing smile. Anyway, you and I both know this ends disastrously. The book outlines, in HEART WRENCHING DETAIL, the swift decline in health of these women, and the lawsuit that follows. Honestly this story is not for the squeamish. Let me just say you’ll really value your own teeth after reading this.

A: *Touches teeth and cringes* – I think I can say with complete certainty that I’m gonna pass on that one. Have you read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?”

K: Didn’t they make an HBO special out of this book, with Oprah!?

A: YES. And I will never forgive the various award-givers for not honoring her amazing performance. The story is completely moving and heartbreaking and important. It really puts into perspective the things we take for granted when it comes to medicine and healthcare. And both Henrietta’s story and the way the Lacks family continues to be mistreated by the medical community is really eye-opening.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Teen

A: So, I don’t particularly love teen fiction as a genre but when I find something I like, I usually really like it.

K: I’ve been challenging myself to read one teen book a week this month. It’s helped me discover some real gems.

A: That’s seriously impressive. I’m averaging about two a year.

K: Well, tell me about one of those…two.

A:Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein. This-book-has-everything! It’s suspenseful and extremely clever and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. It’s primarily about the power of female friendship and it takes place in England during WWII. Wein was really thorough about her historical accuracy, too, which was one of the most fascinating aspects for me.

K: I feel like I’m the only person in the world who can’t get into historical fiction.

A: It’s hit or miss for me, but Verity is an extremely good read. I can’t tell you anymore without ruining the story, so you’ll just have to take me at my word. It’s great for book clubs of all ages, too.

K: I recently discovered “Distance From Me to You,” about a girl who defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, despite having no experience in the wilderness (FYI: TERRIBLE IDEA.). She meets an endearing guy along the way, and due to some quite stupid decisions on his part, they end up off trail. Teen girls need to read this and realize they don’t need men to accomplish their goals, and that sometimes romance actually weighs you down.

A: PREACH.

K: I also just read and loved “The Hate U Give.” Angie Thomas CLEANED UP at the Youth Media Awards with this book, and rightfully so. The book explores racism and police violence and is a necessary read for any teen exploring the Black Lives Matter movement. They’re also turning this into a movie and the cast is perfection (ISSA RAE!)

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner (book)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Graphic Novels

K: Okay, I’m obsessed with graphic novels. They appeal to art lovers as well as story lovers, plus art has the ability to convey emotions that words simply can’t.

A: I couldn’t agree more.

K: I think that a lot of the time when we read we rely on our imaginations for our visual representation of the story, and graphic novels take some of that work away while adding another means of connecting with the author’s perspective. One of my recent favorites is “Honor Girl” by Maggie Thrash, about a girl finding love at summer camp. I recommend this book to every millennial woman looking for a quick summer read. If you’re a child of the 90s, the nostalgia you’ll experience from these pages might have you champing at the bit to be a camp counselor somewhere this summer.

A: I can’t discuss graphic novels without talking about the amazing Marjane Satrapi. Her graphic memoir “Persepolis” taught me more about the culture and conflicts of Iranians than any textbook ever has. Satrapi’s family was deeply involved in the changes that occurred in Iran during her childhood and through her eyes and artistic talent, you really gain insight into what it’s like to grow up in a time of conflict.

K: She also wrote “Embroideries” which has a completely different feel than “Persepolis.”  I love it because it is at its heart an exploration of life as a woman in Iran, but the way it’s presented – through a gossip session with the author’s grandma, mom, and aunts – is totally relatable to any woman who has sat down with a group of females and a bottle of wine on a Friday night. It really made me wish I had a bigger family.

 

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Embroideries by Majane Satrapi

A: Alright Midgley, we’ve gone through all the major genres and rambled on for probably far too long. Do you think anyone is still here?

K: Probably just my mom.

A: Hi Katie’s Mom! Thanks for reading! If you (or any other devoted blog readers) want more recommendations like these, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can also get personalized recommendations from a TLCPL librarian from our Give 3, Get 3 service.

K: We’ll also be back soon with our next installment of Two Librarians, Too Many Books where we’ll talk about our favorite summer reads. Be sure to subscribe to the blog emails before you run off to read all the books we’ve listed if you don’t want to miss it.

A: Thanks, everyone! Happy Women’s History Month!


Read more by Allison and Katie.


Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Allison F. at:

ToledoLibrary.org/blog/Two-librarians-too-many-books-its-womens-history-month-yall

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Take the 101 Picture Book Challenge

The 101 Picture Book Challenge is here! We’ve chosen 101 Picture Books and we want you to read them, too! The Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians chose the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.

How Do You Take the 101 Picture Book Challenge?

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).

Favorite Book on the 101 Picture Book Challenge List

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

My favorite book on the list is “Bark, George,” written and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. The book is hilarious and has been a favorite for years! I absolutely love sharing this book with kids – probably because I get to ‘moo,’ ‘meow’ and ‘bark’ with glee. Published in the late ’90s, this beloved new classic is a perfect title for the challenge.

Also available in Read-Along Audio [Book on CD]DVDeAudio and eVideo.

Reading Beyond The 101 Picture Book List

If you like the humor in “Bark, George” by Jules Feiffer , you may also like …

Petra by Marianna Coppo - picture book

Petra” by Marianna Coppo

A little rock who believes she is a mountain has her perspective changed by a series of movements, including a dog playing fetch, a bird’s nest, a pond, and a little girl.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker - picture book

A Visitor for Bear” by Bonny Becker

Bear is quite sure he doesn’t like visitors. He even has a sign. So when a mouse taps on his door one day, Bear tells him to leave. But when Bear goes to the cupboard to get a bowl, there is the mouse — small and gray and bright-eyed. In this slapstick tale that begs to be read aloud, all Bear wants is to eat his breakfast in peace, but the mouse — who keeps popping up in the most unexpected places — just won’t go away!

It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle - picture book

It’s a Tiger” by David LaRochelle

Kids and parents alike will rejoice in this lively read-aloud picture book, as the main character runs into (and away from) a tiger over and over again as the plot gets sillier and sillier.

Also available in Audio [Book on CD] and eBook.

Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough - picture book

Marigold Bakes a Cake” by Mike Malbrough

Marigold the cat likes everything just so, but when he sets out to bake a perfect cake one Monday, he is interrupted by one finch, two pigeons and three loons.


This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.

Looking for reading, listening and viewing suggestions beyond the 101 Picture Book Challenge? We can help! Just visit us online and fill out a short form. That’s all it takes to receive personalized recommendations from our knowledgeable staff.

Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Cindy V. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/take-the-101-picture-book-challenge-today.

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Weird But True: This Lesser Known Fiction Genre is Making A Comeback

When it comes to your leisure reading, are you looking for something a little different? Perhaps you enjoy elements of the supernatural and fantastical but are tired of the same old clichés of most genre fiction? Why not give Weird Fiction a try!

Weird fiction is characterized primarily by its blending of science fiction, fantasy, horror and just about every other fiction genre to create something entirely new. The name “weird fiction” was coined by H.P. Lovecraft in a 1927 essay titled “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” which sought a division between traditional horror at the time and Lovecraft’s own work. The genre has since grown further apart from its close connection with horror and has become an umbrella term for books that can’t easily be placed in any other category.

If you’re new to weird fiction, below you’ll find some great reads to get you started. Keep in mind that nearly all weird fiction still contains some elements of horror, so if you tend to be squeamish these may not be the books for you.

Weird Fiction Books

The Wine-Dark Sea by Robert Aickman (book)
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories by Laird Barron
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington / Leonora Carrington ; introduction by Kathyrn Davis ; translations from the French by Kathrine Talbot ; translations from the Spanish by Anthony Kerrigan

 

The Wine-Dark Sea by Robert Aickman

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.13

“In these 11 stories, the occasion may be a walking tour of Northern England, a birthday present of a Victorian dollhouse or a stay at a Swedish sanatorium for insomniacs, but it simultaneously traps the characters with dread and opens them up to a new awareness of a greater, deeper and more dangerous world. A remarkable collection by an author who deserves to be better known.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.02

“Barron returns with his third collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. Collecting interlinking tales of sublime cosmic horror, including “Blackwood’s Baby,” “The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven,” and the World Fantasy Award–nominated “Hand of Glory,” The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All delivers enough spine-chilling horror to satisfy even the most jaded reader.” ~ Amazon

 

Weaveworld by Clive Barker

Amazon: 4.6 | Goodreads| 4.13

“Barker turns from his usual horror to epic-length fantasy for this account of the Fugue, a magical land inhabited by descendants of supernatural beings who once shared the earth with humans. The Fugue has been woven into a carpet for protection against those who would destroy it; the death of its guardian occasions a battle between good and particularly repulsive evil forces for control of the Fugue. Weaveworld is rich with memorable characters, exciting situations, and pockets of Barker’s trademark horror.” ~ Goodreads

