Reading as a Springboard

I realize we read for lots of reasons. Maybe you read to escape, or maybe you read to learn something new or to improve your lifestyle. One reason I love reading is that it makes me curious about so many topics. Almost always, the book I’m reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, will lead me to look up more information about the book’s subject.

For years, I have been recording every book I read on both Librarything.com and Goodreads.com and listing subject tags for the books. Here’s a list of the last 10 books I’ve read, along with their tags and what I researched after reading the book.

Eugene Bullard by Larry Greenly

 

 

I discovered this book on a library display during Black History month, shortly after reading a Facebook post about this man. I tagged this book with “aviation history, biography, non-fiction, and pilots”, and the book led me to read more about World War I, Paris, and the French Foreign Legion.

 

 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

 

 

I had loved Yaa Gyasi’s earlier book Homegoing, so I was eager to read Transcendent Kingdom. This one sent me to Google to learn more about the opioid crisis in the southeastern U.S. I tagged this with “addictions, families, and opioids”.

 

 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

 

 

I always try to find time to read the Newbery Medal book each year. This one was especially appealing to me since I love reading novels based on folklore. It earned the tags “Newbery Medal, folklore, Korean-Americans, families, and loss”. Of course, I had to learn more about the role of tigers in Korean folktales!

 

 

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

 

I have always enjoyed a good spy novel, and I really love historical novels with strong female characters. I had also been waiting impatiently for Kate Quinn to publish a new book! The tags I listed for this book are “codes, England, historical fiction, women’s roles, and World War II.” The book spurred an interest in the Enigma Code, the Bombe code-breaking machine, and all things related to Bletchley Park.

 

 

 

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

 

I’ve read several Young Adult novels that I loved by M.T. Anderson, so I was interested to see a non-fiction book by him. This had been on my “To Be Read” list for about five years! I loved the intersection of music and the attempts to maintain the spirit of the Russian people during World War II. I tagged it with “composers, music, non-fiction, Soviet Union, Russia, and World War II” and I followed up with some research on the composer and the siege of Leningrad.

 

 

 

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

 

I grew up eating both muscadines and scuppernongs, so this book caught my attention right away. It was a great southern story with family secrets, and I’m filing away the recipe I found online for muscadine jelly. My tags were “Georgia, families, family secrets, and southern fiction”.

 

 

 

 

The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson

 

Here’s another light and easy read, perfect for those who believe in second chances and the power of friendship. I tagged this novel with “canals, England, friendship, and second chances.” Afterwards, I spent time looking at pictures of narrowboats and at maps of British canals.

 

 

 

 

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

 

I love reading novels told in verse. They’re usually a fast read, and the format keeps even sad topics from becoming too overwhelming. This Young Adult book was about “classical dance, disabilities, and India”. I wanted to learn more about classical Indian dance and its connection to spirituality.

 

 

 

 

 

I picked this book up in a bookstore in my hometown and was surprised to learn about all the political corruption in a neighboring county during my high school years. My tags were ” civil rights, Georgia, non-fiction, political corruption, and racism”, but I could have also listed just about any vice. Unfortunately my searching on the internet  verified that everything the author said was true.

 

 

 

 

 

I received this Kindle book free with my Prime subscription. Translated from Spanish, it gave me more insight into the hardships faced by civilians on Germany’s Eastern front in World War II. I tagged the book with “Germany, historical fiction, World War II, Poland, Prussia, refugees, and Russia” and the first thing I needed to look up was the difference in Prussia and Poland.

 

Money Smart Week

MOney Smart Week April 10-17, 2021

Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. In 2021, all programs will be held virtually. There will be one short webinar offered FREE to the public each day. The presenters would like you to register ahead of time.

You can register here for any or all of the virtual programs.

