Russell Blair

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Hartford Public Library is partnerning with the Hartford Land Bank on a new program to train city residents to redevelop blighted homes in their neighborhoods.

The first cohort of 20 would-be developers will begin an intensive, two-week training program on Saturday, Dec. 4, at the new Park Street Library @ the Lyric. Free child care and food will be provided. The goal is to give residents the skills they need — as well as special financing — to rehab homes across that city that have fallen into disrepair and have been acquired by the Hartford Land Bank.

“We are happy to be able to host this program in collaboration with the Hartford Land Bank and support their efforts to boost home ownership in the City of Hartford,” said Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn. “When we embarked on plans for an expanded library on Park Street it is exactly programs like this that we hoped to offer to the community.”

Registrations for the first cohort have closed but the goal is to host additional training sessions in the future. There are no formal requirements to participate, and past criminal convictions are not a barrier to apply, but the land bank is looking for residents with construction skills or those with business aptitude and plans to partner the two types of individuals to form small development groups. The organization has received a $1 million commitment from the Hartford Community Loan Fund to provide low-interest loans to the cohort graduates to help them finance the renovations.

Hartford Land Bank Chief Executive Officer Arunan Arulampalam, center, holds office hours at the Park Street Library @ the Lyric last month.

Hartford Land Bank Chief Executive Officer Arunan Arulampalam, center, holds office hours at the Park Street Library @ the Lyric last month.

“This is a real opportunity to build wealth among our city’s residents while redeveloping blighted properties,” said Hartford Land Bank Chief Executive Officer Arunan Arulampalam, who is also a member of the Hartford Public Library Board of Directors. “We have faith that those who live in Hartford are our best asset in rebuilding our neighborhoods.”

The Hartford Land Bank is a nonprofit and the first organization of its kind in Connecticut. Its goal is to acquire blighted and tax-delinquent properties and prepare them for restoration by a community-based developer in an effort to create new affordable housing and boost home ownership in Hartford. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than 25% of homes in Hartford are owner occupied.

About 300 Hartford residents submitted applications for the first round of training, said Yahaira Escribano, the finance and programs officer for the Hartford Land Bank. Selecting the 20 finalists for the cohort was “pretty tough,” she said. “All the applications were amazing.”

Escribano said the training program hopes to build generational wealth among Hartford families by offering them opportunities to own a home that will grow in value.

“It’s Hartford residents revitalizing the community for Hartford residents,” she said. “We want to create a pipeline for Hartford developers.”

For more information visit www.hartfordlandbank.org and register for emails to learn when the next session will be offered.

Hartford Public Library will expand hours of operation across its branches in January, including opening the Downtown Library on Main Street on Sunday afternoons.

Branches that were previously open two days a week will open an additional weekday, and the Sunday hours Downtown coincide with the return of the popular Baby Grand Jazz concert series, which will have a limited in-person audience in addition to being available for online viewing. In total, the changes will add 34 hours of service each week across the library system.

“We are pleased to be able to once again expand our hours of operation and to open our branch libraries an additional day each week,” said Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quin. “We know our customers like the convenience of their neighborhood branches and we hope the extra hours make it easier for them to find time to visit.”

The new schedule, effective Jan. 2, 2022, is as follows:

Albany Library
1250 Albany Ave., Hartford, CT 06112
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Barbour Library
261 Barbour St., Hartford, CT 06120
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Connecticut Foodshare distributions will be held the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Camp Field Library
30 Campfield Ave., Hartford, CT 06114
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Downtown Library
500 Main St., Hartford, CT 06103
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Dwight Library
7 New Park Ave., Hartford, CT 06106
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Park Street Library @ the Lyric
603 Park St., Hartford, CT 06106

Mondays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Ropkins Library and the Boundless Library @ Rawson will remain closed to the public.

Hartford Public Library’s Downtown location reopened to in-person visits in July 2020 after a four-month closure due to COVID-19. Branches reopened in May and July of this year. Masks are required in all Hartford Public Library locations.

