Tuesday, October 5, 2021

fall into reading

Let's manifest those cool nights, perfect for curling up with a good book, a hot cup of cocoa, and snacking on something tasty. From rom-coms featuring witches to compelling cozy mysteries, these reads are the perfect picks for autumn.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

After an awful breakup, Lila Macapagal moves back home to Shady Palms and begins helping out at her aunt’s struggling restaurant. But when Lila’s ex-boyfriend — who’s also a food critic — drops dead while eating at the restaurant, Lila becomes the prime suspect and takes on the investigation herself.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Searching for something a little spookier to celebrate the end of summer? This riveting gothic novel fits the bill. Biographer Margaret Lea is surprised when she receives a letter from aging author Vida Winter, who says she’s ready to tell her own story — her true story — at last. But when Margaret arrives at Vida’s Yorkshire estate, she’s told a strange tale filled with madness and ghosts.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Just how bad can a curse really be when it’s cast with an orchard hayrid­e–scented candle? Nine years after hexing her ex-boyfriend Rhys, witch Vivienne Jones is about to find out. When Rhys returns home to Graves Glen, Georgia, a string of bad luck follows him around and begins to threaten the town, prompting Rhys and Vivi to join forces and find a way to break the curse.

Autumn by Ali Smith

The first book in Ali Smith’s Seasonal quartet and a Booker Prize Finalist, Autumn follows the unlikely and extraordinary friendship between 101-year-old Daniel Gluck and his 32-year-old neighbor, art lecturer Elisabeth Demand. Hailed by Kirkus Reviews as a “multifaceted meditation on aging, art, love, and affection,” this powerful and poignant novel is a fitting read for fall.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

Lana Harper’s adult debut is a charming rom-com that’s the perfect Halloween read. After spending years away from Thistle Grove, witch Emmy Harlow returns home for Gauntlet of the Grove, a magical tournament held every 50 years. The Harlows have long been the arbiters of the competition, but remaining unbiased starts to get tricky.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This beloved novel from a bestselling author follows the Owens sisters — Gillian and Sally — who are raised by their eccentric aunts after being orphaned at a young age. Both sisters leave town and their aunts behind, but trouble eventually brings them back together.

September by Rosamunde Pilcher

When a lavish dance is planned for September in honor of a young woman’s 21st birthday, the celebration brings together a wealth of friends and family. The novel tracks the four months leading up to the event, giving readers a glimpse into the life of Violet Aird and the many people she cares for. The compelling cast of characters and Scottish Highlands setting will keep readers engaged.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

The Waverley sisters and their magical gifts return in First Frost, which takes place 10 years after Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells (but can also be read as a standalone). Set in Bascom, North Carolina, in October, the novel follows Claire, whose successful candy business isn’t without its challenges, and Sydney, who longs for another child while raising her teenage daughter, Bay.

Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams

With a small-town setting, close-knit friendships, and a hint of romance, this cozy mystery is the perfect read for a fall evening. The latest in Ellery Adam’s The Secret, Book & Scone Society seriesInk and Shadows follows bookstore owner Nora Pennington as she finds herself pulled into yet another mystery.

Autumn Light by Pico Iyer

In this stirring memoir, subtitled “Season of Fire and Farewells,” Pico Iyer travels to Japan after the death of his father-in-law. There, he reflects on aging and mortality, as well as grief and family. A starred review from Publishers Weekly praises the poignant work as “an engrossing narrative, a moving meditation on loss, and an evocative, lyrical portrait of Japanese society.”

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

From the bestselling author of The NightingaleMagic Hour is an emotional look at love and family. When a young girl emerges from the woods one day in October, chief of police Ellie Barton calls on her sister, a child psychiatrist, to help — despite their differences. When Julia arrives backs to her western Washington hometown, she’s determined to connect with the child, whom she names Alice. 

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

A scarf serves as the link between two women living 100 years apart in this moving exploration of grief, love, and resilience. In New York in 1911, as she mourns the death of the man she loved, nurse Clara Wood helps a patient whose marigold scarf draws her interest. In 2011, a photograph forces widow Taryn Michaels to relive her own loss and the survivor’s guilt that she’s long felt.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

When Meddelin Chan accidentally kills her blind date, her mother and four aunts waste no time in helping her hide the evidence. But their well-intentioned efforts end with the body being shipped in a cake cooler to the California wedding the Chan family is working. Things only get worse for Meddy when her ex-boyfriend turns out to be a part-owner of the resort where the wedding is taking place. 

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The first in a series, this historical mystery brings 1920s Bombay to life and follows solicitor Perveen Mistry, one of India’s first female lawyers.

Hired by Zoey Castile

Aiden Rios is a paid escort. He’s sexy and makes his women feel like queens – that’s his job, after all. He never expected to fall for anyone, much less a woman like Faith Abigail Charles, the good-girl daughter of a mayoral candidate. The attraction between them is off the charts — but their relationship could end in scandal.

Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr

Kelly Matlock comes to the small town of Virgin River in the fall to rest and recuperate from a stress-related collapse while at work. The quaint town is getting a little too restful when she meets widower and single parent Lief Holbrook. The man is drop-dead gorgeous and just what her heart needs, but is his baggage too much for her to handle?

Falling for Autumn by Sherelle Green

Two wounded souls fall in love in this tender, slow-burn romance. For Autumn Dupree, after surviving a childhood of trauma and hardship, there’s no such thing as a happy ending. Never mind the attraction she feels for Ajay Reed, the best man at her sister’s wedding. Determined to win her over, can Ajay prove to Autumn that true love exists?

