READ MORE in 2019

Part 1 – CREATING YOUR GOALS

I imagine that most people’s bookish New Year’s resolutions revolve around an amount of reading such as “read x number of books” or, more broadly, “read more.” Here are some creative ideas on that theme:

When you set your goal, make the number attainable. Reading should be enjoyable and you don’t want to end your year feeling bad about not making your goal. You can even break it up into something more manageable, such as “Read two books per month.”

Concentrate on forming a habit of reading, such as “Read a little bit each evening” or “Only listen to audiobooks when driving or while at the gym.”

Focus on reading more diversely, like taking part in Book Riot’s annual Read Harder Challenge, There are lists for your favorite author and even your favorite band!  There are challenges like this one from Bookish that let you pick and choose.  So if you’re a speedy reader you might hit all 52 suggestions; but if you struggle to find time to read, you could pick out 10 of them for all of 2019.  And you can simply make your own reading challenges, such as, “Read a book from every section of the library,” “Read 3 books received as gifts that I’ve not yet read,” or “Reread a book from my childhood.”

Don’t forget to mix in shorter books, graphic novels, picture books (if you have little ones or have little ones to whom you gift books), and audiobooks.

This reading is for YOU, so remember to have fun.  Keep track of your titles, use a notebook, app or journal to list the books you’ve read and rate them, maybe even write reviews.  Don’t be afraid to quit books you don’t like. I know that, for me, if I’m reading a book I’m not enjoying, I read much more slowly or find excuses to do other things. You’re not some kind of hero for reading a book you don’t like. You’re not going to get any award at the end of it!  Read because you love to read.

Top Mystery Reads

Check out what mystery titles our patrons at the Smyrna Public Library are reading!

poisonA Crime of Poison by Nancy Haddock 

It’s early October, time for the Fall Folk Art Festival and Bake Sale in Lilyvale, Arkansas. Every business along the town square will benefit from the event, including the craft store run by Leslee Stanton Nix-aka Nixy-and the Silver Six, a group of retirees. In charge of making the festival go smoothly, Nixy is confident that it will be a success. But things become knotty when local troublemaker Cornell Lewis is found dead with a plate of Snickerdoodles from the bake sale. Two members of the Silver Six are accused of cooking up a murder plot, but Nixy knows that the cookies weren’t literally to die for. With time running out, Nixy and company must catch the actual killer . . . before the Silver Six find their number permanently reduced to four.

conspiracyA Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

Being shunned by society gives Charlotte Holmes the freedom to put her powers of deduction to good use. As Sherlock Holmes, aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for this new client. Lady Ingram wants Sherlock to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half-brother…

flippedFlipped for murder by Maddie Day

“Nursing a broken heart, Robbie Jordan is trading in her life on the West Coast for the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After paying a visit to her Aunt Adele, she fell in love with the tiny town of South Lick. And when she spots a For Sale sign on a rundown country store, she decides to snap it up and put her skills as a cook and a carpenter to use. Everyone in town shows up for the grand re-opening of Pans ‘n Pancakes, but when the mayor’s disagreeable assistant is found dead, Robbie realizes that not all press is good press. With all eyes on her, she’ll have to summon her puzzle-solving skills to clear her name, unscramble the town’s darkest secrets, and track down a cold-blooded killer–before she’s the next to die…”

bigToo Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Too big to miss–that’s Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged, plus-sized woman who makes no excuses for her weight, she’s not super woman just a mere mortal standing on the precipice of menopause, trying to cruise in an ill-fitting bra. She struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier boss. And then there’s her knack for being in close proximity to dead people… When her close friend Sophie London commits suicide in front of an online web-cam by putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger, Odelia’s life is changed forever. Sophie, a plus-sized activist and inspiration to imperfect women, is the last person anyone would ever have expected to end her own life. Suspecting foul play, Odelia is determined to get to the bottom of her friend’s death. Odelia’s search for the truth takes her from southern California strip malls to the world of live web-cam porn to the ritzy enclave of Corona del Mar. Praise: “I’d like to spend more time with Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia, a plus-size fat-liberationist with a handsome wheelchair-bound lover. Odelia…does not hesitate to give justice a small, well-plotted forward shove at every opportunity.”–The New York Times