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By Tricia Haggerty Wenz

“A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.” — Mark Twain

In 1977, when I was in the 2nd grade, I spent an extended period of time at home recovering from surgery. I remember feeling bored and sad until one day my mom handed me an abridged version of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It was in that moment and that book that I began my lifelong love of reading and discovered the unique voice of Mark Twain. It led me down the road of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

But I left Twain right there, in my childhood for many, many years.

Until about five years ago. Looking for a thin and light book to pack for a vacation I grabbed Twain’s The Diaries of Adam & Eve.

What can I say, he had me from the first page. He combined his familiar humor with a thoughtfulness that said so much about the state of marriage and gender roles. Somehow this book that was written in 1904 about the first man and woman transcends time and can speak to us today about companionship and gender equality.

If you are like me and it has been a while since you spent time with Mark Twain, I encourage you to go back and discover his books and his wisdom once again. It would be a great way to celebrate his birthday and the vital role he plays in our history.

P.S. Want to read The Diaries of Adam & Eve? You can find it HERE.

Teal Flu Shot Instagram Post

Through a partnership with CVS Health and Bank of America, Hartford Public Library is offering no-cost flu shot vouchers this winter at all of its library locations.

The effort comes as public health officials have warned against a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and influenza and have encouraged residents not to delay in getting their flu shots. Last flu season was uncharacteristically mild in terms of total reported cases, but officials warn that those numbers could rebound this year as coronavirus restrictions including mask requirements and social distancing have been lifted and businesses and schools have reopened.

“We are pleased to partner with CVS Health and Bank of America to provide the community with vouchers for free flu shots this winter,” Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn said. “As we resume in-person programming we want to see all of our customers happy and healthy at the library.”

The vouchers can be redeemed at any CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic location. Children under 3 must schedule an appointment for their vaccine by calling 1-866-389-2727.

“Supporting flu prevention in underserved communities is so important,” said CVS Health Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy Eileen Howard Boone. “Through our work with Bank of America, we are focusing on expanding our reach to individuals who may not otherwise have access to flu vaccines.”

A self portrait by New Britain artist Wladyslaw Prosol.

A self portrait by New Britain artist Wladyslaw Prosol.

By Tricia Haggerty Wenz

New Britain artist Wladyslaw Prosol will be the first featured artist of ArtWalk’s 2021-22 season and his exhibition, “Portrait of a Picture,” opens Friday, Nov. 5, with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Below is an interview with Prosol ahead of the show where he discusses his background and how he approaches his art.

You are an architect and an artist. Where did it all begin? And what came first?

I was born in Poland to very caring parents. From the time I was a young boy I knew I was an artist in my soul. My parents were worried about my ability to make a living as an artist and encouraged me to go to architectural school. However, the wonderful thing about going to school to be an architect is you spend a lot of time learning to draw and using watercolors.

I came to America in 1989 and began my studies of American abstract expressionism art.

How did studying the work of American expressionism influence your own practice?

It was through my study, really my obsession, that I found my voice as a painter. I do not see myself as a European artist, rather through my studies I see my art as being strongly influenced by American expressionist artists.

What did you learn?

Once you begin studying the art you realize that American post-war art is so unique and so powerful you cannot resist it. The power of the communication with this art is so overwhelming that I became swept up in it.

Tell me about your art practice.

You know I did not paint for 20 years? I was so immersed in my work as an architect that I did not even pick up a paintbrush for my own art. Then one day I ran into a friend of mine and he asked me about my art and wanted to know when he could see it. I told him next year, then next year became the following year, and that became 10 years … then more. Finally three years ago, I dropped everything else and began painting. I started painted larger and larger and painted more and more, ’till I created a body of work I now feel comfortable exhibiting and sharing with an audience.

What is next for you?

I will continue to find my authentic voice in my paintings. Process and composition details don’t matter to me. What matters is taking what I conceive deep within my imagination and finding a way to getting that on to the canvas. There is a sacred connection between the imagination and the end of a paintbrush.

