Strangers to Ourselves

Rachel Aviv

Strangers to Ourselves poses fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Rachel Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman celebrated as a saint who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children’s forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn’t know who she is without them. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Aviv’s gripping exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six and meeting a fellow patient with whom her life runs parallel—until it no longer does. - Rachel


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Long Bright River

Liz Moore

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters' childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate. - Rachel

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. 
But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day. - Rachel




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The Seed Keeper

Diane Wilson

The Lincolnwood Reads selection for 2023.

A haunting novel spanning several generations, The Seed Keeper follows a Dakhóta family's struggle to preserve their way of life, and their sacrifices to protect what matters most.

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Dear Mrs. Bird

AJ Pearce

Emmeline Lake and her best friend are doing their bit for the war effort and trying to stay cheerful, despite the German planes making their nightly raids. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance; but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, renowned advice columnist of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who many have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she begins to secretly write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

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The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Stuart Turton

Waking up alone in a forest, Sebastian Bell finds himself running from some unknown threat and yelling for someone named Anna.  Except, he’s not entirely sure who Anna is.  Furthermore, he’s not really sure who he is either.

As events unfold, he learns that he is actually someone named Aidan Bishop.  He has somehow been put into the 1920-inspired Blackheath Manor, which is currently hosting a party of wealthy aristocrats.  He relives the same day over and over again with the caveat that each day, he wakes up in the body of a different guest.  His mission?  To solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle in one week.  If he solves the case, he will be able to leave Blackheath.  If he fails, his memory will be wiped away and he will have to restart the cycle of living the same day in different guests.  If that wasn’t worse enough, he’s not the only one competing to solve the murder and leave Blackheath, and some competitors will do anything to get ahead.

Fast-paced and full of twists and turns, this time loop, body swap murder mystery will leave you guessing until the end. ~Weronika

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The Screwtape Letters

C. S. Lewis

Underwhelmed by the attempts of his novice-devil nephew Wormwood to sway his newly-appointed “patient” from “the Enemy,” Screwtape, a senior demon and highly positioned assistant of “Our Father Below,” takes on the task to write a series of letters teaching Wormwood the ins and outs of tempting.

With clever humor, a powerful ending, and deep insights into the human condition, this classic became one of the most popular works by Narnia-creator C. S. Lewis.  

The library’s copy also includes the equally thoughtful sequel to the story, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast.” ~Weronika

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edlestein takes a bite of her mother’s lemon cake, only to discover that she can taste the feelings that her mother had while baking the cake.  Unfortunately for Rose, the cake tastes unbearable, leading her to discover that her cheerful and outgoing mother is actually quite desperate and depressed.  For the main character, her new gift soon becomes a curse as she soon starts to learn more than she should know.

Combining precocious insights, quirky humor, and deep melancholy, Rose goes on to narrate three critical moments in her life that relate to her gift as well as chronicles the mysterious lives of her other family members.  The novel seamlessly blends magical realism with the coming-of-age narrative similar to The Catcher in the Rye, making it an ideal read for anyone looking for a poignant story with a hint of strangeness. ~Weronika

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How Not to Kill Your Houseplant

Veronica Peerless

New plant parent?  Not sure where to start?  Think you’re missing a green thumb? 

This book contains all the basics you need for taking care of your houseplants!  From an introduction covering the nitty gritty of watering and pest control to numerous colorful pages of helpful tips for the care of specific houseplants and lists of top plants for any given room, this guide will be a tremendous help for anyone who wants their plants to thrive.  ~Weronika

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The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Charlie Mackesy

“Home isn’t always a place is it?”

Through the use of sketchy ink and pen illustrations, each paired with a simple piece of dialogue, this story follows the journey of an unsure boy through an unknown wilderness where he gradually befriends the other titular characters: the cake-loving mole, the mysterious fox, and the wise horse.  Together, they travel through the ever-changing terrain, sharing encouragement and thought-provoking reflections.  

Insightful and profound, this whimsical story is perfect for readers of all ages looking for a warm and cozy read about the universal truths of life.  ~Weronika

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Silas House

In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter in his home to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew—and risks losing everything. Both his wife, locked into her religious prejudices, and his congregation shun Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance. His young son, Justin, is caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle. In a rash, but understandable decision, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to reunite with his brother, Luke. The two brothers have been estranged for years after Luke came out as a gay man. As they reunite, Asher and Justin discover a new way of thinking about the world, and a new way of understanding love. This is a story of faith lost, but love, acceptance and equality found.

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The Invention of Nature

Andrea Wulf

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes, and mountains. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax-infected Siberia or translating his research into bestselling publications that changed science and thinking. Among Humboldt's most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature, that it is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone.

Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his relationships with iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how Humboldt's writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe, and she makes the compelling case that it was Humboldt's influence that led John Muir to his ideas of natural preservation and that shaped Thoreau's Walden.

With this brilliantly researched and compellingly written book, Andrea Wulf shows the myriad fundamental ways in which Humboldt created our understanding of the natural world, and she champions a renewed interest in this vital and lost player in environmental history and science.

- Rachel

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My Monticello

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

- Rachel

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Lincoln's Spies

Douglas Waller

A famed detective, an erudite New York lawyer, a Virginia heiress and one Union officer with a controversial past are the main players outside of the main event. Behind these secret operatives was a president, one of our greatest, who was an avid consumer of intelligence and a ruthless aficionado of clandestine warfare, willing to take chances to win the war. Lincoln’s Spies, as veteran journalist Douglas Waller vividly depicts in his excellent book, set the template for the dark arts the CIA would practice in the future.