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

American heiress Lillian Bowman doesn’t like the insufferable (but maddeningly attractive) Lord Westcliff. Marcus is everything she despises about English aristocrats. However, that doesn’t stop the two of them from falling into a passionate autumn kiss that leads to a destination neither expected.

Deception by Selena Montgomery

Professional poker player Fin Borders teams up with undercover FBI agent Caleb Matthews to find a killer in this sexy romantic thriller. Open this book for the taunt and engaging mystery. Keep reading for the explosive chemistry between Fin and Caleb that culminates in a steamy encounter on a bed of fallen leaves. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Go West!


Mark your calendars for these upcoming events!

Thu Oct 14 10am-11am:
Spooky seasons greetings from the librarians at ONL!  Join us in the Community Meeting Room or on Zoom (email registration required) for a run down on the latest and greatest October scares along with some favorite creepy movies as well!  Registration: https://emmetoneal.libnet.info/event/5473260

Thu Oct 14 6pm-10pm:
An Evening with the Author: Patti Callahan Henry! Registration required here: https://emmetoneal.libnet.info/event/5523114
Please join us on Thursday evening, October 14, to celebrate the launch of Patti Callahan Henry's new novel “Once Upon a Wardrobe.” This event will be available to our patrons via Zoom as well as in-person attendance. Please choose how you would like to attend. If you choose Zoom, please double check the spelling on your email address! 

Sat Oct 16 7pm-9pm:
Join us on the lawn across from the Library for a classic Halloween creature feature. There will be thrills and chills and gills!

Books & Beyond (BAB) returns on Tue Oct 26th at 6:30pm, in-person and on Zoom (email registration required at https://www.oneallibrary.org/event/4597974)!  Browse the display at the 2nd floor reference desk or online under the “Adults” tab and “Book Recommendations,” then look for “World Spiritual Beliefs.” 


This week, BAB chatted about westerns of page, screen, and podcast!  Read on to see what popped up in the discussion.  (descriptions from Amazon and Rotten Tomatoes)

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

American Hippo by Sarah Gailey
In 2017 Sarah Gailey made her debut with River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two action-packed novellas that introduced readers to an alternate America in which hippos rule the colossal swamp that was once the Mississippi River. Now readers have the chance to read both novellas in American Hippo, a single, beautiful volume.

His to Claim by Brenda Jackson
When navy SEAL and honorary Westmoreland Mac McRoy returns home, he discovers his wife has left. Teri has retreated to the Wyoming ranch they’d planned to visit together and is resentful when he follows. She doesn’t want a second honeymoon; she wants a marriage Mac doesn’t take for granted. But life-or-death circumstances are about to put their love to the ultimate test.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (has film)
With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters-losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

Trigun (anime)
Vash the Stampede is a wanted man with a habit of turning entire towns into rubble. The price on his head is a fortune, and his path of destruction reaches across the arid wastelands of a desert planet. Unfortunately, most encounters with the spiky-haired gunslinger don't end well for the bounty hunters who catch up with him; someone almost always gets hurt - and it's never Vash. Oddly enough, for such an infamous fugitive, there's no proof that he's ever taken a life. In fact, he's a pacifist with a doughnut obsession who's more doofus than desperado. There's a whole lot more to him than his reputation lets on - Vash the Stampede definitely ain't your typical outlaw.

Cowboys & Aliens
Gunslinger Daniel Craig and greedy cattle baron Harrison Ford lead a small town against a hostile alien invasion in this sci-fi/western.

Westworld (HBO remade into series, Season 1 not in the library system)
The one-hour drama series, WESTWORLD is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, not matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. No rules, no laws, no judgment. Live without limits.

Westworld (1973)
Westworld is a futuristic theme park where paying guests can pretend to be gunslingers in an artificial Wild West populated by androids. After paying a sizable entrance fee, Blane (James Brolin) and Martin (Richard Benjamin) are determined to unwind by hitting the saloons and shooting off their guns. But when the system goes haywire and Blane is killed in a duel with a robotic gunslinger (Yul Brynner), Martin's escapist fantasy suddenly takes on a grim reality.

Cold Mountain
In this classic story of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Confederate soldier named W.P. Inman (Jude Law) deserts his unit and travels across the South, aiming to return to his young wife, Ada (Nicole Kidman), who he left behind to tend their farm. As Inman makes his perilous journey home, Ada struggles to keep their home intact with the assistance of Ruby (Renée Zellweger), a mysterious drifter sent to help her by a kindly neighbor.

Bad Girls
Prostitutes Cody (Madeleine Stowe), Anita (Mary Stuart Masterson), Eileen (Andie MacDowell) and Lily (Drew Barrymore), work a saloon in the Old West. They decide to flee the bordello for a better life elsewhere, but trouble follows close behind. They're tailed by Pinkerton detectives, Cody's savings are stolen by a bandit (James Russo), and Eileen is wrongfully jailed for bank robbery. Now the remaining three girls must decide whether to liberate their friend or their funds first.

The Misfits
While filing for a divorce, beautiful ex-stripper Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) ends up meeting aging cowboy-turned-gambler Gay Langland (Clark Gable) and former World War II aviator Guido Racanelli (Eli Wallach). The two men instantly become infatuated with Roslyn and, on a whim, the three decide to move into Guido's half-finished desert home together. When grizzled ex-rodeo rider Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift) arrives, the unlikely foursome strikes up a business capturing wild horses.

