What We’ve Been Reading and Watching

One of my favorite things about being a library worker is getting to know what people are reading and watching. I was curious what books, movies, shows, etc my coworkers have been enjoying recently, and what have been their favorite titles in 2020.

"I recently watched The Dead Don't Die. Funny in a low key way. It very subtly breaks the 4th wall. I truly think Tilda Swinton just played herself in this one. At the beginning of COVID I re-read World War Z and man, I get why the author is invited again and again to speak to the military and think tanks. He knows his stuff. I read The Last Policeman trilogy. I normally hate mysteries but these were wonderful. I'll Be Gone In The Dark from HBO was great. Much more about a woman's obsession and how it drives her destiny and less about the man she was hunting. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson was delightful. The Bear by Andrew Krivak was good but melancholy. The Outsider from HBO, based on the Stephen King novel was excellent. Big changes from the book but they paid off." -Lauren

"Admittedly, I don't read as often as I would like. However, here are the last three books I read, and I did enjoy all of them! The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes: I enjoyed reading this fictional take on the lives of female librarians in rural Kentucky during the depression-era. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng: This book was an easy read for me, but I found the plot curious enough to keep me engaged with the story until the end! American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin: A romantic, but well written work of historical fiction. The author does a great job holding the readers interest, and fans of Downton Abbey will love this story. I don't think we need to dive deep into what shows I have watched since the start of the pandemic..." -Natalie

"A couple of my favorite reads of 2020: The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich. I have long been a fan of Louise Erdrich. She crafts beautifully written sentences and tales. The Night Watchman offers drama, low comedy, ghost stories, mystical realism, family and tribal legends. A Promised Land by Barack Obama. President Obama is a very good writer. Reading about the path to his historical presidency in his own words is inspirational and enlightening. What Unites Us, by Dan Rather. Simply put, Dan Rather reminds us of what it means to be American. It inspires hope, as well as implores us to talk and listen to each other." -Kristin

"Here are a few titles that rose to the top of my list for the year. One Long River of Song, by Brian Doyle: A book of essays full of laughter, tears, love of family, love of the natural world and the beautiful small things around us. I read most of them more than once just to experience it again. A Woman of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell: Another mostly unknown and unrecognized woman who helped change history. It reads better than any fictional spy story. Her strength, courage, and determination are truly amazing. The Red Lotus, by Chris Bohjalian: I was off and running with this thriller right from the first page. In this time of pandemic it hits especially close to home." -Mary

“I had my first child in the spring, and since going back to work, I’ve found it very difficult to find time and energy to read; it is much easier to watch shows and movies in bits and pieces. Succession is one of my current favorites (Season 2 came out this year), I really enjoy the strategic and cut-throat cast of characters and having a peek into the fictionalized but realistic corporate world. When my husband and I need a laugh, we enjoy Superstore. My favorite movie this year, and possibly it will be the favorite of the decade, is the new remake of Jane Austen’s Emma. It was beautiful to watch, the cast was perfectly chosen, and while it did stray from the original at times (I had to re-read the book so I could understand where the naysayers were coming from.), I found it to be in the most delightful way.” -Caitlyn

As for me, In the summer I watched a livestream conversation between Cornel West and Eddie Glaude about Glaude's recently published book, Begin Again. I read the book shortly after seeing the conversation, and appreciated Glaude's reflections about this country and about the enduring relevance and challenge of James Baldwin's life and writing. This year, while browsing the catalog of one of my favorite Spanish-language publishers, Anagrama, I came across a book of short stories by the Argentinian author Mariana Enriquez. I read it and was hooked. I am not typically a horror fan, but Enriquez' stories are filled with compelling, everyday tension supplemented by subtle mystery and a touch of the supernatural. Finally, one of the things that I miss the most about life before the pandemic is going to the movies. Nothing can replace the big screen and the environment of a movie theatre. Right before everything shut down, I went to see the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, totally unprepared for such an exquisite, total aesthetic experience. This film has not gotten the attention it deserves here in the states. It's a visually stunning film, with an excellent score and knock-out performances.