Vivian recently graduated from MUHS and works at VBS during school vacations. She attends Haverford College and is overly enthusiastic about WWI and kids' graphic novels. 

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club: A Novel By Helen Simonson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984801319
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: The Dial Press - May 7th, 2024

Simonson, queen of the slow burn, has once again created an immersive piece of historical fiction that is in turns sweet and somber, sprinkled with witticisms. Light and fast, this book is full of charmingly written characters navigating the glaring economic disparities, social strains, and irrevocably changed world of England after WWI. Best enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate and the Downton Abbey soundtrack.

The Skunks By Fiona Warnick Cover Image
ISBN: 9781959030614
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Published: Tin House Books - May 7th, 2024

I first picked up this book because skunks have been my favorite animal since third grade. I was not disappointed. Here I found a story that included not only actual skunks, but characters that I loved and a plot that felt perfectly slow and minute and a little lonely, just like summer. I read The Skunks in three days, because at every turn of the page there was something new and charming. For me, reading this book felt like being drawn into an inside joke with the characters and the author, where I understood them and I knew they would understand me. Wonderful in every way.

In Memoriam: A novel By Alice Winn Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593467848
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Published: Vintage - March 19th, 2024

This book is full of romantic yearning, horror at the lengths of human cruelty will go in wartime, and dazzling prose that make the pages go by in the blink of an eye. This is the story of a group of romantically entangled English public school boys who all have their reasons for eventually joining the army in WWI, and they suffer the truly terrible consequences. Regeneration by Pat Barker meets The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. A wonderful, tragic read.

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609450786
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Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2012

The two main characters of this series, Elena and Lila, are utterly captivating, as is the violent world of mid-century Naples that they inhabit. My Brilliant Friend, written in a linear and fast-paced style, brings you into the bittersweet world of these girls and the vivid community they spend their time in and doesn't let you go. The reader gets to follow Elena, who is introspective and deeply articulate, through the first and continual pains and wonders of growing up and the navigation of her tumultuous yet vital friendship with Lila. All characters are multi-dimensional and the plot is intense, never spending too long on one incident. A wonderful series.

Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy By Faith Erin Hicks Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250838728
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - October 3rd, 2023

I'm so enamored with the way Faith Erin Hicks draws faces. They're so expressive and varied and beautiful. Not only is her art style superb, but this story fills you up with warmth every time you read it. It's partially an adorable and exciting romance, partially an examination of passions (in this case hockey, theater, and art) and the lengths people will go to follow them, and completely wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think you will too.

Have You Been Long Enough At Table By Leslie Sainz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781959030119
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - September 26th, 2023

I'm not a big reader of poetry, but I'm so glad I picked up this collection. Sainz's poems are vivid and and full of strength, saturated with moving imagery of all the places and people that have shaped Sainz's personal history and present, with a particular focus Cuba in the midst of the Cold War. Beautiful and somber, these poems will leave their mark on you, just as difficult histories have left their marks on Sainz's poetry.

A Soldier on the Southern Front: The Classic Italian Memoir of World War 1 By Emilio Lussu, Mark Thompson (Afterword by), Gregory Conti (Translated by) Cover Image
By Emilio Lussu, Mark Thompson (Afterword by), Gregory Conti (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780847842780
Availability: Special Order, Hard to Find
Published: Rizzoli Ex Libris - February 25th, 2014

I've read many books about WWI (about 56 to be exact, and counting), and this was by far one of the most enjoyable. Lussu's voice is charming, intelligent, and funny, and the twists and turns (literal and figurative) of his year in the Italian Alps is tragic and riveting and very fast-paced. The characters he presents reinforce the classic archetypes of WWI without exhausting them, like the bloodthirsty and careless general, the righteous and logical officer, and the wizened career soldier. Lussu's descriptions of the landscapes and the trials that come to pass within them are moving and beautiful, and I would recommend this book to anyone regardless of whether they were interested in WWI or not.

