10 Royal Reads

On May 19, Britain’s Prince Harry will marry his American love, Meghan Markle. The Royal Wedding will take place at 12pm (7am ET) at St. George’s Chapel,  Windsor Castle. If your invitation got lost in the mail, you can celebrate along with the rest of the world, as the royal festivities will be broadcast online and on several television stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and HBO will all have coverage, among others). We’re even having a Royal Tea Party here at CPL!

To help us all get into a regal mood, we’ve made a list of royal reads to set the proper tone:

The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Unexpectedly falling for the crown prince Nicholas while attending Oxford, practical-minded Bex endures ritzy society gatherings, fashionable outings and unwelcome publicity as well as jealous ex-girlfriends and dark royal family secrets.

The SelectionThe Selection by Kiera Cass by Kiera Cass.  An America Singer is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, who is a caste below her.

Royal WeddingRoyal Wedding by Meg Cabot by Meg Cabot. In the first adult installment of the Princess Diaries series, Princess Mia and longtime boyfriend Michael plan their wedding, while a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne because of a royal secret.

Romancing the ThroneRomancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney by Nadine Jolie. When a scandal at her all-girls school threatens her university prospects, Libby enrolls in her sister Charlotte’s posh boarding school, where they become rivals for the affection of their classmate–the heir to the throne of Britain.

Once Upon a PrinceOnce Upon a Prince by Rachel Kauck by Rachel Hauck. Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation. It’s the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart?

The White QueenThe White Queen by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory. A tale inspired by the War of the Roses follows the conflict from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, who ascends to royalty and fights for the well-being of her family, including two sons whose imprisonment in the Tower of London precedes a devastating unsolved mystery.

Anne Boleyn : a King’s ObsessionAnne Boleyn: a King's Obsession by Alison Weir by Alison Weir. Henry VIII risks his marriage and the political strategies of Cardinal Wolsey in his obsession with Anne Boleyn, who does not welcome the king’s advances and loathes the cardinal for breaking her betrothal to Harry Percy.

Victoria by Daisy GoodwinVictoria by Daisy Goodwin. Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Wolf Hall Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel by Hilary Mantel. Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

Elizabeth IElizabeth I by Margaret George by Margaret George. Growing up at the side of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys struggles to regain power and position for her family while competing against the queen for the love of Robert Dudley, a rivalry that is set against a backdrop of the flourishing Elizabethan age.

 

 

Shakespeare Imagined: The Bard in Fiction

Who was William Shakespeare? Some folks think we know, others have doubts. Was Edward de Vere, Earl of the Oxford, really the Bard of Avon? Was it Christopher Marlowe? Or someone one else? Although new evidence points to the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon as the author of the plays,  there will always be speculation.

Whether or not you believe he was the son of a merchant who grew to become the most well-known playwright of all time or someone else, we all remain fascinated by his life. Many authors have re-imagined Shakespeare’s life and characters and the results are riveting! Shakespeare’s legacy is unique, his reach unparalleled. Try some of these works of fiction that feature either Shakespeare or one of his characters.

 The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan
There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. When and how did he become a genius? This novel  imagines the private world of the master bard and chronicles the transformation of an unwilling craftsman and resentful son into a husband, father and genius playwright in Renaissance London.

 

 Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
A retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest told from Miranda’s perspective as the magus’ isolated daughter, who finds solace and companionship with her father’s savage servant, Caliban. We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will? In this incredible retelling of the tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin–the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him.

 

 Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, is staging a Tempest like no other that will it boost his reputation. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge. After 12 years revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison. Here Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.

 The Tutor by Andrea Chapin
Another novel starring Shakespeare.  The year is 1590, and Katharine de L’Isle , a widow, is living at Lufanwal Hall, the  manor of her uncle, Sir Edward when a new schoolmaster arrives from Stratford, a man named William Shakespeare. Coarse, quick-witted, and brazenly flirtatious, Shakespeare swiftly disrupts the household and soon Katharine finds herself drawn into Shakespeare’s verse, and his life, in ways that will change her forever.

 Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen
A new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse. In Verona, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappelletti’s darkest secrets. Those secrets– and the nurse’s deep personal grief– erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

 The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson
The Winter’s Tale tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast. In The Gap of Time, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. The story is one of childhood friendship, the power of jealousy, and the redemption and enduring love of a lost child.

Embracing Earth Day

In January 1969, off the shores of Santa Barbara, California, on oil rig received a waiver to use a protective casing 61 feet shorter than Federal regulation allowed. The rig exploded with such force the sea floor cracked in 5 places. Three million gallons of crude left a 35-mile oil slick on California’s shores, and television brought images of ruined beaches and dying, oil-soaked animals into every home.

It was the flashpoint of the modern environmental movement.

So horrified were people that politicians banded together to pass the Environmental Protection Act (1970), the Clean Air and Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) as they realized the impact pollution was having on the country. And spearheading that, as a result of that oil spill, Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970, to raise awareness and bring people together to discuss environmental issues.