 

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 3.9

“Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted – and still wants – to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Complete Stories of Lenora Carrington with an introduction by Kathyrn Davis

Amazon: 3.6 | Goodreads: 4.25

“Published to coincide with the centennial of her birth, The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington collects for the first time all of her stories, including several never before seen in print. With a startling range of styles, subjects, and even languages (several of the stories are translated from French or Spanish), The Complete Stories captures the genius and irrepressible spirit of an amazing artist’s life.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Windeye by Brian Evenson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Fisherman by John Langan

 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 4.02

“From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.” ~ Amazon

 

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.13

House of Leaves is a multilayered intersection of wild ideas, ten years in the making, from Mark Danielewski. It is also the story of a seemingly normal house gone wild. The novel intertwines the narratives of two haunted individuals: Zampano, a blind man whose strange manuscript is found in his apartment when he dies, and Johnny Truant, the tome’s discoverer and narrator of House of Leaves.” ~ Fantastic Fiction

 

Windeye by Brian Evenson

Amazon: 4.3 | Goodreads: 4.03

“A woman falling out of sync with the world; a king’s servant hypnotized by his murderous horse; a transplanted ear with a mind of its own. The characters in these stories live as interlopers in a world shaped by mysterious disappearances and unfathomable discrepancies between the real and imagined. Brian Evenson, master of literary horror, presents his most far-ranging collection to date, exploring how humans can persist in an increasingly unreal world. Haunting, gripping, and psychologically fierce, these tales illuminate a dark and unsettling side of humanity.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.89

“First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Fisherman by John Langan

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 4.01

“When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

 

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Amazon: 4.4 | Goodreads: 3.91

“People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there. Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. . But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping. A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?” ~ Amazon

 

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.97

“A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader’s imagination.” ~ Amazon

 

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.55

“Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami’s wild imagination. The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated, in full color, throughout, this small format, 96 page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages.” ~ Goodreads

 

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 3.94

“From the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy (aka: Area X) comes a story about two humans, and two creatures. The humans are Rachel and Wick – a scavenger and a drug dealer – both with too many secrets and fears, ready with traps to be set and sprung. The creatures are Mord and Borne – animal, perhaps plant, maybe company discard, biotech, cruel experiment, dinner, deity, or source of spare parts.” ~ Provided by the publisher

 

Still not sure where to start?

Weird fiction anthologies will give you the opportunity to sample the work of various weird fiction authors and see what most interests you.

If you’re feeling brave, try the work of authors like Thomas Ligotti, Kathe Koja, Jon Padgett, Michael Cisco and so many others in the following collections.

 

The Year's Best Weird Fiction - Volume One edited by Laird Barron

The Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume One edited by Laird Barron

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 3.92

“Welcome to the weird! Acclaimed author and editor Laird Barron, one of weird fiction’s brightest exponents, brings his expert eye and editorial sense to the inaugural volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction.” ~ Goodreads

Also available in eBook (hoopla).

 

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Amazon: 4.25 | Goodreads: 4.13

The Weird features 110 stories by an all-star cast, from literary legends to international bestsellers to Booker Prize winners: including William Gibson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Franz Kafka, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Haruki Murakami, M. R. James, Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake, and Michael Chabon. “ ~ Goodreads

Jeff Vandermeer, author of the bestselling Area X Trilogy (which is being adapted to film in 2018) and editor of numerous Weird Fiction anthologies, describes what makes Weird Fiction a genre that is greater than the sum of its parts:

Here, in what is actually our infancy of understanding the world—this era in which we think we are older than we are—it is cathartic to seek out and tell stories that do not seek to reconcile the illogical, the contradictory, and often instinctual way in which human beings perceive the world, but instead accentuate these elements as a way of showing us as we truly are. Unruly. Unruled. Superstitious. Absurd. Subject to a thousand destabilizing fears and hopes.


Want to learn more about Weird Fiction?

The Weird: An Introduction – Weird Fiction Review

Weird Fiction – Goodreads

A Beginner’s Guide to the New Weird Genre – Book Riot

Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Juliette H. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/weird-but-true-this-lesser-known-fiction-genre-is-making-a-comeback.

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