Ghost Roast By Shawneé Gibbs, Emily Cannon (Illustrator), Shawnelle Gibbs Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358141808
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Versify - January 2nd, 2024

This story of a vivacious and determined young girl whose father runs a paranormal disturbance service in New Orleans is playful, addictive, and utterly delightful. The illustrations are so vivid and colorful that the real world seems dull by comparison. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys graphic novels, people interested in how to tackle and heal from the painful histories of the South, and anyone who enjoys ghostly romance.

Roaming By Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770464339
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - September 12th, 2023

The Tamaki cousins have done it again. That is, they have once again created a graphic novel full of breathtaking illustrations infused with melancholy that fill out an intelligently written story. Their characters are raw and imperfect, and they seem like real people. This story of friendships and romances is painful and lovely, and you could sit there absorbing the lovely double page spreads for ages and still never be satisfied. Sublime.

The Age of Decadence: A History of Britain: 1880-1914 By Simon Heffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643139524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pegasus Books - May 17th, 2022

This is by far one of the most detailed history books I have ever read. Heffer builds an incredible portrait of 19th and early 20th century Britain, with topics ranging from imperial tensions in Egypt and beyond to the surprisingly gripping budget crisis of 1909, mixed in with tales of the adultery among the Members of Parliament. Though intimidating in size, this book was highly enjoyable and full of fascinating (and sometimes horrifying) tales from the Edwardian era that was perhaps not as golden as it is remembered.

Blades of Freedom (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #10): A Tale of Haiti, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales) By Nathan Hale Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419746918
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Fanfare - November 24th, 2020

I have always been impressed by how Nathan Hale handles difficult concepts and historical moments (like slavery, cholera, starvation, and war) and how he manages to make tragedies feel as striking and horrible as they truly were, while keeping his (generally) young audience interested. Blades of Freedom, which covers one of the most vivid, fascinating, and overlooked periods in history (The Haitian Revolution), exceeds the standard Hale has set. Hale's beautiful art combined with his ability to make complex histories understandable for young audiences make this by far one of the best Hazardous Tales books there are. Combining several stories at once, Blades of Freedom is a vivid and fast-paced read that boils down an enormously complex moment in history to a graphic novel enjoyable for all ages.

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The Missing of the Somme By Geoff Dyer, Drew Gilpin Faust (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Geoff Dyer, Drew Gilpin Faust (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781250353269
Availability: Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Picador - July 30th, 2024

Dyer incorporates historical theory and analysis and personal narrative in this moving and sharply written account of his travels of the remains of the Western Front. A highly enjoyable read best accompanied by access to a search engine with which to look at pictures of all the monuments Dyer dutifully describes as well as some sad classical music, The Missing of the Somme will be particularly striking to those who already have a base knowledge of WWI and its writers, but Dyer's quick-witted writing and deep reflection into the ideas of memory, loss, and memorialization would be interesting to anyone at all. A quick read that leaves the reader with a lot to think about, The Missing of the Somme is a modern and necessary addition to existing WWI literature.

The First World War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) By Michael Howard Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199205592
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - April 9th, 2007

The main thing that impressed me about this book was its concision: Howard covers several facets of the entirety of a war spanning four years in only 122 pages. What I enjoyed most was the depth Howard allowed for political analysis, going behind the scenes of the war to analyze treaties, past relationships between countries, and the personalities of world leaders. A quick read that still contains an immense amount of knowledge, The First World War will grant you both the coveted ability to share interesting facts about WWI at parties and a greater understanding of how one of the most disastrous conflicts in history shaped the subsequent century and how we live today.

The Last Summer of the World: A Novel By Emily Mitchell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393331943
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - July 17th, 2008

Mitchell's based on a true story novel is melancholy, well-crafted, and meticulously researched. The incorporation of details of reconnaissance flight in WWI and the complicated and technical process of photography adds a layer of depth to a story that is already complex. Told along two timelines, one in the summer of 1918 and one following a series of photographs taken in the years preceding the war, Edward Steichen and his friends, lovers, and acquaintances move through early 20th century France and America with an emotional intensity that makes The Last Summer of the World a very hard book to put down.

This Is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781534430990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: S&S/Saga Press - March 17th, 2020

This is a remarkably well-woven story that slowly brings the reader through the twists of the plot and the personalities of the characters. Embellished with beautiful details, the writing style adds to the already interesting storyline and a romance that is purely lovely (and reminiscent of enemies to lovers, for those who enjoy!). A vivid, fast read.

Miss Peregrine's Museum of Wonders: An Indispensable Guide to the Dangers and Delights of the Peculiar World for the Instruction of New Arrivals (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) By Ransom Riggs Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399538568
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Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - September 27th, 2022

For fans who were devastated by the end of the series, this book comes as a welcome reunion with the world of time loops and peculiars. Filled with Ransom Riggs' signature writing style, the usual eerie photographs, and the beautiful printing quality characteristic of the other Miss Peregrine books, Museum of Wonders is at once familiar and wonderfully brand new. Prepare to venture into the history and tales of the peculiar world once more! 

Testament of Youth By Vera Brittain, Mark Bostridge (Introduction by), Shirley Williams (Preface by) Cover Image
By Vera Brittain, Mark Bostridge (Introduction by), Shirley Williams (Preface by)
ISBN: 9780143039235
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - May 31st, 2005

Reading Testament of Youth was the first time I truly saw myself in the voice of a writer and in a protagonist. Despite being separated by a century, and ocean, and completely different kinds of life experiences, Vera Brittain's voice felt natural to me, and the personality she brings to her autobiography makes the brutal consequences of WWI even more horrifying. Her writing is beautiful, her observations on English Edwardian society and the war were revolutionary and articulate. Her story is compelling and her voice even more so. Following her through her provincial childhood to the field hospitals of the First World War, to Oxford and London and pacifist activism is at once one of the most tragic and inspirational stories of resilience I have ever read. Vera Brittain is captivating. She is strong, fascinating, and wonderful to spend time reading about. I have never found a writer's voice who I love as much as hers. If I could choose any person in history to meet and talk to, it would be Vera Brittain. Testament of Youth should be required reading for anyone remotely interested in WWI, history, the lives of women, good writing, and human endurance and tragedy. One of my favorite books of all time. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1) By Ransom Riggs Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594746031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quirk Books - June 4th, 2013

Probably my favorite book of all time, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is part of the rare breed of book that does not get worse the more you read it. Despite being written for young adults, the writing style stands the test of age, as do the charm of the characters and the intrigue of the plot. For those who enjoy horror, history, eerie photography, and fabulous world-building, this would be a great pick. It is also worth saying that the rest of the series does not disappoint, or fall into the 'bad second book' trap that so many series fail to avoid.  Every twist is interesting, and each of the many characters is different and wonderful. Based on the fascinating union between vintage photography and prose, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is fun to read while retaining the maturity necessary to be read over and over.

The Overstory: A Novel By Richard Powers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393356687
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 2nd, 2019

I read this as a recommendation and stubbornly expected not to be a fan. Unfortunately, Richard Powers is an amazing writer. This book has one of the most fascinating storylines I have ever encountered, weaving different histories, both human and natural, together in ways you never expect. Powers uses scientific detail without losing the interest of the audience, and the ethereal way he writes about trees is mind-bending. I would recommend The Overstory to anyone looking for a fast read that reminds them of the urgency and beauty of the natural world.

Never Let Me Go (Vintage International) By Kazuo Ishiguro Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078776
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 14th, 2006

This book has the most absurdly interesting plot I have ever read. At once dystopian, historical, and deeply human, it's hard to distinguish which genre this stellarly written book belongs to. With Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro has crafted a subtle and deeply touching story about the lives of a class of people born to be organ donors for their richer peers. Though the story begins with three children and follows them into their normal-seeming adulthood, the darkness of their almost inevitable futures hangs over the mood for the entirity of the book. Beautifully created in every way, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to feel a desperate sadness in the pit of their soul or just read a fascinating book.

The Phantom Tollbooth By Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780394815008
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers -

This book has the best puns on the planet, no competition. I have lost track of how many times I have read this book, and have thus lost track of how many times I have loved it. Milo, the main character, escapes his drab world to meet all kinds of fantastical creatures and people and places and finds out all sorts of fantastical things about the world around him. The illustrations paired with the wonderful writing bring the Lands Beyond to life, so that the reader will never want to leave.

