Best of 2023: Adult fiction & nonfiction

Oak Park’s Best of 2023 is back! Our annual librarian-curated selection of titles features some of the titles most requested and checked out by Oak Parkers.

See our adult fiction and nonfiction favorites on this page or browse more using the links below.

Adult fiction: General | Adult fiction: Romance, lives & relationships | Adult fiction: Mystery, thriller, sci-fi & fantasyAdult nonfictionTeen fiction | Teen nonfiction | Kids booksPicture books | TV shows | Movies | Music

Adult fiction: General

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Why you should try it: "Layered and intense; set in the near-future," this is a "poignant and extremely violent" book. The "audiobook narrator is great".—Kay, Creative Technology Specialist

Description: Two top women gladiators are fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far removed from America's own. Loretta Thurwar and Hamara "Hurricane Staxxx" Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America's increasingly dominant private prison industry. It's the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom.

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The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Why you should try it: While the length may be daunting, this staff favorite was so "beautifully written" that they "could have kept reading this for a hundred more pages." And you will definitely "fall in love" with this on audio.—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian; Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Description: Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India's Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction. In every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere.

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Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig

Why you should try it: "This novel about a 19th-century Chinese pirate queen was both deeply introspective and harrowing. I loved the landscape, description, and narrative."—Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Description: When Shek Yeung sees a Portuguese sailor slay her husband, a feared pirate, she knows she must act swiftly or die. Instead of mourning, Shek Yeung launches a new plan: immediately marrying her husband's second-in-command and agreeing to bear him a son and heir, in order to retain power over her half of the fleet. But as Shek Yeung vies for control over the army she knows she was born to lead, larger threats loom.

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Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Why you should try it: "I will read anything that Barbara Kingsolver puts out and I was captivated by this Appalachian retelling of David Copperfield. Hilarious and heartbreaking!" —Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Description: Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, the story of a boy born to a teenage single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. He braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

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Foster by Claire Keegan

Why you should try it: "I've read this short, moving book twice so far this year and may read it again—kind of like a palate cleanser."—Janet, Patron Services Library Assistant

Description: It is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A child is taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm, not knowing when or if she will be brought home again. In the Kinsellas' house, she finds an affection and warmth she has not known and slowly, in their care, begins to blossom. But there is something unspoken in this new household—where everything is so well tended to—and this summer must soon come to an end.

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Glassworks by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith

Why you should try it: "Multi-generational historical fiction with a queer narrative that centers around the different possibilities of fabricating glass; a nice allegory for the delicate nature of family dynamics produced by the development of personal history."—Kay, Creative Technology Specialist

Description: In 1910, Agnes Carter makes the wrong choice in marriage. After years as an independent woman of fortune, influential with the board of a prominent university because of her financial donations, she is now subject to the whims of an abusive, spendthrift husband. But when Bohemian naturalist and glassblower Ignace Novak reignites Agnes's passion for science, she begins to imagine a different life, and she sets her mind to getting it.

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Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

Why you should try it: Another staff favorite! This book about "a family in crisis" while they deal with the disappearance of their father is "about so much more including language and disability." "Nothing has been able to top the storytelling abilities of Angie Kim" in this "beautifully written book" that "instantly became my personal best book of the year."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian: Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian

Description: Mia, the irreverent, hyper-analytical 20-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything—which is why she isn't initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don't return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia's brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.

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Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

Why you should try it: Staff was "impressed with Hakes' ability to weave an affecting story of mothers and daughters with the history of Hawaii and the current sovereignty movement" while also enjoying "plenty of family drama."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian; Kathy, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Hi'i is proud to be a Naupaka, a family renowned for its contributions to hula and her hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, but there's a lot she doesn't understand. She's never met her legendary grandmother and her mother has never revealed the identity of her father. Worse, unspoken divides within her tight-knit community have started to grow, creating fractures whose origins are somehow entangled with her own family history. In hula, Hi'i sees a chance to live up to her name and solidify her place within her family legacy.

