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It’s National Library Week, the week of the year we get to give extra love to our libraries — school, public, academic, special — and the librarians who work there. To celebrate, we asked the New York Public Library — perhaps the most-visited library in the country, with among the highest circulations and largest collections of books — what we should be reading right now.
Here are eight of the staff’s top picks, “the titles they’re passionate about — the ones they can’t stop talking about and can’t wait to share,” Nora Lyons of NYPL wrote NewsHour in an email. In their words:
1. “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
An amazing panoramic look at the different but interconnected lives of one family. Full of heartache, reality and empowerment, Gyasi’s writing, characters and stories will take your breath away. –Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange branch
2. “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari
“Homo Deus” is great, accessible science writing. It uses the history of humanity to explore the various ways in which our scientific pursuits might shape the future. Come for the knowledge Harari provides, but stay for the jaw-dropping observations on artificial intelligence, the way humans treat animals, big data and bioethics. (This is a super fun read, I swear.) –Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market branch
3. “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe” by Kij Johnson
In this feminist take on Lovecraft’s “Dreamlands,” a professor and her cat companion chase her student across an amazing fantasy world, filled with petty gods and hungry monsters. –Judd Karlman, Pelham Bay branch
Credit: Mariner Books
4. “Facing Unpleasant Facts” by George Orwell
Orwell’s novels are well-known classics, but his essays have slipped under the radar a bit — which is unfortunate, because whether he’s recording his experiences of the Blitz, explaining why he had to shoot an elephant, or laying down the law on the proper way to make tea, they are insightful and sharply observed. One can trace the threads of thought that became 1984, as well as discover much that applies to our current state of affairs. –Kay Menick, Schomburg Center
Credit: Viking Books for Young Readers
5. “Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor
American-born Sunny Nwazue is constantly unsure where she fits in — she’s an African albino, born in America but living in Nigeria and an outsider in her own family. When she discovers she has the ability to perform juju magic, she must uncover her true identity and join her friends to stop a serial killer. Fun, exciting and great for Harry Potter fans. –Anna Nellis, Eastchester branch
Credit: Balzer + Bray
6. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
One minute Khalil is explaining Tupac’s “Thug Life” to Starr; the next minute he is fatally shot by a police officer. Already well-versed in micro-aggressions and code-switching, Starr grapples with telling her side of the story, one that contradicts what the police are saying. Full of painful truths, family love, and most importantly, Starr’s radiant voice, this story matters. –Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Programming
Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
7. “Stef Soto, Taco Queen” by Jennifer Torres
Stef doesn’t really love or hate her family’s taco truck, Tia Perla, but she’s definitely tired of it. When Stef is just about to get what she wants (goodbye, “Taco Queen!”), she realizes how important Tia Perla is to her family and finds she must do what it takes to save her. A wonderfully written tale of self-acceptance, love, and friendship, this book is one to revisit again and again. –Alexandra Abenshon, Webster branch
8. “Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing” by Kay A. Haring
A fun, vibrant biography about the life of the NYC-based artist Keith Haring. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this picture book features many of the artist’s own works – including the story of making a giant mural celebrating the Statue of Liberty’s 100th anniversary, created by Haring and 900 kids. –Richard Dowe, Mosholu branch
More from our favorite writers, readers and book sellers:
Elizabeth Flock is an independent journalist who reports on justice and gender. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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