Hello once again, my dear readers. At the time of our last reading, we were basking in the Arkansas sun’s bountiful rays and exploring beaches, lakes and rivers far and wide. Now, we are moving into a new season and a resurgence of COVID-19, which is placing us back into our own private pods and reading nooks. To keep us company and bide the time, I’ve recommended a few good reads below that will be sure to pass the time and keep us content, smiling and comforted along the way.
And it is National Library Card Sign-up Month — the perfect time to celebrate with a few good books. Libraries are places where we are allowed to reflect, research, explore and relax all through the pages of a book. No matter your personal preference — physical, audio, or digital — books are certain to provide.
First up this month is The Personal Librarian by New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. This historical fiction is all-encompassing; I was hooked from the first few pages. The leading character, Belle da Costa Greene (aka Belle Marian Greener), journeys to find her place in the world, moving to New York City to lead a dashing, fabulous life serving as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian and curating a collection of rare manuscripts, books and artwork for the billionaire’s wondrous Pierpont Morgan Library. Our lady becomes a noted icon in this powerful new world — garnering respect and several accolades as a result of her commanding presence, stylish and glamourous wardrobe, and lofty business acumen. However, Bella holds a potentially dangerous secret about her true identity that could crumble her future and diminish the legacy she has worked so diligently to build. Riveting.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by American poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, was selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Although the author is known for her literary award-winning poetry, she has stretched to include her first novel in her repertoire. Her O’ness (Oprah) said of the book, “I was enraptured by the story of this modern Black family, and how author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers interweaves the larger fabric of historical trauma with that family’s ancestral tale — of tragedy, triumph and of the legacy of hidden abuse. But this is Ailey’s story, too, and through her, we are offered new learnings about colorism, aspiration, the role of matriarchy, and what it is to be a woman who’s ‘not to be trifled with.’ She’s a heroine for the ages.” The book’s protagonist wrestles with the challenges of loosening the grips of familial expectation and establishing her own identity; a challenge that is by no means a clear or easy feat.
My favorite book genre is memoirs, and there are several that have been released recently, including Brené Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart. What a title! Encompassed here is a road map, if you will, that will aid in your journey to connect with others — be it a familial relationship, professional connection, and linkages old and new. Brown explores what it means to be human and the shared longing and desire for companionship. I would say this book is quite timely — being released directly on the heels of the call and need for creating safeguarded, protected spaces for our health and the public’s health. As we learn how to better forge connections, we can also take nuggets of advice for doing so regardless of the method; safely in-person or virtual — the point is to connect.
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