Off the Shelf: Books that are keeping me warm

This is a great time of year to get cozy with a good book: the days are getting shorter, it’s too cold (and wet) to stay outside for long, and the hot apple cider is plentiful. Here are some books that have recently helped me stay warm and content at home.

Brandon Stanton is the creator of the “Humans of New York” social media accounts. His work started with taking photographs of people living in New York City. Soon he added short captions of people telling a little bit about their day, their current struggles, or their life story. In his new book “Humans,” Stanton shares the stories and photographs he has documented during his travels to over 40 countries. This non-fiction book highlights the common human experiences we all share, and showed me that I have a lot to be thankful for.

Charlie is depressed. He’s stuck in a dead end job, working nights, unable to make any friends in L.A. So he jumps at the chance to work as assistant to Kathi Kannon, a film legend. Kathi is gregarious, creative, and complicated; she has bipolar disorder and has struggled with drug addiction. Yet Charlie feels his depression lifting and zest for life increasing as he brings order to her life and joins in on her adventures. He rides high with Kathi until he finds that she has been replacing some of her daily medications with morphine behind his back and he must find a way to please his boss while saving his friend. “A Star is Bored” by Byron Lane is funny and touching.

After Sydney Green’s marriage falls apart she moves home to Brooklyn to live with her mother. She is upset to see that the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying, spurred by the construction of a large medical facility nearby. When Sydney decides to explore the complex and long history of gentrification in her neighborhood, she does not expect her new (and frustratingly attractive) neighbor Theo to volunteer to help, especially since Theo’s girlfriend Kim seems to be encouraging her rich white friends to buy more houses on the block. As Sydney learns more about the past violence committed against Black people in the name of “revitalizing” Brooklyn, her long-time neighbors start disappearing, replaced overnight by affluent WASPs. Sydney begins to feel that she’s being watched, even stalked, and she can’t be sure that Theo can be trusted to help her figure out if she’s imagining things or if history is about to repeat itself. Alyssa Cole’s “When No One Is Watching” is a claustrophobic and gripping thriller.

It is 1714 and Addie LaRue is desperate to escape her imminent (and unwanted) marriage. On her wedding day she flees to the woods at dusk and begs the old gods for their help. The god of darkness is the only one who responds and he does not answer prayers; he only makes deals. He gives Addie her freedom and immortality in exchange for her soul once she has tired of life. But the god is clever, and words matter. Addie spends the next 300 years learning how the god can spin the wording of their bargain to exhaust and frustrate her. Addie is stubborn, though, and won’t give him the satisfaction of winning. That is, until she meets someone that she might be willing to sacrifice everything for. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V. E. Schwab is my favorite book so far this year.

Give the library a call at 507-359-8331 or visit www.newulmlibrary.org and click on “Library Catalog” if you’d like to request any of these books. We’d be happy to help you find more titles, too.

A reminder: The library will be closed on Wednesday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day. Thank you to all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.


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