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Literary Fiction

10/08/2015 - 10:58am
A goblet across the pages of Romeo and Juliet

When you first approach reading Shakespeare, it can be a daunting experience. Even though I grew up reading books with similar language, I still found Shakespeare difficult unless I had a teacher holding my hand every step of the way. I could just about understand the basic plot line and even some of the language, but many of the jokes, the history, and the language went over my head.

Over the years, I have found several things helpful in reading Shakespeare’s plays. With these aids, I am able to enjoy Shakespeare so much more than before as well as understand the plays at a deeper level.

09/15/2015 - 2:55am
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

In Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, Jun Do works for the government of “the most glorious nation on earth” as a professional kidnapper. This isn’t a science fiction dystopia, but rather it is a raw, searing novel concerning one man’s life under a regime that crushes its citizens, body and soul.

Jun Do doesn’t know his real name. Like his fellow orphans, his was chosen from a list of North Korean war heroes. There is decency to Jun Do, even as he surmounts a horrific childhood only to realize that he (and everyone else) exists primarily for their usefulness to the state. But Jun Do has ambitions.

09/02/2015 - 2:46am
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
One auspicious day, long-time widow Addie Moore presents her neighbor, Louis Waters, with an unexpected proposition. She asks him outright if he’d consider spending his nights at her house…in her bed. She assures him she’s not expecting an intimate relationship but was hoping they might share their lives, and, more importantly, keep each other company through what had become an endless string of lonely nights.

08/18/2015 - 2:37am
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife is an intense and richly rewarding reading experience that is also an intimate family story. Like her beloved grandfather before her, Natalia has beaten the odds in the war-torn Balkans to become a doctor. With a heart for others and her best friend at her side, she is trying to deliver and administer vaccines to orphans when she receives word that her grandfather has died.

It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.

07/08/2015 - 1:14pm
Scene from Masterpiece Theatre's Wives and Daughters

People who love English literature are familiar with the great authors: William Shakespeare; Charles Dickens; Jane Austen; Charlotte and Emily Bronte; etc.  However, there are many other authors who wrote wonderful novels and are almost unknown by the general public. Here are just a few of my favorites….

07/22/2015 - 12:20pm
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Brooklyn is a tough place to grow up in the early part of the 20th century.  It’s made of immigrant families struggling to get by. Young Francie Nolan, half German and half Irish, adores her handsome father, the sometime singing waiter, and her more hard-minded mother who scrubs floors and does much to give her kids a better life. But, uneducated as her parents are, they have few choices and huge problems that a bright girl like Francie can certainly see.

05/29/2015 - 1:35pm
If you like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic that has been translated into more than 40 languages. 

If you like To Kill a Mockingbird, you may also like the following titles:

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man. 

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she's assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. 

06/04/2015 - 1:53pm
The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos
Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary loves like a tiger and a hurricane in The Precious One. Years ago, her family suffered “the combustion” as they call it, separation not being a strong enough word. Her father Wilson traded his old family for a new, improved one: Caro the glass artist and the precious daughter Willow. He also destroys Taisy’s relationship with her childhood sweetheart Ben.

05/08/2015 - 8:50am
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson: "Casually amoral until he is horribly burned in an accident, a man plans suicide but encounters a beautiful but possibly crazy sculptress of gargoyles who says she has rescued him before--in medieval Germany." (Library Journal) 

If you liked The Gargoyle, you may also like these titles:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her.  (Catalog summary)

The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin
A literary historical novel about an orphan girl's journey from poverty to film stardom, set against the grand backdrop of World War I Berlin, the cabaret era, the run-up to World War II, and the innovations in art and industry that accompanied it all.  (Catalog summary)


04/17/2015 - 8:35am
Middlemarch by George Elliot

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Middlemarch by George Eliot: "Set in a provincial Victorian neighborhood, the author explores the complex social relationship and the struggle to hold fast to personal tragedy in a materialistic environment."

If you enjoyed the philosophical and social themes of Middlemarch, here are some other titles you may enjoy:


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Into the narrow social world of New York in the 1870s comes Countess Ellen Olenska, surrounded by shocked whispers about her failed marriage to a rich Polish Count. A woman who leaves her husband can never be accepted in polite society. Newland Arthur is engaged to young May Welland, but the beautiful and mysterious Countess needs his help. He becomes her friend and defender, but friendship with an unhappy, lonely woman is a dangerous path for a young man to follow - especially a young man who is soon to be married (

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
"Anna Karenina" tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. (


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