The Summer Before the War: A Novel By Helen Simonson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812983203
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - February 21st, 2017

In the beginning, this book feels like the literary equivalent of eating cotton candy. A delightful piece of historical fiction that will be liked by Downton Abbey enjoyers, perfect for summer reading. Soon, with the outbreak of WWI, the plot turns more serious and what was once a carefree English town is a place of grim events that leave the reader heartwrenched and deeply invested in the lives and woes of the characters. As an avid WWI enthusiast, I would recommend this book to anyone who shares that affinity, enjoys historical fiction in general, or watches an absurd amount of period dramas. Deeply satisfying, charmingly written, and yet still serious, The Summer Before the War is one of the best books on the subject of WWI I have read to date.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [75th Anniversary Ed] By Betty Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060736262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - November 6th, 2018

I have an enormous amount of love for this book, as it combines many of my favorite things in life and writing. The early 20th century, Brooklyn NY, historical accuracy, and girls who like to read, all combined in a beautifully written book that is at once charming and tragic and altogether lovely. I would recommend A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to anyone as a timeless classic that holds great wisdom and value but is also tremedously fun to read. I would especially recommend it to bookish teenage girls, for despite having been written in 1943, the vividness of this portrayal transcends the period and is still just as powerful and relevant today. I love this book with all my heart.

Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #4): A World War I Tale By Nathan Hale Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419708084
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Fanfare - May 13th, 2014

As a WWI nerd of many years, I can say that this is without question one of the best WWI books out there, and a great introduction to one of the most horrific events in world history. Somehow it manages to be funny and at times incredibly gut-wrenching, even when you havbe read it at least five times. Nathan Hale has done soemthing very impressive in writing this book, for it concisely summarizes the intensely complex war into a child-friendly book using animals that wear funny hats. Even as a teenager I enjoy this book every time I read it, and would recommend it to anyone interested in WWI, graphic novels, compelling artistry, or a fan of Hale's other works. 

SuperMutant Magic Academy By Jillian Tamaki Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770461987
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - April 28th, 2015

By far one of the best representations of the difficulties of teenagerdom I have ever encountered. The characters are complex and lovable without being archetypal, and they face their struggles, both academic and supernatural, with heart and intelligence. The one-shot style of the comics allows the reader to get to know the characters slowly and in a way that feels very real, with a sprinkling of absolutely incomprehensible absurdism that brings an eerie quirkiness to the entire book. A joy to read and reread again and again, SuperMutant Magic Academy is unexpectedly refreshing and wholly unique. 

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania By Erik Larson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307408877
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - March 22nd, 2016

I wouldn't usually refer to a nonfiction book as a page-turner, but with Dead Wake Erik Larson has truly created something unusual. The narrative of the last voyage of the Lusitania is told through the narratives of several historical figures, many of whom the average person probably hasn't heard of. This account of a globally disruptive historical event reads the same as a novel,going on many fascinating tangents that bring the world of 1915 to life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is remotely interested in WWI, naval history, the twentieth century, or good writing.

Regeneration (Regeneration Trilogy #1) By Pat Barker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142180594
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Plume - December 31st, 2013

Pat Barker, in this series (of which I recommend all the books), has succeeded in bringing the WWI poets to life in a way few others have. Focusing on Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon when they meet in the Craiglockhart mental hospital, this book is beautifully written and an immensely enjoyable read. The vividness of the characters and their upsetting memories of war are just two of the aspects of Regeneration that are great. A phenomenal first book for a phenomenal trilogy, this is required reading for anyone interested in war poets, WWI history, or good books. 

Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Art Spiegelman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394747231
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - August 12th, 1986

It is the nature of all books surrounding the Holocaust to be gut-wrenching and deeply horrifying, and in this way Maus is not unusual. But the frame tale structure and Spiegelman's unique art style bring the early 1940s to life in a way that few other books have managed to do. The allegorical art brings dimension to an utterly human story, following the life of Spiegelman's father, a concetration camp survivor. The historical narrative is interspersed with scenes from the modern day, where Spiegelman navigates his complicated relationship with his father and the psychological struggles of living a much easier life than his father had. Haunting and worth reading dozens of times over, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, art, or interesting narrative structures. A perfect choice for an avid historian or graphic novel enthusiast. 