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Jackal by Erin E. Adams

Why you should try it: "I hardly ever find thrillers that shake me to my core like this book did. Real-life elements of race, gender, romance, and human kindness (or lack thereof) combine with the supernatural in a novel that genuinely and deeply changed me."—Vann, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: As a Black woman, Liz doesn't exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward and passive-aggressive reunions. But on the day of the wedding, the bride's daughter, Caroline, goes missing-and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood. As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern. As she starts to dig through the town's history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls. It's your turn. With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: Find Caroline or be entirely consumed by the darkness.

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Land of Milk & Honey by C. Pam Zhang

Why you should try it: Staff agreed this is a "beautifully written, sumptuous, and scathing examination of humanity." They were "captivated."—Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian; Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: A smog has spread. Food crops are rapidly disappearing. A chef escapes her dying career in a dreary city to take a job at a decadent mountaintop colony seemingly free of the world’s troubles. Her enigmatic employer and his visionary daughter have built a lush new life for the global elite, one that reawakens the chef to the pleasures of taste, touch, and her own body. In this atmosphere of hidden wonders and cool, seductive violence, the chef’s boundaries undergo a thrilling erosion. Soon she is pushed to the center of a startling attempt to reshape the world far beyond the plate.

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The Measure by Nikki Erlick

Why you should try it: "This book was incredibly thought-provoking and made for a great book club discussion." —Ginger, Staff Learning & Well-Being Specialist

Description: It seems like any other day: You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out. But today when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live. From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise? As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they'll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

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Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Why you should try it: "Quirky and grand, like all of Wilson's writing, but I think this is my new fav of his!"—Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: 16-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—is determined to make it through yet another sad summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother's unhappy house and who is as lonely and awkward as Frankie is. Romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, and when the two jointly make an unsigned poster, shot through with an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it. Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge—famous author, mom to a wonderful daughter, wife to a loving husband—gets a call that threatens to upend everything: A journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the Coalfield Panic of 1996.

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Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Why you should try it: This "gorgeous" book had staff jotting down "tons of passages" to "hold on to." They thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Meryl Streep "who brings so much light and nuance to the performance."—Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian; Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: In the spring of 2020, Lara's three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

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The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Why you should try it: Staff loved this "beautifully written and brutal" book following "a girl who escapes the Jamestown settlement into the woods to find beauty and freedom." This is one you will "want to savor."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian; Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Description: A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her.

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Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

Why you should try it: Our most mentioned favorite of 2023 was called "fascinating, fun, challenging, frustrating, and extremely well-written and executed" by staff. Highly suggested as an audiobook especially with a "snarky narrator that you love to hate."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian; Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian; Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian; Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars: same year at Yale, same debut year in publishing. But Athena's a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn't even get a paperback release. Nobody wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks. So when June witnesses Athena's death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: She steals Athena's just-finished masterpiece. So what if June edits Athena's novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn't this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That's what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

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Adult fiction: Romance, lives & relationships

Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan

Why you should try it: "I had so much fun reading this book. So silly and charming!"—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Riley Rhodes finally has the chance to turn her family's knack for the supernatural into a legitimate business when she's hired to break the curse on an infamous Scottish castle. Used to working alone in her alienating occupation, she's pleasantly surprised to meet a handsome stranger upon arrival—until he tries to get her fired. Fresh off a scandal, Clark Edgeware can't allow a self-proclaimed "curse breaker" to threaten his last chance for professional redemption. Riley expects the curse to do her dirty work by driving Clark away, but instead, they keep ending up on top of each other. Turns out, the only thing they do better than fight is fool around.

