What We See When We Read

What we see when we read : a phenomenology ; with illustrationsBy Mendelsund, Peter.

As much a delightful art project as book, What We See When We Read is an exploration of the nature and mechanics of human imagination: how we visualize people and places in our minds that make a written work come alive for us as we read it. A book might take us to places we have never seen and introduce us to scores of characters with only a bit of physical description, yet we are able to create the imagined world, get to know and understand its inhabitants, and temporarily suspend any disbelief to allow the story to unfold. The author is an art director at Random House and has designed this book with a generous helping of sketches, graphs and other illustrations interspersed with prose to help us appreciate the marvel that occurs with the act of reading.

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The Jaguar's Children

The jaguar's childrenBy Vaillant, John

Known for his nonfiction (2005’s Golden Spruce and 2010’s The Tiger), Vaillant’s debut novel tells the story of Hector and his friend César, who attempt to cross the U. S.-Mexico border with 13 others in an empty water tanker, welded shut by their “coyote” after they were all inside. The truck breaks down and they are abandoned en route. Hector tries to make contact by cell phone with anyone who might rescue them as the situation becomes increasingly desperate inside the tanker; the descriptions make their misery palpable. The only relief given the reader comes in the form of Hector’s narrative of his life in Oaxaca and how his friendship with César came about. Hearing about people’s daily lives and what they must struggle with to survive gives a deeper perspective on the immigrant issue, in particular the ruin forced on the farmers by the introduction of GMO corn. An excellent but harrowing read.

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A Most Wanted Man

Adapting John Carré’s 2008 spy novel of the same name, Corbijn delivers a taut thriller with an absorbing, intricate plot.  Gunther Bachmann, a German counterterrorist expert working in Hamburg is trying to turn a Muslim professor into an informant.  Bachmann's team sets a trap involving a recently arrived Chechan who escaped from a Russian prison: he is being assisted by a naïve young woman lawyer who finds him a safe house, and who makes contact with the German banker who will help him.

The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group

The husbands and wives club : [sound recording] a year in the life of a couples therapy groupBy Abraham, Laurie

Journalist Laurie Abraham spent more than a year attending group couples therapy sessions in Philadelphia as an observer. The group’s five couples met therapist Judith Coché once a month for one or two days at a time. The issues bedeviling these husbands and wives are typical: money, power struggles, sex, childhood trauma carried into adulthood, and ineffective communication, for example. Yet Coché, and the group itself, seems to have a knack for pulling the couples through some tough times and setting them on the road to greater understanding and an improved shot at happiness together. The recounting of therapy sessions is interspersed with discussion of the history of therapy, couples therapy in particular, and the variety of approaches and techniques that have moved in and out of favor over the years. These sections may not interest all listeners. Abraham is a skillful writer, and occasionally inserts her own skepticism—and admiration—into the text. Reader Laural Merlington takes some getting used to, but eventually she seems a good fit for the businesslike Coché, and does well in distinguishing the voices of the husbands and wives. If you’re curious about couples therapy, this audiobook provides insight into the hard work that takes place, especially in the not-so-common group form.

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Fourth of July Creek: A Novel

Fourth of July Creek : a novelBy Henderson, Smith (Joshua Smith)

Set in Montana in the 1980s, this book’s main character, Pete Snow, is a social worker who is accustomed to dealing with dysfunctional families whose problems include drug addiction, alcoholism, child abuse, and more. One of his cases involves a 15-year-old boy whose mother, a drug addict, is no longer in control of him. In the midst of dealing with this family’s latest crisis, Pete is called to a local school where a dirty, smelly, malnourished 11-year-old boy has turned up. His name is Benjamin Pearl, and when Pete gives him a lift back to the vicinity of his home, he meets Benjamin’s hostile, violent, survivalist dad, Jeremiah. Over time Pete wins at least some of Jeremiah’s trust, but then gets caught in the middle when the FBI takes an interest in the man’s activities. Meanwhile, Pete’s personal life begins to unravel. Narrator MacLeod Andrews does a great job with the book’s male characters, and Jenna Lamia is riveting in her narration of interviews recounting the travails of Pete’s daughter Rachel. This is Henderson’s first novel; it is well written, bleak, and memorable.

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March: Book one

March. Book oneBy Lewis, John, 1940 February 21-

These days we are celebrating many fifty year milestones from the African American Civil Rights Movement. While many of the important figures from the movement are not with us anymore, we are lucky to still have John Lewis, who, among other accomplishments, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1963 to 1966. Currently, he is serving as a Congressman, representing the 5th Congressional District of Georgia.