A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 By G. J. Meyer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553382402
Availability: Backordered, Available to Order
Published: Bantam - May 29th, 2007

This is the perfect book for people who are interested in WWI but who aren't particularly fond of military strategy and numbers. Meyer offers a full portrait of an era as well as a war, with sections on the personalities of important leaders, authors of note, advances in medicine and science, and nearly every aspect of society. A World Undone is intimate and delightful, full of stories and anecdotes that bring the events of WWI to life in a way that is rare in nonfiction. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys history written to make you feel things, or anyone who wants to know anything about WWI.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Marjane Satrapi Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375714573
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - June 1st, 2004

There is a disappointingly small number of books in the world with a young, dynamic, fun, intelligent, and relatable female protagonist, but Persepolis is one of them. A completely refreshing narrative about coming of age in Iran in the 70s and 80s, the story follows Marjane through the struggles of growing up, both in general and in the wider context of Iranian national events. 

Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative By Herbert Mason Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618275649
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperOne - July 8th, 2003

I read this book as part of a literature class I was taking in my junior year of high school, and I was extremely surprised to find that it became probably my favorite book in the course. A harrowing tale of adventure and myth, this interpretation includes some of the most beautiful writing I have ever come across. Being in verse, Gilgamesh is a very quick read and definitely a good one. As someone who tends to prefer twentieth century history, I was surprised by how vivid the Babylonian times were. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys adventure, poetry, nature, or history.

The Poet X By Elizabeth Acevedo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062662811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - April 7th, 2020

I raced through this book in about two hours because I could not put it down. The narrative style, the protagonist, and all the other characters were gripping. Written in verse, The Poet X is a unique book, with an aspiring and endearing slam poet as its protagonist. I don't usually enjoy verse, but this book was delightful and painful in the way that all self-discovery must be. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys slam poetry or vibrant charaters and settings.

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 By Adam Hochschild Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547750316
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - March 6th, 2012

In WWI literature a lot of attention is given to the horrors of the War, the senselessness of the conflict and the supposed inevitablity of its occurrence and scale. But To End All Wars focuses on those who opposed the war in their lives and activism. An interesting read in this age of political uncertainty and nationsalism (which could, of course, describe almost any era). To End All Wars is an example of that rare genre: nonfiction that reads like a story. I would recommend this to anyone interested on WWI or historical activism (particularly British suffragettes). Educational while simultaneously fun.

A Room with a View By E. M. Forster, Wendy Moffat (Introduction by), Malcolm Bradbury (Notes by) Cover Image
By E. M. Forster, Wendy Moffat (Introduction by), Malcolm Bradbury (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141183299
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - August 1st, 2000

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I actually read A Room with a View is because I had already seen and loved the 1985 film (horrible, I know). I immediately fell in love with the Italian and English settings, the vivid and funny characters, and the lighthearted romantic comedy feel of the movie, and Forster's unusual writing style only made things better. If a tad more serious, the book retains thne same level of humor and charm that the movie so faithfully portrayed. The stuffiness of the twentieth century characters is even more obvious with Forster's writing, which brings the time to life. I would recommend this book to anyone who liked the movie, enjoys history, or loves a light, funny, and historical comedy.

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Circe By Madeline Miller Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316556323
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 14th, 2020

Madeline Miller's rendering of Ancient Greece astounds once more. The trials and loves of the witch Circe detailed in this novel are gripping and fast-paced, despite spanning several centuries. She is an easy protagonist to root for, and the reader feels her pain and joy just as poignantly as she does. A fast, fun read not quite as tragic as The Song of Achilles, but familiar fare for Madeline Miller fans.

