Wednesday, August 10, 2022

banned and challenged books


Today RART reelected Holley W as moderator for the 2022-2023 year and selected topics for the 2023 meeting dates.  A date for resuming meetings at other library locations is TBD. 

February 8, 2023 – Romance

April 12 – Afrofuturism

June 14 – Graphic novels/manga

August 9 – Disability Representation

October 11 – Emerging/Debut Authors

December 13 – Gender Representation

Please keep great audiobook versions in mind to mention during all discussions.


At today’s Zoom meeting, participants shared Banned Book Week display ideas and favorite banned/challenged titles.

11 people in attendance:

Holley W, O’Neal
Joi M, Homewood
Kelly C, Homewood
Erika W, BPL Powderly
Teddy R, Central
Shannon H, Hoover
Bridget T, Homewood
Michelle H, Irondale
Holly, Vestavia
Shawn C, Pinson
Riana M, Pinson

-staff photos holding their favorite title

-bookmarks with reason for ban/challenge

-barebones display, just signage noting it is for banned/challenged books

-involve patrons: bookmarks with a reason for the ban/challenge and room for patrons to make comments.  They drop them in a comment box and can be displayed on or near the books

-match the book to the ban/challenge reason, turn in ballot for a prize drawing

-a “versus” jar (book vs book, ban/challenge reason vs reason, etc)


Seeing highly regarded classics on the list is often shocking for some readers. For more information on book bans/challenges, visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (sexual material and homosexual themes)

The Holy Bible (religious viewpoints)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (use of racial slurs)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (racist language and the plot centers on an allegation of rape)

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (glorifying witchcraft, promoting the occult, tones of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil, leading children to hatred and rebellion, confusing children)

Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien (originally banned in various US states because it was considered Satanic) 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (challenged for dark imagery, violence, Holocaust)

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (challenged for religious veiwpoints)


Individual titles we discussed today that have been banned and/or challenged:

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park

Barbara Park’s #1 New York Times bestselling chapter book series, Junie B. Jones, has been keeping kids laughing—and reading—for more than twenty-five years. Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! Remember when it was scary to go to school? In the first Junie B. Jones book, it’s Junie B.’s first day and she doesn’t know anything. She’s so scared of the school bus and the meanies on it that when it’s time to go home, she doesn’t.

Melissa by Alex Gino

When people look at Melissa, they think they see a boy named George. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. Melissa thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. Melissa really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part... because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, Melissa comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry020100000465

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, Marlon Bundo, and EG Keller

HBO's Emmy winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a children's picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever...With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming bunny book for kids explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this better Bundo book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.

All versions of Stamped:

Chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history for adults, teens, and kids.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Sonja Cherry-Pau, Jason Reynolds, et al.

The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a couple of class clowns. The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is creating their own comic books. And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history of their elementary school: Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret, even HE doesn't know who he is!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats. Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history's most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson with contributions by  David Levithan

This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it's like to grow up LGBTQ also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Then e created Gender Queer. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams

Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen. Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs―or worse, squirms―at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices. Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn't exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley's life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley's starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything. From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be human.


Friday, June 10, 2022

social justice topics

Reader’s Advisory Roundtable


10 people in attendance:

Holley W, O’Neal
Pam J, Southside
Maura D, Trussville
Alisha J, BPL
Michelle, Irondale
Tisha, Leeds
Nicole, Tarrant
Reba W
Bridget T
S Lewis

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, August 10th at 9am.  It will be hybrid so you can come to O’Neal Library or join in via Zoom.

