DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

summer reading for adults

Mar 24 2016

Mommy and Me

by Hope L

MommyRecently the Workplace Advisory Group of the DeKalb County Public Library volunteered for a project to help the Mommy and Me Family Literacy Program located in Clarkston.  The DCPL volunteers will be fixing up a space in the school for mothers and their children to read and relax during their school day.

The Mommy and Me Refugee Family Literacy Program is a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston where immigrant mothers and their children learn together.

When I found out about this program, I was delighted.  For a time I worked at the Clarkston Branch of DCPL, and it was (and is) a very busy place!  There were many immigrant children, most of them refugees whose families fled to this country from their homelands.

According to their website, the school’s students come from more than a dozen countries from around the world: Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

From the Mommy and Me website,

​We are a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston, Georgia where immigrant mothers and children learn together.

A family literacy program, we offer four components of instruction: (1) ESOL classes for refugee women, (2) onsite early childhood development program for their young children, (3) Parent and Child Time sessions to promote family engagement, and (4) weekly workshops on parenting, health/nutrition, and life skills.

“Clarkston’s transformation dates back to the late 1980’s, when the U.S. State Department and various resettlement agencies chose Clarkston as an ideal site for refugee resettlement.  A mass exodus of middle-class whites to Atlanta’s more affluent suburbs left behind inexpensive apartments that could serve as affordable housing for newly arrived refugee families.  The easternmost stop on MARTA, Clarkston also offered its residence access to public transit and a commute to employment opportunities in Atlanta.”

To find out more about the program or to volunteer or make a donation, click on the link below:

Mommy and Me Family Literacy | about us




Jul 26 2013

ShareReads: Adventures with the Classics

by Dea Anne M


When I was 14, I went into the school library and checked out a copy of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Later that day, my English teacher saw me carrying annait in the hallway. She raised an eyebrow and said, voice dripping with scepticism.

“Don’t you think that’s a little bit much?”

Well, that just made me more determined than ever to read the whole book. What I didn’t admit to myself (or to anyone else) was that as interested as I was in the book, I was even more interested in being seen carrying it around. Trying to impress others with my reading choices was a youthful bit of vanity that it took an unfortunately long time to shake. Anyway, I finally finished the novel though I had no real idea of what I had read. Not that I would have let anyone know that.

High school had its required reading as did college but none of the assigned northangertexts, though interesting enough, inspired me to take up reading classics in my leisure time. The change occurred in my Romantic Literature class when the professor assigned us to choose one of two novels and write a paper about it. I think the only reason I picked Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey was because I just didn’t want to read the Last of the Mohicans. I was only a few pages into the book, however, before I realized that I’d fallen in love. Since then, I’ve read all of Austen’s work and have happily reread most of them as well – notably my two favorites – Emma and Pride and Prejudice.

In the years since that first delightful experience with Jane Austen, I’ve brothersexplored classic novels sporadically. I went through a Dostoevsky phase which was pretty heavy going but overall worthwhile (favorite novel – The Brothers Karamazov). After that, I experienced a year long flirtation with the works of Henry James of which (and I’m a little embarassed to admit this) I like most the shortest namely The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller. Thomas Mann followed Henry James then came James Joyce and after that I stopped setting myself the “project” of trying to read any author’s entire body of work.

Lately, I’ve become interested in exploring the classics again though this timedavid I want to take a less studied approach and select books with an eye toward sheer reading pleasure. Remembering how much I enjoyed Great Expectations, I recently checked out Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. I couldn’t put it down! It’s a very long book so it took me a good while to get through and I’m sure that the inmates of my house became less than charmed with my nightly cries of “Poor David!” and “I hate Uriah Heap!” but I really found it that engaging a novel. I followed Dickens with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and I’m happy to report that experience as every bit as enjoyable. I suppose I’ve finally learned that I don’t janehave to  read a classic work of literature in order to “improve” myself or (cringe) in order to impress other people. I can just relax and relish the reading experience. As Italo Calvino reminds us in his book of essays The Uses of Literature, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”

If you’re interested in dipping into the classics but don’t know quite where to start, check out the “Best Classic Literature Ever” list on the Goodreads website. You can get more ideas from Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels” list. This last is actually two lists in one – the board’s list which is dominated by classics and the reader’s list which leans more toward genre fiction and includes more science fiction and dark fantasy.

