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Cover art for The Ghosts of Tom Joad:  A Story of the #99 Percent.

The Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent.

Written by Peter Van Buren

Earl lives in Ohio and tells his story from a metaphorical bus. As the bus moves along he introduces us to people he has known in his life. Some are living, most are dead. This is a story of dreams deferred until they vanish. It is also a story of middle America; if you've followed the impact of globalization on the manufacturing centers in America you should be familiar with what has happened to our friend Earl. Factories that towns depended on for employment were closed and the manufacturing was moved overseas. Earl's story is the story of many of the people left behind.

Don't expect a happy ending here, you won't find one. What you will find is sorry, lost and wasted lives. When jobs move away they create a vacuum filled with alcoholism and drug use. Sure, some jobs appear but they are the low-paying and soul-destroying big box store jobs.

The book gives us a look into Earl's childhood and the town he grew up in when there was hope in the future. We are able to see what happened and how everyone was affected.

Not an easy or comfortable story but relevant and thoughtful. Having been raised in Cleveland, Ohio I saw many of the factories close and leave and the impact it had and is still having on that City and its citizens....

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

Written by Michele Genest
Illustrated by Cathie Archbould

There are lots of books out there about wild foods, but The Boreal Feast is much more interesting from a recipe perspective. This wild food cookbook is very applicable to Juneau; Michele Genest, who is from Whitehorse, writes about ingredients that are abundant in our region. The author is an amazing food writer and chef. Particularly delicious recipes include smoked Labrador tea short bread and rosehip jelly. The attractive photographs included in the book are an added bonus.

Recommended by Ani
Cover art for The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

Written by Ella Berthoud

Not sure what to read next? How about this book about books? Specifically, this book about which books to read to cure all your troubles. Organized by an alphabetical list that contains the whole range of human emotions, conditions, and conundrums, including jealousy, looking for Mr./Mrs. Right, burning dinner, nameless dread and even the common cold, The Novel Cure proposes to alleviate them with the proper prescribed reading material.

For example, a person suffering from hypochondria ought to pick up The Secret Garden, and be inspired by Mary's fierce determination that her cousin Colin is merely suffering from imagined illness. Or, if you find yourself in a jam, try The Life of Pi, in which young Pi survives being stranded at sea with a ravenous tiger; if Pi can get himself out of that pickle, you can extricate yourself from
your own tricky situations.

You can dip in to this excellent, creatively written book, or read it straight through, and be reminded of great books you have read (or have yet to read), get ideas for what to read next, and have a chuckle at the same time.

Recommended by mj
Cover art for The Rosie Project: A Novel

The Rosie Project: A Novel

Written by Graeme Simsion

Genetics professor Don Tillman, in his usual highly logical but completely socially clueless manner, has decided to find a wife. How will he do it? By creating a lengthy scientific questionnaire, of course. As with all best-laid plans, Dr. Tillman doesn't find a woman with all the qualities he specified; instead he finds Rosie, who is on a search of her own, for her biological father.

This story is a romance, but it's also an instruction manual for learning to care about other people. Instructive but not pedantic, this is a delightful read.

Recommended by mj
No cover image for this title

True Detective: The Complete First Season

Written by HBO

True Detective is a gritty, difficult, and totally engaging drama starring Matthew McConaughey (Rust Cohle)and Woody Harrelson (Marty Hart) as partners investigating a bizarre and disturbing murder in rural Louisiana. The story unfolds as two new detectives are investigating a recent murder that echoes the seventeen year-old crime that Rust and Marty solved back in 1995. The new investigation opens old wounds and brings the two partners back together. At the time of the 1995 crime, Woody Hart is a good old boy while Rust Cohle is newly arrived in the Louisiana Criminal Investigation Division. We watch them connect, view their lives, marriages and history against a backdrop of murder and corruption.

Like many HBO productions, this show is not for the faint of heart. I saw the series as a character study of the McConaughey and Harrelson detectives. If you are looking for a Midsomer Murder type series, this may not be the one for you, but it's compelling and very well-produced. I found it thought-provoking and intelligent.

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Written by Liane Moriarty

Somebody died at the Pirriwee Public School trivia night but we don't know who or how or why. Liane Moriarty, author of the bestseller The Husband's Secret, has written a tale of interconnected parents and children and their secrets and lies, which begins six months before the trivia night, interspersed with the testimony of witnesses, and builds to the fatal evening. Big Little Lies is the story of families, friendships, love, rivalries, bullying (by both adults and children), and cruelty, both intentional and accidental. It is fast-paced, surprising, and very hard to put down.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Secret Place: A Novel

The Secret Place: A Novel

Written by Tana French

I've recommended Tana French before, and I'm sure I will again. The Secret Place is another gripping mystery from the Irish author, this one set in St. Kilda's boarding school for girls. Last year, Chris Harper, a student at a neighboring school for boys, was found dead on the grounds; his murder was never solved. The Secret Place opens with a new clue, and Detective Stephen Moran leaps at the chance to advance his career, and so finds himself knee-deep in the best friends, worst enemies, first loves and first heartbreaks of the teenaged students of St. Kilda's. Chapters alternate between the detectives chasing each new clue over the course of a long school day, and the events of the previous year, which lead up the the murder and its eventual solution. French keeps you guessing up to the very end.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Rain Is Not My Indian Name

Rain Is Not My Indian Name

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith

14 year-old Rain Berghoff is grieving for her best friend Galen, who might have become more than a friend except for his untimely death in an accident. For a long time, Rain withdraws from the world, but a chance to work as a photographer for the local paper, and a political controversy over her Aunt Georgia's Indian Camp, draws Rain out of her grief. I like this author's work, and this glowing story of a girl coming to terms with all kinds of complicated things is particularly good.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Written by Ernest Cline

The premise of this book -- a perfect virtual reality simulation that's popular over the whole planet -- is becoming rapidly more believable everyday. I didn't expect the plot to keep up with such interesting world building, but the adventure story loaded with 80s pop culture and video game history kept me coming back for more. Previous generations pine over their elusive jetpacks, but I just want my VR visor and haptic gloves. Maybe next year?

Recommended by Max
No cover image for this title

Hungry Johnny

Written by Cheryl Minnema
Illustrated by Wesley Ballinger

The author of Hungry Johnny is Cheryl Minnema. She's Ojibwe, and so is the illustrator, Wesley Ballinger. The story tells of an Ojibwe boy named Johnny. Who is--as the title suggests--hungry! In Hungry Johnny, Minnema presents a believable character throughout the story. Johnny is like many children: a busy, hungry little boy who must learn patience from his family members.
Johnny lives in a modern home. His grandma, in jeans, sweater, and a ball cap, is at an electric stove, and as Johnny plods to another room, we see hardwood floors and photographs on the wall. It allows the reader to see a contemporary Native child instead of an outdated stereotype.
Elders eat first, so Johnny has to wait. His grandma waits with him, telling him to be patient. He wonders why she's not eating with the elders, and she explains she is a "baby elder" that is "too young to be old and too old to be young. I love that definition.
In both text and illustrations, the attitude-modeling is delivered in a gentle, non-lecturing way; its just a sweet, satisfying read.

Recommended by LouAnn

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