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Hayley Aldridge Is Still Here by Elissa R. Sloan

Why you should try it: "A perfect pregame read for the Britney Spears memoir."—Camille, Bibliographic Services Library Assistant

Description: It's been years since anyone really thought about Hayley Aldridge. A child star turned television royalty, Hayley spent years in Hollywood partying and being plastered across the tabloids before quietly disappearing after a whirlwind marriage and divorce and very public breakdown. For over a decade, she's been trapped in a conservatorship and had every aspect of her life controlled by her parents. When the hashtag #helphayley starts to emerge on social media, and the public starts thinking critically about what happened to her all those years ago, there's finally some momentum on her side. But how can she go up against her parents when they're aware of her every move? It's time for Hayley Aldridge to remind the world who she is, this time on her own terms.

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The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston

Why you should try it: "A lovely, cozy book to escape into. A contemporary romance that also deals well with grief and has a magical twist. Plus amazing food descriptions."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian

Description: Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it. So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn't want to get too close to anyone—she isn't sure her heart can take it. And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt's apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would've fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again. Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact.

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Adult fiction: Mystery, thriller, sci-fi & fantasy

3 Days to Live by James Patterson

Why you should try it: As a huge fan of James Patterson novels, this book is a page-turner, containing three separate but great stories in one, that each keep you on your toes. All three bring their own level of intensity and gripping storytelling that will keep you hooked.—Camayia, Leadership Team Executive Assistant

Description: 3 Days to Live: A CIA-agent bride is on her European honeymoon when she and her husband are poisoned—leaving her 72 hours to take revenge. Women and Children First: When a deal goes bad on a tech executive in Washington, DC, he turns an order to kill his family into a chance to relive his military glory days. The Housekeepers: A Los Angeles doctor trusts her two housekeepers, but when she's murdered in a botched attempt to steal drugs, the pair of grifters vie to control their former employer's estate—facing off against the Russian mob.

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Killer's Game by Isabella Maldonado

Why you should try it: "Reading this title made me want to dive into more books by this author! Propulsive page-turner type of book that will keep you on your toes and have you guessing what will happen next. It contains the action, thrills, and horror of the many casualties throughout. This has a clear 'this needs to be made to a movie' type of vibe!"—Camayia, Leadership Team Executive Assistant

Description: After witnessing the murder of the chief of staff for a powerful New York senator, FBI agent, and former military codebreaker Daniela Vega goes deep undercover to unravel a bizarre conspiracy where she must play a killer's game alongside an assassin-turned-informant, and there can only be one winner.

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The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown

Why you should try it: "As a huge fan of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), this story was right up my alley. It felt like the characters never truly got a break from the horrors they were experiencing; definitely a wild ride."—Jericho, Creative Technology Specialist

Description: As acting captain of the starship Calypso, Jacklyn Albright is responsible for keeping the last of humanity alive as they limp back to Earth from their forebears' failed colony on a distant planet. Faced with constant threats of starvation and destruction in the treacherous minefield of interstellar space, Jacklyn's crew has reached their breaking point. As unrest begins to spread throughout the ship's Wards, a new threat emerges, picking off crew members in a grim, bloody fashion.

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Whalefall by Daniel Kraus

Why you should try it: Staff loved this book that was "survival tale, horror story, and powerful telling of a son's reconciliation with his past history and his dead father." They "couldn't stop thinking or talking about this book for weeks, even while acknowledging that it really freaked me out and I couldn't wait to get to the end."—Genevieve, Children's Services Supervising Librarian; Michael, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: Jay Gardiner has given himself a fool's errand—to find the remains of his deceased father in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Monastery Beach. He knows it's a long shot, but Jay feels it's the only way for him to lift the weight of guilt he has carried since his dad's death by suicide the previous year. The appearance of a giant squid puts Jay in very real jeopardy, made infinitely worse by the arrival of a sperm whale looking to feed. Suddenly, Jay is caught in the squid's tentacles and drawn into the whale's mouth where he is pulled into the first of its four stomachs. He quickly realizes he has only one hour before his oxygen tanks run out—one hour to defeat his demons and escape the belly of a whale.