studyA study in scarlet women by Sherry Thomas

An NPR Best Book of 2016 USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down… With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old–a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
cheddarFor cheddar or worse by Avery Aames
“In the new Cheese Shop Mystery from the Agatha Award-winning author of As Gouda as Dead , an extra-sharp tongued cheese critic is cut down during a summer cheese festival. It’s time for the annual Cheese Festival in Providence, Ohio, and Charlotte Bessette’s cheese shop is packed with homemade specialties. Meanwhile, her friend Erin is prepping her dairy farm and inn for cheese makers, marketers, journalists, and one surprise guest-Lara Berry, pretentious cheese whiz, pompous bestselling author, and pungent critic whose extra sharp tongue can crumble a reputation. Even though any love for Lara by her friends curdled long ago, Charlotte is surprised when the foodie is smothered to death in her room at Erin’s inn. Accusations start flying, but the one laying blame on Erin strikes Charlotte as a crock. Now, to clear her friend’s name, Charlotte has to sift through Lara’s ex-lovers, former business partners, and unforgiving enemies to find a killer before Lara’s past casts a tainted pall on the festival’s future. Recipes included.
forgottenThe Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel
#1 International Bestseller THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS The body of an unidentified woman has been discovered in a remote forest. A large, unique scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. Louise Rick, the new commander of the Missing Persons Department, waits four long days before pulling off a risky move: releasing a photo of the victim to the media, jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation in hopes of finding anyone who knew her. The gamble pays off when a woman recognizes the victim as Lisemette, a child she cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette was a “forgotten girl”, abandoned by her family and left behind in the institution. But Louise soon discovers something even more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates more than thirty years ago. Louise’s investigation takes a surprising when it brings her closer to her childhood home. And as she uncovers more crimes that were committed–and hidden–in the forest, she is forced to confront a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed. Set against a moody and atmospheric landscape, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is twisty, suspenseful, emotionally intense novel that secures Sara Blaedel’s place in the pantheon of great thriller writers.
killWinterkill by C. J. Box
Joe Pickett’s pursuit of a killer through the rugged mountains of Wyoming takes a horrifying turn when his beloved foster daughter is kidnapped in this thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series. It’s an hour away from darkness, a bitter winter storm is raging, and Joe Pickett is deep in the forest edging Battle Mountain, shotgun in his left hand, his truck’s detached steering wheel handcuffed to his right–and Lamar Gardiner’s arrow-riddled corpse splayed against the tree in front of him. Lamar’s murder and the sudden onslaught of the snowstorm warn: Get off the mountain. But Joe knows this episode is far from over. And when his own daughter gets caught up in his hunt for the killer, Joe will stop at nothing to get her back…
justiceJustice delayed by Patricia Bradley
It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case–if they can–alongside the best Memphis has to offer.
bookedDouble booked for death by Ali Brandon
Darla Pettistone left Texas for New York after unexpectedly inheriting her Great-Aunt Dee’s Brooklyn bookstore. She didn’t know that the store’s mascot–Hamlet, an oversize black cat with a personality to match–was also part of the deal. And he may be more trouble than Darla bargained for… As the new owner of Pettistone’s Fine Books, Darla Pettistone is determined to prove herself a worthy successor to her late great-aunt Dee…and equally determined to outwit Hamlet, the smarter-than-thou cat she inherited along with the shop. Darla’s first store event is a real coup–the hottest bestselling author of the moment is holding a signing there, which brings hordes of fans and some protestors. But when the author meets an untimely end during the event, it’s hardly good for business, even though it’s ruled an accident…until Hamlet digs up a clue that seems to indicate otherwise. Now Darla fears a killer might be lurking about… Can the interfering Hamlet point the paw at the culprit without losing one of his own nine lives?
CHECK OUT ALL THESE AND MORE GREAT MYSTERIES AT ANY BRANCH OF THE RUTHERFORD COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM!
EXPLORE. IMAGINE. ENGAGE @ RCLS
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Coming soon to a theatre near you!

