Recommended Reads for Adults 2023

Recommended Reads: December 2023

December Recommended Reads theme is "Second Chances".  Everyone makes mistakes. Hopefully we learn from them and become better than before. As we enter this holiday season, we are surrounded by stories of redemption, rebirth, and hope, developing empathy, and metamorphosis. Scrooge learns to give, children learn to share, a couple learns their love is more important than material gifts…  Some authors excel at giving readers a loathsome or deeply flawed character whom the reader ends up (by some miracle) loving by the end of the novel. Or a protagonist who can't seem to make a good choice but finally gets it right. Sometimes, it just takes time and a second, third, or tenth chance for our journey with a character to impart the lesson they, and we, are supposed to learn.

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and One Man’s Story of Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor, 2016. (DB84021)
Shaka Senghor fled abuse from a divorce-torn home, choosing instead to deal drugs on the streets of Detroit to survive. At 19, he shot and killed a man, landing him in jail for 19 years. He blamed everyone but himself for the decisions he made. Since his release, he mentors youth facing similar situations, encouraging them to practice self-examination, meditation, and accepting the kindness of others to work through the pain and anger from abuse and life on the streets. This is his autobiography. – Book Description from Library Staff

4x3 grid with individual book covers

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune, 2021. (DB105073)
Welcome to Charon’s Crossing. The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through. Wallace, our protagonist who cared for no one but himself in life, begins to think he might just be dead when a reaper shows up to collect him from his own funeral. But, he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived and he is given one week to cross over, seven days to live a lifetime, and, in death, learn how to love life and others. – Book Description by Library Staff

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, 2020. (BR23507, DB100906)
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe, between life and death, there is a library in which the shelves go on forever. Each book upon the shelves contains the story of another reality, an infinite collection of all the “what ifs” and the opportunity to see the outcomes to different choices. Now, Nora finds herself in the library after her attempted suicide. And every book is her story. Is the key to her happiness between one of these bindings? On one of these pages? Is there a perfect life she could have lived? As we travel with her, can we discover what makes a truly fulfilling life, and what makes it worth living in the first place? – Book Description Compiled by Library Staff.

Better, Not Bitter : Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef Salaam, 2023. (DB112359)
In 1989 five young men were convicted of the assault and rape of Trisha Meili after dark in Central Park. The case gained national attention for the perceived lawlessness of New York City and violence towards women. It wouldn’t be until 2002 that the five men would be exonerated after the confession of the serial rapist Matias Reyes proved their innocence. Now, the case is a prominent example of racial profiling, discrimination, and inequality in the legal system. This memoir is the first from any one of the exonerated men, telling his story, in his own words, from his upbringing in Harlem to his political activism today. – Book Description from Library Staff

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, 2019. (BR22926, DB95390)
Private Eye Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a school instructor. Unfortunately for her, that school happens to be where her twin sister teaches: The Osborne Academy of Young Mages. As the twin who has no magic in her blood, Ivy struggles to adapt to this magical world filled with dark secrets. She must learn to reconcile with the sister she envied, the world she yearned for but never was a part of, and her own feelings of inferiority if she hopes to survive without losing herself. – Book Description from Library Staff

Fledgling by Octavia Butler, 2005. (BRC00607, DB62744)
The story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted—and still wants—to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human. – Book Description from Author’s Website

Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink, 2018 (DB93265)
From the creator of Welcome to NightVale, Joseph Fink, comes this complete re-telling of the podcast Alice Isn’t Dead.
After the funeral with no body, Keisha Taylor’s life is upended when she begins seeing her presumed-deceased wife in the background of televised news reports from all across the country and a singular conclusion: Alice isn’t dead. Searching for Alice under the pretense of working long-haul trucking, Keisha must face her fears and turn her anxiety into power as she stumbles into an otherworldly conflict quietly being waged in a country defined as much by its space and emptiness as its dense cities and appetites. Can Keisha save Alice, when she may not be able to save herself? Even if they make it out alive, can Keisha forgive Alice her trespasses and rebuild their life together? This isn’t a story, it’s a road trip. – Book Description from Library Staff

Check out the podcast, performed by the audiobook narrator, Alice Isn’t Dead at or wherever you find and listen to podcasts.

Persuasion by Jane Austen, 1816. (BR12975, DB51057)
At twenty-seven, Anne Elliott regrets that, persuaded by her elders, she broke her engagement to the navy captain she loved in her youth. When she and her father are forced to rent out their family home and move to Bath, she meets her former love again and is granted a rare opportunity to rekindle their relationship. This captivating novel delves into the complexities of love, societal expectations, and the power of second chances. Can she overcome conflicting persuasions and embrace her own happiness and self-worth? – Book Description by Library Staff

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki, 2003. (DB56826)
Yumi Fuller hasn’t set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho—heart of the potato-farming industry—since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, only to find herself caught up in an altogether new drama between Agribusiness and a posse of activists What follows is a wickedly humorous appreciation of the foibles of corporate life, globalization, political resistance, youth culture, and aging baby boomers. Ultimately, a celebratory tale of the beauty of seeds, roots, and growth—and the capacity for renewal that resides within us all.– Book Description Compiled by Library Staff

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, 1978. (BRG00177, DB39531)
San Francisco, 1976. An enchanting city whose siren’s call draws those looking for a place to start over. A naïve young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, tumbles headlong into the counterculture of pot-growing landladies, cutthroat debutantes, and wet underwear dance contests held in flagrant disregard of the hetero community. With a cast of unforgettable characters, Tales of the City recalls the manic, romantic, tawdry, and outrageous zeitgeist of a place and time dedicated to sexual and personal freedom that forever changed the way we live. – Book Description by Library Staff

Peter Darling by Austin Chant, 2017. (DB112251)
The Lost Boys believed that Peter Pan went back to England because of Wendy Darling, but Wendy was really an old life he left behind. Neverland is his real home. So when Peter returns to it after ten years, he's surprised to find a Neverland that no longer seems to need him. The only person who truly missed Peter is Captain James Hook – who is delighted to have his old rival back. As new war ignites between the Lost Boys and Hook's pirates, the ensuing bloodshed becomes all too real - and Peter's rivalry with Hook starts to blur into something far more complicated and deadly. – Book Description from the Publisher

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, Translated by Molly Ringwald, 2017 (DB96101)
On the street in Bordeaux, Philippe encounters a young man bearing a striking resemblance to his first love, a gorgeous boy he’s never forgotten named Thomas. In his memory we revisit the hidden tryst conducted during their final year of high school. Navigating the social expectations of a conservative community in 1984 France, they never acknowledge each other in the halls, but steal time to meet in secret and carry out their passionate affair that would leave them forever changed. Translated from the French by Molly Ringwald with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism, this award-winning coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love – and the heartbreaking passage of time. – Book Description by Library Staff