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Adult nonfiction

The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight by Andrew Leland

Why you should try it: "My favorite type of book, a memoir mixed with a microhistory, in this case a cultural history of blindness. It is also surprisingly funny, and Leland's narration of the audiobook is sublime. Extremely informative and entertaining!"—Kathy, Collection Management Librarian

Description: We meet Andrew Leland as he's midway through his life with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that ushers those who live with it from complete sightedness to complete blindness over a period of years, even decades. Full of apprehension but also dogged curiosity, Leland embarks on a sweeping exploration of the state of being that awaits him: not only the physical experience of blindness but also its language, internal debates, politics, and customs. He also negotiates his changing relationships with his wife and son, and with his own sense of self, as he moves from sighted to semi-sighted to blind, from his mainstream, "typical" life to one with a disability.

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Heretic: A Memoir by Jeanna Kadlec

Why you should try it: "This memoir about queerness, religion, family, and magic was one of the first books I really connected with this year."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Married to an evangelical pastor's son with a comfortable life, the author describes her reckoning with religious trauma and Midwestern values as she shed years of indoctrination, piety, and repression and came out as queer, and discusses how evangelicalism has undermined American political power structures.

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Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History by Vikki Tobak

Why you should try it: "A thick, unique book of visually arresting images showcasing how hip-hop artists and hip-hop culture has influenced jewelry, fashion, and American culture at large. Spanning from the 70s to today, a vast array of pieces are photographed—dookie rope chains, doorknocker earrings, pinky rings, Jesus pieces, and of course grillz—with history, stories, and anecdotes uplifting the images. A must-read for any hip-hop or fashion aficionado or appreciator."—Joy, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: The definitive photographic history of how hip-hop blinged out and redefined the world of jewelry, luxury, and style. Starting with Run-DMC's gold Adidas pendants and Eric B. & Rakim's ostentatious dookie rope chains and Mercedes medallions, the jewelry then transforms from street style into a booming design culture.

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In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Why you should try it: "Even weeks after closing the book, Sylvia's incredible journey as a Peruvian gay woman conquering the seven summits, while healing her inner child, continued to captivate my thoughts and inspire me."—Nora, Latine Language & Culture Librarian

Description: When Silvia's mother called her home to Peru, she knew something finally had to give. A Latinx hero in the elite macho tech world of Silicon Valley, privately, she was hanging by a thread. She was deep in the throes of alcoholism, hiding her sexuality from her family, and repressing the abuse she'd suffered as a child. Her visit to Peru would become a turning point in her life. Silvia started climbing. Something about the brute force required for the ascent—the restricted oxygen at altitude, the vast expanse of emptiness around her, the risk and spirit and sheer size of the mountains, the nearness of death—woke her up. And then, she took her biggest pain to the biggest mountain: Everest.

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The Information Desk: An Epic by Robyn Schiff

Why you should try it: "As a poet who grew up in New York City going to the Met and now works at a service desk, I couldn't get enough of this book!"—Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: Robyn Schiff's fourth collection is a book-length poem in three parts set at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's information desk, where Schiff long ago held a staff position. Elaborately mapping an interconnected route in and out of the museum through history, material, and memory, Information Desk: An Epic takes us on an anguished soul-quest and ecstatic intellectual query to confront the violent forces that inform the museum's encyclopedic collection and the spiritual powers of art.

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My Everyday Lagos: Nigerian Cooking at Home & in the Diaspora by Yewande Komolafe

Why you should try it: "Through stories and photos, Yewande shows just how easy to make tasty, Nigerian dishes can be. As a staff writer and recipe developer for the New York Times, and fellow Nigerian, I trust anything Yewande does with food. I am excited to make many of my childhood dishes with the help of this book."—Joy, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: An acclaimed chef and food writer celebrates the many cuisines found in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, with 75 recipes that mirror her own powerful journey of self-discovery.

