Books to Cozy Up With This Winter

What, I ask you, is better that curling up inside with good book when it’s cold and blustery outside? So grab a blanket and a hot beverage, throw another log on the fire, and grab a couple of library books to cozy up with during the long winter nights ahead.

Here are ten to tempt you:

Beartown by Frederik Backman. People say Beartown is finished. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. Five people, buffeted by life’s difficulties, come together at a rundown estate house in Northern Scotland during a revelatory Winter Solstice.

One Day in December by Josie Silver. Tells the story of Jack and Laurie, who meet at a bus stop and continue to circle each other’s lives seemingly fated to be together, except not actually managing it, for a ten years.
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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. A childless couple working a farm in the brutal landscape of 1920 Alaska discover a little girl living in the wilderness, with a red fox as a companion, and begin to love the strange, almost-supernatural child as their own.
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The Snowman by Jo Nesbø. In Oslo, after the first snow of the season has fallen, a woman disappears, and a sinister snowman is left in her wake. Detective Harry Hole realizes that this is only one of multiple disappearances, he begins to think a serial killer may be at work.
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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
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Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg. Isaiah, the son of one of Smilla Jasperson’s neighbors, is found face-down in the snow outside her Copenhagen apartment building. Smilla quickly rejects the official verdict of accidental death when she observes the footprints the boy left in the snow, and starts investigating.
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Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. After poor reviews about his latest book, writer Charles Dickens is given a one-month ultimatum by his publisher to write a successful, nostalgic Christmas book, a challenge that is complicated by self-doubt and the hardships of an impoverished young woman and her son.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The classic tale chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters as they grow into young ladies in nineteenth-century New England.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. In an alternative world in which every human being is accompanied by an animal familiar, the disappearance of several children prompts Lyra and her bear protector to undertake a journey to the frozen Arctic in pursuit of kidnappers.

 

CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2019

As you might imagine, our library staff reads a lot of books! I recently asked CPL staffers what their favorite reads of the last year were, and the list was varied and long, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, older titles and new releases. If you’re looking for some “librarian-approved” reading, we’ve got quite a few suggestions for you!

Print Fiction:

Audiobook:

Graphic Novel:

Print Nonfiction:

Return of the Rom-Com!

The romantic comedy film genre took a serious dive in popularity over the last 2 decades, going from 2 billion dollars in tickets sales (1999) to less than 1/2 million (2018). Romantic comedy novels followed a similar trajectory.  But the film genre is experiencing a resurgence, and rom-com novels are riding their coattails with a comeback of their own.

The past couple of years have seen an explosion of romantic comedies in publishing – heck, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction went to a book with a lot of rom-com characteristics: Less by Andrew Sean Greer. As poignant as it is humorous, Greer’s award-winning novel contains many familiar rom-com tropes, and also turns a few on their heads!

Once known somewhat disparagingly as “chick lit”, these smart and sassy stories explore all the quirks and foibles of modern relationships, often tackling difficult subjects but never losing their sense of humor. If you’re new to the genre, this list of recent romantic comedies is a good place to start:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are competitive rivals at a publishing company and profess to hate each other, but when the tension reaches the boiling point, they both wonder if the competition is just a game and that maybe they don’t hate each other after all.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. Partnered with a nemesis best man on a paradise honeymoon when her bride twin gets food poisoning, a chronically unlucky maid of honor assumes the role of a newlywed before unexpectedly falling for her companion.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. A 30-year-old math whiz with Asperger’s tries to make her love life as rich as her career by hiring an escort to help her with her lack of knowledge and experience in the dating department.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Stranded together in an elevator during a power outage, Drew and Alexa agree to pose as a couple at an ex’s wedding and discover afterwards that they are unable to forget each other.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young. After her delayed flight, Ava has a brief intimate encounter with Caleb, an arrogant Scotsman, and never expects to see him again, but when he is stranded in Boston, they reconnect, and Ava has to deal with her increasing attraction.

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. After meeting the former actor she had a crush on as a teenager and fangirling all over him, Kailyn Flowers strikes up a friendship with Daxton Hughes who needs help acting as guardian to his 13-year-old-sister.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. A modern Muslim adaptation of Pride and Prejudice finds a reluctant teacher who would avoid an arranged marriage setting aside her literary ambitions before falling in love with her perpetually single cousin’s infuriatingly conservative fiancé.

Red, White & Royal Blue  by Casey McQuistion. A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends.

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri. A romantic comedy about gender and sexuality follows the experiences of a traditionally minded Midwesterner who, in the aftermath of an ended engagement, finds herself in a transformative relationship with a self-assured New York businesswoman.

 

 

A Reading List for Pride Month

Pride Month (also known as LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn staged an uprising to protest the police harassment and persecution to which LGBT Americans were commonly subjected. This began of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBT Americans.

The American Library Association has also named June GLBT Book Month, celebrating the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Whether you are a part of the LGBT community or not, finding your self in one of these books or going outside your comfort zone, these books about the LGBT experience can help to foster a greater understanding of the diverse world we live in.

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932Lovers at the Chameleon Club by Francine Prose  by  Francine Prose. At the Chameleon Club in Paris, Lou Villars, a star athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among its patrons, and as time passes, she experiences a transformation that warps her earnest desire for love and approval into something dangerous.