Check out these books that are scheduled to hit the big screen between January and March in 2019:

nativesonNative Son (January 24, 2019)
Based on: Richard Wright, Native Son
Directed by: Rashid Johnson

Starring: Ashton Sanders, Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley, Bill Camp, KiKi Layne

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

nightingaleThe Nightingale (January 25, 2019)
Based on: Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale
Directed by: Michelle MacLaren

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war.; The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.; It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

screwThe Turning (March 14, 2019)
Based on: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Directed by: Floria Sigismondi
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince

The Turn of the Screw is an 1898 horror novella by Henry James that first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine. In October 1898 it appeared in The Two Magics, a book published by Macmillan in New York City and Heinemann in London.

knifeChaos Walking (March 1, 2019)
Based on: Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
Directed by: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette (March 22, 2019)
Based on: Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.

shepherd

Greyhound (March 22, 2019)
Based on: C. S. Forester, The Good Shepherd
Directed by:

 Aaron Schneider
Starring: Tom Hanks (who also wrote the screenplay), Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue

The Good Shepherd is a nautical and war novel by C.S. Forester, best known as the creator of fictional Royal Navy officer Horatio Hornblower.

secondsThe Informer (March 22, 2019)
Based on: Roslund/Hellström, Three Seconds
Directed by: Andrea Di Stefano

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Common, Ana de Armas

Dark, suspenseful, and more riveting than any thriller at the local cineplex, THREE SECONDS is the latest novel from best-selling Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Barge Hellstrom-heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime. Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he’s become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden’s prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country’s most notorious jail. But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens–a man who never gives up until he’s cracked the case. Grens’s determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman’s true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth. Winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ 2009 award for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, and a #1 bestseller there, THREE SECONDS captures a nefarious world of betrayal and violence, where a wise man trusts no one and even the most valuable agent can be “burned.”

Top RCLS Reads

Check out these top titles in Fiction and Non-Fiction that our RCLS patrons are reading:

letgo

 

Don’t let go by Harlan Coben

FIC COBEN

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks–and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions–about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana–whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.


fallen

The fallen by David Baldacci

FIC BALDACC

The closer Amos Decker comes to the truth, the deadlier it gets in #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci’s latest Memory Man thriller.

Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…


eyes

I’ve got my eyes on you : a novel by Mary Higgins Clark

FIC CLARK

When a terrible crime shocks a New Jersey community, all signs point to one suspect. But if he’s innocent as he claims, it means the murderer is still out there…

After throwing a party when her parents were away, 18-year-old Kerry Dowling is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the family pool. The police immediately question Kerry’s boyfriend, who–despite proclaiming his love for her–was seen arguing with Kerry that night. As neighbors and classmates grieve the loss of their friend, Kerry’s 28-year-old sister Aline, a guidance counselor, searches for answers. She’ll do anything to help the Detective Mike Wilson learn what really happened the night Kerry was killed.

Was someone watching Kerry the night of the murder? For Aline, the truth could be deadly.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” comes a thrilling investigation asking what we truly know about the those we trust, and the secrets lying in even the most idyllic of neighborhoods.


window

The woman in the window by A. J. Finn

FIC FINN

Anna Fox lives alone–a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble–and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one–and nothing–is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.


camino

Camino Island by John Grisham

FIC GRISHAM

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.


seize Seize the Day by Joyce Meyer

248.4 MEYER

Today is no ordinary day. You may perform simple routines, feel uninspired, or lack the excitement of hope. But today could be the most important one of your life–depending on how you choose to spend it. Joyce Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author, encourages you not to waste another minute. There is something special, valuable waiting for you to discover in each day. And when you spend time with God daily, asking Him to help you find it, you’ll unlock the wonderful purpose He has in store for you. When you commit to letting God direct you, instead of resting passively in your own disappointments, you’ll be open to receive greater happiness and blessings than you ever thought possible.


myths

Myths and Legends of the World by John M. Wickersham.

398.2 M V.1

As students study history, literature, drama, poetry and art, they encounter numerous references to mythical figures and legends from different cultures. Existing encyclopedias focus on specific cultures, such as the classical Greeks, or on themes, such as angels or nature myths. Myths and Legends of the World is an authoritative and comprehensive source of myths and legends from around the world, encompassing North and South America, Africa and Asia, and the Pacific islands. Whether researching a specific mythical figure, a particular motif, an ethnic group, or looking up a term, this resource is designed for easy access. Illustrated throughout with more than 200 drawings and photos, the set also includes helpful sidebars and extensive backmatter, including genealogy trees that show the relationships between deities, and a subject index — helpful in tracing similar themes across cultures.


millionaire

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

332.024 BACH

What’s the secret to becoming a millionaire?