What’s next on my reading list of classics? Middlemarch by George Eliot. Then, who knows, maybe I’ll tackle Anna Karenina again!

What are some of your favorite classics? How do you define a classic?

 PS – This is the last ShareReads post. Hope you had fun with us, and don’t forget to submit your reading and activities completed on our Adult Summer Reading page. Click here to see all of our ShareReads posts this year.


Jul 12 2013

ShareReads: A View From the Peanut Gallery

by Veronica W


For anyone who loves sci-fi and/or fantasy, the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins was a treat. It held you enthralled until the very end and when the movie came out, it was greeted with cheers. Although I didn’t go to the movies to see it, I didn’t want to be number 328 in line for a library copy either. So, when I found it on sale, I grabbed a copy. Big mistake. The book was wonderful; the movie, in my opinion, not so much. Even on sale, I felt it cost me too much.

FredericaAs I read my way leisurely through the summer, I can’t help thinking sometimes “What a great movie this book or that book would be!”  I even select the cast for them. A friend and I lament continually about the injustice of Jane Austen’s many works being made into movies (which we love) while the fans of the prolific and wonderful Georgette Heyer must make do with rereading her books over and over again.  (I know, literary elitists will be appalled that we would compare the two). However for those who often find it tiring to read Austen but love the regency era, Heyer’s works are clever, witty, true to the times and darn good reading. I would recommend starting with Frederica.

motherrainwaterThis summer, in addition to rereading Heyer, I have been drawn to fiction about the Dust Bowl during the depression era and can recommend two very good books. Mother Road, by Dorothy Garlock, has everything you need for some lightweight, on-the-beach reading, as does Rainwater by Sandra Brown. They have drama, history, suspense, action and romance. Also, they would both make great movies.

Have you ever been disappointed in a book’s transition to the big screen? Is there a book you feel screams to be made into a movie? Let me know. I have Warner Bros. studio on speed dial.


May 31 2013

ShareReads: Groundbreaking Reads

by ShareReads

Adult Summer Reading-Groundbreaking ReadsThe DeKalb County Public Library kicks off its 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults program beginning May 25 and ending July 31, 2013. This year’s theme is Groundbreaking Reads. Hold up before you panic and think this is going to be a labor intensive task of critiquing books and a writing mini-dissertation. To the contrary, it’s as easy as 1, 2, and 3. Truly, just record three book titles or attend a branch book discussion or read/comment on our weekly ShareReads blog post (posted every Friday right here on DCPLive) or any combination of the three and be registered to win gift certificates from area DeKalb restaurants and a gift bag full of good books and goodies. Allof these activities make you eligible to enter into the reading program. I realize that summer is a time of travel, fun with family, gardening and for some just plain ol’ leisure. Therefore, if reading isn’t your thing ?feel free to listen to an audiobook or attend and listen to an interesting book discussion being held at one of our library branches. Don’t delay. Register online or at your closest branch and participate in our 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults reading program.


Jul 13 2012

ShareReads: Summer Reading Times Two

by Patricia D

ShareReads intro

My summer reading has taken a two-pronged approach.  Not only am I reading for myself (some cookbooks, Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books, Arabella by Georgette Heyer, The President’s Club: Inside the Worlds Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and My Life in France by Julia Child ) but I am reading with Junior.  We’ve worked our way through The Mouse and the MotorcycleThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and a huge stack of picture books.  Favorites out of that pile have been Mr. Pusskins, who can give Rotten Ralph a run for his money in the horrible department, the Pete the Cat books with wonderful illustrations by James Dean and favorite since toddler-hood Lyle the Crocodile.  Most importantly though, Junior has been reading to me, taking full advantage of any reader we can lay our hands on, as well as every bus, street sign and inappropriate billboard we pass.

