With all of the books that are available I can never seem to find enough time to read, which is why I love audiobooks. Suddenly boring tasks like driving, cleaning, and getting ready in the morning become prime listening time and a way to sneak in those extra must read books. The library makes it super easy to access audiobooks as well by offering them through several formats. With your library card, you can access a wide selection of books on cd in both non-fiction and fiction titles. Also available are the Cloud Library and RB Digital apps. Hoopla is also a fantastic app, but is only available if you are a district resident (not a Pocatello resident, sorry!)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
If you or the child in your life have ever listened to the audiobook editions of Harry Potter than you are already familiar with the wonder narrations of Jim Dale. The Night Circus is a wonderfully magical tale about a duel of destiny between two magicians who are bound to battle until the complexity of human emotion ruins the game. Throughout all of the varied characters in the world of The Night Circus, Dale makes it easy to forget that you are listening to one solo narrator which, in my opinion, makes this the best kind of audiobook.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
I loved watching Aziz Ansari as Tom on Parks and Recreation but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw that he had written a book about love in modern times. This is definitely a book that benefits from being read by its author because throughout his observations on love and life, Ansari mixes in funny personal anecdotes as well as ridiculous voices, and special call outs to listeners. I really enjoyed this book because while many celebrities these days are writing books about love, Ansari actually collaborated with social scientists to take the recurring incidents from his show and see how they fit into a wider picture of love in the twenty-first century. Because this book does talk about love, there is some sexual content listeners should be aware of.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Cloud Library)
Fredrik Backman, the author of library favorites such as A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is back with Beartown, a moving story of a town that’s all about hockey until a tragic incident forces the residents to look off the rink and inside themselves. If you’ve ever watched Friday Night Lights, then you will be familiar with the setting of a blue collar town that lives for sports, but with a narrative that doesn’t revolve around them exclusively. When I began Beartown, I almost stopped listening because I know nothing about hockey. I was glad that I didn’t however, because Beartown is actually a story about the things in life that keep us going; family, friends, and those special passions that make life worth living. Because of the inclusion of rowdy teenage boys and the nature of the town tradgedy, there is langauge and sexual content throughout this book. Beartown can be found on the Cloud Library app.
The Night She Won Miss America by Michael Callahan
On the surface, The Night She Won Miss America might look like your usual chick lit read, but it quickly becomes a suspenseful drama instead. Suspense stories are usually not my cup of tea but the historical and romance novel elements of this one really piqued my interest and made it so I couldn’t stop listening. This audiobook would be a good car trip listen. The Night She Won Miss America does have some adult content. This audiobook can be downloaded from the Hoopla app if you are a district resident.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
When you first look at this book it looks like historical fiction about the worlds fair, but the interwoven true crime narrative brings in a thriller element which kept me listening.
This book is great for those who are reluctant about true crime and non-fiction! This book unfolds more like a simmering thriller than non-fiction and the historical elements make it a good transition into the true crime genre. Plus, you can get ahead of the game by listening before the movie adaptation with Leonardo Dicaprio is made!
To start, fantasy is NOT science fiction. Although they are often grouped together, fantasy and science fiction are completely separate genres. Just because you don’t like Star Wars or Star Trek, does not mean that you won’t enjoy fantasy fiction. One very well known example of fantasy fiction is the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Harry Potter novels feature elements that are characteristic of fantasy: magic, magical or fantastical creatures, situations that could never really happen in our non-magical, science-based world, etc.
If you would like to read a book that takes you on an adventure in a world that is full of magic and wonder, fantasy books are a great choice. There is a subsection of the fantasy genre called urban fiction, where fantastical creatures are based in a normal, everyday society. An example of this would be the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. However, for the sake of this post, I will be highlighting the more complete fantasy novels and authors.
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.
Speaking of entering a new world, Brandon Sanderson is an AMAZING writer. He considers even the tiniest details of worlds and how they work. By doing this he creates completely believable realities. Warbreaker is currently a standalone novel, though there is a sequel named Nightblood promised some time in the future.
Warbreaker takes the reader into a world of fantasy where “breath” is a personal power or magic and political alliances have the power to create or destroy societies. Select people are brought back to life because of a noble death, and are deemed gods, though their conduct often contradicts that title. This novel covers the interaction between different classes, and addresses what lengths some will go to for power. Throughout the novel you get to know many different and unique characters by virtue of Sanderson’s powerful writing skills. This novel hints at intimate content, though it is not explicit. It is in our adult section and is a great read for ages 16 and up.
Other awesome novels by Sanderson include the Mistborn series in our adult section, the Steelheart trilogy in the young adult collection, and Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians in our juvenile section.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
The joke is that it takes about as long to read the series as it does to actually take the ring to Mordor. This might be true, depending on how fast you read. This is a hefty trilogy that is completely worth the time and effort. Tolkien takes world making to another level, even beyond that which Sanderson does. The trilogy begins by introducing the reader to Bilbo Baggins and his younger cousin(ish) Frodo Baggins. These two hobbits reside happily in the shire where they eat an enviable amount of food every day and enjoy smoking their pipes in peace. However, Bilbo has a secret from his past that threatens his family, the shire, and the entirety of Middle Earth, where the story is based. The complete trilogy follows Frodo and his companions on an amazing adventure to (spoiler) take the ring to Mordor.
Tolkien fills this amazing world with horrible and fantastic creatures alike. Often, Tolkien has even invented an entirely new language for these creatures. I LOVE The Lord of the Rings books and recommend them to all ages, though the length of the books may be intimidating for young readers.
If you aren’t quite ready to commit to this trilogy, the prequel The Hobbit is just as inventive and imaginative, but in much fewer pages.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
This is the first book in one of Nix’s young adult series that keeps the reader on their toes. The title character Sabriel lives in a world of magic and her father is the Abhorsen- someone with power over the dead. This heart-pounding series is full of magic, and power, and choosing the good while trying to vanquish evil. Sabriel is attended by Mogget, a cat with strong powers, and Touchstone, a Charter Mage. One of the wonderful aspects of fantasy that this novel exemplifies is the creation of a new world. This does not mean that there are no laws or that laws can be circumvented at the author’s pleasure. Rather, in fantasy novels, characters are bound by a set of laws unique to that world, including some that are similar to the laws we are familiar with.
Other novels in this series include Lirael, Abhorsen, and Clariel. I would recommend these books for ages 12 and up simply because of the reading level as well as some action and suspense.
The Keys to the Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
This is a young adult series, also by Garth Nix, which takes the reader into a world full of mystery. This book might be closer to urban fantasy than just pure fantasy as it begins in the normal world, but travels to another more fantastical one. Arthur is a young man who is supposed to die in the normal world but instead ventures into another world in order to unlock secrets and save himself, and others, through a series of keys. The series starts with Mister Monday, followed by Grim Tuesday, and so on until the seventh book Lord Sunday, which concludes the series and the fight for a kingdom with a surprising twist. Honestly, it is difficult to put these books down!
I would recommend this series to anyone 12 and older. As a side note, teenage boys might be more interested in this series because of the male main character.
To recap, the fantasy genre is its own and not just another Star Trek science fiction genre. Fantasy takes the reader to another world where where the impossible is possible! Fantasy is a great genre to read in order to escape for a few minutes. Other popular fantasy authors include Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, and Patrick Rothfuss (all adult authors). If you are looking for an adventurous book that takes you out of the ordinary and into something extraordinary, I would recommend reading one of the above listed fantasy novels!
A “classic” novel is basically a book that is widely accepted as the pinnacle of good writing and has been so for an extended period of time. Classics can vary widely between genre —such as horror (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) or romance (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). Classics also vary between cultures such as Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn set in the North American south during 1883, or Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment set in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1866. Classic romance novels are a personal favorite of mine.
When confronted by such intense books and such a wide variety of choices, it is easy to shy away from classics altogether. However, if you take the right approach and slowly begin to wade into the genre of classic romance novels, a whole new world can open up to you!
Disclaimer: While there are movie adaptations for many classic romance novels, the book is always better than the movie!!!!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is a well-known writer of classic romances for good reason. Pride and Prejudice is a novel about a family of the five Bennet daughters whose mother is eager to marry them all off. The opening line of the novel reflects the mother’s view, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Throughout the novel the reader gets to experience the heart breaks, scandals, and enjoyment of the Bennet sisters, especially Elizabeth and Jane.
This novel is appropriate for virtually any age, but is probably of the most interest to ages 12 and up. I would highly recommend checking out this book, as well as Jane Austen’s other novels including Sense and Sensibility and Emma.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame is not quite the same thing.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Emily is one of the Bronte sisters who wrote novels and poems in the mid 1800s. This particular novel can be a bit gloomy, and is probably best read on a dark and stormy night.
Wuthering Heights is written from a very interesting perspective of a tenant on Mr. Heathcliff’s property. The novel is told as this man learns the history of the property as well as experiences for himself the current situation and possible future. This novel is a rollercoaster of emotions including pity for the main character, disgust at his actions, sorrow for decisions, deep feelings of love, and satisfaction at an unpredictable ending.
Admittedly, this is not a very happy romance, but this novel packs a lot of feelings. I would advise this book for readers over the age of 15 because of some mature thematic elements such as violence. I would recommend checking out this book if you are tired of repetitive story lines!
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Published in 1918, this novel is slightly more contemporary (only 100 years old or so). Like Wuthering Heights, this novel is told from an interesting perspective. A man asks his friend Jim to recount to him all that he remembered about Antonia. Jim then gives his friend a manuscript of all he remembers about the girl, and the story begins.
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, this novel is from the perspective of an adolescent Jim. He recounts his adventures and growing love for Antonia, a daughter in a Bohemian immigrant family that has come to live near him on the prairie. This book is sweet with surprising twists that truly reflect how life doesn’t always go as planned. Jim’s perspective is romantic and kind, and develops into something more as the story progresses.
I would recommend this book for almost any age, but more specifically 14 and older due to one scene regarding birth (though it is not explicit). This is a wonderful classic I would recommend to anyone!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Last but not least is my absolute FAVORITE work of fiction! Just as full of heart as Wuthering Heights, but much less dreary, this book is a wonderful adventure! The novel follows Jane from her youth in an unloving home to a school for girls, and eventually to a job as a governess for Mr. Rochester’s young ward. As the book progresses from place to place and as Jane grows older there is fantastic character development! She learns to deal with tragedy and heartache without lashing out. While Jane is humble, she is strong in her beliefs and fights for what she knows is right. Jane is a heroine throughout the novel and loves more deeply than she was ever loved as a child or young adult. This book may look lengthy, but it is worth every second of reading! There is so much love and strength and perseverance as Jane learns to love the young girl she teaches as well as her foreboding benefactor. There is a surprising twist in this novel that had me in tears. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book and recommend it for all ages! It promotes love, morals, and strength!
These are just a few of so many wonderful classic romance novels that will expand your mind and provide a break from the modern and popular story lines in most new novels.
First off, what is manga? According to Merriam-Webster manga are Japanese comic books and graphic novels considered collectively as a genre. They also have distinct drawing styles that separate them from western and other graphic novels like:
People are sometimes intimidated with manga because it is not read right to left but left to right. It does take some getting used to but with enough practice it becomes really easy. Hopefully this chart will make reading them easier
Below is a list of manga, in no particular order, that stand out from our small yet growing collection.
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba Genres: drama, mystery, psychological, supernatural, thriller
Themes: crime, death, detective, justice, Magic Book, police, Shinigami
“Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?”
Death Note is a classic among the manga/anime world. A story about a highly intellectual college student who finds a notebook with special powers. While picturing someone’s face and writing their name on the notebook, the person dies of a heart attack within thirty seconds unless the writer specifies how the victim will die under their name. Instead of using this power on random people, Light uses it to dispose of murderers and general scum of the earth. However this brings up the question, is murder okay when it comes to getting rid of bad people or is murder, murder no matter what?
Viz Media rating: Teen Plus, may be suitable for older teens (16+) and adults.
One-Punch Man by ONEGenres: action, science fiction, comedy
Themes: cyborgs, superhero
“Nothing about Saitama passes the eyeball test when it comes to superheroes, from his lifeless expression to his bald head to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking guy has a not-so-average problem—he just can’t seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on! Every time a promising villain appears, he beats the snot out of ’em with one punch! Can Saitama finally find an opponent who can go toe-to-toe with him and give his life some meaning? Or is he doomed to a life of superpowered boredom?”
What happens when you do 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10km run (6.2 miles) every day for a few years? You go bald. At least, that is what happened to Saitama, a super hero who is bored of defeating villains because he is super overpowered. Think of Superman but without a Kryptonite weakness. Filled with action, comedy, and superhero/villain madness, One-Punch Man is a fantastic and fun read.
Viz Media rating: Teen, may be suitable for early teens and older.
From Me to You by Karuho ShiinaGenres: romance, slice of life
Themes: friendship, love triangle, school, yandere
“Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that—she's about to make some enemies too!”
Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, she is shy and awkward, he is handsome and popular. Does that sound like a typical romance novel/movie? It does and From Me to You is that but with so much more. It is a young girls journey from being an outcast to finding acceptance, to making friends and finding love. Whether the reader is young, old, girl or guy, From Me to You is filled with relatable awkward and romantic teen situations.
Viz Media rating: Teen, may be suitable for early teens and older.
Black Lagoon by Rei HiroeGenres: action, drama
Themes: guns, mafia, mercenary, pirates
“The baddest group of mercenaries ever to hit the high seas of Southeast Asia! Aboard their World War II torpedo boat, the Black Lagoon, Dutch the Boss, Benny the Mechanic, Revy Two Hand, and Rock, the salaryman from Japan, deliver anything, anywhere. In the dangerous underworld of the Russian Mafia, Chinese triads, Colombian drug cartels, crazed assassins, and ruthless mercenaries, it's hard to know who to trust. But if you've got a delivery to make, and you don't mind a little property damage along the way, you can count on the crew of the Black Lagoon! Rokuro Okajima was just an average Japanese salaryman, living an average life. But when he's taken hostage by the crew of the Black Lagoon, Rokuro finds himself thrown headfirst into a deadly world of outlawed heroes, brutal villains, and blazing gunfights. Where he ends up is anyone's guess, but one thing is for certain--he's in for a wild ride!”
Action. Unadulterated action. That is what Black Lagoon is. Rokuro is just an average business man who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets captured by pirates. Thus begins his journey from third world country to third world county sailing the seas with pirates while fighting mercenaries and surviving attacks from a woman wearing a maid outfit who also out to be a robot.
Viz Media rating: Mature, suitable for adults only.
A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki OimaGenres: drama, romance
Themes: bullying, deafness, suicide
“Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?”
A Silent Voice is a powerful and touching story about a young boy who bullies a girl who is hearing impaired. Years later Shoya unexpectedly sees her and is reminded of the terrible things he did to her. His long time guilt resurfaces and he proceeds to apologize and make amends with her. A Silent Voice is a journey about two teenagers dealing with the consequences of childhood bullying, both the victims and perpetrators perspectives, suicide, forgiveness, and finding love among it all. But most importantly, they learn to listen.
Kadansha Comics rating: Teen, suggested for ages 13+.
One of the library displays this month is staff favorite standalone novels. To go along with that theme I decided to pick out a few of the books on display to talk about for the staff picks blog this month! Okay, okay, they might be some of my favorites… but hey! who wouldn’t take the chance to gush about their favorite books when an opportunity like this presents itself?
So right to business. We’ll start with #1.
I Am the Messenger By Markus Zusak
A lot of you might have heard of Zusak from reading or watching, one of his other popular works, The Book Thief (A great book), and maybe came across this book already when perusing what else Mr. Zusak had written. If you haven’t already heard of this book, I’m here to tell you that you should definitely give it a look. I Am the Messenger is a wonderful read. Its opening scene is one of the best I’ve read, and Zusak’s writing style never fails to catch me. I Am the Messenger is about an underage cabby named Ed Kennedy. Ed has his dog, his friends, and a nice routine…until the first card arrives in the mail… DUN DUN DUN. Okay, seriously though, the plot of the book is funny, at times serious, and it’s well conceived. It isn’t pretentious and has depth that might surprise you. It does have strong language, violence, and frank talk about sex. The recommended age for reading this book is 15 and up due to some gritty and mature content according to commonsensemedia.org.
For #2 I’ll go with…
The Supernaturalist By Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer is also a well-known author because of his Artemis Fowl series. I’ve given them a go and they’re pretty good, but The Supernaturalist is an old and all-time favorite of mine. The main character is a parentally challenged boy named Cosmo Hill. The Supernaturalist is a funny and unique science fiction set in the third millennium. The characters and descriptive world Mr. Colfer creates are well worth the read. It does have some violence and is recommended for age 10 and up according to commonsensemedia.org.
If you like this story, a few other books I would recommend are Steelheart, By Brandon Sanderson, Holes, By Louis Sachar, and of course Artemis Fowl, By Eoin Colfer
On to #3…
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies By Sonya Sones
Sonya Sones is one of my favorite underappreciated authors. Seriously though, the book isn’t even on the review site, commonsensemedia.org. The main character in this story is Ruby, and the book is about her being sent to live with her estranged father after her mother dies. This book is written in verse and it really works well for the story. I really enjoyed the character development in this book and Ruby’s ongoing story. This book is a quick read with a nice meaning behind it.
If you like this book, a few other books I would recommend are Love and Leftovers By Lisa Scott, Cinder and Ella By Kelly Oram, and Lock and Key By Sarah Dessen.
Ok, #4 is really one of my favorites on this list (Ask my coworkers. I won’t stop talking about it).
Stitching Snow By R.C. Lewis
Stitching Snow is one of my favorite books and it tops a few of my lists: fairytale retelling and young adult literature to name a couple. Stitching Snow was one of the first fairytale retellings I read, and the first one retelling the story of snow white that I had seen. It is wonderful. Snow white is one of my least favorite fairytales, but the way R.C. Lewis tells it made me reconsider. It is a science fiction version set in a different universe (Or maybe the same just a long way down the road), and it takes place on multiple planets. This book is a really unique retelling of a classic fairy tale. I love this book. It was the first one I ordered in when I started working at the library and the one I get all giddy about when someone tells me they liked it. The author is definitely one I keep an eye on for any upcoming new releases. She is creative, and aside from a slightly sappy scene that seemed more for form rather than plot, I have no complaints. There is some violence in this book but no language problems. The recommended age would probably be 12 and up for interest and reading level.
If you like this story, a few books I would recommend are Rapunzel Untangled By Cindy C Bennett, The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Myers, Beastly By Alex Flinn, and Ella Enchanted By Gail Carson Levine.
Last, but not least, # 5.
What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz
What the Night Knows is part crime drama and part supernatural thriller. The main character is a police officer that has a personal history with a multiple homicide case in which he found the killer. Things start to go awry when similar murders start occurring again with the original killer now dead. The writing, like most of Koontz’s work, is quick and thrilling. It leaves you wondering just what is actually going on. There are intensely graphic descriptions of material not suited for kids as well as strong language. This is most definitely an adult fiction.
Until next time!
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!