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Kirsten’s pick: “Wisconsin Death Trip” by Michael Lesy.

This is one of those books that you would never pull off the shelf and read. The author of “A Reliable Wife” Robert Goolrick, in his afterword stated, “I was set on fire in 1973” after reading Lesy. Hmm, I will have to look that up. And there it was in the library. I agree 100% with that sentiment. Lesy unlocks the mechanisms that led entire populations to madness by chronicling events in a small town in Wisconsin from 1885-1900. The freezing temperatures, fortunes lost, and epidemic diseases such as diphtheria, small pox and cholera that were wiping out whole battalions of children. This is an account of that madness in reprinted newspaper articles, a gossip column, excerpts from records from the Mendota State Asylum and photographs. Please pick this up and read the introduction and afterward if nothing else. Fascinating stuff.

Mae’s pick: “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle.

This book is about three kids who travel through different dimensions and planets throughout the universe to find the protagonist's father. As a child I was involved in STEM programs and I think this is a great read for any kids who are looking for a perfect mix of science, math and fantasy.

Jonathan’s pick: “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love”  by Dani Shapiro.

When author Dani Shapiro sent off a DNA test kit along with her husband to get a genealogy report, she had no reason to believe it would show anything unusual. But what came back was a total surprise. Instead of being nearly 100 percent Jewish as she expected, her result came back 48 percent Western European. How could this be, she thought? Follow Dani’s journey to uncover the secret of what happened 54 years earlier, a secret only hinted at by her mother before her death, and coming to terms with an identity transformed.

Barbara’s pick: “Midnight at the Blackbird Café” by Heather Webber.

I could not put this book down, it was magical! A nice story about following your heart and learning forgiveness. The blackbird pie they serve at the cafe sounds incredible!

Amy D’s pick: Samantha Schweblin’s “Little Eyes”

This is one of the most unsettling (and fascinating!) books I’ve encountered. It reads a little like sci-fi, a little like horror, and a lot like realistic fiction. In the novel, kentukis are the latest digital craze, with people across the globe bringing them home. A kentuki is basically a digital pet equipped with video and audio, BUT each kentuki is operated by a “dweller,” a
person –separate from the person who buys the device – who purchases a code to operate the kentuki remotely. Explaining more won’t do the book justice. If you’re like me, you’ll finish it in one sitting.

James’s pick: “A Needle in the Right Hand of God”

This book is written by R. Howard Bloch and takes you through the backstory, the intrigue, and the creation of a seminal medieval work of art – the Bayeux Tapestry. Rich in detail, the author’s book weaves together a millennia of time and unravels some of the mysteries behind the priceless, one thousand year-old artifact. With so many characters and reference points to times and places described in thorough detail, reading this book may inspire you to do your own deep dive into European history!