In honor of National Library Week 2020, April 19-25, we have compiled a short list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, related to libraries. Some explore the historic Carnegie libraries while others are fun short stories about overdue library books. (Aren’t you glad Santa Fe Public Library doesn’t have late fees!?!)
“By tracing evolution of library service in the Canadian town of Bracebridge from 1874 to the present day within the broad sweep of larger cultural and economic patterns, Boyer’s engaging book provides a specific example of the universal transformation of books and information technologies and the libraries that house them from the 19thto 21st centuries. Most readers will find endearing and tantalizing parallels with their own library experience, wherever they live.”
“The Detroit Public Library unites the interests of history buffs, art enthusiasts, library lovers, and Detroit-area locals with a tribute to one of the city’s most impressive structures. This book will appeal to those looking to learn about the builders, the history, and the stories that brought the Detroit Public Library to fruition.”
“This first book in an irresistible new series introduces librarian and reluctant sleuth Raymond Ambler, a doggedly curious fellow who uncovers murderous secrets hidden behind the majestic marble façade of New York City’s landmark 42nd Street Library.”
“Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson’s photographs– from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California’s one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson’s revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America’s most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution.”
“The stories in Ali Smith’s new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives. At a time when public libraries around the world face threats of cuts and closures, this collection stands as a work of literary activism–and as a wonderful read from one of our finest authors.”
Physical format available only but add to your To Be Read list!
“Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out! From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all. Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.”
“Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century-but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women’s baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father’s hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town-Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado. The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future.”
Whether you’re looking for an intriguing dive into the earth sciences, a meditative classic by a conservationist, or an impassioned treatise on climate change and environmental policy, the library has countless possibilities. The below selections are not exhaustive, but are instead a sampling highlighted for their current relevance and positive reception.
Wohlleben, Peter. The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things. Greystone Books, 2019.
The popular third book in The Mysteries of Nature Trilogy reveals the interdependency of species and the intricacies of ecosystems.
Tallamy, Douglas W. Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. Timber Press, 2020.
Tallamy’s book describes how landscaping with native plants builds upon natural habitats and contributes to conservation efforts.
Thunberg, Greta. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference. Penguin Books, 2019.
This book collects speeches of the 17-year-old climate change activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Williams, Terry Tempest. Erosion: Essays of Undoing. Sarah Crichton Books, 2019.
Taking a more personal approach to environmental issues, Williams expands her oeuvre on the natural world and the Southwestern landscape.
Rich, Nathaniel. Losing Earth: A Recent History. MCD, 2019.
Rich, a novelist, presents a history of climate change from 1979-1989, including the trajectory of industry, politics, and science.
McKibben, Bill. Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Henry Holt and Co., 2019
McKibben questions the direction of civilization and offers solutions to our environmental predicament.
Schlossberg, Tatiana. Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have. Grand Central Publishing, 2019.
Schlossberg points out the ramifications of individual choices and global practices.
Kaufman, Kenn. A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.
Kaufman journeys into bird migration in Ohio, touching on the ways in which climate change and human interference affect migration.
Klein, Naomi. On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal. Simon & Schuster, 2019.
The New York Times said of Klein’s book: “It makes a strong case for tackling the climate crisis as not just an urgent undertaking, but an inspiring one” (Goodell).
Goodell, Jeff. “Is the Green New Deal Realistic? Two Sympathetic Authors Weigh In.” The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2019, nytimes.com/2019/09/17/books/review/on-fire-green-new-deal-naomi-klein.html. Accessed 25 March 2020.
Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth. Allen Lane, 2019.
Wallace-Wells examines scientific understanding and dire projections relating to climate change.