Library Matters

Library Matters is a podcast by Montgomery County Public Libraries exploring the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning.
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Library Matters is a podcast of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) in Montgomery County, MD. Each episode we explore the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning. Library Matters is hosted by Julie Dina, Outreach Associate, Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch, and David Payne, Branch Manager of our Davis branch and Acting Branch Manager of our Potomac branch.  

Dec 19, 2018

Listen to the audio

Lauren Martino:  Welcome to Library Matters.  I’m your host, Lauren Martino.  And today I’m here with Lisa Navidi who is Head of Adult Services at the Davis Library and has worked for MCPL for 32 years.  Welcome Lisa.

Lisa Navidi:  Happy to be here.

Lauren Martino:  And we’ve also got with us, Patrick Fromm, the new Branch Manager here at Rockville Library.  Welcome Patrick.

Patrick Fromm:  Happy to be here.  Thanks for having me.

Lauren Martino:  And today we are talking about the best and the brightest new books from 2018.  So Lisa, looking back over 2018, what kind of year has it been in general for literature?

Lisa Navidi:  There was an ancient Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.”  And that’s what we’re living in.  We have out-of-the-box type of books, fiction and non-fiction, especially about empowering women both fiction and non-fiction, and Trump.

Lauren Martino:  Empowering women and Trump.

Lisa Navidi:  And both.  And sometimes both.

Lauren Martino:  Okay.

Patrick Fromm:  That was such a beautiful answer.

Lauren Martino:  Anything else you’ve noticed besides empowering women and Trump, Patrick?

Patrick Fromm:  Just that when you look at the bestsellers for the year whether it’s Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you see a lot of that reaction to Trump, a lot of non-fiction talking about the global lead, talking about the Trump administration, and also just talking about the state of human beings in general as we’re all bombarded with news both vile and corrosive.

Lauren Martino:  So a lot – I guess we are processing as a culture now and that’s coming out in our books.

Patrick Fromm:  Definitely.

Lisa Navidi:  We’re all trying to process this new life.

Lauren Martino:  In general, is there anything you see that’s different from last year’s best of list I mean, we were dealing with a lot of the same things last year.  I don’t know if we’re processing them a little bit more this year or any particular – anything that stands out to you?

Lisa Navidi:  There was a lot of last year that started the immigration wave of fiction.  I think 2016, 2017 and now there’s still more of that reeling after what happened in the election, specifically “What Happened” by Clinton.

Lauren Martino:  There it is in the title.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.  Yeah, that pretty much says it all.  I read a wonderful book in 2017 which I read in 2018 that –

Lauren Martino:  That’s okay.  You can talk about it.

Lisa Navidi:  Can I talk about it?

Lauren Martino:  Yeah, you can talk about it.

Lisa Navidi:  There were actually several but I discovered a new author, Joshilyn Jackson, who wrote Almost Sisters.  And when you first start reading – I mean, she’s read – she’s written several other books.  But when you first start reading it, you think, “Oh, it’s an enjoyable piece of fluffy chicklet.” But actually it becomes about family, about southern family, about racism, about love and ultimately about love of family.  It’s a wonderful book and it’s one on my list that I just recommend to people to listen to especially and to read.

Lauren Martino:  Anything you’ve noticed, Patrick, that’s different from last year that’s you’ve seen?

Patrick Fromm:  I don’t know if I have any quantitative evidence to this but I felt like a lot of the books that I was reading or recommended either by customers or by friends and family were non-fiction specifically memoirs.  I read Failure Is An Option by H. Jon Benjamin.  I read Dopesick and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, as well as Educated by Tara Westover and Heavy by Kiese Laymon.  And a lot of those ended up on best of list now at this part of the year.  But at that time, I felt like a lot of people were saying this is what I’m reading, this is what you’ll enjoy, and in particular You’re on an Airplane by Parker Posey who is in all best of –

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  I didn’t read it but I read about it.  I love her.

Lauren Martino:  Tell me about that one.  Yeah, I don’t know anything about that one.  Sorry, children’s librarian here.

Patrick Fromm:  So I listen to most of my books because my communities are churches.  And a lot of times I like the ones by actors because they read it themselves and it’s fun to get them whispering to your ear all day.

Lisa Navidi:  Right.  Right.

Patrick Fromm:  And she tells it like she’s telling a story to someone who is stuck next to her on an airplane.

