Six Debut Novels About Families for Book Clubs

From ancient Rome to 20th century Middle East to contemporary USA, these debut novels will inspire lively conversation about family from vastly different angles. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, The Confusion of Languages and George and Lizzie take a close look at marriage and parenthood; Salt Houses takes us into a Palestinian family caught between present and past, displacement and home; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine focuses on how to open your heart to create family; and Feast of Sorrow shows how disregarding family can ultimately destroy you. While all six books are quite different from one another, they are all reminders that the foundations of life are relationships--and family, whether the one you're born into or the one you make, is the most critical relationship of all.

Please add your own recommendations if you wish.

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Six Books for Adults that Spark Empathy

Empathy seems to have taken a bit of a hit recently. There's rarely a week when blatant hate or some form of intolerance isn't at the forefront of the news; and there can be few of us who haven't felt the need to disconnect from the media at times unable to take anymore. It would seem we could do with more empathy in our lives. With this in mind, here are six books for adults that have helped me see empathy – and its importance. Books can't solve everything but perhaps reading can be one kind of spark to creating more kindness in our world.

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Six Thrillers to Chill Your Book Club in the Heat of Summer

Rules for summer: Get outside. Sit down. Breathe deep. Grab a great book. Read.

We've got the last two covered! Here are six books that are page-turning, heart-racing, nail-biting thrillers sure to keep you riveted. Read them in blissful solitude or find a few extra chairs and invite your book club to read and discuss with you. Then you'll be following one last summer rule: Spend time with friends.

All are recently published in paperback and come with discussion guides; they are also available in hardcover and ebook.

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Young Adult Novels Exploring Depression

The Memory of Light Book JacketAccording to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people 15-24 years of age, and ranks tenth when considering all ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States, eight percent of all people over the age of twelve suffer from depression in any two-week period. Although females are more likely to experience a major bout, males' related suicide attempts are more likely to end in death.

In addition to The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork, several recently published books for teens explore the issues of depression and suicide in teens.

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Ways to Maximize Your Library's Welcome Kit

Memorial Hall LibraryDean Baumeister at Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts talks about ways to maximize a library's welcome kit.

Hello Dean! Please tell us about Memorial Hall Library's welcome kit; I'm curious to hear what you include.
While welcome kits certainly aren't unique to MHL, we do a few things that other libraries might enjoy knowing about. We include a library-branded tote bag - either green or blue - with each kit. These are generously paid for by our Friends of Memorial Hall Library group. New patrons often react quite positively when being given a bag for their books, and they sometimes request more information about services highlighted in our kits.

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Contemporary YA Novels about 9/11

All We Have LeftOver 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001. With the impact of that catastrophe being so far-reaching, it's no surprise that there have been a plethora of films and books released that recall 9/11. Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and Paul Greengrass' United 93 are two of the most popular movies to recreate that day. Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, an outstanding novel about an eccentric nine-year-old boy trying to piece together a puzzle his father left behind after being killed in the World Trade Center, is another title that might be familiar to those who seek out art related to America's contemporary history.

But these well-known works aren't aimed specifically at younger readers, and there was certainly no shortage of teenagers impacted by the events of that day. Thankfully, there are books that give a focused teenage perspective on the events of 9/11. Wendy Mills' All We Have Left, which follows the lives of Alia and Jesse, two teenage girls from very different walks of life, is one of these special books. Mills' takes readers on a journey that looks at Alia's young Muslim life, as well as Jesse's more narrow-minded view of the world. When the two stories collide, readers are rewarded with an emotionally rich conclusion that's tear inducing.

For this Beyond the Book, I scoured the library's bookshelves to uncover some lesser-known YA titles about 9/11. Each of these titles offers a unique perspective on one of this tragedy. There will be tears, for sure, but these YA novels are more than worth the emotional commitment. If you are searching for 9/11 YA fiction, look no further.

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