What We’re Reading at Home

What We’re Reading at Home

We’ve been busy reading while we #stayhome. See what our staff has been reading below.


Emily

The Book of Essie by Meghan by MacLean Weir

The youngest daughter of a famous reality show evangelical family becomes pregnant. Essie helps her mother manufacture an engagement to a classmate in order to cover for the public, all the while providing the true story to a reporter with her own background trauma from religious fanaticism. An absorbing read with a trio of central characters you won’t want to leave behind. This book will appeal to adult and high school-age fiction lovers, reality TV junkies.


Phoebe

Flight Season by Marie Marquardt

This novel trails two characters trying to navigate their own personal worlds. It is a cleverly designed novel that allows insight into each of the characters minds. I finished this book in one go because it was so captivating. Young Adult readers who like self realization novels with a touch of romance would love this!


Michelle C.

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

I found myself drawn into the Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox” about a young woman growing up in the Hasidic Jewish Community of Williamsburg, NY in present day.  It was a limited series, only four episodes, I think, but I was fascinated to learn about this religious community, their beliefs and traditions. That led me to the book upon which the series was based, an autobiography also titled Unorthodox and written by Deborah Feldman. I found her coming of age story to be fascinating and a triumph about how to follow your own path in the most extraordinary of circumstances. The description of Jewish food, the kosher preparations they follow, the clothing and hairstyles allowed by single and married women and what they represent, were all very interesting to me in addition to the main story itself.  Readers of biography, history, and religious and women’s studies will love this book.


Carolyn

Camino Island by John Grisham

I listened to and really liked Camino Island, which is about a young woman is recruited to recover priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts that were stolen during a daring heist. I thought it was interesting that the book was loosely inspired by Amelia Island in Florida and that the town with the bookstore in the book was modeled off Fernandina, Florida. I recommend it for anyone looking for a good mystery.


George

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook or The Methods and Mysteries of the Worlds Greatest Detective by Ransom Riggs

The book is a reader’s companion to the casework of Sherlock Holmes and it explores the methodology of the world’s most famous consulting detective. Written in a lively fashion, it covers everything from analyzing fingerprints to bee keeping. 224 pages, but can be read in a Pittsburgh rainy afternoon. The Sherlock Holmes Handbook will appeal to Baker Street Irregulars of all ages. Fun read.


Blair

The Bad Seed by William March

I’m just finishing The Bad Seed, the novel by William March.  I had just re-watched the film of the same name – powerful performance by Nancy Kelly as the mother of the murderous Rhoda – and wondered about source material.  The book is vastly different from the film but it is a deep and abiding portrait of a mother faced with the horrific circumstances involving a child (think “The Exorcist”).  It is complex because the mother is as responsible for what occurs as the child. Great stuff!


Lynne

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

I recently read The Glass Hotel. Beautifully written and with intriguing characters. From the author of Station Eleven— which was even better. I’m currently reading Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffith (which just won the Edgar Award for 2020); a slightly spooky mystery — can’t wait to find out whodunit!

 


Richelle

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

This well-written story keeps you guessing until the end. It’s a modern mystery with a mid-level pace and several red herrings thrown in to keep readers engaged. I could barely put the book down & enjoyed several late-night reading sessions! Mystery lovers will enjoy this title.

 


Dustin

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

I enjoyed it because it had elements of true crime as well as history. It tells a piece of the story of how to FBI came to be through the narrative surrounding a number of unsolved murders.

 


Laura M.

The Five Silent Years of Corrie Ten Boom by Pamela Rosewell Moore

The book I’m reading is really old, but really inspiring! So inspiring that I’m reading it a second time back-to-back! During World War II, Corrie and her family were arrested and sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home in Holland. The library also has Corrie’s best-selling book The Hiding Place which launched for Corrie a worldwide ministry of travel and speaking for 30 + years. Rosewell’s book is an inspiring account of how Corrie’s ministry amazingly continued after she suffered a stroke and could no longer speak! But the book I would recommend first is The Hiding Place because that would introduce readers to this inspiring lady, Corrie Ten Boom!


Jen

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Right now I am reading The Mirror & the Light. Although I am only about half way through it, I am enjoying it. I love the way she writes; you really feel like you are right there, talking to Henry VIII. Mantel is descriptive and the book is really well researched.  This is the third book in the Wolf Hall Trilogy, so if  you liked Wolf Hall (personal favorite) or Bring Up the Bodies, also by Mantel, you will enjoy this book!


Stephanie

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Based on a true story, this book explores the secret Cold War plot to bring Doctor Zhivago to the world. The idea that literature can change the world prompted the CIA to try and smuggle this masterpiece out of the USSR. Prescott weaves the tales of Pasternak, his muse Olga, and the CIA to create this delicious blend of historical fiction and espionage thriller. Read if you like historical fiction, spies, and Russian literature.


Alex

So Much Longing In So Little Space / The Art of Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I am reading So Much Longing In So Little Space / The Art of  Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Loving this book, a brilliant writer’s thoughts and opinions about  the work and psyche of one of my favorite painters, Munch. Every sentence is rich and provocative, with many references to philosophers and other painters (including interviews with) and of course a plethora of information about Munch’s life.