The Quick and the Dead
A mysterious woman gunslinger, Ellen (Sharon Stone), saunters into the town of Redemption looking for revenge. Her father was killed by the town's sadistic mayor, Herod (Gene Hackman), who is in the midst of organizing a quick-draw tournament. The lady enters, joining a cast of miscreants and outlaws for a brutal competition in which the loser dies. Among the competitors is "The Kid" (Leonardo DiCaprio), an upstart who has his own score to settle with Herod.

True Grit
After an outlaw named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) murders her father, feisty 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a boozy, trigger-happy lawman, to help her find Chaney and avenge her father. The bickering duo are not alone in their quest, for a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is also tracking Chaney for reasons of his own. Together the unlikely trio ventures into hostile territory to dispense some Old West justice. Search for the John Wayne version here.

When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Thomson) is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel workers post a reward for their murder, much to the displeasure of sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), who doesn't allow vigilantism in his town. Two groups of gunfighters, one led by aging former bandit William Munny (Clint Eastwood), the other by the florid English Bob (Richard Harris), come to collect the reward, clashing with each other and the sheriff.

City Slickers
Every year, three friends take a vacation away from their wives. This year, henpecked Phil (Daniel Stern), newly married Ed (Bruno Kirby), and Mitch (Billy Crystal) -- terrified of his midlife crisis -- decide to reignite their masculinity by taking a supervised cattle drive across the Southwest. Under the supervision of gruff cowboy Curly (Jack Palance), the men set out on a journey that turns unexpectedly dangerous. The three men bond along the way to conquering their fear of aging.

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, The Plague of Doves—the first part of a loose trilogy that includes the National Book Award-winning The Round House and LaRose—is a gripping novel about a long-unsolved crime in a small North Dakota town and how, years later, the consequences are still being felt by the community and a nearby Native American reservation.

Inland by Tea Obreht
In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home. Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Deadwood (tv series)
"Deadwood" is set in a mining town that was not part of any U.S. state or territory in the post-Civil War years, and thus was literally lawless. Deadwood attracts people looking to get rich after a huge gold strike, as well as those looking to capitalize on the lack of organized law in the town, built on land stolen from the Sioux.

Deadwood: The Movie
Saloon owner Al Swearengen clashes with Sheriff Seth Bullock as the residents of Deadwood celebrate South Dakota's statehood in 1889.

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand et al.
Welcome to 1876 America, a place bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou—better known as werewolves. And where there are garou, there’re hunters: the one and only Calamity Jane, to be precise, along with her fellow stars of Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, Annie Oakley and Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler. After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s talk of a garou cure. But rumors can be deceiving—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

Last Podcast on the Left: Billy the Kid
A rootin’ tootin’ series on Billy the Kid—AKA Henry McCarty, AKA Kid Atrim, AKA William H. Bonney—who is perhaps the most famous gunslinger of America’s Old West.
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

Samuel Alabaster, an affluent pioneer, ventures across the American frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope. As his group traverses the West, the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel.

The Ridgeline by Michael Punke
In 1866, with the country barely recovered from the Civil War, new war breaks out on the western frontier – a clash of cultures between a young, ambitious nation and the Native tribes who have lived on the land for centuries. Throughout this taut saga – based on real people and events – Michael Punke brings the same immersive, vivid storytelling and historical insight that made his breakthrough debut so memorable. As Ridgeline builds to its epic conclusion, it grapples with essential questions of conquest and justice that still echo today.

The Revenant by Michael Punke
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. Search for a copy of the film here.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu
Whether it's a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history. As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains...and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along. Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward John Ford (film)
Infamous and unpredictable, Jesse James (Brad Pitt), nicknamed the fastest gun in the west, plans his next big heist while he launches pre-emptive strikes against those looking to collect the reward the law has placed on his head. Jesse's newest recruits, Robert (Casey Affleck) and Charley Ford (Sam Rockwell), grow increasingly jealous of the outlaw. When they sense an opportunity to kill Jesse, they gun him down, but their actions backfire when Jesse's fame is elevated to near mythical status.  Want to read the book? Search for an available copy here.


John Wayne films

Clint Eastwood films

In a Valley of Violence
A mysterious drifter (Ethan Hawke) and his dog journey toward Mexico through the barren desert of the Old West. Hoping to shorten their trip, they cut through a large valley, landing in the forgotten town of Denton -- a place now known as a valley of violence. The once-popular mining town is nearly abandoned and controlled by a group of misfits and nitwits, including the seemingly untouchable Gilly (James Ransone), the troublemaking son of the town's difficult marshal.

Godless (requires Netflix subscription)
Notorious criminal Frank Griffin and his gang of outlaws are on a mission -- get revenge on Roy Goode, a former protege who betrayed the brotherhood. On the run, Roy seeks refuge in isolated mining town La Belle, N.M., where he lives with Alice Fletcher, a hardened widower and outcast. When word reaches La Belle, which is governed mainly by women, that Griffin is headed there, the residents of the town band together to defend against his murderous gang.

3:10 to Yuma
This remake of a classic Western improves on the original, thanks to fiery performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as well as sharp direction from James Mangold.

Elmore Leonard western stories (I could not find the British film I mentioned.  I believe I’ve gotten the details mixed up with another author.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

nightmare alley

Please join the Lost & Found: 20th Century Classics book group to discuss William Lindsay Gresham's peerless noir Nightmare Alley on 28 October 2021. 

Register here: https://emmetoneal.libnet.info/event/5617842

Click to reserve a copy of the book.

