During the height of the Stay-at-Home era of the pandemic, I did a considerable amount of reading and so did other library staff. Allow me to share some of the morning book chat from the Circulation Room with you.

Cara said her favorite book was the “Book of Longing” by Sue Monk Kidd. This is Kidd’s fourth work of fiction and it focuses on a young woman named Ana.

Ana is rebellious, ambitious, has a brilliant mind and daring spirit; all things that are not acceptable in a woman born several thousand years ago. Ana also marries Jesus and lives with him, his brothers and their mother. She realizes her passion and potential while living in a time and place devised to silence her. Kidd meticulously researched Jesus’s life and focuses on his humanity in this exciting new twist of a well-known story.

Emily loves “Nordic Noir” and another patron that she talks with about favorite authors recommended that she read the “Red Sparrow” trilogy by Jason Matthews.

Matthews worked for 33 years as a CIA field operative and joins authors Ian Fleming and John le Carre in bringing experience as intelligence officers to novel writing. Dominika Egorova is drafted against her will to serve the regime of Vladimir Putin as an intelligence seductress. She engages in deception and tradecraft with first-tour CIA officer Nathaniel Nash before a forbidden attraction threatens their careers.

This is a timely topic to explore in the age of Russia’s campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

Somer read “Educated: a Memoir” by Tara Westover. She said it was especially interesting to read about a family that prepares for doomsday while we all were sheltering in place during the global pandemic. Westover’s memoir has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 125 consecutive weeks and talks about her escape from a violent home life. Through education, she was able to enter mainstream society and shares the importance of education in benefiting all lives.

Jen’s favorite was “Beneath the Rising” by Premee Mohamed. It was one of those books that she said she couldn’t wait to finish but also never wanted to end. It’s a speculative fiction story that will take you on a genre-defying adventure according to Chuck Wendig. Two kids must survive the evil Ancient Ones who are trying to subjugate humanity. They must trust each other as they are hunted through the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh.

My new favorites are too numerous to describe but I’ve explored new authors and found some wonderful stories.

The most recent was “Under the Rainbow” by Celia Laskey. The characters are well developed and the story is rich in small town life as a task force of queer volunteers from a national nonprofit moves to the most homophobic town in the USA. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin is about a woman leading a secret life to protect her daughter from the shame of having an affair with a powerful political figure.

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a popular show on Hulu and as always, the book is better than the show.

Ragnar Jonasson wrote “The Darkness” that launches a new series called “Hidden Iceland.” The detective is the only woman in her section and while less than appreciated, she solves the tricky murder. And lastly,

I’m reading an excellent book right now that is both poignant and humorous. “The Secret Life of Sam Holloway” by Rhys Thomas is about a young man who can’t face a crippling loss and finds himself taking on a superhero persona at night. This book takes a poignant and personal approach to hidden grief. You must read this book.

Tina Winstead is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Tuesday. Her columns may also be found online at

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