Here We Are

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Title: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw and Speak About Feminism

Editor: Kelly Jensen

Summary: “There’s no right way and no wrong way. There are no dead ends. The journey is always changing, always shifting, and influenced by our own experiences and perspectives.” This diverse collection of superbly-written essays, sharply-drawn comics, fun lists and engrossing interviews is a fantastic compendium of contemporary thought on the history, evolution, and current state of feminism for every reader. Organized into topics including body image, gender, sexuality, pop culture, relationships, confidence, and independence, these pieces will introduce you to the concept of intersectionality (the idea that social categorizations are overlapping and interdependent) and encourage you to find your own definition of what it means to be a feminist.Because it’s a collection, you can read just on topics that interest you, pick the pieces by writers you love, or take on the whole thing and discover new voices who will challenge you to see the world in a new way.

Heartfelt stories from beloved writers and artists including Laurie Halse Anderson, Mindy Kaling, Malinda Lo, Liz Prince, Laverne Cox and Daniel Jose Older, as well as pieces from some extraordinary ‘ordinary’ women who have made a difference through their lives and work make this a terrific collection for anyone interested learning more about the many ways one can approach the challenges of what it means to be a woman.  Sure to start some amazing conversations, Here We Are is a great book to read and talk about during Women’s History Month, and that should be shared amongst family and friends.

Who will like this book?: Anyone interested in learning about what it means to be a feminist today. Readers who are sure they are not feminist: You might be surprised to learn that maybe…you are!

If you like this, read this: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Bossypants by Tina Fey. For mature readers: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

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The Emotionary

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Title: The Emotionary: A Dictionary of Words That Don’t Exist for Feelings that Do

Author: Eden Sher

Illustrator: Julia Wertz

Summary: Are you a ‘big-time feeler?’ Actress (best known for her stellar comedic work as Sue Heck on The Middle) Eden Sher is – to the point where she sometimes would have a hard time expressing her emotions through words. In order to overcome this, she began creating her own portmanteaus (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others – think ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ becoming brunch) to try and describe her the times when her feelings couldn’t be described by any existing definition. The result is this hilarious and charming collection of new words for the times that you just…can’t.

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Featuring delightful illustrations by Julia Wertz, often depicting her friendship with Sher and the construction of the book itself, this collection is a fast-paced and wickedly funny dive into the world of conflicting emotions. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also find yourself nodding your head in wonder as you discover that other people have the same feelings as you, and you may be relieved to finally find a way to define those tricky, complicated emotions you’ve had to deal with.

Who will like this book?: This is a great choice for any reader. Those afflicted with all the feels. Fans of Sher from her television work. Anyone feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed who needs a book that isn’t too silly but will still make them laugh.

If you like this, try this: For a classic spin on the clever redefining of words, try The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Another wildly imaginative use of language – in this case, the alphabet – to shape a story, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Terrible Typhoid Mary

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Title: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America

Author: Susan Bartoletti Campbell

Summary: In turn-of-the-century America, typhoid was a serious and deadly illness. It was spread through unsanitary behaviors such as not properly washing hands or living in close contact with sick people in cramped environments. However, this was before people understood ‘germ theory’ – the idea that microscopic things, invisible to they eye – cause disease. For many people, this was not science, but silliness. Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant with an impeccable record as a servant and cook employed by rich families in New York City, was a medical marvel: While she carried the typhoid bacteria, she was not herself, visibly ill or suffering from the symptoms of the disease. After several outbreaks in homes she worked in, including some that were fatal, Ms. Mallon was identified as the cause and her life and reputation would never be the same.

This engaging story brings up many interesting questions: Did ‘Typhoid Mary’ understand what she was doing? Was she a villain or a victim? Did she deserve the treatment she received at the hands of authorities? Can science always be trusted? How should we treat people who are ill in our society? Should they share the same rights as healthy people? A true story that echoes through our society to this day, this book will give you chills and make you want to wash your hands, right away.

Who will like this book?: Younger readers who like true stories of science, medicine and illness. People interested in history, especially medical history of the history of New York City. Anyone who likes a story with a secretive main character.

If you like this, try this: Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

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Title: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Author: Sarah Vowell

Summary: With the surging popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musicalization of Alexander Hamilton’s life, there is new interest in not just the Founding Fathers, but those who fought and served around them. Here with a take on the tale of ‘America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman,’ is humorist Sarah Vowell. While you may not be familiar with her brand of irreverent historical writings, I bet you have heard her voice: as Violet in The Incredibles. Here, she follows the young French nobleman from his early days in France to his final, farewell tour as the last living Revolutionary general.