We were trying to come up with books that discuss civil discourse and non-contentious approaches to leading/moderating discussions.  Here are a few:

Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work by Peter Bregman

Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement by Buster Benson

Let’s Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale

How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide by Peter Boghossian

Mingling with the Enemy: A Social Survival Guide for Our Politically Divided Era by Jeanne Martinet

Talking Across the Divide: How to Communicate with People You Disagree With and Maybe Even Change the World by Justin Lee

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Anne Headlee

Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen From the Heart by Diane Mucho Hamilton

How to Have That Difficult Conversation: Gaining the Skills for Honest and Meaningful Communication by Henry Cloud

Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work by Tania Israel

I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland

It’s Time to Talk (and Listen): How to Have Constructive Conversations about Race, Class, Sexuality, Ability and Gender in a Polarized World by Anatasia Kim

The topic of our meeting was material on social justice issues.  Before discussing titles, we talked briefly about environmental activism, challenges and questions about LGBTQ+ displays during Pride month, and First Amendment audits in libraries.

Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Hunt

How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution by John Archibald

On growing up in the American South of the 1960s—an all-American white boy—son of a long line of Methodist preachers, in the midst of the civil rights revolution, and discovering the culpability of silence within the church. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for The Birmingham News.

Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again by Shakirah Bourne et al.

This book is for everyone. Because we can all be allies. As an ally, you use your power—no matter how big or small—to support others. You learn, and try, and mess up, and try harder. In this collection of true stories, 17 critically acclaimed and bestselling YA authors get real about being an ally, needing an ally, and showing up for friends and strangers. 

In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu

The New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate.

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South—and in America today.

The Experiment: Stories from an Unfinished Country podcast from The Atlantic Monthlly and WNYC Studios

It's easy to forget that the United States started as an experiment: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all. That was the idea. On this weekly show, we check in on how that experiment is going.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as a co-editor in 2016.

Asian American Histories of the United States by Catherine Ceniza Choy (publishing August 2, 2022)

An inclusive and landmark history, emphasizing how essential Asian American experiences are to any understanding of US history. Despite significant Asian American breakthroughs in American politics, arts, and popular culture in the 21st century, a profound lack of understanding of Asian American history permeates American culture. Choy traces how anti-Asian violence and its intersection with misogyny and other forms of hatred, the erasure of Asian American experiences and contributions, and Asian American resistance to what has been omitted are prominent themes in Asian American history. This ambitious book is fundamental to understanding the American experience and its existential crises of the early 21st century.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

reading social change


The next Reader's Advisory Roundtable meeting will be on Wednesday June 8, 2022 at 9am and the topic up for discussion is social justice.  This is not meant to represent itself as a comprehensive list of resources, but rather a jumping off spot for your own research. There will be overlap among these lists and lists of lists.  I look forward to seeing you on June 8th and learning more!


Community, Connecting, Cultivating, and Constructing Conversations Through Literacy, a collaborative effort between the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

Inclusive booklists that ensure underrepresented voices are heard, compiled by ALA

Unity and Justice booklists from ALSC

Recommended books from ALSC

Reading about Race: Free YA Book Club Resources Created by Librarians & Literature Scholars from ALA

Social Justice and Comics reading lists from ALA’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table

20 social justice books for young adults and middle grades from BookRiot

Commonsense Media: books about racism and social justice

ERIC social justice book lists

National Book Foundation Literature for Justice book lists

New Orleans Museum of Art Themes of Social Justice reading list

University of Georgia School of Law Alexander Campbell King Law Library social justice resource guide


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

ya fiction


The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable will be on Wednesday, June 8th at 9am and the topic up for discussion is social justice.  It is TBD on whether the meeting will by on Zoom or hybrid.

This week, RART met to chat about young adult fiction! There were at least 13 people in attendance:

Holley W, O’Neal
Kelly C, Homewood
Tonya C, Springville Road
Shawn C, Pinson
Melanie L, Hoover
Holly P, Vestavia
Joi M, Homewood
Erika W, Powderly
Elli H, Homewood
Maura D, Trussville
Riana M, Pinson
Brittany R
Pamela G

In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland
A pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead, in this dark YA fantasy by A.M. Strickland, author of Beyond the Black Door, whom Richard Kadrey calls “a storyteller of both grace and power.”

She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard
An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in She's Too Pretty to Burn. Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.

Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate
While the world’s leaders, scientists, and engineers oversee the frantic production of a space fleet meant to save humankind, their children are brought in for a weekend of touring the Lazarus, a high-tech prototype spaceship. But when the apocalypse arrives months ahead of schedule, First Daughter Leigh Chen and a handful of teens from the tour are the only ones to escape the planet. 

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert
From Stonewall Award winner Brandy Colbert comes a novel about first love, family, and hidden secrets that will stay with you long after turning the last page. Dove "Birdie" Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she's on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past . . . whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne
A teen girl hiding the scars of a past relationship finds home and healing in the words of strong Black writers. A beautiful sophomore novel from a critically acclaimed author and poet that explores how words have the power to shape and uplift our world even in the midst of pain.

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
For fans of Nina LaCour's We Are Okay and Adam Silvera's History Is All You Left Me, this heartfelt and ultimately uplifting novel follows one sixteen-year-old girl's friend breakup through two concurrent timelines--ultimately proving that even endings can lead to new beginnings.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
From National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi comes a companion novel to the critically acclaimed PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution--and how youth lead the way.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question--How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. A sweet and charming coming-of-age story that explores friendship, love, and coming out. This edition features beautiful two-color artwork. Soon to be streaming on Netflix!

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages.

Practice Girl by Estelle Laure
An emotional and empowering novel about reputation and double standards, perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Sarah Dessen.

Sense and Second Degree Murder by Tizrah Prince
In this second book of the Jane Austen Murder Mystery series, Tirzah Price takes readers for another fun, murderous romp through one of Austen’s beloved novels. Perfect for fans of The Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper

Young Elites by Marie Lu
Darth Vader, Voldemort, Maleficent. Witness the rise of a new villain. Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. Teren Santoro works for the king. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

Contagion by Erin Bowman
Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Briseis has a gift: with a single touch she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms. When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents hope that surrounded by plants and flowers, she will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they never expected―it comes with a mysterious set of instructions, a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world, and generations of secrets. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it.

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Sihoa
Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder
Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling fairytale retelling for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and The Cruel Prince.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Melinda Lowe
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.

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord
Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream of becoming a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super introverted dad, who raised Millie alone since she was a baby. Not her drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not her “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm. Millie needs an ally. And when an accidentally left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do―find her mom.

You’ve Reached Sam by Justin Thao
Seventeen-year-old Julie Clarke has her future all planned out―move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city; spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his belongings, and tries everything to forget him. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces memories to return. Desperate to hear him one more time, Julie calls Sam's cell phone just to listen to his voice mail recording. And Sam picks up the phone. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam's voice makes Julie fall for him all over again and with each call, it becomes harder to let him go.


Pride and Premeditation by Tizrah Prince
Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries trilogy is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit.

Warcross series by Marie Lu
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

Legend series by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold―a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo returns to the breathtaking world of the Grishaverse in this unforgettable tale about the opportunity―and the adventure―of a lifetime. A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don't kill each other first.

--anything by Sarah J. Maas, though her YA series is Throne of Glass, which follows assassin Celaena Sardothien and includes the following books: The Assassin’s Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, and Kingdom of Ash

Akata Witch series by Nnedi Okorafor
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
From the acclaimed poet featured on Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list, this powerful novel-in-verse captures one girl, caught between cultures, on an unexpected journey to face the ephemeral girl she might have been. Woven through with moments of lyrical beauty, this is a tender meditation on family, belonging, and home.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut.



Thursday, February 24, 2022

JCLC Book Groups


Need help getting started with a book group? Leave a comment here or send an email to

The Hoover Library has discontinued their Book Club Kits, but are recommending that book groups choose books that already have a lot of copies in JCLC.  Whenever possible, assist your local clubs with placing multiple books on hold (but encourage book club members to reserve their own copies) as well as assisting with finding discussion questions and author bios. Good options are bestsellers that are already a year or two old so there are still lots of copies around but not a huge demand. Keep in mind that working with local book groups can be a great reader's advisory outreach opportunity!   