Fangirl: A Novel By Rainbow Rowell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250042613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wednesday Books - November 6th, 2018

Fangirl is an ultimately charming book, built on two interwoven storylines: the college life and romance of Cather, andthe fantastic adventures of Simon and Baz, characters in Cather's fanfiction. A perfect read for anyone who delights in fanfiction, creative writing, or realistic stories about introverted, bookish girls. This book is a fast and comforting read that doesn't make college seem terrifying, also including a romance that isn't riddled with red flags, which is always nice. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Rainbow Rowell's other works or is just looking for a good read with dynamic characters and a compelling plot.

Lord of the Flies By William Golding, Lois Lowry (Afterword by), Jennifer Buehler (Contributions by) Cover Image
By William Golding, Lois Lowry (Afterword by), Jennifer Buehler (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9780399501487
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 16th, 2003

While admittedly very dark and occasionally gruesome, I thoroughly enjoyed Lord of the Flies, due to the fast-paced plot, the fascinating characters, and Golding's clear-cut writing style. The plot of the book follows a group of schoolboys stranded on an island without any adults, and the power dynamics, hierarchies, death, and disaster that ensue. The main lesson of The Lord of the Flies is that, if left alone, adolescent boys have the potential to be horrible people. I would not recommend this book as a comforting fireside read, but it's perfect if one is looking for something visceral and oddly satisfying. 

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch By Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060853976
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - August 7th, 2007

I think there are probably very few books in the world that are this charming all the way through. As is usual with the impending end of the world, it's very funny. These two beloved authors have crafted a world that is delightful to inhabit, and the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale is wondrously layered. A fabulous book on all levels, and a definite comfort during a period of time that feels like the actual end of the world.

All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (Translated by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780449911495
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - September 29th, 1996

Over the course of my lifetime I have read thirty-one books about WWI (and counting), and this is by far one of the best. A gripping story that does not feel like it  was written in 1928, All Quiet on the Western Front gives you the feeling in the bottom of your stomach that only a good book can.

The Secret History (Vintage Contemporaries) By Donna Tartt Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400031702
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 13th, 2004

Even though the characters are insufferably pretentious and make many bad decisions over the course of the novel, Donna Tartt's writing and the dark academia New England atmosphere make it worth the read. Filled with murder, incest, tangled romances, bacchanals, mythology, and the horrible pull of immorality, The Secret History is pretty much the college experience no one wants to have. A cup of tea, classical music, and a crackling fire are necessary while reading this book. 

Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte, Stevie Davies (Editor), Stevie Davies (Introduction by), Stevie Davies (Notes by) Cover Image
By Charlotte Bronte, Stevie Davies (Editor), Stevie Davies (Introduction by), Stevie Davies (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141441146
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - August 15th, 2006

There are many reasons to recommend this book, including its wonderful protagonist and unashamed feminism, but what I found truly compelling about Jane Eyre is the inescapable eeriness infused om Brontë's writing. Equipped with a slightly bizarre plot, this book is best appreciated by those who like dark period pieces, vivid imagery, and eccentric characters that are distinct from any other fictional people you will find. Best enjoyed at night with a hot drink.

Wide Sargasso Sea By Jean Rhys, Edwidge Danticat (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Jean Rhys, Edwidge Danticat (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780393352566
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 25th, 2016

This is a necessary read for anyone who enjoyed Jane Eyre (and maybe also for people who didn't). Casting Rochester and his "crazy" wife Bertha (previously known as Antoinette) in an entirely different light, this anti-colonialist book acts as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte's beloved classic. This book has some of the most vivid settings and characters, and one of the strongest sensed of place that I have ever encountered. A fast and brilliantly sad story.

Crucible: The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World, 1917-1924 By Charles Emmerson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610397827
Availability: Special Order, Hard to Find
Published: PublicAffairs - October 15th, 2019

I have read many history books, some of them equal to Crucible in its enormous size, but this one stands out. The narrative style of focusing on several different notable people (It was highly enjoyable to guess who the author was writing about before the name was revealed) is fun and keeps the story from getting dry. Fast-paced and yet rooted in fact, this is a very gripping book, improved significantly by the cheekiness of Emmerson's writing style. Delightful and very informative, this is required reading for anyone interested in the beginning of the 20th century for looking for a bit of fun..

