Happy Spring! Check out what our staff are reading this month.

You can search for and place a hold on these titles on our catalog.

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world.” Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35% chance of survival. When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after three and a half years of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. Jaouad embarked—with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Too Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition by Anton Treuer

From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from “Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?” to “Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’?” to “What’s it like for natives who don’t look native?” to “Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?”, and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor by Joe Starita

On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche received her medical degree—becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country. This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people—physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her abusive husband and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which have opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women have pushed against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance, and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakota people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn’t return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato. On a winter’s day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband’s farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions: Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations to the arts and sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing Oxycontin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis. Empire of Pain is a masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, exhaustively documented and ferociously compelling.

April Twilights: Poems by Willa Cather

Before Willa Cather turned primarily to the fiction that made her reputation, she produced striking poems that were collected in April Twilights. It was her literary debut, preceding the publication of O Pioneers! by nine years. Among the thirty-seven selections are the much-anthologized “Grandmither, Think Not I Forget” and the highly evocative “Prairie Dawn.”

The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi by Richard Grant

Natchez, Mississippi, once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America, and its wealth was built on slavery and cotton. Today it has the greatest concentration of antebellum mansions in the South, and a culture full of unexpected contradictions. Prominent white families dress up in hoopskirts and Confederate uniforms for ritual celebrations of the Old South, yet Natchez is also progressive enough to elect a gay black man for mayor with 91% of the vote. Part history and part travelogue, The Deepest South of All offers a gripping portrait of a complex American place, as it struggles to break free from the past and confront the legacy of slavery.

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