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What to Read When You Don’t Know What to Read

There was a season of my life directly after college where I devoured books on spirituality and

mysticism, pouring over authors like Cynthia Bourgeault, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Bede

Griffiths, and various mystics from the Middle Ages.

When I was knee-deep in my grad program, studying Creative Nonfiction Writing at the

University of Southern Maine, I lived and breathed memoir and personal essay with more intensity and passion that at any other point in my life. I was guided by the giants of the genre—Jo Ann Beard, Mary Karr, Joan Didion—while exploring emergent and nontraditional voices such as T. Clutch Fleischmann, Jenny Boully, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Hilton Als.

And now I have kids and it’s a miracle if I can read the grocery list most days. Okay, that’s a

slight exaggeration, but you get the picture. I am busy. Piles-of-laundry-on-the-couch-for-a-

week and will-the-dishes-ever-leave-the-sink busy. So when I reach for a book in this season of my life it is usually an easy, feel good pick-me-up, with a good dose of happy ending romance, humor, and sarcasm.

Mercifully, I found exactly what I was looking for when I stumbled upon Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan, fittingly dubbed “The perfect escape” by USA Today. Who doesn’t love a book that makes you laugh out loud?

Sometimes we read for pleasure or rather, out of necessity. Perhaps we read to learn, to gain new perspectives, to explore another world, or to escape this one.

As usual, members of the library’s no obligation book club, Books for Lunch, which meets

regularly the second Tuesday of the month from 12:30-2:00pm, read deeply and widely across genres and topics.

In fiction, Sue enjoyed The Foundling by Ann Leary after travelling to Festival of The Book in

Harbor Springs last month where Leary was the keynote speaker. Sue praised the book for

being one of the best endings she’s read in a while. Mary read the latest book in the New York Time bestselling Miss Julia series, Miss Julia Knows a Thing or Two by Ann B. Ross.

Roz recommended Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, a magical realism coming-of-age story centering around loss and healing. Beth read Kate Quinn’s latest release, The Diamond Eye, after hearing the author speak in Bay City last month. This World War II tale is based on a true story and follows the life of a quiet librarian who is, ironically, also history’s deadliest female sniper. Lastly, Sheila plugged the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone series, which she liked for their short chapters and big print, making it easy to concentrate.

In nonfiction, Janice read O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural Biography of "The Star-Spangled

Banner"; by Mark Clague, while Bill enjoyed Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy by Mike Love, recounting the legendary and wild ride of a five-decade career as the leading star of The Beach Boys. Sheri read Silent Invasion by Dr. Deborah Birx, a revealing book about the Trump Administration’s Covid-19 response, and Judy read the sequel to the acclaimed memoir The Ditchdigger's Daughters titled Something to Prove: A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy by Dr. Yvonne Thornton.

Also in nonfiction, Pam, preparing to move to a new city, read Find Your People by Jenny Allen, a book of stories, history, and practical solutions for creating true community wherever you go. Joe read Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life by John Gray in which the author demonstrates the remarkable qualities of cats and suggests what humans might learn from them.

Lastly, Susan stayed true to her beloved horror genre and picked up a new release, The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart, a suspenseful thriller set in the swamps of New Orleans and written from the perspectives of a medical examiner and a serial killer. Brenda read The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose, a mystery thriller.

No matter what stage of life you’re currently in or what types of books you gravitate towards,

we’re glad you’re still reading. The library will be here with all of your favorite reads no matter

which genre you’re intent on exploring. And if you want to try something new, Books for Lunch is teeming with recommendations from some of the town’s most avid readers.

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