Lisa Navidi:  Oh yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  So there are sounds of the airplane happening around her.  She is frequently interrupting her own story to talk to the flight attendant or to order more tea or whatnot and she’s got her little dog with her as well.  But her stories are really rambling and interesting, a lot of insight Hollywood talk because she was kind of nominated or self-proclaimed indie queen.

Lisa Navidi:  Right.  Right.

Patrick Fromm:  But she didn’t really necessarily choose to do that.  That just kind of happened.  And so it’s really interesting to hear when she tries to strike out for big pictures like a Woody Allen film or she was in Blade as opposed to like the ones she’s really known for like the Christopher Guest movies like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

Lisa Navidi:  Mackumentaries.

Patrick Fromm:  Yes, exactly.  So I really – it was one of those books where I was excited to get into traffic like when my Google Maps is like, “Oh, it’s an hour and 30 minutes to home,” I was like, well –

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.

Patrick Fromm:  – I don’t get to see my baby, but I do get to –”

Lisa Navidi:  Parker Posey.  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  I definitely enjoyed pretty much all of those.

Lauren Martino:  I think, yeah, a lot of comedians do the audio books and they’ve got the sound effects and, you know, bringing in their, you know, guest stars and that’s just kind of how they roll.  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.

Lauren Martino:  I mean, you mentioned that – I guess last year, there was the wave of immigration books.  I feel like that’s continuing at least in children’s books in what I’ve seen.

Lisa Navidi:  Oh, absolutely.

Lauren Martino:  Because there’s a ton of new ones out that – I mean, things that – you know, in the past year like, “Oh gosh, we got to find a book about a Latino kid and I don’t know where to find it.”  And now it’s like, “Oh, there’s all these new ones.  It’s great.”

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.  We do have a lot here.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  And there is a list put out by the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature about the best multicultural children’s books of 2018 which includes a lot of these immigration kind of books.

Lauren Martino:  And you can find it in our show notes.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.

Patrick Fromm:  Lauren, did you get a chance to read Alma and How She Got Her Name?

Lauren Martino:  I didn’t.  I saw that on a lot of lists, but I haven’t.

Patrick Fromm:  I wanted to mention it because it’s one of the few I actually did read, so I can sound really smart.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, then you tell us about it, yes.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  Well, it –

Lauren Martino:  There you go, you got the children’s librarian fee.  Good job.  Go for it.

Patrick Fromm:  It was just really interesting because it gets into the naming particularly in families from Central America, South America –

Lauren Martino:  Mm-hmm.

Patrick Fromm:  And Alma has six names and at first she’s a little perturbed by having that and doesn’t understand why, but then her father takes her through each name and who it represents in her ancestry, in her family.  And they’re kind of represented on the page.  And to me, I remember distinctly back when I was in Baltimore County, we would have issues with customers with longer names because the form that you filled out only had X number of spaces and –

Lauren Martino:  The computer has no tolerance.

Patrick Fromm:  Exactly.  So we had to figure out how to do that and most people didn’t understand because Baltimore County isn’t nearly as diverse as Montgomery County.  So we’re all kind of learning on the fly there and I distinctly remember thinking while reading this, I wish I had this book back when that happened.  So I would have had a little more background because it really – it broke it down in a way I’d never quite explained before and the drawing is beautiful.  It’s – she illustrates and writes it so it’s excellent.

Lauren Martino:  So is there a particular place you go to find what you consider the best of – man, there are so many lists, Washington Post has them, and the New York Times.  Is there any particular place you like to go to find out what you should have read this year?

Lisa Navidi:  Well, I learned about the NPR’s Book Concierge.

Patrick Fromm:  Yes.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, what’s that about?

Lisa Navidi:  Which is easy to use, has a click on thing.  You can say, “I want a biography for my book club and it’s this and it’s that.”  You can really focus on what you want and then you click on the title and it has this cute little thing, a summary of the book.  And it’s really nice.

Patrick Fromm:  And it cuts a lot of that like critiquey jargon.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.

Patrick Fromm:  Like I feel like the people are really talking to you.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.  This is – it’s done by the NPR staff.

Lauren Martino:  Mm-hmm.

Lisa Navidi:  So it is real.

Patrick Fromm:  So this is what I haven’t read, but The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, she wrote The God of Small Things which is like my favorite book of all time made it on to the list I think, for this year.  But the little blurb was like, this isn’t going to fulfill everyone who thinks that The God of Small Things is all that wonderful everything that you want, but it is still worth to try for these like specific reasons.  So there was like a short one paragraph blurb but it told me, I’m going to wait on reading because I don’t want to be disappointed.  But yeah, you’re right.  That is a – it’s a wonderful resource.  That’s one I direct customers to because it’s very easy to personalize.

Lisa Navidi:  There’s also one of our databases which I just discovered very recently.  Books & Authors, ampersand authors, it is easy to go through, to find what you’re looking for and also has the summaries and it has the best of and award winning.  So I know there’s another question about that.  It does show, you know, what the best of ‘18, best of 2017, 2016, et cetera.

Lauren Martino:  Mm-hmm.

Patrick Fromm:  That’s really cool.  Do they pull it from a specific place or is it done by that database, you know?

Lisa Navidi:  I’m sure they pulled it but I don’t know where they pulled it from.  Sorry.

Lauren Martino:  We’ll see if we can put that in the show notes too.  What books this year have you not been able to keep up with the demand for?  I know there’s always that book that you’re out the desk and you’re like, “Oh, no.”  And it’s like, “It’s this book called like Educated?  Have you heard of it?”

Lisa Navidi:  Right, yeah.

Lauren Martino:  It’s like, yeah, like, the pass five people before you have asked for that book.  And I couldn’t find it for them either.

Lisa Navidi:  Well, finally, A Gentleman in Moscow, it’s coming down – the holds are coming down but that’s like two years ago.  And there were still –

Lauren Martino:  Is that the one about the guy hanging out in the airport?

Lisa Navidi:  No.

Patrick Fromm:  Imprisoned in a hotel.

Lisa Navidi:  In the hotel in Moscow, he was –

Lauren Martino:  Yeah, okay.

Lisa Navidi:  He was imprisoned.

Lauren Martino:  Okay.

Lisa Navidi:  In the hotel in Moscow.

Lauren Martino:  As an aside, this is like the perfect time of year to read that book, like you can’t recommend that enough.  It’s just delightful.

Lisa Navidi:  It is.  It is.  It’s one of those books you really can give to anybody.

Patrick Fromm:  My – when we’re asking about the what we use to get a recommendation besides NPR, I always go to my aunt, Rita.  She has got impeccable taste in – she likes that one enough that she bought like, you know, 10 copies and just gave it to people to convince them – and it was perfect because I kept getting asked about it and I was never going to get it on hold.  That was like 380 times.  So I was able to read it that way, but yeah, that – can’t recommend that one enough.

Lisa Navidi:  Mm-hmm.

Patrick Fromm:  I guess for this year, I’d probably say Becoming.

Lisa Navidi:  Well, someone just asked how many people were on the list.  There are like 700.

Lauren Martino:  I feel like we should let people know that we’re on – we got this – the huge long list, we do tend to buy more copies so it’s not hopeless and you should get on the list.

Lisa Navidi:  Exactly.  And you never know there may be an express copy on the shelf.

Lauren Martino:  That’s true.  We have – oh, can you tell us a little bit about what an express copy is?

Lisa Navidi:  It is – they are leased books, L-E-A-S-E-D from Baker & Taylor, we buy the hot books.  You can’t renew them, you can’t reserve them.  They’re either there or they’re not, and it’s like sort of winning a little lottery when you come in and, “Oh, look, A Gentleman in Moscow is here.”

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  So it’s always – it’s a good way to show people what else there is as they’re waiting for their book or maybe find their book there.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  And if you want a visual encapsulation of what’s hot in Montgomery County or –

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.

Patrick Fromm:  – the library world, it’s a great place to just browse.  It would probably be pretty hard for us to pick a loser among the bunch.

Lauren Martino:  All right.  We’ve talked about some of them already but what are your absolute favorites from this year that you want to impress some people they need to read.  I’ve got a picture of book one but I’ll save it.

Patrick Fromm:  Well, I know probably the one that I enjoyed the most would be Circe by Madeline Miller.

Lauren Martino:  Mm-hmm.

Patrick Fromm:  It’s a retelling of the great story of Circe who is a goddess and she’s kind of like, unlikely goddess.  She doesn’t really enjoy gods or titans.  And it’s in the adults but it kind of, captures that sort of Percy Jackson mythology vibe.

Lisa Navidi:  Mm-hmm.

Lauren Martino:  Percy Jackson for adults.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah, exactly.

Lauren Martino:  Everyone grew up reading Percy Jackson.  That’s awesome.

Patrick Fromm:  It’s so good.  Like if you even have like a surface knowledge of Greek mythology, you’re going to love it.  There’s all the big names appearing in it.  But it really is a compelling story, too, and the language is beautiful, and the narrator, whose name I do not know, is British and I love listening to British.  So I checked all the boxes.

Lauren Martino:  It doesn’t hurt.

Patrick Fromm:  And it’s definitely my favorite fiction book of the year.

Lauren Martino:  Do you think Neil Gaiman fans would like that, too?  People that –

Patrick Fromm:  Oh, yeah, definitely.  I mean, it is a spiritual – same spiritual realm as a Neil Gaiman book.  Although a little less weird if – like I said, like there’s nothing that made my skin crawl.

Lauren Martino:  So Neil Gaiman is too weird and creepy for you.


Patrick Fromm:  This is a good middle ground.  Definitely.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.  One of our children’s librarians read that and loved it, loved it and I also read about it that you really – I somehow missed Greek mythology in high school.  And so, what I read about this is that you don’t have to know Greek mythology to really enjoy it.

Patrick Fromm:  Very true.

Lisa Navidi:  And she thought it was one of the surprising books, surprising bestsellers.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  I only picked it up because of its cover and I was very surprised.

Lisa Navidi:  Because it was Circe, right?

Patrick Fromm:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  A librarian angel.

Lauren Martino:  It’s a fun fact.  Fun fact.  It happens to be the name of our catalogue system.  Do you have anything, Lisa?

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, I do.  Eleanor Oliphant is alive and completely fine.  I started reading it and I wasn’t crazy about it, then I’d listen to it and it’s wonderful.  There’s been a great glut recently of captivating book titles featuring quirky characters like A Man Called Ove, which is one of my favorite books of all times, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Britt-Marie Was Here – and this is a woman who seems almost on the spectrum.  She’s not happy at work.  Nobody likes her and then she became obsessed with this singer that she’s never – she had just seen perform who – and she thought, “I’m going to marry him.”  And so, she does all these quirky things and gets involved with his friend at work and her life – and as you’re reading it, you’re finding more and more about her life and how sad and why she is the way she is.  It’s a wonderful book and it’s not light reading.  It’s funny.  It’s sad, you know.  So that was one of my favorites.

Lauren Martino:  I like books that can do funny and sad together.  It’s like the emotional roller coaster.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.  Yes, indeed.  Indeed.

Patrick Fromm:  Plus that title is impeccable.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes, yes.  Another one that really was not – it wasn’t published in 2018.  I’m sorry.  But it’s Nutshell by Ian McEwan, which is basically a fetal Hamlet.

Lauren Martino:  What?

Lisa Navidi:  It is narrated by the fetus.  His mother and his uncle are plotting to kill his father and he is narrating this whole thing from his point of view, but his point of view is so sophisticated and there, the mother and the uncle are drinking wine and he said, “Oh, I really would have preferred a Sancerre,” you know, because it’s coming right to him.  It’s a wonderful book and it’s narrated by a British – it’s not narrated by McEwan, but I loved it and it was – that was a big surprise to me.  Somebody recommended that to me.  And thank you for that.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.  It’s one of those – it’s like you give a quick description and it doesn’t sound like anything you would actually want to read, but you’re here to tell us that you need to go for it.

Lisa Navidi:  I am here to tell you and I have recommended it to people, so.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  Did either of you check out I’ll Be Gone in the Dark?

Lauren Martino:  No, but I feel like –

Lisa Navidi:  No.  I’ve heard about it.

Lauren Martino:  We talked about it in our True Crime episode a few episodes back with it.

Patrick Fromm:  Got you.

Lauren Martino:  But you want to tell us some more about it?

Patrick Fromm:  Just that – it was one that I wasn’t – I heard about it separately through a True Crime podcast that I listened to and I didn’t realize it was Michelle McNamara – Patton – I knew her as Patton Oswalt’s spouse who tragically died two years ago, I guess.  Patton Oswalt was a community member.

Lisa Navidi:  Oh, I remember that.  Yes, yes.

Patrick Fromm:  So – and he gave bunch of heartfelt tributes at the time and I was very moved by that.  But then, reading this, it is a better character study of her than anything I could imagine because it captures a lot of her life into it, which is almost as interesting as the case she is obsessed with.

Lisa Navidi:  Mm-hmm.  This was the one in California?

Patrick Fromm:  Mm-hmm, the Golden State Killer.

Lisa Navidi:  Right, right.

Patrick Fromm:  Whew.  And it’s a – I think it’s going to be a show.  I want to say HBO.  I’m not 100% sure, but I feel like demand will rise for it again.  But there’s a really nice foreword by Gillian Flynn, the Sharp Objects and Gone Girl author, and an afterword by Patton Oswalt, her husband.  So it was a great book and it’s one of those ones where listening to it, I would get totally lost into it and I have to lock all my doors and all the windows, like it’s creepy.  So I highly recommend that for non-fiction likers.

Lauren Martino:  That’s when they ended up finding the killer through DNA?

Patrick Fromm:  Yes.

Lauren Martino:  So it came into our genealogy podcast too.  So in three podcasts now, this is the book to read.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah, definitely.

Lisa Navidi:  I also read – I love amnesia fiction where the character –

Lauren Martino:  Amnesia fiction.  This is a genre.

Lisa Navidi:  It should be a genre and this is – it’s almost –

Lauren Martino:  It’s the next podcast.  The genre of amnesia fiction.  You’re our guest.

Lisa Navidi:  I can’t remember what it was about, but – anyway –

Lauren Martino:  It took us a second, but yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  Amber wakes up in a hospital.  She can’t move, she can’t speak, she can’t open her eyes so she can hear everyone around her, but no one knows because she in a coma.  She doesn’t remember what happened and she has a sneaking suspicion her husband has something to do with it, so it alternates between this present, her paralyzed present, and the week before her accident, and the series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago, and you really, and the title should tell you everything, Sometimes I Lie.

So you don’t know, you don’t trust the narrator.  So it’s an ultimate detective kind of hunt for who is the real bad person, the villain in this, who isn’t, and it will surprise you right up until the end.

Lauren Martino:  It makes me think of Memento, I know I’m crossing genres there, materials.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, exactly.  One more, can I tell you one more?

Lauren Martino:  Yes, yes, you can.  Please do, please do.  This is your opportunity to get all this book love off your chest.

Lisa Navidi:  American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and it’s about an African-American couple, and he – I think he works in a – he worked in a law firm and she has a business, and they fell in love, and then something happens.

I don’t know whether to divulge it or not, but he gets taken away to prison, and so there’s – they’re looking at their marriage, he’s there, she is here, she’s sort of left, she doesn’t know what to do, and they’re writing letters to each other, so it has that epistolary fiction kind of genre which I love, and doesn’t end up the way you think it does.  It’s just fascinating look at their lives and what could happen in an instant to change their lives.

Patrick Fromm:  Cool, I wanted to check that one out, I haven’t, yeah.

Lauren Martino:  Okay.  I have, on our list questions, favorite kid’s books, chapter books, picture books, graphic novels, non-fiction, because of course I wrote their questions and I’m a children’s librarian, but you all are adult librarians.

So I am happy to hear what has grabbed your attention out of there.  I am also – I’ve got things that I can share as well.

Patrick Fromm:  For picture books, I was excited to see that Square and Triangle illustrated by Jon Klassen and written Mac Bennett, Barnett, Marc, Mac Barnett.

Lauren Martino:  Mac Barnett, something like that, yes.  We’re going to say Mac Barnett.

Patrick Fromm:  I loved I Want My Hat Back.  I’m really drawn to anything that Jon Klassen illustrates, I love those eyes.  So when I saw what they’re doing on the shapes, I was like, “This is awesome.”

So immediately, I took them home and showed my daughter, and she also loves it.  She was right at that time learning the word eye, and so it’s the perk, because she would just go, “Eye, eye,” and point to their eyes, and I was like, “This is exactly what I wanted as a father.”

So those, those are on top of my list, and I think they’re going to do another one, so I’m excited for that too.

Lauren Martino:  Do you have anything, Lisa?

Lisa Navidi:  Well, this is actually from the my children’s librarian at Davis.  It’s a board book, Holi Color, H-O-L-I.  I don’t know it’s called Holi or – it’s an Indian festival and it’s a board book that introduces the Hindu Holi Festival.  There’s also Islandborn by Junot Diaz.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah, I don’t think if I heard that one, but I’ve seen it, yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  It’s a picture book about a girl who is doing a project in first grade about where she was born.  She was born on an island and she uses first person accounts from neighbors to tell her story.

Patrick Fromm:  I didn’t know that he had written a children’s book, that’s interesting.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, it is interesting.

Lauren Martino:  Okay.  I have to share, there’s this lovely book called The Rabbit Listened, that’s a picture book, and I think it’s got to be the most concise description of how you help anyone deal with tragedy that has ever been written.

It’s just this beautiful book because basically this little boy built a tower, and it’s a big, big tower, and he’s so excited, and then it falls down.  And then it’s got the ostrich that says – comes and says, “You know, you got to just bury your heard in the sand, and just forget about it,” and all these other animals that are kind of giving the appropriate, for them, response.  And a bear offers him a hug, and all these other stuff, and, you know, just nothing is helping.

And then the rabbit comes over, and just sits, and he’s there, and he’s still, and everything pours out, and he hugs the rabbit, and he, you know, rages at the rabbit and sticks his head in the sand with the rabbit, and all these things that the animals suggested, he can do it with a rabbit who is just going to sit there, and be present, and I’m just like, “Wow, this is really powerful,” so I just, yeah, I should really buy that book for everybody in my Christmas list this year.

It’s like, “Go, be a better person with this book.”

Lisa Navidi:  I found this book.  I don’t even know if we have it, I’m sorry.

Lauren Martino:  It’s okay.

Lisa Navidi:  I found it – I found it on, it was on Facebook.  It’s called The Winky Wonky Donkey –

Lauren Martino:  The Winky Wonky Donkey.

Lisa Navidi:  – and I watched this grandmother reading too, she was like Australian or something.  She was reading to her, her little, probably a year-old child who just wanted to wriggle out, but she was having so much fun reading it to him, and each thing they would add another thing.

It was Winky Wonky, Crabby, Tabby, Labby, you know, and it was just so cute, so I had to buy it, so I bought it for my grandson.

Lauren Martino:  Oh that’s awesome.  I feel like, yeah, include that.  See if we can find the video and we can put it on the show notes, because that sounds like the perfect example of this is how you need to read to a wiggly kid, and read to that wiggly kid, that wiggly kid it needs read to.  That’s awesome.

See, I also enjoy this – I guess this as a teen book.  While we’re talking about memoirs and biographies, Hey, Kiddo by – and I’m going to totally mess this up, Krosoczka who is best known probably for Lunch Lady, and yeah, the Lunch Lady book.  So he wrote a memoir – a graphic novel memoir of his childhood that, yeah, you’re just like wow.

Patrick Fromm:  What’s it called again?

Lauren Martino:  Hey, Kiddo.

Patrick Fromm:  Hey, Kiddo.

Lauren Martino:  Because he’s raised by his grandparents, who, you know, and then just like all throughout the book they’re saying, “Hey, kiddo.  Hey, kiddo.”  Because his mother was a heroin addict.  And yeah – and just dealing with, you know, I love my mother but my mother can’t be my mother.  And yeah, so, you know, he’s raised by the grandparents who – they’re doing the best they can.  They’re putting in through a, you know, valuable effort, but, you know, things are just, you know, not quite like they should be.  But the ending, I was tear – tear-ridden because – and it was just – and just how you come through this and, you know, with enough power and enough, you know, you made it well enough to then publish your graphic novels.

Patrick Fromm:  Well, while we’re on the graphic novel train, I do feel like I got to give a shout out to the 2018 Dog Man books that came out by Dav Pilkey.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, yeah

Patrick Fromm:  It’s just continuing.

Lauren Martino:  Oh my gosh.

Lisa Navidi:  I have –

Patrick Fromm:  I could build a library building out of Dog Man books and I would still not have enough Dog Man books.

Lauren Martino:  Amen.

Lisa Navidi:  I have read that.  I’ve read it to my grandson and daughter –

Lauren Martino:  Can you – how was the experience for you?

Lisa Navidi:  Well, they’re older but they loved it.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, that’s awesome.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah and I loved it.  I thought it was very funny and interesting and creative.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah, I had to see what all the fuss was about.  And I would have to admit, I was cracking up and I was looking forward to being able to share it with my daughter when she gets a bit older.

Lauren Martino:  Well, the titles will do it in and of themselves.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.

Lauren Martino:  Lord of the Fleas.

Patrick Fromm:  Lord of the Fleas, yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.

Lauren Martino:  A Tale of Two Kitties.

Lisa Navidi:  Right, right.  And they’re always asking for them.

Patrick Fromm:  And it’s great because now he’s got this back catalogue of Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta.  So you can easily like – once they get through Dog Man, it’s like, “Well, I’ve got this whole another world to show you and just keep on reading.”

Lauren Martino:  And you wonder how a grown man just keeps churning out these type of books.

Patrick Fromm:  Where does he get these ideas?

Lauren Martino:  It’s like it just doesn’t stop.  I mean, I don’t know, I feel like the – well, the Dog Man titles are easier to say and you don’t have to say them like, the Preposterous Plight of Professor Poopypants or you see adults trying to say this and you just start giggling because, like, I know what you’re talking about.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah, it was always really hard to recommend a book to parent and be like, “Oh, you got a reluctant reader, well, let me tell you, Super Diaper Baby.”  And they’re like, “Oh, oh, oh.”

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, the parent is shaking his head and the kid is cracking up.  And the kid’s like, “Oh yeah, no, I want that book.”

Lauren Martino:  Are there any new authors that published books this year that you’ve been particularly impressed with?

Lisa Navidi:  There is a book that I want to read, I haven’t read it yet.  And I’m looking for it, right now.

Lauren Martino:  Let’s pause for station identification.

Lisa Navidi:  Pause.  Oh yeah, here it is.  Yeah, it’s on my list of Women’s Voices Hear Them Roar which has that.  I don’t – Naomi Alderman wrote The Power, which – what do you think would had – answers the question what do you think would happen if women had unstoppable power to combat misogynist – misogynism.  And the answer – she answers this with a speculative novel called The Power about women actually getting the power.  It starts out with teenage girls getting a strange power in their arms.  So like, electric eels.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  So they’re able to inflict pain on whomever they choose.

Lauren Martino:  So like, biological Tasers?

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.  Exactly.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  So what could go wrong with that?  Teenage girls having unstoppable powers –

Lauren Martino:  Oh my goodness.  I’m reimagining my high school years.

Lisa Navidi:  Exactly.  But it’s not funny really.  And it becomes all women get these – most women get these powers.  And the whole life turns, you know, and women having the power and men not.  Anyways, so there’s that one.

There’s another one though that’s called Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, Z-U-M-A-S.  And it’s – it’s kind of like a Handmaid’s Tale sort of thing, life, when there are no abortions.  And so it’s five women having to deal with these – these scenarios.  I haven’t read it but I started it and it sounds really good.

Patrick Fromm:  Was this emerging authors?  Is that what we’re doing?

Lauren Martino:  Yes.

Patrick Fromm:  Oh, I think probably for me Gaël Faye who wrote Small Country which is a book about – it takes place in Bujumbura in Burundi in Africa.  And it’s taking place right around the cusp of the – the genocide in Rwanda with the Hutus and the Tutsies.  And it’s – he – it’s a coming of age story taking place along that climate and dealing with the dual French identity.  And the author himself is a French – I think he’s actually a rapper, it was his debut novel.

But it’s short, it’s brief and it’s really, really hard to read because it really sets in your mind how difficult it must be to be a child anywhere near an atrocity of that scale.  And the normalization and the destabilization of their government and how things are falling apart but they’re still doing kid type things to that backdrop.  But they just become more and more wild and influenced by the adults.  So at one point they’re carting around an active grenade trying to defend their neighborhood and hiding out in like a disabled VW like van.  It’s really, really good and I’m excited for whatever he does next.  I haven’t listened to any of his music yet, but that’s next on my list, so.

Lauren Martino:  There you go.  Anything that you are excited about for 2019 that you can’t wait to read or not?

Lisa Navidi:  Margaret Atwood is doing a sequel to Handmaid’s Tale.

Lauren Martino:  I imagine that will be popular.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.  And it will be interesting to see what she adds to that, that actually isn’t on the TV show.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, my goodness, the diversions of worlds.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, exactly.  Or it may just –

Lauren Martino:  And everywhere heads are exploding.

Lisa Navidi:  Actually, I did read about it, that if you’re following Offred, the character, it is her diaries after, and they’re reading it after – Golum?  What is the name of that – oh, well, anyway.

Patrick Fromm:  Gilead.

Lisa Navidi:  Gilead.  Gilead?

Patrick Fromm:  The place there?

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  I think it’s Gilead.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah, after that sort of falls, then they find their diaries.  That’s what it’s about.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, okay.

Patrick Fromm:  That’s pretty cool.  I hope it’s good.  It’s one of those things where I wonder if –

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  – it should have been left standalone.

Lisa Navidi:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  But I’ll read it.

Lisa Navidi:  Right, right.  A lot of people will.

Patrick Fromm:  For me, Dark Age, which is a second book in a trilogy that was preceded by a first trilogy, the Red Rising Trilogy.  They’re science fiction books that kind of take place on Mars, where there’s this sort of caste system depending on your color.  It determines your lot in life.  So the – I liked the original trilogy.  It’s kind of Hunger Games-ian, I guess, and it was a quick read.  A little into the slightly older audience, which I dug, and then it was done.  And then Iron Gold came out last year – this year? I don’t remember.  And I was surprised.  I thought, for sure, that it was going to be one of those things where it’s just a cash grab, but I think it’s actually better than the first books in the trilogy.  So the sequel to that is coming out and I’m very excited to read it.  So I’m hoping that Pierce Brown continues to have success with that.

Lauren Martino:  All right.  So our final question, as always.  Lisa, what are you reading right now?  And it doesn’t have to be from 2018.

Lisa Navidi:  Okay.  Actually, what I’m reading right now is from 2018.

Lauren Martino:  So much the better.

Lisa Navidi:  I’m reading Washington Black.  It’s about a slave who was brought to Barbados when he was very young, and his journey of freedom.  The writing is perfect, and it’s just about – he is befriended by his master’s brother and they flee together.  And it’s just adventures and what it’s like to be a slave and think about – and the guilt he feels about leaving.  It’s just an amazing book.

And I’m also reading Darius the Great Is Not Okay.  It’s a –

Lauren Martino:  It’s another one of those names, yeah.

Lisa Navidi:  Yes.  It’s a YA book by Adib Khorram about a high schooler who is partially Persian – his mother is Persian, his father isn’t – who visits Iran with his family.  It’s a YA book that, of course, has to include the fact that he’s chronically depressed, and so is his father.  But it’s right on the mark about being Persian, growing up Persian in America.  So I’m trying to decide whether my partially Persian grandson is old enough to read it.  He is 13, so.

Lauren Martino:  You need to have him read Not So Awful, Falafel if he is not quite ready for it–

Lisa Navidi:  Okay.

Lauren Martino:  – because that’s a fun one, yeah.  It’s by the author of Funny in Farsi.

Lisa Navidi:  Oh, right, right.  I did read that.

Lauren Martino:  So yeah, it’s a lot of fun.  Although kind of intense at times, but it is in the children’s section, so.

Lisa Navidi:  Thank you.

Lauren Martino:  You’re welcome.

Patrick Fromm:  For me, I’m currently listening to Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart, which is awesome.  It’s really, really engaging.  It’s got two narratives, one is when one’s a man.  I recognize the man from something, I haven’t looked it up yet, but it is definitely –

Lisa Navidi:  It’s like a road trip or something.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  And I heard it described as like a bro going on a road trip.  It really is.  It’s simple finding it.  It’s a guy who is a hedge fund operator, who is possibly in some legal trouble, who also has a son that’s on the spectrum who is kind of fleeing from the familial situation.  And he really loves his watches, and he takes out down to Baltimore, down to Virginia and across the country to try and figure out what he’s going to do with his life and chase after his old college flame.  So it’s really, really good.  It’s gut-wrenching a lot of the time, and the people are all kind of unlikeable.  It’s one of those, so if you don’t like that, I wouldn’t recommend it.  But if you’re down with the sort of mad men, I can deal with really awful people, I highly, highly recommend it.

Lauren Martino:  Tolerance, yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  And then I’m reading on my Kindle, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Lauren Martino:  Oh, I’m like way down on the list, so tell me how it is.

Patrick Fromm:  It’s really good.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm: It’s – so –

Lisa Navidi:  It’s worth waiting for.

Lauren Martino:  Okay.

Patrick Fromm:  Yeah.  Did you read it?

Lisa Navidi:  No, I just –

Patrick Fromm:  Oh, yeah, it’s got a lot of that sort of same young adult, teen, power story.  You know, a person from a disadvantaged birth who is being held down by an oppressive government.  And – but she’s got the secret power in her blood and has to go explore that.  And it’s really good.  I’m excited to see where it goes.  But the world that it creates is particularly effective and it’s definitely got sort of like an African influence to it.  And I’m just really – I’m enjoying it quite a bit.  So I’m hoping that its ending will be satisfying.

And I think it’s going to be a trilogy?  Question mark.  So I’m hoping those will be good, too.

Lauren Martino:  I think we’re slowly getting more like African-influenced like fantasy books.

Patrick Fromm:  It’s such a rich thing to pull from.

Lauren Martino:  Yeah.

Patrick Fromm:  You got such a great, great catalogue of images and naming structures, so I’m enjoying it.

Lauren Martino:  I thank you so much, Lisa and Patrick, for joining us today and sharing a year’s worth of reading.  And we look forward to what you read next year.

Please keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple Podcast app or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.  Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcasts.  And make some comments, we’d love to know what you think.

Thanks for listening to our conversation today, and we’ll see you next time.


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