Saturday, April 10, 2021 @ 11:00 a.m. ET 

“Talking Cents”

How do you talk to your children, aging parents, or life partner about money? It can be challenging to know where to start and what topics to bring up. Join us to discover some easy strategies and simple tools you can use to start these important conversations in a fun and comfortable manner. During this presentation, The University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative will provide tips for starting the often-challenging conversation about money with friends or family.

Sunday, April 11, 2021 @ 11:00 a.m. ET 

“Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference”

Have you heard that saving three months’ living expenses is necessary to cover emergency expenses? Many financial education programs equate this amount with adequate emergency savings. While this guidance may work for some people, it isn’t a realistic goal for many. Learn how and why a much smaller amount of savings can help keep your rent/mortgage protected and utilities on and just how little you might need to save per paycheck to reach these realizable goals. As a bonus, achieving these recommended amounts will allow you to be more financially satisfied and less likely to have to resort to high cost borrowing options like pawn shops or payday loans. During this presentation, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation will review how even a very modest savings cushion can be associated with major life improvements.

Monday, April 12, 2021 @ 1:00 p.m. ET 

“Bank On It: Finding Safe + Affordable Bank Accounts”

Wary of opening a bank account due to hidden fees and charges? Worried that you need every dollar that you earn, and want to avoid being charged due to a minimum balance requirement? All valid concerns given that many bank account terms contain long, confusing language on fees and high minimum balance requirements. You might have considered skipping a bank to avoid this confusion in managing your money. But – did you know that unbanked families are estimated to spend over $40,000 in their lifetimes on financial fees? Join us to learn how to find accounts that remove the risk of overdraft, low balance charges and other high fees so that you can manage your money to spend on what you choose. During this presentation, the Economic Awareness Council will review the many ways in which selecting a high-quality, safe and affordable bank account can improve your life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 @ 1:30 p.m. ET

“Understanding the Basics of Federal Student Loans”

Calling all borrowers, students and parents to join us in learning how U.S. Federal Student Aid (FSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, can help you – and how the division has adjusted their offerings to consider the impacts of Covid-19 on borrowers. Get a basic overview on federal student loan programs and learn tips to utilize federal student programs to help pay for education beyond high school. Learn how to create a FSA ID, and how to use new and redeveloped tools from the FSA. Gain insights on loan servicers, private student loans, debt relief scam prevention, monitoring your credit and default prevention. During this presentation, The U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid will share their core mission of ensuring that all eligible Americans benefit from federal financial assistance – including grants, loans and work-study programs – for education beyond high school.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 2:00 p.m. ET 

“Tax-Related Fraud + Identity Theft “

Identity theft and tax scams have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out what to do if you are an identity theft victim. Learn how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can help. Discover how to protect your records and stay aware of Covid-19 tax scams and phishing schemes. During this presentation, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will share information on how to recognize signs that your identity has been stolen for tax-related issues.

Thursday, April 15, 2021 @ 2:00 p.m. ET

“Managing Personal Finances During Covid-19”

Learn suggestions for managing your money in a time of crisis. Topics covered include budgeting, emergency savings and managing debt. While some factors affecting financial security are beyond individual control, financial know-how can help all of us better manage our finances – especially during the sudden and drastic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. During this presentation, The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) will aim to share the financial knowledge individuals need to fully participate in the economy and build secure futures.

Friday, April 16, 2021 @ 1:00 p.m. ET 

“Housing Protections + Resources”

The session will help people understand where to turn if they are having trouble making rent payments. Homeowners will learn how they are protected under federal law from foreclosure and can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments if they’re struggling financially. During this presentation, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will highlight resources that can help homeowners and renters during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saturday, April 17, 2021 @ 11:30 a.m. ET

“Tips for Managing Money Ups and Downs”

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a financial blow to many U.S. individuals and families. Join this session to learn how to do your best with what you have available. Learn budgeting tips and tricks to help you plan ahead and meet your monthly financial obligations. During this presentation, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension will focus on easy steps you can take to get control of your money even when it doesn’t seem like enough.