I like to keep my work childish. Through pure curiosity, focus, and concentration I can make what I dream come alive on the canvas.

Read more about this season’s ArtWalk artists by clicking here.

Julia Conversano

Julia Conversano

Hartford Public Library is pleased to announce that Julia Conversano of Tarzana, California, is the 2021 recipient of the Caroline M. Hewins Scholarship, given to promising library school students who intend to become children’s librarians.

Julia, who has volunteered and interned with the Los Angeles Public Library, is pursuing her Master of Library and Information Science degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and expects to graduate in 2022. She was enrolled in medical school and planning to become a neurosurgeon before switching her career focus to libraries.

“I am impressed by Julia’s commitment to her community and particularly her work with children with disabilities and her goal to create more inclusive library programming for that population,” said HPL president and CEO Bridget E. Quinn. “As a former children’s librarian I know how rewarding the work can be and wish her well as she embarks on her new career.”

At UCLA, Julia is vice chair of the Young Adult & Children Services organization for MLIS students. She is also a member of both the American Library Association, the California Library Association and a longtime volunteer at The Painted Turtle camp for children and teens with chronic lifelong disabilities.

“I really look forward to working in a public library and being part of a positive, altruistic, inquisitive community eager to improve knowledge accessibility,” Julia said. “It truly takes a team and a village to be able to serve all your patrons equitably regardless of socioeconomic status.”

An interview with Julia Conversano

You were in medical school before enrolling in the MLIS program at UCLA. What made you decide to switch careers?

My career trajectory did not align with my personality, how I really wanted to interact with the people I’m helping. And so I realized that about three weeks into medical school, but I kept pushing through, and did very well. But it was a life lesson that you can be very good at something and not enjoy doing it in the way you can fully give it a piece of your heart, your soul, to truly connect with the people you are helping.

So what drew you to librarianship?

It really was a children’s librarian who brought it all full circle. After medical school I had my first child and have been very open about my postpartum anxiety. The library really was a safe haven for me breaking out of that isolation. I went to every storytime, it gave me something to look forward to, not just for me, but it was beneficial for my relationship with my child. People are very open and honest in a library setting. I felt like part of a community.

I spoke to a children’s librarian about how I was thinking about getting my MLIS degree, thinking about being a librarian, I felt very at home and it seemed like a niche for me. I was concerned about going back to school for a third time, with a very young child. It was the children’s librarian who convinced me that I could do it, convinced me that it was doable, that I was capable enough and that it wouldn’t be a wrong move for me.

What goals do you have for your career as a librarian?

I’m very interested in trying to expand the public library’s role in serving the disability community. In medical school I did clinical research with teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. I feel libraries have a lot of room to grow in terms of programming that is accessible for those with physical and cognitive disabilities.

I’d also like to incorporate music into my library career. Music can be a very therapeutic way to break barriers between different populations and is accessible for children of all abilities. They might be shy or feel reserved, but maybe they are willing to sing a song with you. Music can be a great icebreaker and a great way of forming a bridge between you and your patrons.

Have any book suggestions for us?

I’m a full-time master’s student and a full-time mom, so I read a lot of children’s books to my kids. I love reading children’s books, I think that we all have something that we can learn from children’s books. Here are a few of my favorites:

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The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh
I really love this book, and my children absolutely love this book. It’s a book about making friends, and how if you’re looking for a friend, there’s probably a friend out there looking for you.

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The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
This book is wonderful for all kids, it’s about how this tiny snail who’s being told you’re just supposed to stay put accomplishes big things and saves the life of a big humpback whale. So I think it’s a wonderful book for kids showing them that they are not limited by how others view them.

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Not so Different by Shane Burcaw
This is a wonderful book for children who do not have disabilities but have a lot of questions they are curious about of those who do. It features photography of the author (Burcaw has spinal muscular atrophy and has been in a wheelchair since age 2)  and teaches kids to use humor, kindness and respect to connect with others who are different.