Perhaps best remembered as a beautifully-made Tyrone Power film from 1947, the novel pushes boundaries that Hollywood, during that period, couldn't begin to touch. It begins with an extraordinary description of a carnival-show geek—alcoholic and abject and the object of the voyeuristic crowd’s gleeful disgust and derision—going about his work at a county fair. Young Stan Carlisle is working as a carny, and he wonders how a man could fall so low. There’s no way in hell, he vows, that anything like that will ever happen to him.

And since Stan is clever and ambitious and not without a useful streak of ruthlessness, soon enough he’s going places. Onstage he plays the mentalist with an alluring assistant (before long his harried wife), then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan’s for the taking. At least for now.

There is nothing quite like this novel in the American canon. It was chosen by the Library of America for its "American Noir: 11 Classic Crime Novels of the 30s, 40s and 50s." A remake of the film, directed by Academy Award-winner Guillermo del Toro and starring Bradley Cooper, will be released on 17 December 2021.

"Written in 1946 and just reissued, Nightmare Alley was adapted into one of the most scabrous films of the 1940s. It's a grifter story, a carny story, whose main character is Stan Carlisle, a handsome con artist/fake mind reader who slowly works his way down the food chain until there's nothing left for him except the job of circus geek. It's a novel in which no ray of light ever penetrates. The novel is a fascinating curio of undoubtedly justified self-loathing—Gresham's second wife, the poet Joy Davidman, left him for C. S. Lewis. Gresham committed suicide in 1962. The new edition has a preface by Nick Tosches, who is working on a biography of Gresham. Certainly one of the most valuable reissues of the year." —The Palm Beach Post

"For contemporary audiences who have never strolled through sawdust and tinsel, the carnival chapters of Nightmare Alley offer an unnerving slice of seedy Americana." —The Baltimore Sun

"The ‘nightmare’ of the title rings true, for this delirious and unstoppable novel . . . inverts the American dream. The plot turns the Horatio Alger myth on its head and the psychology leans on Freud, but the torment, the pervading sense that the human creature lives in a trap he or she is doomed never to escape, comes from the heart and mind of the author. Never was noir more autobiographical than here. . . . Nightmare Alley remains a masterpiece, not only due to its driving narrative power, but because it’s underpinned by the premise that the human animal is alone, helpless in the face of destiny, stumbling in the dark, down the nightmare alley toward the inevitable wall of death at the end. Yet we can’t stop ourselves hoping, and fearing, that there might be something beyond that wall. The message of this disquieting book couldn’t be more human, yet that message is metaphysical rather than moral." —Los Angeles Times

“Nightmare Alley combines the creepy world of Tod Browning's movie ‘Freaks’ with the relentless cynicism of a Jim Thompson novel.” —Time

“For fans of vaudeville and magic, the book is a treasure trove of trade secrets.” —Walter Kirn

Lost & Found: 20th Century Classics meets on October 28th at 6:30pm on the 2nd floor near the head of the stairs to discuss this brilliant portrait of greed; it's perfect for fans of both the Golden Age of American noir and All Hallow's Eve! 

If you have any questions, contact Gregory at glowry@oneallibrary.org or leave a voicemail at (205) 445-1147. 

We look forward to seeing you at O'Neal Library!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

apocalypse now


(LitHub article by Emily Temple, full citation at the end of the post)

John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids (1951)

It feels mildly ridiculous now—or maybe just mild—but Wyndham’s killer-plant-cum-blindness-inducing-meteor-strike apocalypse is a classic for a reason: it’s terrific fun. Even Arthur C. Clarke called it an “immortal story.” And it’s not quite as well-known but allow me to slide in his 1955 novel The Chrysalids here too, as a b-side.

Richard Matheson, I Am Legend (1954)

At this point, Matheson’s pandemic/vampire/zombie novel is more famous for being source material than for being actual material, probably because it is overflowing with ideas. It is sometimes awesome and sometimes boring; jury’s still out on whether it really works as a novel, but it absolutely gets points for influence. And verve.

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (2014)

Your favorite novel in which a flu pandemic wipes out civilization in a matter of weeks (yikes) and a band of entertainers wander the decimated land, putting on Shakespeare plays for the survivors. It’s about as feel-good as stories about the apocalypse get.

Ling Ma, Severance (2018)

The plague that ends the world in Ma’s excellent debut is extra scary because we’re all halfway there: when you catch Shen Fever, you continue going about your routine, doing your rote tasks, not that much more of a zombie than you were in life, until eventually you rot away. Is Shen Fever actually just weaponized nostalgia? Or comfort? Whatever it is, Candace is one of the few who finds herself immune, and documenting New York City as it crumbles around her until even she is forced to flee.

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

Of course Cloud Atlas is not entirely a novel about the end of the world, and in fact of its six storylines only one could be considered post-apocalyptic (one other is squarely dystopian). But considering the novel’s insistence on the interconnectedness of time and space (and people) and the centrality of the post-apocalypse it does evoke (located at the pinnacle of the novel’s unique structure), I think it’s only fair to count it here.

Nevil Shute, On the Beach (1957)

It is 1963, and a nuclear war has devastated most of the planet. In Melbourne, relatively untouched, a handful of survivors wait for the winds to bring the radiation to their shore, occupying themselves more or less usefully, if such a thing can be said to have any meaning at the end of the world, as others investigate what may be a message from a survivor in Seattle. A moving, if not particularly scientifically sound, classic.

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)

After civilization has been mostly wiped out by nuclear war, the few survivors become dedicated Luddites, purging themselves of all knowledge and eliminating any who would share or spread it. The only people trusted with science are the monks in the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, who have pledged to protect it until humanity is ready for it again. The novel spans several thousand years, and the moral is: we’ll always destroy the earth no matter how many precautions our ancestors took. Oh well.

Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death (2010)

Truly a fantasy novel (if these genre distinctions matter, which they don’t), but set in a post-apocalyptic Sudan into which Onyesonwu is born, a child of rape and genocide, and hones her magical powers until she can strike back against her father. A striking, grand novel that everyone should read.

Hanna Jameson, The Last (2019)

We often think of the apocalypse as something that happens to everybody at the same time—but what about those in remote locales that remain untouched at the beginning? In this novel, the world ends while Jon is at a Swiss hotel, far away from everyone he knows and loves. So what does he do? Get busy solving the more immediate problem: the dead body on the premises. Of course.

Colson Whitehead, Zone One (2011)

The preeminent modern literary zombie novel, in which everyone left in Manhattan is either a zombie, feral skels or morose stragglers, or a human suffering from PASD (post-apocalyptic stress disorder) and our mediocre hero is one of the band sent to clear out the stragglers. A zombie novel for people who don’t read zombie novels and a literary novel for people who don’t read literary novels.

J. G. Ballard, The Drowned World (1962)

My favorite Ballard: a heady quasi-adventure novel set in a future in which the entire planet has been transformed into a series of sweltering lagoons, a neo-Triassic landscape that horrifies and also transfixes the survivors, who are plagued by dreams and strange impulses.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)

You may argue that The Handmaid’s Tale is just as much of an apocalypse novel as Oryx and Crake, and in some ways I’d agree with you—an apocalypse of mind and morality instead of body and planet. But you know and I both know what we’re doing here. Plus, Oryx and Crake, while somewhat less celebrated, is just as good, a frighteningly plausible world destroyed by our relentless pursuit for happiness in a bottle. Oh, and trusting corporations. Of course.

Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind (2020)

Alam’s recent blockbuster hit slash literary darling has what may be the quietest apocalypse on this list, at least from our viewpoint. We see almost nothing, get only hints of the destruction that descends on the world, and instead are focused on the increasing anxiety of two families, thrown together by chance, as they try to make sense of what is happening. Which . . . is probably how most of us will experience the apocalypse, when it comes. Knowing this fact makes the novel all the more chilling.

Stephen King, The Stand (1978)

A classic, and probably King’s best novel (don’t come for me) is a behemoth (famously inspired by The Lord of the Rings) with many threads and characters, all set in a world ravaged by a pandemic caused by a weaponized strain of influenza that is fatal to 99.4% of those who encounter it. So you may not want to read it right now!

Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)

The very first novel you (probably) think of when someone says “post-apocalyptic,” in which a man and his son travel across a blasted-out country that ever gets explained. Weirdly punctuated, unforgettable, and something of a departure for McCarthy—except in its unyielding bleakness. Find the film adaptation here.

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993)

The best and worst thing about this novel is how close it feels to being possible (it is set four years from now). Unchecked climate change, wealth inequality, and corrupt leadership have destroyed society for most people—who now live in guarded settlements or scavenge in roving bands—and the hot new drug that makes you into an arsonist is just an extra fun detail. Of course our narrator is afflicted with the worst possible thing you could have in such a scenario, and also the thing that might save everyone: hyperempathy, meaning she feels the pain of others. A literary page-turner of the highest order.

José Saramago, tr. Giovanni Pontiero, Blindness (1995; English publication 1997)

It doesn’t take a meteor or a nuclear missile to destroy civilization; all you need is a surprise epidemic of blindness, and men and women will destroy it themselves. Despite the compelling, experimental prose, parts of this feel like a horror novel, but unlike most of the books on this list, it ends on a note of hope, which makes it a particularly good one to read right now.

N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2015)

This is another book not squarely in the post-apocalyptic genre—there are elements of fantasy in here, and science fiction, though as we know all of these borders are porous. What is sure, however, is that the events of the book take place post-apocalypse. Actually, they take place post multiple apocalypses, each one a devastating turn of weather that wipes out a healthy chunk of civilization. The characters in this book and its sequels are trying to survive post-apocalypse, sure, but they’re also trying to prevent the inevitable next one.

Mary Shelley, The Last Man (1826)

Shelley’s early novel of a 21st century world scrubbed nearly clean by bubonic plague was introduced as if it were merely a collection of prophetic writings that she found and compiled into a novel. Her contemporaries hated it. “It’s as if the critics were trying to annihilate with their rhetoric the very possibility of writing a novel on this subject,” wrote Morton D. Paley. “The author’s gender was of course not spared.” It was described as “a sickening repetition of horrors,” and “the offspring of a diseased imagination, and of a most polluted taste” . . . which should make any modern reader excited to pick it up. Good thing time goes on (for now).

Sandra Newman, The Country of Ice Cream Star (2014)

In post-pandemic Massachusetts, cabals of children run wild—children being the only humans left, as everyone now dies from a disease called “posies” by the age of 20. Unless, that is, our young heroine Ice Cream, can track down the cure. This is a big, difficult, and ambitious novel told in an invented apocalyptic language—it may not be for everyone, but for me it cements Newman’s status as an underrated genius.

Max Brooks, World War Z (2006)

Everyone’s favorite metafictional zombie apocalypse novel by Mel Brooks’ son, whose framing device—Brooks as agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission and his own actual/fictional survival guide, interviewing survivors—give it a polyphonic resonance. Don’t judge it by the movie, which takes serious liberties, and is not great.

Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

This classic, highly influential for its use of invented dialect, is set in England, some two thousand years after the end of civilization as we know it—when what society is left is uncomfortably reliant on “Punch & Pooty” shows. A layered, Joycean masterpiece that is as much about the power of story and myth as it is about the end of the world and everything after.

Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1994)

I love Miyazaki’s post-apocalyptic world—most of the world is covered in toxic forest, known as the Sea of Corruption, which is itself overrun by giant, mutant insects, and which is encroaching—and his heroine, a curious princess turned battle captain with a deep respect for the natural world, corrosive as it may be.

Waubgeshig Rice, Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018)

It’s almost winter, and on the reservation of a small Anishinaabe community in northern Ontario, the power has gone out. Not just the power either, but the phones and the internet, resulting in full isolation. And it’s cold. Then the outsiders begin to appear. Fear and chaos reign, as Evan Whitesky, father of two, looks to the past, to tradition, to try to rebuild his community’s future. Chilling in more ways than one.

Edan Lepucki, California (2014)

Lepucki’s debut is probably most famous for being the book Stephen Colbert made famous, but it’s also a beguiling novel about love at the end of the world—though we never really learn what exactly tipped our present into this factionalized and urine-coated future. Could be anything, I guess.

Justin Cronin, The Passage (2010)

One of the best and biggest contemporary vampire novels is also one of the best and biggest apocalypse novels. It all starts in a lab, in which a virus meant to create super soldiers actually creates a plague of monsters—93 years later, the humans left huddle in colonies, hiding from the hunters outside the walls. But can the world actually be saved after all?

Anna North, America Pacifica (2011)

Some 70 years from now, North America is frozen. The survivors of the latest Ice Age are clustered on a Pacific island; only the eldest remember life on the mainland. But when her mother goes missing, Darcy has to uncover the secrets of the old world in order to parse the disruptions of the new.

Pierre Boulle, tr. Xan Fielding, Planet of the Apes (1963)

You don’t find out that Planet of the Apes is a post-apocalyptic novel, and not just a science fiction novel about another world, until the end of the book. (Sorry for not warning you about this spoiler, but look, you had almost 60 years.) What was the cause? Oh, laziness, really…

Megan Hunter, The End We Start From (2017)

Parenthood is a kind of apocalypse, yes, but—well, so is an underwater London. No food, no power, no internet; society begins to break down, but even this can barely distract a new mother from the magic of her child. Hunter’s sparse novel asks what to make of the first year of a life (and the first year of motherhood) at the end of the world.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home (1985)

“The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California,” is how this book begins, in slippery Le Guin fashion. The apocalypse in Always Coming Home happened so long that none among the Kesh remember it—not even their songs know what caused it. Mostly, what’s left is styrofoam. This is not a straight narrative, but a realistic anthropological study of a fictional people, the Kesh, compiled and annotated by a researcher named Pandora. In some ways, it is a minor work in Le Guin’s oeuvre, but a fascinating one.

David Brin, The Postman (1985)

The book starts sixteen years after the apocalypse (“It hardly mattered anymore what had done it—a giant meteorite, a huge volcano, or a nuclear war. Temperatures and pressures swung out of balance, and great winds blew.” Much has changed for the survivors, but one thing has not: the authority conferred by a uniform. Or so discovers Gordon Krantz (aka Kevin Costner, if you’re one of the 8 people who saw the movie adaptation), a wanderer and one-time drama student who dons a uniform and mail sack found in an abandoned Postal Service truck and begins to play the role of an officer of the “Restored United States of America,” bringing hope to a populace trying to pull itself back from the brink.

Peter Heller, The Dog Stars (2012)

In this surprisingly uplifting post-apocalypse novel, a contagious disease called “The Blood” has wiped out most of civilization and left those who remain desperate and territorial (not to mention six feet apart from one another). “”The ones who are left are mostly Not Nice,” says Hig, our gentle hero. Hig lives in an old airplane hangar with his dog and grunty friend Bangley, who guards the perimeter, but after hearing a strange dispatch on the radio, he eventually goes out in search of other survivors, a final grasp at a better life.

Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan (2017)

In 2049, the world has been destroyed by global warming and war, and what humans are left orbit their one-time home in a colony called CIEL, led by the tyrannical Jean de Men, drawing whatever they can from the rock via “invisible technological umbilical cords.” One woman on CIEL, who will soon turn 50 and therefore be determined unnecessary and euthanized, tells the story of Joan of Dirt (for this is a riff on the Joan of Arc story), who is trying to save the world.

Lauren Beukes, Afterland (2020)

In Beukes’ fifth novel, it is 2023, and a pandemic has left fewer that 1% of the world’s male population alive. One of these is Cole’s 12-year-old son, Miles, whom Cole must protect at all costs—considering what nefarious minds, like her sister’s, might do with a boy immune to the virus—and so they go on the lam, Miles going as Mila, hoping to get home to Johannesburg. Like all of Beukes’ novels, it is fun, smart, and slightly sickening.

George R. Stewart, Earth Abides (1949)

One of the classics of the genre, in which a student, Ish, emerges from a period of isolation and illness—he was bitten by a diseased rattlesnake—and steps back into the world to find almost no one left alive in it. But humans, like any invasive species, will find a way, and so Ish meets Em, and they build a community of survivors, new and old—but instead of rebuilding the world they knew, they must watch as the younger generation adapts and begins to build a new society based on the world that is left.

Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium (2014)

In this surreal novel, two characters at the end of a world destroyed switch genders, roles, and relationships to one another as their lives are repeatedly rebooted by a mysterious—and corrupted—atmospheric computer program, which is looking (maybe) for a savior.