One of the greatest examples of there being a first time for everything, Waller turns his sights on the shadow war waged by four secret agents for the North. From the tense days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox four years later, Waller delivers a fast-paced narrative of the heroes—and scoundrels—who informed Lincoln’s generals on the enemy positions for crucial battles and busted up clandestine Rebel networks.


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Ron Chernow

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Ron Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.
With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow weaves together the many chapters of Grant's life to present the real story behind the man whom Walt Whitman described as “nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.” This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our greatest but most underappreciated leaders. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.


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Lords of the North

Bernard Cornwell

The year is 878. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has helped the Saxons of Wessex defeat the invading Danes. Now, finally free of his allegiance to the victorious, ungrateful King Alfred, he is heading home to rescue his stepsister, a prisoner of Kjartan the Cruel in the formidable Danish stronghold of Dunholm. Uhtred's best hope is his sword, Serpent-Breath, for his only allies are Hild, a West Saxon nun fleeing her calling, and Guthred, a slave who believes himself king. Rebellion, chaos, fear, and betrayal await them in the north, forcing Uhtred to turn once more, reluctantly, to the liege he formerly served in battle and blood: Alfred the Great.


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The Pale Horseman

Bernard Cornwell

The last unvanquished piece of England, Wessex is eyed hungrily by the fearsome Viking conquerors. A dispossessed young nobleman, Uhtred is tied to the imperiled land by birth and marriage but was raised by the Danish invaders—and he questions where his allegiance must lie. But blood is his destiny, and when the overwhelming Viking horde attacks out of a wintry darkness, Uhtred must put aside all hatred and distrust and stand beside his embattled country's staunch defender—the fugitive King Alfred.


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The Last Kingdom

Bernard Cornwell

From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times bestselling author, comes a saga that brings to center stage King Alfred the Great, one of the most crucial (but oft-forgotten) figures in English history. It is King Alfred and his heirs who, in the ninth and tenth centuries, with their backs against the wall, fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings.

Our story begins in A.D. 866. Uhtred, a boy of ten and the son of a nobleman, is captured in the same battle that leaves his father dead. His captor is the Earl Ragnar, a Danish chieftain, who raises the boy as his own, teaching him the Viking ways of war. As a young man expected to take part in raids and bloody massacres against the English, he grapples with divided loyalties -- between Ragnar, the warrior he loves like a father, and Alfred, whose piety and introspection leave him cold.


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Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

For generations, readers around the world have come of age with Louisa May Alcott's March girls: hardworking eldest sister Meg, headstrong, impulsive Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. With their father away at war, and their loving mother Marmee working to support the family, the four sisters have to rely on one another for support as they endure the hardships of wartime and poverty. We witness the sisters growing up and figuring out what role each wants to play in the world, and, along the way, join them on countless unforgettable adventures.




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A Darker Shade of Magic

V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.



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Red Rising

Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.


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Peril at End House

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery and the best-selling novelist of all time. If you haven't read one of her books, then you are greatly encouraged to give one a try. 

Hercule Poirot's relaxing holiday takes an unexpected turn when he meets young and beautiful Nick Buckley. Though Nick tries to shrug off the bullet that barely misses her as an accident, just one more event in her recent chain of bad luck, Poirot is convinced she needs his protection. After a fatal attack, apparently aimed at Nick but gone awry, Poirot spirits her away to a nursing home for her protection. Yet even this doesn't prevent another attempt on her life, and Poirot is driven to staging a seance with Nick's friends and relatives to uncover the murderer.


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Ready Player One

Ernest Cline

In 2045, reality is ugly. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a virtual world most everyone spends their time.

When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune—and control of the OASIS itself. 

Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on—and the only way to survive is to win. You don't have to be obsessed with the 1980s to have a thriller of a time reading this fun and fast-paced sci-fi classic.


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Project Hail Mary

Andy Weir

Ryland Grace doesn’t remember anything because he was heavily drugged by a friend who had been deceiving him for a long time. He wakes up on a space ship in trouble.

Project Hail Mary smartly doesn't dwell on this deception, but uses it to give Grace the beginning of his character arc. He's a failed loner scientist morphed into the cool public school science teacher who happens to be at the right place (or wrong place) to help make some initial discoveries related to unexpected solar activity.

From there he's launched on a spectacular interstellar journey full of humor, hope, and optimism, and a crazy alien sidekick in his attempt to survive and save Earth.


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The Martian

Andy Weir

This is Apollo 13 and Castaways amped up higher than ever. Author Weir is brutal to main character astronaut Mark Watney who is abandoned on Mars after a mishap. After Watney has fixed one thing, something else bad happens. There's fun hard science and humor galore. A joyful exploration of resourcefulness and an amazingly quick read.


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Dark Matter

Blake Crouch

Jason Dessen is a physicist who declines to pursue cutting edge research to instead make a family with his wife Daniela. He, Daniela, and their son George have a nice life, but in Chicago they are constantly confronted with others who have more than them. And he keeps up his knowledge of physics as a professor.

Crouch changes one thing about our world - choices in our lives create break points through which alternate versions live differently. Jason and his friend Ryan invent a way to access those alternate realities. This results in a mind bending awesome thriller that's sci-fi and human at the same time.


Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.


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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Challenged to prove herself, Monique decides to take the unique route of asking Evelyn which of her seven husbands was her true love.

Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love.


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