About the Caroline M. Hewins Scholarship

The Caroline M. Hewins Scholarship Fund was established in 1926 as a tribute to one of the great pioneers in American librarianship in special recognition of her creative work for children throughout the country.

The fund originated by the Hartford Librarian’s Club as a personal gift to Miss Hewins on the occasion of her fiftieth anniversary as Librarian of the Hartford Public Library.  When Miss Hewins chose to use this gift as a basis for a scholarship award, generous contributions were received from family and friends and professional associates throughout Connecticut and the United States, thus assuring to the Scholarship a national character in keeping with the memory of the Librarian it honors.

The fund is administered by the Hartford Public Library as trustee, and current income permits an annual scholarship award of $4,000.

The scholarship is open to those who plan to specialize in library work with children: who have received, or are about to receive a four year undergraduate degree; and who have applied for admission to a library school or are already attending a library school accredited by the American Library Association.  Preference will be given to applicants who plan to pursue a career in public library service.

October is LGBTQ History Month and before it comes to a close we’ve some great book suggestions by LGTBQ authors. See a title you are interested in below? Click on it to check it out from the library!

These recommendations were featured throughout the month in our email newsletter. Not subscribed? Click here to sign up.

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The Natural Mother of the Child

by Krys Malcolm Belc

Krys Malcolm Belc’s visual memoir-in-essays explores how the experience of gestational parenthood — conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding his son Samson — eventually clarified his gender identity.

“The Natural Mother of the Child offers, along with an ever-surprising, multiform structure, a lesson in courage and tenderness.” — LA Times Review of Books

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AfterParties Stories

by Anthony Veasna So

Following the children of refugees in a Californian community of Cambodian Americans, Afterparties shepherds its characters through experiences with found family, intergenerational trauma, and Moby Dick

“Witty and soulful stories from a writer who was just getting started.” — The New York Times Book Review

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Notes of a Native Son

by James Baldwin

One of his most admired works, James Baldwin’s essays on race, civil rights movement and life are as powerful and important today as when they were first written in 1955.

“Written with bitter clarity and uncommon grace.” – Time

“A straight-from-the-shoulder writer, writing about the troubled problems of this troubled earth with an illuminating intensity.”
– Langston Hughes, The New York Times Book Review

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If Beale Street Could Talk

by James Baldwin

A beautifully written love story that inspired the award-winning major motion picture, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice.

“A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless.” – The New York Times Book Review

“A major work of Black American fiction.” – The New Republic

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One Hundred Years of Solitude

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the most influential literary works of our time, One Hundred Years of Solitude remains a dazzling and original achievement by the masterful Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race. . . . Mr. Garcia Marquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life.” — William Kennedy, New York Times Book Review

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The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.

“It’s a brilliant, magical, life-changing book that continues to blow my mind with its lessons. [...] A remarkable tome.” — Neil Patrick Harris

“A wise and inspiring fable about the pilgrimage that life should be” — M. Scott Peck.

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A Cup of Water Under My Bed

by Daisy Hernandez

In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race.

“Gorgeously written from start to finish.” – Boston Globe

“Hernández seamlessly combines the familiar genres of the ‘coming out’ story and the ‘coming of age’ story into a unique memoir of self-discovery.” – LA Review of Books

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Chulito

by Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the queer youth culture of Manhattan’s piers, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a sexy, tough, hip hop-loving, young Latino man and the colorful characters who populate his block.

“Hilarious, unique, heartfelt and sharp. A wonderful read.” – Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“This is a beautiful debut.” – Jaime Manrique, author of Latin Moon in Manhattan

Hartford Public Library customers can’t get enough of legal thrillers and politics — at least according to the most checked out books from the past year.

Bestselling author John Grisham had three titles on the 10 most borrowed adult books from June 30, 2020, to July 1, 2021 , and there were two political entries on the list, President Barack Obama’s latest book and Mary L. Trump’s tell-all about her uncle, President Donald Trump.

Here are the 10 books that were checked out most by patrons, across all our branches, with links to borrow them from our catalog if you haven’t read them yet!