Reading has been a hard-won skill for her and the only way I know to keep that skill sharp and improve on it is constant practice, something that is harder to achieve during the summer.   She has latched on to one reader in particular that was a hand-me-down from her cousin.  In all honesty, I am not enjoying repeated readings of the adventures of Stan, Dan and Lee at the pool.  Yes, there are plenty of wonderful readers out there but she prefers Stan and his ilk over Mr. & Mrs. Green, Mr. Putter and Tabby  and  Little Bear.  While I still make some selections for her, she is now insisting on her own choices when she is doing the reading.  I know she reads better when it’s something she wants to read, and that repetition in reading builds both comfort and confidence.  So, I listen while she reads the same books (there are others also not to my literary tastes) over and over.  This is what is called, in the world of parenting, a sacrifice. Yes, the book is meh but the payoffs?  The sound of my child’s voice as she works her way through a book with only 64 words and the obvious thrill she gets from conquering something that looked impossible last winter.  I imagine it will be pretty easy to forget the not so exciting books she loves this summer, but I will cherish the moments she’s cuddled next to me, frowning over how to sound out the word “aw,” while the miracle of learning to read becomes ordinary.


May 23 2012

Dream Big—READ!

by Nancy M

I know I am not alone when I say I cannot believe this school year is over already! But what a year it was and another summer is upon us—so gather up your kids and let’s make it a great one! This could be the summer your child meets renowned author Carmen Deedy, or is inspired by the storytelling skills of Barry Stewart Mann. This could be the summer you encourage your child’s love of snakes, while your own reptilian fears manifest in new and disturbing ways. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the summer where your child wins the Path2College sweepstakes, over $5,000 that goes towards his or her future college education.  One thing is for sure, we have worked hard to make this the best summer yet and with so many fun, free and educational programs being offered, DeKalb County Public Library is the place to be!

This summer’s Vacation Reading Program, Dream Big—READ! begins on Saturday, May 26 and continues through July 31. This reading incentive program is a great way to keep kids reading through the summer. Sign up online or at any DeKalb County Public Library branch. The teen program, Own the Night, is for teens ages 13-17 years old. Visit the teen page for more information. And who says kids have all the fun? DCPL is offering an adult reading program, Between the Covers, from May 29-September 4. You can pick up the guidelines at any of our branches, or sign up online.

We will be kicking off the summer at the Tucker, Stonecrest and Decatur branches with a magic show by Ken Scott as well as crafts and other activities fun for the whole family. A list of dates and times can be found here.


Sep 3 2010

ShareReads: The Last List

by Lesley B

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

Fellow readers, we’ve come to the end of ShareReads and the 2010 Adult Summer Reading Program. You’ve got until Monday, September 6, to turn in your entry and be eligible for the prize drawing – but you’ve got the rest of your life to read one or some or all of the books that were shared here this summer. That’s not one of those ‘before you die’ tasks. Let us not look at a list of books and think despairingly, “So many books! I’ll never have time!” Let us look at our list (or our Library) and think, in awe and delight,  “So many books! I’ll never run out!”

From all of us at Share Reads, our thanks and appreciation to everyone who shared a book this summer.  See you next year!

All the Books:

June 4 – Welcome to Share Reads!

  • Facing the Music, Harold Schonberg
  • Just Like Us, Helen Thorpe
  • Dragon Keeper, Robin Hobb
  • Check the Technique, Brian Coleman
  • Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes, Nicolas Slonimsky
  • The New York Times Essential Library: Classical Music, Allan Kozinn
  • 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die, Matthew Rye
  • The Good NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Opera, William Berger
  • Puccini Without Excuses, William Berger
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • Singin’ in the Come Back Choir, Bebe Campbell Moore
  • Joplin’s Ghost, Tanarive Due

June 11 – Beat The Reaper

  • Beat The Reaper, Josh Bazell
  • The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  • A Short History of the Long Ball, Justin Cronin
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
  • If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One?, Michelle McKinney Hammond
  • Left to Tell, Immaculee Illibagzia
  • A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah
  • In the Landof Invisible Women, Qanta Ahmed

June 18 – Try a Local Author

  • Lost Laughs of 50s and 60s Television: 30 Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen, David Tucker
  • The Women Who Made Television Funny, David Tucker
  • Shirley Booth: a Biography and Career Record, David Tucker
  • Fifteen Years, Kendra Norman-Bellamy
  • Now I Sea!: Spiritual Life Lessons from the Sea, Jenny L. Cotes
  • Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor, Brad Gooch
  • Crackers, Roy Blount Jr.
  • Thunderland, Brandon Massey
  • Get Your Crochet On!, Afya Ibomu
  • Homeplace, Anne River Siddons
  • The Malignant Heart, Celestine Sibley

June 25 – Oldies But Goodies . . .