The Alabama Public Library Service in Montgomery also circulates 140 book club kits that are available to public libraries throughout the state.  The checkout period is three months. Click here to search the catalog of titles.

For a broad survey of book group activity nationwide, check out the American Library Association’s Book Discussion Groups guide:  

Bookgroups in the public libraries of Jefferson County:


Page Turners Book Club meets via conference call on 3rd Tuesdays at 11am. Deidre P. Sims (205-428-7882 or


Thyme to Read explores gardening, nature, food, the environment, horticulture, botany, plants, and pretty much anything that is outside.  They meet 1st Thursdays each month at 6pm, currently on Zoom. Hope Long ( or 205-588-4593)


As the Page Turns meets via Zoom the last Tuesday of each month at 7pm. Cara Wilhelm (


Better Than Therapy Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month at 2pm in-person in the Library Boardroom (or on Zoom). Leslie West (205-332-6620 or

Homewood Senior Center Book Club meets at the Homewood Senior Center 3rd Thursdays each month (or on Zoom). Leslie West (205-332-6620 or

Oxmoor Page Turners Book Club meets 2nd Tuesdays at 6:30pm in the Library Boardroom and Zoom. Judith Wright (205-332-6622 or

Social Justice Book Club meets 2nd Thursdays each month at 6:30pm in the Library Boardroom (or Zoom). Elizabeth Vander Kamp (


Insatiable Readers explores nonfiction titles based on a different theme each month with no reading required before the meeting.  They meet one Saturday each month at 10:30am.  Pam Bainter (205-444-7840 or

NovelTea meets one Sunday afternoon each month at 3pm. Tea and cookies provided and there are frequent author interviews. Amy Harrell ( or Lea Davis (

True Crime Book Club engages armchair detectives and those fascinated by cold cases.  They meet the last Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm in the Allen Board Room.  Meetings are currently hybrid (in-person and Zoom). Carrie Steinmehl (


Hueytown Public Library Book Club meets at 2pm on the last Thursday of each month, January through October, and the 3rd Thursday of November.  December's meeting is a holiday luncheon. Sue Hodges (


Bookies Book Club meets 2nd Tuesdays at 10am in the Meeting Room (Zoom available upon request). Katie Moellering (205-445-1118 or

Books & Beyond allows members to read, listen to, or watch the media of their choice within a given topic and then discuss their selections with other participants. They meet the last Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm.  Meetings are hybrid (in-person and Zoom).  Holley Wesley (205-445-1117 or

Great Short Stories meets 2nd Mondays at 6:30pm in the Conference Room.  Meetings are hybrid (in-person and Zoom).  Holley Wesley (205-445-1117 or

Lost & Found: 20th Century Classics meets the last Thursday of each month at 6:30pm on the 2nd floor.  Gregory Lowry (205-445-1147 or This group is on hiatus for several months.


Beyond Your Ordinary Book Club (BYOB) allows members to read, listen to, or watch the media of their choice within a given topic and then discuss their selections with other participants.  They meet 3rd Tuesdays at 2pm.  Meetings are currently hybrid (in-person and Zoom). Samuel Rumore (205-226-4083 or

Fiction Book Club meets 2nd Tuesdays at 2pm.  Meetings are currently hybrid (in-person and Zoom). Laura Gentry (205-226-4083 or


The Adult Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 2PM in the library. We will read a variety of selections, both fiction and nonfiction. For more details, contact the Adult Dept (205-655-2022 or or visit our website
Books & Brews is an evening adult book club from the Trussville Public Library! Share your thoughts about this month's book while enjoying delicious food and drinks at Ferus Artisan Ales in Trussville. We will meet each month on the second Monday of the month at 7:15 PM in the event room at Ferus. For more details, contact the Adult Dept (205-655-2022 or or visit our website