1. The Vanishing Half

by Britt Bennett

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

 

“[Bennett’s] second [book], The Vanishing Half, more than lives up to her early promise. . . more expansive yet also deeper, a multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling. It’s also a great read that will transport you out of your current circumstances, whatever they are. . . Like The Mothers, this novel keeps you turning pages not just to find out what happens.” — NPR

“Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter.”— The New York Times

2. Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents

by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

“Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us.”— O: The Oprah Magazine

“This book has the reverberating and patriotic slap of the best American prose writing. . . . Wilkerson has written a closely argued book that largely avoids the word ‘racism,’ yet stares it down with more humanity and rigor than nearly all but a few books in our literature. . . . It’s a book that changes the weather inside a reader.”— Dwight Garner, The New York Times

3. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man

by Mary L. Trump

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

“[T]he most devastating, most valuable and all-around best Trump book since he started running for president. In the vast Trump literature, this one is something new…[W]hat this book does do is help us understand him, offering the most incisive rendering yet of why he is the way he is.”— Politico

“Mesmerizing beach reading and a memorable opposition research dump…It is salacious, venomous and well-sourced…Yet the narrative remains compelling.” — The Guardian

4. A Time For Mercy

by John Grisham

Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line.

“Grisham has returned to the place closest to his heart… The trial is riveting…it’s striking how suspenseful the story is…how much we’re gripped by the small details.”– Sarah Lyall, The New York Times

“Textbook Grisham—and that’s a compliment…a briskly paced legal drama, with just the right amount of suspense, conflict, plot twists, and courtroom theatrics.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

5. American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins

Lydia Quixano Pérez runs a bookstore in Acapulco, Mexico, where she lives with her husband, Sebastián, who is a journalist, and their son, Luca. When a man starts visiting her store, buying books and striking up a friendship, she has no idea initially that he will be responsible for turning her life upside down. But Lydia and Luca will have to flee Acapulco, setting them on a journey they will share with countless other Central and South Americans-turned migrants.

American Dirt just gutted me, and I didn’t just read this book―I inhabited it….Everything about this book was so extraordinary. It’s suspenseful, the language is beautiful, and the story really opened my heart. I highly recommend it, and you will not want to put it down. It is just a magnificent novel.”
― Oprah

American Dirt is a literary novel with nuanced character development and arresting language; yet, its narrative hurtles forward with the intensity of a suspense tale. Its most profound achievement, though, is something I never could’ve been told…American Dirt is the novel that, for me, nails what it’s like to live in this age of anxiety, where it feels like anything can happen, at any moment.”
― Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

6. Deacon King Kong

by James McBride

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range. The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award–winning The Good Lord Bird.

“A mystery story, a crime novel, an urban farce, a sociological portrait of late-1960s Brooklyn: McBride’s novel contains multitudes… He conducts his antic symphony with deep feeling, never losing sight of the suffering and inequity within the merriment.” — The New York Times, Top 10 Books of 2020

“Shouldn’t we just get it over with and declare McBride this decade’s Great American Novelist?…McBride has a way of inflating reality to comical sizes, the better for us to see every tiny mechanism that holds unjust systems in place.” — Los Angeles Times

7. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized trauma and the pathway to mending our hearts and bodies

by Resmaa Menakem

In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.

 

“Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois put his finger on African American consciousness when he wrote ‘one ever feels his twoness―an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body.’ But even Du Bois never addressed the process of healing the psychological wounds of the ‘two-ness.’ In My Grandmother Hands, Resmaa offers a path of internal reconciliation for a Person enduring the generational trauma of American racism, and gives us all a chance to dream of a healing from it.”― Keith Ellison, Member of Congress and Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee

“Resmaa Menakem cuts to the heart of America’s racial crisis with the precision of a surgeon in ways few have before. Addressing the intergenerational trauma of white supremacy and its effects on all of us―understanding it as a true soul wound―is the first order of business if we hope to pull out of the current morass. As this amazing work shows us, policies alone will not do it, and bold social action, though vital to achieving justice, will require those engaged in it to also take action on the injury, deep and personal, from which we all suffer.”― Tim Wise, bestselling author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son and Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority

8. The Coldest Winter Ever: A Novel

by Sister Souljah

Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, and business-minded, she knows and loves the streets like the curves of her own body. But when a cold Winter wind blows her life in a direction she doesn’t want to go, her street smarts and seductive skills are put to the test of a lifetime. Unwilling to lose, this ghetto girl will do anything to stay on top.

