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New Year, New Books

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, January 2021; written by Amie Toepfer.

Happy New Year, everyone! This is one of my favorite times of year because it feels so hopeful and exciting to me. It is also one of my favorite times, and this is probably my number one reason, because it is the time that I get to sit down and read about all of the upcoming titles for the next year. This allows me to form my ‘To Be Read’ (TRB) list and this year my list is long, like seriously, I will be working on it for the next few years. Here are a few highlights from my list that will be published early this year.

One of the first books that made my TRB was one that I’ve had my eye on for months now, Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. If this author’s name sounds familiar to you it is because she is the author of The Hate U Give, which was critically acclaimed and went on to have a successful movie adaption made. Thomas returns readers to the Garden Heights neighborhood seventeen years before the events in The Hate U Give to follow Star’s father, Maverick, on his journey into manhood and what that means for a young impoverished black man. Powerful, timely, and ultimately hopeful this is a must read for everyone. It’s guaranteed to move you in ways you didn’t know you wanted to be moved. This title come out on January 12th and is on order at the library.

A Sled for Gabo by Emma Otheguy is another book that I’ve had by eye on for a few months and while this is a children’s picture book I think it is important for all of us to read. Told through the eyes of young Latinx boy, Gabo, the story is about his desire to go sledding with the other children one snowy morning but not having the waterproof clothes or sled. Through some ingenuity and thinking outside the box, Gabo not only goes sledding but comes home with a new friend. This book is ultimately a tale of friendship and making do with love. The illustrations are beautifully done, Spanish language is dispersed throughout the text in a way that makes it accessible for everyone, and the story imparts a lesson on love that we all can learn something from. This title came out on January 5th and is on order at the library.

While I am a youth services librarian and I do spend a large chunk of my time reading children and teen books, I do still read adult titles and add them to my TBR pile. One book that I am making room on my list for is Do Better by Rachel Ricketts, out February 2nd and is on order at the library. This book is “a holistic how-to guide for people of all backgrounds willing to look inward in their fight against racial injustice,” according to Kirkus reviews. While this promises to be a difficult read, especially for white women according to the author, it will be well worth the effort. Ricketts unpacks concepts such as prejudice, privilege, anti-Indigeneity, and decolonization. This book promises to be “a soulful, essential boot-camp-in-a-book that raises the bar significantly in the field of anti-racism training,” which made it a must read for me.

On a lighter note, Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristin O’Neal is the book we didn’t know we needed, but really do. O’Neal crafts a timely, funny, charming and quirky tale about chronic illness, friendships and what it means to grow up ill. This book is due out this April and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

The final book that I want to share off my massive and growing list is Running Wild by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. This is a middle grade adventure story set right here in Alaska! Twelve-year-old Willa must get her 10-year-old twin brothers safely through the Alaskan wilderness while avoiding their reckless father and before winter sets in or lose everything trying. This is a fast paced adventure story that will leave readers on the edge of their seats until they turn the last page.

I hope that this New Year finds your TRB list well stocked! Cheers and happy reading!

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