 

 

Spice Up Your Life!

This month we’re offering a “Take Home” activity for adults! Beginning April 1st, you can stop by the Dillsboro Public Library or the Aurora Public Library to pick up your “Spice Up Your Life” information. April’s featured spice is paprika, and you’ll receive a sample of three different types of paprika, along with recipes to try. Then read all about paprika (and check out more recipes) by using our online resource AtoZ Food America. You’ll just need your library card number to sign into the resource.

If you try one of the featured recipes, send a copy to stephanie@eapld.org, and we’ll show your creation on one of the library’s social media pages. You can also learn much more about the variety of spices in these three books which are available in the library’s print collection.

The Spice & Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill The Flavor of Spices by Fabienne Gambrelle The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Rick Riordan Presents – An Update

I first wrote about the book imprint “Rick Riordan Presents” back in 2019. Since then, the publisher has continued to roll out a great collection of books for a middle school audience based on based on world mythologies that have not been fully represented in children’s literature. These books will appeal to the same kids who devoured the Percy Jackson series, but with a wider geographical reach. Here’s what Rick Riordan had to say about the publishing venture:

“Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!”

Here’s the Rick Riordan Presents list, so far:

By Roshani Chokshi (Hindu mythology): Book 4 is coming in April of 2021.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

By J.C. Cervantes (Mayan mythology)

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes The Fire Keeper by J. C. Cervantes The Shadow Crosser by J. C. Cervantes

By Yoon Ha Lee ( a stand-alone with ties to Korean mythology)

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

By Carlos Hernandez (Science-fiction with ties to Cuban mythology)

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

By Kwame Mbalia (African American folk heroes and West African gods)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

By Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo mythology)

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

By Tehlor Kay Mejia (based on the Mexican legend of the Crying Woman)

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

By Sarwat Chadda ( based on Mesopotamian mythology)

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

By Gracie Kim ( based on Korean mythology and coming in May 2021)

Wives – Fictional and Real

I’m not very fond of the trend of creating a book title based on the profession of the main character’s spouse. However, that’s not enough to keep me from reading a good book. Here are a selection of books from the Aurora Public Library District collection based on the theme “________’s Wife.” I’ve grouped the books into totally fictional characters, novels based on a historical women, and a couple of actual biographies.

I love biographical fiction, so I’ll begin with those books. The Engineer’s Wife is the story of Emily Warren Roebling who married into the engineering family that designed both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati. Emily worked closely with her husband on the Brooklyn Bridge and carried on engineering duties when her husband was injured during the construction.

The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Emerson Wood The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin The Emancipator's Wife by Barbara Hambly

Anne Morrow Lindbergh is, of course, The Aviator’s Wife, written by Melanie Benjamin. Benjamin has also written biographical fiction about Lewis Carroll, Babe Paley, and Mrs. Tom Thumb. Mary Todd Lincoln was a controversial figure in her day. You can read about her in The Emancipator’s Wife as well as several books by Jennifer Chiaverini.

The Clergyman's Wife by Molly Greeley  The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

For all you Jane Austen fans, The Clergyman’s Wife is about Elizabeth Bennett’s friend Charlotte who marries the unbearable Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Davis Bunn and Janette Oke are both well-known as writers of Christian fiction, so if you enjoy biblical fiction, you should check out The Centurion’s Wife.

The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani  The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

The Salaryman’s Wife is set in Japan and is the first book in a mystery series. Adriana Trigiani and Joanna Trollope are both popular writers of domestic fiction.

If your reading tastes run more to actual biographies, try The Zookeeper’s Wife, set during World War II or Shakespeare’s Wife about Anne Hathaway.

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer

To find more “wife” books, just type the word “wife” into the catalog search box and then use the collection filters on the left side of the page to choose Adult Fiction or Adult Biography.