Peng Shepherd, The Book of M (2018)

This novel includes one of the stranger epidemics in apocalypse fiction: the Forgetting, which has devastated the world by separating those afflicted from their shadows—and their memories, which causes them to behave erratically, even violently. As society breaks down, Ory and Max (one shadowless, one not) try to find answers, and each other.

Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World (2008)

If you like your post-apocalypses a little ludicrous, you may enjoy Harkaway’s take, in which the “Go-Away War” has left three-quarters of the Earth’s population dead—or, more specifically, “gone-away,” i.e. still there, but stripped of information—until it comes in contact with a survivor’s mind, that is. Our hero is a kung fu trucker named Gonzo, and of course, he must save what’s left of the world.

Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

In this novel, a pastor goes to another planet to spread Christianity, leaving his wife at home; what results, among other things, is that the apocalypse in this novel is telegraphed to the protagonist at a distance, through increasingly alarming and unbelievable missives, even as he finds himself drawing further away from the life he used to know and the woman he used to love.

Daniel H. Wilson, Robopocalypse (2011)

For a little relief from nuclear war and pandemics, enter the robopocalypse—which, by the way, is exactly what it sounds like. It begins, of course, with a brilliant scientist and a sentient computer program, Archos, which kills its creator and decides that its purpose for being is to save the planet from the human race. Archos spreads to machines around the world, which kill or enslave humans—until a few begin to fight back. Another breath of fresh air: this novel is told from the other side of the apocalypse, a reminder that these things can be reversed, at least sometimes.

Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon (1959)

In this classic of nuclear holocaust fiction, when much of the United States is destroyed by the Soviet Union, one small Florida town survives, adapting to their new lives in a radioactive wasteland.

M. R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts (2014)

When this novel begins, it’s about a decade after the zombie apocalypse has left only a handful of uninfected humans in Britain—the rest are dead or infected, “empty houses where people used to live” known as “hungries.” It’s been long enough, though, for there to be a second generation of hungries: children who are preternaturally smart, absurdly strong, and capable (maybe) of human empathy. Unless they smell a human, that is. Then they want to eat it. The human scientists who are left are torn: try to crack open the eponymous Melanie’s brain to figure out how it works? Or treat her like a child and hope she can lead the world back to humanity that way?

Robert R. McCammon, Swan Song (1987)

A horror novel and an apocalypse novel in one—as if surviving nuclear holocaust wasn’t enough, now there’s a demonic entity known as The Man with the Scarlet Eye, aka Doyle, running around. Typical.

Sarah Pinsker, A Song for a New Day (2019)

Oh, weird, a novel in which a string of terrorist attacks, mass shootings, bombings, and then a pandemic, has resulted in widespread fear, consolidation of corporate power, and the end of all public gatherings. So unrealistic, amirite? Instead of Zoom, though, Luce and her band-mates have to contend with StageHolo, basically a holographic pay-per-view for concerts, and their talent scout Rosemary, who never really knew the world Before. Like all the best apocalyptic fiction, this is actually a book about human connection—the fact that it’s also a cool, queer rock and roll novel is just a bonus.

C.A. Fletcher, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World (2019)

Just what it says on the tin. The boy (Griz) and the dog (Jip) are among the survivors after the “soft apocalypse” known as the Gelding, which neutered most of the world. When Griz’s other dog (Jess) is stolen, Griz and Jip must make a rescue mission through the ruins of Scotland.

Emily Temple

Emily Temple

Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020.  https://www.emilytemple.net/. https://lithub.com/the-50-greatest-apocalypse-novels/

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

short on time


Here are some great suggestions to get acquainted with audiobooks or gain some momentum in your reading life!  With just the right amount of story for quick commutes or a few hours of chores on the weekends (or, if you’re like me, SO many patterns to cross stitch!), these audiobooks clock in at 4 hours or less.

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry

Berry has long been compared to Faulkner for his ability to erect entire communities in his fiction, and his heart and soul have always lived in Port William, Kentucky. In this eloquent novel about duty, community, and a sweeping love of the land, Berry gives listeners a classic book that takes them to that storied place.

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo             

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours her frustration onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers -- especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class. With Mami's determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. When she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she knows that she could never get around Mami's rules to attend, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can't stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in spite of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent. Also available on Hoopla.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn's fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that, but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name.

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self-discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. 

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions. Also available on Hoopla.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Yetu holds the memories for her people -- water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners -- who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one -- the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu. Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities -- and discovers a world her people left behind long ago. Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past -- and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they'll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity -- and own who they really are.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Years ago, Matt Haig began writing notes to his future self. These notes were meant as gifts to his future self: offerings of hope to help himself through anything from the darkest periods of his life to a not-so-great day. As time went on, he added new thoughts and stories, and he turned them into The Comfort Book so that everyone could draw on this well of reassurance and encouragement.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers's delightful new Monk & Robot series gives us hope for the future. It's been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. 

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

The eerie, disturbing story of one of our perennial fascinations, witchcraft in colonial America, wrapped up in a lyrical novel of psychological suspense. 'Once upon a time there was and there wasn't a woman who went to the woods.' In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

In this deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading, the Uncommon reader is none other than Her Majesty the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

myth & fairy tale


The next Books & Beyond meet up will be on Tuesday, September 28th at 6:30pm in the Library’s Conference Room.  To attend on Zoom, register here: https://emmetoneal.libnet.info/event/4597973

The topic we will be discussing is the Old West and western novels/films. There is a display at the 2nd floor service desk or you may peruse them from home on the Shelf Care page of the website at https://oneallibrary.org/adults---reading-recommendations.


