The volunteers of the Longboat Library gave a rundown of their best books from the hottest months.
What is sunny and relaxing and has readers all over? Longboat Key in the summer. The island’s most dedicated page-turners stayed busy with plenty of good books over the hottest months and are here to share what’s worth picking up from the shelves.
After all, you can try to take the librarian out of the library, but if the Longboat Library is anything to go by, it probably won’t work. Volunteer librarians and avid readers who frequent the island’s little library narrowed down their favorite reads from over the summer to recommend to Longboat Observer readers.
"The Nazi Menace" by Benjamin Carter Hett
Clancy Schueppert, a volunteer librarian, reads non-fiction almost exclusively and thoroughly enjoyed this panoramic portrait of the years leading up to World War II. The book begins in 1937 as Adolf Hitler rises to power. The book takes readers behind the scenes in cities that would become vital influences in the conflict to come. Political unease in Washington, D.C., Berlin, Moscow and London is brought to the forefront.
"Hamnet" by Maggie O’Farrell
Barbara Torrence, a volunteer librarian, often reaches for historical fiction, and as far as favorite summer reads, “Hamnet” was the first to come to mind. It’s the story of young William Shakespeare, his wife Agnes and their son, the titular Hamnet, who succumbs to the infamous Black Death just as Shakespeare’s stage career is catching fire.
"Meet Me at the Museum" by Anne Youngson
Stella Kelley, frequent library-goer, loved the format of this book, which is told in a series of letters back and forth through pen pals who feel trapped in life and done with love. It’s another historical novel that takes readers through the latter half of the 20th century — the letters eventually turn into emails. An English farm wife and a professor from Denmark both find themselves unsatisfied with life and sharing a common interest in the bog body known as the Tollund Man, and their letters become more intimate over time.
“Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance” by Ross King
Anne Roberts brought a box full of books on her summer travels to see family in Colorado. She went through a wide gamut of topics, from books on ballet to the stories of Ernest Hemingway to books about the California of her youth to a swath of art books. However, one that really stuck with her was “The Bookseller of Florence,” which is written by an art historian who crafts a picture of 15th-century Italy and a biography of “the king of the world’s booksellers,” Vespasiano da Bisticci. It tells the story of the world at the time and how books and bookmaking evolved with the printing press.
“It was sort of like going back to library school,” Roberts said. “It reminded me of my History of Books class back in the '60s.”
“This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger
Amy Roth, a volunteer librarian, read this for the second time over the summer. She’s part of three book clubs and one of them re-read this book, which follows four children who escape an abusive school and set out to search for their own home. The book club of the Longboat Library will kick off its own schedule with this book. Roth said this book sticks with her because of the relationship between the children as they face the ups and downs of being on their own and looking for a place to call home.
“The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Susan Jones, another Longboat librarian, said her favorite book from over the summer was this historical fiction story that follows a Black woman in her 20s who passes as white and works for J.P. Morgan as his personal librarian. She builds a collection of smart works and becomes part of New York City society, all the while carefully maintaining her white identity to protect herself and her family.
Throughout her shifts over the summer, Jones said she’s noticed that the novels “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett and “The Dictionary of Lost Words” by Pip WIlliams often don’t stay on library shelves for very long. “The Vanishing Half,” which the library will discuss in its March book club, follows twin Black women whose lives take very different paths in the latter half of the 20th century, while “The Dictionary of Lost Words” follows a young woman who seeks out the words she has noticed are left out of the Oxford English Dictionary that describe the lives of women and common people.
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