“Winter is nasty, spoiled, and almost unbelievably libidinous, and it’s ample evidence of the author’s talent that she is also deeply sympathetic.” ― The New Yorker

“Winter is precious, babacious, and as tough as a hollow-point bullet.” ― Salon.com

9. A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

“A powerful book with lots of insights into great leadership.”— Bill Gates, GatesNotes

“Barack Obama is as fine a writer as they come. . . . [A Promised Land] is nearly always pleasurable to read, sentence by sentence, the prose gorgeous in places, the detail granular and vivid. . . . The story will continue in the second volume, but Barack Obama has already illuminated a pivotal moment in American history, and how America changed while also remaining unchanged.”— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New York Times Book Review

10. Camino Winds

by John Grisham

Just as Bruce Cable’s Bay Books is preparing for the return of bestselling author Mercer Mann, Hurricane Leo veers from its predicted course and heads straight for Camino Island. Florida’s governor orders a mandatory evacuation, and most residents board up their houses and flee to the mainland, but Bruce decides to stay and ride out the storm. The hurricane is devastating: Homes and condos are leveled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded—and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the apparent victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s and an author of thrillers. But the nature of Nelson’s injuries suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of his death: He has suffered several suspicious blows to the head.

“A cat-and-mouse caper . . . Grisham is an irresistible writer. His prose is fluent and gorgeous, and he has an ability to end each segment with a terse sentence thatn makes it all but impossible not to turn the page.”— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The perfect crime scene…in the type of wild but smart caper that [John] Grisham’s readers love.”  Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

October is National Cookbook Month, and did you know Hartford Public Library is full of great cookbooks where you can learn new recipes?

Since it’s fall, and we love everything pumpkin, we’re going to feature some recipes from The Pumpkin Cookbook, just one of many of the great titles we have in our collection. Try out one of the recipes below, and then search our catalog for another cookbook and find something new to make!

PUMPKIN BUTTER

2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 20-30 minutes (until dark & thick). Cool and refrigerate in a glass jar. Enjoy!
Pie

SOUTHERN PECAN PUMPKIN PIE

2 cups chopped pecans
1 pound fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, cut into chunks
3 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Partially baked 9-inch piecrust

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool on a wire rack.

3. Microwave the pumpkin on high for 5 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. When cool, peel and cut into enough 1-inch chunks to measure 2 cups. Mash slightly.

4. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

5. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, bourbon, salt, cinammon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the cooled pecans and pumpkin. Spoon into the piecrust.

6. Bake 35-45 minutes, until filling is set. Cool for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before slicing.

Biscotti

ALMOND-PUMPKIN BISCOTTI

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups almonds, coarsely chopped

1. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin.

2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, ginger, salt and nutmeg together into the creamed mixture and continue beating until well mixed. Stir in the almonds.

3. Refrigerate the mixture in the bowl for at least 2 hours.

4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

5. Divide the dough into two mounds and turn one out onto a floured board. With floured fingers, shape the loaf, 1/2 by 3 inches wide. Repeat with second mound. Place the loaves on the cookie sheet, leaving about 4 inches between them for expansion. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

6. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees.

7. Slice the loaves diagonally and place cut-side down on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes per side, or until dried out.

8. Cool completely and store in a loosely covered container for up to two weeks.

PUMPKIN-RICE PUDDING

5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1 egg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, rice, pumpkin, sugar, cinammon stick and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan and steam rises.

