Skip to main content

Staff Selections - Pam

Pam Colt
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian
What I like: fiction and non-fiction on a variety of topics.

Just read: The Travelers by Regina Porter

This new novel, both deeply moving and at times quite funny, follows a cast of characters – two extended families of different races and backgrounds – as they move through the twentieth century and beyond, intersecting in fascinating and sometimes dramatic ways. The story often goes back and forth in time, dropping a character and then bringing them back. While occasionally confusing, it is totally worth hanging in there to see where they pop up next. Porter is also a playwright, adept at dialogue and setting a scene. The Guardian calls this book “an exhilarating ride” and I agree. Available in print and electronic formats.

Currently reading: Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race by Thomas Chatterton Williams

This thoughtful second memoir by the author of Losing My Cool uses his personal experience as part of a racially mixed family to examine all the many ways the construct of race affects Americans. Growing up, the author identified strongly with “black” and hip-hop culture; as an adult he marries a French woman and begins to re-think his identity especially after his children are born looking completely white. As an admirer of Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) it was interesting to read his critique of that author. Although Williams occasionally lapses into academic-speak – (“performative” and “normative”), his vivid, frankly expressed experiences and conversations kept me thoroughly engaged. Available in print.

Planning to Read: Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith AND Flights & Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Decisions, decisions! I have just started Patti Smith’s new memoir, Year of the Monkey. I loved her previous one, Just Kids, so I have high hopes. Where Just Kids reached back to the 1970s and her time with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York, Year of the Monkey is about 2016, a year of wrenching personal and political change. Smith is a poet and her prose reflects her talent for imaginative, beautiful language. Available in print and e-audio.

Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish writer and activist, just won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novel Flights won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. I checked out Flights and the 2009 Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, described as “a deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale.” I’m going to read a couple of chapters of each book, and continue with at least one. Flights is available in print and e-book format, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead in print, e-book and e-audio.