More Than Words offers refreshments, lively discussion, and more! They meet 3rd Thursdays at 11:30am in the Library Tree House. Holly Parker (205-978-4678 or or Facebook

Read & Feed meets on Zoom 1st Thursdays at 6pm. Terri Leslie (205-978-4678 or


Wylam Book Club discusses novels 3rd Wednesdays each month at 11am. Selina Johnson (205-785-0349 or


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

women's history month


RART met this morning on Zoom to discuss titles on women’s history in anticipation of March, Women's History Month! Our next meeting will be Wednesday, April 13th at 9am for a discussion of young adult fiction.  A decision on whether the meeting will by virtual or hybrid will be made closer to time.

14 people in attendance:

Holley W, O’Neal
Nicole L, Tarrant
Maura D, Trussville
Brooke K, Central
Shawn C, Pinson
Tywanna M, North Birmingham
Holly P, Vestavia
Laura T, Homewood
Samuel R, Springville Road
Michelle H, Irondale
Riana M, Pinson
Martella N, Center Point
Alisha J, Central
Reba W, Titusville


I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (also available in a young reader’s adaptation)

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Becoming by Michelle Obama (also available in a young reader’s adaptation)

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2005 Liberian presidential election, she demolished a barrier few thought possible, obliterating centuries of patriarchal rule to become the first female elected head of state in Africa’s history. Madame President is the inspiring, often heartbreaking story of Sirleaf’s evolution from an ordinary Liberian mother of four boys to international banking executive, from a victim of domestic violence to a political icon, from a post-war president to a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Janice Nimura

Exploring the Blackwell sisters’ allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Both sisters were tenacious and visionary, but their convictions did not always align with the emergence of women’s rights―or with each other. From Bristol, Paris, and Edinburgh to the rising cities of antebellum America, this richly researched new biography celebrates two complicated pioneers who exploded the limits of possibility for women in medicine. As Elizabeth herself predicted, "a hundred years hence, women will not be what they are now."

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a “compelling” (The Washington Post) account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

Broken Places, Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor

A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science-fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths.

T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s (only available on Kanopy)

T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness excavates the hidden sexualities of Black female entertainers who reigned over the nascent blues recording industry of the 1920s. Unlike the male-dominated jazz scene, early blues provided a space for women to take the lead and model an autonomy that was remarkable for women of any color or sexual orientation.

Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore (also available in a young reader’s adaptation)

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki

Nicole’s review: “Iwasaki's memoir not only gives a look into the life of a geisha but also happens to be of the time whereby the profession began its decline and her insight into why this happened.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Nicole’s review: “Diagnosed with cervical cancer, Lacks’ cells were taken and used in medicine long after she herself had passed, immortalizing her cells.

African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus by Rachel Holmes

Nicole’s review: “Sarah Baartman was a sideshow performer in the early 1800s, and this is honestly a really, really sad read that delves into what it meant to be a part of a sideshow, how she was treated and what became of her throughout her 'fame'.”

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This audiobook brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser

Mary Anne’s review: “Louis the Fourteenth of France was one of those larger than life rulers; even the average person on the street who may have never read much European history probably has a mental image of “The Sun King” based on sources like the popular television series Versailles or movies that vary in historical accuracy (such as every version of The Man in the Iron Mask ever made). Louis was definitely the center of his own world, but Fraser contends that the man he became was heavily influenced by the women in his life.”

In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary (available for speaking engagements)

Author Amy Gary captures the eccentric and exceptional life of Margaret Wise Brown, the woman behind the beloved children's classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, and draws on newly discovered personal letters and diaries to reveal an intimate portrait of a creative genius whose unrivaled talent breathed new life into the literary world.

Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny by Ann Marks 

The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life.

Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer by Rax King

An irreverent and charming collection of deeply personal essays about the joys of low pop culture and bad taste, exploring coming of age in the 2000s in the age of Hot Topic, Creed, and frosted lip gloss.

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

With this book, the acclaimed author created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American. 

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. 