2. Reduce the heat and gently cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the pudding thick but still soupy. Stir frequently, especially toward the end of the cooking time, when the mixture thickens. Add the raisins, if using, in the last 10 minutes of cooking. If possible, put a heat diffuser under the pot to keep the heat evenly distributed and to prevent scorching the milk, something you definitely don’t want to do.

3. Beat the egg with a fork in a small bowl. Spoon some of the pudding into the egg. Slowly add this egg mixture to the pudding, stirring constantly and keeping the heat low. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pudding thickens some more.

4. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon zest and vanilla and cool slightly before thoroughly chilling. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve in dessert dishes.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated Sept. 15-Oct. 15, Hartford Public Library is highlighting a collection of books by Latino/a/x authors. See a title you are interested in below? Click on it to check it out from the library!

These recommendations were featured throughout the month in our email newsletter. Not subscribed? Click here to sign up.

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the most influential literary works of our time, One Hundred Years of Solitude remains a dazzling and original achievement by the masterful Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race. … Mr. Garcia Marquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life.” — William Kennedy, New York Times Book Review

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.

“It’s a brilliant, magical, life-changing book that continues to blow my mind with its lessons. [...] A remarkable tome,” – Neil Patrick Harris

“A wise and inspiring fable about the pilgrimage that life should be” – M. Scott Peck

A Cup of Water Under My Bed
Daisy Hernandez

In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money and race.

 

“Gorgeously written from start to finish.” – Boston Globe

 

“Hernández seamlessly combines the familiar genres of the ‘coming out’ story and the ‘coming of age’ story into a unique memoir of self-discovery.” – LA Review of Books

 

Chulito
Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the queer youth culture of Manhattan’s piers, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a sexy, tough, hip hop-loving, young Latino man and the colorful characters who populate his block.

 

“Hilarious, unique, heartfelt and sharp. A wonderful read.” – Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

 

“This is a beautiful debut.” – Jaime Manrique, author of Latin Moon in Manhattan

 

Like Water for Chocolate
Laura Esquivel

We’re kicking it way back for this recommendation. Winner of the American Booksellers book of the Year Award in 1994, this bestselling phenomenon and inspiration for the award-winning film tells the story of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico and blends poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

“Each chapter of Esquivel’s utterly charming interpretation of life in Mexico begins with a recipe–not surprisingly, since so much of the action of this exquisite first novel centers around the kitchen, the heart and soul of a traditional Mexican family.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Carmelo
Sandra Cisneros

We can’t get enough of Sandra Cisneros’ gorgeous writing. Every year, Ceyala “Lala” Reyes’ family — aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers and Lala’s six older brothers — packs up three cars and, in a wild ride, drive from Chicago to the Little Grandfather and Awful Grandmother’s house in Mexico City for the summer.

 

“Caramelo is enchanting. Soulful, sophisticated and skeptical, full of great one-liners. it is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction.” – The New York Times
 

Clap When you Land
Elizabeth Acevedo

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

“Tackles family secrets, toxic masculinity, and socio-economic differences with incisive clarity and candor … Every line is laced with betrayal and longing as the teens struggle with loving someone despite his imperfections. A standing ovation.” — Kirkus Reviews

The House of Broken Angels
Luis Alberto Urrea

The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story, a sprawling and deeply felt portrait of a Mexican-American family occasioned by the impending loss of its patriarch, from one of the country’s most beloved authors.

“Epic … Rambunctious … Highly entertaining.” — New York Times Book Review

“Intimate and touching … the stuff of legend.” — San Francisco Chronicle

An immensely charming and moving tale.” — Boston Globe

How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Julia Alvarez

Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez’s beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters as they grow up in two cultures. The García sisters and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean.

 

“Poignant . . . Powerful . . . Beautifully captures the threshold experience of the new immigrant, where the past is not yet a memory.” — The New York Times Book Review

 

When I was Puerto Rican
Esmeralda Santiago

In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.

 

“Not only for readers who share [Santiago's] experiences but for North Americans who seek to understand what it means to be the other.” — The Boston Globe

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