January Staff Picks

A new year means new books to dive into, headfirst, with reckless abandon! Mesa County Libraries staff offers the following excellent recommendations with hopes you find a fresh favorite read to propel you through January. Click on any of the cover images below to be directed to our catalog.

Rachel H.’s Pick: 

American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears by Farah Stockman

Are you familiar with the phrase, “Mirrors and Windows” as it relates to books and films? As Mesa County Libraries Mirrors and Windows Reading Experience explains, “A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity” while “A window is a resource that offers you a view into someone else’s life experiences.”

I’m currently reading American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears by Farah Stockman. Following the lives of three workers in a factory that is closing and moving to Mexico, I’m peering through a window. I don’t know what it means to have my livelihood on the line and to worry about the grave ripple effects that will follow. By sharing the workers’ experiences, the book offers some explanation, some context, some understanding of political decisions and viewpoints to which I was previously unaware.

The book also takes a look at society that promotes and celebrates education and globalization. It’s not always easy to learn how systems that benefit us might hurt someone else. This doesn’t mean that education and globalization are bad, it is just important for us to realize how one system might affect another. I appreciate Stockman bringing this to my attention, challenging my assumptions and increasing my empathy.

For all of the seriousness that it seems this book brings, it has not felt like a heavy read. Because Stockman tells the story of people and of a community, I find the book easy to read and engaging.

Ami’s Pick:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Imagine the possibility of immortality and eternal youth. Now imagine that for all eternity, no one can remember you once you are out of their sight, and any mark you make is immediately erased. This is the gift and accompanying curse granted to the titular protagonist of this compelling novel that weaves elements of historical fiction, suspense, and romance into a fantastical story that spans centuries.

Adeline LaRue is a spirited and stubborn young girl growing up in a small village in 18th century France.  When her parents decide that she must be married at the ripe old age of twenty three, she runs away, praying for freedom and time, failing to heed the advice of her wise old friend, Estele, “Never pray to the gods who answer after dark.”  A mysterious stranger appears and grants her wish, in exchange for Addie’s soul, whenever she decides she’s done with it.  

For three hundred years, Addie survives by her wits, witnessing history, learning many languages, and exploring the world, despite the unending challenges of being forgotten over and over and over again. Only Luc, the embodiment of darkness with whom Addie made her Faustian bargain, can say her name and know her face each time he comes to visit on the anniversary of her wish. And then, in a New York bookstore in the 21st century, she meets someone who remembers her.

This book thoroughly enchanted me with a main character that readers will remember despite her curse, an intricately woven plot, layered with carefully chosen details, and a satisfying conclusion. 

Denise’s Pick:

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkporta

Every chapter of Tyson Yunkaporta’s Sand Talk begins with a wood carving. Before setting pen to paper at all, Yunkaporta spent years carving each chapter, the details of which he gleaned through extensive “yarning,” or talking, with elders. Some chapters are symbols carved onto shields, some are tattooed with fire, or shaped into boomerangs. Yunkaporta explores Australia’s aboriginal social structures, traditions, symbols, Dreamtime, stories, and attitudes, then carefully extrapolates themes to explain modern trends in education, crime, commerce, and more.

What I like the most about Sand Talk is that it stretches my brain (and heart) in really surprising, really satisfying ways. There’s a lot happening beyond the text, and it sets me on a read, reflect, re-read cycle that permeates day-to-day life and affects me in ways that most books do not.

Vanessa’s Pick:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Meet Will.  He’s 15 years old and he knows the rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. He’s been taught the rules like everyone else, but he hasn’t had to utilize them- until now.

Will’s brother Shawn has been shot dead and he thinks he knows who did it. He’s confident enough to find Shawn’s gun in his drawer, stick it in his waistband and take the long elevator ride down to the ground floor to seek out his revenge, except…Will’s decisions become less clear on this elevator. As Will stops at each floor, ghosts of the past begin to show him pieces of the truth that his grief wouldn’t allow him to see. Jason Reynolds tells a beautifully poignant and relevant story about a young man who will decide to make a choice that will either continue on or break a generational chain that has connected everything he understands about life. The view will be different after the Long Way Down


Posted in General, Reviews and Recommendations, Staff Picks.

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