On Our Nightstands: What We're Reading Now

Published Monday, May 20, 2024
The Age of Magical Overthinking
by Amanda Montell

Language fascinates me, and Amanda Montell writes a lot about it (she is a linguist after all). I listened to her podcast “Sounds Like a Cult” and realized I’d read a pre-published copy of one of her other books, Wordslut, a long time ago. I enjoy the way she discusses topics with curiosity, so I’m excited to work through her latest.

- Kristen

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The Familiar
by Leigh Bardugo

Creepy, historical, magical, fantasy, Leigh Bardugo. A great combination.

- Kristen

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The Sword Unbound
by Gareth Hanrahan

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The Sword Defiant. It is a well-done work of fantasy, somewhere between dark and high fantasy. It has a fascinating world, interesting main characters, and an evil talking sword. The Sword Defiant is probably the most engrossing work of fantasy I have read in years, and as soon as I finished it, I preordered the next book, The Sword Unbound, and it arrived yesterday. I am looking forward to starting it sometime this week, and if it is as good as the last one finishing it within a couple of days.

- Logan

Butterfly Lampshade
by Aimee Bender

I’m reading The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender, about a young woman coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness, and possibly her own. I was looking for a book that subtly blends imagination with reality—and I found it.

- Diana

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Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent
by Judi Dench and Brendan O’Hea

Lovers of Shakespeare’s plays and those interested in craft of acting will find many delights in what is essentially a long conversation between lauded actor Dame Judi Dench and her friend and colleague Brendan O’Hea. Relating the stories of each of her many Shakespearean roles, this book is roughly organized by play; if your memory is fuzzy on any of the plays, that’s no problem, as Dench and O’Hea provide a brief synopsis, as well as focus on the notable scenes and themes of each. By turns thoughtful, warm, candid, and—occasionally—bawdy, this charming memoir is best enjoyed via the audiobook format, as you can hear Dench’s familiar voice in conversation and recitation.

- Charlie

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The Summer We Started Over
by Nancy Thayer

Nancy Thayer is a favorite author of mine – her books never disappoint. She writes of family, of relationships, of locations in a way that pulls you in and you want to read just one more chapter (even though you know it’s late). This book is about a family separated then reunited on Nantucket one special summer. It is a story of how family and friends can change over time and yet still the bonds that unite them hold. Nantucket’s beautiful geography and history being a part of the story makes this tale of family, friends, books, and starting a small shop special.


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The Magician’s Nephew
by C. S. Lewis

I had just watched the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with my daughter and was curious if there was a book by C.S. Lewis that explained where the witch, the lamp post, and prophecy about the kids came from.

I was thrilled to discover there is! I soon discovered that The Magician’s Nephew is actually not only great backstory, but a wonderful story by itself. I loved the characters and the fantasy elements in it. I would recommend it to anyone that has only watched the movies or only read the first book. This is a must for C.S. Lewis fans.

- Greg G.

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It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown
by Charles M. Schulz (1980 Book-and-Tape, Based on the 1969 TV Special)

Charlie Brown and Linus Van Pelt are writing school essays on what they did over the summer. Everyone was signed up for summer camp by Linus' sister Lucy, and when they went to camp, the boys competed against the girls across the lake in competitive sports, getting beaten at everything by the girls. Their only hope is to have Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy dressed up as a "Masked Marvel" and try to beat Lucy at arm wrestling.

While its story is nowhere near as thrilling as the iconic "Peanuts" holiday specials, this is still a classic for "Peanuts" fans of all ages. It also can get kids really thinking about discussing their summer break upon returning to school. The short read-along version can also be a useful learning-to-read tool.

- Chase

by Jane Smiley

I started Lucky because I've always wanted to read a story written by Jane Smiley. The story focused on a woman who was a folk singer of sorts, kinda famous, and everyone considered her lucky. I enjoyed that she had grown up in St Louis, and many of the settings were familiar to me. She had even gone shopping at Schnucks and had a granddad who loved the Cardinals. The story mostly centered on the folk singer, her family and their losses, and how she figured out what her life was about. I'd recommend this audiobook to anyone who enjoys Elizabeth Strout or Ann Patchett. I also give the narrator 4 stars.

- Kelly

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All Systems Red
by Martha Wells

This novella is the first in the Murderbot Diaries. There are seven titles in the series. It's a science fiction story that follows a self-aware AI called a Murderbot. The story centers around the Murderbot accompanying a group of humans to a distant planet. He hates his tasks and responsibilities and would rather watch the entertainment feeds he's hacked into. He hates humans and must protect them when an alien threat emerges. Kevin Free does a perfect job of narrating as a Murderbot. The Murderbot Diaries were recommended by a friend, and I would definitely recommend them to any sci-fi lover with a dry sense of humor. I've recently started the second diary, Artificial Condition.


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by Eric Rickstad

This title interested me because it follows Elizabeth, who experiences a mass shooting at the school where she teaches. She's hailed a hero for saving her classroom of students and penalized for not following school protocol (hide under your desk). Her son is also injured. Elizabeth becomes an alter ego named Lilith when she executes a well-known political gun advocate. Little does she realize that she has started the Lilith movement and the fallout from the movement. The audiobook was suspenseful and a quick listen. The narrator did not appeal to me.

- Kelly

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Fungalphabet: The ABC's of Fungi
by William Brown

William is a very dedicated forager and father who is teaching his kid's the in's and out's of mushroom identification as soon as they can walk through the woods! He wrote this book for his children in hopes of inspiring more parents and their kids to get out and gain the knowledge needed and be more inspired to respect the nature around us instead of being fearful of it.

There are 26 mushrooms in this book to start you and your child's fungi learning journey with each letter being represented by a the common names of each mushroom species. It features easy to read basic facts about each mushroom telling you if it is toxic, the common and scientific names, and is a great start to you and your child's mushroom learning journey!

- Avie

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After the Forest
by Kell Woods
The first reason I picked up this book was the cover. It has a no-face woman with long hair wearing a fox mask, surrounded by wolves and rabbits. I love animals.

Once I started off, I noticed it was related to the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. One of my favorites when I was young. It's settled 15 years after their release from the gingerbread house. It's enchanting with a woodsy atmosphere, and are characters with secrets very interesting and appealing, which make the story even more compelling. If you like fairy tales, there is a big chance you'd like this one too!

- Denise

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About the Author

Katherine is the Social Media Coordinator and has been working at EPL since 2008. She loves books, especially ones with unique plots and those written so well that she can't put them down.