Winter Hours at the Library begin on Tuesday, September 7th. 
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 9am-8pm
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 9am-6pm
Sundays: 2pm-6pm


The Friends Booksale: Abridged Edition is coming later this month!  Become a donor online or at the door and get first access to the sale on Thursday, September 16th 10am-4pm.  The sale opens to the public Friday & Saturday, September 17-18th from 10am-4pm. There is no Sunday sale.


This week, we met to discuss myth, legend, folklore, and fairy tales.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

Haunted by memories of the Great War, failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate—the Savoyard Plantation—and the horrors that occurred there. At first their new life seems to be everything they wanted. But under the facade of summer socials and small-town charm, there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice. It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of the Savoyard Plantation still stand. Where a long-smoldering debt of blood has never been forgotten. Where it has been waiting for Frank Nichols....

The Curse Painter by Jordan Rivet

Briar can curse with the flick of a paintbrush. Her paintings maim, bewitch, and—most effectively of all—destroy. But Briar doesn't want to hurt people anymore. She has fled her family's deadly curse business to start a new life peddling nonlethal jinxes and petty revenge.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Yangsze Choo's The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming-of-age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

A startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

Fantasy icon Jane Yolen triumphantly returns with this inspired gathering of fractured fairy tales and legends. Yolen breaks open the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets: a philosophical bridge that misses its troll, a spinner of straw as a falsely accused moneylender, the villainous wolf adjusting poorly to retirement. Each of these offerings features a new author note and original poem, illuminating tales that are old, new, and brilliantly refined.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Aerin, with the guidance of the wizard Luthe and the help of the Blue Sword, wins the birthright due her as the daughter of the Damarian king and a witchwoman of the mysterious, demon-haunted North.

Legends from the Pacific podcast

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Kamuela or “Kamu”, is an Asian Pacific Islander geek, and storyteller. He began podcasting in 2004 with the weekly three-hour radio show/podcast, “Off the Air’s: Geek Nation”.  “Legends from the Pacific” utilizes Kamu’s cultural knowledge, and television/film background to craft stories of people, beliefs, and traditions to help promote Pacific cultures.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

A storm tears through rural Kansas and a young farm girl named Dorothy finds herself and her farmhouse swallowed by a cyclone and transported to a magical land called Oz. This unexpected passage into this land of wonders is not without its perils.

The Wiz 

An adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" that tries to capture the essence of the African-American experience.

Circe by Madeline Miller

"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

A thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War from the bestselling author of Circe.

Black Ships by Jo Graham

In a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle. Daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, chosen at the age of seven to be the voice of the Lady of the Dead, it is her destiny to counsel kings. When nine black ships appear, captained by an exiled Trojan prince, Gull must decide between the life she has been destined for and the most perilous adventure -- to join the remnant of her mother's people in their desperate flight. 

Pan’s Labyrinth

In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth. Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a young woman named Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. Now, as crusading armies gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take a tremendous sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil. Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas. I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I've been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman's heart. Steal the Scarecrow's brain. Take the Lion's courage. And—Dorothy must die.

Cheshire Crossing by Andy Weir and Sarah Andersen

In a one-of-a-kind graphic novel collaboration between the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and the beloved illustrator behind Sarah’s Scribbles, Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy team up to save the multiverse, from Wonderland to Neverland and Oz.

The Green Knight (still in theaters/stream on demand)

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur's reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

The First Knight

Handsome swordsman Lancelot (Richard Gere) is incredibly skilled at fighting, but when he meets the lovely Guinevere (Julia Ormond), he can't seem to get past her defenses. She is betrothed to King Arthur (Sean Connery) and plans to go ahead with the wedding, despite her attraction to Lancelot. When the devious warrior Malagant (Ben Cross) rises up against Arthur, Lancelot must try to put his feelings aside and defend his king, Guinevere and all of Camelot.


Upon breaking out of a dungeon, youthful thief Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick) befriends Capt. Navarre (Rutger Hauer), a man with a strange secret. Navarre and his lover Lady Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) were cursed by the wicked Bishop of Aquila (John Wood), who desires Lady Isabeau for himself. His dark magic prevents the pair from ever being in each other's presence except at twilight, so they enlist Gaston in a dangerous plot to overthrow the Bishop and break his evil enchantment.

The Princess Bride

A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a long separation and save her. They must battle the evils of the mythical kingdom of Florin to be reunited with each other. Based on the William Goldman novel "The Princess Bride" which earned its own loyal audience.

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn

Known primarily as an early interpreter of Japanese culture and customs, the famous writer Lafcadio Hearn also wrote ghost stories—"delicate, transparent, ghostly sketches"—about his adopted land. Many of the stories found in Kwaidan, "stories and studies of strange things," are based on Japanese tales told long ago to him by his wife; others possibly have a Chinese origin. All have been re-colored and reshaped by Hearn's inimitable hand. Film adaptation has a Criterion Collection release.

Fleetwood Mac performing the song "Rhiannon," allegedly based on Welsh myth

Evolution of Goddess: A Modern Girl’s Guide to ActivatingYour Feminine Superpowers by Emma Mildon

Evolution of Goddess is a practical introduction to the goddess realm, digging up the histories of long-forgotten myths of goddesses of love, war, death, the sun, the moon, and more. With this clear-eyed and spirited book, you can finally become familiarized with goddesses from a wide range of cultures throughout history, including the mermaids of the Atlantic, the empresses of ancient Egypt, the wise women of the Middle Ages, right up to the modern-day goddesses who walk amongst us today as humble light workers, educating and inspiring.