Meet Flavia de Luce

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, but are looking for something with a different twist, with a bit of quirkiness, you really need to meet Flavia de Luce, the heroine of a long-running series of books by Alan Bradley. The hook is that the detective is a precocious 11-year old girl with an expert knowledge of chemistry, especially poisons. Set in a post-World War II English village, Flavia lives with her father and a pair of irritating sisters in their ancestral home. Call her inquisitive, or even nosy, but Flavia’s knowledge of her neighbors’ eccentricities comes in handy as dead bodies keep turning up. The books are best read in order, so start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

An Irish Country Doctor Series

If you’ve fallen in love with the latest PBS version of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, you should try the Irish Country Doctor book series by Patrick Taylor. Although Taylor’s books are fictional and Herriot’s books are based on his real experiences as a country vet, the books have much in common. In both series, a medical practitioner fresh from college begins a new life working for an older doctor in a rural setting.

Set in Northern Ireland, these books, filled with plenty of local color and small-town eccentricities, have kept readers coming back for more since 2004. The latest entry, An Irish Country Welcome, was published in 2020.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor      An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor     An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor      

Children’s Book Awards 2021

Every winter, the library and publishing worlds eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. For publishers, it’s a chance to celebrate the critical success of their books. For authors and illustrators, the awards represent the the highest honors in children’s literature and virtually guarantee the books will be in publication for many, many years. For librarians, it’s just one more reason to share the “best of the best” with library patrons. Here are the 2021 winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

 

 

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The 2021 medal winner, We Are Water Protectors, was illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book was inspired by indigenous-led movements which have sounded an alarm about the need to protect our nation’s waters.

 

 

 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

 

 

In contrast to the Caldecott, the John Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished American book for children. It typically, though not aways, goes to the author of a chapter book. If you love books based on folklore, you need to read When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller! Here’s teaser from the publisher’s description, “Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

 

 

 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

 

The winner of the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award is Jacqueline Woodson for her book Before the Ever After. This novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when the father’s glory days as a professional football player have passed and he experiences the long-term physical effects of his career. Woodson has won numerous book awards including the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award and the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Coretta Scott King Book Committee also awards an annual illustrator award and an award for “New Talent.”

 

 

You can view the full list of Youth Media Awards here, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers, and the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors and illustrators who present an artistic expression of a disability experience.

Must Read Teen Fantasy

Some of these series have been around awhile and others are much newer. Whichever you prefer, these are great choices for teens and adults who enjoy reading fantasy.

Laini Taylor made a huge splash in the publishing world with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. She followed these books with Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

After a long pause, Kristin Cashore has returned to the Graceling Realm series this month with the publication of Winterkeep. Graceling was the first book written, but Fire is described as a prequel-companion book.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore Fire by Kristin Cashore Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

Leigh Bardugo describes the fantasy world she created for her Grisha trilogy as influenced by Imperial Russia, rather than medieval England, and as more repeating rifles rather than broadswords. Start now, and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in this world before the Netflix series premieres in April. Bardugo has other related books that are also set in this fantasy world.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy by Traci Chee is described as intricately plotted and culturally diverse with a lyrical writing style. It’s a swashbuckling world filled with pirates and assassins!

 The Reader by Traci Chee The Speaker by Traci Chee The Storyteller by Traci Chee

Here are some more “first books” in great fantasy series. Let us know which you like, and what new fantasy book you’re looking forward to.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

 

The Brontes Live On

If you love classic literature, you probably already know that there are many, many recent novels that tie into the plots created by Jane Austen. Novelists have also taken the opportunity to rework or reimagine the novels of the Bronte sisters, with Jane Eyre probably the most common source material. The books range from prequels to novels about the Brontes to modern updates. Let us know which of the original Bronte novels you love, and which retelling you enjoy!

Adele by Emma Tennant  The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Jane by April Lindner My Plain Jane by Hand, Ashton, and Meadows Jane Steele by Lyndsay Fay

The House of Dead Maids by Clare Dunkle The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis