(Editor’s note: This will be a recurring series of blog posts in which our staff recaps their year in reading, watching, and listening, offering recommendations for holiday travel materials or gift ideas.) 

Kris Carroll, Assistant Director  

Many of you know I spend hours driving and listening to podcasts and audio books. Here are some suggested 2019 audio books for long holiday road trips. 

Stone Mattress: Nine Stories by Margaret Atwood

A stunning collection of short stories featuring women who have been wronged as girls but recover triumphantly as adults. 

Bad Blood: secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley startup by John Carreyrou

The story of Elizabeth Holmes, a charismatic Stanford dropout, who started Theranos with claims of a revolutionary blood -testing technology. Her start-up became the toast of Silicon Valley, however, the reality was less than stellar. A cautionary tale about visionary entrepreneurship gone very wrong. Podcast companion: The Dropout – The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes 

Kevin Barton, Manager, Newbury Station 

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

When faced with emotional turmoil in a loved one, our first reaction is often an attempt to fix the problem. Offering solutions is a reflex, drawn from a desire to take away the pain from someone we care about. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld teaches us that the fix is not necessarily what’s needed, and that simply being there is often enough. With touching illustrations and simple prose, the author uses a parade of colorful animals to represent a range of emotions, and helps readers young and old recognize the best step to take when someone we care for is troubled. Highly recommended for bedtime (or anytime!) reading for pre-K through 2nd grade. 

Chris Peace, Adult Services Assistant, Chardon Branch  

 Where’d You Go, Bernadette

This is a movie based on a 2012 book with the same title, by Maria Semple.  Starring Cate Blanchett as Bernadette, this is both a comedy and drama about a former architect turned stay at home mom living in Seattle with her husband, a Microsoft genius played by Billy Crudup.  Bernadette is an interesting character.  She dislikes people, especially the other mothers at her daughter’s school.  She deeply dislikes Seattle as well.  Her closest friend is a virtual assistant named Manjula who arranges almost every task for Bernadette, such as grocery shopping and planning the trip to Antarctica.  It is her daughter, Bee, who finds her after her disappearance.  This is an enjoyable, quirky film, one of those rare cases of the movie being just as good as the book. 

Erika Noark, Head of Adult Services, Geauga West 

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep 

Part true crime novel and part biography, this book is a great gift for anyone with a literary interest in Harper Lee. The story is told in three parts, beginning with the story of Reverend Willie Maxwell, a preacher whose family seems to fall dead around him. Next the reader learns about Tom Radney, the lawyer who represents the Reverend in his murder trial. The third and final part of the book covers Harper Lee’s interest and involvement in the murder trial of Reverend Willie Maxwell. This fascinating mix of topics creates a gripping historical novel for non-fiction readers. 

Gail RuesterAdult Services Assistant, Bainbridge Branch

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth 
This book, which I listened to on Libby, held my attention from the first chapter.  No one is supposed to like the mother-in-law. Hepworth portrays her as a strong, unflinching woman who has a purpose behind everything she does – but it’s not all bad.  The narrator was easy to listen to and the story had me guessing who-done-it to the very end.  

Together: A Memoir of Marriage and a Medical Mishap by Judy Goldman 
Combining a medical story with a touch of romance, Goldman tells of her husband’s outpatient procedure that went horribly wrong. The book toggles between dealing with the medical issues and reflections on the Goldman’s relationship.  It is an encouraging portrayal of “in sickness or in health.” 

Karen Honkala, Adult Services, Middlefield Branch  

Plant Parenting by Leslie F. Halleck
This book gives a very detailed, yet easy, way to multiply your houseplants, vegetables and flowers.  Simply look up the type of plant you would like to make more of, as some plants are more easily propagated by seed and some by cuttings (also called clones) or dividing.  I enjoy sharing my plants with family and friends when they admire something in my yard.  Also, being quite frugal, I like to create new plant beds by multiplying what I already have and arranging them in different ways.  I have never been known to refuse a seed or cutting from a friend.  I recommend this book; it has inspired me to stretch my plant buying budget in new and creative ways. 

Kat Monda Fox, Shelver,  Bainbridge 

Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto

This pretty light-colored book caught my eye as I was shelving in the graphic novels area – it was a fairly hefty book with a small white kitten seated on a chair under some paintings.  And of course the title has the word Louvre in it.  Being an animal person and interested in cats, I am also interested in the Louvre and what someone could possibly come up with by combining the two in a graphic novel.  I had gone on a dream trip years ago to St. Petersburg to see the Winter Palace and The Hermitage, completely wowed by the grand halls, rooms, art,  and the interesting history around it when the imperial family lived there -(like they used to keep cows on the roof for fresh milk, much less trouble than carting it in from an outside farm…)   And so I began looking at this story.  I will be honest and say that I did not read all of the dialogue – I was more fascinated with that little white kitten, the lead female character who works as a guide at the Louvre, and the storyline about someone disappearing into a painting there.  I was also fascinated with the Louvre itself –  the way I used this book was to sit down one rare indulgent evening and as I flipped through the novel page by page, I brought up the art and sculptures, rooms and so forth online to get a real picture of what was drawn in the book as the story evolved.  It was great fun to do that and I truly felt like I had visited the heart of Paris.  I learned a lot about some of the famous art on display.   The kitten runs through the museum throughout, and there is a fantastical plot with several parts involving this kitten and the other cats of the Louvre.  It is an adult book with some violence in it, so not for a younger audience, really, in spite of the World’s Cutest Kitten on the cover.  

I really enjoyed delving into this book, even though my use of it was limited and  I took myself on a slightly different journey with it.  It prompted me to watch a documentary of the Louvre next and I could see in my mind’s eye that adorable white kitten everywhere as I watched it.  I whole-heartedly recommend reading this with a rich Parisian-style hot chocolate and a warm croissant – perhaps pull up a cat as well – you will be transported into another world. 

Isabella Ziemak, Substitute Marketing Assistant 

The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by the Try Guys

The Try Guys are made up of four guys and they make Youtube videos trying new things. They used to work for the internet company Buzzfeed but decided to start their own business last year. In this book each guy focuses on one thing that they struggle in. Keith focuses on his diet and starts working out. Ned faces his fashion fears by going out in daring outfits. Zach focuses on his love life with his girlfriend, lastly Eugene tries to start rebuilding relationships with his family members. The overall theme to the Try Guys is that no one is perfect at something when they try it for the first time but you can work towards getting better.