For years people have asked David Bach, the national bestselling author of Smart Women Finish RichSmart Couples Finish Rich, and The Finish Rich Workbook, what’s the real secret to getting rich? What’s the one thing I need to do?

Now, in The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach is sharing that secret.
The Automatic Millionaire starts with the powerful story of an average American
couple–he’s a low-level manager, she’s a beautician–whose joint income never exceeds $55,000 a year, yet who somehow manage to own two homes debt-free, put two kids through college, and retire at 55 with more than $1 million in savings. Through their story you’ll learn the surprising fact that you cannot get rich with a budget! You have to have a plan to pay yourself first that is totally automatic, a plan that will automatically secure your future and pay for your present.


face

Girl, wash your face : stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be by Rachel Hollis

158.1082 HOLLIS

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.


crochet

The complete photo guide to crochet by Margaret Hubert

746.43 HUBERT

This is a comprehensive reference book on all aspects of crochet. This book provides a reference for all methods, including Tunisian, filet, intermeshing, broomstick lace, bruges lace, and freeform crochet. Includes step-by-step instructions for all the basic stitches and swatches of 100s of stitch patterns with complete instructions. Also provides instructions and patterns for 50 projects for garments, accessories, and decor items.

To Kill a Habsburg: An Explanation of Historiography

by James Rucker

Editor’s Note: Have you ever wondered why people continue to write new history books about very old topics, and why libraries need to buy them? Once something happens, it doesn’t change, right? So why can’t we just read old books about it and be done with it? In today’s post, James explains how historiography–or the study of historical writing–has changed over time, and how various approaches to history differ. –Brittney Reed-Saltz

Like any trained professionals, historians have a history, and there are two watershed moments where we could start telling it. The first is in ancient Greece, with Herodotus. Renouncing the authority of myth and legend, he embarked on a self-critical pursuit of knowledge. When interviewing witnesses to the events, he did what any good attorney does to a witness in a court of law: He cross-examined them. He called his book Inquiries. (The ancient Greek word was ‘istoriai, the root of our modern word “history.” Modern translations just call the book Histories.) For our purposes, it doesn’t matter whether Inquiries is entirely free of errors or assumptions; it quite obviously isn’t. What matters is it represents an undeniable and fundamental shift in the concept of historical truth: It is not something to be related, it is something to be discovered. This attitude has generally characterized historians ever since.

The history of history-writing (historiography) since the Inquiries has taken many forms.

Read More »

One Last Book Recommendation

by Brittney Reed-Saltz

This will be the last blog entry that I post here. After a little over five great years with melmothRutherford County Library System, I’ve made the hard decision to open a new chapter at another organization. Of course, I’m not really leaving the library; I’ll be stopping in probably once a week, at least, to browse the stacks and check out books. But I will miss being able to share what I’m reading with all of you.

But before my departure, I wanted to recommend one final book: Melmoth by Sarah Perry.

First, the setup: For the past 20 years, Helen Franklin has been living in a state of self-imposed exile in Prague. She works as a translator, occasionally shares dinners with her friends Karel and Thea, and lives with a landlady she detests. Her life is much like the landscape of Prague during winter as Perry describes it, just as cold as desolate, though unmarked by the wonder that others might feel when looking at the beautiful buildings or the grand astronomical clock. Just as Helen ignores these features of the city around her, she denies herself moments of pleasure, even something as simple as a piece of cake.

Her drab routine is interrupted when Karel shares a story with her. He had struck up an odd friendship with a fellow visitor to the library. This friend told him about Melmoth, a figure he learned about as a boy, a woman cursed from antiquity to roam the earth, feet bloody, finding no rest, forever seeking companions. This friend, Karel tells Helen, is now dead.

And then, Karel, himself, disappears.

Thus the stage is set for intersecting stories of betrayal, guilt, and abnegation, told in the form of letters, journal entries, and historical documents. The narratives weave back and forth through time, united by the shadowy figure of Melmoth, forever watching from the periphery.

This book is a thing of beauty. The language shines, as does the cover, emblazoned in rich blues in a design of jackdaw feathers. Its deckled edges are as delightful as its moments of sly, dark fantasy. When I wasn’t reading Melmoth, I wished that I was, and when I finished, I thought first that I would probably read it again, sometime in the future.

Melmoth is not a mystery, and it’s not quite suspense, but you will keep reading to satisfy your wondering. You will be slightly confused, and you will want to keep going, to gather all of the pieces that you know you don’t have, but will, perhaps soon, perhaps on the next page.

I’m not going to tell you what is revealed when the pieces are assembled; after all, the pleasure is the acquisition of each piece. But I will say that I was glad that I read this book. It’s a mixture of the timely and the timeless, and is the perfect Gothic read for winter to put you in a contemplative mood.

Enjoy.

 

 

Crossover Alternate Universe BFFs

By Brittney Reed-Saltz

People read books for different reasons. Some people are plot-driven, seeking out books with multitudinous twists and turns and non-stop action. Others read for information, and prefer nonfiction. Some are author-centric, and tend to stick to the same familiar names that have not let them down over the years.

But for some people, characters are the most important part of a text. These readers might forget exactly how a book ended, but their favorite characters’ first appearance will be emblazoned on their minds and hearts forever. These are the readers who like to imagine what it might be like to meet a character from a book. They’re the ones who identify wholeheartedly with Elizabeth Bennet or Hermione Granger or Holden Caulfield (or insert character here) and consider said kinship as good a way as any to explain their personalities.

I said “they” a lot in that paragraph, but of course I mean “we.” I’m definitely a character-driven reader, and each new book is an opportunity to meet new people who might change my life, regardless of the fact that they’re fictional.

And just like when you meet a new person and find yourself reminded of someone you already know–“Oh, you have to meet my friend So-and-So, I think you’d hit it off!”–I sometimes imagine making introductions between my favorite literary characters.

Here are some characters that I think would make great friends, despite living in different fictional worlds.

 

Henry DeTamble (The Time-Traveler’s Wife) and Tom Hazard (How to Stop Time)
Both Henry and Tom have problems with time: Henry has a condition that causes him to spontaneously time travel, while Tom’s causes him to age so slowly as to be nearly immortal. While these are two very different problems to have, I think that they would be able to sympathize with one another. They also share a love of music, though Tom might find Henry a bit quaint and naive… After all, he’s 439 years old.

Amy Dunne (Gone Girl) and Adele (Behind Her Eyes)
It’s hard to fully explain why Amy and Adele should hang out without revealing too much about either book and thereby spoiling the reading experience. But I will say that both of these women are highly intelligent, very crafty, and know what it’s like to keep a secret. I can imagine them meeting up for coffee and sharing the salacious details of their latest schemes, delighting in one another’s intricate deceptions. They would probably be frenemies, but I think they would have a good time.

Alice (The Hazel Wood) and Vivienne (The Cruel Prince)
This is another case of characters becoming friends through the shared weirdness of their existence. Alice grew up on the run from her the legacy of her grandmother, a reclusive author who penned a deeply strange collection of fairy tales. Vivi is a girl living in a fairy tale… Literally, in the Faerie realm, until she decides to try and return to the human world where she once lived. Both girls have been through more than their share of adventure and hardship. They could swap stories and give one another what survivors of trauma need: someone who will listen and believe.

Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Isabel Townsend (Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord)
Elizabeth chafes against the societal expectation that women will inevitably get married for money, and refuses to enter a loveless match. She’s shrewd and independent, both qualities that she shares with Isabel, who operates an estate independent of a male caretaker, a highly unusual endeavor for a woman during the early 19th Century. Isabel is a little bit farther ahead on the timeline than Elizabeth (Ten Ways… takes place in the 1820s, while the events of Pride and Prejudice occur somwhere between 1797-1815), but I still like to imagine these ladies meeting. It would be much better for Lydia to go live with the other women in Isabel’s home than to have to marry the heinous Mr. Wickham. (Seriously, is anyone else creeped out by the fact that she has to be stuck with that boor for life, rather than getting a second chance while he’s shunned from society on a desert island or something?)

Roland Deschain (The Dark Tower series) and the man (The Road)
Roland and the man (yes, that’s how McCarthy refers to him) both know what it’s like to live incredibly bleak lives while trying to survive and look out for the people they care about. Both are gruff and cautious by necessity, both have seen and done some stuff in the way of people living in post-apocalyptic worlds, and I see parallels between the man’s relationship with his son and Roland’s relationship with Jake Chambers. This also works well given the idea in The Dark Tower series that all worlds are real and connected. (“There are other worlds than these.”) Imagine an alternate version of The Road where Roland and his ka-tet encounter the man and the boy and band together with them! How differently things might have turned out…