The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Nina Hill is living the ultimate existence for a book lover: she works in a bookstore, plays on an ace trivia team, and owns a fabulous feline named Phil. She’s happy living alone because it gives her more time to read her books. Then, a comic disaster befalls her when she discovers that her status as an only child has been a lie—and in fact, there’s a platoon of siblings who want to invade her life and set up camp in her apartment. Can Nina survive their company? More importantly, will she ever finish her TBR pile?
The Giver of Stars
Alice Wright leaves her native England to travel to her new husband’s home in Kentucky. But life there isn’t what she expected, and she struggles. That’s when she’s given the chance to join First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s new initiative—a traveling library—which Alice and the other women she teams up with will bring to various towns on horseback. Jojo Moyes uses her talents as a storyteller to give voice to yet another story of women forgotten by history.
Palaces for the People
Public libraries are a part of the infrastructure that keeps our nation running. Eric Klinenberg counts libraries as part of the “social infrastructure” that helps bring Americans together. In the shared space of the library, childcare centers, and parks—among others—he argues that we meet folks with whom we may not otherwise connect. By interacting in these palaces of social infrastructure, our ties to our community and our empathy for others grows, as do our roles as informed citizens.
Elizabeth Strout was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her short story collection, Olive Kitteridge, which features stories about a retired schoolteacher in Crosby, Maine. Olive returns in Strout’s newest novel. She continues to practice a no-nonsense form of compassion for others and must help neighbors and friends who are facing some of life’s most harrowing changes. Olive is a treasure, and the more time we get to spend with her feels like a gift.
The Penguin Classics Book
Penguin has been bringing affordable versions of the world’s classics to the reading public for over a century. In this gorgeous new book, Penguin offers an historic guide to over 1,200 of these works. Covering 4,000 years of literary history and featuring over 500 authors, this illustrated introduction to the world of Penguin makes an incredible gift for any book lover in your life, especially if that book lover is you.
Before We Were Yours
Twelve-year-old Rill has no way of knowing that she’s about to become caught up in a national scandal. But in Wingate’s poignant novel, readers meet Rill and her four younger siblings on a night when their father has rushed their mother to the hospital. Authorities find the kids home alone, and before they can alert their parents, the kids are packed off to an orphanage where its director makes money selling orphans to rich families. Will Rill be able to keep her brothers and sisters together? What’s more: this shocking story is based on actual events.
The Library of the Unwritten
A. J. Hackwith
In this clever first book in a new contemporary fantasy series, wander around the Library of the Unwritten. Its shelves are filled with books their authors began writing but never completed, and the library is located in Hell. Librarians in charge of these unfinished books spend their days chasing after characters who have escaped, some of whom have gone in search of their authors. When an angel shows up to destroy a book he believes was written by Satan himself, life down below gets even hotter.
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
Tom Hope’s life has been ruptured by his wife’s decision to leave him. He tries to put his life back together on the Australian farm where they lived, but loneliness dogs him. When Hannah Babel, a recent Hungarian immigrant, asks Tom to help her build a bookshop, Tom gets pulled into Hannah’s story of heartbreak and terror experienced during World War II. Books become the vehicle for both of them as they learn to navigate their new lives.
With Renee Zellweger garnering plenty of praise for her stunning performance as Judy Garland, readers interested in Garland’s early life should check out Letts’s novel. When 16-year-old Judy meets Maud Baum—the widow of the man who wrote The Wizard of Oz—Maud discovers that Judy is badly in need of mothering. Maud sees in her a reminder of the real-life Dorothy that Baum based his character on, and the two strike up a friendship that sustains them both.
Helen Oyeyemi combines mythology, folklore, and her incredible imagination in her genre-bending work. It was the Brothers Grimm who preserved the story of “Hansel and Gretel” for posterity, but in Oyeyemi’s magical retelling of the story, readers meet Harriet, Gretel’s friend from childhood and her constant companion as the two experience enormous events. Years later when Perdita, Harriet’s daughter, is inspired to seek out Gretel, she becomes the catalyst for significant changes in the lives of both strangers and friends.
My parents moved my brothers and me 11 times in 10 years—and whatever new town we landed in, one of the first trips we made was a visit to the local library. My family never had a lot of extra money, but weekly excursions to the library made me feel showered in riches. My library card made it possible for me to check out as many books as I could carry; the best part was knowing that I could do so over and over again with a seemingly endless supply of new books to read.
Here at RIF, we love books that celebrate books, so we’ve gathered a list of reads that celebrate different aspects of book culture. Libraries feature in several of them, while others focus on the role books play in changing people. And, of course, all of these books make wonderful gifts for the bookworms in your life.
Featured Photo by Jinny Kwon and Abbe Wright