Like Romance Novels but Hate the Covers? Here’s one solution.

I’m going to come clean – I’m a romance reader. There, I’ve said it. There can be some  stigma about the genre, though. Smart women don’t read romance. Romance is poorly-written schlock. It’s paperback porn. And the covers – oh the covers! – don’t exactly help overcome these assumptions about the quality of romance books.

Well, I’m a smart woman. I’m not a fan of bad writing. And the porn argument is pretty sexist. One thing I can’t argue with, though, are the covers; so many of them are just awful.

Like every genre, they’re not ALL gems, but these cheesy covers dumb the books down considerably. So what’s a romance-loving, cover-cringing reader to do?

E-books! We can read the books we like without flashing the eyebrow-raising covers around. Until the publishers figure out that romance readers don’t need a disembodied torso on the cover to sell copies, I will do most of my reading with a digital book.

These are just a few books I’ve loved in which the cover (and sometimes even the title!) had little or nothing to do with the actual story. If I were going by the covers, I probably wouldn’t have picked up these books, and would have missed some great reads:

 

 

 

Lucky for me, the library has digital copies of these titles, plus a LOT more. Cheshire Library has a large collection of all types of ebooks (including romance) available to download with your CPL card to your device of choice.  Our OverDrive platform has over 1500 romance ebooks available to check out, while our hoopla platform has over 1000. Enough to keep the most voracious reader supplied with happy endings.    

10 Books on the Small Screen in 2017

Adapting a novel for the big screen can be a tricky business, but novels adapted for small screen are expanding in popularity. Game of Thrones has been wildly successful at it. So has Outlander.  No longer confined to a two-hour movie-length,  popular books can be adapted more faithfully as a television series, without the best bits getting cut for time.

2017 is seeing a boom in book-to-television adaptations, and we can’t wait to see some of our favorites brought to life on the small screen. If you’re a read-it-before-you-watch-it person, add these to your TBR list:

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Netflix)

1After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that a distant relative  is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Netflix)

9When Clay Jenkins receives a box containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends the night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (Netflix)8

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Hulu)4

In a dystopian future, women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Starz)

3Just released from prison, Shadow encounters Mr. Wednesday, an enigmatic stranger who seems to know a lot about him, and when Mr. Wednesday offers him a job as his bodyguard, Shadow accepts and is plunged into a dark and perilous world.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (HBO)

2An annual school Trivia Night ends in a disastrous riot leaving one parent dead in what appears to be a tragic accident, but evidence shows it might have been premeditated.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (HBO)

6Returning to her hometown after a long absence to investigate the murders of two girls, reporter Camille Preaker is reunited with her neurotic mother and enigmatic, thirteen-year-old half-sister as she works to uncover the truth about the killings.

The Cormoran Strike series by J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith (BBC/HBO)tumblr_olhnnlisda1rmidh1o2_r1_1280

This three part series follows Cormoran Strike, a wounded war veteran-turned-private detective struggling to get by in Central London.

The Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris (NBC)

5Midnight, Texas, a dried-up, one traffic light town, gets shook up when a mysterious new resident, Manfred Bernardo, moves in.

 

The Terror by Dan Simmons (AMC)

7Captain Crozier must find a way for his crew to survive the deadly attacks of a sea monster, in this novel loosely based on the mid-nineteenth-century Arctic expedition led by Sir John Franklin.

 

Tossing and Turning? Try an Audiobook!

I think we all have nights when sleep eludes us. Our brains start whirling and it’s hard to quiet our thoughts enough to fall asleep. Some people take a pill. I take a book, an audiobook, that is.

I have found that listening to audiobooks in bed at night is the best way to redirect my thoughts away from all the stuff that’s keeping me awake. I discovered this by accident when my children were young and would wake up from a nightmare. They would inevitably be too keyed up to fall back to sleep, and I would stay up with them, usually telling them a story to get their mind off the bad dream until they could drift back off to sleep.

Years later, I had trouble sleeping myself and decided to adapt the storytelling method that had worked with my kids. I started listening to audiobooks at bedtime. What a help they were! I would inevitably fall asleep faster with the audiobook than without, and I found a way to squeeze a little extra “reading” time in!