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy By Jeanne Birdsall Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375831430
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 14th, 2005

This modern adaptation of Little Women is just as lovely as the original, full of characters that are immediately endearing and storylines that are heartwarming and utterly and completely delightful. I have read this book series again and again, beginning when I was about eight. Its charm does not diminish over time, and returning to the Penderwick family is always a joy. Perfection.

Blankets By Craig Thompson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770462182
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Published: Drawn and Quarterly - October 13th, 2015

Blankets is devastating and beautiful and familiar, especially to those familiar with long, dark, snowy winters. Craig's story of growing up among people not like him and finding his first love is beautifully rendered with striking and often ominous drawings. The inside of Craig's mind is often a dark place, but the story that unfolds is gripping and wonderful and in some profound way very, very sad. Beautiful to look at and beautiful to read, Blankets is a good choice for anyone wanting to feel the pain of being young and, in some ways, alone.

Maurice: A Novel By E. M. Forster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393310320
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - December 17th, 2005

Maurice is, overall, a rare novel, for being the love story of two men that (eventually) ends happily. Forster's luscious writing style, familiar to readers of A Room With a View and others, returns in this remarkable story of getting to know oneself and finding love despite stuffy English society. A little tragic around the edges but overall a good story.

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, Book One): Book One (The Maze Runner Series #1) By James Dashner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385737951
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - August 24th, 2010

Despite certain tragic events that occur later in the series (*ahem*), the Maze Runner series is a lot of fun. The characters are vibrant and so much fun to spend time with, the universe building is strong, and the creatures are gruesome. Adventurous and just as twisted as the maze the characters live in (and are always attempting to escape), The Maze Runner is the perfect next read for fans of YA dystopia books like The Hunger Games.

Three Day Road By Joseph Boyden Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143037071
Availability: Backordered, Available to Order
Published: Penguin Books - April 25th, 2006

This book takes an angle not often seen in WWI literature, following two brothers from the Cree Tribe through their trials of war. Though gruesome, this is a vividly written book that tells an important and unforgettable story about the connections between people, land, and spiritualism. An important read for WWI enthusiasts.

Drama: A Graphic Novel By Raina Telgemeier, Raina Telgemeier (Illustrator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545326988
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graphix - September 1st, 2012

This is perhaps my favorite of Raina Telgemeier's books (which is saying a lot), because the characters are so loveable and their stories so delightful to follow. The protagonist, Callie, is one of my all-time favorite characters, and her brightly colored hair is just a preview of how vibrant and brilliant she is as a person. I love inhabiting her backstage world with her as she works on a show for her high school theater program, and navigates the ups and downs of production and the drama (haha) on and off stage.

The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon By Siegfried Sassoon Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781603862844
Published: Merchant Books - January 3rd, 2010

Reading this collection of poetry in one sitting alone in the dark was one of the most visceral experiences I have ever had. Sassoon's imagery is devastating and vivid, and offers an incredible perspective into the outrage felt by soldiers in WWI. Sassoon's poetry is painful and heartbreaking, but an important read for anyone interested in WWI. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Sassoon to anyone looking for delicate verse, but in terms of creating atmosphere and shedding light on the horrors soldiers faced, Sassoon is virtually unmatched. 

A Brief History of Time By Stephen Hawking Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553380163
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - September 1st, 1998

I'm a humanities person through and through, but I thought this book was wonderful. Stephen Hawking's voice makes it worth the read, whether you're looking to understand the physics or not. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in theoretical physics, Stephen Hawking (fans of The Theory of Everything, perhaps) or anyone looking for a short and enjoyable read that will at once make you feel very smart and also very dumb.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America By Ibram X. Kendi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568585987
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bold Type Books - August 15th, 2017

Despite its intimidating size, this book is a fast and enjoyable read that provides a context for much of what happens in modern society as well as history. I enjoyed Stamped from the Beginning because it's well-written but also because it illuminates history and explains the phenomena that seem to have no logic about them. Though the tales encompassed in this book are dark and often uncomfortable, it's a necessary read and a very enjoyable one for anyone remotely interested in the politics and history of race. 