  • As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
  • The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  • Jennie Gerhardt, Theodore Dreiser
  • Dodsworth, Sinclair Lewis
  • Hatter’s Castle, A.J. Cronin

July 2 – Slightly Strange

  • The City & The City, China Mieville
  • The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead
  • The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue
  • Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
  • Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges
  • Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, Cory Doctorow
  • Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
  • Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde

July 9 – Find a New Favorite!

  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
  • The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
  • Gourmet Rhapsody, Muriel Barbery
  • Edisto, Padgett Powell
  • The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
  • Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, Amanda Davis
  • Stay A Little Longer, Dorothy Garlock

July 16 – Chemical Concerns

  • Slow Death by Rubber Duck, Rick Smith
  • Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
  • An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore
  • Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
  • The World Without Us, Alan Weisman

July 23 – A Vote for Arthur and George

  • Arthur and George, Julian Barnes
  • The Skinner, Neal Asher
  • The Reader, Bernhard Schlink
  • Discovery!, Brian Fagan

July 30 – Try It, You’ll Like It

  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • A Sudden, Fearful Death, Anne Perry
  • Love the One You’re With, Emily Giffin
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

August 6 – Yum!

  • My Life in France, Julia Child
  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child

August 13 – Disturbingly Good

  • Geek Love, Katharine Dunn
  • Train, Pete Dexter
  • The Shining, Stephen King
  • World War Z, Max Brooks
  • 2666, Roberto Bolano

August 20 – Bugged Out

  • Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs, Sue Hubbell
  • A Book of Bees . . . And How to Keep Them, Sue Hubbell
  • A Country Year: Living the Questions, Sue Hubbell
  • Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys Into the Time Before Bones, Sue Hubbell
  • Rolling Homes: Handmade Houses on Wheels, Jane Lidz
  • The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart
  • Wicked Plants, Amy Stewart

August 27 – You Will Totally Love This Book! NOT!!

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  • Absurdistan, Gary Shytengart
  • Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
  • Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
  • The Shack, William P. Young
  • Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  • The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold


Jul 23 2010

ShareReads: A Vote for Arthur and George

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

With an election only a few days behind us, I’m ready for another. ShareReads is the new ballot box, and I’m casting a public vote for Arthur and George by Julian Barnes as the best novel I’ve read in the last year and a half (maybe even longer).

It’s a wonderful work of historical fiction, based on real events which occurred in Britain in the late Victorian area. Arthur and George grow up completely apart, not knowing each other at all, living in different environments. Then, their circumstances are drastically altered, and ultimately the two meet. The reader is slowly and expertly drawn into a mystery which addresses all sorts of complex life issues: belief (or the lack of it) and its changing nature, honor, identity, friendship, personal morals, ambition, family relationships, and the passage of time. Read this book, and I guarantee you’ll discover even more. It’s deep, rich, resonant, and subtle all at the same time.

A previous ShareReads post raised the question of reader preference for character driven vs. plot driven novels. I’m happy to tell you that this book scores off the chart on both counts. The characters are well developed, vivid and compelling, and the plot never slackens. Another selling point: for those who love short chapters, you’ve got ‘em, and for those who love long chapters, ditto.  Furthermore, while there’s suspense and drama, the reader is not shortchanged on humor along the way.

Confession time: Arthur and George has kicked me out of a real reading slump. For months I’ve rarely gotten past the first 50 pages of most novels I’ve tried. Pardon me for rhapsodizing a little here, but this book made me realize all over again the sheer power of reading, and not only in the sense of inhabiting the thoughts and feelings of characters and being swept away by a narrative. It reminded me of why I read because it shook me up, making me think about those life issues I mentioned earlier and engaging me thoroughly while doing it. It has been the experience I hope for in a book, but rarely encounter.

Arthur and George also a perfect book club book, as several of our library book clubs have or soon will discover. I read it on the thoughtful recommendation of a trusted friend to whom I’m very grateful. Consider me a friend who’d like to recommend it to you, whether you read it alone or with a group of friends.

Is there a book you’d consider to be the best you’ve read so far this summer? Conversely, have you found one which you’d warn readers to miss by a country mile? Let’s kick up some ShareReads dust out there! What are you reading?


Jul 9 2010

ShareReads: Find a New Favorite!

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

Many of us have had the experience of reading a book that, long after it is over, we can’t seem to shake. The characters stick with us, the surprising plot twist at the end keeps popping up in our mind, the beauty of the writing compels us to seek out something of equal quality. I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson for my monthly book club earlier in the spring. There are always “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” members of the group for each book we read but this was the first—and possibly only—unanimous “thumbs up” title we’ve had since I joined. The interesting and somewhat unique quality (for a modern novel in any case) is that not much seems to happen in terms of plot, but to me, that was perfectly fine. The novel takes place in Paris, and centers around two main characters, Renee and Paloma. Renee is a middle-aged concierge of an upper-class apartment building who wears the façade of a frumpy, vacuous, stereotypical working-class grunt in order to camouflage her true identity: a deep thinker, and a lover of Russian literature, Japanese cinema, and philosophy. Paloma, a 12-year old who lives in her building, is more than precocious, with astute, adult observations about herself and those around her. Her dissatisfaction with her world has led her to the decision to commit suicide when she turns 13, and her side of the story is told in the form of a journal in which she records her profound thoughts for posterity. When a new and mysterious resident moves into the building, the characters’ lives begin to more closely intersect as they gradually reveal their true selves to each other.

These characters, while perhaps unbelievable, are so rich and vivid (thanks to truly poetic prose) that I wanted this book to go on and on so that I could continue getting to know them. The last book to affect me the way this one has was The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and I think a large part of its appeal is its engaging and charming characters (also a child and an adult, an elderly man in this case) and a tendency on the part of the writer to prefer depth as opposed to breadth. I wholeheartedly recommend both, as well as Barbery’s first book, Gourmet Rhapsody.

In general, do you find that a plot-driven book catches and holds your interest more than one that is character-driven? I would have placed myself in the first category until I reflected on those books that have most impacted me; almost all of the books that I would rate 10 of 10 focus much more on characters than plot.

Are there characters that have stuck with you, the way that Renee and Paloma have done for me? What are qualities that make a character memorable or compelling?


Jun 25 2010

Oldies but Goodies…

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it.  The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it.  The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading.  Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

As I Lay Dying coverThe classics never fail to challenge and satisfy my maturing reading habits.  I used to think teaching high school and college English classes had ruined me as a reader. I started looking at books for what they offered for class discussion and as examples of various fiction devices.  I critiqued structure and character development as well as use of setting while I read.  There were some years when I shifted to non-fiction because I could escape these distractions. But I never stopped returning to some of the classics.

Like some people I know who read Pride and Prejudice every year, I return to William Faulkner as my iconic Southern writer who captured aspects of the South, and the world universal, for those willing to bring the tolerance for ambiguity needed to read him. My favorite of his books is As I Lay Dying, which I read every few years as it is both short and layered (something I like because it reflects life as I see it). Over the years of my own life, I find reading it changes.  The book is the same, but I am different.  At least I see relationships, and understanding of duty, and the society which plants that “darn” road by our doors as different with each reading.

If you haven’t read much of Faulkner, I recommend this as a good first step. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective as indicated by the chapter’s heading. The story starts with the mother dying in bed where she can hear one of her sons building her casket.  After she dies, the family sets out to bury her some distance away with “her folks”.  They travel by horse and mule, pulling a wagon with her casket.  They cross rivers, stay at friend’s and stranger’s homes, make important stops in town, and return, most of them, completely changed.

Are you reading books with shifts in perspective, with dynamically changing characters, that address the end of life?  If so, please share your responses and insights.

Thanks, and remember  you can avoid the heat by reading more….