WHAT WE'RE READING

Like reading? Looking for book recommendations?

Learn what the librarians @ CSW are currently reading and talking about. See something that peaks your interest here? Swing by the library and ask to check the book out!

Check out the What We're Reading Archives to see past selections.

LONG WAY DOWN by JASON REYNOLDS

What it's about: Will, a 15 year old African American, grappling with the murder of his older brother---his only brother. And as Rule 1 states, there's no crying. Rule 2, no snitching. And Rule 3? Revenge. As Will, with his brother's cold, steel gun in the waistband of his bands, ascends the elevator to eventually enact his revenge, he is introduced to Buck. Buck sold Will's brother Shawn that piece he now carries. Follow Will and Buck on an elevator journey. What will ultimately happen? Is revenge the answer?

Why you might like it: An ode to putting guns down and promoting peace to violence, Reynolds lyrically tells the story of Will and his journey toward his own truth. Exploring a weighty topic, Reynolds puts characters, and their roles, at its center, ultimately creating a compelling story around the decisions we make. This book is an excellent listen--Reynolds himself narrates the story, bringing a novel with plenty of verse, to life.

For fans of: lyrical novels, compelling stories, deep character development, audiobooks

PRIDE by IBI ZOBOI

What it's about: Four Afro-Latina sisters in Bushwick, Brooklyn, who are skeptical of their new next door neighbors--brothers from Manhattan. What unfolds is a story equal parts neighborhood identity, romantic connections, and how we initially perceive people. This novel features poetry and lyrical elements which really shine in audio format.

Why you might like it: It's a reimagining of the classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice. This is one remix worth reading. It explores topics of race, identity, neighborhood, wealth, and gentrification. There's also, of course, a slow burning love story and little moments that remind you why this story, at its heart, is a classic.

For fans of: remixing classic novels, Pride and Prejudice, ya romance, identity books, lyrical novels, Jane Austen

THERE THERE by TOMMY ORANGE

What it's about: A cast of urban Native American characters--young and old--who are all planning to converge on a large pow wow in Oakland. These stories, inter-generational and at times deeply connected, weave together a portrait of what it means to be an urban Native American. What happens at that pow wow will leave every reader in shock. But what will Orange's characters make of this tragedy?

Why you might like it: Tommy Orange, in his debut novel, absolutely shines with beautiful, descriptive language; he's a young, Native writer to champion. If you are a fan of novels with rich character development, this one is for you. You will find yourself rooting for the characters, no matter how flawed, and admire their resiliency in the face of tragedy.

For fans of: multiple perspectives, Native American literature, deep character development, human and family stories, the feeling and weight of belonging and not belonging

HEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE: STORIES by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

What it’s about: This debut collection by Nafissa Thompson-Spires shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Through 11 multilayered stories that confront issues of race, self-image, identity politics and the vulnerability of the black body, the author grapples with black identity and the contemporary middle class.

Why you might like it: By turns insightful, unsettling, comical, tragic, satirical, disturbing, and ironic, these stories are full of memorable characters and situations. Although each story stands alone, many are interconnected and share insights from differing perspectives.

For fans of: complex, culturally diverse characters, African American literature, and satire.

THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS by KEIJA PARSSINEN

What it’s about: In Port Sabine, a Texas refinery town, all eyes are on Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls' basketball team. Mercy seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles, among them Mercy's strict evangelical grandmother, a boy who is becoming more than a passing distraction from Mercy's rigid discipline, and the specter of Mercy's own disappointing performance at the last state championship game. At the periphery of Mercy's world floats team manager Illa Stark, a lonely girl whose days are spent caring for her chronically depressed, wheelchair-bound mother. When the body of a newborn baby is found near the high school, public scrutiny of Port Sabine's girls intensifies, and as every teenage girl in town becomes a suspect, a mysterious ailment begins to afflict them one by one.

Why you might like it: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is a dark, atmospheric coming-of-age story wrapped in a small town's secrets.

For fans of: southern gothic fiction, works inspired by the Salem witch trials

THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by JOSHILYN JACKSON

What it’s about: Fiercely independent divorce lawyer Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who reinvented their history as they moved from town to town, and Kai moved from boyfriend to boyfriend. When one move landed mother and daughter with a low-level drug dealer, Paula made an ill-fated phone call that would send Kai to prison and Paula to foster care, and drive a wedge through their relationship. Years later, Paula is still trying to atone for that devastating act when she receives word that her estranged mother is terminally ill, maybe already dead. Then Kai’s most closely held secret lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister.

Why you might like it: The Opposite of Everyone is a gritty, bittersweet story laced with “earthy” language and sharp humor. Paula is tough-as-nails and relentless in ferreting out the secrets that lead to sizable settlements for her clients, but after years spent guarding her heart, her greatest risk may be in letting family and love back into her life.

For fans of: unconventional family stories, hard-boiled detective fiction, legal thrillers.

THE ALICE NETWORK by KATE QUINN

What it’s about: In the aftermath of World War II, American college student Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to Rose. Following her only lead, Charlie barges into the home of Eve Gardiner, a reclusive former spy, demanding information and launching them both on a mission to find the truth.

Why you might like it: Suspenseful, engrossing, and brimming with period detail, this story of two courageous, unconventional women spans decades and continents, and introduces readers to the real-life network of female spies that operated in Europe during World War I.

For fans of: strong female characters, historical fiction, thrillers and suspense