The Song of Achilles: A Novel By Madeline Miller Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062060624
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - August 28th, 2012

For anyone familiar with the myth of Achilles, the ending will not come as a surprise, but that does not make it any less devastating. The Song of Achilles is gripping and fast-paced, with a rendering of Ancient Greece that feels so real that it's hard to believe the author didn't live there herself. A heartbreaking story with an appropriate writing style, The Song of Achilles is sad but also immensely fun.

Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War (Vintage International) By Sebastian Faulks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679776819
Availability: Special Order, Hard to Find
Published: Vintage - June 2nd, 1997

Though I don't care for much of the modern frame tale, the obviously well-researched and well-rendered depiction of pre-war France and the terrible fate that befell it between 1914 and 1918 is worth reading. Following several characters from all walks of life, Birdsong offers a glimpse into the horrifying underground world inhabited by sappers and sometimes soldiers, a perspective and role in the war that is often left out. Rich with detail and, frankly, quite luscious in style, Birdsong is heartbreaking and gripping, but also quite beautiful.

Some Desperate Glory: The Diary of a Young Officer, 1917 By Edwin Campion Vaughan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781848843011
Availability: Special Order, Hard to Find
Published: Pen & Sword Military - June 19th, 2010

There are few WWI stories that so completely and so devastatingly show the disillusionment that befell an entire generation of young men at he beginning of the 20th century. This diary follows Edwin Campion Vaughn through his journey in the war, with powerful contrasting images like a stray cat eating a corpse on the battlefield and young men peacefully gardening in their time behind the lines. A horrifying read that allows the reader to really see exactly how this young man went from a patriotic and well-meaning young boy to a hardened and desperate man. 

World War I: The Definitive Visual History (DK Definitive Visual Histories) By DK Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781465470010
Published: DK - April 3rd, 2018

In-depth and simultaneously comprehensive, this encyclopedia has a page on virtually everything you could think to wonder about on the subject of WWI. Big shiny pages make the experience of reading and looking at it very nice. Useful for both learning the basics and going beyond common knowledge into the minutia of the war or trench life, this book is informative and interesting. Also, it smells amazing.

Johnny Got His Gun By Dalton Trumbo, E. L. Doctorow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780806528472
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Citadel - July 1st, 2007

I read this book in the span of one afternoon, and I have rarely encountered anything that matched its intensity. Being trapped inside the bandages and hospital with the protagonist (and bearing witness to his memories from before his experiences in the war) is deeply sad and encapsulates a rarely-seen perspective in literature: that of someone whose existence is suddenly reduced to what is going on inside their head. A horrifying but well-told story, Johnny Got His Gun is essential WWI reading.

Hey, Kiddo: A Graphic Novel By Jarrett J. Krosoczka Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545902489
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - October 9th, 2018

At times, this books is immensely sad. It is also an important story of growing up in a family with a difficult history. Reading the story of Jarrett's childhood and adolescence is a collection of highs and lows that hit you harder than you'd think a graphic novel would. Through the beautiful art style and dialogue unique to each of the characters, the members of Jarrett's family come alive and speak for themselves. Hey, Kiddo is painful, joyful, and hard, just like adolescence itself. 

Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School #1) By SVETLANA CHMAKOVA Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316381307
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: JY - July 21st, 2015

These characters have some of the most expressive faces I have ever seen on paper. The designs of the students at Berrybrook Middle School are so different and charming, their stories are all the more fun to follow. Examining the intersections and equal importance of science and art and the people that love them, Awkward is an important tale for students especially, but enjoyable to anyone. I have read it many times over, and enjoy every time.

The Prince and the Dressmaker By Jen Wang Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626723634
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - February 13th, 2018

I can never tell when exactly this book is set, and it's amazing. There's elements of modernity in with an early Industrial Revolution time period that shows in the clothes and society of the characters. What the setting proves, beyond the prowess of the illustrations, is that the story is timeless. The forms of love explained and explored in this book are important no matter the location or time period. Other than being an utterly joyful and visually delightful read, The Prince and the Dressmaker discusses the importance of love, acceptance, and value for yourself and others and does so with such charming characters that it is a story not easily forgotten.

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