The Troubling Truth

Earth in 1970 was a very sorry place. We knew we were in trouble since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought toxic issues to the forefront in 1962, but we did little. Air pollution killed scores of people through respiratory disease (a 1952 smog inversion killed 12,000 people in London. A 1966 attack in New York City killed 168 people in just 3 days. Smog.) Factories, farms, and mines dumped waste everywhere. Love Canal was killing children with 30-year old toxic waste. The Bald Eagle, symbol of our country, was hovering at less than 500 nesting pairs remaining, and (by 1987) the California Condor would drop to 27 remaining individuals, due to DDT (which made eggs fragile) and lead poisoning. The dropping rates of biodiversity were becoming obvious.

Environmental Victories

And with all the discussion and science, changes began to happen. DDT was banned in 1972. Leaded gasoline was phased out in 1973. Lead-based household paint was banned in 1978. Flame retardants were phased out of infant clothing (because babies have such capacity to spontaneously combust after sunset). Pesticides were examined, and many were quickly banned from use. And amazingly, the Earth began to recover. Today the Bald Eagle is off the endangered species list, with more than 5,000 nesting pairs noted – I almost drove off the highway when I saw one sitting on a light post in the Catskills. A living, wild, Bald Eagle. A few California Condors have been re-released into the wild, with more than 400 individuals now living wild or in captivity. New trucks and buses have 99% fewer emissions than those in 1970. The Hudson River now has fish again.

A Long Way Still to Go

While Earth Day and a commitment to protecting our environment – and thus ourselves – has spread around the world, the world remains a very, very polluted place. Toxins from the 70’s still lurk in the oceans. Oil spills remain in beach sand and marshes. The US boasts more than 1300 Superfund sites for government clean-up – 26 in Connecticut, and a former one here in Cheshire. Around the world, developing countries lack regulations and power to deal with toxic waste – China’s air quality is deadly due to coal-fired factories belching out pollution. Africa is poisoned by heavy metal mining. India suffers from toxic manufacturing chemicals. Lake Karachay in Russia is the most polluted place on Earth: an old dumping ground for nuclear waste, standing on the shores of the lake will kill a human in no more than an hour – far more deadly than the radioactive Chernobyl or Fukushima disasters, which will haunt us for thousands of years to come. Microbeads are choking animal life. Pesticides believed to be linked to some forms of autism still hide in lakes, and toys, furniture, and clothing manufactured in Asia can still contain lead and chemicals long-banned elsewhere.

The Importance of Individuals

While we may blow off our green recycling bins and never return our bottles, those little things, combined, make a big impact. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new ones from ore. One ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, lessening the greenhouse effect. One ton of recycled plastic saves 16 barrels of oil – $1,000 per ton. Multiply that by all the people in your town, your state, your region – and think how that snowballs. So celebrate your cleaner environment on April 22. Plant a tree. Pick up garbage on the side of the road. Recycle your bottles. Take a walk and look at all the diversity of trees and flowers and birds around you, and breathe deep of air that doesn’t burn your nose and eyes and make you cough (does anyone else remember the stink of the Uniroyal plant when the wind would shift in 1970’s summers?) Marvel at the sight of fish in the Naugatuck River, where nothing survived before. A clean planet is in our grasp. Give a hoot, don’t pollute, and save paper by checking these books out from the library!

            

                                  

                                  

 

Read-alikes of Your Favorite Books

“I just finished Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, and it blew me away! What’s another book like that?”

We get questions like this every day at CPL. And while no two books are going to give you exactly the same reading experience, we know of plenty that are pretty similar to  that great book you just read.  For example, here are four titles that got a lot of Checkout time last year, and four others you might like just as much.

infographic illustrating the book selections mentioned in this article.

If you’d like to find more books to love, check out our reader’s advisory database NoveList (available on the eResources page of our website.) NoveList is the premier database of reading recommendations, available through libraries around the world, and makes it easy to match the right book with the right person.

Staff Picks are everywhere!

If there’s one thing we love, it’s recommending books. A walk through our main & lower levels will reveal a dozen or more themed book displays featured throughout, which we change and update frequently. There’s also our “Reader’s Depot” on the main level, which features the current NYT Bestsellers Lists, release dates for upcoming titles, read-alike lists, and more.

Anyone going through the Checkout area has seen our Staff Picks wall. This wall is filled in daily with books our staff members have read and enjoyed. There’s ALWAYS something good to read there!

You may not know that there is also a “Staff Picks” page in our catalog. Staff members have put together some themed book lists there for you to peruse. You can browse these Staff Picks right from home, and if you see something you like, reserve a copy online!

 

If you’re reading this blog, you already know there are a ton of reading suggestions here. Elsewhere on social media, our Tumblr is full of book lists & book news, too.  And of course, you can always come right out and ask us for reading suggestions. Or let us know about a book you enjoyed. We love getting book recommendations almost as much as giving them!