Author Archive for Amanda

Best of the Best 2017: Non-Fiction

by Amanda on December 29th, 2017



Our favorite non-fiction books this year are very eclectic! Whether you’re interested in American politics, understanding your mind better, feminism, or world history, we’ve got you covered. A lot of these books deal with overcoming extreme adversity, and would make great winter reads!

  • Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen
  • Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
  • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  • Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
  • Women and the Land by Barbara Hall
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker
  • Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 by Helen Rappaport
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Best of the Best 2017: Science-Fiction/Fantasy

by Amanda on December 27th, 2017



Science-fiction and Fantasy are both subgenres of Speculative Fiction, but they’re pretty different! Sci-fi is a much newer genre than fantasy, with some critics pointing to Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein as the first sci-fi book. Fantasy, on the other hand, has been around pretty much forever. These genres often push the envelope and can be very subversive!

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Best of the Best 2017: Mystery

by Amanda on December 26th, 2017



What do you call a cow murder mystery?

A moo-done-it!

Okay, so that’s pretty bad, but these books are great (and none of them has anything to do with a cow)! Mysteries have surged in popularity lately, and the genre has expanded to include cozy mysteries, hard-boiled mysteries, thrillers, supernatural mysteries, and more.

  • Paradise Valley by C.J. Box
  • Vicious Circle: A Joe Pickett Novel by C.J. Box
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny
  • A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas

Best of the Best 2017: Young Adult Fiction

by Amanda on December 24th, 2017



A lot of critics think that the Harry Potter series revitalized the Young Adult genre in 1997. Since then, the genre has exploded! We love the huge variety of experiences, perspectives, and stories available in YA fiction today. It’s safe to say that YA is here to stay!

  • Antisocial by Jillian Blake
  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reading the Night Away With the Jólabókaflóð

by Amanda on December 15th, 2017

What the heck is Jólabókaflóð? Literally, it means “Christmas Book Flood,” and it’s pronounced “Yo-la-bok-a-flot.” Maybe you’ve heard of it, since all things Nordic are very trendy right now (hygge, Nordic noir, Scandinavian minimalism, et cetera). It’s the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve, then spending the night reading those books. In Iceland, the holiday season kicks off in November with the delivery of the Bókatíðindi—the annual Book Bulletin, distributed by the Icelandic Publishers Association for free to each Icelandic home.

This tradition began during World War II after Iceland gained its independence from Denmark. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, so books became the gift of choice, as other types of gifts were scarce. Iceland loves its books: 93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year (compared to 73% of Americans), and it is the third most literate country in the world (Finland and Norway are the first and second). In Iceland, one in ten people will publish a book in their lifetime, and in 2011 Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, three years after Iowa City received the same distinction.

Jólabókaflóð is easy to adapt to your family’s needs. While the original tradition is tied to Christmas, yours doesn’t need to be! Simply gather your family together, and enjoy each other’s company while exchanging your favorite books. Check out used bookstores, thrift stores, and library sales to get the best deals on your Book Flood gifts, or use library books for a totally free exchange (just be careful about overdue books). This article has some really fun ideas for creating your own Book Flood tradition.

This sweet tradition is very close to my heart. I grew up in a family of readers—which is probably not surprising, now that I’m working in a library and getting my Master’s in Library Science. For a lot of other families, Christmas day is a loud, boisterous occasion. For my family, it was all about the books. On Christmas Eve, we would gather around the tree and read classic picture books together; the next day was usually spent in pajamas, scattered around the house, reading all the new books we’d received as gifts. To me, there’s almost nothing better than being with people you love, reading.

What books will you give to your loved ones this holiday season?