The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood

Image result for book that matters most book coverAva is a middle-aged woman whose content, suburban life has quietly come apart. Her husband has left her for another woman; she suspects her troubled daughter Maggie is making poor decisions while studying in Florence; and her son is far away in Africa. When Ava’s best friend Cate convinces her to join the library’s book club, Ava is dubious about how much it will help. Of course, the power of books is not to be underestimated, especially when the book club’s yearly theme is revealed: each month, a member will choose the book that mattered most to him/her in their life.

Not just a comforting book about books; this book has surprising depth. The characters are flawed and more human than I expected, and there were quite a few layers to the plot. I especially liked the different perspectives of Ava and Maggie. The loose ends were all tied up a bit too neatly and prettily (and improbably, in a few cases) but that’s what makes a comforting read comforting. A totally enjoyable read, perfect for a snowy, relaxing day off! (Submitted by Veronica).

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Dragon Books for All Ages

Image result for dealing with dragonsImagine having a dragon for a friend: powerful and perhaps capricious, but with your best interests at heart.  I have a favourite dragon friend book for every age.  For younger readers (maybe 8 and up) I recommend Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, about a Princess who decides she’d rather live with the dragons than the princes.  As a teenager, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger was my very favourite book.  Once I read it through twice on the same day.  Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight is one of the best dragon friend books for adults, and there are plenty of other books set in her world, Pern, to keep you busy for a while. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Shelter by Jung Yun

Image result for shelter by jung yun cover imageShelter by Jung Yun is an intense and emotionally charged read that will grip the reader from start to finish. The story revolves around a young man dealing with the fallout of a home invasion attack on his parents. Intricately layered, dark and disturbing, and powerfully gripping, I could relate to the main character’s struggle to balance his family obligations with his feelings of guilt. (Submitted by Alan).

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We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Image result for we found a hatJon Klassen’s new book We Found a Hat finally fell into my hands at the City Centre Library. Magical and touching are my first thoughts. I have enjoyed both the book and felt-story of I Want My Hat Back and the book This Is Not My Hat so I have been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of Klassen’s picture-book trilogy.   Again, I have to use the words magical and touching, as through the intertwining of word and illustration Klassen leaves behind Bear and Rabbit, as well as theft, rage and revenge. He leaves behind the small theft by a small fish and the dark conclusion when the large fish and original owner of the hat finds the small thief. As much as I have found ways to make these dark messages funny and have enjoyed the shared laughter with the diverse ages in my Storytimes, I was also often pulled in different directions. Violence and revenge are not patterns that I would want to emulate or encourage to the many loving families that I meet in the Library. So to read the story of two turtles that are friends and choose not to steal or lie or hurt each other, but instead choose to share their dreams and hopes to each other inspires me to for a third time to describe it as magical and touching. (Submitted by Inti).

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Image result for hillbilly elegyHillbilly Elegy offers a fascinating look into the lives of white rural Americans. Author J.D. Vance uses his own personal experiences to describe and illuminate current social issues among working-class Americans. It is a quick, engrossing read, especially in light of the current political situation in the United States. I would recommend this book for anyone wanting to get an insight into the lives and hopes and dreams of those who feel so let down by their failure to achieve the “American Dream.” (Submitted by Claire).

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Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Image result for CALVIN MARTINE LEAVITT BOOK COVER

Calvin is a brilliant 17 year old who has procrastinated much too long on his final English and biology projects. Recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, he decides to undertake an epic pilgrimage across Lake Erie along with childhood friend Susie and the hallucination of a 10 foot tiger named Hobbes to convince Bill Watterson to write one more strip of Calvin & Hobbes.  Thoughtful and heartfelt. (Submitted by Meghan W).

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Furiously Happy: a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson

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I listened to this book as an audiobook. The subtitle describes the book perfectly – it is both very funny and very sad. Lawson suffers from depression and various other mental and physical issues. The title comes from her deciding to be “furiously happy” and live life to the fullest during the times when she’s able. I found the funny and horrible to be mixed very well–a serious chapter about depression followed by something bizarre about taxidermy raccoons.

Lawson isn’t for everyone; she has a very odd sense of humour and a rather foul mouth and is very frank about depression. But if you enjoy quirky humour and live with depression yourself or in a loved one, this is a great listen. Lawson is a true advocate for mental illness and she provides a very real look at depression – I was particularly interested in her description of how people with mental illness just don’t have the same amount of energy as “normal” people (she calls it the “spoon theory”) and how it is not treated like a disease–sufferers are told to get over it or just be happy while we would never say such things to people with physical ailments.  I laughed a lot and I really admire her philosophy of being furiously happy, I plan to try it myself! (Submitted by Gayle).

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