Recommended Reads for Adults

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   born a crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was illegal. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother began embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Recommended by Rachel.

   american prison

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer

Reporter Shane Bauer goes undercover in the South as a guard for a for-profit prison and shares his experiences, most of which are documented via hidden surveillance and notes taken during his time “inside.” What Bauer recounts conjures the plethora of human emotion; his experiences with the administration, inmates and system itself are gripping, shocking, bittersweet, appalling, and beautiful. Reminiscent of In Cold Blood in its narrative style, Bauer leaps ahead of the genre by using source material as opposed to imaginative retelling because oftentimes reality is more heart-wrenching than any mind could create. The chapters alternate between the daily ruminations and experiences of both author and inmates, and a history of slavery and its direct link to the current-day for-profit system, throwing into stark reminder that the institution of slavery in America has never really ceased, only donned new mask. Recommended by Jill.

   electric hotel

The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith

This atmospheric historical novel tells the story of Claude Ballard, who after watching a demonstration of the Lumiere Brothers’ first films becomes swept up in the romance and energy of the early years of film making. The novel makes its way from Europe to the United States and back again as we follow Claude's film making journey alongside his fractious relationship with the mesmerizing silent film actress Sabine. A wonderful read. Recommended by Nancy.

   the way through the woods

The Way through the Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning by Litt Woon Long

A contemplative book that will appeal to naturalists. Long, recently widowed, takes up mushroom hunting as a hobby and finds her way back to the world of the living. Long wanders the Norwegian forests and woods of Central Park in search of rare mushrooms. She gives us a primer on the art of mushroom hunting and tasting and, also, a heartfelt exploration of the landscape of grief. A gentle and satisfying read. Recommended by Betty.

   the black god's drums

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

This fantasy novella is set in an alternate New Orleans in 1884 where the South has not lost the Civil War and still uses slave labor thanks to an armistice with the North. The story follows Creeper, a clever, homeless black teen, as she discovers a dangerous plot against her neutral city involving a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a weapon called the Black God’s Drums. Creeper also has an African orisha, Oya, the goddess of winds and storms, living inside her, and Oya has her own plans for Creeper. Clark’s writing is top-notch, vivid and sparkling with energy. With strong characters and distinct world-building, this novella is a fast-paced and entertaining read with a lot of depth.  Recommended by Krista.

 

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