This isn’t just a date-by-date retelling of Lafayette’s incredible and improbable life as a rebel and statesman. Instead, like all of her books, Vowell uses his story to consider something deeper – when have these States of ours ever truly been United? Her witty, clear-as-the-Liberty-Bell voice is an excellent guide through parts of our history that have been forgotten or romanticized into mythology. You will learn, you will laugh, and you will perhaps see the world a little differently. As we wander through an intensely combative political season, this books is not only a joy to read, but contains important lessons for us to understand.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers. Fans of the new musical Hamilton. American history buffs. Anyone who likes non-fiction that will make them laugh.

If you like this, try this: For more by Sarah Vowell, start with Assassination Vacation. More non-fiction: try Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow or Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. For fiction set in the Revolutionary era, try the graphic novel The Sons of Liberty by Alexander Lagos or Fever, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Andreson, or 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Dare to Disappoint

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Title: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

Author/Illustrator: Özge Samancı

Summary: Özge grew up in a small village on the Mediterranean sea in Turkey, a proud and ancient nation with a tumultuous recent history. While she treasured her dreams of becoming an actress, or an adventurer, or even an underwater explorer like her idol Jacques Cousteau, she also knew that she had an obligation to her family and to herself to study as hard as she could and enter a profession that would allow her to support herself in a time when such opportunities were rare, especially for girls. So at a young age, Özge sets her dreams aside in order to devote herself to one goal: Getting in to the best college possible so she can study the most challenging subjects so she can get a great job to guarantee her future. Will she succeed? Is it worth it? What will she find out about herself along the way?

This bright and charming graphic memoir was written and designed by Samancı, who is now a professor living in Chicago. While it offers a detailed and lighthearted look at growing up in Turkey, what makes it truly fascinating is its terrific depiction of living through the stress of expectations, be they of your family or your society in general, and how it is truly universal, whether you live in the United States today or grew up halfway around the world 30 years ago. Heartfelt and unexpectedly sensitive, this book is well worth your time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of books set in other countries. Memoir readers. Anyone who likes beautiful illustrations – these pages are full of creative and clever visuals.

If you like this, try this: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. For more on Turkey, try Blue Voyage by Diana Renn.

The Song Machine

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Title: The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Machine

Author: John Seabrook

Summary: Have you ever wondered why the music on the radio all sort of sounds the same? This book will tell you why…and basically, you can blame Sweden. Author Seabrook investigates the way most pop music is made today: by armies of technicians individually responsible for each element of the tune, from melody to lyrics to the all-important hooks that grab and keep the listener’s attention. The science of modern song craft is explored in-depth, with details about the rise of Scandinavian hit-makers like Max Martin (who has produced more number 1 hits than anyone besides George Martin, who worked with the Beatles), the type of artists who thrive under the guidance of super-producers, the fate of the session musicians who have been replaced by computer beats, and what the digital future of music means for record labels, artists and the listening public.

This book will resonate with anyone who loves music, especially those who love (or love to hate) today’s top hits and hit-makers including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for something a little different to read this winter season.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are interested in the mechanics of music production. Non-fiction fans who like reading about contemporary topics.

If you like this, try this: How Music Works by David Byrne. Decoded by Jay-Z. For younger readers: Learn to Speak Music by John Crossingham. For a perspective on this trend from a different era: Rhythm Ride: A Roadtrip through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Symphony for the City of the Dead

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Title: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

Author: M.T. Anderson

Summary: During World War II, the Russian city of Leningrad, formerly known as St. Petersburg, was bombed and held under siege by Nazi forces for almost three years, unable to obtain fresh food or other necessities for survival. Starving and desperate, residents of the cosmopolitan cultural capital of the nation endured unspeakable horrors. It was the stuff of nightmares, but it was also a source of inspiration, as famous composer Dmitri Shostakovich created a piece of music that would come to demonstrate to the war-torn world the incredible strength of his native city, the Seventh Symphony.

Born before the Russian Revolution, Shostakovich was a living witness to an incredible time in world history. This stunning and impeccably researched work of non-fiction describes the epic story of the war in the U.S.S.R. by telling the story of this one man, an artist who had been held up a both a hero and a pariah by those in charge over the course of his turbulent life. This book is challenging and deeply rewarding, much like author Anderson’s acclaimed fiction including Feed and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. Even if you think you know all there is to know about World War II, this book will surprise you.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are interested in history. Musicians and artists. People who are curious about everyday life under war conditions.

If you like this, try this: For more on Russian history, try The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming. The Road of Bones by Ann Fine. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. For mature readers, City of Thieves by David Benioff.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian