- Darcie Caswell
In my first few years as a librarian, I was responsible for serving library customers of all ages and read children’s books as well as books for teens and adults, so I could recommend books to someone of any age. In the last few years, I have been focused on serving children and teens and now read almost exclusively for those age ranges. Sometimes my non-library friends pity me because they feel I am deprived in some way, reading only books for youth, but I don’t feel that way at all. My literary world is rich with books that have been written with children or teens in mind but are just all-around good books and excellent reads for adults. As I wind up this year of reading, I am recommending books written for youth that are great reads for adults.
As you contemplate picking up one of these titles, keep in mind that Central Rappahannock Regional Library is having its first ever Winter Reading Challenge for adults, starting January 1. Between January 1 and March 31, Winter Reading Challenge participants who log five or more books will receive a Books on the Big Screen digital badge and limited-edition CRRL mug while supplies last. Online library missions and reading lists can be completed to earn more badges and chances to win movie tickets or a bag of books. So, sign up for the Winter Reading Challenge, check out one of these books, and you will be well on your way to a good book and a new mug!
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
There are two types of people in the desert village of Bicho Raro, Colorado: pilgrims and saints. The pilgrims come looking for a miracle from one of the saints of the Soria family but then can't free themselves from the effects, leaving Bicho Raro full of pilgrims in various miraculous states, together with the saints who long to be rid of them. To help everyone move on, it may be that the Sorias themselves are in need of some miracles. A tremendously satisfying magical realism story by Virginia's own Maggie Stiefvater.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Near the end of World War II, a group of people are thrown together as they flee the advance of the Russian army into a German-held territory. They have all experienced violence and trauma and carry the emotional and sometimes physical scars with them. As they make their way to a port city where they hope to board an evacuation boat, they suffer further danger but begin to form some bonds. Upon reaching the port, they find their struggle is not over, as they must find shelter, food, and somehow get passage on one of the evacuation ships. While this story is based on the most deadly maritime tragedy in history, it is the interwoven stories of the characters, with their alternating hope and despair, that are the foundation and driving force in this book.
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
When Dill’s father comes under investigation for a suspected crime, Dill is honest about what he knows, which his family and his father’s congregation see as a betrayal. Shunned by nearly everyone, the only bright spots in his life are his friends Lydia and Travis. As they begin to think about their future, though, the differences in their lives come into sharp focus and threaten to pull them apart. Lydia, bright and with a supportive family, is determined to get out of their hometown, with college as her path and nothing stopping her. Dill and Travis do not have that luxury. With families that are neglectful at best and abusive at worst and struggling to make ends meet, they can’t envision any kind of future for themselves. Will it take a tragedy to inspire hope?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Lazlo has always been fascinated by the unseen city of Weep. Most believe the city exists only in myths and legends, but Lazlo believes it is real and longs to see it one day. That is a dream, though, given his lowly status and meager income. When a group of mythical warriors enters Zosma riding creatures Lazlo recognizes from the legends of Weep, it is as if his dreams have come true. Led by a larger than life man called The Godslayer, they are indeed from Weep and have come to gather help for their city. Lazlo jumps at the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream and travels to Weep, where he finds his dreams and reality melting together.
This article first appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.