CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2020

Ask a librarian for some good books, be prepared for a long list! I recently asked our staff members to share some their favorite reads in 2020, and the answers that came back were many and varied. We really do read a lot! Not all the books on this list were published in 2020, (some were older books we just got around to reading in 2020!), but all received a solid thumbs up from a member of our staff:

Children’s Books

Picture Books

Chapter Books

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Adult Non-Fiction

 

( * – this book was recommended by more than one staff member)

 

Completed book series to binge-read this winter

There is no more frustrating moment than when you finish a great book to discover it ends in a cliffhanger and the next book in the series won’t come out for another year (or, if you’re an Outlander fan, five years)!  We’re going to be stuck at home quite a bit this winter, so it’s a great time to binge-read a full series beginning to end, no cliffhangers allowed. Here are a few completed book series you can read from start to finish this winter.

The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

  1. Annihilation
  2. Authority
  3. Acceptance

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

  1. The Golden Compass
  2. The Amber Spyglass
  3. The Subtle Knife

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

  1. My Brilliant Friend
  2. The Story of a New Name
  3. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
  4. The Story of the Lost Child

Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati

  1. Into the Wilderness
  2. Dawn on a Distant Shore
  3. Lake in the Clouds
  4. Fire Along the Sky
  5. Queen of Swords
  6. The Endless Forest

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

  1. The Gunslinger
  2. The Drawing of the Three
  3. The Waste Lands
  4. Wizard and Glass
  5. Wolves of Calla
  6. Song of Susannah
  7. The Dark Tower

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

  1. The Eye of the World
  2. The Great Hunt
  3. The Dragon Reborn
  4. The Shadow Rising
  5. The Fires of Heaven
  6. Lord of Chaos
  7. A Crown of Swords
  8. The Path of Daggers
  9. Winter’s Heart
  10. Crossroads of Twilight
  11. Knife of Dreams
  12. The Gathering Storm
  13. Towers of Midnight
  14. A Memory of Light

Mystery readers may also like these two “girl-detective” series’ we recently wrote about: A Double Dose of Girl Power: Enola Holmes and Flavia de Luce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving-themed Books for Kids and Adults


For many of us, Thanksgiving has been a time when family members far and wide gather together, with as many people and as much food crammed around the dinner table as we can fit. Ah, the good old days! Thanksgiving may look a little different this year,  when social distancing and travel restrictions can put a damper on social gatherings.  Never fear! We’ve put together some Thanksgiving-themed reading to help keep your holiday spirit going, even if you’re celebrating from a distance.

For Kids:

 

For Adults:

 

 

A Double Dose of Girl Power: Enola Holmes and Flavia de Luce

When the Enola Holmes movie was recently released on Netflix, I decided to read the book that it was based on (The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer) before watching the movie. As I read the book, I was struck by two things. #1, though this book series is found in the Children’s Room, it has surprisingly sophisticated themes and I found it very appealing as an adult reader. #2, the protagonist, Enola Holmes, precociously adept at solving mysteries, reminded me of another young sleuth I loved, the delightfully quirky Flavia de Luce from Alan Bradley’s series.

I quickly devoured The Case of the Missing Marquess, and immediately checked out the rest of the series. I’m happy to report that all six books are wonderful, quick reads that will appeal the fans of dear Flavia, or cozy mysteries in general. Let’s take a look at the young protagonists from each series.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, whom she admires but rarely sees. Raised by her mother in a very unconventional way, and often left to her own devices for extended periods of time, Enola has a skill set not normally found in young ladies of her era, with a particular talent for cryptology. In 1900, on her 14th birthday, her mother mysteriously disappears, leaving coded clues behind. Enola sets out to solve the mystery of her disappearance, much to the consternation of her brothers, who want to put her into boarding school and make a proper lady out of her. She is in hiding from them for most of the series, and it’s fun to watch Enola outsmart the brothers who think themselves so much smarter than her.

Flavia de Luce is an 11-year-old girl in 1950 who lost her mother when she was a baby. She lives with her largely-absent father and two annoying older sisters on an English country estate that’s seen better days. Flavia’s upbringing is also quite unconventional, and she spends much of her time indulging her passion for chemistry, becoming quite an expert in poisons through the many experiments she conducts in her laboratory. Flavia’s obsession with the gruesome and deadly along with her need to get to figure out why things happen is a by-product of losing her mother at such an early age; indeed Harriet de Luce remains a presence in the sad little family throughout the series. While this could be maudlin, it is never overdone, and Flavia’s determination to make sense of events in the world around her drives everything she does. She is the definition of “pluck”.

Both girls are motherless and do not follow the social norms of their times. Both have older siblings who are the banes of their existence.  Both are whip-smart and often underestimated by the adults around them. And both have the uncanny knack for landing in the middle of trouble, over and over again, and are able to survive largely by their wits.

The Flavia de Luce stories are longer and a bit more complex than the Enola Holmes stories, but watching both of these unconventional sleuths get to the bottom of each mystery they land into is pure delight. I’ll add an additional plug for the audiobooks, the narrators of each series are pitch-perfect in their portrayals, and really bring the characters to life.

It’s recommended to read the books in both series in order, as each book builds off the previous one. Get a double dose of girl power with these terrific mysteries!

Flavia de Luce Mysteries:

  1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  2. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
  3. A Red Herring Without Mustard
  4. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
  5. Speaking from Among the Bones
  6. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
  7. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
  8. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
  9. The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place
  10. The Golden Tresses of the Dead

Enola Holmes Mysteries:

  1. The Case of the Missing Marquess
  2. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
  3. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
  4. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
  5. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
  6. The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye

Become a “Fake News” Detective – how to verify what you see online before you share it

In 2019, Pew Research found that 55% of American adults said they get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes” .  And while some news on social media may come from reliable sources, plenty more “news” may be from articles reposted or retweeted by friends.  So, as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and seeing articles (or comments on articles) that provoke a reaction in you, how do you know what you’re seeing is legitimate?

We are living in an age of misinformation – just about anyone can become a “publisher” these days with little to no oversight or verification. And many of these publishers aren’t even people! Recently,  researchers at Carnegie Melon University studied more than 200 million tweets about the novel coronavirus. Of the top 50 most influential retweeters, 82% of them were bots! What were they retweeting? Dozens of inaccurate stories about things like bogus conspiracy theories and phony cures.

How do we know what’s real and what isn’t nowadays? It takes some digging. And it’s worth doing a little fact-checking of your own before hitting the “share” button. We should also understand that there are different types of unreliable information out there. For instance there’s a difference between deliberately misleading information (propaganda and libel) and unintentional misinformation (mistakes). But we don’t want to spread either kind, so let’s look at how to separate the fact from fiction.

The C.R.A.P. Test, developed by Dominican University Librarian Molly Beestrum, is a helpful tool to use when trying to decide if something is a credible, valid source. When you come across questionable information, run it through these four categories:

Current

  • How current is the information?
  • How recently was it was posted? Has it been updated?

Reliable

  • How reliable is the information?
  • Does the author provide references or sources?
  • What proof do you have that the information is reliable?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author of the information? What are his or her credentials?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the information? Is this a reputable information source?

Purpose/Point ofView

  • What is the purpose of this information? Is it intended to inform, entertain, or persuade?
  • Does the information sound like fact or opinion? Is it biased?
  • Is the creator or author trying to sell you something?

Something else to think about is the emotional response an article or post evokes in you. Content creators are all about the emotional response, and “fake news” stories often use emotionally driven content to push their agenda and compel people to share it. The next time you are outraged or amazed by a story, look a little deeper. Fact checking sites like Snopes.com and  FactCheck.org, can help you determine if what you’ve seen is legitimate or not.

Here’s a helpful checklist by ProQuest (a global information-content and technology company that provides applications and products for libraries),  which contains a lot of useful tips for vetting online content:

Want to go deeper into the subject of information literacy and “fake news”? Here are a few books to get you started:

Fake news, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies : how to find trustworthy information in the digital age by Donald A. Barclay

Merchants of Truth : the business of news and the fight for facts by Jill Abramson

The Smear : how shady political operatives and fake news control what you see, what you think, and how you vote by Sharyl Attkisson

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

What’s Fake News?  by Joyce Jeffries

 

 

 

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