Reading Room Recommends

29 October 2021

Welcome sweet November, the season of senses and my favorite month.

Gregory F. Lenz

November Reads

Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game by John Thorn

The World Series is underway and this scrupulous look at the origins of baseball shows how far the modern game has come. Beginning with the debate over baseball’s inventor, the intricate investigation into various street games from which it may have descended and other early controversies, this book spans baseball’s long history to keep you going long after the trophy has been lifted this November.

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

In her collection of short stories published in journals around the country, Zhang gives us a raw look at hard times. In an age when stereotypes are being actively broken down on all sides, Sour Heart recalls just why our preconceived notions about one another are inadequate. These stories do more than remind us to re-examine our prejudices. They sweep out the old with the realism and vigor of a young writer coming into her own.

A Literary History of Iowa by Clarence A. Andrews

As an Iowa native profoundly influenced by my home state’s rural beauty, this literary guidebook offers an insight into how other writers have also been affected by the Midwest. Originally published in 1972 (and newly available as an e-book), this hefty tome will appeal most to librarians, Iowans, and Iowan librarians. Nevertheless, I am eager to find out everything I never knew about my Iowan literary heritage.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

With winter coming on, now is the time to cozy up with a good long novel to keep you company. Lonesome Dove is familiar to many, a well-loved western, adapted to the screen in a much-acclaimed 80s mini-series. Its length makes it a companion you can settle in with for a while and the warmth of its writing leaves a lasting impression. Though I expected a genre piece filled with tropes and type characters, I found instead a touching human story rendered with sparse words and expansive vision.

Children’s Shelf

Nine Magic Wishes by Shirley Jackson

This charming story comes from Shirley Jackson, author of many articles on family life, mother of four, and accomplished novelist. Illustrated with quirky, vintage 60s paintings by Lorraine Fox, the tale of a magician who comes to town to grant nine wishes unfurls into a sweet story of everything a kid could ask for.

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