In 2013, Lewis, along with his Congressional Aide Andrew Aydin, as well as Ignatz Award and Eisner Award winning comics author Nate Powell, embarked on a trilogy of comic books covering John Lewis’s life, entitled March. Two volumes have been released so far and the library has both of them. They are some of the best historical comics I have read in a very long time. In the first book we learn about Lewis’s young life and beginnings of his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. In the second book, we see more of his involvement in the Nashville Student Movement and with the Freedom Riders and the Congress of Racial Equality. I can’t wait to read the third volume. Lewis and Aydin’s storytelling and Powell’s comic illustration is woven together in a dramatic and very beautiful way, even when what it is depicting is horrific. Hopefully this work can reach young people and others drawn to comics, and since it is so well done, will captivate them and educate them about the struggles that have come before them in the name of basic Human and Civil Rights for Americans of all stripes.

If you are interested in other biographical comics about the African American Civil Rights movement, check out King by Ho Che Anderson, Malcolm X by Andrew Helfer, and Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a comic published by the Fellowship of Reconcilliation in 1957, which inspired Lewis to write March. Another incredible comic story, which takes place during the Civil Rights Movement is Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. This work of fiction follows Toland Polk, a young white working class gay man, who ends up working with the local Civil Rights movement and comes to understand the similarities and differences in the experience of both oppressed minority groups in his small southern town.

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Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century

Reappraisals : reflections on the forgotten twentieth centuryBy Judt, Tony

Tony Judt was a renowned British historian who frequently contributed essays to the New York Review of Books and authored many books. Sadly, he died in 2010 from ALS, but left us with a great treasure in the form of his books and journal articles. Reappraisals is a collection of his NYRB essays written between 1994 and 2006 on a wide variety of political and historical subjects. Judt is concerned about the paucity of intellectual debate about recent historical issues.

"I see myself as first and above all a teacher of history; next a writer of European history; next a commentator on European affairs; next a public intellectual voice within the American Left; and only then an occasional, opportunistic participant in the pained American discussion of the Jewish matter. “ A former Zionist, Judt soon left that movement and became an advocate of the “one state” solution. A very satisfying read.

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just mercy : a story of justice and redemptionBy Stevenson, Bryan

Just Mercy is Bryan Stevenson’s outstanding memoir in which he details his role in the establishment and building of a non-profit organization called the Equal Justice Initiative ( in Montgomery, Alabama. The EJI provides legal defense for poor incarcerated adults and children who, in many cases, did not have access to adequate legal counsel. Stevenson’s earliest case was that of Walter McMillan, who spent years on death row for a murder of which he was innocent. Walter’s case is the backbone of the book; Stevenson and the other young lawyers he persuaded to join him handled many others, including juveniles given life sentences in adult prisons. Always battling entrenched Southern racist attitudes and illegal processes, this eye-opening book will anger and inspire you. Mr. Stevenson is currently a professor of law at New York University Law School and executive director of EJI.

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The Woman Who Would Be King/ Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

The woman who would be kingBy Cooney, Kara.

In this riveting piece of non-fiction, Cooney charts King Hatshepsut's rise to power. Don't be surprised if you have never heard of Hatshepsut. At the age of twenty, she ruled Egypt as king, despite little precedence for female rulers, especially widowed ones without male heirs. She reigned for nearly twenty years, becoming Egypt's longest-lived and most successful female monarch. Hatshepsut achieved her kingship without bloodshed, without a rebellion, and without the overt sexual manipulation we see in other ancient female leaders. In fact, Cleopatra is a household name and Cooney posits that is because she acted in a "female" way, using her sexual liaisons to gain and maintain her powerful status. Conversely, Hatshepsut quietly and strongly ruled Egypt as king (the concept of a queen was as yet unheard of), expanding its borders through conquest and embracing its many religious festivals and rituals. Cooney wonders if this is why Hatshepsut is unknown to us--because she acted as a man, in a man's place and did it more successfully than her contemporaries. Whatever the reason for her relative anonymity, this profile of the most successful female leader in the ancient world captures your attention.

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Stories We Tell

Stories we tellBy Polley, Sarah

Director/writer/actress Sarah Polley brings us this well-reviewed documentary about her eclectic family, told in filmed interviews cleverly edited together for a continuous narrative exploring mostly her deceased mother, but revealing some long-held family secrets as their tales unfold. Polley interweaves actual home movie footage as a way of showing herself and siblings as they were growing up, often switching back and forth with a present piece of the overall story, so the viewer gets several perspectives as each remembers different details about the past. Polley's mother, Diane, was in the theatre, at one point spending months at a time. in New York. As Polley explores those time periods with her mother's friends, something totally unknown and unexpected comes up, lending both delight, intrigue and gravitas to Polley's life, but she forges ahead based on this newly revealed material, and comes to terms with her past. A mesmerizing film and highly satisfying viewing experience. Rated PG-13.

