Book Bites: How to Find a Book

If you're anything like us, you’re always on the lookout for your next favorite book. Happily, we have a near-inexhaustible supply of books in the back room, and plenty of staffers who are happy to steer you towards a great recommendation. So whether you're looking for a mid-pandemic pick-me-up, a distracting psychological thriller, or engrossing novels or nonfiction, you'll find a great choice below. Choose a few favorites, then take your pick(s) to the pool, to your chair next to the A/C, or to relax six feet apart from your book club friends—it's time to read.


Ages 4-8

How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward; illustrated by Diana Sudyka

The perfect book to introduce young readers and their families to bird watching. Ward reminds readers of the many places to look for birds and the many ways to see them. Sudyka's whimsical but accurate illustrations will have readers on the lookout for birds of all kinds. 
— Cathy

READ if you want to pick up a new, fun outdoor hobby.
PASS if you just haven't been the same since that one Hitchcock movie.
Order your copy on our website. 

Share Your Rainbow by Various; Introduction by R. J. Palacio 

Eighteen illustrators, inspired by the rainbows children have placed in their windows during the pandemic, share their visions of what's represented by a rainbow after a storm. Gorgeous illustrations, full of hope, remind the reader of good times to come.
— Cathy

READ if you want to look at beautiful illustrations that will warm your heart and soul.
PASS if rainbows remind you of leprechauns... and you hate leprechauns. 
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 8-12

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Paola Santiago loves science and is mortally embarrassed by her mother's ghost stories and tarot card readings. She's been told not to go near the Gila River since she was small but it's the best place to see the stars. One night when she and her two best friends, Dante and Emma, were going to meet to star-gaze, Emma fails to appear, and Pao and Dante see a shadowy figure in the reeds. After the police seem to have no ideas, Pao and Dante set off to look for Emma, encountering all kinds of mythological and ghostly beings that challenge Pao's science-based views of the world. She has to face her fears and her failings in order to rescue her friend. A story not only about myth, but also about friendship and self-acceptance, with a lot of depth.
— Caroline

READ because this is a thrilling tale of fantasy, adventure, and friendship.
PASS if you don’t trust the amazing Rick Riordan’s opinion... and why wouldn't you?
Order your copy on our website.
Attend our event with the author on August 8!

How to Be a Girl in the World by Caela Carter

Lydia is scared in her own skin. As she approaches her teen years, she is subjected to sexual harassment at school, and her mother's boyfriend is overly friendly to her. When her mother buys a dilapidated bungalow in the neighborhood, Lydia finds a room that has potions and a magic book. Could this possibly help her? It is a summer of discovery and change for a family in crisis. This is a hard but compelling story with many themes for discussion. 
— Valerie 

READ if you have enjoyed books by Rebecca Stead, Laurel Snyder, or Ali Benjamin!
PASS if you don't like timely tales of empowerment and finding one's voice.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne

Rachel has been in a psychiatric hospital for fifteen years. She purportedly killed her scientist mother and watched as her father grabbed the gun and shot himself. She truly has no memory of the incident. When the brother of another resident wants to interview her, she sees the police report for the first time and believes she could not have committed the murder. Rachel's mom knows that Diana, her other daughter, is a psychopath. They move to a remote part of Michigan to deal with this and to hopefully keep people out of harm's way. Rachel leaves the hospital in order to find out the truth.
— Valerie

READ if you’re in the mood for a gripping, psychological thriller.
PASS if you have a highly active imagination that makes everything you read seem real. 
Order your copy on our website. 

The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender

As in her novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Bender adds a dash of magical realism as she develops characters that are movingly troubled. Francie is eight years old when her single mother has a psychotic breakdown and harms herself. She is committed to the psych hospital and arrangements are made for Francie to move to Los Angeles to live with her aunt, uncle, and their newborn child, Vickie. Almost twenty years later, Francie is trying to come to terms with the fact that her mother is unable to live in the outside world. Vickie, now a teenager preparing to leave for college, attempts to help Francie recreate memories from her childhood in order to give her peace and closure. It's a deep character study with loving but flawed people.
— Valerie

READ if you’re looking for a read with in-depth, complex characters.
PASS if you’re not in the mood to read a literary masterpiece. 
Order your copy on our website. 

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

This brilliant work of historical fiction tells the story of Agnes, a young woman who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon in the closing years of the 16th century. She marries a young Latin tutor and they have three children before the Latin tutor goes to London where he becomes involved in the theater, acting, writing plays (yes, he’s THAT playwright), and not coming home as much as Agnes would like. When the bubonic plague sweeps the country, her 11-year old son Hamnet succumbs, and Agnes is overcome by grief that she has to bear mostly alone. Gorgeous writing and vivid details about 16th-century lifestyle and the plague make this one of the best books I've read this year. 
— Alice

READ because it’s always a good time to continue (or start) reading about strong, interesting women.
PASS if you have PTSD from reading and analyzing Shakespeare in school. 
Order your copy on our website. 

With Or Without You by Caroline Leavitt

On the eve of a trip from NYC to LA that Simon hopes will revive his career as a performing musician,  he gives his partner Stella, a nurse, what he thinks is a pain killer, and the next day Stella is in a coma. Over the next several months, Simon is a devoted caregiver, taking a job with Lyft so he can pay the bills. He meets Libby, a friend of Stella's, who is also one of her doctors, and they develop a very close relationship. When Stella comes out of her coma, her personality has changed and she suddenly has become a brilliant artist. Neither she nor Simon can go back to the way they were. It's a well-written story about love, devotion, loyalty, and freedom. 
— Alice

READ if you’re looking for a page-turner about the search for happiness.
PASS if you only like simple, surface-level characters. 
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Nonfiction

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

In this forceful and compelling examination of race relations in the United States, Wilkerson uses the concept of caste to describe the "fixed and embedded ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of ancestry and often immutable traits." What makes a caste system work is the belief of participants that there is always another class of people who are inferior to one's own. Although the book compares the three major caste systems of modern times—India, Nazi Germany, and the United States—the majority of Wilkerson's examples of how a caste system works are taken from the experiences of Black Americans in the U.S. As an investigative journalist, she cites research of sociologists, economists, historians, and anthropologists that supports her theory of the deleterious effects of a caste system. Pick any chapter in this book and you'll read a litany of statistics and anecdotes that show how the superiority of whites in our society has been maintained, and how, even among African Americans, a caste system has developed. In the author's view, radical empathy is the only solution that will break the hold of this artificial construct in our society and bring us up to the level of every other developed country in the world. This is a powerful book with a lot of good history. Recommended.
— Alice

READ because this book should be at the top of everyone's list right now.
PASS if you are under the impression everyone in America is 100% equal... on second thought, maybe you'd better read it after all. 
Order your copy on our website.