When Katie met Cassidy When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perriby Camille Perri. A romantic comedy about gender and sexuality follows the experiences of a traditionally minded Midwesterner who, in the aftermath of an ended engagement, finds herself in a transformative relationship with a self-assured New York businesswoman.

MiddlesexMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides by Jeffrey Eugenides. In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls’ school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking strawberry blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them – along with Callie’s failure to develop – leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The Danish Girl  The Danish Girl by David Ebershoffby David Ebershoff. Set in 1920s Copenhagen, this tender tale of love and marriage in the midst of fundamental crisis introduces a man who discovers he’s a woman and the woman who will do anything for him.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor. A thirteen-year-old girl on the run with her mother from her father revisits her mother’s former foster care homes to repay old debts and keep promises, learning astonishing truths along the way, in a novel that strikes at the heart of a mother-child bond and the exploration of gender identity.

If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson  by John Green & David Levithan. When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.

Prudence by David Treuer. A haunting and unforgettable novel about love, loss, race, and desire in World War II–era America, about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can’t help but tell, and who—and how—we’re allowed to love.

Becoming Nicole : the Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. The true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.

Believe Me : a Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard, with Laura Zigman. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, Eddie Izzard reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running and philanthropy.

 

The 10 Most Romantic Movies EVER!

A bold claim, I know. But if you’re in the mood for love, these  movies are guaranteed to make your heart go pitty-pat. The best part is, you can check them out from the library and watch them at home with your own true love, snuggled up in front of the TV, (maybe throw a glass of wine in there – romance!). I stand by my ranking of these movies as the most romantic, but I’m willing to concede that romance is in the eyes of the beholder – share your favorites in the comments!

screenshots from Casablanca, Brokeback Mountain, and Say AnythingCasablanca (1942). Former lovers Rick and Ilsa are unexpectedly reunited in north Africa during WWII.  The old feelings are still there, though Ilsa is now married to the gallant resistance hero Victor. Lots of yearning, lots of  smoldering looks and “will they or won’t they get back together?” moments.  A romantic classic for good reason.

Brokeback Mountain (2005). This film has a lot of the same elements that make Casablanca great, except it’s two cowboys in the 60’s. Stay with me here: Ennis and Jack are helplessly drawn to one another and remain so over decades of clandestine meetups. Lots of yearning, lots of smoldering looks, lots of and “will they or won’t they get back together?” moments.  It’s an emotional roller coaster, and the last scenes of this movie completely gut me.

Say Anything (1989). He’s a slacker, she’s a brain. She’s way out of his league, but they fall in love anyway. And there’s Lloyd’s big gesture with the boombox to declare his undying love to Diane, despite the odds against them, (Peter Gabriel likely made a mint off of that song). Teenagers-in-love perfection, written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

screenshots from When Harry Met Sally, Wall-E, and Silver Linings PlaybookWhen Harry Met Sally (1989).  This movie was written by Nora Ephron, and stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, so you know it’s not one of those angsty romantic dramas, it’s a witty romantic comedy. This friends-to-lovers romance navigates the many bumps in the road to love hilariously, and is a real feel-good movie.

WALL-E (2008). Yes, it’s an animated movie about a trash-collecting robot, set hundreds of years in the future, but Pixar has totally made an epic romance here. WALL-E is all alone collecting trash on the now-deserted Earth when another robot (“EVE”) crash lands nearby. So delighted to see another being of any kind, WALL-E “courts” her enthusiastically. Things go very wrong before they right themselves, and for a story about robots, it has a lot of heart.

Silver Linings Playbook  (2012).  A funny and touching look at romance through the eyes of two pretty mentally unstable people. Love has broken both of them, and love will eventually put them back together, but what a crazy ride it is from point A to point B. Five star performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (both pretty easy on the eyes –  just saying) seal the deal on this one, and the dance scenes are the icing on the cake.

The Way We Were (1973). Meeeemoriesss … light the corners of my miiiiind. Sorry, I got distracted there. Speaking of easy on the eyes, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford screenshots from The Way We Were, Ghost, and An Affair to Rememberare looking pretty fetching in this one. A tale of opposites attracting, but will the friction pull them together of push them apart? Katie and Hubbell try to make it work, but it all turns to misty water-colored memories by the end…

Ghost (1998). No one knew pottery was sexy before this movie. But boy howdy, it is! Hot young wife Molly is mourning the loss of her hot young husband Sam, who was killed in a mugging. Demi Moore‘s tears should get separate billing, they’re on screen so much, but what could be a real downer of a movie is instead a sweet story of love and finding a way to move on. Whoopi Goldberg provides some welcome comic relief as the medium who helps Sam communicate with Molly from beyond.

An Affair to Remember (1957). Playboy Cary Grant meets nice girl Deborah Kerr on a transatlantic crossing. They are both engaged to others, but hopelessly drawn to one another. And then, well, it’s an affair to remember! At the end of the cruise, they agree to go back to their regular lives, and meet in six months at the Empire State Building if they truly can’t forget each other. The ending is totally tissue-worthy.

screenshots from animated and live action versions of Beauty and the BeastBeauty and the Beast (1991) and Beauty and the Beast (2017). Whether it’s the original animated film or the newer live action version, this love story is a tale as old as time. And a musical! She’s bookish, he’s brutish, yet somehow they connect. True love breaks an evil curse, and they live happily ever after. And ladies, any man that gives you a library is a keeper!