The October Five

Five books I’m digging on recently – unofficially brought to you by the milk chocolate malt balls from The Peanut Store in downtown Holland.

1. When Stars are Scattered - Omar Mohammed's biographical story of growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp (illustrated by the great Victoria Jamieson) - is a book I've read multiple times. Each time I read it, I learn something new. And while its target audience is middle schoolers, I would whole-heartedly recommend it for all ages. (It's the Postcard Book Club pick for the month of October at the North Branch. We'll also be hosting a book discussion for middle schoolers on the 14th at the North Branch.)

2. I don't do scary. When I was a little boy my babysitter let me watch the movie Poltergeist and to this day I have to double check the closet doors and windows before going to bed. So, despite being told by dozens of friends, co-workers, and patrons that Stephen King is one of the best living writers, I had not read a single page of his work. I know what I can handle and I sure as heck can't handle killer clowns or demon cats't there one about a sentient car? But ol' Stevie K has a book out this summer called Billy Summers about a hitman with a moral code (I know, I know) and I devoured it in record time.

3. Glenn Burke is credited as the inventor of the high five - slapping Dusty Baker's hand after the latter had hit his 30th home run in the last game of the 1978 season. But Glenn Burke is better known as the first - and, so far only, openly gay player in major league baseball. It's a tragic story but an important one. Andrew Maraniss does it justice in the new book Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke.

4. One of my favorite books of the last 4-5 years is Stuart Turton's The 7 & 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It's a quintessential timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly murder mystery that feels a bit like Agatha Christie meets Quantum Leap meets Downton Abbey meets Memento. The first time I read it I could not put it down - finishing it in a day - and then, after thinking about it all night, re-read it the next day. I'm happy to report that it holds up after a 3rd reading. And a 4th. And a 5th...

5. A new Louise Penny is cause for celebration. But it's more than that. It's cause for cancelling all your plans, putting on comfy clothes, making a big cup of tea, and disappearing into the world of Three Pines. So...that's what I did. And I wasn't 100 words into The Madness of Crowds before I started tearing up. Just to be back in Three Pines with these characters that I've grown so fond of - that have started to feel like family - was a much needed tonic. I didn't realize how much I missed them! And for Penny to have set the book in the present time so that her characters had lived through the pandemic just like me, well, it was a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed the book. The core story was very good. And while it might have benefitted from losing 100 pages or so, I will never complain about having more Penny!