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Shelf Life May 2021

by Lauri Wilson | May 1, 2021 at 10:04 p.m.

At last it’s almost vacation time and luckily, we have a bunch of new books in the library. It made me wonder, what’s a good “beach read”? Even if you’re just going to the nearest river or lake, or your back yard, there are some things to consider.

Books need to be light both physically—no 900-page tomes (sorry, Ken Follett)—and in subject matter (suspense good, true crime maybe). Be sure to keep them fairly uncomplicated, so you don’t need to restart if you doze off while reading. Of course, if you’re taking an e-reader, the only thing that you have to worry about is keeping it charged. But like many of you, I prefer a physical book over an e-book.

Whatever the setting, “Beach Read” by Emily Henry sounds like fun. Two authors’ renting neighboring beach houses have one big problem: writer’s block. Their solution: switch from their usual genres and hopefully jump-start their creativity. Augustus will write romances and January will attempt a serious literary novel. Will they end up as friends, enemies, bestselling authors or something more?

Gazing at the ocean might make you think about the big questions in life—like when hopeless Nora visits “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. Miraculously, she gets a chance to do-over all her regrettable decisions—so will she change her life and do things differently?

Historical fiction is full of big questions and real struggles, and author Margaret Verble is an excellent example if you want to read about gritty frontier life from the past. In “Maud’s Line,” the heroine and her family struggle to make a home during the early days of Oklahoma statehood. “Cherokee America” is the story of a determined young woman trying to keep her family together during a culture clash in the Cherokee Nation.

Suspenseful page-turners are great for time off and these are some good ones. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham brings back Jake Brigance, the star of “A Time to Kill”—he never fails to grab my attention and keep it. Harlan Coben’s thrillers, like “Don’t Let Go,” keep you guessing and are quick, entertaining reads. In “The Wife Upstairs,” author Rachel Hawkins puts a modern spin on the classic Jane Eyre. Lots of people (can they all be wrong?) tell me to read Lee Child and his latest is “The Sentinel.”

Want to step into a fantasy world? Try Nora Roberts’ “The Awakening.” As Breen Kelly researches her father’s family tree, she may be sorry when she discovers a magical portal, dragons and a race of supernatural beings. Another faraway epic is “To Sleep in a Sea of Stars” by Christopher Paolini. Researching on an uncolonized planet, Kira is thrilled to discover an ancient ruin. But trouble begins when she unwittingly carries a deadly threat back to her ship.

Reading is good for your brain any time, and although some books don’t really seem like vacation reading, it’s good to learn about healthy habits any time. Make a note to read “Keep Sharp” by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Another important part of good health is eating well. Learn the art of cooking and presenting food for your family in “Magnolia Table Volume 2” by Joanna Gaines. Like Volume 1, it’s loaded with beautiful pictures of delicious-looking food that might be fun to create this summer.

Along with so many of our library patrons, I enjoy true crime stories and we have several new ones including “American Predator” by Maureen Callahan; “America’s First Female Serial Killer” by Mary Kay McBrayer; and “Bad Karma” by Paul Wilson.

These are just a few of our new books that will be excellent reading for this coming season and any time of year. It’s easy to fill your summer with books, if you’re interested in any of these or others from our collection. Residents can check them out with a library card and get curbside pickup. Just call us at (870) 864-7115 or email [email protected]

Lauri Wilson is the cataloging and digital content manager at South Arkansas Community College.

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