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The Normal Heart

The normal heartBy Ruffalo, Mark

The Normal Heart tells the story of the early days of the AIDS crisis in 1980's New York City, when both the government and the medical establishment pretty much ignored the emergence of what people at first called the "gay cancer". The film is based on the play of the same title written by author/activist Larry Kramer, who founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization in 1982 and later ACT UP in 1987. In the movie, Kramer is portrayed by actor Mark Ruffalo, who successfully emobodies Kramer's confrontational, impassioned and urgent style of trying to get the attention of the media about the thousands of gay men dying of something which only a few doctors were attempting to treat (one well- played by Julia Roberts in the movie) as well as to raise the awareness of the gay community and form a hotline to help individuals cope with their drastically altered lives and those they loved. Alfred Molino, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, and Taylor Kitsch also star in the film, which was originally shown on HBO and has just recently been made available on DVD. Rated R

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Waterfall/by Lauren Kate.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

When Maggie Stiefvater finally published the third book in the "Raven Boys Trilogy" I was so excited.  Besides having chosen it as our Teen Fantasy selection for December, I wanted to check out the audiobook too.   She did not disappoint even though I thought her first and second books were better in some ways than this one.  The relationship among the four main characters, Blue Sargent.

The Madman of Piney Woods

The madman of Piney WoodsBy Curtis, Christopher Paul

CPC has hit it out of the park again! In this companion book to Newbery Honor Book Elijah of Buxton, Curtis takes us to the year 1901 in Buxton, Ontario, 40 years after the events of Elijah of Buxton and introduces us to Red and Benji. They are a couple of mischievous boys (one of them African-Canadian and one of them Irish-Canadian) who meet and become fast friends after they find that they and their families have many similarities. Red and Benji also have had separate encounters in the woods with the mysterious and legendary Madman of Piney Woods. Who is this guy? Is he an old escaped slave or convict? Why is he living in the woods?

This is beautiful storytelling that has you laughing and sobbing, sometimes on the same page. Though The Madman of Piney Woods stands alone, it will be even more satisfying if read after Elijah of Buxton.

As a side note, the author’s note at the end states the following: “Most of my books have been written in libraries, both public and school. Why? I really can’t say. I used to think it was because when I’m sitting in the library, there’s always a wealth of research material only a few steps away, but the Internet and laptop computers have made that a moot point. Now an author can write from anywhere and have all the knowledge of the web literally at his or her fingertips. The library, however, was my spot from day one and remains my go-to place.”

So, get yourself to the library and pick up a copy of this book or any of Christopher Paul Curtis' books. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those 8-100.

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The Birth of a Nation : How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War

The birth of a nation : how a legendary filmmaker and a crusading editor reignited America's Civil WarBy Lehr, Dick

Journalist Lehr’s well-reviewed book is a detailed, well-researched, and fascinating look at the politics and controversy that followed the debut of D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, based on Thomas Dixon’s 1905 book, The Clansman. Glorifying the role of the KKK, the film caused an immediate and widespread uproar due to its demeaning depiction of black people . William Monroe Trotter, an outspoken journalist, editor of The Guardian and Harvard graduate, led the spirited fight to have the film banned before its premier in Boston, while Griffith did everything he could to promote his film, even screening it at the White House for President Woodrow Wilson. The book goes into the early days of the NAACP as well as the lives of W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington and D.W. Griffith, providing a clear portrait of the political and social climate just before the United States entered the First World War.

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Award Winners & Bestsellers

Nobel Prize
2014 Prize in Literature
Patrick Modiano

National Book Award

2014 Prize for Fiction
by Phil Klay

2014 Prize for Nonfiction
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
by Evan Osnos

Newbery Medal
2015 award
The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

Caldecott Medal
2015 award
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

y Dan Santat

Printz Award

2015 award
I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson

New York Times Fiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
, by Sandra Brown
The Girl on the Train
, by Paula Hawkins
The Martian
, by Andy Weir
Go Set a Watchman
, by Harper Lee
Small Wars, by Lee Child


New York Times Nonfiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
It Is About Islam, by Glenn Beck
Plunder and Deceit
, by Mark R. Levin
Between the World and Me
,  by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Boys in the Boat
, by Daniel James Brown
The Devil in the White City
, by Erik Larson


More Award Winners & Bestsellers

Following is a list of award-winning and bestselling materials from a variety of sources. Links will take you to an external page that will open in a new window. If YDL does not have an item you are interested in, please submit a Materials Suggestion to us.

Academy Awards

American Booksellers Association National Indie Bestsellers

Billboard Top 100 songs

Caldecott Medal

Coretta Scott King Award

New York Times Bestsellers

Newbery Medal

Printz Award