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi (The audiobook is particularly exceptional.  Essay authors read their own selections.)

Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness. 


Circe by Madeline Miller

"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Henry

Meet the brilliant writer, fiercely independent mother, and passionate woman who captured the heart of C.S. Lewis and inspired the books that still enchant and change us today.

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, written by Therese Anne Fowler, the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In this enthralling novel from New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

The biographical fiction of Francine Rivers

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years becoming a born-again Christian; she then wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. A retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush, Redeeming Love is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction and it continues to be one of the industry’s top-selling titles year after year. Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous bestselling novels with Christian themes—including The MasterpieceBridge to Haven, and A Voice in the Wind —and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world.      


Hidden Killers

Suzannah Lipscomb reveals the killers that lurked in British homes during different historical periods. Radium is discussed in the "Edwardian Homes" episode:

Radioactive on Amazon Prime, starring Rosamund Pike

A journey through Marie Curie's (Rosamund Pike) enduring legacies--her passionate relationships, scientific break-throughs and the consequences that followed for her and for the world. After meeting fellow scientist Pierre Currie (Sam Riley), the pair marry and change the face of science forever by their discovery of two new elements. The ensuing Nobel Prize propels the couple into the international limelight, but after a tragic accident Marie continues to advance her work, resulting in revolutionary discoveries that have dramatic consequences.

Finding Vivian Maier

Who is Vivian Maier? Now considered one of the 20th century's greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Since buying her work by chance at auction, amateur historian John Maloof has crusaded to put this prolific photographer in the history books. Maier's strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.

The Women

Be careful what you say in private. It could become a movie. Some gossip overheard by Clare Boothe Luce in a nightclub powder room inspired her Broadway hit that’s wittily adapted for the screen in The Women. George Cukor directs an all-female cast in this catty tale of battling and bonding that paints its claws “Jungle Red” and shreds the excesses of pampered Park Avenue princesses. Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Mary Boland and Paulette Goddard are among the array of husband snatchers, snitches and lovelorn ladies. Norma Shearer is jilted Mary Haines, who ultimately learns to claw without ruining her manicure. All the glamming and slamming comes with a shimmery bauble: a fashion-show sequence in eye-popping Technicolor®.        

Mildred Pierce

Melodrama casts noirish shadows in this portrait of maternal sacrifice from the Hollywood master Michael Curtiz. Its iconic performance by Joan Crawford (Johnny Guitar) as Mildred, a single mother hell-bent on freeing her children from the stigma of economic hardship, solidified Crawford s career comeback and gave the actor her only Oscar. But as Mildred pulls herself up by the bootstraps, first as an unflappable waitress and eventually as the well-heeled owner of a successful restaurant chain, the ingratitude of her materialistic firstborn (a diabolical Ann Blyth) becomes a venomous serpent s tooth, setting in motion an endless cycle of desperate overtures and heartless recriminations. Recasting James M. Cain s rich psychological novel as a murder mystery, this bitter cocktail of blind parental love and all-American ambition is both unremittingly hard-boiled and sumptuously emotional.

The Women of Brewster Place

Oprah Winfrey, Jackée Harry, Robin Givens, and Cicely Tyson star in this gripping drama about a group of strong-willed women living in the rundown housing project of Brewster Place — a street overflowing with tales of courage and anguish.


Surviving Savannah by Patti Henry

It was called "The Titanic of the South." The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten--until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

The book I was trying to remember is Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars.  However, I could find no women of color noted among them.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges—Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue. Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny - to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture - and eventually death itself.

The Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

The Crash Course webinars from NoveList (NL also has a Youtube channel where you can find archived recordings)

We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy edited by Natalie Baszile

In this impressive anthology, Natalie Baszile brings together essays, poems, quotes, conversations, and first-person stories to examine Black people’s connection to the American land from Emancipation to today. 

The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow

As children, they formed a special bond growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states yet managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of their group. Their remarkable story is a testament to the power of friendship.