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The Nameplate: Jewelry, Culture & Identity by Isabel Flower

Why you should try it: "The personal and cultural significance of nameplate jewelry is shown through intentionally stunning and bright photographs of all types of jewelry, and the people who wear them."—Joy, Adult Services Library Assistant

Description: A vibrant photographic celebration of nameplate jewelry featuring deeply personal stories and rich cultural contexts, collected by the creators of the Documenting the Nameplate project.

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The Parenthood Dilemma: Procreation in the Age of Uncertainty by Gina Rushton

Why you should try it: "Excellent for thinking through the stakes of becoming a parent; explores climate change, partnership, reproductive justice, infertility from a millennial's perspective. I cried a lot reading this!!"—Kay, Creative Technology Specialist

Description: When Gina Rushton admitted she had little time left to make the decision for herself, the magnitude of the choice overwhelmed her. Her search for her own "yes" or "no" only uncovered more questions to be answered. To seek clarity on these questions, Rushton spoke to doctors, sociologists, economists, and ethicists, as well as parents and childless people of all ages and from around the world. Here, she explores and presents policies, data, and case studies from people who have made this decision—one way or the other—and shows how the process can be revelatory in discovering who we are as individuals.

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Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond

Why you should try it: "A concise and important book that looks at poverty in the U.S. and the causes, implications and solutions. An important read for all. This was an engaging audiobook."—Margita, Adult Services Supervising Librarian

Description: The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every 8 of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.

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Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora

Why you should try it: A staff favorite! As one said, "As the child of an immigrant, I'm grateful to Zamora for providing a poignant lens into this journey," and another, "I was instantly drawn in through the emotional, visceral, cinematic writing of the narrator's 9-year-old self and with him to the end!"—Nora, Latine Language & Culture Librarian; Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: Javier's adventure is a 3,000-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone except for a group of strangers and a "coyote" hired to lead them to safety, Javier's trip is supposed to last two short weeks. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests, and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside a group of strangers who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.

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The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny & a Murder by David Grann

Why you should try it: "A gripping, vivid recounting of a centuries-old shipwreck that amazingly manages to feel immediate. Read most of it in one sick day on the couch!"—Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist

Description: On January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were 30 emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty's Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing 2500 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes. But six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they had a very different story to tell. The 30 sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes—they were mutineers.

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Walking With Sam: A Father, A Son & Five Hundred Miles Across Spain by Andrew McCarthy

Why you should try it: "This is so much more than what you think it will be—it's funny, poignant and actually a fun history lesson. I'm enjoying it way more than I thought I would (I'm listening to it), and I can relate both to the father wanting time to stand still yet give his child the foundation in which to forge his own path and the child just wanting to make sense of this messy world."—Michelle, Patron Services Supervisor

Description: When Andrew McCarthy's eldest son began to take his first steps into adulthood, McCarthy found himself wishing time would slow down. Looking to create a more meaningful connection with Sam before he fled the nest, as well as recreate his own life-altering journey decades before, McCarthy decided the two of them should set out on a trek like few others: 500 miles across Spain's Camino de Santiago.

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The World Keeps Ending & the World Goes On by Franny Choi

Why you should try it: "This poetry collection gripped my heart and didn't let go even after I had finished it. I'll read anything Choi writes."—Jericho, Creative Technology Specialist

Description: Many have called our time dystopian. But The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On reminds us that apocalypse has already come in myriad ways for marginalized peoples. With lyric and tonal dexterity, these poems spin backwards and forwards in time—from Korean comfort women during World War II, to the precipice of climate crisis, to children wandering a museum in the future. They explore narrative distances and queer linearity, investigating on microscopic scales before soaring towards the universal.

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You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith

Why you should try it: Staff loved this "compelling, poetic, and poignant" memoir with chapters ranging "from a single sentence to several pages, which gave time to pause and reflect", giving "room for the reader in all the blank space."—Christine, Environmental Programming Specialist; Janet, Patron Services Library Assistant

Description: Poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman's personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes.

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