 

Sage

UnTamed by Glennon Doyle

I loved this book!  Honest, raw and gave me so much to think about in regards to relationships and how to live life authentically.

 


Bette

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

I have read many books during this time but here are three I really enjoyed: Virgin River a light read from Robyn Carr. When you finish the book you can binge watch the original Netflix series of the same name based on the book. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grimes is a debut novel that delves into the family secrets of an Italian American family. I could not put down this timely family story. And also once again local author Marie Benedict’s Lady Clementine entertains while giving us a gentle history lesson.


Ellen

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

This is the perfect book for anyone who needs a laugh.  Especially if you have kids.  Comedy Lovers will really enjoy this title.  I also read, When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan (writer, director & Jim’s wife). When you are a mother of five and writing partner of a well-know comedian, learning that you have a tumor the size of a pear in your head is not great news.  Well, it’s not really great news for anyone.  Even though medical scares are serious, Gaffigan is able to tell her story humor and heart. This title is really great for Biography readers.


 

World War II Fiction: For Fans of The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, and Lilac Girls


Books like The Nightingale All the Light We Cannot See, and Lilac Girls have taken the literary world by storm. If you’ve already made your way through these instant classics and are looking for similar heartfelt, character-driven books that take place during World War II, look no further. We’ve created this list of read-alikes just for you.

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Rainy Day Reads: April Showers Bring Book-Filled Hours

What makes a good rainy day read? For some, it’s the sort of beautiful, introspective novel that reflects the feeling of finding a comfy place to read and enjoying some alone time. For others, it’s a book that grabs your attention from the first line and refuses to let go until the very last page, engrossing you in its world and letting you forget the dreary weather.

With plenty of rain in the forecast, here are some great rainy day books to for all manner of readers.
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What’s Past is Prologue: Shakespeare in Modern Fiction

William Shakespeare. The man, the bard. How has a man who died over 400 years ago remained relevant? Though not everyone’s cup of tea, Shakespeare has demonstrated an impressive staying power in both his persona and his works. Films like West Side Story, The Lion King, and My Own Private Idaho keep the basic plots of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Henry V, but update the stories so they make sense to modern audiences. Other films like Shakespeare in Love feature Shakespeare as a character, imagining what life was like for the Queen’s favorite playwright.

This trend also extends to modern fiction, where books often feature Shakespeare in a variety of ways. Sometimes his plays are reimagined in a new, innovative story; sometimes Shakespeare’s personal adventures are explored, and other times Shakespeare exists in fiction as he exists today: an incredibly important and resilient linchpin in English literature. With his birthday less than a month away, read more to find some Shakespearean books that you can check out in his honor.

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Spotlight on New Historical Fiction

If you enjoy history, but like a good story to go along with it, you may have already discovered the genre of historical fiction. If not, consider this your introduction.

Your librarian can help you to find a great historical novel set in any era using tools such as NoveList. Or follow the link to our library database page and under the heading for literature, click on ‘NoveList’ (or ‘Remote Access’ from home) to access this useful resource for readers.

Take  a look at these works of historical fiction, recently added to the shelves at Sewickley Public Library. You can follow the linked titles to find them in the library catalog, where you may request a copy for pickup.

 


THE PAGAN LORD: A NOVEL by Bernard Cornwell

The seventh and latest in the ‘Saxon Tales Saga,’ also referred to as ‘The Warrior Chronicles’ and ‘Saxon Stories,’ this book is by “the move prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today,” according to a Wall Street Journal review. The Pagan Lord continues Cornwell’s epic telling of the making of England in the middle ages and the struggle to unite Britain, centering on the stories of Alfred the Great and his descendents. If you are an Anglophile or love Viking stories (or both!), this book and series will have appeal.

The full list of books in the ‘Saxon Stories’ can be found on Bernard Cornwell’s website. If this series and setting sounds intriguing and you’d like to begin at the beginning, the first in this series is The Last Kingdom: A Novel.


THE GHOST OF THE MARY CELESTE by Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin’s latest work of historical fiction explores the unanswered questions surrounding the Mary Celeste, an American merchant vessel found adrift off the Spanish coast in 1872, cargo intact but the entire crew vanished with no signs of foul play.

Martin has written other acclaimed works of historical fiction. Mary Reilly, a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a young female servant, won both the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award. And Property, which tells the story of a plantation master’s wife and her slave on a sugar plantation near New Orleans in 1828, won the Orange Prize (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) and was named one of the 10 best historical novels by The Observer in 2012.


THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon’s debut novel, set in Jazz Age New York, The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is an fictionalized account of the real disappearance in 1930 of Justice Joseph Crater. The investigation is undertaken by newly promoted police officer Jude Simon, who proceeds by questioning three women in Crater’s life: his wife, his mistress, and his maid (who also happens to be Simon’s wife). The mystery winds its way through speakeasies and involves the most notorious gangsters of the day.

 

Of course, these are only three recently written historical fiction novels, set in three eras, and in three different geographic settings. There is sure to be a great work of historical fiction set in whatever time period or in whatever place interests you.