Now, not all audiobooks are suitable for relaxing bedtime listening. A gruesome crime novel or horror story kind of defeats the purpose – I reserve grittier fare for print reading. Likewise, I find most mysteries require too much attention to detail, so are not the best for my “bedtime stories”. Romance, humor, fantasy, and classics have become my nighttime listening go-tos.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to give my insomnia-cure a try (great for daytime listening, too!):

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady. A perfect match of book and narrator, this quirky Aussie love story is a delight.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by R.C. Bray. Terrific narration by Bray gets character Mark Watney’s nerdy genius and dry humor just right.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman, read by George Newbern. You’ll quickly embrace the prickly Ove, and the neighbors who invade his formerly well-ordered life.

The Harry Potter audiobooks by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is a perfect example of how the right narrator can elevate even the best books. He’s won many awards for his narration of the Harry Potter series, and all the accolades are deserved.

The His Dark Materials audiobooks by Philip Pullman, performed by a full cast. Another series that absolutely blooms to life in audio, with this full cast performance pulled together by Pullman’s narration. It’s stunning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Rob Inglis. Even if you’ve read the book, you’ll get something new out of the audiobook. If you like Inglis’s narration of The Hobbit, you can listen to him read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

The Outlander audiobooks by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter. Again, even if you’ve read the Outlander series before, you will find new things to love about it in Davina Porter’s skilled narration. And it’s nice to hear all the Gaelic words pronounced correctly!

Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author. This book is, quite frankly, hysterical, and Tina Fey’s narration will have you chuckling into your pillow.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. Sure, it’s the story of a middle-aged man’s unhealthy obsession with a teenager, but the prose is practically poetry and Jeremy Iron’s narration is mesmerizing.

7 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. If you think poetry’s “not your thing”, you might be surprised to find out you already enjoy it, you just didn’t know it was poetry. Stretch your creative mind and embrace poetry in one of its many forms during National Poetry Month. Here are 7 ways you can celebrate:

1. Borrow a book of poetry from the library. The great thing about poetry books, you don’t need to read them cover-to-cover to enjoy them. Find a few poems that speak to you.

2. Check out a CD and read the song lyrics. Songwriting is a form of poetry. Don’t know where to start? Try:

3. Read a novel told in verse. Don’t know where to start? Try:

4. Attend the Poetry Open Mic Morning at CPL on April 8.

  • Teens and adults are welcome to bring their own original poetry to share, recite a poem by a classic author, or just sit back and enjoy the verses.

5. Create a poem on the Magnetic Poetry Board in our lobby.

  • Sometimes it’s easier when the words are all there, you just need to gather them together.

 

6. Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27, 2017.

  • Select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day, including on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

7. Watch a “poet” movie. A few ideas:

 

 

Why We Need Diverse Books

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-5-07-57-pmIn your wanderings around the internet, you may have seen references to “diverse books”, maybe even noticed the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. What, exactly, is this all about, and how did it become a “thing”? In a Twitter exchange in 2014, YA authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo discussed their frustration with the lack of diversity in children’s and YA literature. Several other authors, bloggers, and others in the book industry joined the conversation, and a movement was born.
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 This is not a new subject. In Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American jacket-aspxnovelist Toni Morrisson’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye (published in 1970), the character of Pecola Breedlove prays every day that she will wake up with white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, despite the fact that she is an African-American girl. She reads “Dick and Jane” books, plays with white-skinned dolls, etc., and gets the subliminal message that white is normal, better, best. Percola didn’t see herself reflected in the books she read, which lead to her assumption that she was less-than.
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Why has diversity in literature (in particular, children’s lit) become such a cause? It has long been established that the world of fiction is a lot whiter than the real 20141021193246-wndb_infographic_squareworld. Today, so many kids and teens learn about the world through the media they consume: books, movies, magazines, etc.  As our country gets more and more diverse, shouldn’t our reading material follow suit? And it’s not only children of color,  physical challenges, or atypical family situations that benefit from diverse books. It’s a well know fact that fiction reading increases empathy in the reader, and reading about primarily white characters and culture can contribute to “otherness” and preconceived notions that turn into prejudice. How much better to foster empathy and understanding early in all children with diverse books.
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Where to begin? Here are some books recommended by WNDB to get you started. Let’s make 2017 a diverse reading year!
Young  Adult Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-46-46-pmX : a Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Middle Grade Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-55-56-pmBlackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
The Red Pencil  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Picture Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-56-52-pmBeautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden
The Twins’ Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Tutus Aren’t My Style by by Linda Skeers
Red: a Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall